Thursday, October 12, 2017

DACA: Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals

DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. DACA is an "American immigration policy that allowed some individuals who entered the country as minors, and had either entered or remained in the country illegally, to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and to be eligible for a work permit. As of 2017, approximately 800,000 individuals—referred to as Dreamers after the DREAM Act bill—were enrolled in the program created by DACA." The policy was established by the Obama administration in June 2012 and the policy was largely rescinded by the Trump administration in September 2017. What should be done now?

Photo credit
David:
DACA, the  Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, is illegal.

This is not just my opinion, but is (or was) the opinion of a former US President and Constitutional law professor.

President Obama said that he, as the Executive of the country, could not just create DACA. It needed to be enacted as law by the Congress. He made this argument very clearly numerous times.

“I’m president, I’m not king,” Barack Obama, October 25, 2010

“I think it’s important to remind everybody that, what I’ve said previously, I am not a king, I am head of the executive branch of government,” Obama said in an interview with Univision. “I am required to follow the law, and that is what we’ve done.” Barack Obama, January 29, 2013

Yet, he then changed that position and created DACA through executive order when the Democrat-led Congress failed to act. Multiple states sued on various grounds, and many cases are still pending before the courts, but so far, the former President's original argument is winning the day. He didn't have the authority to create DACA. In it's current format,  DACA isn't legal.

Which brings us to the present. DACA beneficiaries are in a state of limbo that President Obama created. President Trump put the ball squarely in Congress's court, which is where this belonged in the first place. Congress needs to take up the issue (which Democrats could have done when Obama was in office, and had a super-majority in the Senate). President Trump has done the right thing by pressuring Congress to act. President Trump's Executive Order and subsequent rules created a provision that no changes be made to the status of current dreamers for 6 months. If Congress does not act within that time frame, DACA may end. Perhaps that's what Congress needed all along, a deadline.

Doug:
Dealing with DACA is something that Republicans in Congress would rather avoid. They were very happy to have DACA for two reasons: 

  1. it allowed them to complain about Obama enacting it (as shown by your response above) to appeal to their extreme base, and
  2. it provided a humanitarian solution, appealing to everyone else. 

This is analogous to the healthcare situation: complain about Obamacare, but allow it to stand. But Trump doesn't understand (or doesn't care about) that dynamic. Or perhaps it is by design: he loves conflict and chaos! 

In any event, this puts the future of the Dreamers into the hands of the Republicans. What will they do? I suspect that they know that Congress is going to look very different in a year and a half when the Democratic party retakes the House, and maybe Senate at this rate. Then Congress can create a real solution for those stuck in this limbo. So, I expect the current Republican-led Congress will allow the DACA idea to die. That will appeal to their base, and the Democratic party can provide the humanitarian solution that the rest of us really want.

David:
Your opinions do not reflect any facts on the ground.  Sixty-six percent of Republican law-makers support DACA. When this comes up for a vote, Republicans will support creating a pathway for citizenship for dreamers. This is a win for Republicans. A majority of Americans support DACA, and Republicans will be the ones to put it into law, something Democrats promised during the Obama years, but failed to get done. ( I'm glad you have the optimism that your party will be in control, and get it done the next time around, something they failed to do when they had control of both houses and the executive branch.)

The only catch is whether Democrats will balk at attaching any sort of border security measures with DACA. The White House has said that Trump will not insist on any sort of wall, but increased border security is something that must be included in the deal. A majority of Americans support increased border security, and it was a major point Trump made on the campaign trail. 



As this graph illustrates, Americans support making DACA law, and they also have soured on a physical border "wall". They support a compromise (65% to 27%) of both enacting DACA as a law and increasing border security, something the President and most Republicans support. This compromise is the way forward. Everyone wins, including dreamers.

At least you are willing to concede that the dreamers are stuck in limbo because of President Obama's  executive order, and Congress needs to act. I consider that progress.

Doug:
The Dreamers were saved by Obama's administration, otherwise they would have already been subject to deportation. Those dreams were dashed by Trump's rescinding of DACA. 

I hope you are right that Republicans will join the Democrats to help save the Dreamers. And the Dreamers' parents. And all immigrants. Unfortunately, you are also right that the Republicans will probably also attach something else to the bill that has nothing to do with the Dreamers' lives and will end up killing the bill. I know many Dreamers and it breaks my heart to see their lives being batted around as a political football. 

There are many in the Republican party (e.g., Trump's base) that do not want anything like DACA to pass. We'll see if the Republicans can gather their support for a such a popular program. I'll be very surprised if they do get it passed. But hope springs eternal! It would be ironic if it falls back to Trump to make an executive action to again save the Dreamers.

David:
Two things before we wrap this up:

Dreamers are in this country illegally. It was not through any fault of their own, but they, and their parents broke immigration laws. There are laws for reasons, and there are penalties for breaking the law. What is currently going on is an effort to change the law to allow them a path towards citizenship. Only Congress can pass that law. Obama placed dreamers in a very precarious position with false promises. I consider the actions he took to create DACA (a program he repeatedly said he could not create legally) during an election season to be one of the most blatantly cynical and partisan things he did while in office. President Trump is leading an effort to make dreamer's status legal under the law. Trump won't enact any executive actions for the very reasons he had to start the process of undoing former President Obama's: It's not legal, and won't stand up in court.

