Apres le Massacre de Las Vegas: pour Casubolo

Apres le massacre de Las Vegas.

En reponse a mon ami Andre Casubolo, avocat a Paris et defenseur des causes impopulaires, documentariste de genie et membre sans vergogne de la gauche hereditaire, qui voit un lien clairement positif entre la possessions d’armes privees et la frequence des homicides. Antoine est fidele lecteur du  Monde, bien sur, qui titrait recemment a ce propos:

 “Les Etats-Unis, le pays occidental où le taux d’armes en circulation est le plus élevé.”

C’est une connerie meme pas originale. Je simplifie et j’arrondis les chiffres parce qu’un regime intellectuel base sur la lecture du Monde prepare mal a la sophistication analytique.

Depuis 1994, le nombre d’armes a feu entre des mains privees a augmente de 50% aux E.U. Le nombre (le nombre, pas le taux) d’homicides par armes a feu a lui diminue (diminue) de 50% .

Je ne sais pas s’il existe un rapport de cause a effet entre les deux chiffres ou si, ensemble, ils soutiennent la these: Plus d’armes, moins de crimes. Ce qui est sur c’est qu’ils n’apportent aucun support a la these opposee.

Jusqu’a ce jour, le pays occidental ou a eu lieu le plus grand massacre de civils (90+) est………. ………… Dans ce pay-la, la possession privee d’armes a feu est:

a) severement reglementee; 2) legerement reglementee; 3 ) pas reglementee.

Le titre du Monde est grossierement sensationaliste et sans interet explicatif. Contrairement a mes quelques phrase ci-dessus, par exemple, il n’essaie meme pas d’aborder la question de la causalite pouvant exister entre  le nombre d’armes ne circulation et la frequence des crimes violents commis dans un lieu donne. Les Etats-Unis, pour des raisons historiques, ont une abondance de crimes violents et une abondance d’armes entre les mains de ses citoyens. On ne peu ni affirmer  a priori un rapport de cause effet a entre les deux faits ni decider par preference subjective de la direction de la causalite si causalite il y a.

D’ailleurs, s’il n’y avait pas d’armes a feu privees, personne n’aurait les moyens de commettre des massacre de masse. De telles abominations n’arrivent pas en France ou possession d’armes a feu est strictment reglmentee, pas vrai?

Les bien-pensants finissent toujours par demontrer leur inanite intellectuelle. C’est presque embarassant. Leur repondre est, comme on dit en Anglais “Comme de voler l’argent des caramels d’un gosse du jardin d’enfants!”

Confession: Je suis membre (passif) de la National Rifle Association, une des organisations qui protegent le Second Amendement a la Constitution des E.U qui garanti le droit au port d’arme prive.

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The Dreamers and Me

President Trump just announced that he was rolling back an Obama executive order intended to give respite to illegal immigrants brought to the US by their parents when they were minors. I know what I feel about this action. I have to figure out what I think.  (I can cry with the best of them! Liberal liars are having a field day right now. One just said on NPR that the purpose of the decision is to make America “white again”, N. S. !)

I am an immigrant. I immigrated into this country at 21. I was a high school dropout from France. I had no marketable skill but I knew English pretty well. I had no money. (That’s “Not any.”) I carried a small suitcase containing mostly some Navy clothing from my recent service. The Unites States did not need me.* No one had invited me except the late George and Rose-Marie McDaniel of Novato, California. (They had met me during my stint as a high school exchange student three years earlier, financed by others.) Don’t worry, I am not going to cram down your throat yet another heroic story of hard immigrant work and well deserved achievement.

I prospered in this country for more than fifty years. I had a very good American life. I lived well and I thrived unexpectedly from an intellectual standpoint. My wife an artist, and also an immigrant, was able to paint as we raised our children. All of this because many individuals and several institutions gave me a push and a pull, an encouraging word, and downright gifts, along the way (including free tuition at both a junior college and a major  university). If I were given only two words to describe American society, they would be: “generous, fair.”

The American society I know does not visit upon the sons the sins of the fathers. It especially does not do so when the sins of the fathers were mostly misdemeanors at the time they were committed – entering the country illegally was only a misdemeanor. The American society I know would not throw over the fence its young neighbors to somehow manage in a foreign country they know little or not at all, in a language they may know badly or, again, not at all. Those among us who would do either must be blinded by anger. (And there are good reasons to be angry about immigration.)

In his announcement, President Trump did not throw out anybody, as the left media made it sound. First, he gave Congress six months to do what Congress should have done in the first place: Solve through legislation the human and ethical problem posed by the presence in our country of hundreds of thousands of immigrants who are technically illegal through no fault of theirs. The president is playing chicken with Congress: If you do nothing, you will be collectively responsible for a gross, un-American injustice. Keep in mind that the president retains the right to promulgate his own royal reprieve it Congress fails to act.

Second, the president is using this opportunity to prod Congress, Republicans and Democrats alike, to begin instituting wholesale immigration reform. It’s a reform just about everyone agrees must take place. It has not begun because it’s a political hot, hot potato for both parties. For the Republicans, there is the honest realization that our borders must, in the end, be under control lest our cherished institutions end up dissolving. Let me give you an example. How many people can we admit who believe that separation of church and state is anathema, an insult to the face of God, and still live in our constitutional republic? (And, it you think the question is Islamophobic, you are just afraid of questions!)

For the Democrats the issue is how to stem the rising anger of many of their troops about immigration without turning off the spigot of automatic Demo voters that immigrants mostly are. (The Democratic Party is vanishing, I think. That’s why it’s so mean. Without a steady flow of poor immigrants, its death will be hastened. The Republican Party has different problems which also threaten it existence, possibly.)

Notice what I did not say here: I did not say anything about any kind of immigrants having rights as immigrants. I don’t think we do.

