Thursday, June 21, 2018

The United States should pay for immigrants

I don't approve of the proposed policy of preferring highly educated people for immigration to the United States. That is not how we have done it traditionally. Our past practice of taking people who wanted to work resulted in huge advantages: if you don't know the story of Sol Bloom, look him up.

But if we are going to lure people with the most expensive skills, we should have the honesty to pay for it. Let's take the example of my mothers GP in Florida. He's from Africa, I don't know what country.

But I have no doubt that his education was paid for from public funds in his home country as that is how physicians' training is paid for almost everywhere. In much of Africa the public funding available for healthcare averages about $5 per capita per year, so if we take a number and say that it takes $100,000 to train a physician in Africa, the cost in human terms is that 20,000 people go without any healthcare.

Everything that Trump and his nazi minions have to say about immigration is false. Probably most Americans don't recognize how false, because how many Americans know anything about the history of immigration to this country?

Let's list a few bugaboos. Chain migration for example.

This has been a traditional method. Whether in the Pale of Settlement or in south Italy, families would scrape together money to send one member -- often an older son -- to America. Once he got established, if he ever did, he would send resources back home to bring over the rest of family one at a time.

In the earlier days of the country in places like the Palatinate in Germany whole villages would hold meetings to debate whether to sell up and move altogether to America.

Most of the people who come have not done especially well. The Irish joke was, "Sure and they told me if I came to America I would find the streets paved with gold.  When I got here I discovered the streets were not paved with gold. They were not paved at all and I was expected to pave them."

A few emigrants like Bloom or Carl Schurz have had an outsize impact on America, but the big gain this country has gotten has been from the second generation. For the most part the first generation scrambled to get a foothold; it was the second generation that provided the inventors, the big businessmen, the scholars.

Events are moving fast concerning separation of families. Thousands of unaccompanied children have arrived alone going back for a decade now and while this too has been a form of government separation context is everything.

It will be interesting to see whether the evangelicals who have expressed their dismay about separating families at the border can manage to keep up this statement of principle. I suspect they will not. Within a week or two if it comes down to a question of ripping children away from their parents or suffering the horror of living under centrist judges, I suspect that they will makes their peace with Trump's nazis.

The irony is that the driver of the migration, especially as regards Honduras and Guatemala, is evangelical Christianity which has been waging a remorseless genocide against the Indians. I would be a lot more impressed with the morality of the Southern Baptists if they would condemn that rather than Trump's separation policies.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

The spirit of Drancy

RtO has been inveighing against the spirit of gleichschaltung since very early in the Trump administration. Although at first some responses indicated that readers thought this was over-the-top, I don't suppose that now anyone will deny that the top of the American government is being completely nazified.

Today NPR interviewed Brandon Judd, a Trump-loving Border Patrol union leader who is feeling mighty aggrieved that people are comparing his agents to Nazis or the Gestapo. Judd's level of self-awareness is very low and I expect his level of historical awareness is even lower, but the more accurate comparison would be to the Milice, the Vichy militia who rounded of Jewish children on behalf of the Germans.

They were, as Jeff Sessions would put it, serving the cause order and law and authority. And once they loaded the children onto the trains to the east it was none of their business what happened.

I could go on and on about gleichschaltung but nothing that I could say makes the point as eloquently as fervently and as evilly Brandon Judd makes it:

BRANDON JUDD: What we're doing is we're prosecuting these individuals. And we do separate them for a very, very short amount of time. It's not this separation that people are thinking weeks, months, even years. That's just not...
KELLY: To be clear, this is when people just cross the border, Border Patrol...
JUDD: Correct.
KELLY: ...You're talking about a period of a few hours.
JUDD: Correct.
KELLY: They might then go into the custody of other federal agencies, which are longer-term detention.
JUDD: Yes, if they go into the custody of other federal agencies, there could be a separation that's a little bit longer, but that percentage is small because we just don't have the facilities to hold very many people. So the zero tolerance, when people hear the zero tolerance, you would think that we're prosecuting 100 percent of the people that are crossing the border.
And that's not true. In fact, we're prosecuting between 10 and 20 percent of the people that cross border. So technically...
KELLY: But hang on, that's the whole point of the zero-tolerance crackdown is that everybody crossing the border illegally is supposed to be getting prosecuted. You're saying that's not happening?
JUDD: That's not even close to happening. With that small number of prosecutions, you're hoping to drive the numbers back down. And if you drive the numbers back down, then we'll have the resources to prosecute 100 percent.
KELLY: But help me square two facts. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen have said U.S. policy going forward is anyone who crosses the border illegally will be prosecuted. You're telling me that's not happening, that's a tiny fraction that's actually being prosecuted.
JUDD: It is a tiny fraction. They're hoping...
KELLY: Why? What's...
JUDD: We just don't have the resources. Just in one station, one station alone, we're arresting about 200 people that cross the border illegally per day. We've got over 150 stations in the United States. We just don't have the resources.
KELLY: Let me ask you about the direct consequence of this Trump administration policy, which is families being separated at the border. Have you heard from any members who are uncomfortable with that policy?
JUDD: No, because again, the Border Patrol agents, we're not separating families. We've been called the Gestapo. We've been called Nazis. I mean, we've been called everything in the media. The fact of the matter is as Border Patrol agents, we are not separating families, except for a few hours for them to go see a magistrate or in extreme cases

, , ,

JUDD: OK. I can't speak to what ICE does. The Border Patrol agents are not separating families from children. When we do, it's for a couple hours. What happens with ICE after that, I don't know.

Friday, June 15, 2018

WWJD? Separate the families?

I think not. Please note, rightwing thugs, the part of the Bible that Jeff Sessions referred to is not what Jesus said. Even the people who believe the Christian cult is based on the sayings of Jesus don't purport to think that the Epistle to the Romans had anything to do with him.

The Jesus Seminar, which attempted to determine which parts of the Gospels really did refer to Jesus, did not look at the epistles but there's little doubt that the standards that they applied to the Gospels would have excluded Romans 13 or anything like it from the authentic message of the Messiah.

Let me be clear. I disagree with the majority of American theologians who think that there was a Jesus in Palestine two millennia ago. Certainly the one described in the Gospels who raised people from the dead never existed.

I'm sure that many many schizophrenics were wandering around Palestine at that time telling people that the voices they heard in their heads were messages from God, but that's not the same thing as believing in an historical Jesus

If you're going to believe in Jesus, those of us do not wish you would believe in the kinder gentler Jesus -- who as a matter of historical record I never heard about growing up in the South in the '50s. I heard a hell of a lot about Jesus then but he wasn't kind or gentle, and as for his Father, fugeddaboutit.

Well, religion is gotten wimpy and the 21st-century and even the Southern Baptist Convention believes that their version of Jesus wouldn't have broken up families, and they're on record saying so. Good for them and for all of the other Christians who are speaking out against the fascists running our supposedly secular government.

The mask drops

For a decade now rightwing Republicans have assured us that they need to defend our most sacred  right to vote by imposing strange regulations justified by absolutely nothing.

Yesterday the Supreme Court agreed with one of the stranger regulations.

Rightwing Republicans fell all over themselves in praising the decision and promised to extend it as many as possible of the other states.

It is worth pausing to contemplate the underlying fact that was presented to the court.

Who was prevented from voting? A foreigner? A doubledipper trying to vote twice in two different precincts? A person using a false identity to vote in someone else's place?

Well, no, none of those.

The person whose sacred right to vote was eliminated was a citizen would had lived in the same house for 16 years, who did not present himself as anyone else. He did not present himself at the wrong precinct, was not a felon and was in every way eligible to vote.

Under rightwing Republican control however he was prevented from voting.

As leftwingers -- and believers in democracy generally -- have said all along the Republican voter rights suppression drive has nothing to do with democracy or voting or anything admirable. The people pushing it do not believe in democracy, have never believed in democracy and before the Voting Rights Act there was no democracy where people like them were in charge. They're nothing but fascists in white shirts

Monday, June 4, 2018

Don't tell the truth, commissioner

From the Times report on the bigot cake maker:

One commissioner in particular, Justice Kennedy wrote, had crossed the line in saying that “freedom of religion and religion has been used to justify all kinds of discrimination throughout history, whether it be slavery, whether it be the Holocaust.”

