Opinion | Crisis at the Border

No, not that border.  The one further north.  The one around Washington, DC.

President Trump is delivering a speech on the “crisis at the border” as I type, and it’s being carried by MSLSD, among many other networks.  I have the perennial misfortune of being in a position to hear these, hour after hour, even when they’re not additionally sullied by his voice.

While many of Trump’s specific claims about the “crisis” can and will be debunked in the coming hours, the basic premise is correct.  The ability to fairly easily cross the southern border creates an incentive for those of ill-will to do so.  Claims about specific, astronomical numbers of terrorists crossing illegally may be Trumped up, but that border is nonetheless as easy and economical a place to enter as any other.  At the very least, it provides a handy way to equip terror cells that are already in place.

And yes, the border is not the predominant mode of illegal entry to this country.  Here, the numbers become sketchy, since we’re dealing with estimates, and because we’re forced to consider two different, but overlapping, populations:  those who are currently already here illegally, and those who are coming here illegally more or less contemporaneously with this debate.  For the sake of simplicity, let’s say that approximately 43.5% of all illegal immigrants “becoming illegal” this country are doing so by overstaying their visas (this is a figure about halfway between the current estimate of 42% by the Center for Migration Studies and a somewhat older 45% figure produced by Pew Research).  But if you look at the larger historical picture, including illegal immigration of all kinds going back years, even generations, approximately half of the permanent illegal population can be shown to have crossed the southern border at some point (and quite a few will cross it several times over their lifetimes).

Given that the illegal population is estimated variously at between 11.1 million and 12.1 million individuals, that’s something between five and six million illegal border crossings…not counting the various, sometimes repeated, round trips.

Claims about diseases being brought here are overblown, as well, but it remains true that many parts of Central and South America are reservoirs of parasites and pathogens that have been, for the most part, eradicated in the United States.  The CDC lists several major health concerns endemic to Latin American nations, including a handful (such as Chagas’ disease) which are not directly communicable between humans.  Several more, including hepatitis B, syphilis, HIV, and gonorrhea, most definitely are human-transmissible, although these are also common in the United States, and so not particularly as grave a concern as “exotic” or “conquered” diseases might be.  But the list of tropical diseases, mostly spread via mosquito bites, is alarming:  dengue, eastern equine encephalitis, chikungunya, and Zika.  Concern about these is mitigated by the fact that mosquito-borne diseases tend to have specific vectors, most of which have not yet established a foothold north of the Rio Grande.  But as climate changes, and tropical biomes spread northward, this, too, will change.  (It’s worth pointing out that disease vectors themselves are not necessarily reservoirs of disease.  Mosquitoes require a blood meal from an infected host in order to transmit the pathogen to another individual.  In the absence of infected individuals, most mosquitoes are relegated to the role of loathsome pest.  So the spreading of mosquito populations northward, in and of itself, need not be a health issue.)

One figure of indisputable, immediate concern is the rate of tuberculosis infection.  The CDC points out that although hopes were once high for total eradication, the rate of decline is now too slow to expect that to happen within this century (of which we still have 81 years left!)  One potential factor:  more than 70% of all reported cases of TB are in foreign-born individuals.  While the Center does not break down figures for legal and illegal immigrants, we can infer, from the health screenings given legal immigrants, that most of this 70% occurs in illegals.  (Tuberculosis is ranked #1 among health conditions being screened out.)  Given that the risk of contracting TB among foreign-born individuals falls to about the national average around the ten-year mark, which can be regarded as a proxy for “permanence,” it is reasonable to assume that the subset of the population which is truly “migrant”—crossing and recrossing the border in a cycle lasting for years—is somewhat exempt from this security, and therefore probably contributes a disproportionate amount to that 70% figure.

So are illegal crossings bringing disease into this country?  Almost certainly, yes, but most likely at rates much lower than the Wall rhetoric would suggest.

What about drugs and violent crime?  Again, yes, these things are imported across the border (and, frequently, under it).  But we’re constantly subjected to objections along the lines of “most illegal drugs come into the country in shipping containers from overseas.”  While this is undoubtedly a route taken by not a few smugglers, the “most” qualifier remains in dispute.  Several readily-accessible sources, including interviews of DEA and Border Patrol agents, suggest that the southern border remains remarkably porous to smuggling efforts.  Some 224 tunnels beneath the border were found between 1990 and 2006.  One thing the opponents seem to have right is that most intercepted drug transports take place at official points of entry (some 328 of them), with the contraband found stashed inside vehicles of every kind.  This does not inform us, however, about the number of successful transports taking place elsewhere on the border.

