Morning Ed: Immigration {2016.01.21.Th}


Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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106 Responses

  1. Avatar j r says:

    Michael Brendan Dougherty says that immigration is disrupting the nation state as the financial and psychological costs of emigration fall.

    One day I am going to read a piece critical of immigration that bothers to cite the pretty substantial body of quantitative and qualitative research on immigration channels and levels of assimilation. I guess today is not that day.Report

  2. Avatar Lyle says:

    Of course folks wrote the same thing about immigration as Dougherty in the 1920s and 1850s at least in the US, so nothing new here. At both times the group that was most feared was the evil non-christian Roman Catholics (Anti-Catholic Know Nothing Party and KKK 1920s version). The pope was conspiring with catholics to take over the country and make everyone into his slave (shades of the Gunpowder plot and bloody Mary etc)Report

  3. Avatar Kim says:

    Is the BBC just a bunch of idiots or something?
    If you want modern apartheid, look to Israel and Japan.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Kim says:

      Belgium is a bit closer to home for them. Kind of like the DR us for us, except closer.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Will Truman says:

        I know, it’s just I think they’re being a bit of a bunch of worrywarts, when there are actual plans in the process of being implemented (and when those plans lead to genocide, yes, I think we ought to worry).Report

        • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Kim says:

          While all the other Middle Eastern states are paragons of multiculturalism. The BBC is also plenty critical of Israel.Report

          • Avatar Kim in reply to LeeEsq says:

            In Iran, Jews are allowed to vote. I cannot say the same for Greater Israel (and to the extent that Israel operates within the borders of a Palestinian state without its express permission, that constitutes a rather dramatic breach of sovereignty), where one is legally considered a traitor for supporting boycotts of settlement-produced goods.

            I suppose I ought to confess a willingness to hold first world countries to a higher standard of conduct.Report

            • Avatar Glyph in reply to Kim says:

              In Iran, Jews are allowed to vote. I cannot say the same for Greater Israel

              Jews can’t vote in Israel? Man, those guys just cannot catch a break.Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to Glyph says:

                Hmm… apparently the jews presently residing in the Occupied Territories may vote in Israeli elections. Given the fact that Palestinians residing in the Occupied Territories can’t vote in those elections, it does rather resemble ballot stuffing, doesn’t it?Report

            • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Kim says:

              In Iran, Jews are allowed to vote

              Both of them.Report

            • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Kim says:

              And in Israel, Arabs vote, serve in the army, hold positions in government and the Knesset. In Iran nearly all positions of power are reserved for Shiite Muslims and the Jews only have one person in the Iranian Parliament. In Israel, an Arab Judge provided over the trial of President Moshe Katsav for rape.

              Kim, the Jewish population of Iran dropped from 100,000 at the time of the Iranian Revilution to somewhere between 9000 and 25000 today. That is at best a 75% decrease. Even using official Irsnian translators, you get a picture that Jewish life in Iran sucks.Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to LeeEsq says:

                One also gets rather the picture that Jews are a “favored minority”, if you bother to listen to what the Sunnis say.


                Paints a rather different picture than what you say above.

                The theocracy in Israel is just as brutal, if not moreso, than the theocracy in Iran. In Iran, women can ask for and get a divorce, after all.
                (I am rather unclear as to how much the theocracy influences people not of the primary religion in both countries, and ought to do more research before saying things).Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Will Truman says:

        Is geography just a bunch of idiots or something?Report

    • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to Kim says:

      This thing exists! Therefore no one is allowed to speak critically about any other thing!Report

  4. Avatar Will Truman says:

    Re: MBD

    That “This group of immigrants represents a significantly greater challenge than previous immigrants” is not especially a new argument. Neither, of course, is “That’s what they said about the previous group, too!”

    What I find that I look for in such discussions is an explanation of what, precisely, makes it different this time around. I find answers most given (Telemundo, multiculturalism, this group is just different) somewhere between unconvincing and offensive, but “The reduced costs of emigrating” is an interesting one because it seems obviously true. I don’t think it gets us as far as MBD thinks it does… but it does provide an argument against legal limitations that didn’t exist back in the day when these costs were higher and immigration was self-limiting on that basis. This is a bit removed from the debate we have over the policy on paper, but seems relevant to our policy in practice.Report

    • Avatar j r in reply to Will Truman says:

      The especially stupid thing is when the conversation gets around to political leanings. Yes, lots of brown people come from countries where the current political climate is decidedly leftist, but lots of those people left for reasons relating to that.

