Birthright citizenship

One of the nice things about having a guy like Donald Trump in the race is it gives us a chance to reassess (and re-appreciate) policies that we generally take for granted.  Like birthright citizenship.  A fundamentally America idea.  Nice column from Fred Hiatt:

Birthright citizenship isn’t a problem at all. It’s one of the things that makes America great.

For many countries, what is in your blood, or your DNA, defines whether you can belong. I was shocked that people who had been born in Japan, and in some cases whose parents had been born in Japan, were not Japanese citizens, though they knew no other country. The fact that their ancestors had come (or been brought) from Korea disqualified them from automatic citizenship at birth.

Americans, by contrast, are bound together by a civic ideal.

“Birthright citizenship is much more about us, a nation formed and held together by civic values, than it is about immigrants themselves and an incentive or disincentive to come here legally or illegally,” says Doris Meissner, who ran the U.S. immigration agency under President Clinton and is now a senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute.

“What’s the belief system, the social cohesion that binds us?” she continues. “A commitment to democracy, participation, equal rights, opportunity, due process, government by the people — people have to be full members of the society for that to be real and flourish.” …

But even without such a path, the problem would fix itself eventually. The children of the undocumented will be citizens, and they will grow up — as children of immigrants, legal and illegal, generally have — to better their lot, sometimes to prosper, almost always to contribute…

After all, why do people around the world want to come to the United States ? In large part it’s because this has always been a place that welcomed risk-takers, profited from their gumption and allowed them — and their children — to answer, when asked their nationality: “American. Really.”

I don’t think Americans will allow a demagogue or his mini-me’s to take that away.


No.  Fortunately they won’t.  But it’s a sad state of affairs where a not insignificant portion of the Republican party seems to think this is a good idea (or at least is willing to pretend to).

Photo of the day

From the Telegraph’s animal photos of the week:

Patrick's friend Wade Campbell kayaks near a blue whale on April, 12, 2015, in the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka. BLUE WHALES move majestically near the surface of the ocean as an awe-struck diver watches on. The incredible animals were captured on film by Denver-born filmmaker Patrick Dykstra, who fulfilled a long-held dream by swimming with the creatures. The whales are the largest animal to ever inhabit the earth, and outsize even the biggest dinosaurs. Stunning drone footage captures the enormous mammals from above, while in other shots a kayaker paddles just metres from one of the awe-inspiring creatures.

Wade Campbell is filmed kayaking near a blue whale in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of Sri LankaPicture: Picture Adventure Expeditions / Barcroft Media

America and guns in less than 140 characters

It’s from last year, but damn is it spot-on today.  And on so many days.

Scott Walker: not ready for primetime

On paper, Scott Walker looks great.  Elected multiple times from the blue state of Wisconsin.  Definitely governs from the right, yet has a milquetoast personality, and not that of a culture warrior (despite being one).  Sounds perfect for winning the Republican nomination.  Yet, somehow, despite all that success it seems that he’s not actually all that good a politician.  The evidence keeps mounting.

Sure, when everything you say is public record, pretty much all politicians says stupid things, but there are degrees.  And Scott Walker on our China policy is almost Palin-esque in it’s stupidity.  Yglesias:

Walker calls on President Obama to cancel an upcoming state visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping — as punishment for, among other things, the fact that Chinese GDP growth is slowing down. Lest you think I’m exaggerating, here’s the full statement:

Americans are struggling to cope with the fall in today’s markets driven in part by China’s slowing economy and the fact that they actively manipulate their economy. Rather than honoring Chinese President Xi Jinping with an official state visit next month, President Obama should focus on holding China accountable over its increasing attempts to undermine US interests.

Given China’s massive cyberattacks against America, its militarization of the South China Sea, continued state interference with its economy, and persistent persecution of Christians and human rights activists, President Obama needs to cancel the state visit. There’s serious work to be done rather than pomp and circumstance. We need to see some backbone from President Obama in the US-China relationship.

In a nutshell, Walker’s three-step plan for fixing the US-China relationship seems to be:

  1. Cancel Xi’s state visit.
  2. Do unspecified “serious work.” Make sure not to hold any formal meetings with Chinese leaders, as that is not serious.
  3. China stops manipulating its currency, threatening its neighbors in the South China Sea, and persecuting dissidents. The Chinese stock market soars, and economic growth heats up. America wins.

Walker is trying to engage in a little Trump-style China bashing and show that, like any good neoconservative, he isn’t afraid of standing up to dictators. But his plan doesn’t make any sense, and leaves him looking a bit ridiculous. Powerful countries like China aren’t going to change their policies because an American president snubs them.


Jamelle Bouie had a nice piece recently, too, looking at the broader flailing of Walker’s campaign and how he seems to be being hurt by Trump:

As for Walker? Trump has him shook. On birthright citizenship, the Wisconsin governor has had three different answers. At the Iowa State Fair, he told MSNBC’s Kasie Hunt that he wanted to curb the practice. “To me it’s about enforcing the laws in this country. And I’ve been very clear, I think you enforce the laws, and I think it’s important to send a message that we’re going to enforce the laws, no matter how people come here we’re going to enforce the laws in this country,” he said. The following Friday he told CNBC that he wouldn’t take a stance on the issue. And this past Sunday, he told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that he doesn’t want to repeal or alter the provision at all. It’s clear, at this point, that he just doesn’t know what to say…

But even without Trump, it’s not clear that Walker could sail the rocky waters of a presidential campaign. At the GOP debate, for instance, he gave an answer on abortion that—if he’s the nominee—could come back to haunt him…That dodge—and the implication, to some ears, that he would let the mother die—is fertile ground for any Democrat who wants to use it…

But right now Walker looks like he’s on the wane. He’s not quite Tim Pawlenty—the doomed Minnesota governor who quit the 2012 Republican primary after poor showings in polls and onstage—but he’s coming uncomfortably close.

Yep.  There’s an Invisible Primary going on right now and Walker is definitely not faring well.  Personally, I’ll take it because as a Democrat, Walker actually scares me.  I think he’s just as nuts as somebody like Cruz, but far more palatable to a general election electorate.  Also, I actually do think he is none too bright– a trait best avoided in presidents.

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