Border security isn't something that has no relationship to dreamers or their status. Dreamers entered  our borders illegally. Border security funnels immigrants towards the legal means of entering the country, and taking their first legal steps towards US citizenship. If Democrats don't see DACA as having anything to do with our borders, then they will cause these efforts to fail. Border security and immigration go hand in hand. Immigrants are welcomed. The first thing they need to do is recognize that the country they are entering is a nation of law. Addressing DACA is the first step to reforming the entire immigration process, which currently appears to be too complicated and expensive for many.

Doug:
Building a wall has nothing to do with the Dreamers. You imagine their parents sneaking in via a hole in a fence. But many Dreamers aren't even from Mexico, and many came here legally. Perhaps their parents overstayed their student or work visas. They may have taken a plane into the US legally. So, no, a wall on the southern border won't help solve any problem. And neither will "increased border security" if they come in legally. So that has little to do with Dreamers. Democrats are fine with increased security all around, such as limiting gun violence. It is a question of priorities.

This country sure has changed over the last 100 years. Most of the people in the US whose parents came to the US have no idea whether they are here legally:
"When people say their ancestors came legally, if they came before 1924, everybody was legal,” said Ngai. “It wasn’t a choice they had to make. After 1924, if you couldn’t get a visa because your country’s quota was filled, many came without documents. They sneaked in." - The Inquirer
It is a world that is upside down where doing something to save the tax-paying Dreamers is seen as "cynical" and rescinding the attempt is seen as "leading an effort to" save them. In any event, I don't know why you insist on stating this mixed up position when it has little to do with what to actually do next. It is pretty simple: just turn Obama's policy into law. As your graph shows, most people want this. Except for the elected Republicans. We'll see what happens in Congress. And then we'll see what happens in the next election. 

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Is X a Terrorist Organization?

David:
As we saw in Berkley recently, Antifa thugs showed up with clubs, and assaulted just about anybody who happened to be in the vicinity. This occurred even after the original peaceful meeting had been cancelled. They were there just to wreak havoc, inflict injuries, and promote violence. They also seem to have a somewhat mixed message as to what it is they are actually fighting for (or against). While it certainly is justified to fight against Nazis, many had signs just attacking President Trump. At the Berkley rally, they were there in force to suppress a prayer rally.  And when the rally was cancelled, they supressed anyone who might be a conservative.

Doug:
You are always assuming that "we" watch whatever you watch and that "we" know what you are talking about. Can you point to something specific? What prayer rally? How were they "suppressing" people? Where are these stories about assaulting "anyone in the vicinity"?

David:
As Vizzini said in The Princess Bride: INCONCEIVABLE!

I'll cut you some slack, because I believe you may have been on vacation during that week, but a quick search of google indicates that not a single news organization failed to report on this story.

Doug:
I was on vacation, of sorts. Ironically we were dropping your favorite niece off at college in California. But also I just want to be specific, and to make sure we're talking about the same thing. There are always protests at Berkeley. Even if you said the "Berkeley 2017" protests, that only narrows it down to six different events, so far this year.

David:
I'm talking about the recent cancelled prayer-for-peace rally that antifa showed up to and beat people senseless. That seems to me to be pretty specific, but maybe that exact scenario happens at Berkley every week these days.

Here's one of the reports, which is fairly representative of most of the news stories:

Antifa attacks peaceful demonstrators in Berkley.

A group called Patriot Prayer, led by Joey Gibson, had planned a rally to pray for peace. He isn't a white-supremacist, but was reported as a black man. When it became apparent that Antifa was planning a violent clash, the prayer meeting was called off. Antifa still showed up and attacked Gibbs and several other people who were not involved with any rally at all, as well as police.

Doug:
Now that I know what you are talking about (August 27, 2017 protests in Berkeley), I see that there was a lot going on that day in Berkeley California, and there were lots of participating groups. ABC News' headline was "Black-clad anarchists swarm anti-hate rally in California." Your description of the Patriot Prayer is a bit off, too. You (strangely) mentioned Gibbs race as black, but it appears that he is Japanese-American. It is hard to imagine that a group connected to alt-right goes into "liberal territory" to merely "pray for peace." I am most suspicious of any claim without links to supporting evidence.

David:
You are partly correct. Here Mr. Gibson is interviewed and explains himself and his motives. He describes himself as Japanese, and explains why he is visiting the liberal West Coast.

I find it interesting that ABC News does not identify Antifa by name.

Doug:
Yes! That is the kind of curiosity we need. Perhaps this story isn't as simple as you describe in your opening, and perhaps it is conceivable that your description doesn't match what others have seen on TV. Perhaps there is not evidence to blame a single group on the violence.

David:
Just like Donald Trump didn't blame a single group for the violence in Charlottesville, you mean? Maybe there is more to a story than the media claims? What a novel idea. So you support the President's original claims, then?

Doug:
I thought we are talking about the violence on August 17, 2017. It was caused by about 100 people, in one group or the other. After all, these aren't card-carrying member of an organization. But that would be useful. "I got a Mastercard with my membership to Anarchists United."

David:
Right. Before you couldn't narrow down which rally we were discussing, now you don't want to talk about any rally except that one.

Interesting to me is the Southern Poverty Law Center doesn't consider Antifa to be a hate group, but has considered most tea party groups, and many other conservative groups to deserve that designation at one time or another. It appears the SPLC considers Antifa to have the correct type of hate.


Doug:
Ah, the Washington Examiner. Why do you read such bad things? SPLC considers most Tea Party groups are hate groups? Considers many conservative groups hate groups? Can you point to such injustices?

