Andrew Sullivan on the Democrats and immigration

I enjoy reading Andrew Sullivan’s weekly “Interesting Times” columns, and they’re worth following. Each Friday column covers three subjects, and although I don’t agree with Andrew all of the time, more often than not I do. You may still count him as a conservative, but he sure doesn’t sound like one, especially when, as he does this week, he goes after Trump and his mendacity. But I want to highlight the third of Sullivan’s mini-articles this week: the one on immigration. Click on the screenshot to read.

First, though, a few excerpts from the other two bits.

On Trump and his lying:

No, Trump’s only rival in this department — denying what everyone can see is true — was Sarah Palin, the lipsticked John the Baptist of the Trump cult. During the 2008 campaign, gobsmacked that this lunatic could be in line for the presidency, I began to keep track of everything she said out loud that was provably, empirically untrue. In the two months she was running to be vice-president, I catalogued 34 demonstrably untrue statements, which she refused to correct. She compiled nowhere near Trump’s volume of lies — it’s close to inhuman to lie the way he does — but her capacity to move swiftly on from them, along with the press’s supine failure to keep up, was very Trumpy. The short attention span of digital media has made this worse. And she got away with it. The base didn’t care; the media couldn’t cope.

Trump, too stupid to ape Clinton, and far more accomplished a liar than Palin, combines the sinister Bush-era kind of lie — “We do not torture” — with the Palin compulsion to just make things up all the time to avoid any sense of vulnerability. What Trump adds is a level of salesmanship that is truly a wonder to behold. He is a con man of surpassing brilliance and conviction, and every time he survives the fallout of a con, he gets more confident about the next one.

At some point, the law usually catches up with this kind of con artist, and Trump has had quite a few close calls over the years (and paid out a lot in settlements). But a presidential con man at this level of talent, legitimized by public opinion, enlarged and enhanced by the office and its trappings, is far harder to catch. It seems to me we had one shot of doing this definitively —the Mueller investigation — and we failed.

On Boris Johnson.  Sullivan agrees with many that the risible Boris Johnson is about to become Britain’s next Prime Minister. So now Brits get their own orange clown! Sullivan recounts how he knew Johnson—they were both presidents of the Oxford Union, a debating society—and Sullivan avers that he still likes Johnson. Why? I guess because he finds Johnson entertaining and “great company”, though he can’t take Johnson seriously. And, although he doesn’t share Johnson’s pro-Brexit stand, he can’t manage to rouse the usual Sullivanish opprobrium against his old mate. He concludes this way:

[Johnson’s] support for Brexit was a critical moment in the credibility of the Leave campaign. It’s not a huge leap to say that without him, it might not have happened.

And that’s why the impossible conundrum of Brexit is now rightly in his ample lap. Unlike May, he voted for it (or said he did). Panicked by the rise of the Brexit party, the Tories believe he will bring the faithful back and get out of the E.U. definitively by Halloween — even though there is no parliamentary majority for it, and if Boris thinks he will have more luck negotiating a better deal with the E.U., he’s crackers. You think Macron will go easier on Boris than May?

He once said, with characteristic brio, that “my chances of being PM are about as good as the chances of finding Elvis on Mars, or my being reincarnated as an olive.” That was as colorful as it was untrue. But there is some sweet cosmic justice in Boris having to take responsibility for the Brexit he backed. It may be a catastrophe, but it will be his, and, for him at least, it sure will be fun.

On immigration.  Nearly everyone agrees that we now have an immigration crisis on our hands. Republicans try to solve it by flailing about, sometimes proposing cruel solutions and sometimes stupid ones. But Democrats—my side—seem to ignore the whole mess. As I’ve said before, one might think, by listening to Dem party leaders, that they favor open borders.  Now they really don’t, but a big failure of the Democrats is their failure to propose and unify behind a sensible immigration policy. A failure to do that will be a big minus for us in next year’s elections.

We all know that many immigrants aren’t coming as political refugees or refugees from violence, but pretend to do so because it guarantees them entry. If there’s one thing most of us agree on, it’s that true refugees deserve pride of place in immigration, while “economic refugees”—those who come here simply to attain a better life, have to take a back seat. And most of us agree that we simply can’t let everyone in, unless perhaps you’re an extreme Democratic Socialist.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, notes Sullivan, defines “refugee status” this way:

“Refugee status or asylum may be granted to people who have been persecuted or fear they will be persecuted on account of race, religion, nationality, and/or membership in a particular social group or political opinion.”

In his piece, Sullivan, who used to be on the board of an organization that helped gay couples gain asylum because they were persecuted in their home countries, draws this distinction, using as his centerpiece the story of a Guatemalan coffee-bean farmer who is planning to claim asylum in the U.S. because the price of coffee has dropped and he’s losing money.

I agree with Sullivan that if we’re going to abide by American principles, we must first of all be a haven for those persecuted in other lands. After that we can look at non-persecution claims. But the Democrats don’t seem to be doing much about anything, and, given the sentiment of the country, they simply must propose some reasonable way to vet those who want to move here.

Sullivan:

Sympathizing with people whose livelihoods have vanished is entirely the moral thing to do. But unemployment and poverty are not the same as persecution, and the migration is self-evidently economic. Nonetheless, Sieff’s central figure in the story is going to claim asylum when he reaches the border. In other words, the generosity of America in providing asylum for the persecuted is being fraudulently exploited by hundreds of thousands of immigrants.

