“59% of voters oppose building President Trump’s long-promised wall along the southern border, and only 37% support the measure, according to the Quinnipiac poll.”*
“79% of Americans expect that if a wall is built along the border, the U.S. will ultimately pay for it. Just 14% expect Mexico will pay, as Mr. Trump has claimed. 60% of Republicans, and 91% of Democrats, think the U.S. will pay for the wall if it is built.”*
“The majority of Americans (57%) oppose expanding the construction of walls along the nation’s Southern border, a centerpiece of President Donald Trump’s proposed immigration-related policies.”
“83% approve of allowing DACA immigrants to become citizens.”*
“I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down. I’m not going to blame you for it.”
—Trump to Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, December 11th, 2018*
I thought it might be useful to have a visualization of the terrifying undocumented immigrant crisis we’re currently facing, so I made the following chart.
The little blue sliver at the bottom represents the number of undocumented immigrants in the country from 1969 to 2016.
Well, so what? Even a small number of people can really hurt the country, right? So, here’s a study about whether undocumented people increase rates of violent crime:
“[W]e combine newly developed estimates of the unauthorized population with multiple data sources to capture the criminal, socioeconomic, and demographic context of all 50 states and Washington, DC, from 1990 to 2014 to provide the first longitudinal analysis of the macro‐level relationship between undocumented immigration and violence. The results from fixed‐effects regression models reveal that undocumented immigration does not increase violence. Rather, the relationship between undocumented immigration and violent crime is generally negative….”
On November 9th, 2016, I woke up to see a mostly red US electoral college map. With a 9-hour time difference between France, where I live, and the West Coast of the US, polls had been closed for nearly 2 hours.
At that moment, my thoughts turned to what I would say to you today. You see, I had originally intended to question the way we think about the clash of civilizations. “Individual rights and aspirations for democracy,” I had intended to say, “must not be thought of as belonging exclusively to certain civilizations, not least because that would mean undermining the validity of universal principles, if ever those civilizations happened to falter.”
I would have preferred that events in my home country not impress upon me so sharply the importance of what I had to say to you today, but they have, and they urge me to make my argument with even greater conviction. The problem that confronts us today is not Oriental or Occidental, Northern or Southern; it concerns all of us what is happening politically in states across the globe today.
Many people in power or hoping to get there are selling citizens on a package deal: “We will protect you from the dangers of the world,” they say, “if you give us power.” What are those dangers according to populist leaders? “Economic competition due to globalization; political parties and governments disconnected from the people; and corrupt values that weaken families and societies,” they say.
Now, to protect people from such great dangers, authority is needed, so the sales pitch goes, the authority of strong leaders, the authority of the state. Only authority can protect. That is the hallmark of populist discourses that seek both to reassure and instill fear, promise justice, and pledge retribution, liberate some and censor others. Now, some analysts say that these discourses emanate from a demand from below. The people are dissatisfied, alienated from political processes. Populist leaders step up and fill the gap left by other political elites. Continue reading Crystal Cordell on Authoritarian Populism
For anyone who does not yet have a Christmas tree, I have made a chart to help you decide what kind of tree to get. In four cases, I ranked the top two choices. Here‘s a link I found while creating this chart which shows where to recycle trees in Arizona.
Plastic decomposition: https://marinedebris.noaa.gov/do-plastics-go-away-when-theyre-ocean-or-great-lakes
Real tree decay time estimate: https://northernwoodlands.org/knots_and_bolts/tree-falls-in-a-forest
Average cost: https://earth911.com/home-garden/real-vs-artificial-christmas-trees/
Life cycle impact analysis: https://www.sightline.org/2015/12/21/your-christmas-trees-carbon-footprint/
Social Security Act
-Passed the House 372-33
-Passed the Senate 77-6
-Signed into law by FDR
-Dem: Yes — 284 of 319 (89%)
-Rep: Yes — 81 of 102 (79%)
-Dem: Yes — 60 of 69 (87%)
-Rep: Yes — 16 of 25 (64%)
* * *
Fair Labor Standards Act
-Established minimum wage, 40-hour workweek, and restrictions on child labor
-Passed the House 291-89
-Passed the Senate by voice vote
-Signed into law by FDR
-Dem: Yes — 252 of 293 (86%)
-Rep: Yes — 30 of 78 (38%)
Passed the Senate by voice vote.
* * *
Prohibition of Discrimination in the Defense Industry
-Executive Order 8802
-Banned discriminatory employment practices by Federal agencies and all unions and companies engaged in war-related work
-Established the Fair Employment Practices Commission to enforce the new policy
-Signed by FDR
* * *
Desegregation of Armed Forces
-Executive Order 9981
-Established the President’s Committee on Equality of Treatment and Opportunity in the Armed Services, committing the government to integrating the segregated military
-Signed by Truman
* * *
Clean Air Act
-Passed the House 276 to 112
-Passed the Senate by voice vote
-Signed into law by LBJ
-Dem: Yes — 204 of 256 (80%)
-Rep: Yes — 69 of 178 (39%)
Passed the Senate by voice vote.