David:
Do you do any research at all before you comment? Why is it you never fail to  to try to discredit anything I say by accusing me of not doing research, and then fail to do even the simplest search before you make a comment like that? There is a very nice group of folks here in Indianapolis that I have spoken to a few times called The Eagle Forum. They are conservative, but certainly are not racist, hateful, terroristic, or anything else you might describe as "bad". Yet they are on an SPLC list. It appears anyone who disagrees with the SPLC's agenda is, by their definition, a hate group. When I was part of the leadership of the Indianapolis Tea Party, we were listed there.

Doug:
Slow down. All I did was ask for evidence that what you say is true. Assaulting anyone (babies? old ladies? puppies?) in the vicinity? Asking for a link is not trying to discredit you. So, let's take one of your claims that SPLC doesn't think that "antifa" is a hate group. SPLC did condemn the actions (I read the article). Is your outrage that they haven't been formally listed on some list of hate groups by SPLC? Your second claim was that SPLC considers "most Tea Party groups hate groups". Where is this list? The list you link to is not a hate group list, but a list of "extreme antigovernment groups." I suspect that the Eagle Forum would be happy being called an "extreme antigovernment group." But that isn't hate, right?

David:
Do you have a link to support your comments? The Eagle Forum is not extreme in any sense of the word. Nor are they anti-government. Do you think the SPLC draws a sharp line between an antigovernment group and hate groups? Do you have a link to show me how they make that distinction? They have all of these lists on the same page, linked to each other.

If you're going to require a link to every single thing each of us says, this will become a very time consuming blog. But if you insist: This article indicates that there were four people attacked (all men) who were not involved with the original protest, but were at the site. It also includes descriptions of the perpetrators of violence as being black clad and masked, the official uniform of Antifa.

Doug:
Official uniform? Fox News?

David:
I included a link for your benefit (and at your insistence), one of the most watched news organizations in the country, and you dismiss it. Yet you feel that you can use ABC news as a reliable source. That appears to be a double standard based on bias.

I have no outrage about any of this. I don't know why you would make that assumption. Outrage indicates a failure to control emotions. Perhaps you are trying to influence readers that I'm a little unstable and they should avoid listening to me? "Look, he's outraged at such a simple little thing!"

Doug:
You are wasting my time. I'd like to discuss something that someone (you or me) cares about. There are important things to discuss. The world is literally burning, drowning, and being killed around us while the Republican administration removes science from government. And you pick a topic that you don't really care about? Look, he's picked a topic that is such a little thing! But of course, there is terror going on around us, and it isn't 100 people with an "official uniform." My DACA friends are terrified. My friends who are against fascism are greatly worried.



David:
And Antifa is one of the players committing violence. That's what I'm talking about. And again, you reiterate the idea that talking about Antifa or their tactics is a waste of time. Why are your friends who are against fascism worried? Are your friends supportive of Antifa and their methods?

The SPLC site is fairly extensive, with numerous pages of lists. There are lists of hate groups, hateful ideologies, and individual "enemies". In their list of groups, they list the Mormon Church, the Liberty Council, and the Family Research Council right along side the KKK. They are all jumbled together into one big bunch. They list their hateful ideologies from the same page. On this list is anti-government groups, with the Don't Tread on Me flag as the emblem of this category of hateful ideology. Why use that symbol? Because it represents the entire tea party movement. They list this right alongside the KKK and Nazis. This close association indicates they feel all of these groups are hate groups.

Doug:
The Tea Party doesn't get to claim "Don't Tread on Me." There are many groups that use it. They are one of many groups that have tried to claim it for their own use, and meaning.

David:
Um, you failed to provide any sort of evidence or link for that statement. Who are all of these other groups? I'll bet when most people see a Gadsden Flag, they think "tea party".

If I listed you in the same list as Hitler and Stalin, you'd be making a reasonable guess that I considered you as having a similar character to them.

Doug:
That isn't evidence, and that isn't an argument. You're the one making these claims, and I am just asking for evidence. But here are some links on the Eagle Forum. Here is a nice quote from their leader: "You’re not racist if you don’t like Mexicans." That sounds extreme to me. You might be interested in reading the SPLC's definition of "antigovernment." It isn't what you might think. I think the Eagle Forum would proudly agree that their goals match the definition. You claimed that the SPLC considers the Eagle Forum a hate group. Where is the evidence? They do consider them an "antigovernment" group. You claim that "antifa" assaulted anyone in the vicinity. Where is the evidence? I'm not trying to discredit you, I'm trying to understand you.

David:
By trying to cast doubt on what I say. And by using Right Wing Watch as your source? That sounds like a conspiracy theory site if ever I heard of one.

Doug:
You can't discredit a group that does exactly what they say. If you want to dismiss Right Wing Watch because their name sounds like a conspiracy, then I'm going to stop reading the crappy articles that you point me to from Fox News and Washington Examiner. You have to read the article before you decide that there is a conspiracy.

David:
You equate Fox News with Right Wing Watch? Good grief.

If you actually read the article you are quoting about the Eagle Forum, you'd have read this:

Ed Martin, who ran for Missouri attorney general four years ago and now is the chief spokesman and ally to conservative icon Phyllis Schlafly, said at a Tea Party rally in the St. Louis area Sunday: “You’re not racist if you don’t like Mexicans. They’re from a nation. If you don’t think Muslims are vetted enough, because they blow things up, that’s not racist.” Martin told the Post-Dispatch in a written statement that his comments regarding Mexicans were aimed only at illegal immigrants. Regarding his comments on Muslims, he said: “My point is that it is not racist to make clear that some Muslims should not be coming to America. They are not a race but a religion and there are white, black and brown Muslims and we need to make sure that the ones who wish us ill are not allowed to enter America.”
Doug:
That's racist! If you put everyone from a country in one category, that's the definition of racism! It is racism if you don't like Mexicans. 