An asylum claim is not immediately granted, of course, but it is an immediate guarantee of entry to America, because we recognize that people genuinely seeking asylum need refuge immediately. But that’s not what’s happening here. The current crisis in immigration is, in fact, a giant and flagrant abuse of the very meaning of asylum. Just as illegal immigration is an affront to legal immigration, so blatantly fraudulent asylum pleas trivialize and exploit those who genuinely need our help.

I have yet to see or hear any Democratic candidate object in any way to this abuse. As core principles of American law and decency are openly flaunted, they really, really don’t seem to give a damn.

No, they don’t.

 

81 Comments

  1. Harrison
    Posted June 15, 2019 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    If Dems aren’t hyper-concentrated on the people abusing the asylum process, it might have something to do with the more common and higher-priority issue of the abuse of legal asylum-seekers by the present administration, as well as conflation of the asylum process (turning yourself in to the first border agent you can find and actively seeking them out) with illegal immigration (attempting to enter the country undetected).

  2. Ken Pidcock
    Posted June 15, 2019 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    Fair enough, and economic refugees should not be granted asylum. But the conversation would be helped by acknowledgment that they are economic refugees and not criminals coming here to destroy our way of life.

  3. Randall Schenck
    Posted June 15, 2019 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    I have little to no sympathy for Sullivan’s comments on Immigration. He either does not know much about what is going on or simply wants to take a shot at democrats. After all the illegal actions taken by Trump and his agencies on this issue for the past two plus years, lets go after the democrats? Please give me a break.

    Would he recognize that the democrats and republicans had a deal going on immigration reform just as Trump came to power and blew it all up? Would he recognize that any immigration plan or law that democrats spent time to put forward would die along with everything else in the Senate. You know that place where the grim reaper lives. To even suggest that the democrats need to do something on immigration is just a lack of understanding on this subject.

    And by the way, I am sure that some of the democratic candidates will be having plans on this issue.

    Sullivan should do some homework all the way back to “build the wall and the Mexicans will pay for it.” Cutting aid to central america, how is that working out?

    • Mark R.
      Posted June 15, 2019 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

      I agree with you here.

      And Sullivan didn’t mention that on June 4th the House passed a bill that would offer a path to citizenship for 2 million undocumented immigrants- including dreamers.

      McConnell and Trump are the ones who don’t want meaningful immigration reform. Trump uses the issue as red-meat for his base. McConnell is only worried about seating radical judges. But those damn democrats don’t give a damn? Right.

      Many 2020 candidates have clear-cut plans on what they will do regarding immigration. Much of it through executive orders. Julian Castro and Beto O’rourke both have comprehensive plans.

    • EdwardM
      Posted June 15, 2019 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

      So if Sullivan is so off base, perhaps you can enlighten him (and the rest of us); what exactly is the Democrat’s position on economic migrants claiming asylum here?

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted June 15, 2019 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

        If you were listening I pretty much said they had already done that and it was rejected by trump. I think we can say the democrats would not be doing much of anything Trump has been doing. Such as: locking people up and separating children from their parents and shipping them all over the country while deporting parents. Gasing people at the boarder. Forcing young girls to not get abortions even when they had been raped. There have been lots of lawsuits against the Trump administration on their actions at the boarder. And of course now they threatened Mexico with Tariffs if they do not stop the central Americans. A really brilliant plan.

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted June 15, 2019 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

        If you were listening I pretty much said they had already done that and it was rejected by trump. I think we can say the democrats would not be doing much of anything Trump has been doing. Such as: locking people up and separating children from their parents and shipping them all over the country while deporting parents. Gasing people at the boarder. Forcing young girls to not get abortions even when they had been raped. There have been lots of lawsuits against the Trump administration on their actions at the boarder. And of course now they threatened Mexico with Tariffs if they do not stop the central Americans. A really brilliant plan.

      • max blancke
        Posted June 16, 2019 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

        What I get of the Democrats position on immigration is that they publicly advocate whatever position that their advisors judge as being trendy and marketable.

        But the question I would love to get an answer to is what the logistics and funding sources are behind the hundreds(taken into custody) or even thousands(?) of Africans who travel from their homes in DRC, Sudan and elsewhere to Kenya, fly commercially to Brazil or Ecuador, then travel to the US/Mexican border to apply for asylum.

        Also, I would love to hear what tortured logic is used by those who take their claims of asylum seriously.

        The system has become a farce, really.

        • rickflick
          Posted June 16, 2019 at 11:48 pm | Permalink

          I think at this point, Democrats are focused on getting elected, not on clarifying subtle points of law. I imagine any Democrat elected president in 2020 will have a plan dealing with substance and it will be modified to make it through the congress as it is configured at that time. Will the Dems hold the House and take the Senate?

    • LFP2016
      Posted June 15, 2019 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

      Randall, I think you’re conflating Trump’s actions on immigration (which are objectively deplorable) with the urgent need to implement some sensible controls on our out-of-control immigration system. It’s shameful — and economically damaging — that there are 12 million illegal aliens in the US.

      The Democrats discount the immigration issue at their peril. Out here in the provinces (I live in the rural Southeast US), far from the coastal echo chambers, it remains a major issue. The working class guys here aren’t going to forget that you no longer can make a living mowing lawns or installing drywall thanks to 20+ years of illegals driving down wages (to name two of many examples).

