2:00PM Water Cooler 7/2/2019

2:00PM Water Cooler 7/2/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Patient readers, as I warned Friday, timing for Water Cooler will be a little bit sketchy until after July 4. Today I will have only a short post, and tomorrow may be shorter still! –lambert



On AOC visiting the border. Stoller comments:

(I should say that I trust AOC on this in a way I don’t trust the press; I certainly don’t trust the press on any aspect of election 2020, so why would I trust them on this story? So I’m glad she made this visit. Also, if Stoller says somebody’s doing oversight, that means they’re doing oversight.)

It finally flashed on me what the camps-on-the-border controversy reminds me of, institutionally: the Abu Ghraib Iraq torture scandal in March 2003. Besides the awful conditions for the prisoners there, the prison was run by incompetent and demoralized staff, much like the staff that AOC encountered at the border, which reinforced the awful conditions and brutality. Abu Ghraib was also remarkable in that personnel actually took videos and photographs of themselves torturing prisoners — the word “selfie” didn’t exist in those days — and the imagery got into the prison IT system. It seems likely to me that the same scenario has happened at the border; it remains only for a whistleblower to approach AOC with a CD — or, these days, a USB stick — of photos and videos. Sadly, if Abu Ghraib and the border camps are analogues, nothing will happen as a result. Only small fish will be disciplined, all the big fish will escape to high office and later make a lot of money as talking heads, the war will go on. The only real loss from Abu Ghraib, leaving aside the effect on those tortured, was reputational, to the United States, and that only counts as a loss if you believe in soft power. I don’t see any reason why the outcome for today’s Abu Ghraib at the border will be any different*.

Because why would it be? The non-profit industrial complex is calling to #CloseTheCamps, but what then? Send the migrants back where they came from? Do “Open Borders” de facto by giving them all Greyhound bus tickets to the nearest sanctuary city? Put credentialed professionals in charge of the process? What, exactly?

Problem-solving being male nurturance, I like policy solutions, even aspirational ones. If the goal is not Open Borders, what is it? For example, suppose we agree that the number of migrants must be regulated (economic migrants or refugees), what then? Suppose we stipulate that Trump has, as Trump does, catalyzed and accelerated all the features of the present system**, especially the most brutal ones. What’s the answer? Hotel-level quarters for all, and regulate the numbers with queuing? (Managing the queue, naturally, being a jobs guarantee for the sort of professionals that determines worthiness, certainly preferable to outright thuggery). That’s not a solution, however, if you believe in the “coalition of the ascendant,” as the liberal Democrat hive mind does; demography being party destiny, more Latinx migrants are always good. It’s also not a solution if — conservative or liberal — you want the labor market to be able to adjust rapidly to requirements for cheap labor to beat down American workers. (The whole concept of allowing a lot of illegal immigration and then retroactively legalizing the fait accompli seems a little odd, too; I suppose if I think people jailed for creating the marijuana market should get amnesty, the same should apply to the “Dreamers”***, but the whole process seems roundabout. It’s true that we’re selecting for the most adaptable and toughest immigrants by forcing them to go through the current process, but why not figure out what we want, make that legal, and make the rest illegal? And then there’s the idea that if we weren’t sponsoring murderous regimes in Latin America, there would be fewer people seeking to escape to the land of opportunity. For whatever reason, that seems to be a tough sell in the political class. Right now, we have the worst of all worlds, including the development of a cancerous cadre of thugs whose skill and habits and mind are likely to metastatize throughout the country (“security work”), even if their Federal departments are broken up. Of course, the questions I’m asking accept the very American idea that there is always a solution, always a happy ending.

NOTE * Spare me the “This is not who we are.” Of course it’s who we are.

NOTE ** It’s always amusing to watch for algo bloopers, in this case an algo illustrating a story about Trump’s camps with an image of Obama’s.

The problem isn’t systemic. It didn’t begin on January 20, 2017. Who knew?

NOTE *** The consultant who devised that framing and coinage earned every penny.

* * *

Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant (eg):

One of the more pleasant things about walking down the main street just now is the scent of lilacs, and many other flowers. Not what one thinks of as typical of Maine!

* * *

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. ambrit

    Is it just me, or where I live, but I have been ‘encountering’ a subtle lack of “personal recreational explosive devices” vendors this Fourth of July season. How is it in other parts of the nation? Is this an unexpected ‘anti-blowback’ of the tariff war with China?
    Now where am I going to obtain bottle rockets to shoot at the delivery and surveillance drones?