* Nevertheless, I have a document somewhere that certifies that my continued presence in the US serves the welfare of the country. It was earned 12 years later, another story, obviously. If I could find it, I would fame it and put it on line to enrage “progressives.”

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Talking Back to the Fat Little Horror

Many have tried for a week or so to convince me that Pres. Trump should tone it down with North Korea, that he must stop threatening back. I have heard it on the radio, on TV; I have read it everywhere, including on my own Facebook page. They have all done a mediocre job. There may be good reasons to not talk back to the fat little fascist in North Korea, Kim, but I have not heard it yet (08/13/17).

The urge to pipe down come from two main sources. First, are the usual liberal suspects who always think the US must be wrong, somehow. The same admonitions come, second, from libertarians- and especially from Libertarians. (And trust me, I feel very ashamed that I have – several times – described Libertarians as “pacifists in drag.” And I will do my best to avoid this facile formula in the future.)

Liberals’ reprimands are not interesting because they are so predictable. They are in two parts. First, in any hostile encounter, the US must be guilty, or guilty of something. Second, we must never stoke the fire by responding to threats with threats. I will show below the emptiness of this position.

Libertarians’ attempts to tamp the fire are more interesting because they are based on analysis, even if it’s on a fallacious analysis anchored in imagined facts rather than in real facts. Libertarians believe that all war, even all armament, even all national defense preparedness invariably increase the scope and power of government. This happens to the detriment of individual liberties of course. I share this analysis but that’s not the end of the problem.

A libertarian intellectual I admire on the whole pointed out to me recently that experts don’t think Kim is suicidal. That may well be true although I don’t trust mental health experts who pronounce without examining the patient or even talking to him. This may well be true but one can simply become suicidal. Hitler was not suicidal until he was suicidal. He appeared to have believed in the feasibility of a military miracle even when the Red Army was only fifty miles from Berlin. And then: “Bang! And fuck you all Germans!”

Still, let’s assume Kim is not suicidal. This implies that his threats are bluff. Could be. After all, bluffing Americans worked well for his father. I am concerned about the possibility of his miscalculating, and miscalculating in particular the resolve of an angry America, of an America that has been attacked, or where the administration thinks it’s about to be attacked. I am much more worried about Kim in this respect than I ever was about the Soviet Union or about Cuba. There are two major significant differences.

First, what’s the likelihood that Kim has advisers who are both well informed and trustworthy? This is a man who executed his own uncle with an artillery piece. (You read this right.) This is a man who assassinated his own brother with poison a few months ago. He did it with maximum brazenness, in a public place, outside the country he rules. How would you like to disagree with such a man? How would you like to incur his displeasure by allowing him even to suspect that you don’t share his vision?

Second, people in general commonly become prisoners of their ideology. (Watch the millions of liberals who have not come around six months later to realizing that Democrat identity politics lost them the 2016 elections – plural.) Totalitarian ideologies may make one an especially severely restrained prisoner, one laden with heavy thick cognitive chains. If you accept this premise, you must ask what’s the likelihood that Kim, or his generals, or his surviving and cowed civilian cabinet, are sufficiently well informed to gauge correctly eventual American responses to his provocations? Many Americans and, I think, the bulk of the European intelligentsia still don’t understand why Mr Trump got elected. The same people don’t understand him at all (although he is easy enough to understand for those who frequent bars in the US). The Soviets were always well informed about the US. They had hundreds or thousands of English speaking agents who did nothing but study America. The Cubans totalitarians were, and are still even better informed, for obvious reasons. Anyone who would dare make the bet that Kim knows what he is doing is insane or he/she knows something important that I don’t know and would like to know. (Tell me now, please.)

The libertarians’ responses I am aware of are, in the end, based on the same false premises as the liberals’: 1 He does not mean it; 2 There is always time for talk. No need to point out, I think, that we don’t l know if he does not mean it. In general, when someone keeps saying he wants to kill you, you should give him your full attention, in case he does mean it. And then, we did talk to that deadly regime for twenty years. In 1994, on his own, Pres. Clinton went into an agreement with North Korea to supply that country with energy in return for its closing its bomb-capable nuclear facilities. The N. Koreans promptly cheated. There were other peaceful attempts. (See Wikipedia.) Pres. Clinton and several of his followers’ pacific efforts gave North Korea the space to develop nuclear devices and missiles that now make the country a realistic deadly threat to the US. How long do you try the same thing when it keeps coming back and biting you in the ass?

By the way: There is much talk of pursuing “diplomatic” avenues with Kim in preference to bellicose ones. That’s complete nonsense. Does it imply talking to Kim so he becomes nicer? Does it imply that we find something that he wants and that we can give him? Oops, we tried this. (See above.) Does it mean that we should threaten Kim only quietly? That strategy makes sense in general but not with him. The American response to Kim’s threats must be muscular, loud, clear, and colorful. The reason is that we don’t know what information N. Korea’s ruling circles receive. We must do the utmost to insure we get trough. Somewhere in that country, there is a quartet of generals who have recovered from ideological infestation and who want to see their grandchildren grow up, irrespective of Kim’s mental condition and miscalculations. At this point, they are our best hope, they and single bullet to the head.

China is not worried or motivated enough to help, it appears. The Chinese Communist Party, that astonishingly successful mafia, could almost certainly live with an old-fashioned but calm military dictatorship on its door-step. It would be less likely than the current N. Korean regime to trigger unwanted events from which China would also suffer. The Chines ruling group is well informed. It knows this.

Those who are unable to think coolly about such things should not worry about the likelihood of an American nuclear first strike. It’s just not in the cards because of the extreme vulnerability of both South Korea and Japan. If we are hit first though, all bets are off and I hope the South Koreans and the Japanese are aware of this. It might motivate them to become more active than they appear to be right now.