      In my experience, the median immigrant is much more likely to have a high opinion of private enterprise and much lower opinion of overly-intrusive government action. Even among African-Americans, the most Democratic-leaning demographic in the country, there is pronounced streak of entrepreneurship and a tendency to see the rules as a means for those in power to keep everyone else out. The amount of informal, unregulated economic activity in the black community is immense. The people that I’ve found to be the most supportive of government interventions in commerce and most doggedly committed to certain public institutions (whether they be public schools or social security) are middle class native-born white folks.

      If the anti-immigrant right were who they actually claim to be (ie not explicitly concerned with race) they would be welcoming these folks as allies. And that is before even mentioning the high level of religiosity and overall social conservatism that you find in these groups.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Will Truman says:

      “The cost of emigrating is lowered” is only relevant if we can answer the question of whether immigration or immigration past a certain point is bad or undesirable.

      It seems logical to conclude that lower costs get you more of something. But it still has to be shown that more = bad/worse.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Kazzy says:

        Yeah, it is true that if one doesn’t believe there is an upper bound to the number of immigrants a society can fruitfully absorb, then this is a non-issue.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Kazzy says:

        We can’t even define what “bad” consists of, though.Report

        • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Jaybird says:

          Maybe we should do that first before we start declaring it as such then.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Kazzy says:

            What criteria should we use? What time horizon?

            Trust and collaboration/cooperation? The price of unskilled labor? The price of skilled labor? The price of the goods produced by this labor?

            Are there costs/benefits to culture in general? What are they? To what extent are citizens right to expect immigrants to change? To what extent are immigrants right to expect citizens to change?

            Does a country have a greater obligation to its own citizens than to immigrants?

            These questions lead me to such places as “good for this person is bad for that other person” and picking any given answer is choosing which person gets the benefit and which absorbs the cost.Report

            • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Jaybird says:

              What would you rather have us do? Not have the conversation?

              I’m not pretending to know the answer.

              But if people are going to argue that more immigrants = bad, shouldn’t we ask that they prove that, well, more immigrants = bad?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Kazzy says:

                We should have the conversation, absolutely, but some of those questions have answers that can lead uncomfortable places and if the result of dipping one’s toe in said uncomfortable places is cessation of the conversation for the much more pleasant conversation about how one of the people in the conversation is bad for reaching bad conclusions, I suspect that the conversation won’t last long.

                But maybe I’m wrong. If we ask those questions with regards to the immigration recently seen in Europe, is it likely that we’ll get different answers from each other? Here’s my quick and dirty answers:

                Trust and collaboration/cooperation? This is going to go down.
                The price of unskilled labor? This is really going to go down.
                The price of skilled labor? Probably go up if only as the result of demand.
                The price of the goods produced by this labor? Cheap labor goods go down, expensive labor goods go up.

                Are there costs/benefits to culture in general? Absolutely!
                What are they? Pass.
                To what extent are citizens right to expect immigrants to change? Pass.
                To what extent are immigrants right to expect citizens to change? The immigrants should expect the citizens to be tolerant.

                Does a country have a greater obligation to its own citizens than to immigrants? Pass.Report

              • Avatar Troublesome Frog in reply to Jaybird says:

                To what extent are citizens right to expect immigrants to change? Pass.
                To what extent are immigrants right to expect citizens to change? The immigrants should expect the citizens to be tolerant.

                These seem like the really interesting questions. As long as the data continues to show that immigrants assimilate pretty quickly, the other questions seem like they’ll work themselves out. I suppose there could be serious economic questions if we were importing a huge number of people with absolutely no skills or hope of finding productive work, but that doesn’t seem to be case.

                The assimilation question seems like it’s worth asking. Presumably, people come here because something about how we do things makes this a desirable place to live. They could be coming for our natural resources, but I don’t think that’s true in general. So as a thought experiment: If assimilation rates were way lower than they appear to be and we started absorbing giant flows of immigrants who, say, believed that freedom of religion was terribly destructive to society and needed to be eliminated, would that be cause for concern?

                We’re a big country with a large population, a pretty good rate of assimilation, and a political system that basically ignores minority opinions, so I don’t think that’s a problem we’re likely to face. But I could see it being a valid concern for a small country with a parliamentary system.Report

              • Compare the two sentences:

                “I prefer X to Y.”
                “X is better than Y.”

                It’s difficult to hammer out whether X actually is better or if the speaker just prefers X because that’s how zhe was raised.

                Perhaps there needs to be a third sentence worth comparing with the others: “If you don’t like X, move to Somalia.”Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Kazzy says:

                “But if people are going to argue that more immigrants = bad, shouldn’t we ask that they prove that, well, more immigrants = bad?”