While my preferred solution to the problem of drug crime would be to completely legalize all Schedule I drugs, I’m willing, for the time being, to grant that drug smuggling remains the kind of concern that pro-Wallers have in mind.

As for other forms of crime, yes, we know that gang members use the border to get into and out of the country illegally.  The Center for Immigration Studies has found:

  • Over a 10-year period (2005-2014) ICE arrested approximately 4,000 MS-13 members, leaders, and associates.  This represents about 13 percent of all gang members they arrested nationwide (31,000) during that period.
  • 92 percent of the MS-13 affiliated aliens arrested were illegal aliens.  Of those, 16 percent had entered illegally at least twice.
  • Just over half of the MS-13 affiliated aliens ICE arrested were citizens of El Salvador.  Among the others, 16 percent were Hondurans, 14 percent were Mexicans, and 8 percent were Guatemalans.
  • While MS-13 affiliated aliens made up 13 percent of all the arrests, they accounted for 35 percent of the murderers arrested by ICE.

While the Trump administration’s claim of “4000 terrorists” being intercepted at the border is evidently balderdash, it might be argued that they are (deliberately or otherwise) conflating MS-13 gang members with terrorists in this regard.  Either way, the freedom of violent gang members to come and go at will is a concern (one which can, again, be addressed in large part by legalizing drugs, although in the case of MS-13, there seems to also be an underlying ideological or racial motivation to the violence).

Another crime-related concern is human trafficking, and this is one not to be dismissed.  In addition to the coyotes (or “coyotajes”) engaged in bringing migrants to and across the border, there are prostitution and sex slavery networks, and the human toll here is almost too horrific to contemplate.  (And, I’m sad to admit, legalizing drugs probably won’t eradicate sex slavery, as it doesn’t matter whether the drugs used to addict child prostitutes are legal or not.)  This is a problem that has to be addressed head-on in as many ways as we can come up with, and clamping down on illegal border crossings is as good a way as any.

Even those who simply accept money from the desperate in order to get them into the States are a major problem.  The criminal element comprises a wide swath of motivations, and it’s safe to say that among its members are those who simply lack compunction or compassion.  Guiding people northward in order to “help” them across the border doesn’t preclude exploiting them along the way.  As Trump correctly points out, an inordinate number of female (and underage!) migrants are sexually abused by their coyotes along the way.  And this transit benefits the drug gangs as well; coyotes are compelled to pay tolls to them as they near the border, on the order of thousands of dollars per head.

And it’s also worth mentioning that illegal immigrants do, themselves, commit crimes during and after entry.  Statistics are frequently pointed out to the effect that illegals commit crime at a rate lower than that of the general population.  These figures are in dispute, not least because they can only be applied to known crimes and to those known to be in the country illegally.  Convictions are rarer than crimes, and we have, at best, only estimates of the size of the illegal population here.  At the same time, we know that illegals who accept payroll checks must do so via falsification of records, which amounts to felony crime.  Add to those the number who obtain Social Security numbers via stolen identities, and you start to see a very different picture from that of the benign worker, toiling away quietly and under the radar.  (The fact that nearly four times as many identities have been stolen in service to illegal immigration than the estimates of illegal immigrants currently living here should give you some pause with respect to accepting those estimates.)

The rabbit hole deepens when you take a close look at federal crime sentencing rates.  The US Sentencing Commission releases an annual report of criminal convictions at the federal level.  Breitbart, in 2014, and Sean Hannity, in 2016, both cited these reports in claiming that illegals accounted for 36.7% (in 2014) and 75% (in 2016) of federal convictions.   Interestingly, PolitiFact rates this latter claim as True, and the USSC’s numbers, regarding the former, can be added up by the intrepid individual (although the overview report appears to be unavailable to the “unauthorized” user such as myself, the fiscal-year quarterly report can be found online).  To drill down and examine the inevitable caveats, you can do the math yourself in the quarterly report:  non-citizens committed 42% of all federal (convicted) crimes, 14.7% of all murders, and 25.6% of all drug trafficking (and 80.5% of all simple possession).  Unfortunately, these figures do not segregate legal immigrants from illegals, but they do seriously undercut the “immigrants commit fewer crimes” meme.  Given that illegal immigrants comprise only about 3.7% of the population, it is undeniable that they contribute a disproportionate amount of crime (even if they only engage in a fraction of the total listed under “Non-US Citizen” in the report).