    1. Wukchumni

      I’m headed into the Big Smoke where ‘safe & sane & no fun’ fireworks stands usually abound, and i’ll survey the tableau of decidedly rectangular establishments to see how many have been left behind.

    2. prodigalson

      In Ohio they’re EVERYWHERE, in every grocery store, at target, at Sam’s Club. Maybe there was a glut of gunpowder production this year or something, I don’t remember seeing so much in previous years. I haven’t paid attention to see what all’s in them, they’re always big bundles of a bunch of different stuff.

      1. BillF

        And, in even better news, the Ohio legislature is actively considering legalizing Class “C” fireworks possession. Right now you can buy Class C fireworks in state, but must sign a statement affirming that you will be carrying/using them out of state. The stuff that is sold at Sam’s Club, etc. is potentially harmful to be sure, but not nearly so as the Class C stuff sold along Ohio’s interstates.

        1. Wukchumni

          Near Valley of Fire State Park on Interstate 15 (about an hour drive from Las Vegas) is the Moapa-Paiute truck stop & or fireworks superstore of sorts.

          If you aren’t doing anything today or tomorrow, there’s a free July 4th concert with Blue Oyster Cult et al there, with a fireworks show, or light off your own.


          1. Mike Mc

            One of my favorite places in southern Nevada, though Valley of Fire earns its name this time of year!

            Dad worked for the Union Pacific RR so I got to see Moapa and various other whistle stops from trackside in his 1956 Ford panel wagon and from the windows of the last of the UP’s Streamliners running from Vegas to Salt Lake City and eastward.

            Was hoping to retire out there somewhere but climate change may have blown that to bits.

            1. Wukchumni

              Great memories of a certain time and place there, probably around peak railroad @ the era~

              I build up Valley of Fire so much to those that haven’t been, that one friend asked if I was on commission, ha!

              We blow right by Vegas and head there to the most unusual car camping spots i’ve ever seen. Sometimes when we arrive @ night with friends that have never been, they describe the sight in the morning, as waking up on Mars.

        2. Cal2

          Is the Miller Fireworks Company still in business in Ohion selling Silver Salutes and M-80s, “To use against gophers”?

    3. divadab

      No shortage in the Fourth Corner. Local tribes make out big selling fireworks from China to rednecks. WOO HOO!

      1. polecat

        1Fortunately, our city made fireworks illegal within city limits a couple years ago .. but there is a probable large quotient of people who bristle .. because blowing sh!t up is their dog given uncivil right !! .. right along with bashing, at least philsosophically, the ‘other’, whoever they be .. as a result, there are no lack of idiots who continue to skirt the rules, doing stupid as stupid does !

      2. Copeland

        “No shortage in the Fourth Corner”
        I’ve never heard that phrase before, Pacific Northwest?

        Anyway, that’s where I am — Edmonds Washington…and I concur. This town is a WAR ZONE from about June 27 until July 5, or sometimes July 6. And fireworks are supposedly “illegal” here, though law enforcement does precisely nothing to uphold that law.

        One thing though, people here have a lot of money –not exactly rednecks– but they absolutely adore fireworks.

        1. Wukchumni

          I was dealing packs of firecrackers out of my locker in junior high, and got busted by the vice principal a week before graduating and almost didn’t make the ceremony, but my mom stressed my potential of doing arbitrage by other means, and he relented.

          …music for the occasion…

          As sung by the Mesa Robles JH choir


          1. Sushi

            Duckduckgo results only produced confusion.
            Bellingham, Washington and the surrounding area gets a mention and that makes some sense given the location in the northwest corner of the continental US.
            Colorado has a Fourth Corner Credit Union.
            Offshore, there is a Fourth Corner Pub in Dublin, Ireland, but I digress.

            The Four Corner states each could make a claim depending on which one gets bragging rights as that First Corner. Where does the notional first quadrant begin?

    4. NoOneInParticular

      In my slice of NYC, where even sparklers appear to be illegal, the neighborhood tradition includes setting off seriously loud things this time of year. This year the quantity and the volume seem greater than years past.

    5. inode_buddha

      Here in the outskirts of Buffalo, a large fireworks tent sale has set up a few feet away from the gas station at Sams club. The insurance industry must be feeling pretty good lately.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        My favorite example of this comes from when I lived in the High Desert — I would bicycle past a three-store shopping mall: The gun shop was next to the pawn shop, and the pawn shop was next to the liquor store.