                What Jaybird is saying, I think, is “OK, so let’s say they *do* prove it. Are *you* going to just stop having the conversation at that point, or are you going to accept what’s been proven and go on from there?”Report

          • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Kazzy says:

            Maybe, but I suspect the general consensus (outside of OT) is that there is an upper-bound somewhere, even if it’s well above current levels. (Which I believe it is… most of the time, anyway.)

            If 50,000,000 Brazillians (or Russians or whatever) entered the US over a decade, I am pretty sure that would not be good for the USA and more of its current residents than otherwise. I can’t prove it, but I strongly suspect it to be the case. I also think it would be bad for the country if immigration went down to zero. So I do think there is a window. Is the number of people who would come here if we had open doors within that window? It used to be. For the reasons that MBD outlines, though, that might not be the case today as the number of people who would like to come here is staggering, and as the costs of doing so decrease, then you can’t rely on natural barriers so much.

            The weakness of his piece is that for the USA, we’re not relying on natural barriers. Also, here in the USA we have an outstanding record of assimilation compared to most of Europe and Asia. There is the fear that on a de facto level, if we stop enforcing the laws on the books entirely and so on, that we might reach that point. Politically, though, that seems unlikely due to such a policy having a backlash.

            That backlash is tricky, though, and I don’t like the idea of that being the firewall. Because I don’t want to reach that point. As much as anything, my fear of really high levels of immigration has to do with the behavior (specifically the political behavior) of those already here as it does the immigrants themselves. But at some point (above what we currently see and below 50,000,000 Brazillians) I do worry about more than that. And I think I might be giving too short thought to the notion that even if something isn’t “bad” for me, I am overlooking those who may be paying a price for it that I am not.Report

            • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Will Truman says:

              Will, I have to ask… Does Lain know you’re so full of virulent hate for Brazilians?

              More seriously, this reminds me of a conversation we had recently about some guy’s quotes about “too many Mexicans.” I think there are different conversations to be had about how many people a given nation can support, how many low-wage/skill people a nation can support, how many children a nation can support, how many elderly people a nation can support, and so on and so forth (with all of these numbers change due to different variables over time). Immigration (to the extent that ‘immigration’ is a singular thing) will contribute differently to these different numbers. We should be wary of conflating ‘immigration’ with any one thing.

              So, instead of focusing on how many Brazilians or Germans or Muslims or Mexicans, I suggest we first think about those other questions first.Report

            • Avatar PD Shaw in reply to Will Truman says:

              Historically, immigration flows have been determined by (a) push factors (fleeing from war and starvation), (b) pull factors (recruitment or creating a new economic or religious life), and (c) cost. While there is often a mixture of push and pull, immigration to America was most frequently and most successfully based upon positive attributes of “pull” migration. For most of the 19th century, immigration rose and ebbed based upon the U.S. economy and job demands, indicating that prospective immigrants were closely reading newspapers and even identifying specific cities where they believed jobs were waiting.

              The mechanism that regulated the type of immigrants that came was cost, because it was expensive and for most an irreversible decision not to be made lightly. People fleeing catastrophe generally didn’t make it to America until more recently when the U.S. government began loaning the cost of transfer under refugee programs.

              The mass migration of the Irish from the potato famine is the best example of negative migration, but somewhat overstated in that the Irish tended to originate from the wealthier counties, often after working their fare in England. The Irish had always been coming to America, but the group that arrived in Boston/New York without jobs or opportunity were met with a backlash that was not similar to the response they received in the Midwest.

              Backlash is the democratic response to immigration in the face of job competition and strains on public coffers.Report

    • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Will Truman says:

      It’s not like the GOP isn’t aware of this. Dubya, for instance, tried pretty hard.

      It’s just that their base is filled with people who really, really, really don’t like the idea. At all.

      The GOP establishment can’t really change it. They’ve tried. It tends to ruin the politicians that try it, unless they bow and scrape and repudiate profusely.

      Bush only managed with as little blowback as he got because he was a lot more trusted by the GOP base than a lot of candidates — he had a lot of cred with evangelicals, and after 9/11 he got a lot of slack with the base. In a lot of ways, he managed to thread the GOP’s primary needle with a deftness that’s hard to match. He was a businessmen to the businessmen, an evangelical to the evangelicals, a successful Governor to the politicals, and a good Southerner to the rest.

      And he managed to sell it all authentically, which was impressive — I mean I think the religious faith was quite genuine, but the good ole’ Texan thing? The man owned a literal dude ranch. And he was an awful businessman and his record in Texas was not very impressive when given even a second’s glance.