PolitiFact provides some greater insights, by way of approving of Hannity’s claims:  illegals were responsible, in 2016, for 18% of all drug trafficking convictions, 30% of kidnappings, 75% of drug possessions, and 5% of all murder sentences…and all of these numbers exceed the estimated portion of the illegal population, indicating that it commits these crimes at disproportionate rates.  If you eliminate federal sentencing for immigration-related crime, you’re left with some 14% of all federal crimes…a percentage approximately three times as great as that of the illegal population.

Leaving all those criminal and health concerns aside, what about illegal immigration itself?  Should we be concerned about those who make it here and simply attempt to live their lives?  I have to part ways with some of my libertarian brethren on some issues, and this is one.  I do not regard illegal immigration as harmless to society.  While the “illegals are only doing the jobs Americans won’t do” argument holds some water, some of the time, the fact of the matter is that during recession, there are no jobs that Americans won’t do.  More to the point, the disdain American laborers have for those agrarian positions is largely a matter of cultural conditioning, the fact that illegals have been willing to work under the table, for less than minimum wage, for generations.  As illegal labor becomes less prominent a factor in our economy, and new equilibria emerge, more and more Americans will step in to fill the gaps.

And there is the subtler sociological angle regarding assimilation into our culture.  In-group identification, lo these thousands of years after the advent of civilization, remains a thing.  People have to regard themselves as members of a society in order to be members of that society…and they likewise have to be accepted as such by that society.  Diversity is a fine thing, up to a point.  Beyond that point, we cease to be “a people” and become just people.  (One can compare and contrast crime and exploitation rates in culturally- and ethnically-homogeneous nations like Japan with those elsewhere in the world to see the result.  This isn’t to say that a diverse society will necessarily be divided and violent, but it does imply that society takes time to absorb newcomers, and newcomers take time to assimilate.)

But wait, say the progressives and pro-open-borders libertarians—isn’t immigration a net gain for the economy?  The answer, as is often the case, is “yes and no.”  By and large, immigration benefits the market, but like all economic factors, this is not true of unlimited input.  Every economic quantity can be expressed in terms of some optimal amount…and this optimum is never the maximum.  It is uneconomical for factories to produce, indefinitely, at their maximum capacity.  There is an optimal rate of production, which typically falls well short of the maximum.  So it is with immigration.  The greatest benefit to society can be found in the optimum level of immigration, which is well short of the actual numbers coming in during a given year.  To most benefit the market, immigration policy should attempt to steer the influx toward that optimal level, perhaps by annually calculating the market’s needs and then admitting only that number of persons in a given year.  However, this method is completely untenable when we cannot accurately track or control the numbers of people coming in illegally.  If “C” equals the optimal level of immigrants, and “B” equals the number of legal immigrants we admit, then given “A”—the number of illegal immigrants coming in—we can straightforwardly express C as the sum of A and B.  But if A remains unknown, so does B, even if we can calculate, on the basis of economic necessity, the value of C.  Properly managing immigration requires that we limit the illegal influx to a manageable level.

Moreover, there is indeed a cost to taxpayers.  We’re told that “illegals can’t receive welfare,” but somehow, despite bare assertion such as this, they manage to do so.  I refer you again to stolen and forged identities, which can be used to claim benefits.  I also refer you to the households that collect SNAP benefits for their children.  Children born here, irrespective of the legality of their parents, are (legally, for the moment) citizens, and legally entitled to welfare handouts.  But these handouts don’t go directly to minors; they are disbursed to their illegal parents.  Add to this emergency-room hospital care, which is the preferred means of securing treatment in some quarters, even for decidedly non-emergency conditions such as the common cold.  In one NIH study, involving patients at a specific hospital found that 8.6% of patients admitted were illegals, a number more than twice the portion of the illegal population.   FAIR estimates the cost to American taxpayers at $100 billion annually, although this burden is typically borne at the state level.  My home state of Texas is hit particularly hard.

And this cost doesn’t include the approximately $56 billion or so annually siphoned from the economy by being sent south of the border to the families of illegals currently residing here.

So there are obviously a number of valid “pro” arguments when it comes to border security, many of which can be applied to the specific question of whether to build a Wall.  (At the very least, there are a number of “pro” arguments with respect to limiting the illegal influx, which can be regarded as a slightly different question from whether a Wall is necessary.)  Of course there are numerous objections as well:

  • The expense (although this can be mitigated by the Cruz Plan, which would save the taxpayers the total expense and provide Trump a graceful way to assert, with minimal mendacity, that Mexico did, indeed, “pay for it”).
  • The ecological concerns regarding blocking animal migration routes and destroying or denying territories needed by large predators for hunting and mating behaviors.
  • The fact that a Wall wouldn’t, alone, prohibit illegal border crossings, since there are ways of circumventing one.
  • The problems inherent in utilizing Eminent Domain to acquire the properties the Wall would eventually occupy.