        All your shopping needs!

  2. Summer

    “Right now, we have the worst of all worlds, including the development of a cancerous cadre of thugs whose skill and habits and mind are likely to metastatize throughout the country (“security work”), even if their Federal departments are broken up. Of course, the questions I’m asking accept the very American idea that there is always a solution, always a happy ending.”

    The border prisons were bound to attract sadists.

    1. ambrit

      Prisons always attract sadists. What I worry about is the desensitizing of otherwise ‘normal’ people that the expansion of the prison industrial complex is enabling. Both inside and out, the prison experience is creating a decent sized population of degraded people. Release them “into the wild” and you spread the social cancer.
      Until we end up with a true “One World Order,” there will always be borders, and discrete populations with their own wants and needs.
      Perhaps this as an example of Robert Frost’s often misunderstood observation; “Good fences make good neighbors.” Frost might have meant it to be ironic, but in the wider world, the concept has great merit.

      1. Summer

        The surveillance state is already an extention of prison…most likely by sadists.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Until we end up with a true “One World Order,” there will always be borders, and discrete populations with their own wants and needs.

        Unless tribal/idpol boundaries replace national boundaries, of course; see Neal Stephenson’s Diamond Age for this, and a more plausible account in Snow Crash (“Mr. Lee’s Greater Hong Kong,” which sounds pretty neat, actually)*. So let me know how that works out.

        Gotta keep the working class divided somehow. Amiright or amiright?

        NOTE * It would be fun to see an SF novel in which how ISDS lawyers would work out intersectional conflicts.

    2. Brindle

      Lambert makes another good observation here. Perhaps because it was Obama & Hillary that promoted the Honduras coup of 2009 that the political class is mostly silent.

      –” And then there’s the idea that if we weren’t sponsoring murderous regimes in Latin America, there would be fewer people seeking to escape to the land of opportunity. For whatever reason, that seems to be a tough sell in the political class.”–

  3. BoyDownTheLane

    Welcome to the Machine: Science, Surveillance, and the Culture of Control, by Derrick Jensen and George Draffan (Chelsea Green Publishing, 2004) is probably the book you should take with you on your summer get-away, unless tou’ve been reading Jensen for a long time.


    Welcome to the Machine

    I also strongly recommend “The Culture of Make Believe” and “A Language Older Than Words” and, when you are done with those three, you may be ready for “Endgame” (both volumes, please).


    1. Carl

      Thanks for the mention of Derrick Jensen. Love the works cited. It’s been awhile, maybe I should brush up on them. Paraphrasing: Western culture has a death wish.

  4. Patrick Morrison

    I recently read Shane Bauer’s article (‘My Four Months As A Prison Guard’)[https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/06/cca-private-prisons-corrections-corporation-inmates-investigation-bauer/], and, so, would be completely unsurprised if what AOC claims is happening at the camps is so.

  5. Pelham

    I appreciate your ruminations on this issues, but re this: “And then there’s the idea that if we weren’t sponsoring murderous regimes in Latin America, there would be fewer people seeking to escape to the land of opportunity.”

    Who’s the “we”? I have yet to meet a fellow citizen who thought sponsoring murderous regimes in Latin America was a good idea. Of course, we do have a class of people who lean in that direction, but they occupy lofty positions of power immune from any accountability. These people act, and the rest of us bear the consequences — as in wars where we suffer the wounds and deaths or as workers who get nudged out of formerly decent jobs (as in the meatpacking industry over the past 40 years).

    1. pretzelattack

      i run into people all the time who think invading venezuela or iran is a good and moral and reasonable thing to do. any deaths being just unfortunate collateral damage to whatever noble goal we are purportedly pursuing.

      1. shinola

        According to a poll NC linked to last week, 33% of Americans think a “preemptive” nuclear strike against N. Korea would be a good idea regardless of the “collateral damage”.

      2. neo-realist

        We Americans are so spoiled by the absence of war within our country in 150 plus years and the lack of conscription. With the aid of corporate media coverage of war and video game culture, war has been turned into a spectator sport to be fought by some other poor guy in somebody else’s country.

      3. Jen

        In my experience, when I ask whose kids they plan to send in to the meat grinder, or suggest that if they’re so enthusiastic about invading another country, that they sign the [family blog] up, they become more muted in their enthusiasm.

    2. fdr-fan

      Excellent and realistic comment!

      I’m terminally tired of “we the people” and “hold them accountable”. Both are meaningless word-salad.