Justice Kennedy wrote that “this sentiment is inappropriate for a commission charged with the solemn responsibility of fair and neutral enforcement of Colorado’s anti-discrimination law.”
That is just silly. 

Sunday, May 27, 2018

The art of 2 deals

Last week I was buying some used furniture for our new house.

ME: Your prices are $175, $125 and $100. I make that $400. Will you take $350?

YOUNG MAN: I'll get my mother. She's the expert with the credit card. You said $300?

ME: Sure.

WBD and Kim Jung Un also were negotiating.

WBD: I insist on complete and verifiable denuclearization with inspections.


WBD: And a meeting between us as equals.


WBD: And the sanctions, they're history.

KIM: If you say so.

WBD: Those 11,000 artillery pieces aimed at Seoul, I don't want to hear a word about them.


WBD: And you will completely integrate with the family of nations.The DPRK, too, whoever they are.

KIM: All right.

WBD:And I will guarantee your regime.

KIM (murmuring): If you insist.

WBD: That was a tough negotiation but you hung in there like a champ. Done?

KIM: OK, everything but the denuclearization.

WBD: We had these coins made because I knew you'd have to come to terms. Isn't it pretty?

 KIM: Very elegant.

WBD: I hear those Swedish babes at the Nobel ceremonies are hot.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Book Review 410: Rice and Slaves

RICE AND SLAVES: Ethnicity and the Slave Trade in Colonial South Carolina, by Daniel C. Littlefield. 199 pages, illustrated. Illinois paperback, $26

Daniel Littlefield’s “Rice and Slaves” is nearly half a century old now, an early entrant in the attempt to make history more scientific— or at lest, more sciency — by replacing narrative with pages and pages of statistics.

One problem is that while the questions are often of great interest, the numbers are often inadequate to answer them.

So with the question of whether traders and buyers of slaves 1) knew or thought they knew that some Africans were knowledgeable about rice; and 2) if so, did they act on that belief  economically by preferring those slaves over others?

This is important because if the answer is no, all they wanted was muscle power, that reinforces the view of white Southern historians that black slaves contributed little or nothing to the development of American culture; while if it is yes, then Africans can claim agency in how the country came to be.

This is akin to the question of who built the transcontinental railroads — Irish and Chinese laborers or something beyond that. In California public schools, children are taught that the Chinese immigrants built the railroads, which misleads the pupils in two ways. First, there is more to building a railroad than laying track —like surveying, metallurgy, financing, accounting etc. — and second, by eliding the obvious follow-up question: if the Chinese were capable of building railroads, why didn’t they build any in China?

The question about agency in the Low Country rice districts of South Carolina, Georgia and part of North Carolina is less fraught. Yes, West Africans did impart a great deal of the skill that made rice America’s most profitable crop; and, yes, the planters did recognize their experience.

But, nevertheless, the planters did not buy only West Africans. In fact, Littlefield finds that slaves imported into Carolina from Congo and Angola (where rice was not grown) outnumbered slaves from West Africa.

But the numbers remaining to us do not say whether that was because the desire for rice experts was modest or whether it was strong but could to be met for various reasons (a very big one being that West Africa was not known as the White Man’s Grave for nothing).

In the end, Littlefield’s conclusions are not very different from, and no more persuasive than, the conclusions arrived at by old-fashioned narrative historians, and less pleasurable to read.

The special takeaway from this volume is not so much the question asked in the subtitle but the revelation of the fluidity of racial and power relations in a frontier colony short of skilled labor of all kinds. This, too, was known to the narrative historians, but Littlefield’s close reading of advertisements for runaway slaves throws new light on how that worked in practice, and how the condition of the slaves, bad to begin with, deteriorated as the economy of the colony, then the state ramified and grew.