* * *
Note: This vote was an important moment in the history of the Republican and Democratic parties and was the major catalyst leading to the transition of Southern Democrats to the Republican Party.*
Senate Votes on the 1964 Civil Rights Act:
* * *
Medicare (Social Security Act Amendments)
-Passed the House 307-116
-Passed the Senate 70-24
-Signed into law by LBJ
-Dem: Yes — 237 of 293 (81%)
-Rep: Yes — 70 of 140 (50%)*
-Dem: Yes — 57 of 67 (85%)
-Rep: Yes — 13 of 32 (41%)*
* * *
Clean Water Act
-Passed the House 366-11
-Passed the Senate 74-0
-Vetoed by Nixon
-Nixon’s veto was overridden by Congress
-Dem: Yes — 151 of 161 (94%) (92 abstained)
-Rep: Yes — 96 of 109 (88%) (68 abstained)*
-Dem: Yes — 34 of 37 (92%) (17 abstained)
-Rep: Yes — 17 of 25 (68%) (19 abstained)*
* * *
Most economists lean Democratic:
From a 2003 survey of 264 economists
From a 2010 survey of 299 economists
The earth’s climate is extremely important, both economically and biologically. Most Democrats agree with the vast majority of climate scientists that humans have caused all or nearly all of earth’s rapid warming over the past 5-6 decades.* As of 2017, 78% of Democrats agreed that human activity is causing the warming while only 24% of Republicans agree* with the extremely strong scientific consensus.
But, isn’t there still a lot of uncertainty about what’s causing global warming? No. Climate scientists are roughly as certain that humans are causing the rapid warming of the earth’s atmosphere as they are in the basic science of plate tectonics.*
But, is scientific consensus really important? Maybe. One way to look at it is to consider artificial intelligence. Imagine if we looked at research papers of artificial intelligence researchers and polled them and found that 5% of them are warning that there is a high probability of robots taking over the world in the near future. That might be slightly alarming, right? However, if we look at that same information and talk to the same people and find that 97% of those papers and scientists are warning of a robot takeover, governments all over the world would be acting immediately to prevent this.
In The Spirit of the Laws, Montesquieu argued that a separation of the executive, legislative, and judicial powers of government is necessary to prevent abuses of power. He wrote that, if a single body holds all of these powers, that body can abuse it, but, if the powers are separated, each can check the other. He wrote that the legislative branch alone should have the ability to tax in order to prevent the executive from imposing its will arbitrarily. The president can veto acts of legislature, and the legislature is divided into two chambers that each check one another. The judiciary, Montesquieu thought, should be independent of the other two branches and should only concern itself with laws regarding threats to public order and security.*
An example of this is the Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of 1972 (aka, the “Clean Water Act”). This bill set a national goal of eliminating all pollutant discharges into US waters by 1985 while also making waters safe for fish, shellfish, wildlife and people by July 1, 1983. The bill passed the House by roll call vote 366-11 and the Senate by roll call vote 74-0 on October 4th 1972.* The Senate needs a simple majority of 51 votes to pass a bill while the House needs a simple majority of 218 votes to pass a bill.* So, the Clean Water Act easily passed both chambers of Congress.
President Nixon then had an opportunity to veto this bill. As the Constitution notes, every bill that passes the House and Senate must be signed by the president in order to become law. If the president returns it with objections to the originating chamber, it must be voted on again and receive two-thirds vote from both chambers before becoming law.*
In this case, President Nixon chose to exercise that Constitutional privilege and returned the bill back to Congress on October 17th. Nixon chose to do this shortly before midnight on that day which would have been 10 days from when he received it. If he had waited until after midnight, the bill would have automatically become law (another stipulation in the Constitution). On being returned to the House, not all members voted again. A two-thirds vote of the entire 435 body would be 290. Their vote of 247-23 means that only 62% of House members voted. However, of those who did vote, 91% voted to override the president’s veto. In the Senate, the breakdown was 52-12, again a large majority of a subset of the Senate. Thus, the bill became law on October 18, 1972.*
People often focus more on what politicians say than on what they do. Those two things are often not in accordance, due to factors within their control and not within their control. My preference is to look at how candidates actually legislate. However, no one that I know of puts out this information in an easy-to-read way. So, I have tried below to compile all of the legislative scorecards I could find for two Arizona candidates. I hope you find it useful.
Supports government transparency; Supports eliminating discrimination against women, minorities, and LGBT people; Supports protecting the rights of immigrants
American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) is the largest federation of unions in the United States.