There are other vigorous solutions to avoid war without submitting. I described one on my Facebook page a couple of days ago. (“An answer to my own question,” posted August 9 2017) We seem to be collectively paralyzed by fear and suffering from a dearth of imagination. Now, that’s really dangerous.

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The Riots in Jerusalem Explained

Big, violent riots in Jerusalem (July 22-23 2017). Last week, three Arabs Muslims with Israeli nationality killed two Israeli policemen in Jerusalem. Reminder: All of Jerusalem is under the control of Israel, has been since 1967. Before that, under Jordanian rule, Jews were banned from the Old City. The broader city today has a diverse population that includes Jewish Israelis, Muslim Israelis, a few Christian Israelis, Palestinian Muslims, a handful of Palestinian Christians, plus a constant flow of visitors from abroad. In addition, most Palestinians from the adjacent West Bank are allowed to visit on a controlled basis, for religious purposes only.

Israel gained control of Jerusalem in 1967 the same way the Muslims did in the seventh century: Military conquest legitimized by Sacred Scriptures.

As we all know, Jerusalem is a sacred city to several religions including Judaism, Christianity and Islam (by order of historical appearance). At the center of the preoccupations of the three monotheistic religions is a place called the Temple Mount. It’s the spot known as the last Jewish temple, destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD (or “Common Era”). The supposed last vestige of the Jewish Temple standing is the Western Wall (also, “Wall of Lamentations” for Jews) where Jews from everywhere, including Israel come to pray. The Christian Gospels show Jesus visiting the same temple several times including shortly before his crucifixion. Muslims revere the area because the Prophet Muhammad is said to have started there his whirlwind “Night Visit” to Heaven. It’s so important to Muslims that they built there not one but two mosques after they conquered the city in 630. One of the two mosques, the Dome of the Rock, is supposed to have been established over the place where Abraham sacrificed his son (one of his sons, not the same son, depending on which religious tradition).

Now, Jews are forbidden by Israeli law as a well as by some rabbinical religious decisions to visit the area occupied by the mosques. It is administered jointly by a Muslim clerical organization and by Jordan (Reminder: Jordan is an Arab country with a peace treaty with Israel.) Two consequences. First, frictions between Jewish worshipers and Muslim worshipers in the area are rare although they pray within a stone throw of each other. (Metaphor not chose at random.) Second, the top of the Temple Mount, the largest part of the area where the two mosques stand, is very seldom visited by Jews at all. It’s overwhelmingly used by Muslims, day in and day out. Repeating: If you threw a stone in the air on an average day while standing in that area, it would fall down on a Muslim or on no one at all. (Christians seem to not be much interested in visiting that particular spot.)

Following the assassination of two of its policemen last week, Israel took common sense security measures against repeated acts of terrorism in the Temple Mount mosques area. By the way, the two Israeli policemen assassinated were not Jews. They were Druze, people whom some Muslims consider Muslim and many not. No one, at any rate, thinks Druze are Jewish. The fact is that the assassinated police officers were working security in or near an area frequented by devout Muslims, rather that one of the many more numerous Israeli Jewish policemen (or worse, policewomen). This suggests to me that official Israeli policy was reasonably alert to Muslim faithful’s sensitivities.

The Israeli authorities took two new security measures (amazingly late in the game, if you consider the volatility of the area). They installed both surveillance cameras and metal detectors on the access points to the mosques esplanade. That’s was precipitated the rioting and yet more deaths, plus, the formal declaration of the Palestinian Authority that it was stopping all contacts with Israel (of which, more later). Now, I can sort of understand the Palestinians’ objection to the cameras. Many must imagine that Israel will use the film to spy on them further although it’s difficult to see how or what that would accomplish beside identifying criminals after the fact. The metal detectors are the same tools in place in almost every airport in the world. They can help intercept guns and knives.

Refer back up to the description of who spends time in the mosques area: Muslims. So here you have it: Palestinians, who have to be almost all Muslims, are rioting violently to protest security measures that will protect…Muslims. What serves as their government, the Palestinian Authority, cuts off contact with Israel also in protest. But Israel acts as a customs office for the said Authority. It collects monies on its behalf and faithfully hands them over. Palestinians protest common sense Israeli action that protect them by making it even more difficult for their government to do its job. By doing so, they create more of a vacuum, that Israel will, of necessity, have to fill.

Some Palestinian leaders think that if they force others to shed Palestinian blood very publicly, the world is going to take pity and come and impose the kind of settlement they want. The calculus is going on seventy years old. If you keep doing the same thing over and over again and it never works….

A personal note. I have had several Palestinian friends; they were easy to like for their warmth, for their courtesy, for their generosity. That’s on the one hand. I also think Palestinians are victims of history; that they have been paying for seventy years for the crimes of others. On the other hand, I have not much appreciated the Israelis I have known. They tend to have the smoothness of raw alligator skin, pretty much what you would expect of people reared in a garrison state. Politically, however, it’s very hard to be a friend of Palestinians. You try  and try, and then, they go and do something insane like this.

In case you wonder: I am not Jewish, never have been. I was raised a Catholic and I have been religiously indifferent as far back as I remember. I know my Bible pretty well (Old and New Testament). I try to study the Koran. It’s tough going because I am usually told that the translation I can understand is not legitimate. I am familiar with the Hadith second-hand (like most Muslims actually because few know Arabic).  I listen to Tariq Ramadan, a cleric or a philosopher connected to the Muslim brotherhood who speaks beautiful French and who seems to have made it his mission to explain Islam to intelligent and educated infidels. (That would be me, for example.)

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“Fuck your vote!”

That’s what I have been hearing ever since the morning after the presidential election. That what I keep hearing on most cable television and on National Public Radio. That’s what I see in most of what I read, and that’s what I am told is being published in the liberal print media I stopped reading long ago. That’s also what I find when I go slumming in left-wing sectors of Facebook.