David:
"Mexican" isn't a race. That's what he said, and that is true.

Doug:
And asking for evidence is not trying to cast doubt on you. And what about that picture? I did a Google search on that image: it reported that there were about "25,270,000,000 results". That is 25 billion? Can that be right? I'm trying (as I always do) to track down the accuracy of the things that you mention. What is the source of this image?
David:
I don't know the original source for the photo. Does the fact it has been viewed billions of times indicate some problem with it? Are you denying that it appears to represent antifa members?

Doug:
Google doesn't show views, but hits... pages that actually have that picture (or a very similar one) on it. Click it. So that picture appears on (apparently) 25 billion pages. That doesn't seem correct to me. Also, I am not happy not knowing the source of the picture.

David:
Well, I do want you to be happy...

Doug:
It doesn't look like Berkeley in 2017 in the summer (it was hot there, these people are in coats and hats). But maybe it was. I'd like to find out. The article you pointed to mentioned 100 "antifa" members. If so, they must have been tightly packed in for this picture. I count at least 50 people in that picture.

So, why are we talking about these 100 people in California on August 27, 2017?

David:
Perhaps you need to read the titles of the blog before you start participating. It might help you to formulate your ideas a little better, and provide some focus to the discussion. Perhaps then, we wouldn't spend time talking about whether the photo of Antifa is from the specific event in question, or if it was taken at a different time. Sometimes it's very hard for me to try to discuss events with you when you claim complete ignorance on a news item that generated stories in all of the major news media, and follow up stories for over a week afterwards.

Doug:
If this photo is from the Netherlands from 2009, then it does matter.

David:
But you just said you don't know the source of this photo. So, you automatically assume it isn't real? Why?

Doug:
If you claim that a black man was just trying to hold a prayer rally, but he is not black, and it wasn't about praying, then it does matter.

David:
Initial reports were that he was black. He isn't. We've corrected my error. Since the rally was cancelled, you are once again assuming the worst, without any proof to support your own claim that the rally was something different. It seems like that should matter as well.

Doug:
If you claim that SPLC considers some boy scouts a hate group, but that isn't so, then it does matter. So, I guess if you want to make unsubstantiated claims to start some discussion, I am happy to not make it so easy on you. It is very hard to have a discussion with someone when they have a set of beliefs that are based on innuendo and misunderstandings. You can try to turn that description on me, but I really am interested in evidence. I don't want to have a discussion based on misunderstandings. For example, I want to know the source of the photo.

David:
You think this discussion is hard? I'm reminded of a lady I met once in the ER. She said she couldn't move her legs. But while talking to her, she continually moved her legs. "Look, you're moving them now", I said. "No I'm not", she responded. After arguing back and forth for a few minutes, she said she was tired of arguing, got up and walked out of the ER. You think I'm outraged by your side of the discussion, but I'm usually sitting at my desk chuckling at your notions and assumptions. Mainly because you fail to see your own assumptions in action.

Doug:
I understand: you don't care about this. You chuckle at my attempt at an argument because I am self-deluded. And yet, I continue to blog with you. I'm not laughing at you. I'm still trying to understand you.

David:
I noticed you actually changed the title of the blog from my original "Is Antifa a Terrorist Organization?" to "Is X a Terrorist Organization?" What's up with that? Can you not even allow the discussion to proceed as it began?  Do you support the notion that The Eagle Forum is dangerous to America, but Antifa is not?

What I found curious, and what prompted the (attempted) discussion here, is the follow-up stories. Joe Scarborough, of MSNBC's Morning Joe, described Antifa as a fascist group itself.

Doug:
That would be a place that I would put a link to support your claim. Not that I doubt you. Ok, I do doubt that you remember things correctly. I doubt that you are listening to Joe Scarborough. I do doubt that you are interested in this discussion because Scarborough claimed something.

David:
You know what happens when you assume...

And as usual you assume a very great deal.

Scarborough's comments prompted other news outlets to report on what Scarborough had said.

Doug:
That sounds like an interesting chain of events in order to get to a point of discussion. (Not really.) So this is interesting to you because of an opinion that others are buzzing about. You realize that we could discuss anything based on this storyline. I suspect that you believe because your narrative traces this back to someone on MSNBC, we can't really blame you for bringing this up. You're just reporting what others are talking about. Here is Nate Silver saying the same thing:



David:
I'm being blamed for asking your opinion of a current event? What are you talking about? And when you say "we can't blame you", are you having a conversation with your invisible friends again?

Nancy Pelosi had originally called for a cancellation of the original rally because she claimed (wrongly) that it was about hate. After the rally, even she condemned Antifa for their use of violence, and that became a story.

Doug:
It has become your story. There are many stories in the news, but it does seem that you latch onto some very specific, narrow, and not all that important in the grand scheme of things.

David:
I never did say it was  the most important thing in the universe, just something I was curious as to how you felt about Antifa. And once again, you are belittling the entire discussion, and avoiding the entire discussion. You've talked about everything but Antifa's use of violence to shut down discussion and intimidate others.

Doug:
I don't think we need to do this then. I don't want to spend this time and energy if you ask questions that you don't even care about my response.

David:
I've been waiting for a response throughout this entire blog. My question is (and was, before you inexplicably changed the title): should Antifa be declared a domestic terrorist group? The State of New Jersey has already made that designation official.


(By the way, the photo is of the New Jersey flag. I don't know the source of the picture or when it was taken, but I don't think it makes any difference. It's still the New Jersey flag.)