Pro Small Government Advocacy/Tea Party-Affiliated
McSally and Sinema:
Human Rights Campaign
Advocates for LGBTQ Equality
Pro Animal Welfare Advocacy
McSally and Sinema:
League of Conservation Voters
NAACP: National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
Advocacy, “to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate race-based discrimination”
National Cannabis Industry Association
NCPSSM – National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare
NEA – National Education Association
Labor union that represents public school teachers and other support personnel, faculty and staffers at colleges and universities, retired educators, and college students preparing to become teachers.
Immigration Reduction Advocacy
Gun Deregulation Advocacy
Pro Reproductive/Abortion Rights
“The world is a fine place and worth the fighting for and I hate very much to leave it,” spoke my hero, Robert Jordan, in For Whom the Bell Tolls. And I do, too. I hate to leave it. But I don’t have a complaint. Not one. It’s been quite a ride. I’ve known great passions, seen amazing wonders, fought in a war, and helped make a peace. I’ve lived very well and I’ve been deprived of all comforts. I’ve been as lonely as a person can be and I’ve enjoyed the company of heroes. I’ve suffered the deepest despair and experienced the highest exultation. I made a small place for myself in the story of America and the history of my times.
I hope those who mourn my passing, and even those who don’t, will celebrate as I celebrate a happy life lived in imperfect service to a country made of ideals, whose continued service is the hope of the world. And I wish all of you great adventures, good company, and lives as lucky as mine.
John McCain, The Restless Wave, 2018
I talked to a voter recently who said to me, “I’ve been a Democrat my whole life, but now I went Republican because the Democrats are giving all my money away to the f*cking illegals. Do you have something that stops that?”
Throughout my life in Arizona, I have heard this sentiment a lot. I don’t think the data really back up that undocumented immigrants negatively affect most of us, though. We know that human beings who commit a misdemeanor — not a crime —* by entering the country illegally do contribute about $12 billion to the US economy annually without being eligible to, for example, vote or collect Social Security.*
So, yeah, I’ll probably never know why she believes that all of her money is going to “illegals.”
Hispanic Share of Population in Arizona, 1870-2012
She follows this up by saying, “I love Trump ‘cause he’s stopping them. He’s doing good with my money.”
Immigration’s interesting. We’ve had a border since the country started, and people have pretty much come and gone as they pleased. They’d fulfill seasonal manual labor needs in agriculture or construction and many would then return home. Meanwhile, those that stay commit crimes at much lower rates than the native born.*
I wouldn’t say that any of this means that we need open borders. I do think that we need to stop believing untruths about immigrants, though. Somewhere back there, we all had an immigrant family member. Can you prove that all of your ancestors came here legally? I certainly can’t. Plus, for 99% of us, the only thing we’ve ever done to deserve to be in the country is pay taxes.
If somebody does commit a misdemeanor by entering the country via an unofficial channel, then pays taxes, doesn’t commit other crimes, and just works hard for years and years, why the hell are we trying to punish them? Yeah, I don’t know either. It seems dumb and probably villainous.
Anyway, another person opens his door. Looks to be around my age. Ornate mustache. He’s got the ends of the ‘stache curled up into kind of a spiral. I tell him I’m a precinct committeeperson in his legislative district collecting signatures for some ballot initiatives. He asks what I’ve got. I say that one of them is Invest in Education. He says, “I don’t know what more they want. They’re already getting a 20% pay raise.”
I say, “That just goes into the schools overall. It doesn’t necessarily go directly to teachers.” Last I checked, there also wasn’t a guaranteed funding source, so it’s uncertain that schools or teachers will see any extra money. Invest in Ed doesn’t necessarily go directly to teachers either. It at least gives a funding source, though.*
One thing that’s strange to me about school funding generally is why we make schools scrounge and beg for money. I’ve never heard of a school that was just too well-funded, where students just had too many people caring for them and too many people teaching them. I understand that we need to worry about wasted money, but maybe we could make sure that teachers actually have competitive pay and kids are able to be transported to school and be properly fed before we get too worried about that.
Another person signs all three petitions. We talk about how stupid coal is in terms of health and in terms of jobs. While signing Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona she says, “I sympathize with the people who work in coal, but we need to retrain them for jobs in clean energy. We need to stop living in the past.” (I always like it when people make my arguments for me.) She said she used to be a Reagan Republican but that her social views have come to supersede her economic views.
It’s an interesting sentiment, and I think it comes from the Republican Party doing a great job of convincing people that it’s better for the economy. In reality, blue states do the same economically overall. If you look at things like unemployment and personal wealth for all 50 states, you find that neither party can really be boastful on these issues. This is worse news for the Republicans, though, because they advertise themselves as the “business lubrication” party. If they’re actually no better for economic flourishing than the Democrats, though, what’s left? To me, mostly just misinformation and collective delusion.