      Since there are approximately zero of this demographic in the media or Congress, it’s apparently a surprise when demagogues like Trump are elected. From my perspective in the trenches, it was no surprise.

      The Regressive Left media mock white blue-collar men on a daily basis, but good luck consistently winning elections without them. The Democrats need to be very clear that they support sensible legal immigration but not illegal abuses of the system that harm our own workers.

      • Matt
        Posted June 16, 2019 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

        LFP2016 Did it occur to you that paying higher wages would put many lawn mowers and drywallers out of business?

        • rickflick
          Posted June 16, 2019 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

          Drywallers I don’t know, but lawn mowers should be allowed to work for less if they are under a certain age. That way, more kids could earn money and become integrated into the working world. Good point. Other than that, though, I think a $15 minimum is reasonable even if it distorts supply and demand to some degree.

  4. Nicolaas Stempels
    Posted June 15, 2019 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    Mr Johnson becoming Prime Minister, what an appalling prospect.
    Isn’t there any serious politician in the UK who opposes Brexit, sees it for the madness it is?

    • Posted June 15, 2019 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

      There are plenty of UK politicians who oppose Brexit, the country was split 50:50 in the referendum and has been ever since.

      But is Brexit really any more “madness” than Switzerland and Norway not being in the EU, or Canada not being part of the US?

      • Saul Sorrell-Till
        Posted June 15, 2019 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

        “But is Brexit really any more “madness” than Switzerland and Norway not being in the EU, or Canada not being part of the US?”

        If we were instantly transported into the same healthy positions that those countries currently occupy, maybe not.

        But that isn’t what’s going to happen. Instead we’re going to walk out on a phenomenally opaque, hugely complicated spaghetti of interlinking deals and provisos, an edifice of economic entanglement that took years upon years upon years to build, and _start all over again from zero._

        It’s the equivalent of suggesting to Norway, Switzerland and Canada that they erase all the historical progress they’ve made in forging international economic relationships(historical progress that was decades, even centuries, in the making) and just do it all over again for no rational reason.

      • Posted June 15, 2019 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

        Norway has a sweetheart deal (free trade without membership) with the EU by virtue of it being a founding member of the EFTA. The UK will not get that deal—it will be out in the cold. No-deal Brexit is going to be a grievous self-inflicted harm.

      • Nicolaas Stempels
        Posted June 15, 2019 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

        I’m sure they must exist, of course they do, My point was possibly not clear. Can you name one serious Bremain British politician that is considered as a possible candidate for prime minister?

        • Saul Sorrell-Till
          Posted June 15, 2019 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

          No. I’d argue that the situation is far worse here than in America. The liberal-left hasn’t even been able to agree that there’s a problem, never mind unite to face its foe, and there really isn’t anyone who springs to mind to lead a potential charge. What’s most shameful is that there’s no-one who’s even put themselves forward.

          Most of it’s down to Jeremy Corbyn, the zombie-limpet of Notting Hill; a man who will be remembered alongside Pogs as one of the most inexplicable fads in recent history.

          If he departed it’s at least possible that the Remain side could unite around a single party in the way that the Leavers have been able to. But he won’t go, and while he’s there the 300k Labour Party Members will crush anyone who challenges him. His support even among those members is dropping, but he’ll still be untouchable for a while. And so no-one bothers putting themselves forward(I don’t actually think that’s a good enough excuse for their inaction, but it’s understandable.).

          And while he’s still leader everyone in the country who wants to stay in the EU will remain powerless. We have no democratic means of shaping the direction of travel. We feel simultaneously furious and helpless, like lightning without a rod.

  5. rickflick
    Posted June 15, 2019 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    Donald Trump and the Art of the Lie. Good title.
    I agree the Democrats should have a rational position on immigration. There is a problem, and it’s quite serious and very difficult to solve. How do you effectively screen applicants for worthiness?

  6. Posted June 15, 2019 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    … and if Boris thinks he will have more luck negotiating a better deal with the E.U., he’s crackers. You think Macron will go easier on Boris than May?

    Well, the EU don’t want a no-deal Brexit. And May was not prepared to countenance a no-deal exit either. Which made her hand very weak, since the EU knew that and so knew she had to accept whatever the EU offered. So they offered her only a very bad deal. But if the EU conclude that Boris really will go for a no-deal Brexit then they might just offer enough concessions to avoid that.

    • Posted June 15, 2019 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

      Since the non-UK EU economy is six or seven times the size of UK economy, and is more diversified, it has much greater leverage in this no-deal game of chicken that you and other Brexiteers are suggesting. It is like a game of chicken between a sedan and a semi trailer.

      • Graham Head
        Posted June 15, 2019 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

        No deal is the equivalent of walking into a bank, putting a gun to your head and demanding they hand over the money or you’ll pull the trigger and mess up the carpets.

        For one side it’s an inconvenience. For the other…

  7. Randall Schenck
    Posted June 15, 2019 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

    Mr. Sullivan, how about this one. Is this the democrats fault?

    https://www.cbsnews.com/news/paso-del-norte-bridge-el-paso-texas-migrants-being-held-outdoors-customs-and-border-patrol-official-says-2019-06-11/

  8. Joel
    Posted June 15, 2019 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    Maybe I haven’t been following closely enough, but what exactly causes the crisis? Does someone know a good source of information about what concrete problems the current immigration is causing?

