Tag Archives: Trump

Canada Benefits From Our Asinine Immigration Policies

For those who asked: the Kindle version of Living Together is now available.

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Between the tariffs that are destroying the markets of America’s farmers and raising the price of consumer goods in the United States, and an insane and racist approach to immigration that is making it difficult for businesses to hire the people they need , Donald Trump has managed to vastly improve the economy… of Canada.

As Time Magazine has recently reported,

On a recent Tuesday, Neal Fachan walked down a dock in Seattle’s Lake Union and boarded a blue and yellow Harbour Air seaplane, alongside six other tech executives. He was bound for Vancouver to check on the Canadian office of Qumulo, the Seattle-based cloud storage company he co-founded in 2012. With no security lines, it was an easy 50-minute flight past snow-capped peaks. Later that day, Fachan caught a return flight back to Seattle.

Fachan began making his monthly Instagram-worthy commute when Qumulo opened its Vancouver office in January. Other passengers on the seaplanes go back and forth multiple times a week. Fachan says his company expanded across the border because Canada’s immigration policies have made it far easier to hire skilled foreign workers there compared to the United States. “We require a very specific subset of skills, and it’s hard to find the people with the right skills,” Fachan says as he gets off the plane. “Having access to a global employment market is useful.”

Half of America’s annual growth in GDP has been attributed to increasing innovation. While the media and politicians are focused on Trump’s crisis at the southern border, tech executives and economists warn that the growing delays and backlogs for permits for skilled workers at America’s other borders are a more significant challenge. The risk of losing both skilled workers and the companies that employ them to Canada and other more welcoming countries are arguably a bigger problem for our economic future than a flood of refugees–even if those refugees were the problem Trump and his white nationalist base insist they are.

“Increasingly, talented international professionals choose destinations other than the United States to avoid the uncertain working environment that has resulted directly from the agency’s processing delays and inconsistent adjudications,” testified Marketa Lindt, president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, at a House hearing last week about processing delays at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Lindt’s organization finds that USCIS processing time for some work permits has doubled since 2014, a fact cited in a May lettersigned by 38 U.S. Senators on both sides of the aisle asking USCIS to explain the processing delays.

The backlogs in processing have particularly benefited our neighbor to the north. Canada has adopted an open-armed embrace of skilled programmers, engineers and entrepreneurs at the same time the U.S. is tightening its stance. Research shows that high-skilled foreign workers are highly productive and innovative, and tend to create more new businesses, generating jobs for locals. So each one who winds up in Canada instead of America is a win for the former, and a loss for the latter. “Really smart people can drive economic growth,” says Robert Atkinson, president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a think tank in Washington, D.C. funded in part by cable, pharmaceutical, television, and tech companies. “There are not that many people in the world with an IQ of 130, and to the extent that we’re attracting those people rather than the Canadians doing so, we’re better off.”

This is what happens when voters resentful of “smarty pants elitists” elect an intellectually-challenged President who is equally threatened by people who actually know what they’re doing, and consequently refuses to appoint competent people to important government positions.

We live in a complicated world. If the Trump Administration has demonstrated anything, it is that appointing ideologues, crooks and simpletons to manage that complexity is a recipe for disaster.

Doubling Down On Racism

Lest you dismiss Donald Trump’s racist history as unfortunate but irrelevant to the need to highlight the damage his policies are doing to the environment, to education, to working people, etc.–allow me to highlight the most recent evidence that he intends to make 2020 a referendum on white nationalism.

As the Washington Post reported,

President Trump ranted Saturday morning on Twitter about an African American lawmaker by disparaging the Baltimore district that Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (Md.) represents as a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess.”

As chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, Cummings has initiated most of the investigations into the Trump administration’s operations and policies, including recently the reports of inhumane treatment at migrant detention centers.

Trump apparently got his “information” about Cummings’ district from Fox and Friends (too bad he doesn’t pay attention to briefings from administration officials who presumably know what they are talking about, but as has been widely reported, he prefers to rely on Faux News and his “stable genius” gut.)

Trump’s attack on Cummings is reminiscent of his recent racist attacks on four minority congresswomen who he said should “go back” to the “crime infested” places they were originally from and fix them before trying to improve America. All four women are U.S. citizens, and only one was born abroad.

Trump’s language was, as usual, inflammatory, ignorant and inaccurate. (Also as usual, ungrammatical.)