I can suggest that by “the Wall,” we need not assume a monolithic physical barrier, but rather a set of physical barriers in conjunction with other measures, such as onsite surveillance, drone surveillance, and technologies such as ground-surveillance radar, infrared sensors, and seismic detectors.  Integrated and used intelligently, these could track the digging and use of tunnels while funneling overland smuggling efforts toward bottlenecks that can be directly observed.  In such a way, problematic sites such as private properties and wildlife areas can be left open, while still adding difficulty and expense to border crossings elsewhere along the line. 

Critics of the Wall are absolutely correct in that it would never stop 100% of illegal immigration or smuggling.  But perfection is a pretty lofty goal, and we need not concern ourselves with attaining it.  The point of border security isn’t to effectively block every illegal entrant, but to limit the availability and affordability of illegal border crossings.  If crossing the border becomes more difficult, more time consuming, and more uneconomical, then incentives to do so will taper off, and with them, the number of crossings.  Think of the Wall as a sort of “border tax,” and bear in mind that when you tax a thing, you end up with less of it in the long run.

So I can remain cautiously open-minded about the employment of a “Wall” in the sense that I defined above, provided the cost doesn’t exceed the benefit.  If a physical barrier can be expected to cost taxpayers anywhere from $5 billion to $125 billion, then in an interval between much less than a year and somewhat more than a year, the Wall can pay for itself (assuming FAIR’s $100 billion figure to be accurate).

But is such a measure even needed?  Critics often point out that illegal immigration has tapered off in recent years, and they’re correct.  Not only is the absolute number (and population percentage) of illegals dropping over time, but the number of illegal border crossings is falling as well. 

And a large part of this reduction can be traced to the 2008 recession, with a perhaps much smaller portion assignable to increased border security and the political rhetoric thereof. 

But we can’t conclude that this is a permanent situation.  If economic conditions drive migrant behavior, then the pendulum must swing the other way as well.  And, as pointed out previously, the best way to counter economic inducement is to proffer powerful disincentives.  And by tilting immigration policy in favor of those who are willing to take an ethical approach to getting (and being) here, we can actually strengthen and improve society.

The right way.

So let’s put aside the media-fueled frenzy over the Wall, and over immigration, just for a moment.  (Oops.  I forgot to include “illegal” before “immigration” there.  That’s a leftist error.  My total bad.) 


Kids in cages, you say?

Let’s ask ourselves another question entirely:  What if none of this matters at all?  At least to the current Crisis at the Beltway?  What if the border is a giant tail, and the nation a big dog, and we’re all being wagged by the Wall?  What if I’ve TLDRed you over twelve pages of seeming irrelevance? 


Could you possibly forgive me?

It’s probably a foregone conclusion that unless the Cruz Plan goes into effect—and its remarkable simplicity is matched only by its apparent absurdity—then Trump will not get funding for the Wall during his first term.  So the “government shutdown” may or may not actually be relevant to border security.  Trump isn’t as stupid as his detractors claim; he’s simply egomaniacal, closed-minded, biased, populist, and unwilling to listen to advisers.  All of these things will necessarily impact his decision-making and policies, but they won’t necessarily impact his ability to discern hard truths.  I can’t assume that he knows at this point that he won’t get the Wall he wants; even if he does, he will still have to keep up appearances, vis-à-vis the expectations of his base.  So, after a dizzying hour or so of factual presentation, we finally get down to the opinion part of this piece:

Trump is probably using the shutdown to avoid Democratic intervention in his administration.

He has already admitted that he’s willing to keep it up for “months or years.”  To that, let’s add a tidbit from one of the MSNBC programs that was TiVoed last night, and which I overheard this morning.  Someone I took, in my pre-breakfast haze, to be freshman Congresswoman Elaine Luria was spoken of as being “only a shutdown Congresswoman.”  By this, it was meant that she was sworn in during the shutdown, and has seen nothing but shutdown over the course of her entire career.

Given that many Dems have sought and won office on the promise of either impeaching Trump or bringing his administration under heavy oversight, I have to wonder whether the entire shit-show is an attempt on his part to forestall the turning of the Wheels of Justice, or at least the Casters of Scrutiny (or perhaps the Ball Bearings of Bipartisanship).