No one has actually told me directly, in those exact words, Fuck your vote,” not yet, but that’s what the ceaseless hounding of Pres. Trump means: My vote for him ought to be ignored; it can’t possibly count. If you had not had any news for six months, you would think that there had been a coup in the United States, that a horrid, caricature capitalist had taken over the country by stealth and by force, both. You would guess that the intellectually and morally live segments of American society were resisting a brutal takeover as best as they could. You would not guess there had been a hotly disputed election, fielding 16 viable candidates on one side.

A grass-root movement with a strategy

The verbal lynching to which Pres. Trump is subjected on a 24-hr cycle is not a conspiracy. There is no secrecy to it. It’s all overboard. It’s a regrouping of the political establishment, of the 90% leftist media, of the 90% leftist academia, of the vast tribe of government bureaucrats, of the many others who live off tax revenue, of the labor unions leaders, of the teachers’ unions, especially. So, after a fashion, it’s a genuine grass root movement. It’s a grass root movement of the well-bred and of the semi-educated who spend all their time – always did – feeling “appalled.”

It’s not a conspiracy but it’s a deliberate plot. It has a strategy: Hound him until he looses his cool completely. Harass him to the point where he cannot govern at all. At worst, we can keep him so busy his intended policies kind of vanish. The Santa Cruz AM station where I had a political show for three years has its own well-known, semi-official leftist caller, “Billy.” Billy thinks he is well informed and a genuine, deep-thinking intellectual because he is leisurely. In fact, he does not work for a living; he lives off his rich wife instead. (I would not make this up.) He called the station about two weeks before this writing to sound off on one thing or another that the president had done or said. Then, he declared straightforwardly, “We are hounding him out of office,” and also, with commendable clarity, “It’s a slow coup.” I would not have dared used these words in my conservative* polemical writing, too provocative, possibly exaggerated.

Or take this short, childishly coded message I picked out from from an ordinary left-liberal’s Facebook page:

47 could end up being Pelosi if we drag it out til 18.”

Translation: the current minority leaderin the house could become the next president (the 47th). If we drag what out? For overseas readers and for American readers who went to the beach when the US Constitution was taught in high school: What has to happen before the minority leader of the House of Representatives becomes president outside of a presidential election? The constitutional order of succession if the president dies, in any way of manner, or becomes incapacitated, or is remove from office for any reason is this: Vice-President, Speaker of the House. In the partial elections of 2018, Nancy Pelosi may become Speaker of the House again. She would automatically become president if and only if both President Trump and Vice-President Pence were eliminated. Hence the FB message: Keep up the harassment. Note: Some readers might think I am making this up. I will give the name and FB address of the person from whom this is taken to anyone asking me privately.

What does not revolt me: Donald Trump is a bad person

What is it that makes me angry? Let me begin by telling you what does not make me deeply angry.

First, everyone here and abroad has every right to dislike Mr Trump personally, Trump the man. There is a lot I don’t like about the man myself. He talks too much; he is ignorant of many things; his ignorance does not stand in the way of his having strong opinions about the very same things; he often talks before he thinks; he brags too much; he is too frequently crude. (Actually, I am of two minds about the latter. Official crudeness may be the form that starting to roll back political correctness must take.)

I did not vote for Donald Trump because I loved him but mostly because of the character of the only, single alternative to him at the time of the presidential election. (Keep in mind that Sen. Sanders was not on the ballot. Remember what happened to him?) I had no illusions from day one. I knew, that Mr Trump is not at all like suave President Obama for example who was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize within barely ten months of taking office.** I voted for Trump also for policy reasons. I thought there was a good chance he would appoint a conservative Supreme Court Justice, as promised. He did, within days. I thought he would deregulate to some extent. He is doing just that. I thought we stood a better chance of having serious tax cuts with him than with the Democratic candidate. I still think so. Tax cuts are the most direct path to vigorous economic growth, I believe. (Shoot me!)

A short digression: As I was writing this cri du coeur, the liberal media were exulting about President Trump’s loss of a few points of general approval. (Actually, it’s about the same as Bill Clinton’s at the same period in their presidencies.) They don’t mention that there is zero evidence that he has lost any ground among those who voted for him, that they feel any voter remorse. Myself, I like him better than I did when I voted for him. He has begun to make America stand up again. He has been a bulwark against several forms of hysteria – including Endofworldism – to a greater extent than I counted on.

What does not revolt me: Opponents trying to stop and sink his program

The second thing to which I do not object in the treatment of president Trump is legislative maneuvering. Democrats and dissident Republicans have every right to block and undermine Mr Trump’s legislative programs, be they tax cuts or “the wall.” (Personally, I want the first ones and think of the second as a silly idea.) The media have every right and sometimes, an obligation to support this exercise in checks and balances between executive and legislative that is at the heart of the US constitution. No problem there either. I understand that when you win the presidency, in the American system, that’s all you have got, the presidency. After that, you have to convince Congress to pay for what you want, for what you (conditionally) promised.

What annoys me without revolting me: the courts’ usurpation

The Founding Fathers decided that courts had to be able to curtail or block just about any executive or legislative action. This, to make extra sure that neither branch of government could ever create unconstitutional law. This, to avoid the tyranny of the majority. It often rankles but that’s how our constitutional democracy works. Accordingly, the third going on that annoys me but that I accept is the several courts’ endeavors to stop the president from taking the measures he thinks necessary to keep the country safe. (I try to distinguish between dislike and a negative judgment of illegitimacy. This distinction is a the heart of the problem about which I am writing.) I accept, for example the decisions of the two or three courts who stopped the presidential executive order banning the admission of peoples from a handful of countries. I accept them, although:

Public opinion and – I think – one court, call it a ban “on Muslims,” even if only 9% of all Muslims worldwide would be affected; although half of those are citizens of a country – Iran – that is the declared enemy of the US and officially a sponsor of terrorism as far as we (Americans) are concerned.*** and ****.