    • max blancke
      Posted June 16, 2019 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

      I have read some interviews with immigrants who have explained that there is written and word of mouth advertising encouraging migration to the US, usually leading to wildly unrealistic expectations for those that travel to the US.

      Some people from Honduras at least, have been recruited by the cartels who “loan” the passage money, which must be paid back or those relatives back south are under threat.

      I personally feel that encouraging such practices would be a clever means for China or other global powers to destabilize the US economy. In a sense, that would be using our own empathy against us.
      I have no reason to believe that China is doing such a thing, but it would fit their tactics.
      Such tactics would be unlikely to work against the Chinese or similar powers, because they would not put up with it.

  9. DrBrydon
    Posted June 15, 2019 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    The thing about Trump as liar is that he doesn’t seem to lie with a plan in mind. He’s not a schemer. He lies to make himself look good (everything he does is always a superlative), defensively (when he says something that turns out to be stupid), and, of course, when it looks like he’s done something wrong. This seems to cover most of his utterances, although occasionally, unintentionally, he must speak the truth. What is so frustrating is that it’s not clear that he knows he is lying, and, even if he does, he has no shame about it.

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted June 15, 2019 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

      I always think the interviewer should immediately cut him off for lying when he starts a sentence with “I think…”.
      He’s never thought about anything in his dismal, empty-wrapper of a life.

      • username123
        Posted June 15, 2019 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

        I think this is why many voters perceived Trump as more honest / trustworthy than Clinton.

        When he lies, it’s made up on the fly.
        Apart from that, he tends to say out loud about anything that comes up in his mind.

        • Saul Sorrell-Till
          Posted June 15, 2019 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

          Yes, by comparison with Hillary he was an open book. The fact that the book in question was called ‘Me Doo Presydent Job’ and was written in crayon didn’t matter to his supporters. They just liked that they understood it, that the writing was big, the pictures were shiny and the pages were nice and chewable.

    • rickflick
      Posted June 15, 2019 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

      His defensiveness, narcissism, and lack of self awareness is something I’ve seen in small children and some teens who are struggling with maturity. One teen I knew was suffering from two overbearing parents. He seemed to come up with spontaneous rationals for his failures, large and small, as if he’d learned this as a way to deflect condemnation. As we know, DT has been psychoanalyzed and diagnosed by many experts already, so none of this should be surprising. What might be surprising is that for some reason, he’s stuck playing the role of a tortured juvenile into his senior years. He’s as pathetic as any tragic character in Sheakspere.

      • Filippo
        Posted June 15, 2019 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

        “His defensiveness, narcissism, and lack of self awareness is something I’ve seen in small children and some teens who are struggling with maturity. One teen I knew was suffering from two overbearing parents.”

        Sounds like the teen’s parents themselves were somewhat struggling with maturity. Perhaps overbearingness should be met with overbearingness or, as they say in the educational psychology biz, “oppositional defiance.”

    • Posted June 17, 2019 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

      Trump is not a liar, he’s a *bullshitter* in the sense of Frankfurt. I.e., he’s pathologically *uninterested* in the truth. (Whereas a liar does care, and cares that you not know it.)

  10. Jamie
    Posted June 15, 2019 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    Of course there are exceptions to every generalization about immigrants and immigration. But there is such a thing as economic oppression, so saying that economic immigrants are, by definition, not worthy of asylum because they are not oppressed, is way oversimplified if not outright wrong.

    In the cherry picked example, the (presumably) (relatively) wealthy planter probably should be denied asylum. But it does not follow that all economic immigration is therefore unworthy of that category label. It is very “right” thinking to assume that poverty is not a condition of oppression and therefore economic immigrants deserve no succor.

    • Posted June 15, 2019 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

      But there is such a thing as economic oppression, so saying that economic immigrants are, by definition, not worthy of asylum because they are not oppressed, is way oversimplified if not outright wrong.
      Define “economic oppression” and explain how it exists for the illegals trying to sneak into the US.

      It is very “right” thinking to assume that poverty is not a condition of oppression and therefore economic immigrants deserve no succor.
      Poverty in itself is not ground for granting asylum under international law.

      Would you have every nation required to grant asylum to any & all citizens from any other nation with a lower standard of living?

      • Posted June 15, 2019 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

        “But there is such a thing as economic oppression, so saying that economic immigrants are, by definition, not worthy of asylum because they are not oppressed, is way oversimplified if not outright wrong.

        Define “economic oppression” and explain how it exists for the illegals trying to sneak into the US.

        It is very “right” thinking to assume that poverty is not a condition of oppression and therefore economic immigrants deserve no succor.

        Poverty in itself is not ground for granting asylum under international law.

        Would you have every nation required to grant asylum to any & all citizens from any other nation with a lower standard of living?

        • Jamie
          Posted June 15, 2019 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

          Not a perfect definition, but you might start with: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_oppression

          No sovereign nation is ever required to give asylum to anyone for any reason, so no, I would not have it as you say. Moreover, the question of asylum does not apply to illegal immigration, so your request that I explain (fabricate?) some connection is unanswerable.

          I would say that economic inequality which threatens the lives of people on the lowest rung is an adequate definition of “economic oppression” for the purpose of discussing who should and should not be granted asylum.