As regards those seeking asylum, they don’t have to reach our border in order to do so; there are stops along the way in Mexico.  But by all means, yes, let’s help out as many refugees as we can, bearing in mind that poor economic conditions are themselves not real grounds for asylum.  Violence, crime, persecution:  yes.  But we can also admit that these things tend to have causes in common with poverty and corruption, and in so doing, we can acknowledge that maybe the best thing to do for those regions has already been covered:  ending the Drug War.  Mexico has decriminalized drug use to a broad extent, so it cannot be blamed for the inflated demand that drives drug violence.  At the same time, we have to be willing to consider the role of burdensome regulations, and in some cases, Marxist philosophy, in having created those conditions.  The best thing we can do for the poor, everywhere in the world, is foster the growth of markets.  And the best way to accomplish that is to apply political pressure to governments in order to compel them to strengthen and enforce property rights.  This would be a very real humanitarian triumph, in addition to greatly reducing the problems associated with illegal immigration.

Ponder that as you partake of Colbert and Noah this evening.  Meanwhile, the facts and figures presented during the preceding twelve pages remain relevant to the ongoing debate over illegal immigration, and that debate will persist long after the Wall has been prevented. 

 

 

Unless of course it isn’t.

Building the Perfect Constitution

                “Constitution” carries an immediately-understandable connotation, for just about anyone, anywhere in the world.  But the definitions vary considerably from society to society.  To a Briton, the Constitution is a loose collection of documents, scattered throughout time and geographical scope, outlining the operations of government.  To an American, the Constitution is a specific document, drafted at a specific point in time in response to specific historical events, punctuated by a couple dozen appendices (called “Amendments”), serving to explicitly enumerate the government’s responsibilities, and thereby restrict its actions to just those mandates.

                I’ve studied our own Constitution reasonably minutely over the years, and have also occasionally pored over others, such as the Constitution of the Confederate States of America.  I’ve noticed that the latter, while enshrining government approval of some practices more abhorrent than any we might observe in today’s federal government, does a better job in filling in the gaps in language and concept that have permitted our own federal government to so badly abuse the former.  In other words, although the CSA Constitution is not one we would in good conscience be willing to adopt today, it is, arguably, overall more efficient and effective in limiting federal power, and therefore has some lessons for us American citizens today.

                And this has got me thinking over the past few years.  If I were to design a model Constitution, how would I go about formalizing the requirements, filling in the gaps, and making the whole mesh together in a way that actually promoted individual sovereignty and protected individual rights?  Could such a thing be done in such a way as to avoid the long-running divisions and philosophical conundrums that have accompanied the enactment of well-intentioned legislation like the Civil Rights Act of 1964, or Court decisions like Roe v. Wade?  How best, in other words, to secure the blessings of tranquility and promote the general welfare for our posterity while still exerting what is essentially authoritarianism, a virtual monopoly on force, on the citizenry?

                In some my recent reading—Arthur Clarke’s The Songs of Distant Earth—it is mentioned that the Constitution of the United States had undergone several revisions—not just Amendments, but complete rewrites—prior to the time of the great human diaspora that provides the novel’s backstory.  Some of the human colonies established during this period of migration received what is called a Jefferson Mark Three Constitution—“utopia in two megabytes”—a designation that implies there was at least a Mark Two after the original (and even here, we might surmise a Jefferson Mark One could have been drafted at some point prior, the “Jefferson” label serving to distinguish it from the original Constitution, which was in fact drafted by James Madison).  The dialogue mentions that the civilization in question was “still on Amendment Six,” implying a degree of perfection (on the original homeworld) so magnificent that it still managed to apply to a colony, consisting largely of fishing and farming villages, some fifty light years away.

                It seems that Clarke, writing in 1986, had his own views on the perfection and permanence of the Constitution, while still regarding it as the model whence all other (good ones) must derive.  And, well, Clarke was one of those authors so astute and perceptive that he is regarded in some quarters —indeed, has been regarded for decades—as a prophet of sorts. He, too, might have some lessons to offer, despite his reticence to espouse any explicit partisan position on the issues.

                My reverence for the Constitution stems largely from its intent, namely, to constrain federal government by placing explicit limits on its power and capabilities.  (Bear in mind that the Founders had recently thrown a Revolution in order to wrest free of the yoke of burdensome government.)  But we all know that this intent has been violated, repeatedly, throughout the history of the nation.  Evidently the words on parchment are themselves not proof against abuse and encroaching authoritarianism. 

This guy. THIS GUY.

                Part of the problem seems to be that the Constitution lacks teeth for enforcing its restrictions.  Although nowhere is this stated as an assigned power in Article III, nor anywhere else, the Courts have long been regarded as the arbiter of what is “Constitutional” with respect to government action.  Jeffrey Segal and Harold Spaeth, authors of The Supreme Court and the Attitudinal Model, point out that there are three bases for SCOTUS jurisprudence:  “plain meaning,” or the most literal interpretation of the language in the Constitution; “original intent,” or what the drafters actually had in mind as words were put to parchment; and “stare decisis,” or precedent, which refers not back to the Constitution itself but to prior decisions made by previous Courts. And the long-running debate on the comparative merits of these approaches is, in some ways, part and parcel of the ideological divide in the United States.