    3. JohnnyGL

      ” I have yet to meet a fellow citizen who thought sponsoring murderous regimes in Latin America was a good idea.”

      And that’s precisely why discussion of the topic has been taken completely off the table. The contradictions of a country like Honduras suffering from the worst atrocities (world’s highest murder rate) and simultaneously suffering from the most overt, heavy-handed amounts of support and intervention from the various arms of the apparatus of the USG seem like they should be a screamingly obvious point for discussion, but it’s only the silence that screams on that one.

      Seriously, would the Honduran military be able to hang on for even 6 months if the USG did anything close to what it’s doing to push regime change in Venezuela?

    4. jrs

      some of those running for president it strikes me might be too decent to win. Because it’s not just M4A and GND etc.. It’s head of the empire, and the empire has been doing this for a long time.

      1. anonymous

        If the general public ever really experiences the full effects of m4a and a jobs-guaranteed gnd; how much more stable the economy is; how much better and naturally democracy serves all, how much more trust and goodwill exists in the system, changes in foreign policy will follow. ( a peace corps might even seem like a good idea.)
        Empire, like everything else, is a class issue.

    5. dk

      “We” is the collective body. The intended scope of the term is variable by context, this is a major flaw in the language. Compare to German zie/du, only two modes and part of profound class stratification but at least it surfaces some intended meaning/context.

      One of the challenges of effective revolution is the simultaneous rejection/replacement of particular (in this case, social) constructs while retaining some others. Social interaction is the medium of trust, which can be productive or unproductive, benevolent or predatory. And language is the medium of social interaction. Our brains handle these as a single process: language generation and social alignment are inseparable (although language lets us to assert to ourselves that they are distinct).

    6. Mo's Bike Shop

      NOTE * Spare me the “This is not who we are.” Of course it’s who we are.

      Quit Hitting Yourself is our national sport. Look at our last two presidential candidates in 2016. We have people who don’t want to get rid of college debt servitude because ‘they paid theirs off, nyah nyah.’ Daily Kos cheers the ruin of our deplorables.

      We don’t have single payer because then everyone would get cared for regardless of what kind of scapegoat they are. Ask the fellow citizens you meet how they feel about “no card, no copays” under M4A. That’s the sensible, fair, scientific, as well as liberal approach. But don’t be surprised if they have a ‘yes, but we need to make sure…’

  6. Shonde

    Interesting opinion piece in the Mpls. Star Tribune today comparing the estimated lower cost of incarceration in the United States prison system to an estimated higher current cost of detained immigrant children in camps which states,

    “We taxpayers are footing the $775 per day. Seems to me that is more than enough to furnish these children with more humane conditions. Time to shed a light on where the money goes.”


    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      Diminishing returns on increasing complexity. For the cost of our prisons we could send these kids to private college fully funded with frat dues. If they’re not ready, we could send them to prep school first. That would shake up Saint Grottlesex. Anyhow, one should assume a newer system is going to be around the cost of Med School then.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > We taxpayers are footing the $775 per day.

      No, we are not. Federal taxes do not pay for Federal spending.

      But that said, putting them up in a hotel — or possibly in tents on a Trump golf course? — should be “more humane” than what we have.

      1. JBird4049

        I think that ICE is run by people who do not think of the detainees as people. Money, morality, ethics, the law does not apply to none people, so who cares?

  7. divadab

    Under international refugees conventions, no country is obliged to accept anyone already in a safe third country. Salvadoreans in Mexico, for example, or Syrians in Turkey. All can be turned back at the border. And should be, IMHO.

    By all means provide funds and food for refugee camps in the safe third country – Mexico or Turkey or wherever. All these brutal ICE private prisons are a totally unnecessary waste of funds – the worst of worlds.

    We better get used to turning people away – climate change will only produce more refugees and while I think it’s a good idea to take the best among them, intelligent, speaking english, healthy, hard-working and law-abiding – most will have to be turned away just for national self-preservation.

    Too bad so sad if it gets too bad harder measures will be taken – what will India do when 40 million flooded out Bangladeshis roll up to their border? Especially when Indians are starving to death already? It won;t be pretty…..

    1. prodigalson

      Or we could be decent human beings and welcome them into our country and attend to their needs. It’s a little rich that we murdered the original inhabitants of this land and drove the rest into squalid exile, but now want to hide behind the mantle of laws and security when other people follow us here for the lives we already pursue.