      Yet he sold it really well. Up to and including to people who knew better. The man had some sort of weird gift for it.

      And if HE couldn’t push immigration past his base, I don’t think there’s a current GOP figure who can.Report

  5. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    Belgium’s problem isn’t really apartheid per say. The Nethetlands and Belgium used to organize their societies under something called the Pillar system. This meant that the different groups basically kept to themselves and had their own institutions. The Pillar system was dismantled during the 1960s about the same time mass immigration started. The politicians in charge of integrating the immigrants recreated the pillar system somewhat for the new immigrants.Report

  6. Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

    The whole “vets not becoming citizens” bugs the ever living out of me. I knew a lot of guys who weren’t citizens when I was active duty and even back then I thought it was horribly unfair to them.

    An Honorable Discharge on the DD-214 should be an instant path to citizenship. I mean you already took an oath to defend the constitution with your life, same as the one new citizens take, and you spent 4+ years proving it.

    Why this is still a thing baffles me to no end.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

      Agreed 100%. Maybe I’m not understanding the underlying dynamics or something but this strikes me as easily fixable by a bipartisan bill because it has something for everybody.

      Maybe I should try to think about how it has something for everybody to hate…Report

    • Avatar Joe Sal in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

      I’m not clear on the backstop that keeps the government from end running the system to find fighters for various ‘conflicts’.

      I think I calculated the government killing on average, one person every 4 minutes or so since WW2. Now maybe that’s fine if all those killings are justified, if they are not, this becomes a rather dim proposal:

      Using non-nationals to unjustly kill non-nationals purchased by US citizenship.Report

      • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Joe Sal says:

        I’m not entirely sure that would be as strong of an incentive as you think it is. It used to be the case that you would be automatically naturalized. These days being a vet does fast track you for Green Card status and eventual citizenship, but it isn’t automatic. The big problem the guy in the NPR story had was that he provided a fake BC (which is technically perjury during enlistment). This is something his recruiter should have flagged for closer inspection & his recruiter should face disciplinary action for not being more vigilant (which he won’t, because war & recruitment goals are paramount).

        Besides, being in the military gets you & your immediate family all the other benefits of US Citizenship while serving, so that incentive is already there.Report

    • Avatar Glyph in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

      This really does seem like a no-brainer.

      you already took an oath to defend the constitution with your life, same as the one new citizens take, and you spent 4+ years proving it.

      More than than that – the military is a place where A.) you are exposed to Americans from various other milieus, and B.) you MUST learn to get along with them, and go with the flow.

      If you want someone who has demonstrated an ability to assimilate (upon pain of death or washout) and has probably been taught a couple marketable skills in the meantime, even if at the most basic low-level ranks those skills may only amount to “do your job when told to do it”, then immigrant vets seem like EXACTLY the sort of people you’d want as immediate citizens.

      If they were able to get into the military and stay there until Honorable Discharge, they should be able to get into the country with very few (if any) other questions asked or hoops jumped.Report

  7. Avatar aaron david says:

    @kazzy @j-r

    Out of curiosity, what do you think are the conservative positions that specifically harm African Americans, and not things that they just disagree with on principal? Or, for those things that they disagree with on principle, how are they specifically racist as opposed to generally anti-progressive?

    The reason I ask is I see a lot of “Well, they are racist because they are republica, QED.” Which doesn’t hold up to the fact that the only African-American on the SCOTUS is conservative, and one third of current African-American senators are Republican. And the amount of racism that is directed to non-white members of the republican party is quite high, which this article shows quite strongly. Indeed it shows bigotry on both sides, though manifesting diferently.//// Suggesting that it is not conservatism that is the problem here but America in general.

    So, why have we decided that R’s are the racists?

    Genuinly curious, and I am asking the two of you because niether of you are knee jerk responders.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to aaron david says:

      A fair and thoughtful question, @aaron-david . First and foremost, I do not believe that all Republicans or conservatives are racist. Nor do I believe that Republicanism or conservatism is inherently racist. Intentional or not, there was a subtle shift in your questioning there as it started with, “What conservative positions are specifically harmful to African-Americans?” and ended with, “Why have we decided that R’s are the racists?”

      To answer the first question, which I think is the more interesting and salient one, I would look at the handling of the drug war first and foremost. Evidence shows that whites possess and use drugs as much if not more than African-Americans. Yet African-American communities are policed much more vigilantly for drugs than non-African-American communities. There are sentencing disparities and a general focus on punishment over rehab. All of these do very real harm to these communities. And I suspect that the drug war would have manifested very, very differently if the races were different. Note: Both sides were — and to a degree remain — complicit in the drug war. But the left (not necessarily Democratic politicians, but the ‘left’ in general) has dramatically changed its tune while the right (save for the libertarian subset) seems to have doubled down.