                In an ongoing feat of authoritarian elitism, the Supreme Court has long assumed that its fundamental purpose is to interpret the Constitution.  Again, this is not a role defined anywhere within that document, and as such is an assumed power of the Judiciary Branch.  What is more explicit, and to my thinking far less controversial, is the Court’s role in interpreting law.  Obviously someone has to interpret the Constitution and the law, but I submit to you, citizen, that as citizens, we are all empowered to interpret the Constitution.  Let the judges and Justices, let the lawyers and interns and paralegals and flunkies interpret the law.  The abstrusity of law all but requires the existence of an entire industry of experts paid to interpret and argue its details and nuances; but the Constitution isn’t so large, nor so difficult, that we can’t all become experts, at least on those areas of special interest to ourselves.   Certainly the Framers had no intention of concealing any of its dicta from We the People.

                In any event, the Court’s self-appointed role in maintaining Constitutionality seems to be limited to striking down laws that it sees as invalid.  (I’ll continue to resort to Segal and Spaeth over the course of my career here, in order to demonstrate the flaws in this approach.)  There is little the Court can do, or at least does do, to inhibit burgeoning federal growth, or to prevent any future attempts to circumvent Constitutional restrictions. 

Father of the Country is not amused by your shenanigans.

                It will be my aim, over the course of the following nine posts, to bring you into greater understanding of our Constitution and its principles, by demonstrating its flaws and addressing them in a model Constitution of my own devising, and by demonstrating its strengths and showing how those have been realized in the success of our great nation.

Introducing the Opposition

                I am not a progressive.

                I am not The Resistance.

                I am the counterpoint.

                I am opinionated.

                I am a voter.

                I am an electrical engineer and a software engineer.  And I’m an artist, a writer, a musician.

                Eric has kindly asked me to participate in this growing community, and so, to the best of my ability, I will provide and expound on principles espoused by centrist and Constitutional conservatives and right-libertarians.  I will, from time to time, engage in light debate with him by tacking comments on to his blog posts, but for the most part, my role here is to author posts in order to promote thinking along lines outside of your comfort zone.

                I will probably provoke and outrage, albeit not (usually) intentionally.  I will be pedantic and detailed.  I may at times be savage in my critique of policy.  I do not (often) troll, but I’m not above the use of memes when it suits my purposes.

You can expect some economic discourse, some advocacy of Constitutionalism, and some defense of widely-misunderstood conservative views.  Don’t expect to see any support of Trump or partisanship, except in those very rare instances where such support is (perhaps accidentally) warranted.  Do expect to see criticism of corruption and of policies that produce unintended consequences, from both sides of the aisle.  As regards progressivism itself, just remember:

                I am the opposition.

                Following Eric’s introductory example, I’ll provide a list of books I found informative to my economic and ideological understanding.  (Note that he’s beaten me to some of entries, but I’ll nonetheless produce a list of the same length as his.)  I see a proper understanding of politics as having to be based in a proper understanding of economics and of society, with both of those requiring bases in human nature.  Taking a multidisciplinary approach provides you with a sort of pyramid of learning, with a broad base and an ever-narrowing region of specificity, capped by the field in which you’re most directly involved.  At the base of my pyramid are ethology and evolutionary biology; atop them sits evolutionary psychology, paleoanthropology, archaeology, and history.  Human nature is, after all, just a special case of ape nature, which is just a special case of social animal nature, which is just a special case of animal nature.

                I highly recommend this approach to anyone wanting to achieve a deeper understanding of why we’re here and how we got here.  The most vocal advocates of views at either end of the ideological spectrum refuse to grasp the existence of their own blinders with respect to human nature.  While it’s true, for instance, that religious conservatives refuse to acknowledge that we’re apes, many progressives refuse to acknowledge that we’re territorial, hierarchical, acquisitive, carnivorous, aggressive, pack-hunting apes.