I accept it although there is nothing in the Constitution that prevents the executive branch from stopping people entering the US based on their religion.

I accept it although there is no part of the US Constitution that recognizes any rights to foreigners who are neither under American jurisdiction nor at war with the US.

I accept it although there is a statute, a law, that explicitly gives the president the right to ban the entry of anyone for any reason.

I accept these court orders but my acceptance is a testimony to my strong commitment to constitutional democracy.

Now, on to what I object too deeply and irreversibly in the attacks on the president.

Extirpating electoral legitimacy

What really, really disturbs me are the nearly daily attempts at removing, at extirpating the legitimacy of the 2016 presidential election results, the desperate and brutal, unscrupulous attempts to make people believe that Mr Trump is not really president. They make me livid because they are not attacks on Mr Trump but rather, they are attacks on me. They are assaults on my right to exercise my constitutional right to cast my vote and to have it counted. And also the rights of sixty-three million Americans***** who voted as I did. The slow coup against Mr Trump defies reason and it resembles nothing I have seen in fifty years in this country. It does remind me of several historical precedents though. (Look up “March on Rome,” you will be amazed.)

More than the mechanics of democracy is at stake. The principle of government by the consent of the governed itself is under assault, the attack is systematic and unrelenting. When I cast one of approximately sixty-three million votes for Donald Trump, I thought I was choosing the lesser of two evils. That’s nothing new; I don’t remember ever voting in a national election for someone who inspired enthusiasm in me. And perhaps, that’s the way it should be. Enthusiasm about a person may not be even compatible with democracy. Free men and women don’t need saviors and they are leery of leaders, even of leadership itself. Be it as it may, I cast my vote as I did and no one (that’s “no”) has the right to try and nullify it, to cancel it. As I write this self-evident truth, I fear that many of the people still having hysteria about the 2016 Democrats’ failure are not sophisticated enough to understand the difference between opposing the consequences of my vote through accepted, traditional parliamentary and judicial maneuvers on the one hand, and nullifying my vote, on the other hand.

Fascism is neither of the left or of the right. It thrives on moral confusion and on bad logic. Hysteria is its main sustenance.

The Russians” made them lose everything

The daily assault on the Trump legitimacy changes form almost every day. Right now, it has been focusing for several weeks on alleged Russian intervention in the presidential election.

It matters not to the Trump haters that in 2016 Democrats lost everything they could lose besides the presidential election: governor races, state legislatures, Congress. This swath of defeats seems to me to indicated that the Democratic Party in general was not popular, forget Trump. If “the Russians” had actually handed out the presidency to Mr Trump, there would still be a need to explain the Democrat routs at all other levels. Did “the Russians” also organize the rout, including of county boards of supervisors, and at all other minute local levels?

He does not matter that Mr Clinton was never made to explain how and why she caused to erase or ditch 30,000 emails belonging to the government, a cynical suppression of evidence if there was ever one.

A considerable work of imagination

Thus far, the mud has been thrown at Mr Trump and at his whole team, at any one who has ever met him perhaps in connection with “Russian” interference in the presidential election. Mud has not shape; it’s amorphous. I don’t know about him but when I suspect someone of something, the something has a shape, at least a rough description. You never say, “I suspect you,” but, “I suspect you of X or of Y.” The Trump accusers have never been able to reach even that primitive level of concreteness. None of them has (yet) been stupid enough to suggest that the Russian secret services hacked or tricked up the voting machines in the hundreds of jurisdictions that would be needed to make a difference. So, what have “the Russians” done, really?

The most tangible thing they have against the Trump campaign to-date is a supposition, a product of the collective imagination, and it need not even involve Trump or his agents at all. What we know is that someone hacked the Democratic National Committee emails. Some contents were leaked by Wikipedia which did not say where it got it from. Wikipedia has friendly links with Russia. It’s possible Russians hackers gave it the info. If this is what happened, here is what we still don’t know:

We don’t know that those imagined Russian hackers worked for Pres. Putin. Entrepreneurial Russian hackers have been dazzling us for twenty years. The DNC email seems to have been poorly protected, anyway. A Putin intervention is superfluous in this story.

Furthermore: Do you remember what Wikipedia disclosed (thanks to “the Russians.”) ? It showed that the Democratic establishment engineered, by cheating, the defeat of candidate Sanders in the Democratic primary elections. In my book, the anonymous, perhaps Russian, hackers deserve a medal, an American medal for casting light on dysfunction and plain dishonesty within an American political party. The Congressional Medal of Honor is not out of the question, in my book.

Moreover: The leftist media keep referring to “collusion” between members of the Trump campaign and some unnamed Russians. Sounds sinister, alright But as the Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz, – a Democrat – pointed out recently, “collusion” is not illegal. It’s what you collude to do (rob a bank) that makes it criminal. Colluding to eat a pizza is not criminal. Mr Trump and his entourage are daily accused -without proof – of having committed acts that are not illegal.

The first Comey testimony

The 06/08/17 open, public Senate Judiciary hearing of dismissed FBI Director Comey was awaited by the left and media, and also by some genteel Republicans, like the Roman plebe awaited the lions’ feasting on the Christians. That hearing was a disappointment too. I am writing here as if I thought every word uttered by Mr Comey were exactly true (100% true) although there is no reason to do so. The hearing showed ex-FBI Director to be a leaky wimp, of shaky integrity caught in corrupt and difficult circumstances, first under Obama with the Clinton Follies, then with the unpredictable Trump presidency. It did showcase a great deal of inappropriate behavior by President Trump. But the hearing did not even begin to point to any illegal behavior on the part of the president, not to a single whiff of illegality. If you don’t trust my legal judgment (although I watch many crime shows on TV), refer again to Democrat and Harvard Law School professor who thinks as I do on this issue. The fact is that hardly anyone, possibly no one voted for Mr Trump because of the appropriateness of his behavior or of his statements. If anyone was about to do so during the election, the airing by the Clinton campaign of a tape describing Mr Trump’s manual approach to seduction would have cured that illusion.