 . . As proven last week during a congressional tour, the Border is clean, efficient & well run, just very crowded. Cumming District is a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess. If he spent more time in Baltimore, maybe he could help clean up this very dangerous & filthy place.

Why is so much money sent to the Elijah Cummings district when it is considered the worst run and most dangerous anywhere in the United States. No human being would want to live there. Where is all this money going? How much is stolen? Investigate this corrupt mess immediately!”

Trump is incapable of participating in an evidence-based discussion or policy debate. His “go to” response is always ad hominem–an attack on the person with whom he disagrees. That said, as Americans turn their attention to the 2020 election, he has ramped up his attacks on people of color.

What about his contention that “no human” would want to live in Cummings’ district?

Baltimore is the third most dangerous city in the country behind Detroit and St. Louis, according to the FBI’s 2017 crime report. But Maryland’s 7th district, which Cummings has represented since 1996, includes about half of Baltimore city and has a median household income of around $60,000 and a higher percentage of college graduates than the country as a whole.

Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. Young released a statement defending both Cummings and his city, calling the president a “disappointment to the people of Baltimore, our country and to the world.”

“It’s completely unacceptable for the political leader of our country to denigrate a vibrant American City like Baltimore, and to viciously attack U.S. Representative Elijah Cummings, a patriot and a hero,” he said. “Mr. Trump’s rhetoric is hurtful and dangerous to the people he’s sworn to represent.”

Trump’s language in the tweet was instructive: CNN’s Victor Blackwell pointed out that Trump has often used the word “infested” to refer to places where black and brown people live. (It was also a word Hitler routinely used about Jews.)

Perhaps the best response to this profoundly unPresidential exhibit was an editorial in the Baltimore Sun. It’s uniformly great, but my favorite paragraph is the last one:

Finally, while we would not sink to name-calling in the Trumpian manner — or ruefully point out that he failed to spell the congressman’s name correctly (it’s Cummings, not Cumming) — we would tell the most dishonest man to ever occupy the Oval Office, the mocker of war heroes, the gleeful grabber of women’s private parts, the serial bankrupter of businesses, the useful idiot of Vladimir Putin and the guy who insisted there are “good people” among murderous neo-Nazis that he’s still not fooling most Americans into believing he’s even slightly competent in his current post. Or that he possesses a scintilla of integrity. Better to have some vermin living in your neighborhood than to be one.

Or as Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), who served in the House alongside Cummings for many years, put it:

“Elijah Cummings grew up facing racist bullies like Trump and learned to confront them with qualities unknown to Trump: courage and integrity,” Van Hollen wrote. “The great people of Baltimore have something Trump craves but will never have as he degrades the Office of the President: dignity.”

We’re going to hear more from the racist incompetent as November of 2020 approaches, and–like these recent examples–it won’t be the usual GOP dog whistles. Trump wants 2020 to be a referendum on white nationalism because he thinks most Americans are racists who agree with him that a “great” America is a White America.

Pick your torch, and prove him wrong.

The Ultimate Entitlement

A couple of weeks ago, Michelle Goldberg used her column in the New York Times to focus on the ultimate sense of entitlement displayed by a subset of wealthy white guys–a subset that includes Donald Trump. These men believe they are entitled to take what they want–including but not limited to sexual gratification– without regard for the consequences to others.

The arrogant expression of entitlement has been a prominent feature of accounts relayed by the twenty-two women who have accused Trump of sexual assault and/or rape.

As details emerge about the sordid behavior of Jeffrey Epstein, it is worth pointing out–as Goldberg does–that until a falling-out, Trump and Epstein were buddies.

Epstein, indicted on charges of abusing and trafficking underage girls, was a friend of Trump’s until the two had a falling out, reportedly over a failed business deal. The New York Times reported on a party Trump threw at Mar-a-Lago whose only guests were him, Epstein and around two dozen women “flown in to provide the entertainment.”

It isn’t only Epstein. Goldberg has a list.

There’s Trump’s friend Robert Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots, who was recently charged in a prostitution sting.  There’s Steve Bannon, who was once charged with domestic violence, battery and dissuading a witness;  Bill Shine, hired by Trump after he was forced from Fox News during  the Fox sexual harassment scandals; former White House staff secretary Rob Porter, who left after both his ex-wives accused him of abuse; speechwriter David Sorensen, who resigned after his ex-wife reported his violence toward her.

