Thursday, June 28, 2018

No Place For White Men In Today's Democratic Party

When I was a young pup, the Democrats were the party of the white working class. Union members voted Democrat as reliably as the sun rising in the east. My hometown of Toledo, Ohio was a major union town, thanks in large part to all of the UAW members who worked for Jeep in Toledo, and they dutifully sent Democrats to Congress year after year. The woman who represented Toledo in Congress when I was younger, Marcy Kaptur, is still there where she has served since 1983. Prior to Representative Kaptur a Republican served a single 2 year term but prior to that a Democrat served for 26 years. So 59 out of the last 61 years Toledo has been represented by a Democrat in Congress thanks almost entirely to the votes of the white working class.

Today? Today there is no place for white men in the Democratic Party. In order to hold any position of prominence in the future, you will need to be able to check off at least one box on the oppressed person checklist.

Case in point the recent primary loss of Joseph Crowley. Crowley is, at least for now, a U.S. Representative from New York's 14th Congressional District which includes parts of the Bronx and Queens. Crowley is the epitome of an old school New York Democrat. He is an Irish Roman Catholic, married with three children. In years past this guy would be a lifer in Congress. He was a highly ranked Democrat and was even thought to be a threat to Nancy Pelosi's top leadership spot. Not anymore.

Nope, he lost to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. In fact he lost pretty big (57-42). What are her qualifications? Well she is very young, just 28 years old. When I was 28 I had graduated college, was married, had several kids and had worked real jobs for a number of years. I was not prepared to hold national office. Ms. Ocasio-Cortez has a degree from Boston University. She interned for Ted Kennedy and was an organizer for Bernie Sanders. Her work experience is apparently limited to waitressing and bartending. So what qualified this 28 year old "activist" to likely be in Congress? Well she is female (one checkmark on the oppressed checklist) and she is Hispanic (that is another checkmark on the oppressed checklist). She is also an unabashed socialist. That is really it. Following the example of Barack Obama as a politician with no significant real world experience besides "community organizing", Ms. Ocasio-Cortez is poised to be the youngest woman to ever serve as a U.S. Representative.

A lot of people, especially conservatives, focus on her socialist positions like Medicare for all (even though it is already going to be insolvent very soon) and "guaranteed" jobs, which seems like a problem since we already have tons of available jobs and millions of people that politely demure from taking them. But this is 2018 and in 2018 all politics are identity politics. I don't think Ms. Ocasio-Cortez won because of her tired socialist sloganeering. I think she won because she was young, female and Hispanic and Crowley was a generic white Irish Catholic man.

The Democrats have largely abandoned white men and in return white men have largely abandoned the Democrats. White men voted around 2-1 for Donald Trump in 2016 and I think that advantage for Republicans among white men will continue to climb, just as it falls for Democrats. Democrats are actually OK with this. Their electoral strategy is to continue to cobble together a disparate coalition of groups that have only one thing in common: some sort of animosity toward white men. Their thought process is simple and actually makes sense: as the country becomes less white, they stand to win more elections by positioning themselves as the anti-white male party and building their coalition that way. What exactly does a wealthy homosexual couple in San Francisco have in common with a black single mother in Detroit? Pretty much nothing unless you can convince them that while they may not share common problems, they do share a common enemy: white men.  If you are a woman, you are oppressed by white men. Vote Democrat. If you are black, you are oppressed by white men. Vote Democrat. If you are Hispanic, you are oppressed by white men. Vote Democrat.

That is really what the immigration debate is about. It is not about kids being separated from their families or any of that. It is about importing new voters to vote Democrat. I believe it is also what "Black Lives Matter", the nonsense about the gender wage gap, the endless yammering about "white supremacy" and "white privilege"  and most other liberal talking points are all about: creating a bogeyman to get voters to the polls. The message to women, homosexuals, blacks, Muslims, Hispanics, etc. is all the same: your life sucks and white men are to blame. Go vote Democrat.

Look at the Democrats leadership. Nancy Pelosi. Maxine Waters. MAXINE WATERS! Kamala Harris. Elizabeth Warren. Stormy Davis. All of the energy and focus is on women and/or minorities. Sure Chuck "Crocodile Tears" Schumer is the Dems Minority Leader in the Senate but he is Jewish so he gets half an oppression checkmark. I am 100% certain at this point that the Democrats nominee to oppose Trump in 2020 will be a woman, a minority or both. Joe Biden? Please. Too old, too male, too white.

For me this is the real story behind the win of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. It is not her socialism, it is that identity politics has such a hold on the Democrats that even powerful, entrenched white men in the party are not safe from being replaced. If you can't claim some sort of category of oppression, you have no future in the Democratic Party. Even though union leadership is still 100% sold out on the Dems, the rank and file seem to be abandoning the Democrats in droves. If you are a heterosexual white male the Democrats really have nothing to offer you and what is more they have no use for you.

For the foreseeable future everything will be identity politics. The only real question is whether or not we all come to realize it.

Justice Anthony Kennedy Retires: Will The Swing Vote Be Replaced By A Dependable Conservative?

Yesterday the news exploded that Justice Anthony Kennedy, the "swing vote" on the Supreme Court, is retiring at the end of next month. Those poor illegal alien kids "ripped from their mother's arms" are completely forgotten. Kids separated from their parents makes great political theater but when liberals sense their holiest of sacraments, abortion, being threatened, nothing else matters. The meltdown was immediate and predictable. This is going to be the ugliest nomination process we have had for a very long time.