      The plan you outline of taking the best of the best and leaving the rest to die is evil.

      1. ambrit

        Events might drive the process independent of ethics and morality. Evil could be the future “normal.” It is most certainly the elite mantra today.

        1. Wukchumni

          It’d be kind of interesting, having Mexican day laborers in the orchards here, teaching gringos how to do their jobs, as the latter took them over.

          It’d be akin to an engineer teaching his Asian counterpart how to do his job that was soon to be gone.

          1. JBird4049

            If my older, as in dad, grandparents, and some of the other grands were still alive, they could have taught.

            I got the impression that it wasn’t so fun and it was during and after the Great Depression into the early 60s.

            There are good reasons why my family were strong supporters and users of higher education.

      2. Fiery Hunt

        Who’s this “we” you speak of?

        I hope it’s not the 2 jobs, can’t-afford-rent-let-alone-health-care Americans you’re suggesting should be attending to the needs of the immigrants…

        Holier than thou attitudes about illegal immigrants just never seems to apply to our own people, does it?

        1. ewmayer

          Well, this *is* someone who self-selected ‘prodigal son’ as his forum handle, after all.

          prodigal |ˈprädigəl|
          1 spending money or resources freely and recklessly; wastefully extravagant : prodigal habits die hard.
          2 having or giving something on a lavish scale : the dessert was crunchy with brown sugar and prodigal with whipped cream.

      3. Cal2

        Prodigal, President Trump thanks you for helping his re-election effort!

        “This year, about a million Central Americans will have relocated to the U.S as refugees…all these millions will have to, at some point, go to court hearings and have their asylum cases adjudicated. The trouble with that argument is that only 44 percent actually turn up for their hearings; and those who do show up and whose claims nonetheless fail can simply walk out of the court and know they probably won’t be deported in the foreseeable future.

        I suspect that the Democrats’ new position —
        everyone in the world can become an American if they walk over the border and never commit a crime — is political suicide.

        I’m sure the “American Working Class,” that the Democrats are trying to get back on their side, and claim they represent, will just love what letting any foreign pedestrian into the country does to their ability to demand a livable wage, affordable housing, taxes, school availability and low cost medical clinics.

      4. anon in so cal

        @divadab: “Under international refugees conventions, no country is obliged to accept anyone already in a safe third country. Salvadoreans in Mexico, for example, or Syrians in Turkey. All can be turned back at the border. And should be, IMHO.

        By all means provide funds and food for refugee camps in the safe third country – Mexico or Turkey or wherever.”


        @prodigalson, It’s not possible to re-litigate all past wrongs to implement a total rearrangement of borders and populations. Separately, there are 58,000 homeless people, including many veterans, on the streets of Los Angeles, without healthcare or housing. Their conditions are shocking.

        Approximately 150 million people worldwide want to emigrate to the US. Welcoming them into the US and “attend[ing] to their needs” would probably be at the expense of the 90%. How would you propose to provide healthcare, for example, something that many citizens currently lack?

      5. Mo's Bike Shop

        We’ve solved our housing problems and a half million people already here in the land of derelict foreclosures won’t be homeless tonight?

        We now have entry-level jobs that don’t put workers in debt?

        Our Police will welcome these immigrants and help them to integrate into our way of life?

        What are you really arguing for here?

      6. divadab

        @Prodigal – Ok – you can sponsor a family and they can live with you. Better yet, you can move out and give them your house. I am sure they deserve it more than you, since you have said your current privilege is the result of your ancestors’ depredations.

        And get your facts right – 90% of the aboriginal population of the Americas died of disease we brought with us. See we had already experienced the massive die-offs several hundred years before.

        Finally, how is it “evil” to have a selective immigration policy? Don;t you think we already have enough lazy, sick, uneducated people in this country? Why would you want to import more?

        Your brand of self-defeating “compassion” is a luxury no society can afford. No society that wants to survive, that is.

        1. El Justo

          I’m so glad I had the foresight and tenacity to be born here in the US, like many of you all! No worrying about traveling hundreds or thousands of miles to escape a brutal regime or war that the US created, or the ravages of climate change that the US’s energy consumption helped to create! I can sit at home, safely at my keyboard and know that I worked hard to be born here, and I deserve to be here, unlike all those migrants and refugees, who if they were smart, would have been born here in the first place!