And who can forget Elliott Broidy, Trump pal and Republican National Committee deputy finance chairman, who resigned last year after media reports that he’d paid $1.6 million in hush money to a former playboy model who said he’d abused her and paid for her an abortion after he got her pregnant.

The casino mogul Steve Wynn, whom Trump installed as the R.N.C.’s finance chairman, resigned amid accusations that he’d pressured his employees for sex.

In 2017, Trump tapped the former chief executive of AccuWeather, Barry Myers, to head the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Then The Washington Post discovered a report from a Department of Labor investigationinto Myers’s company, which found a culture of “widespread sexual harassment” that was “severe and pervasive.” The Senate hasn’t yet voted on Myers’s nomination, but the administration hasn’t withdrawn it.

And just this week, a senior military officer came forward to accuse Gen. John Hyten, Trump’s nominee to be the next vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, of derailing her career when she turned down his sexual advances. “My life was ruined by this,” she told The Associated Press.

As Goldberg notes–and we’ve all seen– Trump’s first instinct these behaviors become public is empathy. For the entitled abuser.

In May, he urged Roy Moore, the theocratic Alabama Senate candidate accused of preying on teenage girls, not to run again because he would lose, but added, “I have NOTHING against Roy Moore, and unlike many other Republican leaders, wanted him to win.” The president has expressed no sympathy for victims in the Epstein case, but has said he felt bad for Acosta.

Epstein is simply the latest specimen to emerge from what Goldberg accurately calls “the depraved milieu from which the president sprang.”

The accusations against Trump–and his “access Hollywood” admissions– have encouraged media attention to the operation and assumptions of that “depraved milieu” –and disclosed the smug entitlement of the men who occupy its bubble of wealth and privilege. In their twisted worldviews, women (and for those like Epstein, female children) exist only to satisfy their urges.  Women who aren’t compliant deserve physical abuse.

This is an entitled worldview that goes well beyond misogyny. It’s horrifying.

Ethics–Dan Coats’ Fatal Flaw

According to Axios, Trump is planning to dump Dan Coats as Director of National Intelligence.

President Trump has told confidants he’s eager to remove Dan Coats as director of national intelligence, according to five sources who have discussed the matter directly with the president.

The state of play: Trump hasn’t told our sources when he plans to make a move, but they say his discussions on the topic have been occurring for months — often unprompted — and the president has mentioned potential replacements since at least February. A source who spoke to Trump about Coats a week ago said the president gave them the impression that the move would happen “sooner rather than later.”

Despite finding him personally pleasant, I have never been a fan of Dan Coats, for reasons  not relevant to his performance in his current position. I always saw him as a nice enough man with whom I had substantial policy disagreements. A co-worker of mine said it best, many years ago, when Coats was first running for Senate: “I’d vote for him for neighbor, but not Senator.”

In the Age of Trump, however, Coats has been a star of sorts– an ethical standout among the swamp creatures that populate this appalling administration. Unlike Bob Barr, he hasn’t twisted facts to fit a political agenda. Unlike those on Trump’s Cabinet, he isn’t trying to destroy the agency he leads. Unlike the feckless Senate Republicans, he hasn’t remained silent when the President’s lies have misrepresented reality.

According to Axios

The big picture: Coats has rankled Trump more than once with his public comments, according to sources with direct knowledge.

He angered Trump when he appeared to criticize the president’s relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin during an on-stage interview with NBC’s Andrea Mitchell at last year’s Aspen Security Forum.

He drew Trump’s ire again in January when he told a Senate panel that North Korea was unlikely to give up its nuclear weapons, contradicting the president’s cheerier assessments.

There have been unsubstantiated reports that Coats previously had to be talked out of resigning; whatever the accuracy of those rumors, he has responded to what appears to be an intentional leak aimed at undercutting his effectiveness:

In a statement provided by the ODNI, Coats said, “I am focused on doing my job, and it is frustrating to repeatedly be asked to respond to anonymous sources and unsubstantiated, often false rumors that undercut the critical work of the Intelligence Community and its relationship with the President. I am proud to lead an IC singularly focused on the vital mission of providing timely and unbiased intelligence to President Trump, Vice President Pence and the national security team in support of our nation’s security.”

Trump has made it quite clear that he has no interest in the receipt of “timely and unbiased intelligence,” and that he sees no value in the ODNI itself.

