Photo of the day

From a Detroit Free Press gallery of the amazing snowfall in Buffalo:

A man digs out his driveway in Depew, N.Y.,Wednesday,

A man digs out his driveway in Depew, N.Y.,Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2014.  Derek Gee, The Buffalo News,AP

Obama and Immigration

Read lots of good stuff on this last night, here goes…

1) First, I do think it is important to mention that regardless of just how “legal” or “constitutional” Obama’s action is (and I’m quite persuaded it’s both) it marks a major action in the use of presidential executive authority.  We should not just blithely accept that as if’ it’s no big deal.  Nor are the liberal comebacks of “Reagan did it” and “GHW Bush did it” exactly apt.  Again, not to say Obama should not have done this, but let’s look at it with open eyes.  This NYT piece is useful on that score.

2) As for that Constitutionality case, Walter Dellinger makes it strongly:

Let’s be clear about what the administration has not done in this opinion. No one has been granted “amnesty,” either literally or functionally. And no precedent has been set for this or any future president to act unilaterally in disregard of acts of Congress. On the contrary, the legal opinion rejects a second proposed exercise of discretion—deferring deportation of the parents of “Dreamers”—that Justice concluded cannot be said to carry out priorities established by Congress.

The fundamental fact is this: There are 11.3 million people in the United States who, for one reason or another, are deportable. The largest number that can be deported in any year under the resources provided by Congress is somewhere around 400,000. Congress has recognized this and in 6 U.S.C. 202 (5) it has directed the secretary of homeland security to establish “national immigration enforcement policies and priorities.” In the action announced tonight, the secretary has done just that, and the president has approved.

3) Eric Posner (and remember he’s a conservative– though among the few reasonable ones) has written easily the best piece I’ve read on the matter (if you follow one of these links, this should be the one).  Like Dellinger, he sees it as perfectly Constitutional, but he does a great job putting it into the larger context of our broken immigration policy:

This “illegal immigration system” might seem to be mutually beneficial—they get jobs, we get cheap labor—but it is unstable. The people who come to work here for cheap wages often settle permanently and become integrated in communities that include American citizens. They intermarry or they arrive as an American’s parent, sibling, or child. The natural sort of sympathy toward the laboring poor that animated many of the protective laws for Americans has led to political pressure to extend the laws to undocumented immigrants as well. People feel uneasy that a large group of second-class citizens resides on our soil. Hence the constant drumbeat from many quarters for a pathway to citizenship.

But to give undocumented immigrants citizenship is to acknowledge that they are entitled to it, and that the “illegal immigration system” is unjust. The current system violates deeply ingrained American principles, which hold that everyone should receive equal protection of the law. That is why the obvious solution to illegal immigration—a lawful guest-worker system—is opposed by nearly everyone, but especially liberals, who see it as institutionalizing a caste system. Indeed, countries that use formal guest-worker systems—like the Persian Gulf countries—are routinely accused of exploiting and abusing migrant workers, of maintaining a caste system or even a system of de facto slavery, of violating human rights law, even though those workers benefit massively from wages much higher than they could earn at home.

The contradiction between ideological opposition to guest workers and the huge demand for cheap foreign labor is the key to the present controversy. To avoid the appearance of a legally recognized caste system while allowing one to exist in reality, Congress has given nearly full legal rights to legal immigrants and passed tough laws to keep everyone else out—while appropriating far too little money to enforce them. This throws to the executive the task of deciding whom to enforce the laws against.

4) Just a nice thorough explanation of the policy, as you would expect from Vox.

5) Excellent Yglesias piece on how Republicans insistence on never cooperating with Obama actually leads to worse policies (from the Republican perspective).

But as we look over President Obama’s plans for sweeping unilateral reform of deportation policy, it’s worth a reminder that this strategy comes at a cost. Republicans’ strategy has been savvy politics, but it’s forced them — repeatedly — to accept worse policy outcomes than they otherwise could have obtained. Alleged presidential overreach is largely a mirror-image of systematic congressional underreach, a dynamic in which GOP members believe constructive engagement would be politically counterproductive and thus deliberately choose to leave obtainable policy concessions on the cutting room floor…

House Republicans mostly did not like the bill. But they also wouldn’t give the bill an up-or-down vote in the House. And they also wouldn’t write a version of immigration reform that they did like and pass that. They preferred to do nothing, even though inaction would lead to a policy outcome they like less.