You really cannot overstate how important Kennedy was, even if you disagreed with many of his decisions. With four conservative and four liberal justices, it was often Kennedy alone who made decisions. Whichever way he swung determined the outcome. For example, in Obergefell v. Hodges which magically created a "right" to homosexual marriage, Kennedy was the deciding vote as he was on most every 5-4 decision of the court. On a lot of cases the other 8 Justices could have stayed home and let Kennedy hear arguments and make the decision of the court. Without Kennedy and with a conservative replacement, the awful Roe v Wade decision could be in jeopardy and even Obergefell.

Also of note because I have a long memory and hold a grudge, it is worth noting how Kennedy got on the court in the first place. Kennedy was the replacement (after another replacement withdrew) for the failed nomination of Robert Bork. By any measure Bork was a legal titan. But his nomination was derailed by disgusting attacks by Senator Ted Kennedy among others that claimed things like having Robert Bork on the court would lead to blacks being forced to eat at segregated lunch counters. It is bad enough that a moral degenerate like Ted Kennedy would sit in judgment of anyone else but his charges were patently false. Unfortunately it worked and Bork's nomination was defeated and Kennedy took the seat where he would become the most influential member of the Court for three decades. The slandering of Robert Bork changed the tone of judicial nominations, for the worse, and others like Clarence Thomas would be subjected to "borking". To me, conservatives are owed three decades.

The public list of Trump's favored nominees contains some really solid choices and some with some red flags. Hopefully Trump will nominate a fairly young, solid on originalism candidate who is also strong enough to face the personal onslaught that will greet any nominee. I hate to even say it but anyone who is nominated in this political climate also has to consider their own personal safety and that of their family.

Donald Trump has the potential to shape the court like no other President in my lifetime. He already got Gorsuch and has another spot to fill with a solid conservative jurist. Ruth Bade Ginsburg is 85 and in poor health, her seat could literally come open at any moment and if Trump wins re-election in 2020 I can't imagine she would try to hold old for 2024 in the hope of being replace by a Democrat. Likewise Justice Breyer is turning 80 and probably looking for the exit, one way or another. Clarence Thomas is "only" 70 but might take the chance to retire now if he feels sure he would be replaced by a similar justice. There can hardly be a more powerful legacy for a President than to fill five seats, a majority. Then again Trump might blink and do something dumb here but I am hopeful that he will appoint the type of judges that he said he would.

Whoever the nominee is and I expect them to be named before too long, you had better buckle up because it is going to be a crazy ride this summer and fall!

Sunday, June 24, 2018

The Left Won't Be Happy Until Someone Gets Killed

It was just over a year ago that James Hodgkinson, a far left Bernie Sanders supporter, shot up a Republican congressional baseball practice. One member of congress, Steve Scalise, was seriously injured and nearly died from his injuries. This attack kind of culminated a string of incidents that went back to the 2016 election where on multiple occasions people were assaulted at Trump rallies and conservative speakers on college campuses saw mass demonstrations that often turned violent and destructive.

Now more than a year and a half after the election, things are not much better. We have the Department of Homeland Security head, Kirstjen Nielsen, chased by a mob from a restaurant and being harassed at her family home. Press secretary Sarah Sander was kicked out of a restaurant by the owners for no reason other than working for the Trump administration. Actor Peter Fonda went on a twitter rant where he used the vulgar term "gash" to describe women and fantasized about kidnapping the son of the President and locking him in a cage with pedophiles, presumably hoping that said pedophiles would rape the 12 year old boy. Meanwhile Peter Fonda still has his twitter account while right-wing accounts, like Jared Taylor, that have never posted anything even close to that have been permanently banned. Federal employees working for ICE have been described as terrorists and people have posted their personal information on the web and talked about showing up at the schools of their children. The threat of violence is omnipresent from the political left and it is getting worse by the day.

There are lots of unhinged people in this country and it won't take much to push one over the edge. It honestly seems like the Left in this country won't be happy until some conservative politician or a Federal agent ends up being killed by a lunatic. For all the talk about Trump's "inflammatory" rhetoric and "hateful speech", it seems to me that the people who are advocating violent revolution and attacks on elected officials, federal employees and even their children all emanate from the Left. Do we want a political atmosphere where the losers of an election spend the next year and a half terrorizing their political opponents and not so subtly threatening their families? I mean, if ICE agents are "terrorists", why wouldn't some loon think he was justified in killing one? We kill terrorists in Afghanistan, so why not in northern Virginia?

The Left runs on emotion rather than facts and logic and the more hysterical the emotion, the better. When you think you are defending the poor children "ripped" from their mother's arms on the border, it becomes really easy to rationalize attacking the people you are convinced are out to get the kids. It becomes little different from someone who rationalizes shooting an abortion doctor. Hey if I kill Dr. Abortionist then he can't abort any children and maybe it scares other abortionists off. Likewise, hey if I kill this ICE agent then he can't arrest any more "undocumented immigrants" and maybe it scares other people away from working for ICE. You see how this logical progression works?