      Next I’d look at the various ways in which Republican positions make being poor harder in this country and, again, how differently I think that would play out if we saw white folks disproportionately suffering under poverty, and the rhetoric that is so often used when talking about this issue.

      Which brings me to my next point: the rhetoric. Even if it could be argued that certain Republican/conservative positions were actually advantageous for African-Americans, the Republicans have done such a piss poor job of engaging and connecting with African-Americans in large part because of the extent to which they play on the anger and fear present among poor and working-class whites. So while I am open to the idea that welfare reform might actually have long-term positive impact on the poor — and, with it, the disproportionate number of African-Americans who find themselves living in poverty — talking about welfare queens and the “food stamp President” shows at best a tone-deafness and at worst an active and cultivated hostility.

      When the right demonizes cities, demonizes the poor, and demonizes drug addicts, they are often engaged in de facto demonizing Black and Brown folks. Especially when they only demonize certain cities and certain types of poor folks and certain types of drug users. And when they champion “real Americans” and all those “real Americans” just happen to be of a pale hue, it just seems to slam the point home.

      Are Republicans and conservatives uniquely or inherently racist? No. But does most of the right-wing seem ambivalent or hostile towards African-Americans (among other groups)? Yes. For the reasons outlined above.Report

      • Avatar Gabriel Conroy in reply to Kazzy says:

        Next I’d look at the various ways in which Republican positions make being poor harder in this country and, again, how differently I think that would play out if we saw white folks disproportionately suffering under poverty, and the rhetoric that is so often used when talking about this issue.

        I think it would play out differently, but not necessarily in the sense of politicians* being more willing to help the poor. It may very well play out in categorizing poor whites in quasi-racial terms as people almost genetically–or at least culturally–predisposed to poverty. We see that now in jokes about “poor white trash.”

        To be clear, I’m not saying that this would be “just as bad” as anti-black or anti-brown racism, and I’m not saying all racism is reducible to economic. (I.e., I’m not saying that the poor are always racialized or that racial distinctions are always based in “class” and never in some sort of deeper animus). But I am saying that some racism is reducible to class.

        *I say “politicians” and not “Republicans” or “conservatives” because I think what I’m about to say would also apply to some Democrats and some liberals, too.Report

    • Avatar Kolohe in reply to aaron david says:

      The African American middle class is substantially supported by state and municipal level public sector employment. To the extend that Republicans are against public sector employement (which is pretty much, except if you’re a public sector worker that carries a gun), it’s the toughest of the tough sells to form a poltical alliance.Report

      • Avatar Aaron David in reply to Kolohe says:

        This is what I was talking about when I said “Or, for those things that they disagree with on principle, how are they specifically racist as opposed to generally anti-progressive?” They are always going to be the law and order party, but other than the military, they just arn’t the big gov’t types.Report

        • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Aaron David says:

          Here’s one for ya – passing voter ID in multiple states while at the same time, for some reason, closing DMV offices in places with higher percentages of PoC.

          Also, even though you might throw this in the “anti-progressive” bucket, and thus, washing away all claims of racism, but using PoC using government services too much as a reason to cut them when in reality, far more white people use government services such as Food Stamps than black people do.Report

    • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to aaron david says:

      If Scalia, Alito, and Roberts all want to resign, I’m sure Obama would be happy to replace at least one of them with a black judge. 🙂Report

    • Avatar j r in reply to aaron david says:

      So, why have we decided that R’s are the racists?

      Personally, I’ve decided no such thing. Up until about ten years ago, I would have enthusiastically self-identified as a Republican. And I’m not that racist.

      My baseline assumptions on race are this: white supremacy is a constant in American history and in the American present that runs across both major parties and across the political spectrum. For historical and structural reasons, the overwhelming majority of politically involved black Americans are Democrats, but within the Democratic party, the specific concerns of blacks have second class status. Pointing out that Republicans are, in many ways worse, is true, but that makes for cold comfort.

      The other thing that informs my views on these issues is that I work in policy and economics and the one lesson that my experience continually reinforces in me is that intentions matter much much less than people tend to think that they do in regards to the efficacy of policy. Politically, I describe myself as a classical liberal (though libertarian doesn’t offend me) and I would expand on that by saying that I am generally someone who supports much of the same ends that progressives do, but I happen to believe that progressive means have a decided tendency to not work very well at delivering those ends, at least not without a whole bunch of unintended consequences that overwhelm whatever benefit.