It’s not a new strategy. And it’s not a crazy strategy either. But it is a deliberate choice. If Republicans wanted more conservative-friendly policy outcomes, they could be getting them. But they prefer more Republican-friendly political outcomes. It’s not unreasonable for conservatives to think that this tradeoff is the right one, all things considered. But what is unreasonable is for conservatives to refuse to recognize that it’s a real choice, a choice that is in their hands, and a choice that they continually make in the direction of worse policy rather than better policy. [emphasis mine]

6) And let’s just end with the crazy, because it’s certainly out there:

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) on Sunday warned that President Obama’s executive actions and general “lawlessness” on immigration could lead to “ethnic cleansing.”

“The long term strategy of, first of all, replacing American voters with illegal aliens, recently legalized, who then become U.S. citizens,” Kobach said. “There is still a decided bias in favor of bigger government not smaller government. So maybe this strategy of replacing American voters with newly legalized aliens, if you look at it through an ethnic lens, … you’ve got a locked in vote for socialism.”…

“What happens, if you know your history, when one culture or one race or one religion overwhelms another culture or race?” the caller asked. “When one race or culture overwhelms another culture, they run them out or they kill them.”

Seriously– show me a Democrat elected to state-wide office even half this crazy.

Where the stuff goes

Okay, I don’t actually have all that much interest in where commodities throughout the US are shipped, but this has to be about the coolest interactive data visualization I have ever seen (via Brookings).  Here’s where all the stuff heading out of Raleigh goes.  And it is definitely cool to look up NYC, Chicago, etc.


Where I live

So, my NC State Senate district is gerrymandered heavily Democratic in order to make all the other nearby districts reliably Republican.  Given that no serious Republican had any chance of winning the seat, we got quite the unserious and generally insane candidate, Molotov Mitchell.  I really loved his explanation for why he lost:

“Had we been in a district that hadn’t been drawn up to contain the most hardcore, Birkenstock-wearing, Che Guevara-loving socialists this side of Leningrad, we could have won, too,” he wrote in an email to supporters.

Hey, I’ve never even owned a pair of Birkenstocks (though, I don’t know if my Teva’s count against me).  Though, I have been to Leningrad.

Photo of the day

From the Telegraph’s Animal photos of the week:

An osprey lifts off with a rainbow trout clutched in its talons at the Rothiemurchus fishery in Aviemore, Scotland. The striking photograph was captured by 16-year-old student Samuel Aron from Watford.

An osprey lifts off with a rainbow trout clutched in its talons at the Rothiemurchus fishery in Aviemore, Scotland. The striking photograph was captured by 16-year-old student Samuel Aron from Watford.Picture: Samuel Aron/HotSpot Media


The global warming generation gap

So, this is kind of interesting,via Wonkblog.  Sure, not surprising that young people are more likely to want to address climate change (even at the cost of personal sacrifice):




But what is encouraging (?) is that even young Republicans have figured out this is a real problem we should do something about and there’s a fairly stark generation gap even among Republicans.



Well, that gives some hope.  That said, it’s still hard to be all that optimistic on the issue.  We are talking about short term, concrete sacrifice now for an uncertain benefit at an uncertain time in the future.  Truth is, best evidence suggests that we very much make this short term sacrifice, but arguing for a concrete cost now for a abstract future benefit is not exactly easy.  Still, encouraging to see that at least when answering a survey question, many Americans are open to that sacrifice.

The shirt

Presumably you’ve heard the story of the European Space Agency scientist who wore an incredibly stupid shirt (sci-fi-esque scantily clad women) to the big press conference when the probe successfully landed on the comet.  I think it’s debatable about just how sexist the shirt is (though Phil Plait’s take is my favorite) but can we at least call him an utter moron for thinking this is appropriate (even if the figures were space aliens instead of women) attire for a public event of this nature.  Seriously?


Photo from the ESA news stream, via @RoseVeleth’s Twitter feed

Personally, I think given the nature of women and science, it is a more than justifiable claim that the shirt is inherently sexist and inappropriate on that basis alone.  Debatable, but I do think a fair charge.  What kills me is the number of comments (from otherwise smart people) along the lines of “he landed a spacecraft on a comet, he can wear whatever he wants.”  Seriously??!!  Being an excellent scientist some how should give you a pass from basic norms of society.  Including norms that others may have reason to find highly offensive?  Would people make these comments if his shirt said F*** the police or I hate black people, or MLK with a line through it, or whatever?  Of course not.  Did some feminist critiques go to far?  Probably, I haven’t really delved that extensively into the matter.  But damn do I chafe at the idea that if you are really smart or responsible for some scientific accomplishment that basic rules of human propriety no longer apply .


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