Rhetoric turns into action. The Communist Manifesto and Mein Kampf are just books that contain political philosophy but when people take that philosophy and turn it into actions it has consequences. When you keep saying your political opponents are heartless and cruel, and are in fact terrorists and evil, it is only a matter of time before someone turns that rhetoric into action and shoots a cabinet secretary or murders the child of an ICE agent or even goes so far as to take a shot at the President of the United States.

I am saying right now, this is going to lead to bloodshed unless the thought-leaders of the Left tamp down the rhetoric and right now it seems very unlikely that will happen.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

A Modest Proposal To Keep Illegal Families Together

Kudos to Democrats. They have managed to successfully maneuver this whole children being separated from their illegal alien parents fiasco into two features that play to their strengths. First it is almost entirely an emotional issue devoid of any facts or reasoning. Second it has become an all or nothing deal. Right now the options on the border are detaining kids separately from parents or a de facto open borders free-for-all, which is what Democrats want. Although Senator Ted Cruz has a proposed bill that would help the problem, it would also require coming up with hundreds of immigration judges that I don't think we have sitting around not to mention the expensive construction of additional family units for detention which will take a long time along with a bunch of money. So here is my proposal for eliminating the child-parent separation of illegal alien families:

We should immediately eliminate the defensive asylum process.

Right now people can claim defensive asylum if they are caught in this country illegally. This prevents or at least delays their deportation but it also requires detention (see my post here on the subject) and causes a huge logjam on the border.

The process would be simplified. People who are apprehended either in the U.S. or trying to cross into the U.S. would immediately be deported as an intact family back into Mexico. If you don't have proof of legal entry into the U.S. (visa, work permit, etc.), then you go to the nearest port of entry as a family unit and back across the border you go as quickly as humanly possible. You don't get to claim asylum to delay the deportation process. No authorization to be in the U.S. means out you go.

Getting caught in the U.S. illegally is a misdemeanor for the first offense. The second offense is a felony so if you risk coming back into the U.S. after being deported once you go to prison. At that point, your second offense, you are entirely at fault. You will go to prison and you will be separated from your children just like anyone else that gets arrested and jailed in the U.S.. I would make sure anyone being deported after a first offense is given very clear instructions and warning that a second offense means they go to jail and get separated from their kids.

If it were up to me I would also stipulate that anyone caught in the U.S. illegally and deported becomes ineligible for asylum in the future, so you can't get deported and turn right around and apply for asylum. If you are a legitimate asylum seeker, you present yourself immediately and before you try to enter the U.S., at a port of entry and follow the process. The asylum process shouldn't be a game for people to try to cheat the immigration system. If you break our laws and get caught, that indicates to me that you are a poor candidate for asylum. There are dozens of ports of entry on the border so a legitimate asylum seeker should have no problem applying at one of them instead of sneaking across the desert. I suspect that the primary reason people don't apply for asylum first before trying to get in is that they are not actually legitimate asylum seekers.

For the immediate alleviation of the problem, I would unite the families and then immediately expel them to Mexico to await their hearing. This way families stay intact and we don't detain so many people in general. The border is respected and the immigration laws of the United States are upheld. Second time offenders get the same treatment as a U.S. citizen that is arrested and jailed and just like the children of U.S. criminals, they suffer the consequences. That sucks for kids but it happens all the time.

This proposal has flaws but it seems to me to be far better than anything else being proposed right now.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

But...but...the asylum process!

I have seen a new tactic from people who now claim that being in the U.S. illegally is not really illegal if you are going to claim asylum. Their new trump card (see what I did there?) comes from a clumsy reading of the asylum process. As usual it only takes a few minutes of actual reading to see that the claim that you can't be in the U.S. illegally if at any point you plan on claiming asylum is laughably ignorant. There are two types of asylum, Affirmative Asylum and Defensive Asylum. Understanding the difference is critical to understanding the border situation.

Here is what the first section of the "Affirmative Asylum" process says:

STEP ONE: Arrive in the U.S.

To apply for asylum in the U.S., you must be physically present in the U.S. or seeking entry into the U.S. at a port of entry.

According to what you are supposed to believe, that means that if you want asylum you can just wander into the country and apply for it, or as some are trying to interpret it "If you are going to claim asylum it is not illegal to enter this country without permission". But is that what it says and is that how the law is interpreted? Obviously not because we arrest and detain people who are in this country without permission all the time and many of them claim "asylum" after the fact.

Those that make this claim assume that all asylum seekers are the same. But maybe people that are not U.S. citizens are in this country in ways that are not illegal? Travel visas, work visas, student visas. The "physically present" clause seems aimed at someone who travels to the U.S. legally, like a student for example. While they are here legally there is a political revolution in their country and as a result they are legitimately afraid for their life. Since they are already "physically present", they can apply for asylum. They don't necessarily have to travel to a port of entry to apply for asylum, again because they are here legally. Those not already in the country legally that wish to apply for asylum are supposed to do so by appearing at a port of entry, for example Port Arthur in Texas, and indicate your intent to apply for asylum. This is important to note. According to Immigration services:

Affirmative asylum applicants are rarely detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). You may live in the United States while your application is pending before USCIS. If you are found ineligible, you can remain in the United States while your application is pending with the Immigration Judge. Most asylum applicants are not authorized to work.