          Of course, it is senseless for a nation that oppresses its own people to offer succor to foreigners suffering the same oppression in their home countries. Asylum of any kind presumes a nation’s ability to absorb and provide for those to whom it is granted.

          I am not proposing policy here. I am simply pointing out what seems to me a logical inconsistency in the position that lives threatened by some things deserve asylum while lives threatened by other things (“economics”) do not. If you wish to school me on why such an inconsistency does not actually exist, I’m all ears.

          • Saul Sorrell-Till
            Posted June 16, 2019 at 5:22 am | Permalink

            That was a cogent moral argument.

            • BJ
              Posted June 16, 2019 at 10:20 am | Permalink

              It is a good moral argument…in an ideal world. But the consequences of this argument are that most people from the largest continent on Earth, 10 – 30% of each country in South America, etc. Not to mention, what do these countries do when their largest economic resource — people — start leaving en masse? The rest of the people there fall into poverty, and then they have to leave as well. Now the whole world is living in only the most prosperous nations. The argument simply isn’t possible for even consideration in the real world.

              Immigration policies won’t solve world hunger and economic inequality; those are separate issues which need to be solved independently.

          • Posted June 16, 2019 at 9:06 am | Permalink

            Under international law, the grounds for asylum are: persecution based on race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, political views. All those relate to an individual’s status, whereas economic hardship is a widespread or even national phenomenon. That would seem to be the distinguishing factor.

            IIRC, refugee law does accommodate for situations of abject suffering, starvation, etc. where a nation or regions economy has completely collapses. But just ‘seeking a better life’ does not qualify.

            In any case, neither accepting refugees nor granting asylum = granting permanent residency, yet that is the tacit result of current US policy.

    • Posted June 17, 2019 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

      Also oversimplified because US official actions are responsible for the poverty in the first place. If you smash someone’s life up and then don’t try to make amends for it, aren’t you (morally) guilty twice?

  11. Historian
    Posted June 15, 2019 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    The story of the coffee-bean farmer is an anecdote. It tells us nothing about how typical it is. Sullivan says that the “current crisis in immigration is, in fact, a giant and flagrant abuse of the very meaning of asylum.” This may or may not be true, but Sullivan has provided no evidence to back up his contention.

    His analysis of Trump is much more on the mark and it is chilling. To close observers of American politics, he is not saying anything particularly new, but it is a nice summary of the Trump threat to the rule of law and democracy. These are the main points I agree with.

    1.“I have long believed he is mentally unwell.”

    I agree with Sullivan and believe that Trump’s lies are due to some sort of mental impairment as opposed to some calculated strategy.

    2.“He is a con man of surpassing brilliance and conviction, and every time he survives the fallout of a con, he gets more confident about the next one.”

    He is such a good con man that he has created a cult. That being the case, what does it say about its members and human nature? It says that a sizeable proportion of the population can be duped time and again without realizing it. It also means that these people care nothing about democracy and the rule of law. In his supposed war on elites (which is a farce), Trump provides the cult with a sense of self-esteem in a changing world.

    3.In regard to impeachment: “The Democratic congressional leadership is thereby, it seems to me, guilty of appeasement, of putting politics ahead of the more fundamental duty to protect the Constitution. For the Congress to do nothing about proof of a president’s repeated obstruction of justice — not even a vote of censure — is an abdication of constitutional duty. Pelosi took an oath to defend the Constitution, not to win the next election.”

    At one time I opposed impeachment, but not any longer. I realize that there is no chance of conviction in the Senate, but impeachment is the morally correct thing to do. Pelosi seems to fear negative political consequences for Democrats of impeachment. This may be so, but as of now the views of every pundit and politician is purely speculative. It is simply impossible to predict what will happen. It could turn out that impeachment will be an educational experience for the American people as it becomes clear, through televised open hearings, what kind of man Trump actually is.

    4.Sullivan concludes: “A tyrant’s path to power is not a straight line, it’s dynamic. Each concession is instantly banked, past vices are turned into virtues, and then the ante is upped once again. The threat rises exponentially with time. If we can’t see this in front of our own eyes, and impeach this man now, even if he will not be convicted, we are flirting with the very stability of our political system. It is not impregnable. Why is Putin the only person who seems to grasp this?”

    Through his recent actions Trump is eroding the rule of law with the assistance of his Republican toadies, particularly that of Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell. Even when the day arrives that Trump, McConnell and the current crop of Republicans are gone, the evil they have done will live long after them including such areas as the judiciary and the environment. If nothing else (and there is much more), the desires of the religious right, a minority within the country, will prevail. The United States, as a democracy under the rule of law, may very well no longer exist.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted June 15, 2019 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

      Very good and a bit more of video on what the house can do right now.

      https://www.msnbc.com/all-in/watch/impeaching-trump-without-necessarily-trying-him-in-the-senate-61668933590

    • Mike Cracraft
      Posted June 15, 2019 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

      I’ve always looked at Trump as a mafia don who has seized political power with the senate GOPers as his flunkies. I hope that once we get rid of this gangster he will end up spending a long time in the slammer.

    • Steve Gerrard
      Posted June 15, 2019 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

      “If we can’t see this in front of our own eyes, and impeach this man now, even if he will not be convicted, we are flirting with the very stability of our political system.”

      It is nice rhetoric, but I can make the exact opposite argument. If we impeach him now and fail to convict, we will have made a grave error that imperils the very stability of our political system. Attempting a second impeachment would be exceedingly difficult, leaving Trump essentially untouchable, free to do whatever he wants.