Next?

Personally, I think there is nothing to investigate. Nevertheless, I hope the Special Counsel (a friend of Comey’s, it turns out) will do his job of investigating the possibility that President Trump did whatever he is supposed to have done with I know not what Russians. There is a chance that merely having a single person in charge – what the left demanded – will reduce the daily din of anti-Trump insults. There is even a possibility that it will allow Pres. Trump to get to work on some more of the projects****** for which I gave him my vote. If the investigation reveals real illegal behavior by Mr Trump, felony-level crimes, I think he should be peaceably removed from office, with Vice-President Pence taking over as required by the US Constitution. Anything else, any other succession would be a form of fascism. Any other scenario of Trump removal turns my attention to the Second Amendment (me and hundreds of thousands of gun-crazy, church going “deplorables.”)

How it will end

I don’t see a reasonable finish to all this unless the president is found guilty of something. When the smoke finally clears, when the investigation of President Trump’s collusion to do whatever with whatever Russians ends, I think there is no chance that the matter will be finally put to rest. If the Special Counsel that liberals clamored for concludes that Mr Trump and his whole entourage never committed any illegal act in connection with the 2016 election, there will still be voices pointing out that an intern on Trump’s campaign once ate Russian caviar on a date, which raises serious questions! Or something.

The undisputed fact, that Mr Trump’s improprieties revolt many who voted for the only real alternative is not an argument for overthrowing an elected government. They are the same people who tried to elect – directly or indirectly – an old woman apparently in failing health, a lackluster former Secretary of State, at best, a person who campaigned incompetently, a candidate for the highest office who never managed to articulate her vision of government, a prreson who chated during the primary election, one who ended up losing against a rank political amateur who spent less than half the money she spent on campaigning. With a large majority of voters guilty of such a poor choice, this country has bigger fish to fry, I would think, than presidential rudeness and/or insensitivity.

Conclusion

Dear Trumphating fellow citizens: One thing that did not cross my mind when I voted was that should my candidate win – a long shot at the time – there would be a massive, multi-pronged endeavor to make believe that I had not voted, or that I had voted other than the way I voted, or that my vote somehow did not count. I though I was living in a democracy. I assumed the democracy was lodged not only in the rules we follow to form governments but in the hearts of my fellow-citizens. I assumed that the rules were internalized, that they were part of the moral baggage of everyone including those whose vote countered mine.

If you will not accede to the modest wish that my vote should be honored, why bother with elections at all? They are costly and disruptive, they often disappoint, sometimes more than half of the population, and they provide many opportunities for the expression of deplorable taste. Why, not, for example convene a governing directory selected by an assembly of university professors, of well-bred employees’ union leaders, of Democratic politicians, and of media personalities (excluding Fox, and also Rush Limbaugh, of course), all chaired by the Editor-in-Chief of the New York Times?

Footnotes

* “libéral” en Français.

** Just because you ask, I will tell you that I am guessing that the silly old men of the Norwegian Nobel Committee actually thought they were giving the Prize to the American left electorate for electing a Negro (“neger,” in Norwegian). It’s also a fact that Mr Obama always looks good in a suit.

*** To my overseas readers: It was not Pres. Trump who designated officially Iran as a sponsor of terrorism. It happened several presidential administrations back, many years ago.

**** I wonder if the said executive order would have been acceptable to the courts if President Trump had thrown in say, a Buddhist country or two, and a pair of Catholic countries from south America, for example, like this: ban on admission to the US for citizens of Somalia, Yemen, Laos, Syria, Paraguay, Iran, etc.

***** Note to my overseas readers: That’s 2.8 million fewer than won by candidate Clinton. In the US system the candidate who obtains the largest number of votes cast by citizens (the “popular vote”) does not necessarily win the presidency. We have indirect elections instead. This may seem strange but the fact is that neither big party has ever really tried to change the constitution in this respect. So, after the two Obama victories, no one in the Democratic party said, “We have to change this system to make sure the popular vote prevails.” And if we had a popular vote system, all candidates would have campaigned differently. Mr Trump might have won the popular vote handily, or Mrs Clinton may have won with a margin of ten million votes or more; or the Libertarian Party may have received enough votes to deny either candidate a majority. There are many other possibilities in the world of “what if….”

****** Some of his campaign promises are being fulfilled at a fast clip in spite of the ceaseless persecution to which the president is subjected. The loosening of the regulatory hands of the Federal Government on the economy’ s neck, for example, is going well.

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La Sortie americaine de l’Accord de Paris

Beaucoup de tumulte pour pas grand-chose. L’accord en question n’oblige personne a rien. Il permet a la Chine et a l’Inde, deux des trois plus gros pollueurs, de continuer et meme d’augmenter leur emission de CO2. Au mieux, selon les techniciens, il ameliorerait la situation d’une quantite infime, presque impossible a mesurer. Le retrait des Etats-Unis aura des effets encore plus difficiles a mesurer, cest a dire, s’il a des effets.

Par ailleur, les Etats-Unis sont deja places tres honorablement dans le classement  des pays qui on diminue leurs emissions de CO2 bien que le pays ne fasse pas partie   du Protocole de Kyoto non plus. Ceci, sans intervention du governement federal. Imaginez-vous!

Les Etat-Unis n’avait jamais signe quoi que ce soit. Un ancien president (M. OBama) l’avait fait sous sa propre autorite. Ce n’etait pas illegal mais cela veut dire que le texte de l’accord ne fait pas, n’a pas fait l’objet d’un traite international, ce qui demanderait l’aval de deux tiers du Senat. Obama y est entre, Trump en est sorti! Comme ca, tout simplement.