Read that again. People that follow the legal process are a) rarely detained and b) may stay in the U.S. pending their hearing. I assume that those who are allowed in the U.S. but then don't show up for their hearing are considered illegal like someone who snuck in but I don't know that for sure. So who are the people being detained? Well the above describes "Affirmative Asylum". Those being detained seem to fall into the category of "Defensive Asylum".

Individuals are generally placed into defensive asylum processing in one of two ways:·

They are referred to an Immigration Judge by USCIS after they have been determined to be ineligible for asylum at the end of the affirmative asylum process, or

They are placed in removal proceedings because they:

- Were apprehended (or caught) in the United States or at a U.S. port of entry without proper legal documents or in violation of their immigration status,


- Were caught by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) trying to enter the United States without proper documentation, were placed in the expedited removal process, and were found to have a credible fear of persecution or torture by an Asylum Officer. See Questions & Answers: Credible Fear Screenings for more information on the Credible Fear Process.

See, now we are getting somewhere. This seems to describe the majority of the detention cases. If you get caught in the U.S. or trying to enter the U.S. without proper documentation, and are going to be removed from the U.S. and then claim asylum, you are considered to be a defensive asylum case, in other words your asylum claim is a response to being under threat of deportment which again seems to me to be a tactic used by people who refused to follow the legal procedure for asylum and are using asylum as a last ditch effort to keep from being deported. Because you have already been caught breaking the law, you are detained like anyone else breaking a law while you await your hearing. This is perfectly legal and within the stated intent of the asylum process.

The process is clear, logical and just. If you wish to claim asylum, present yourself with proper documentation so an honest decision can be made on your request at one of the many designated U.S. ports of entry. You almost certainly will not be detained unless there are extenuating circumstances and you will also be allowed to stay in the U.S. until your hearing.

On the other hand, if you are someone that has chosen to not follow this process, entered or attempted to enter this country illegally, get caught and then claim asylum in a desperate bid to avoid deportation, then the consequences for your actions are on you. Unfortunately if you have chosen to bring your children with you, they will also bear the consequences of your action just like anyone else that breaks our laws. That sucks in a bunch of ways but it is the result of irresponsible and illegal actions by people.

Not all asylum seekers are the same. Some people follow the rules and get what seems to me to be a very fair process. Many, many more do not and suffer the consequences. I can only assume that the reason many people don't choose the affirmative asylum process is that they are not legitimate asylum seekers in the first place and are just claiming asylum, having been coached to do so in an attempt to game the system. They also no doubt delay the asylum process for people who applied for asylum the right way which is terribly unfair to those individuals.

The United States very generously accepts refugees and asylum seekers from around the world. We are not obligated to do so but we choose to do so anyway. Before you bash America or start making wild claims about the asylum process, you owe it to yourself to educate yourself about the law. The situation on the border is a mess. It is made worse by people that choose to ignore the process and seek entry illegally, only to claim asylum later. It is also made worse by Americans that rely on emotion and "muh feels" while making statements that are unsupported by the facts.

Friday, June 15, 2018

More On Educational Egalitarianism

Speaking of misplaced egalitarianism in eduction....

The University of Chicago, considered in most circles to be a pretty elite school, has declared that they will no longer require applicants to submit ACT/SAT scores as part of the admission process. They are not the first university to do so but they certainly are the most prominent and prestigious. What is their stated reason?

The university’s initiative, announced Thursday, “levels the playing field” for first-generation and low-income students, said James G. Nondorf, dean of admissions and vice president of enrollment and student advancement.

“Some students are good testers, some students are not,” Mr. Nondorf said. “We want to remove any policy or program that we have that advantages one group of students over the other.”

This is one of those times when you have to read what is meant rather than what is said. What does that actually mean? What is the real impetus behind this given very real concerns about grade inflation? You have to read down quite a bit further in the article to find out the real driver as stated by Robert Schaeffer who is the "public education director of the National Center for Fair and Open Testing"....

Mr. Schaeffer said research shows that when schools go test-optional, they increase diversity by race, geography and first-generation students.

“It encourages more kids with real talent to think about applying,” he said.

In other words, we aren't getting the student demographics we want so we will just rig the system. When James Nondorf says that "some" people are not good test takers, what he really means is that black students are not good test takers. The U.S. Department of Education reports the drastic difference in SAT scores by race.

Look at the differences in math scores. White college bound high school seniors scored an average of 534 in math. Asians were even higher at 598. On the other hand Hispanic students scored 457 in math and black students scored even lower with a 428. The results are similar in critical reading with whites scoring 529, Asians scoring 525, Hispanics scoring around 448 and blacks again scoring the lowest among all races and ethnicities with an average score of 431. You might claim that this is due to "cultural bias", which doesn't explain why Asians still score so highly, or that black students are less prepared for college through no fault of their own, but as we see below the outcomes for college by race is reflective of what the entrance test scores show, namely that there is an enormous gap in aptitude as measured by the SAT/ACT as well in achievement as measured by graduation rates. The bottom line is that the University of Chicago wants to virtue signal by increasing their black and Hispanic admissions but doesn't seem to have much concern about whether those minority students graduate. For sure standardized tests are not the end all and be all. I scored in the very top on the ACT test but I was a mediocre high school and college student because I was lazy and had learned early on how to get by on raw intelligence rather than effort. That is why testing is only one factor in college admissions but it is the one factor that is the same across the country. An Asian student in a suburb of San Francisco takes the same test as a black student in Baltimore or a Hispanic student in Phoenix. How else can you compare a student with a 3.75 GPA at a highly competitive high school to a student with a 3.75 GPA at a failing school?