Doug:
I'm not sure that producing a 1-page PDF equates to the headline: NJ declares antifa a domestic terrorist group. If that were true, then I suspect if someone claimed that they were a member of antifa, then they could be jailed immediately. I see no evidence of that. This is an informative PDF written up for Chris Christie by his cabinet. 

David:
It's an informative PDF from New Jersey's Department of Homeland Security and Preparedness from their section on Domestic Terrorism Groups. This is information available on their website for the public, not just for the governor.

Doug:
But I am indeed glad that you got to your point! Remember that "I'm just asking a question" is not a valid form of argument. Which is why the title of our post is "Is X a Terrorist Group?" You can ask that question about any group. But merely asking the question is part of the goal of some. We don't do that here. We want to actually explore a question, not just ask a question for its own effect.

David:
I believe it was you who once said in our blog that BlankVersus Blank is all about asking questions. Most of the blogs you have started begin with a question. Is that only true for you, but not for me?

I'm asking you a very specific question to get your take on it. So far, you have belittled the question, tried to shed doubt on any pretext to the question, actually changed the question to something more generalized, and refused to answer the question.

Doug:
Exactly right: I'm not going to let you "just ask a question to get my take on it." That isn't how we're going to discuss things. That is a "Do you still beat your wife?" loaded question. So, the question is: what would make any group a terrorist group? 

David:
No, that is not the question. That is your new question, to avoid the original. Your tactics are those used by someone trying to protect or hide something. My question was specific to Antifa, a group that is now all over the media due to their use of violence. Do you support Antifa's tactics or their goals? I'm just trying to understand why you are trying to obfuscate the discussion?

Doug:
No, the general question can be asked without reference to a specific instance. If we can decide on what constitutes any terror group, then we can apply it to all. So, what groups do we have in the US operating as terror groups? What is terror? Why is it effective? What is a group? Does it need to persist for a period of time? 

David:
Obfuscation.....

Doug:
Let's take a look at antifa. You never mentioned that "antifa" stands for "anti- fascist." We are all anti-fascist, right? The real question regarding this group is: is it ok to punch a Nazi? That is a troubling question. On the one hand, we have the Indiana Jones argument. Well, it isn't so much of an argument as just: yes, you do punch Nazis.



David:
Antifa wasn't punching Nazis. I have not found any single story that described anyone at this (cancelled) rally as a Nazi. Where is your link to that "fact", brother? They attacked folks at a prayer-for-peace rally. You're showing your true stripes if you are equating Trump supporters, conservatives, or Christians to Nazis.

Doug:
On the other side, violence can be seen as, you know, violent.

David:
Wow. When you put it like that, violence to shut down speech you don't agree with doesn't sound so bad.

Doug:
So what to do? It seems clear in this case that if you get rid of the fascist movement, you could get rid of the anti-fascist movement. Are the fascists a terrorist organization? Isn't that a better question in the wake of Heather Heyer's death in Charlottesville. Members of the KKK said that they were "glad" she was killed. That sounds like terror to me. Is the KKK a terrorist organization? Of course. How much of that terror should also be claimed by white nationalist groups?

David:
Finally. You've put together a great argument that Antifa is indeed a terrorist organization. They are the same as the KKK, as you have illustrated, and everyone should treat them as such. Why didn't you just say that at the beginning? This could have been a two-sentence blog, and we could move on to something else, like DACA.

Doug:
Cancer and chemotherapy are both damaging to the body, but that does not make them the same. Fighting Nazis with violence is not the same as terrorizing blacks and other minorities with violence.

David:
Unfortunately, it doesn't seem that simple. Antifa doesn't just attack fascists and Nazis. They also go after Trump supporters and conservatives, by calling them fascists.  Note that in this article, CNN also fails to mention the name Antifa, while other news organizations, including the Berkeley newspaper, did so. Violence is violence. Violence is bad. Don't give it a pass because it's perpetrated against someone you abhor. The KKK is abhorrent, but in America, they still have the same free-speech rights as everybody else. Even The ACLU agrees with me on this point.

Doug:
We do have a long history of terrorist organizations in the US. But I don't think "antifa" is something that we need to be worried about in the long run: I hope that we can beat down the fascist movements quickly and effectively. And then there is no need for anti-fascists, violent or not.

David:
Beat down? You are arguing the way to eliminate Antifa's violence is to let them eliminate (with violence) anyone they consider a fascist? Antifa considers President Trump and anyone who supports him or any part of his agenda, as well as the police, to be fascists. By not identifying that simple fact, and promoting their violence, you are destroying free speech and the rule of law. Nice.

Antifa's goal is to promote violence against those they disagree with. To me, that equals terrorism, not ends that justify the means.


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Urban Independence and Federalism

David:
Before we get started, I recommend all of our readers take ten minutes to read this article. It has an obvious liberal slant, which should make the arguments just that more compelling.




Screen Shot 2017-08-22 at 12.29.28 PM.png


Welcome back. Federalism has been the cry from half of the country from it's founding. Even during the first (and only) Constitutional Convention, there was debate over how to power share between a centralized, national government, and the independent state governments. (Trivia note: It was only after the civil war that Americans began describing our country as the United States instead of these United States.)


Doug:
Why does your trivia always sound like you got it off of a cereal box? It only takes a second using Google Ngram Viewer to check out your trivia claim (below). Nope, not true. You can see that the phrase "these united states" hardly ever had a bump. Even if you limit the search to just American English sources, it is not true. The phrase "these united states" gained some popularity around 1800. But compared to "the united states" it is barely distinguishable as a phrase unto itself.