  12. KD33
    Posted June 15, 2019 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    Ummm…the recent massive increase in families from central America is in fact due to persecution from gangs, cartels, and even governments. There may be some unjust claims of need for asylum but Sullivan is glossing over this.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted June 15, 2019 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

      I might also add this….

      • Saul Sorrell-Till
        Posted June 15, 2019 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

        ‘More MSM corporate fake news from the liberal media. The baby in the picture is actually a twenty five year old cartel member with ties to ISIS and Planned Parenthood.

        And Hulk Hogan EXPOSED the biased Marxist NYT years ago.

        All you have to do is look at the evidence, but you liberals don’t want to know.

        Oh, you want to see the evidence?…

        I DRINK YOUR TEARS LIBTARD AHAHAHA MAGA 2020’

        – average online response from Trump supporter, 2019

        • Randall Schenck
          Posted June 15, 2019 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

          This column was written by a pulitzer prize columnist for the Times, Nicholas Kristof. When I saw him on the news a couple of days ago about this subject, was that fake? If you just do this kind of crap on line because you think it is funny, you need another line of work, clown.

          • Saul Sorrell-Till
            Posted June 15, 2019 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

            I admire your righteous literal mindedness Randall but it was intended to be a parody.

            • Randall Schenck
              Posted June 15, 2019 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

              The problem with this is it looks and acts very much like Trump. He thinks very highly of himself and I am sure you are the same.

              • Saul Sorrell-Till
                Posted June 15, 2019 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

                I agree with you politically on pretty much everything Randall but you do have a habit of unleashing upon well-intentioned comments after you’ve misunderstood their intention. I’ve noticed it before.

                I actually agreed with your original post, and I agreed with the article you linked to.

                I replied to your post with a parody of the kind of response I usually hear from Trump supporters.

                You didn’t get it and you didn’t like it, okay, but I can’t write ‘WARNING: ATTEMPT AT HUMOUR’ every time I write something tongue in cheek, it kind of dampens the effect.

              • BJ
                Posted June 15, 2019 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

                @Saul: Hell, you all but did announce it was sarcasm by ending it with “– average online response from Trump supporter, 2019”

                Plus, we’ve all read tons of your comments. Nobody could possibly think you hold those views. None of this is your fault.

              • Saul Sorrell-Till
                Posted June 16, 2019 at 5:20 am | Permalink

                Cheers BJ 😉

              • BJ
                Posted June 16, 2019 at 10:22 am | Permalink

                @Saul: Cheers to you! I always enjoy reading your comments and I enjoy the debates we have. We see eye to eye in the real world more often than we probably realize, but you always present things with a cool head and a well-constructed comment, even if I don’t always agree. You’re a very valuable commenter here.

              • Saul Sorrell-Till
                Posted June 16, 2019 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

                Principal Chalmers: ‘Let’s just agree to disagree’

                Skinner: ‘I don’t agree to that’

                Krabbappel: ‘Neither do I’

                Seriously though, you’re right of course. Can’t argue with any of that. Although I tried.

          • revelator60
            Posted June 15, 2019 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

            Poe’s Law.

    • BJ
      Posted June 15, 2019 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

      “My country is violent” is not grounds for asylum. He’s not glossing over it. If every person who lives in a country where there’s gang violence or drug cartels could claim asylum, we’d be letting in half of Mexico, half of Venezuela, we’d have let in most of Colombia during the 80’s and 90’s, a good portion of Bolivia, etc.

      And that’s just South America!

  13. Saul Sorrell-Till
    Posted June 15, 2019 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    I think the Democrats could do with being clearer on this issue. However I don’t think they deserve this blood and thunder condemnation, as though all the primary candidates are lobbying for open borders. In what was is Biden’s message on immigration too soft? Or Mayor Pete’s? What specifically _should_ they be saying, given that their base is overwhelmingly in favour of immigration?

    If the argument’s about electoral politics and pragmatism and winning 2020 it’s also worth remembering that Trump is currently behind in the polls against the pleasingly broad category ‘Democratic challengers who voters have vaguely heard of’. So I’m not sure that the Democratic approach is as calamitously out of touch as it’s implied to be.

    As ever, I find Sullivan’s criticism of Trump far, far more incisive and relevant.

  14. Don
    Posted June 15, 2019 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    Is immigration really a crisis? I’ve seen various charts and statistics, but I am not sure what to make of it. On the one hand it does seem there is an uptick in asylum seekers, but it is hard for me make sense of it all. Problem is I don’t trust the government or the media.

    • Joel
      Posted June 15, 2019 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

      We have the same rhetoric in Sweden, were all public figures agree that “we can never repeat the crisis of 2015”, but no one ever talks about what concrete problems that wave of immigration supposedly caused, other than a temporarily overwhelmed migration administration…

      • BJ
        Posted June 15, 2019 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

        Even if there weren’t immediate problems, immigration is a long-term issue. Once a country ceases to protect its borders, it’s no longer a country. Maybe 400,000 immigrants won’t make a difference today, but repeatedly letting in hundreds of thousands of immigrants will have an effect over the long haul. Between 2016 and 2017, 800,000 immigrants entered the US.