Tout ca est une affaire politique seulement symbolique. M. Trump a ete elu en grosse partie pour reagir contre le bien-pensantisme, aux Etats-Unis et ailleurs. C’est ce qu’il a fait de maniere eclatante en  sortant les Etats-Unis de ce pseudo-traite mal goupille. Ce faisant, il a aussi declare au monde : Nous ne faisons pas partie de votre club inconditionellement. Quand vous agirez betement ou lachement, nous nous ecarterons.

Je dis: “Bravo”.

Maintenant, vous connaissez au moins un Americain qui est ravi de la decision du Pres. Trump a cet egard, moi.

Par ailleurs n’ecoutez pas votre presse francophone sur les evenenement  aux Etats-Unis. Elle est toujours paresseuse, et souvent, franchement conne.

PS Desole pour les accents et les cedilles, trop fatiguant.

 

Lire aussi sur mon FB : “The World to End in twenty-three  days….”

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Immigration and Jobs – III – Reprise

A good oped in the March 25/26 issue of the Wall Street Journal by Mark Krikorian forces me to go back to two of my recent postings on immigration:

(https://factsmatter.wordpress.com/2017/03/09/immigration-and-jobs-i-for-conservatives AND https://factsmatter.wordpress.com/2017/03/14/immigration-and-jobs-ii-for-conservatives/).

Krikorian is executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington D.C. Mr Krikorian accuses everyone in America of “not facing the facts” about current and recent immigration. He insists that some questions must be posed instead of skirted. I agree, of course but I don’t know that it’s true that people are not facing the facts. I think instead that many busy and fair people are hearing contradictory statements and that they don’t have a good framework to think things through. Krikorian states that he rests his case on an authoritative study by the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine. The academies are a respected source. I take it seriously if Krikorian reports accurately. (Be aware that I have not read the study in question.)

Krikorian’s most troubling assertion is as follow: All Americans benefit from immigrants being in the US. All this benefit is entirely extracted from the higher wages Americans competing with immigrants would receive absent wage lowering immigrants’competition. In other words: Americans who compete with immigrants receive lower wages than they should; everyone else benefits from these lower wages.

I think that’s obviously overstating the case. There must be at least one immigrant generating product (GDP) that would not otherwise exist in the American economy. Maybe, there are two. One is in Silicon Valley, inventing a product – like the personal computer forty years ago – that will eventually cause the employment of thousands, or millions. The second is in Kansas saving from demolition a beat-down hotel that provides immediate employment two four minimum wage maids. (Both entrepreneurs are Indians, obviously). In general, immigrants might benefit all by offering additional orbetter services than do the native born. I develop this thesis below.

Krikorian seems to be operating from a standpoint where the work pie to be shared by Americans and by immigrants if of a permanently fixed size. This erroneous perspective, in turn, may well come from a respectable desire to stick close to research findings. Research that also (also) takes into account immigrants’ contribution to increasing the size of the pie is doable but it’s more difficult to perform and to integrate with previous findings than research that relies on a static representation of reality.

Let me admit that I don’t have any numbers at my disposal and that any reasonably credible set of numbers could blow out of the water everything I am going to say below.

First, it’s obvious that there are currently many unfilled jobs in the US.* Organized labor and anti-immigration spokespeople will argue that all those jobs would be filled if the wages offered were high enough. I am skeptical of this argument for two reasons. First Silicone Valley employers affirm vigorously that they just don’t find enough would-be employees with the required skills, at any price. I tend to believe them to some extent because they evidently spend energy and resources raiding each other for expensive existing personnel. This kind of practice suggests true, absolute scarcity. I have mentioned in one of the companion essays the difficulty farmers encounter in recruiting pickers even when they offer wages significantly superior to both the minimum wage and to the going wage in my job-poor area. I would argue that their difficulties are rooted in the same problem facing Silicone Valley employers: a shortage of local competence. Picking strawberries, for example is not easy at all. And it requires a certain attitude, r fortitude, that is not common anymore among Americans, as I have argued elsewhere.

Second, presently below, a forbidden argument. But I must make a disclosure before I move to it: I am one of the 43 million foreign-born people now living in the US. I studied in the US and I was permanently admitted on a variant of a B1 visa. I had a main career as a university professor. I don’t believe that an extra teaching position was ever added in any university to accommodate me. (It happens for some foreigners, a very few, of star quality, like Einstein; I wasn’t one of them, let’s face it.) Of course, to obtain any university position, I had to possess the same credentials as native-born Americans who also wanted the position. (That’s right, there is no affirmative action track for white Europeans!) Good university positions are surprisingly competitive to obtain; earning tenure is even more competitive. Every position I obtained, I got from winning against similarly situated native-born.

Each time, I won the gold, if you will. This simple fact would seem to suggest that I was at least slightly better in conventional terms than those native-born who did not get the position. This fact implies at minimum that had I not competed for the position my students would have been served at best by a silver medalist. (I choose the Olympics language on purpose, from a surfeit of honesty. It’s not absurd to argue that the quality difference between the gold and the silver winners is insignificant or even accidental: On a different day, with a different wind, perhaps, the silver winner would have won the gold. But there is more.)

Like many but not all immigrants, I grew up in a language different from English, French in my case. So. I had to achieve the same credentials as my competitors in what was for me a second language. Forgive me for seeming to brag but doesn’t this indicate an intellectual competence over and above what the formal credentials express? If you doubt this shameless assertion, ask yourself how many native-born Americans are able to teach anything – besides the English language – in any francophone university anywhere. And I am not an extreme case of talent among immigrants to the US. I know a man, a distinguished biological scientist, who grew up in the African language Wolof, went to secondary school in French, to college and graduate school in English. Would you guess he possesses a certain mental nimbleness uncommon among determined monolinguals?