          All those hordes moving in would really mess things up for our society. I mean, maybe not as bad as some of the societies in the middle east and central America that we’ve messed up, but pretty bad. And enclosing yourself in a safe, walled compound while all those around you drown in the floodwaters of climate collapse isn’t evil- it’s called self preservation. Looking out for number one is only right-wing if the world isn’t ending. I did plenty of nice things when times were good!

          And if things do start to get hairy here, I can always try to get up north. I just hope those hosers in Canada don’t come up with some rock-solid reasoning, like “we were here first, besides the first nations, but most of them died from disease, there was just a smaller number of millions killed or forced off their land, plus you can’t relitigate all the stuff in the past, let’s look forward not backward!” Brilliant.

          1. ewmayer

            So, let’s trace your logic here:

            A. The US imperial permawars and excessive resource consumption are major problems for the rest of the world.

            B. Open Borders will help solve those problems.

            Is there a “C. profit!” step in there, as well?

            1. El Justo

              No profit for me, buddy! And did I say open borders would solve these problems? I don’t remember doing so.

              What I’m saying is, you’re making this call from a position of extreme privilege. You’d impose a life of misery on millions of people because they didn’t have the good fortune of being born in the US, like you did. Of course, I’m sure you’d come to the same conclusion if you were one of those people that were born in Syria or Honduras, right? You’d stay put, because, darn it, it’s really not fair to all those people that worked so hard to get born in the country that’s doing so much of the invading and bombing and releasing of greenhouse gases around the world!

              I understand that floods of migrants and refugees depress wages and draw on social programs that are already strained. But when you say you’d deny entry to these people because you care about the working class, you’re only speaking a half truth. You mean you care about the working class that are born in this country and to hell with the working class of any other country.

              It’s a complicated problem with no easy solutions, but it’s one that this country has done a lot to exacerbate. Saying “I was born here, I got mine,” is immoral. Don’t pretend it isn’t.

              1. Divadab

                You think it’s immoral. Because? It’s moral to sacrifice your family’s future in favor of foreigners?
                It’s moral to invite foreigners to eat your neighbor’s lunch?
                What kind of flipping dumbass morality do you subscribe to?

                My first obligation is to my family; then my clan and my tribe; and then to my country. I have no obligation to foreign strangers.

                Your “morality” is all yours and I bet you don’t even live it.

          2. Tom Bradford

            “I’m so glad I had the foresight and tenacity to be born here in the US, like many of you all!”

            Speak for yourself. Personally I’m glad I wasn’t born in the US but by my lucky stars was born in a country with ‘free’ healthcare, ‘free’ education, decent social support and a guaranteed state pension one can live on, if frugally. And a country the citizens of which by-and-large don’t regard themselves as God’s gift to humanity.

            1. El Justo

              Must be nice! I was born in a nation (of immigrants) that always hates the new immigrants, and goes around the world breaking other countries. And when the people of those countries show up at its borders saying “hey, you broke my country, can I stay here?” they are greeted with a big, wet, sloppy “F**K YOU!”
              Happy Fourth of July!

      7. Darthbobber

        Since “we” don’t exactly do that for “us”, it seems a bit selective to suggest a higher standard for the treatment of immigrants. And “we” is doing quite a lot of work here.

      8. Lambert Strether Post author

        > The plan you outline of taking the best of the best and leaving the rest to die is evil.

        This is empty moralizing.* I would love to just move to Canada to get single payer health care, or to Thailand for the food, or Casablanca for the waters.

        That’s not on. Not only that, it’s not even on for “open borders” advocates, who aren’t willing to follow through on their logic of what role a state should play, or what a borderless world would look like. I suspect that’s because the open borders argument is not being made in good faith, either by its NGO Democrat advocates (latinx voters!) or its funders (partially, at least, the Koch Brothers).

        Ultimately, what open borders will do is force a race to the bottom for all wage workers (see here}.

        Remember: Those who service capital are never racist, and always morally pure!

        NOTE * Of course, if “leaving the rest to die” were really the first concern of “open borders” would falling life expectancy in the United States, which causes tens of thousands of excess deaths a year, suffering and death orders of magnitude greater than that which occurs at the border.

    2. a different chris

      >All these brutal ICE private prisons are a totally unnecessary waste of funds

      Huh? They’re the perfect training ground for Future America. See it’s “natural” to hate blah-people, but there are only 12% of them. So throw “good Americuns” into a cesspool with decent people who are at their wits end, make sure they really can’t be helped, make sure that any attempt to help them would be framed with the lack of help actual citizens can get, …

      ..and you have a perfect breeding ground for the Iron Boots. That is, train them to hate The Other regardless of how un-different that person actually is. Any more and I would violate Godwin’s Law but this is really, really ugly and the Rethug party is happy with that.