This is going on in high schools as well. In a recent editorial Pat Buchanan brought up how this anti-testing movement is playing out in New York, Is Mayor de Blasio an Anti-Asian Bigot?. The far-left mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio, is pushing to get rid of the tests used in part to determine entrance for New York City's most elite schools. What is the problem with the tests? The same as above: the demographic result is not what they want:

At Stuyvesant, The Wall Street Journal writes, “2.8 percent of students are Latino and 0.69 percent are black. But 72.9 percent are Asian-American.”

This is a problem because "Black and Hispanic students make up nearly 70 percent of the city’s public school students". Since the Left holds as religious dogma the unscientific notion that environment is the single and only factor is determining outcome, rather than any inherent ability, the assumption is that if you take a less qualified black or Hispanic student and put them into an elite school, they will magically become elite students. In reality what happens is more qualified Asian and white students will be consigned to non-elite schools and the elite schools like Stuyvesant will become less elite and more like the rest of the NYC schools. That is liberalism in a nutshell, everyone shares equally in mediocrity and misery.

This is the practical manifestation of another Leftist religious dogma: diversity is an unqualified good. More diverse is good, less diverse is evil. In education this means more blacks and Hispanics in college at the expense of whites and Asians. This raises a question. Let me bring back one of my favorite charts about college, graduation rates after six years by race:

So right now, in our insufficiently diverse university system, well over half of black college students don't complete their degree after six years. So our priority is to get even more black students into college classrooms. Are we supposed to assume that by lowering admission standards we are going to improve results? There is no benefit to starting college and failing to finish. In all seriousness, we cannot be far away from calls to have different grading scales and standards for Asian and white students versus for black students. The real goal is not equality of opportunity, that was just a stepping stone. The real goal is equality of outcome by any means necessary. Let's hope that medical schools don't do away with the MCAT. If I am on an operating table I want the best doctor to care for me, not the most diverse.

We all want everyone to have an equal opportunity to succeed. What that doesn't mean is guaranteeing equality of outcome. It doesn't mean pushing a four year degree as the only path to success. It doesn't mean gaming the system to get a desired demographic result in the name of "diversity". It doesn't mean holding back or punishing more deserving students because they are the "wrong" race or ethnicity. Getting rid of testing is just another way to game the system to get a desired outcome, regardless of whether that outcome is fair or in the best interest of students and society.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Separating fact from fiction about separating children from their parents at the border

I really can't recommend this article from National Review enough, The Truth about Separating Kids, and given the generally NeverTrump/Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS) lunacy from NRO it takes a lot to get me to recommend an article there these days. Rich Lowry does a great job of looking at the actual facts. That is pretty rare when people afflicted by TDS resort to the "what about the children?!?!" mantra without asking questions like: what is the alternative? Government provided housing for tens of thousands of families being processed for asylum? Letting them loose into the country in the risible expectation that they will actually show up for their asylum hearing?  You really need to read the whole thing but one section stuck out for me regarding the claims of "asylum"

2) There’s a better way to claim asylum. Every indication is that the migrant flow to the United States is discretionary. It nearly dried up at the beginning of the Trump administration when migrants believed that they had no chance of getting into the United States. Now, it is going in earnest again because the message got out that, despite the rhetoric, the policy at the border hasn’t changed. This strongly suggests that the flow overwhelmingly consists of economic migrants who would prefer to live in the United States, rather than victims of persecution in their home country who have no option but to get out.

Even if a migrant does have a credible fear of persecution, there is a legitimate way to pursue that claim, and it does not involve entering the United States illegally. First, such people should make their asylum claim in the first country where they feel safe, i.e., Mexico or some other country they are traversing to get here. Second, if for some reason they are threatened everywhere but the United States, they should show up at a port of entry and make their claim there rather than crossing the border illegally.

From what I gather an awful lot of these asylum cases leading to family separation occur when a family is caught already illegally entering the country and the parents then claim asylum, starting the 20 day clock on how long children can be detained. If I wanted to claim asylum in Canada I would drive over the Ambassador Bridge between Detroit and Windsor, declare myself at the border and inform them I was seeking asylum. I would not sneak into Canada and hope to not get caught. You will notice that most of the asylum seekers seem to be people from countries south of Mexico. It isn't like it is a short trip from the southern Mexican border to the U.S. border. I mapped what looks like the shortest distance between a major city in the south of Mexico to a similar city near the U.S. border. This is what it looks like.

That is over 1,400 miles. Figure reasonably with only a couple of stops for gas that is twenty hours of hard driving. It is 200 miles further than driving from New York City to Omaha, Nebraska. You don't make that trip if you are just seeking asylum, you invest the time and money to make that trip because it pays off in the end.