      Unlike @kazzy, I don’t really care about rhetoric and perhaps this is the one area in which I am decidedly not progressive. I don’t really care if you dislike me or hold politically correct opinions about me, so long as you get out of my way and let me live. I’ve known plenty of people who held decidedly racist and abhorrent ideas that could live and work with minorities and I’ve known plenty of progressive-minded whites who held all the right ideas but live in cosseted, overwhelmingly wealthy white communities and have real trouble socially interacting with anyone not from that world.

      Finally, I think that racism, insofar as it enters the mainstream political conversation, tends to be used mainly as a means for one side to bash the others There are lots of those on the right who view racism as something that the left invented to make white people feel guilty. And part, not all but certainly part, of the reason for that is that lots of folks on the left do engage with racism primarily as a means to bash the right.

      Kazzy made a joke about white people being the worst and I know that was just a joke, so I don’t mean to pick on him, but there is a serious version of that which occurs on the left, wherein white people signal that they are the right kind of white person by bashing other less enlightened white people. I tend to think that sort of thing primarily functions as a means of white catharsis rather than an effective solution to the real problems of racism. I’ve nothing against it, but I also don’t think that it holds much value.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to j r says:


        Lots of good points, but two notes of clarification…

        As far as rhetoric goes, I was focusing more on why Black and Brown folks don’t see the interests as being aligned with the GOP than my own personal feelings on such comments.

        As to my joke… well, I’m not like THOSE white people who mock the quote-unquote bad white people. I set my sights higher… on the quote-unquote good white people who aren’t nearly as quote-unquote good as they like to think they are.Report

        • Avatar Aaron David in reply to Kazzy says:

          Thanks @kazzy and @j-r

          Lot to think about in your posts (which is why I asked you two.) I will probably come back in a bit to ask follow up questions.Report

        • Avatar j r in reply to Kazzy says:

          The rhetoric is real. I don’t dismiss it. It matters and it’s part of the reason why I no longer feel much affinity with the Republican Party.

          I tend to see this as a function of the GOP simply running out of ideas (largely because its old ideas won the day) and having to power itself almost totally on white populism and opposition to Obama and the demographic changes that he embodies. In that sense, Trump is a golem created by GOP’s willingness to abandon the center-right and head straight for crazy.Report

          • Avatar pillsy in reply to j r says:

            @j r:

            The problem is that not only is the rhetoric real, it’s been playing a role in justifying and promoting Republican policies for thirty or forty years. For one example, Republican politicians and thought leaders[1] have injected a lot of racism into their anti-welfare state arguments since at least Reagan. You don’t, obviously, have to be a racist to oppose any given welfare state policy, but if you decide to make intentional appeals to racists because you think fighting that policy is just that important, is it any wonder that the targets of your racist arguments conclude that are not only indifferent to their interests but actively hostile to them?

            Hell, there’s a good chance they’ll conclude that even if they actually agreed with you on the original policy question!

            As for this being a sign of the GOP being out of ideas, I don’t think that’s plausible. The GOP started using this approach around the time it really started scoring major policy and political victories in the ’80s.

            [1] In the case of guys like Rush Limbaugh, perhaps “anti-thought leader” is a more apt term.Report

    • A commitment to ending Affirmative Action (which is shared by Clarence Thomas, who is only on the Court because that’s what got him into Yale.)

      All-out war on minority voting rights, including gerrymandering, voter ID, and the gutting of the Voting Rights Act.

      Birtherism is less substantive, but it’s hard to attract black voters while insisting that a back president isn’t a real American.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        A commitment to ending Affirmative Action (which is shared by Clarence Thomas, who is only on the Court because that’s what got him into Yale.)

        This is just another way of saying that the black experience is only valid to the degree that it conforms to explicitly progressive outlooks.

        So someone tell me why I ought to buy into this paradigm of conservatives are evil racists and liberals are enlightened progressives?Report

        • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to j r says:

          I mean, there’s the nearly fifty year history of the GOP using dog whistle attacks to cut social spending or ya’ know, the fact that the Republican front runner has only gotten more popular after saying Mexicans are murderers and we should close the border to all Muslims along with posting a completely incorrect graphic to Twitter about how 80% of white people are killed by black people.

          Not everybody who is a conservative or Republican is racist, but to steal a line from The Simpsons, they are #1 with racists. But, ya’ know, Harry Reid said something inartful about Obama once, so obviously, both sides are the same and there’s no good reason why African-Americans don’t happily vote for the GOP.Report

          • Avatar j r in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

            Not everybody who is a conservative or Republican is racist, but to steal a line from The Simpsons, they are #1 with racists. But, ya’ know, Harry Reid said something inartful about Obama once, so obviously, both sides are the same and there’s no good reason why African-Americans don’t happily vote for the GOP.