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David:
You are nothing if not predictable. Almost without exception, you always jump on the most trivial portion of any comment I make, usually as a diversion.  In this case, it is actually trivia. The US Constitution lists these United States. But the thirteenth Amendment, which came after the civil war, lists the United States in it's phrasing. It is also well documented that before the civil war, Americans used the United States are, rather than the United States is. Even this article, which intends to point out this status didn’t happen immediately, does note that the change came after the Civil War.


But, we seriously digress. Seriously. Let’s get back to talking about federalism and state’s rights.


Doug:
You missed my point entirely, and missed some interesting actual data. The first point was that you heard something, reported it, but didn't check it. It turns out that you remembered it slightly wrong: it wasn't that there was a change in the article, but a change in the verb. It is true that there was a change in "is" versus "are" and you can check that yourself using the same tool as I attempted to show you how to use above:


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As you can see, there actually was a change in the verb from "is" to "are" after the civil war. But you can also see that it didn't stick as the predominate form, but is used roughly at equal parts since about 1915. But combine that with the first chart we get the additional bit of information that people use "the united states" before "is" or "are". A bit of cognitive dissonance (one form is used to indicate singular, the other to indicate plural.)


I don't explore this as "trivia" by the way. This gives insight into how people think about things over time. And I think that it is very appropriate to bring into this discussion. I just want to understand the actual data rather than your misremembered version, because it matters.


David:
As I said, and you ignored, the wording used within the Constitution itself changed. It changed from “these” to “the”. That’s an important distinction, and also is factual.  But if you and Jenny McCarthy would rather trust the University of Google rather than the Constitution, and call it factual, go ahead. I also find it interesting that you feel a need to "fact-check" even the most trivial things I say in an attempt to refute them, but you often repeat things within the blog that you hear from Rachel Maddow without giving it a second thought. If only you were as skeptical of your own information sources. Now, back to the actual subject.


Federalist were on the side of maintaining states, rather than a centralized government, as the ultimate protector of the people's rights. The last amendment in the Bill of Rights lays out this division of power, with a clear statement that the founders wanted to limit the power of a national government, and keep most power in the hands of the people.




Doug:
Of course our Constitution (and amendments) is a carefully drafted balance between many competing forces. The Politico Magazine article only has an "obvious liberal slant" in that it uses actual factual data.


David:
Spoken like a true liberal: “All of the views written by another liberal are true and everything he says is factual. My brother's opinion that the author is biased is wrong because I don’t see the facts as he does”.  Perhaps you need to review the article again. If you were going to try to be unbiased and open-minded, you’d admit that he has a liberal slant to what he is saying.


Doug:
He may have a liberal slant in his goals, but it seems his data is 100% accurate. I just want to make sure that we are clear on what is "slanted."


David:
I understand what you believe. But I think you’re wrong. Adding some facts to a biased article does not make the article, or the opinions, less biased. For example, he starts off stating the election of Donald Trump to be worse than Canadiens electing a "dysfunctional and retrograde" mayor. He believes cities are "under assault" by the Trump administration. He believes journalists and academics to be "the creative class", while those who voted for Trump to be followers of crazy drug addicts. He even notes his belief that those who voted for Trump show resentment for women, minorities, immigrants, and the gay and lesbian community. This could not be further from actual truth, represents his inherent bias, and does not represent any "facts".

Doug:
Strange that you gave us this as an assigned reading. In any event, I think that there is evidence for all of the above, and I am glad you highlighted them.

David: 
Of course you believe there is evidence for all of the above. You're biased.

I introduced this article because I believe many of his conclusions are spot on. Federalism has been argued for by the tea party for a decade. States should have much more power, and the federal government less, on a whole host of issues. The states are a check to federal power and authority. They were when Obama was in office, and they are now. I just find it amusing that this guy, a professed liberal, is just now realizing the tea party was right, and it took the election of Donald Trump to help him see the light. His goals are not liberal or biased goals, but federalist goals.


Doug:
Let me just make a few points from my personal perspective:


  1. I am not concerned about "federal government overreach." I didn't believe in that idea during Obama, and I don't believe that it exists now. It is a meaningless phrase. But I try to be consistent across presidents.
  2. I have been concerned about too much power in the hands of the President for many years. I wish we would get back to congress declaring wars, for example.
  3. There isn't a "red America" and a "blue America"... there are just people. There are many more than two sides to every issue.


David:
Sometimes I truly wonder what kind of bubble you live in. You think it's a good idea for the federal government to regulate whether you can build a pond on your own property? They can regulate a mud puddle in your front yard after it rains? Should you have to give up your religious beliefs if you choose to engage in commerce? Can the IRS target groups based on their political beliefs? Of course, if you don’t believe the government has limits, then you would not believe it could be guilty of overreach.


Doug:
Where did you get these hyperbolic examples? I was merely reacting to the well-written article, not crazy extremes in your imagination. I do this to make it clear where my opinions differ from the author's. But don't get confused: just because I don't put stock in the notion of "overreach" doesn't mean that I believe that the federal government doesn't have limits. Of course it does. That was what we just described as a "carefully written balance of powers."


David:
Thanks. You have clarified things more than I ever could have with that last comment. Perhaps you have not heard of The Waters of the United States rule from the EPA. Or perhaps you just choose to ignore it (as the EPA can do no wrong, and has no overreach). It’s a real rule, with actual consequences for farmers across the parts of the country that Democrats have lost touch with. But I do hope the Democrats continue to believe these issues are just Republican’s crazy overactive imaginations.