The reason more people fleeing Honduras, El Salvador, etc. don't stop in Mexico to seek asylum is the same reason people coming from Africa don't seek asylum in safer northern Africa or the Middle East: America and Western Europe provide more in social benefits. These are by and large not true "refugees" so much as they are economic migrants. Those who are granted asylum in the U.S. or Western Europe are never going to leave. For example, people flipped out earlier this year when Trump announced that we are rescinding the Temporary Protected Status for almost 200,000 El Salvadorans. They received TPS after a devastating earthquake. That earthquake happened in 2001. Temporary Protected Status is supposed to be, as the name would indicate, temporary, like periods of 6-18 months. Meanwhile there are hundreds of thousands of El Salvadorans still here 17 years later. I assume the aftershocks from the 2001 earthquakes settled down some time ago. The way the process has always "worked" is that once you were granted asylum, you essentially became a permanent resident. That is clearly not the intent of the law nor is it what we are led to believe but that is what really happens.

The truth of the situation on the border is that it is very complicated. We want to be humane but we also have laws to uphold. It would be great if we could build nice housing for tens of thousands of immigrants while awaiting asylum hearings but a) that would be enormously expensive and b) it would be a magnet to draw even more "refugees" to the border. It would be great if we could let asylum seekers stay with family in the country and we could count on them to show up for their asylum hearings but we know that is not going to happen, not least because I am assuming an awful lot of them would have their asylum denied. It is clearly better to gamble with ICE picking you up than it is to show up at the border, declare your intent to seek asylum and then wait for a hearing. So it is not just a matter of screaming about children being "ripped away from their parents", you have to actual have the capacity to think through some of these questions.

My position is that the illegal immigrant/fake refugee problem is largely driven by demand. As long as there is a demand for low wage workers, those workers will flood across our borders. I am an advocate for a serious wall and greatly enhanced border security but I am also an advocate for stiff civil and even criminal penalties for Americans that hire illegals. Put a few meat packing plant HR managers in prison for 30 days for knowingly hiring illegals and pretty soon the demand, and the flow, will dry up. I would also rather see the U.S. financially help refugees to stay in their own regions. Make refugees ineligible for social welfare programs. Aid Mexico, African nations, etc. care for refugees where they share a common culture. Quit engaging in a foreign policy that creates more refugees!

It is critical to think seriously about these questions but it is also critical to understand that the raging debate over immigration is about far more than whether families should be separated or not. Right now there is an unholy alliance between business groups that want cheap labor to hold down wages and to buy consumer goods on the one hand and liberals who want mass immigration in a bid to replace the current unruly electorate with one that is easier to control and manipulate. Left in the middle are working class and middle class Americans that bear the brunt of lower wages, overseas competition, mounting debt and the social problems that come along with migrants (more on that in a soon to appear post). Instead of a real debate we have hysterics and crocodile tears.

The 2018 elections are going to be a referendum on Trump and in order for the GOP to retain the House and gain significant seats in the Senate, Trump and the GOP need to deliver on promises to middle and working class voters in places like Michigan and Ohio. Paul Ryan's massive amnesty proposal is a step in exactly the wrong direction. The narrative over separated families at the border is a smokescreen designed to inflame the liberal base and depress conservatives by emotional, rather than factual, appeals. But make no mistake, this country is on the precipice and we are just about out of time to start fixing it. If the GOP thinks we will keep showing up to vote for betrayals and empty promises, they are wrong.

Read Rich Lowry's piece linked at the top and please share it widely. It won't sway those most deeply infected by TDS but it just might help a few people to start to think about this issue based on what is really happening instead of basing their opinion on fake and old photos of children.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Election Embarrassment

I have been eligible to vote for over a quarter of a century. I registered as soon as I was eligible to and have voted in every major and the vast majority of minor elections ever since. I have not always been super excited about my votes, like voting for Gary "What's an Aleppo?" Johnson in 2016 but the only vote that I can say I truly regret and that I am frankly embarrassed about is my vote in 2008 for John McCain. I would never have voted for Obama of course but I do wish I had voted for Libertarian Bob Barr or Constitution Party candidate Chuck Baldwin instead of McCain. My disgust in my vote for McCain has grown over the years and reached an all-time high yesterday when Senator McCain tweeted out this:

What an ignorant statement. President Trump won the Presidency in large part by speaking out strongly against unfair trade practices and bad "free trade" deals. Senator McCain might take note that almost 63 million people voted for President Trump, or 3 million more than voted for McCain in 2008. Trump's stance on international trade resonated with people in places like Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, all states that Trump won and not surprisingly McCain lost, where the magic economic fairy dust of "globalization" hasn't worked out so well for workers and their families.

The economic and trade policies of the United States shouldn't be centered on what is best for our G7 allies and getting the most cheap crap to sell at Wal-Mart as possible. There is far more to a healthy economy than cheap T-shirts and Marvel action figures. A healthy economy means that we need to make some stuff ourselves, otherwise everyone either works in high-tech, something most people aren't able to do, or they work in low paying service industry jobs and those jobs are going to disappear fast (for example the soon to be ubiquitous self-service ordering kiosks at McDonalds).

As for our "allies", they live and thrive under the protection of the might of the United States military. The U.S. spends over $600 billion in military spending, much of that going to man bases on the soil of other G7 nations or to keep our carrier groups protecting the freedom of the high seas. The rest of the G7 spends the following amounts (in billions):

Canada    20.6
Japan 45.4
Germany 44.3
U.K.        47.2
France 57.8
Italy         29.2

So we spend more than double the total of our six "allies" combined. Their people and their economies have the luxury of relying on the United States for protection, at great cost to us. If the Russians or Chinese attacked Canada, how long would they last without our support? A week? That isn't likely to happen but it certainly makes it easier to focus on your own trade policies when your country is protected by someone else.  