I will reluctantly take another step. I do it reluctantly because it is sure to lose me some friends. I will use my own case as an immigrant for an example because it’s the case I know best. It’s about the cultural endowment we carry around over and above, or aside from mastery of a foreign language.

Let me say right away that I don’t contend that I enjoy a 100% understanding of American culture, even after fifty years. I don’t understand the rules of baseball, for example. I never bothered to learn because the game seems boring. Yet, I must be conversant with a lot of national culture, just for having acquired my professional credentials and, even more so, for navigating everyday life in my society of adoption. The point is that the acquisition of another culture does not entail a one-for-one exchange, like changing clothes, for example. Much, most of what the immigrant brings with I him, he retains, as one might easily assume. When I was learning American culture, I was not leaving French culture behind with the hat-check girl.

The first thing that immigrants, those who immigrate as adults, keep is mastery of their native language. This may sound mysterious to a monolingual person. It’s true that one can become “rusty” in a language one does not use. The quality of self-expression, for example, may deteriorate over time spent abroad. Yet, it’s very unlikely that an immigrant will lose the ability to watch the news in his native language, or to read a newspaper. So, I follow the news in English, of course, but also in French, some of the time. The reporting of the same events do not overlap perfectly, far from it. So, I am learning things I probably would not learn if I knew no French. (That’s in addition to carrying in my head much disorderly information from my society of origin. More below.) In my job as a teacher and as a scholar, I was routinely able to draw on broader information than did my native-born colleagues. I wouldn’t say (although I am tempted) that I had twice as large a store of information at my fingertips as they did but that I had definitely more than they.

So, in fact, I am arguing – with little embarrassment – that I must have been a better teacher and scholar than most (not all) of my native-born colleagues with similar credentials by virtue of being an immigrant.** There may be no metrics allowing an assessment of this outrageous claim. That’s because what college professors actually do is so mysterious. (Another story.)

It’s also true that to measure accurately the added work value of immigrants you have to find a way to factor in laziness, which varies much among individuals. In my case, I suspect strongly that if I had been native born, I could not have had the normal academic career I enjoyed, given my above-average level of laziness. In other words, the informational advantage associated with being a bilingual immigrant may have paid the fare for my laziness. Had I been the same person, with the same formal credentials, except less lazy, however, my presence would have much benefited American society. This detour supports my main argument of course: It does not make much sense to deny that competent bilingualism ads to normally credentialed efficacy. This is true in an occupation such as university teaching. It’s true though possibly to a lesser extent, for a plumber who will, at least, be a better citizen than a comparably situated monolingual. This is all common sense. No hard data are needed to give this scenario credence although hard figures might destroy it.

It should be fairly clear that a second language is like another tool in one’s personal toolbox. Immigrants have yet more, other additional tools that may be more elusive, more difficult to describe. I am giving it a try. All of us approach new situations through a filter that is made up partly of our past experiences, through the colander of past experiences if you will. Many of the experiences that compose the sifting device are repetitive, partly superfluous: The tenth car accident you witness does not have the same power to influence your driving as the first. There is often an excess of material in the sifter. This means that whatever the sifting process accomplishes would be accomplished as well, or nearly as well, on the basis of fewer past experiences.

My experiences in my society of origin do not perfectly duplicate those of a similarly situated native-born American. For example, I lived through a school system that was much more authoritarian than he experienced. I take from this the strong impression that my experiences in my society of origin adds to my experiences in my society of choice to give me a better sifter than exist among the native-born population. It does this in a non-repetitive way (unilke, say, the 9th car accident.) I don’t mean that I have twice as large a sifter as they do but perhaps that I have 125% of what they carry in their heads.

This second extra tool in my tool box is factually associated with the first, bilingualism, but it’s not the same thing. An Australian, with a perfect command of English and perfectly innocent of knowledge of another language would carry the same extra tool as I do. The advantage gained through this second tool is difficult to express. It’s tacit. (I have never read anything about the topic.) I believe that my experience of another society – again, independently of bilingualism – acts like a second pair of glasses. I think I am able to watch events and people from one perspective, and then, to some extent, from a second perspective. I suspect it does not give me extra-depth but an edge in exercising common criticality. Possibly, it acts like a few IQ points that would be added to my measured IQ. Again, this thesis is very exploratory, supported by no real numbers. I must add that this second tool associated with being an immigrant is free from the effects of education. I think I have observed the expected extra resourcefulness among Mexican immigrants I knew to be semi-literate (in Spanish) performing ordinary manual jobs, in construction and in repair work, for example.

In conclusion: I and hundreds of other immigrants I have observed contribute to the society in which we live over and above the contributions of the native-born. Thus, we add to the general well-being even if we are paid exactly the same as the native-born.

The above is a short string of arguments in favor of immigration. None of it is a call for open borders. I subscribe to the lifeboat view of immigration. Too numerous immigrants could easily sink the boat that made them swim to developed societies in the first place. (According to retired foreign service officer Dave Seminara’s review of relevant studies – that I have not read – 150 million people world wide would like to move to the US, including 34% of Mexicans.***) In addition, there are non-economic arguments against large-scale immigration that I support although they may be even more difficult to describe than what I tried to explain above. My analysis supports instead an active stance to design immigration policies that make rigorously the conceptual distinction between immigrants we need and immigrants in need. This distinction is not inimical to any refugee policy whatsoever; perhaps, the reverse is true.

* Reports of unfilled jobs abound in the media. See for example the editorial in the WSJ 3/30/17

** Please, don’t try to factor in a putative superior European education brought to the job of being an American academic as an alternative explanation. I am a French high school dropout.

*** Wall Street Journal 4/17/17

 

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