I am amused, however, that you claim you were so terribly concerned with President Obama having too much power. I must have missed it when you said that when he waist office. Can you tell me any examples of him wielding too much power?


Doug:
Again, I am referring to points in the article regarding Presidential power. My point #2 refers to too much power in the position of the President, regardless of who is President. Luckily, President Obama didn't use all of the power that congress appears, often, to give the position. For example, when Obama wanted to bomb Syria, he requested congressional approval. There are many in congress that would like to abdicate that responsibility, leaving it to the President. So, luckily, he didn't wield the power that other Presidents have wielded. Trump has united Congress into actually curbing some of that power: just recently Congress has started to move power from the President in areas of national security, and in controlling sanctions.


David:
Good point, but you're steering us away from the actual topic of federalism. The President has certain powers, and Congress has certain powers. Bush got approval for the Iraq war from Hillary Clinton and the other Senators in Congress, and that is how it should be. But that is not part a discussion about federalism or the federal government usurping the powers reserved to these United States.

Doug:
I'm not sure I would boil the Iraq Resolution down to just "give Bush approval for the war." It did, indeed, provide the authorization to use force defined in the 1973 War Powers Act. But it also required that sanctions and diplomacy be used before declaring war.

David:
Still, it was Congress maintaining their authority in the system of balances. Today, we're talking about federalism.

You completely overlook Obama’s use of the executive branch agencies to enact rules and regulations that many states, companies, and individuals found to be excessive and overreaching. Putting coal out of business through regulation was one such effort that ended up hurting Democrats. Obamacare regulations that have doubled the cost of insurance for most Americans is another. These are examples of the federal government creating burdens on the states that the Constitution does not provide for.


Doug:
Uh huh. Anyway, I do believe that progressives have relied on a centralized, strong, smart federal government to make most of the progress that we have made for the last 70 years. And that has largely worked! After all, this has been the easiest way to bring the entire country into the modern era on a variety of issues, including women's rights, LGBT rights, civil rights, and health care. Who would have thought that we could have let someone as backwards as Trump become president? But it can happen. Partly because we have neglected local politics and let Republicans gerrymander their way to local domination. But that seems to be about to change, judging from who is gearing up to run in the next local elections:


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David:
Ah, and there we have it: All of the liberal greatest hits have been accomplished not by convincing American’s that it was the right thing to do, but by big, runaway government forcing the issue. The Constitution was designed to make huge, social contracts difficult, not easy. The fact you celebrate the easy course (laws created by agencies rather than Congress) Obama took indicates you really don’t understand a balance of powers. Remember when Obama (who is a lawyer) said numerous times that he did't have the authority to create law regarding immigration, until he didn't get what he wanted. Then, he just created rules that changed the laws to suit his needs. The courts have all agreed that he overstepped his authority.

I am president, I am not king. I can't do these things just by myself. We have a system of government that requires the Congress to work with the Executive Branch to make it happen."  ~President Obama 10/25/2010

Then, he decided he was king.


Doug:
Such fictional narratives would be funny during any other presidency other than Trump. But I think most people have long enough memory to compare what actually happened to the current administration. At least I hope they do.

David:
Perhaps you should google-research your last statement. DACA is back in the news because Obama illegally usurped the powers of Congress. You may think that's fictional, but the courts have not.

Doug:
But these aren't just Liberal's Greatest Hits, these are America's Greatest Hits. This includes all of our programs to take care of all of our people, such as social security, minimum wages, medicare, medicaid, civil rights, and our federal highway system, to name just a few. I agree that our constitution makes it hard to make any change. Which makes the changes that we have made all the more impressive, and indicates that they were not instituted by a small, radical group, but by a majority of the people from all sides of government.


David:
Unless a small number of radical people bring a court case, which is then decided by a small number of judges. When Roe vs. Wade was decided, forty-eight states had laws preventing abortion.

You're actually mixing and equating programs that worked for Americans with ones that didn't, and are forcing the debt our children will be forced to deal with into atmospheric levels. Obama doubled the debt by expanding medicaid to anyone who wants it, not just for the poor who need it. Perhaps we can evaluate the recent minimum wage fiasco, which just re-enforces my belief that minimum wage decisions should be a local decision, not a national one-size-fits-all mandate. If a city wants to decrease the number of jobs with a minimum-wage hike, they can certainly go ahead and do it. Obama spent 1 trillion dollars for "shovel-ready" highway infrastructure jobs back in 2008, right? To fix the federal highway system, right? Yet no projects got done despite the money being spent. And here we are in 2017, trying to spend another trillion dollars to fix what? The federal highway system, again. These are all big-government failures.

Are you placing all of your hope on retaking the House? Remember, Hillary Clinton outspent President Trump by more than a 2:1 margin, but fell short of winning. With the same message, Democrats across the country will fare no better if the economy continues to improve.

Now that “backwards” Trump is in charge, federalism will be the way to fight him? Yes! That is the message that I have promoted for the past ten years. I'm happy that liberals are belatedly finding the truth in that message.


(And perhaps you might need to temper your hopes. Democratic fundraising has been pretty dismal this year. The DNC isn’t in the red, exactly, but it’s barely above water.)









Doug:
It is still pretty early in the 2018 election cycle (most people, other than Trump, wouldn't start campaigning until next year). But thank you for bringing up donating money to the DNC: it is a good cause. I'm not worried about the lack of funding, yet.