            Thanks for demonstrating my point.Report

        • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to j r says:

          This is just another way of saying that the black experience is only valid to the degree that it conforms to explicitly progressive outlooks.

          No, it’s a way of saying here’s a way in which Republicans are making the lives of black people worse.Report

          • Avatar j r in reply to Mike Schilling says:

            So, why throw that little aside in there at all? What purpose does it serve other than an attempt to malign Thomas’ view with a swipe an ad hominem swipe at him? Either his position on affirmative action is right or its wrong. His biographical details are beside the point.

            And what do you mean by “making the lives of black people worse.” Tell me how. And show your work. Intention is not efficacy.Report

            • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to j r says:

              There have been repeated court cases resulting in limiting the scope of AA. That’s efficacy.

              And what better way to point out that AA genuinely does help people than to point out what it’s done for Clarence Thomas?Report

              • Avatar j r in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                That’s not efficacy, unless your measure of success is ability to implement affirmative action and I think that you’re smart enough to know why that’s a stupid measure.

                Personally, I don’t have that much of a problem with affirmative action, but the evidence on whether it works and what it accomplishes is all over the place. The claim that more affirmative action helps black people and less affirmative action hurts is mostly based on wanting it to be so.

                And Thomas himself opposes it and blames it for problems that he had after law school. Maybe he’s full of shit. I don’t know. But your comment does exactly what I said it does: attempts to diminish his personal experience of affirmative action, because it doesn’t line up to your progressive priors. And that’s fine for you to prioritize a political point of view over the lived experience and opinions of individual black people. You’re under no obligation to agree with Thomas just because he’s black. But that cuts both ways. You don’t get to reference his being black and having benefited from affirmative action as evidence that his position is wrong.Report

        • Avatar pillsy in reply to j r says:

          This is just another way of saying that the black experience is only valid to the degree that it conforms to explicitly progressive outlooks.

          Thomas’ viewpoint is valid, but it’s far from representative. If you’re trying to understand why 90-95% of African Americans consistently vote Democratic, it’s not immediately clear that the perspective of one of the most prominent 5-10% of African Americans who don’t vote Democratic is going to be tremendously informative.

          Also, regardless of whether Thomas likes affirmative action, if it did ultimately make it possible for him to serve on the Supreme Court, I think that’s a data point in favor of it working as advertised, since I think he’s clearly qualified to be there. Just because a policy works as advertised, though, doesn’t mean it’s a good idea, or that its purported beneficiaries are going to agree that it’s been helpful to them.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        Mike Schilling: A commitment to ending Affirmative Action (which is shared by Clarence Thomas, who is only on the Court because that’s what got him into Yale.)

        Can we get a clarification on which black people it is or is not racist to say this about?Report

        • Avatar j r in reply to Brandon Berg says:

          Not to pick on anyone, but this exchange between @mike-schilling and @brandon-berg is illustrative of what I mean. This is how political conversations about race go down.

          Left bashes right and right bashes left. The former congratulating himself for not being on the wrong side and the latter imagining himself some brave iconoclast. And none of it doing a damn thing to actually counter racism or white supremacy.

          And that’s fine. Political talk doesn’t have to be about anything but ideological combat. Just don’t fool yourselves into thinking that you’re doing work.Report

          • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to j r says:

            I’m just calling Mike out on his shit. I’m not under the illusion that this is in any way a rebuttal to the more thoughtful arguments that people like Kazzy are making.Report

            • That is, BB is responding to facts with snark, and JR is impartially concluding that BSDI.Report

              • Avatar j r in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                I am really not sure what to say to anyone who reads my comments in response to Aaron’s question and comes away with that characterization. As idiotic as it is, part of me admires the efficiency of this whole “BSDI” thing. It’s not an argument. Its usually not even close to a faithful summation of what the other person is saying. But in only four letters, its capable of shutting down all reason and critical thought.

                It’s the rhetorical equivalent of a child sticking his fingers in his ears and making loud noises to block everything else out.Report

        • It’s OK to say this when it’s demonstrably true and not intended as an insult. Thomas wasn’t even thinking about Yale until they contacted him as part of a search for talented black students. That’s not to say that he “wasn’t qualified”; it’s to say that Yale deliberately expanded the scope of their admissions process, and that’s a good thing.