  1.  The “Personal Investigation” (Nature of Man) series by Robert Ardrey:
    1. African Genesis
    2. The Territorial Imperative
    3. The Social Contract
    4. The Hunting Hypothesis
  2.  The Third Chimpanzee by Jared Diamond
  3. Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond
  4. Collapse:  How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond
  5. The Moral Animal by Robert Wright
  6. After the Ice: A Global Human History, 20,000-5000 BC by Steven Mithen
  7. Before the Dawn:  Recovering the Lost History of Our Ancestors by Nicholas Wade
  8. The Blank Slate by Steven Pinker
  9. The Better Angels of Our Nature by Steven Pinker
  10. The Road to Serfdom by F. A. Hayek
  11. The Fatal Conceit by F. A. Hayek
  12. Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt
  13. The Great Depression by Lionel Robbins
  14. Free to Choose by Milton Friedman
  15. Capitalism and Freedom by Milton Friedman
  16. The Golden Bough by James George Frazier
  17. The Hero With A Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell
  18. The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
  19. New Deal or Raw Deal? by Burton W. Fulsom
  20. The Myth of the Robber Barons by Burton W. Fulsom
  21. The Prize by Daniel Yergin
  22. The Commanding Heights by Daniel Yergin

Opinion | Democrat’s New Year’s Resolution: Make Trump Open the Government Without Border Funding

broken wall

 

January 3rd will mark the beginning of the era of ‘short leash’ Donald, where Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the rest of the incoming House dems will have subpoena power and a mandate from the American public to hold the alt-president accountable.

If Trump thinks he’s going to hold the country hostage to get five billion for his wall, he’s going to have a really big problem explaining why he said beforehand that he would be happy to shut it down, adding that he would not blame Democrats…And then he blamed Democrats.

For those who are just joining the political discussion, Trump painted himself into a corner with his last minute demand for $5B to fund a border wall that nobody wanted or currently wants to pursue.

Once his plan backfired and the partial shutdown started, he felt forced to stand his ground by declaring that he would shut down the southern border using (and essentially abusing the power of) the U.S. military.

shortly after submitting his empty threat, he made the desperate claim that the impacted federal employees actually supported the shutdown because they ultimately supported the wall. The alt-president’s claim was quickly shot down by Union leaders. After all, why would he tell his own supporters so coldly to trade their physical labor for rent?

He foolishly expects the Democrats to cave under the pressure he’s putting furloughed employees through. It won’t work.

And, guess what? He’s still not getting the wall and the government should be shut down until we get him to acknowledge his own failure by signing a bill to reopen without his border money. Yes, not simply less money for it. I’m saying absolutely  no border wall money at all.

As soon as he declared he would take less money for his wall, I knew then and there that I could give him zero and he’d be the one begging me. Trump would not have asked for less if he weren’t afraid on some level. Democrats must target that fear like a hunter to its prey.

This country doesn’t belong to Donald Trump or to the people who smile when they see a child gassed at the border. This country belongs to those who will tear the wall down and will see to it that those smiling faces are turned into ones of hopelessness. There’s only one true way to rid them of their happiness.

 

 

Opinion | Beto O’Rourke Is Not Who You Think He Is

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Quick Takeaways

  • Beto O’Rourke’s wife a Billionaire Heiress
  • Ran as a Progressive in Texas but now isn’t big on labels
  • Voted 167 times against his own party, hurting the Affordable Care Act

 

Here we are, twelve months before the presidential primary and we’re already hearing talk of potential candidacies. As of right now, the top three hopefuls that the media is talking about are Joe Biden, Beto O’Rourke, and Bernie Sanders– the last of which receiving the least amount of media coverage.

But can you blame the voters who just months after Trump was unconstitutionally elected were already talking about election 2020? It has been two years into this inept administration and we’ve had three government shutdowns. I don’t blame voters at all. We were duped from all sides and I was thinking about 2020 two years ago when Trump falsely won.

On top of it all, Trump’s trade war is hurting our economy in such a way that the stock market is going up sharply one day and down sharply the next. I don’t know about you, but I think a stable economy would post gradual gains and losses over a long period of time. Sharp ups and downs gives me this feeling of artificiality, as though something isn’t adding up.

So onward we go, as the sick and tired voters that we are, to look for the one that will put an end to Trump if Mueller does not. As all our eyes are on the big three, more information is coming out about them, mostly about Beto O’Rourke. Let’s take a look.

Since 2013, Beto O’Rourke has been U.S. Representative for the 16th congressional district in Texas. And losing his bid to turn Texas blue by beating Ted Cruz, in my honest opinion, was the unofficial kick-off of his 2020 presidential campaign. He almost beat Ted Cruz who, as most of my readers remember, was told by alt-president Trump that his wife was ugly and that his dad might have been the second gunman on the grassy knoll. Fast forward to the two of them hugging.

But Beto just couldn’t pull it out a winner against Ted “thank-you-sir-may-I-have-another” Cruz. The fact that he almost turned Texas blue, however, seemed to be enough to qualify him in the media and public eye to run for president. But now we’re starting to find out some very questionable things about the winner of the Robert F. Kennedy look-alike contest.