For many decades, if not centuries, we have elected (by and large) smart people to be our Federal leader. That includes people that I have serious political disagreements with, such as George W. Bush, and who was not among the set of smartest Presidents. But they had a certain level of intelligence that kept them within modern parameters of doing their job. For too long progressives have relied on this singular position to help keep our country on the progressive track. That has resulted in local decay, including allowing the local districts to be gerrymandered into "safe" districts.


David:
I suppose that is how you’d see things and interpret the outcomes. Republicans are stupid, and follow stupid people like sheep, but Democrats are smart. (You do realize that Obama never released any of his educational records, so he may actually be the dumbest person ever elected to the office? Bush got a BA in history from Yale, Obama got a BA in political science from Occidental College, and then Columbia, after transferring. Neither of them would appear to be dumb.) Perhaps Democrats have lost so many elections because people actually saw the outcomes of progressive policies, and voted to end them. Republicans offer better policies that work better for more people, and the people have responded.


There is gerrymandering ongoing, to be sure. As this article discusses, racial gerrymandering, which Democrats legislated and sued for, has recently worked against them as progressive groups have coalesced into dense urban areas, and have minimized their respective voting power. Not to mention that Democrats controlled the House for 40 years due to their own gerrymandering. Only now do they want to change the game. That’s true hypocrisy.

Democrats are wrong about why Republicans control the House


Doug:
Stephen Bannon is now out. He was truly an evil person, but he was not stupid. He was correct that much of our progress over the last century is embedded in the "administrative state" and he has helped orchestrate the dismantling of those organizations. But I don't see this as a perspective that will live long past this administration, especially once people feel the effects on their own lives.


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One of the complexities of the administrative state, however, is that it is inextricably tied to the Military Industrial Complex. So, with Bannon's ouster, also comes the prospect of increased military action, specifically in Afghanistan. It isn't so much that Trump's perspective on military action in Afghanistan has changed (it has), but the people in position to effect his opinion has changed. Sources say that Trump changed his mind by being shown a picture of what Afghanistan was like:

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David:
“Evil” is an unusual term to use just because someone disagrees with your political views. Some might say that doubling the nation’s debt and saddling future generations with that debt is evil. Some might say raising energy costs, which hurts the poorest Americans is evil. Some might even say that opposing school choice, insisting poor children remain trapped in failing schools is evil. “Evil” is a very subjective term, and one I’m surprised to find you using. Bannon is abrasive, but he isn’t evil to want to curb big government (the administrative state), and promote a return to federalism as the dominant form of American government.


Doug:
I find him evil because he abuses people's trust. He is a manipulator. For example, he claims he is not a Nazi, but his paper spreads white-nationalist rhetoric.


David:
You just called him a Nazi. Did you do any fact-checking or google searches to reach that conclusion? Or are you getting your information from a cereal box? That seems to be over-the-top and very inflammatory rhetoric. While you claim that Breitbart is racist, I'm going to guess that you've never actually been to the site or read any articles on the actual site. You've probably read plenty about Breitbart from other liberal sites, however. And according to Rachel Maddow, the Huffington Post, and MSNBC, everything conservative or Republican is racist.

Doug:
If your newspaper is Nazi-sympathising, then you're a Nazi. It really is as simple as that. I don't need to read anyone else's opinion to understand that dynamic. Maybe he does it just to make money. Maybe he does it to get access to the Republicans. It doesn't matter to me what his motive is. In fact, if he truly doesn't believe in the white supremacy that his paper advocates, then that would seem to make him even more evil than those that do.

David: 
President Obama famously stated that we'd all be able to keep our doctors after Obamacare passed. He lied and he knew he was lying. Therefore, he abused our trust, and manipulated us to get the bill passed. So according to you, Obama is evil.

Doug:
You can try to make that false equivalency, but people can very plainly see the clear marks of Nazi propaganda in Breitbart's headlines. You don't even need to read the words. Consider that Breitbart started putting globes around Jewish names. Or that it routinely provides over-the-top, inciting headlines:




David:
So, an opinion piece about one side of the confederate flag issue makes the publisher a Nazi? That seems to be a false equivalence. It also illustrates why liberals don't understand the entire other side of the flag story for people in the South. For many, the flag doesn't represent slavery or the confederacy, but a sense of rebellion and freedom. Remember, the confederate flag was on the Dukes of Hazard's car, which was also the "General Lee". They were not racists. Or Nazis. They were rebels. And, I'll wager most folks who would wave the confederate flag would also support federalism, right along with you.



Perhaps Donald Trump listened to his military advisors, which he indicated he would do from the very beginning of his presidency, and agreed this is the best way to secure a safer future for America. Although it certainly fits your narrative that he, like all other imbecilic Republicans, is easily manipulated by picture books.


Doug:
Your words, not mine.


David:
No, those are actually your words, reinterpreted to be a little more plain. Your comment just confirms that.

Doug:
Yes, that is what the phrase "your words, not mine" mean. But you said it, and then I can quote you: "imbecilic Republicans...easily manipulated by picture books." You made it very plain.

David:
What I do find potentially interesting, is now that Democrats have found federalism to be helpful to their cause, which appears to just be obstructing Trump and the Republicans, their lawsuits against the federal government will set precedents that will make it harder for them to reinstate their big government administrative powers once they regain power. (And of course, they will eventually regain power.) A decrease in the size, scope, and reach of the federal government, and a return of state's powers may be just what Americans have really been asking for.

Doug:
You are partially correct: they will regain power. The strategy is to move the smart politicians to the state and local levels to enact the progressive agenda. Urban independence. That would be a good title for a picture book, I think.

David:
I'm just happy liberals are finally grasping an understanding of how the Constitution actually works, and that local government is the cornerstone. Now, would you like some tea?