        Sweden didn’t experience much of a crisis from the overall immigration crisis Europe faced just a few years ago, but that’s because Sweden got to choose who to let in. The countries that experienced crises were ones that were easily accessible in mainland Europe and either chose not to enforce their borders vigilantly, or simply didn’t have the resources. Despite this, Sweden’s only problem from all the immigrants they took in wasn’t just “a temporarily overwhelmed migration administration.” Such things cost money. Such things have knock-on effects, like increased homelessness and crime. You can’t measure those effects immediately; they take place over many years. A year-to-year analysis of statistics like these doesn’t really reveal anything. So, you can’t know what the effects will be, but any serious country should enforce its borders, have a coherent immigration policy, and realize that largely unmitigated immigration will, over time, have other effects. Some effects might be beneficial, while others won’t be.

        I would also note that, in response to the immigration crisis, Sweden actually increased border control and made their asylum and immigration system far more restrictive in 2016. Unlike the US, which, as usual with any serious issue (e.g. global warming, another long-term issue we’re not addressing), has been sitting on its thumbs while the two major parties just say “no” to each other.

        Regardless, one can’t compare Sweden and the US. The US will face this challenge every year because it has an enormous border with Mexico and is far wealthier, safer, and possesses far more resources and economic opportunities than the countries in Central America.

        • Joel
          Posted June 15, 2019 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

          Well, this does not stop Swedish politicians and others from referring to the 2015 refugee wave as a “crisis”. My point is that it’s misleading to use that word for something from which no one has demonstrated any negative effects. “Stuff might happen later” they say – yeah well but it might as well not? Hardly a “crisis”.

    • Posted June 15, 2019 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

      What statistics?

      To isolate the effect of immigration on crime, we need data on crimes committed by immigrants. Obtaining this type of data is easy in the United States or Denmark, but not in Sweden. The last time there was an official report breaking down crime statistics by immigrant status and origin was in 2005, for the years 1997 to 2001. These statistics confirmed that immigrants were significantly overrepresented amongst offenders, in particular in committing violent crimes. The foreign born were four times more likely to be suspects in homicide cases than those with Swedish origin, and 4.5 times more likely to be suspects in rape cases.

      Since then, Swedish criminologists and politicians have made sure that no new statistics have been released. Not a single recent research study in Sweden has attempted to estimate the causal effect of immigration on sexual assault or homicide rates. Parliament recently defeated a motion to produce up-to-date crime statistics based on national origin. We simply do not know what percentage of sexual assaults or homicides were committed by immigrants last year in Sweden. The Swedish criminologists and government officials who adamantly deny the effect of immigration on crime don’t know these figures, and strikingly don’t want to know. Americans who are interested in this topic should focus on this surreal taboo against statistics, not cartoonish exaggerations that falsely portray Sweden as a war zone.

      https://www.nationalreview.com/2017/02/sweden-crime-rates-statistics-immigration-trump-fox-news/

    • Posted June 15, 2019 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

      In 1850 the US had 2,244,602 foreign-born persons of 23,191,876 total (source: US Census via Wikipedia). In 1900, it was 10,341,276 of 76,212,168. In 2000, 31,107,889 of 281,421,906. I don’t have any more recent data, but the latest of these doesn’t seem out of line with historical norms, and I’d say the US came out of that history just fine.

      Immigrants take jobs, but they also create jobs. They also improve the balance between, for example, wage-earning taxpaying people versus retirees drawing Social Security – especially if the immigrants are legal.

      I’d like to see the quotas for legal immigration raised, the asylum rules followed, and enough immigration judges and administrative staff increased to handle the need.

  15. BJ
    Posted June 15, 2019 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    “Nearly everyone agrees that we now have an immigration crisis on our hands. Republicans try to solve it by flailing about, sometimes proposing cruel solutions and sometimes stupid ones. But Democrats—my side—seem to ignore the whole mess. As I’ve said before, one might think, by listening to Dem party leaders, that they favor open borders. Now they really don’t, but a big failure of the Democrats is their failure to propose and unify behind a sensible immigration policy. A failure to do that will be a big minus for us in next year’s elections.”

    Exactly this. I was watching Bill Maher a few weeks ago and, when someone made a point about the immigration crisis and the need of Democrats to promote a coherent policy, Maher’s answer was simply to say that there is no crisis, and then a joke we’ve all heard before: “but if we don’t let them in, who will do all the jobs Americans don’t want to do? What, you think some white guy is going to pick lettuce in the field?” That’s an approximation of the joke, as I don’t remember it exactly.

    The point is that every time people bring up the fact that Democrats have not even signaled a coherent vision for immigration reform or even the need for one, it’s just excused away. Supporters simply act like this is not a problem. Hell, they often act like there’s no immigration crisis at all.

    All of this is to say that if the Dems don’t come up with a plan that actually protects the borders, helps with the crisis, and is also hopefully still compassionate, their opponents have free reign to paint the Dems’ position on the issue as they wish. If the Republicans are going to go around saying the Dems want open borders, what’s the argument against them? It’s not like we have a policy proposal to point to and say, “no, actually they don’t. Here’s what they want.” Without providing a position, they allow their opponents to define it for them, and you know who was really great at that in 2016? Donald Trump. He repeatedly misrepresented Clinton’s policy positions until they became memes and people believed them. The Dems need policies and they need a candidate who can explain them easily and fight back when they’re not properly portrayed.