Perhaps that sounds jingoistic. I don't care.

Regular Americans are starting to figure out that we were sold a bill of goods when we were promised prosperity and peace via globalization. It has been great for Wall Street. For Middle America, not so much. But hey, at least we can buy cheap stuff made by little children in sweatshops!

Maybe Senator McCain stands with Germany and Canada. That is his right. As for me I stand with America. So does President Trump and so do tens of millions of Americans that McCain arrogantly claims to speak for.

Liberals Depend On Failure

In a rare show of honesty, liberal "comedian" Bill Maher let slip that the Left is hoping for economic collapse.

Friday on HBO’s “Real Time,” host Bill Maher admitted he was hoping for the American economy to falter because he said that was the one way to “get rid” of President Donald Trump.

Maher acknowledged the economy was good for now but said he felt like the bottom could “fall out at some point.”

“That’s my question — I feel like the bottom has to fall out at some point, and by the way, I’m hoping for it because I think one way you get rid of Trump is a crashing economy,” Maher said. “So please, bring on the recession. Sorry if that hurts people but it’s either root for a recession, or you lose your democracy.”

Of course that is the case. They want the economy to crash for the same reason they love globalization that ships our high wage, middle-class jobs overseas. Liberals as a political philosophy thrive on and depend on misery. The more people are out of work, the more they work at low-wage jobs at Wal-Mart and McDonalds, the more dependent they are on government and thus the more likely they are to vote Democrat. It is a cold, callous political calculation but one that you have to admit works. Just as encouraging women to be "independent" and not "needing a man" only replaces husbands with government, so to does economic misery change the dynamic so that instead of relying on providing for yourself, you instead rely on government. Once people get hooked on the government dole it is hard to get them off and this is by design. If you are on welfare and food stamps and getting a job means losing the free money, that makes a serious disincentive to going back to work. Our social welfare programs are designed to benefit you more the less you do. No wonder we have a huge and growing dependency class in this country.

Liberalism only thrives where people are miserable.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Participation Ribbon Egalitarianism Has No Place In Education

I got into a conversation on Facebook the other day that turned rather heated, as they often do, on the topic of college. I was arguing, as I often do, that there are too many kids going to college today, and as part of my argument I pointed out how poor graduation rates are. Here is a chart that speaks to that I have referenced before:

For white students, only 3 out of 5 have completed their degree six years after starting, which of course means that almost 40% of students start school and likely never complete a degree, and many of them have nothing to show for it other than student loan debt. No one lists on their resume "Completed 4 semesters of college". For black students it is even worse with 3 out of 5 students failing to complete their degree in six years, and if you haven't completed a degree in six years the odds are you never will. Schools like the University of Michigan have a staff of almost 100 and spend $11 million a year in their "diversity office" but in the case of blacks the majority of them attending college don't graduate.

Our entire high school system is geared toward cramming as many high school graduates into college as possible, with the stated goal of sending even more kids to college, yet a huge percentage of those we are already sending don't complete their education and come off campus with a bunch of debt and wasted years. As Bryan Caplan persuasively argues in his book The Case Against Education (my review here), the college degree is mostly a signal to potential employers that you have the intelligence and stamina to complete a degree. They don't hire you for the skills you allegedly learn in college, except in some technical fields like chemistry or accounting. They hire you because your degree signals to them something about you as a person. Therefore having half a degree or three-quarters of a degree is meaningless because it fails to signal to an employer what a degree does. A person one class short of a B.A. is essentially as educated as someone with the sheepskin but they are not treated at all the same by employers.

One of the people in the conversation, someone I respect intellectually, attributed the poor completion rate to the failure of high schools to prepare students for college. That is a common charge and one that has some merit as many high schools are financially incentivized to "teach to the test" to boost standardized test scores and that can have a negative effect on college preparation. But I would like to propose a rather more controversial reason for poor completion rates:
We send too many kids to college and a significant percentage of them have no business pursuing a four year degree.
That is quite a counter-cultural statement but one I believe in.

Even when I was in school, waaayyyy back in the early 90's, it was noticeable just how intellectually unremarkable most students were. They were not the cream of the crop, they were just average kids that graduated from high school and went on seamlessly to college. Many of them were in college because that was what was expected of them. They were not pursuing education with a specific goal of becoming an engineer or nurse. They were just in college as the inevitable next step in their state-mandated "education". Based on my work experience more recently when I interacted with younger college grads, I don't see any reason to think things have changed much.

The goal seems to be to make college as ubiquitous as high school, but with the added bonus of a trillion dollars in unsecured student loans. Virtually any city of any decent size has a college and even mid-sized cities like the one I live near often have half a dozen or more colleges and universities. They are all full of students in pursuit of that magic golden ticket to middle-class comfort, the four year degree.