      You can only hold the population in fear of a enemy riding camels 12000 miles away for so long, no matter how stupid the population is. Gotta play another hand.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > train them to hate

        Agreed. But reverting to a pre-ICE world isn’t the same as advancing to an “open borders” world; ICE was only established in 2002, thanks to [genuflects] Al Gore’s Vice Presidential candidate, Joe Lieberman, who sponsored the Homeland Security Act.

        Before 2002, hard as this may be for some to believe, we had borders, passports, visas, and everything.

    3. ambrit

      Or starving ethnic Han Chinese start rolling down from Thibet into the upper Ganges plain?
      I’m wondering about the utility of the Canadian and Siberian tundras. Once that methane tapers off, will the resultant boglands be useful for agriculture? I can see enterprising Cajuns introducing rice and crawfish rotation cropping in the northern wetlands.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > I can see enterprising Cajuns introducing rice and crawfish rotation cropping in the northern wetlands.

        Or Vietnamese, who did quite well on the Gulf Coast, IIRC.

    4. JohnnySacks

      Spare us the nonsensical quibbling over nuanced policy already. It starts with a concerted media campaign to dehumanize them all then quietly segues into mass extermination. Who the hell are we kidding, it’s been done before, and it most certainly it will be done again, especially as equatorial countries begin their ecological collapse. We already have trained the guards by turning them into the monsters who will readily perform the dirty work to get it done.

      1. Rhondda

        Except it’s actually a concerted media campaign to martyr them all that quietly segues into Open Borders. FIFY

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        Well, again, if dehumanization and extermination were the concern of the political class, the press, open borders advocates, or you, the focus would be on falling life expectancy in the United States, which costs tens of thousands of excess deaths a year.

        There have been 61 deaths at the Texas-Mexico border this year. Let’s do a little arithmetic — caveat that NC readers know I’m bad at that!

        61 / 10000 = 0.0061

        With your focus of attention, you imply that a death from despair in the American heartland is worth 0.0061 of a death at the border. That makes US citizens considerably less than 3/5 of a man. Leaving aside the preening moralism, do you believe that a political program based on that equation is remotely feasible?

    5. Oregoncharles

      There’s this other border, on the north side of the US, to our (literally and figuratively) cool northern neighbor. Yes, it’s historically open; so was the border with Mexico.

      What the US does to others, can and probably will be done to USians trying to escape the next stage of climate collapse. There’ve already been movies about it.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > What the US does to others

        Probably true, though I’m not aware of any other country that simply allows non-citizens to move there, no questions asked. (Although I suppose one might regard Israeli “settlers” on Palestinian land as the foremost exponents of what “open borders” will come to in practice, if it really gets rolling.)

        However, this is an argument for humane treatment. It’s not an argument for no border at all.

    6. PKMKII

      Given the murder rates in Mexican border towns, I’m not so sure about that safe third country claim.

    7. Darius

      How about we just leave Latin American nations alone to find their own way without insisting they endure life and death under the boot of murderous right wing thugs? Zelaya was trying to sort things out in Honduras when Hillary and the great Obama facilitated a coup that brought in the current criminal regime to which Trump and Pence now are so enamored. Now they’re making Honduras their model for Venezuela.

      The US is obligated to open its borders wide and accept all the refugees from its abysmal Latin America policy. Responsibility baby!

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > The US is obligated to open its borders wide and accept all the refugees from its abysmal Latin America policy.

        That’s certainly a case for that* (although it’s not one that liberal Democrats are inclined to make; readers will correct me, but IIRC, Sanders was the only one to make this argument in the last debate).

        However, borders that are “opened wide” are not the same as borders are simply open.”

        NOTE * Note, however, that Merkel tried that and the reaction was not good; IIRC, Merkel didn’t solve the housing question for migrants. It seems like immigration policy is not forgiving of mistakes, and in a world of austerity, why would it be?)

        1. JBird4049

          The political class is playing a dangerous game, but they cannot seems to see this. The next recession’s gust front is already noticeable. Unemployed where’s housing and homelessness where there is employment. Decreasing life expectancy, increasing social tension, and weather problems.

          So let’s ignore all that and chat about open borders (and reparations) as the engine starts smoking. I wonder. Are the Democratic, Republican, and White House coordinating all this? Is it really, and it might be, a coincidence that ICE is going extra cruel and the Democratic Party brings up reparations and open borders. Is any news organization paying attention to Vice President Pence and the Family or the Fellowship?