    RE: Boris Johnson

    The guy is a buffoon, but at least he isn’t a complete moron like Trump. And the truth is I’m not sure I’d rather have an open antisemite and terrorist supporter like Corbyn as PM. I guess I see Johnson as the lesser of two evils, but boy is that a hard pill to swallow.

  16. Tom Besson
    Posted June 15, 2019 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    I’ve always maintained that Trump is a joke, and the joke is a paraphrase of the old lawyer joke that goes, “How can you tell when Trump is lying? His lips are moving”.

  17. Posted June 15, 2019 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    The Democrats, last time in charge under Obama, were comparatively harsh on immigration, and that was praised by Trump, according to NPR:

    “What people don’t know is that Obama got tremendous numbers of people out of the country. Bush, the same thing. Lots of people were brought out of the country with the existing laws. Well, I’m going to do the same thing,” Trump said last week to Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly.

    That’s true, to an extent. Ahead of Trump’s speech, here are five things to know about how President Obama has enforced immigration laws over the past eight years.

    It seems once more that Conservatives simply invent a narrative they relentlessly push in the media, even when it has little basis in fact. A lot of people come to believe such simulacra, even when they know that they are being deceived.

    • BJ
      Posted June 15, 2019 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

      Yes, the Obama administration deported more people than any in history, with 2.5 million. This number does not include “self-deportation” and people stopped/held at the border.

  18. merilee
    Posted June 15, 2019 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

    Minor quibble:
    “As core principles of American law and decency are openly flaunted, they really, really don’t seem to give a damn.” Should be flauted, not flaunted. Would that DT did flaunt law and decency…

    • BJ
      Posted June 15, 2019 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

      I think it should be flautas. Both delicious and culinarily relevant!

  19. merilee
    Posted June 15, 2019 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

    Whoops, meant flouted.

  20. Steve Gerrard
    Posted June 15, 2019 at 10:47 pm | Permalink

    Immigration to the US is in the range of 1 million people a year. Refugees and asylum seekers are in the range of 50,000 per year, or 5%. Fixing the asylum situation will not “fix” immigration.

    The root problems are large and growing populations, disruption of food supplies by wars and politics, and climate change making everything harder. It is likely to get worse.

    • rickflick
      Posted June 15, 2019 at 11:15 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for the informed info. For DT, this is an issue he thinks he can manipulate voters with. I hope we eventually get back to real government where the leaders try to work out a solution to our problems.

  21. Posted June 15, 2019 at 11:03 pm | Permalink

    I posted something an hour ago but I do not see it 😦

  22. Posted June 15, 2019 at 11:03 pm | Permalink

    I think Sullivan is slightly right in that the “refugee” status is being claimed very broadly, but I would not call it a conscious abuse. People do not strictlly flee a bit of “hard times”, they flee outright hunger, outright unbearable lives, day to day violence (danger of being murdered), environmental issues (droughts, quake aftermaths…) and more. I believe most people would not leave their countries if they did not have strong reasons.

    Before the big caravans of central americans happened (and it is still the case) migrants decide to take their chances traversing my country, which is short of an odyssey with countless dangers -including but not limited to death and/or enslavement. It’s trully appalling, and I think Sullivan’s thinking on this is too superficial/ignorant or just lacks empathy.

    It is wishful thinking that enforcing surveillance and capture of immigrants will stop or persuade them significantly, since traversing a country full of dangers has not done it, much less “lawful detainment”. Nothing short of crass and massive human rights violations would convince someone in such hard life positions to stop from trying. That is why stopping immigration is bot wishful thinking (thinking you can have control of it) and a paradox (wanting to fulfill with immigration law goals would require to break international human rights law).

    I think that the only true solution is working to bring enough development to other countries so that the pull to migrate is not so strong.

  23. Posted June 16, 2019 at 3:02 am | Permalink

    The Berlin SPD has now reached roughly 12% in polls. Since 2015, they never had any intention to even discuss the impacts of borderless immigration. Many supporters (like me) turn their backs on her because the problems should at least be addressed. Just to close your eyes, leads to insignificance. And rightly so!

  24. Roo
    Posted June 16, 2019 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    I think the issue is that if there is a perception that coastal elites are forcing mass immigration on southern states, there will be a backlash. (Sort of like I think there is beginning to be a backlash against abortion laws – Americans really do not like having someone else’s morality forced on them.) That this is often framed as “People who don’t want mass immigration are awful and racist while those who do are moral and just” will only make the situation worse, to my mind. If there’s a fast and easy way to infuriate another person, it’s to gloss over whatever concerns they have and tell them that they are simply not as good of a person as you are for having a different opinion, especially when there’s a perception that they will be the one dealing with the issue, and not you.

    The migrant crisis is, to my mind, going to be endemic and ongoing given the state of the world today (and I don’t usually get into nitpick semantics, but I think “migrant crisis” is a more fair term than “immigration crisis”. The bulk of the crisis relates to conditions that displaced people are dealing with vs. the difficulties of wealthier countries in figuring out immigration policies.) Global disparity in resources and security really blur the line between asylum seekers of yore and simply saying that being born in the wrong country in 2019 can be, by itself, a crisis situation. I think anything other than more balance in global inequality will be a temporary bandaid solution that people will go back and forth on as public sentiment changes from year to year. I am optimistic, though, that human effort and ingenuity will prevail, however, and we will eventually work out ways to increase global equality.


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