When everyone has a college degree, that degree becomes drastically less valuable. In many respects a bachelor's degree today is the equivalent of a high school degree 25 years ago. Almost everyone seems to have one and it no longer indicates extraordinary achievement. It has become a bare minimum qualification rather than an exceptional achievement in virtually all professional/business settings. In my last corporate job almost all of my peers had a degree, I would say all of them did but I am not certain of that. We each managed account relationships with hundreds of millions of dollars in assets. None of us were using anything we learned in college. We almost universally came up through the financial services ranks, starting out in call centers or as entry-level clerks. We learned on the job and those that excelled moved up the ranks. Even given the significant responsibility of our jobs and the relatively high salaries we were earning, most of my peers were like my peers in college, intellectually unremarkable. Most of us were at least above average in intelligence to be sure, but that would have been true with or without a college degree. None of our degrees qualified us for the jobs we were doing but a lack of that degree would have been a barrier to us getting those jobs. The Bachelor's degree shouldn't be the academic equivalent of a participation ribbon that everyone gets, it should be the mark of a significant academic achievement. I like this quote from a review of Caplan's book, the actual quote is from an article that is behind a paywall but here it is:

Seongho Lee, a professor of education at Chung-Ang University, criticizes what he calls “college education inflation.” Not all students are suited for college, he says, and across institutions, their experience can be inconsistent. “It’s not higher education anymore,” he says. “It’s just an extension of high school.” And subpar institutions leave graduates ill prepared for the job market.

So what to do? Here are a few suggestions....

First, high schools, and perhaps even middle schools, need to do a better job channeling students into appropriate paths. Kids with average intellects ought to be encouraged to seek vocational training after high school. That could mean learning a trade like welding or it could be some basic computer skills at a community college, just enough to get a decent entry level job where you can learn as you go. Students with below average intellects have no reason to take college prep classes or be forced to take coursework they will never use. High school and especially the last couple of years should be aimed at giving them some marketable skills so they can get a job when they graduate rather than sending them off to a school where they will fail and lose valuable years of experience. The intellectually exceptional students should be in classes that will help them hit the ground running as they pursue degrees in actuarial science or electrical engineering. I would mostly ditch foreign language (the retention rate after high school is atrocious) and classes like art that don't add any value.

No parent likes to think that their little Johnny or Suzie is below average but by definition half of all kids are so let's stop pretending otherwise. Oh, and one more thing. All kids should be getting more practical schooling in things like budgeting and finance, basic mechanical skills so they can fix a faucet or change their own oil. Get rid of the superfluous art class and make kids take at least one class in practical life skills per year of high school.

Second, shut off the unlimited fire hose of government funding and government backed student loans. People whine incessantly about the need to "make college more affordable" without seeming to understand that by providing a limitless pool of funding you are inevitably going to raise prices. When an 18 year old kid can take out loans of tens of thousands of dollars, with nothing securing the loan and with no underwriting for credit-worthiness or ability to repay, schools have no incentive to control costs. So instead they build new facilities and hires hundreds of administrative positions that have no teaching responsibility. Those costs are passed on in tuition which in turn is passed on to the tax-payers. It is a pretty sweet business model for colleges and universities. Paint yourself as indispensable and then convince the tax-payers to blindly hand over truck-loads of cash.

Many people on the left clamor that the solution is to make college "free". Now, no one with an ounce of intelligence thinks that it will be "free", instead the costs will simply be buried in the general budget of the state. Rather than each student paying, we instead force everyone to pay in part for kids to get degrees in gender studies and communications. If you think colleges have no incentive to control costs now, just wait until they can hide their costs in the general budget of a state!

Third, close a bunch of schools and in the ones that remain slash the degree offerings. Colleges and universities are so ubiquitous because there is so much demand and because they have unlimited revenue sources. Reduce the demand by channeling fewer students into the 4-year degree tract, eliminate the artificial funding mechanism and many schools will fold up. How many schools offering generic degrees in business do you need in any given city?

Most schools brag about the dizzying array of degrees and majors they offer and a significant portion of those offerings are absolutely useless, especially in the contemporary world. You can learn more about politics from Youtube and the library for free than you ever will listening to some faux intellectual PoliSci prof nostalgic for communism with a pony tail. If you are interested in history you can watch videos or listen to podcasts from some of the greatest minds in the academic world, many for free, rather than attending a lecture from a mediocre professor. Education for the sake of education is fine but you can get the same results for free that you spends tens of thousands of dollars and years of your life to obtain at a university. Sure you can make an argument of the value of a "well rounded education" but in reality the retention rate of information people were taught in general education classes at the university level is atrocious. Most students take a ton of non-major related classes, finish the final exam and promptly forget everything they learned. What did I retain from my undergraduate coursework in geology, economics and philosophy? Essentially nothing. I only took them because I had to in order to get my golden ticket.

There are plenty of other ideas but those are a few that would cause a huge paradigm shift in our educational system. I am not anti-college. I am all in favor of students with specific vocational goals pursuing the education they need at a four year school. If someone wants to be a chemist or a physical therapist, by all means head off to school with my blessing (but not with my tax dollars please). If someone wants to work with computers or be an HVAC technician, go to a community college. But if someone doesn't have the intellectual aptitude for a specific career path, we should be helping them find something worthwhile to do for a living instead of postponing adulthood by sending them to college where they will as often as not fail and rack up debt while wasting valuable time where they could be getting work experience. College should serve a very specific and narrow function in our broader economy but right now it mostly serves as a very expensive adult day-care where young adults waste years of their life and gain no practical vocational skills in return.

The real world is not Lake Wobegon where all of the kids are above average and the egalitarian impulse to pretend all people have equal ability is silly, counter-factual and harmful. Let's make higher education great again by sending fewer kids to college!