As usual, Juanita Jean’s blog had the best snark:

Trump is now saying that he’s eager to fire Dan Coats, the Director of National Intelligence, then eliminate the position altogether.  That fits, right?  Because if there is one word that doesn’t describe Trump, it’s intelligence.

So true.

 

 

2020–A Vote On America’s Original Sin

I want to elaborate on yesterday’s post.

It has been fascinating–and infinitely depressing–to follow the reactions to Trump’s racist rants on Facebook and in the Twitter-verse. I’ve been particularly struck by comments defending him and insisting that his attacks “weren’t racist”–that he was just “expressing his opinion,” perhaps inartfully.

Right.

And Bill Barr’s refusal to indict the officer who choked Eric Garner to death–despite DOJ lawyers’ contrary’ recommendation– wasn’t another not-so-subtle message to Trump’s white supremicist base.  Kellyann Conway’s response to a Jewish reporter’s question with a demand to know his “ethnicity,” was just an innocent question. And the troglodytes at Trump’s North Carolina rally chanting “send her back” were just patriotic Americans.

Nothing to see here.

We all know better. Those MAGA caps might just as well say what they have always implied: Make America White Again.

Yesterday, I characterized the upcoming election as a contest for the soul of America. Let me enlarge on that assertion: 2020 will force America to confront the country’s “original sin”–the persistent racism that once allowed some people to own others, that reacted to emancipation with segregation and Jim Crow, and that has responded to every movement toward civic equality by  doubling down on racist rhetoric and discriminatory behavior.

With the ascension of Donald Trump, the GOP has stopped denying its “southern strategy,”  abandoned its dog whistles, and publicly embraced white nationalism.

Denying Trump’s racism requires deliberately ignoring his long and consistent history of racist behavior, a history that David Leonhardt laid out in a recent New York Times newsletter.

His real estate company tried to avoid renting apartments to African-American tenants. He described “laziness” as “a trait in blacks.” He called for five black and Latino teenagers to be executed — and then insisted on their guilt even after DNA evidence proved their innocence.

He rose to prominence in the Republican Party by questioning the citizenship of the first black president. He launched his presidential campaign by saying Mexican immigrants were “rapists.” His political organization created a television advertisement that Fox News pulled for being too racist.

He frequently criticizes prominent African-Americans for being unpatriotic, ungrateful, disrespectful or unintelligent. He mocks Native Americans and uses anti-Semitic stereotypes. He retweets white nationalists. He said that a violent white supremacist march included some “very fine people.” He regularly appoints people with a history of racist comments.

And over the weekend, he told four nonwhite members of Congress — all citizens, of course, and three of them born in the United States — to “go back” to where they came from.

President Trump doesn’t just make racist comments. He is a racist. He’s proven it again and again, over virtually his entire time as a public figure. His bigotry is a core part of his worldview, and it’s been central to his political rise.

Paul Krugman didn’t mince words either.

In 1981 Lee Atwater, the famed Republican political operative, explained to an interviewer how his party had learned to exploit racial antagonism using dog whistles. “You start out in 1954 by saying ‘Nigger, nigger, nigger.’” But by the late 1960s, “that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, ‘forced busing,’ ‘states’ rights,’ and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.”

Well, the dog whistle days are over. Republicans are pretty much back to saying “Nigger, nigger, nigger.”

What voters need to understand in the run-up to 2020 is that it isn’t just Trump.

Krugman points to the silence of prominent Republicans in the wake of Trump’s most recent racist outburst, to the administration’s dishonest conflation of immigration and crime, and to a proclamation just signed by the Republican governor of Tennessee honoring Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest, a war criminal who massacred African-American prisoners and helped found the Ku Klux Klan. I’ll add the increasing coziness of the GOP with the alt-right, Neo-Nazis, and fellow-travelers like David Duke.

I’ll also reiterate–and update– my son’s analysis, which I shared yesterday.

A vote for Donald Trump or any Republican  in 2020 means one of only two things: The voter is a racist, or the voter doesn’t consider the GOP’s thoroughgoing embrace of racism/white nationalism disqualifying.

In 2020, no other issue matters.

If we resoundingly defeat the cancer that is Trump and Republican white nationalism in 2020, we can return to our  heated debates about public policy, left versus right, and the proper interpretation of various constitutional rights. If we don’t, none of those things will matter.

In 2020, we will find out whether a majority of Americans are ready to confront –and reject–America’s original sin.