          Likewise, Colin Powell’s military career was fast-tracked because the Army was looking for talented black officers and found him. That doesn’t mean he “wasn’t qualified”; it means the Army noticed him in a way they might not have except for AA.Report

        • In other words, you saw “affirmative action” and assumed it was an attack on Thomas’s abilities. That’s a big part of the problem right there.Report

      • I have no brief for Justice Thomas (amicus or otherwise…hah!), but I do think it’s possible for someone to benefit from something and yet conclude that it’s wrong.

        For example, I’ve benefited tremendously from what some like to call “affirmative action for whites.” I’ve gotten opportunities that I probably wouldn’t have gotten if I hadn’t been white. The fact that I’ve benefited from it doesn’t invalidate my belief that it’s wrong for me to get special preferences that are denied to others. I’ll admit there’s a bit (or more than a bit) of hypocrisy. I’m not going to give back most/any of what I’ve gained. I don’t even give to charity. But I doubt you disagree with my general point.

        For what it’s worth, I’m cautiously supportive of some forms of race-based affirmative action. I just don’t think the jibes against Thomas because of his race really work to prove much.Report

        • Avatar greginak in reply to Gabriel Conroy says:

          What Thomas has said, as i remember, about affirmative action is that he felt people thought less of him for it. That he didn’t earn his spot or only got it because he was black. I’ve heard that criticism of AA from others. I can believe some people think because i definitely heard people say that.

          The kink in that though is who is likely to think a black person isn’t’ smart enough or good enough and only got where they are through AA. People with pre-existing negative views of blacks, people who don’t’ think they are smart or good enough. I won’t use the R word, but it isn’t totally inappropriate. People who think that way are harshly judging blacks based on generalizations and stereotypes and not on their actual behavior. So the Thomas version of the anti-AA argument is people who think poorly about blacks now think poorly about me because of AA. Well they weren’t going to think well of you in the first place since they have a bias against you and aren’t letting you prove your smarts. He is buying into the stereotypes built by people who already have negative stereotypes about him.Report

          • No doubt, but you offered an actual argument, refuting his own argument. You weren’t saying, “hey, he is only on the Court because affirmative action is what got him into Yale.”Report

            • How many people on the Court today lack Ivy League law degrees? (Hint: none)

              Mow influential has John Danforth been in advancing Thomas’s career? Very. Where did they meet? Yale.

              What does this tell us? That Thomas has benefitted greatly from the networking that’s one of the big advantages of the Ivy League over other schools of equal academic rigor.Report

              • That really doesn’t address my point. I don’t know all the in’s and out’s of Thomas’s career, but I’ll stipulate to all those facts.

                My point is that someone can benefit from a system and yet come to the conclusion that that system is wrong and needs to be fixed or done away with, and that that conclusion can have merit regardless of the fact that the person benefited from the system in the first place. I do admit there’s something a little off about someone getting his and then saying no one else can benefit. So I’ll grant there’s some merit in pointing the apparent hypocrisy. But at the end of the day, a system can be good or bad regardless of whether its critics have benefited from it.

                Now, Greginak has a pretty good critique of Thomas’s actual argument. (And to be fair, I think you make something like a similar critique elsewhere in this subthread, so I should have acknowledged that in my comments.) Greg’s critique is one I hadn’t actually thought of before now. It makes sense. But it’s not the critique that just because Thomas benefited from AA or Yale, he has no right to critique it.Report

          • That is, that Thomas feels now that he should have turned down the AA program, because being criticized unfairly was not worth the advantages of an Ivy League degree, and is willing to make that decision for everyone else.Report

  8. If Scalia, Alito, and Roberts all want to resign I’m sure

    that the GOP-controlled Senate would refuse to schedule hearings on any nominees for the vacant seats until (at the earliest) 1/20/17.Report

    • Avatar Don Zeko in reply to Mike Schilling says:

      On that note, I am extremely curious to see what happens if Republicans control the Senate and there’s a Dem in the white house when the next vacancy appears on the Supreme Court.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Don Zeko says:

        They’ll hold the appointment hostage for tax cuts, natch.Report

        • Avatar North in reply to Stillwater says:

          Mmmm I don’t know… Mcconell, R Turtletown, would probably not be willing to hold up a supreme court nominee that long so long as Obama chose one who was concretely qualified. The Supreme Court is too high profile and the Majority Leader wants to keep his majority. Unless Obama sent up a raving liberal, an apparatchik or someone with a scandal I don’t see the GOP being able to stall it to terribly long.

          Granted if two vacancies happened now on the right wing side of the court the national right would collectively lose their shit so it’s hard to predict for certain what would happen.Report