First of all, his wife, Amy, is a billionaire Heiress and how nobody found out about that until after his defeat in Texas I’ll never know. Her father, who is a real estate mogul in El’ Paso, sold his company to GE for a whopping $2B.

Second of all, according to Newsweek, O’Rourke voted 167 times against his own party for policies that furthered the Republican agenda. And some of those bills did outright damage to the affordable care act. That’s very disturbing, considering the fact that he ran as a Progressive in Texas. Presently, O’Rourke states that he “doesn’t know” if he’s a Progressive, adding that he doesn’t like labels.  Are you kidding me?

Imagine Beto attempting to debate Trump, the sleazy master brander and disgustoramous, and having to answer for walking back his progressive values. He’d be crushed and our mistake will give us four more years of Trump.

This may sound crazy to you but I believe that Beto was chosen to keep Sanders at bay so Biden gets the nomination and there’s no hint of cheating whatsoever. I mean they’ve already learned from the mistakes of amateurish DWS and scheduled twelve debates instead of just the piddly little three broadcasted during major sports events or on weekends like last time.

Consider this: Bernie Sanders was able to change the Democratic party platform precisely because he almost defeated Hillary Clinton and then Clinton went on to lose, vindicating some on the left who didn’t think she could win. The downside was we got four years of Trump because someone didn’t want to campaign in Wisconsin or Michigan and because of a Russian asshole trying to kill America from within.

You see, I’m different. I believe it is possible to be a bad candidate and also be cheated by Russian interference.  I may lose readers over that last sentence but this is just opinion and I hope that you take the time to read my other works before you judge me on this one piece.

When Hillary Clinton raised her arms and yelled “Medicare for all will never come to pass,” that wasn’t her speaking, that was the dark monied wing of the democratic party speaking. Too many people are taking money from big pharma and have too much power, being able to control who can even run in an election, let alone win.

If Sanders comes in third during the primary, he will not be in a position to change the democratic platform and progressives will be shoved downward for a decade or two until their message and pool of candidates can recharge.

The trend I see is that Beto is strictly in the race to knock out Sanders so that Biden gets the nomination and Beto, I believe, will be repaid with his own nomination in four to eight years after having notched on his belt a presidential run.

Keep in mind, this is not a conspiracy theory (I hate those), it’s just a bet I’m placing with my readers.

 

More Articles:

Dear Alt-President, The American People Are Better Than You

Trump Is Never Getting His Wall

The Economy Will Collapse Before Trump Is Forced Out of Office

Clown Car Trumpster fire

How To Destroy The Alt-Right

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Opinion | Dear Alt-President Trump, The American People Are Better Than You

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In case you haven’t read yet, the latest update, so far, is that Trump revealed Navy Seal’s faces and identities in a video he tweeted Wednesday while visiting Troops in Iraq. It is operational security that the identities of members of special operations forces are covered up and their faces pixellated on any photographs.

Was it because he just wasn’t aware like usual or because he’s low-key trying to put our personnel in harm’s way? Let’s examine.

Let’s say Putin was feeding Trump specific instructions to do certain things, knowing the American people would just chalk it up to ignorance. Would Trump be able to keep his mouth shut about it? I don’t think so.

I highly doubt that our real members of government are still giving the alt-president accurate information considering that he couldn’t keep some of the information from early briefings a secret.

As soon as he became the Republican nominee in 2016, he started receiving intelligence briefings. Before he was even elected* he had already revealed that there was a secret military base in Saudi Arabia. And that’s just one of the examples showing Trump can’t shut up.

I truly believe Donald Trump simply cannot perform the duties expected of a president. Showing up to work everyday, keeping with the traditions that already make our country great, not saluting generals of cult-nations, and not bowing to our enemy Putin – That’s what the American people, we the people, expect of the president. Trump simply cannot live up to those expectations.

The American people expect a president to show up to work everyday because that is what they have to do to survive. They don’t get to go golfing or run away to a self-owned resort when the going gets tough, they have to take it and keep on going. They also can’t ask daddy to get them a special diagnosis from the doctor either. From the highest paid CEO to the employee making minimum wage, none of them can go through one day at their job and make as many mistakes as Trump does without getting fired.

We the people are better than Donald Trump because we’re adults. Because we’ve worked for important things and have suffered the pains to advance in life. What has Trump done but create failed businesses and steal money from innocent people? Not an ounce of actual work, that’s for sure.

 

 

 

 

*His election to the presidency of the United States has not been proven legal