  8. Phenix

    So, is it possible AOC does not realize that the toilet doubles as a sink. I hope there is video because this will not play well.

    The situation is abhorrent including the lack of toletries BUT these people are crossing the border illegally. I kind of liked Trump’s idea of shipping them to sanctuary cities. And the last I checked I can not go to Canada and expect to become a citizen with out meeting some requirements.

    An obvious but likely impossible idea is to undo NAFTA and see if we can help recreate rural economies.

    1. russell1200

      There are sinks, but apparently they weren’t working. They are not manual valves, and they do give out.

      I would agree that it is odd that all the sink valves would go out, while the toilets were still operating.

      That being said, having the only drinking source being a lavatory sitting directly over the toilet, and where a lot of personal cleaning is going on, is dubious.

      Would it really be surprising to find out that the facilities were awful.

      That being said, I don’t particularly understand why Lambert “trusts” AOC or her fellow congress critters. Of course trusting a bunch of officials that confiscate cameras on a tour that is overseeing their operations would be a bigger stretch.

      1. Phenix

        Tell that to everyone who has been in county lock up. At least in my neck of the woods and previous stops.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > I don’t particularly understand why Lambert “trusts” AOC or her fellow congress critters.

        Because I don’t think AOC would make up physical facts like that, and she’s too new for the rot really to have set in. (I’m not willing to give her a Wellstone level of trust until she earns it.) Generically, I trust her as a politican, no more, no less. A Pelosi (or for that matter, a McConnell) I give less than no trust.

    2. Pavel

      I am constantly bemused by all this southern border hysteria. Let me explain what I mean by that statement:

      –Yes, the conditions at the US-Mexican border are atrocious. They have been under Trump, Obama, and predecessors. This isn’t a purely Trump fiasco.

      — The elephants in the room (as ever) are the obscene US “defence” budget and its awful foreign policy. IIRC it was under saintly Hillary Clinton that the Honduras were most recently destabilised, thus creating a lot of the refugees. And if say, $350B of the $750B+ the US spends on its military each year could be used instead on building up the South and Central American countries, that might — gasp! — reduce migration

      — Stop the “war on drugs” NOW. Much of the illegal human trafficking is related to or funded by the drug trade.

      — Like it or not, some children need to be separated from adults at the border because of child trafficking concerns. (This is not to excuse inhumane conditions.)

      — I wish AOC, Pelosi, Maddow et al would talk about the ongoing genocide in Yemen, which is much more serious and killing *hundreds of thousands* through bombing, disease, and famine.

      I guess the land border between Mexico and the USA leads to special problems. I do know that I couldn’t possibly fly into (based on personal experience) Japan, Singapore, Germany, France, the UK, Canada, the USA or Brazil without appropriate paperwork and be allowed entrance without any problems.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > I am constantly bemused

        All good points.

        > I guess the land border between Mexico and the USA leads to special problems. I do know that I couldn’t possibly fly into (based on personal experience) Japan, Singapore, Germany, France, the UK, Canada, the USA or Brazil without appropriate paperwork and be allowed entrance without any problems.

        It’s not just a matter of being “allowed entrance.” Open borders means being allowed entrance followed by a permanent stay. That we seem to be backing into this policy seems to me to be demented; the only clean reason for it seems to be labor arbitrage, so far as I can tell. (“Clean” in the sense of being motivated from first principles and not involving obvious internal contradiction or bad faith; obviously, I don’t agree with bringing US wages down to world levels.)

    3. Lepton1

      “BUT these people are crossing the border illegally.‘

      It is not illegal to enter to ask for asylum.

      Even crossing the border to stay without a visa is a misdemeanor, not a felony.

          1. Yves Smith

            This is not a matter of independent treaty.

            Here is an article arguing for asylum seekers’ right to transit. I have to tell you, it comes off as strained. Too many citations of the opinions of immigration lawyers rather than international agreements or court decisions, and too much trying to generalize from rulings that seem to have narrow application.

            That is not to say they can’t argue for transiting Mexico, but their case looks to be plenty debatable.


              1. Lambert Strether Post author

                Thanks for these links.

                (Just thinking in terms of domestic politics, it feels to me that open borders advocates would be the first to say that this country is not safe for migrants due to racism, the police, wage theft, housing issues, etc. I’m not saying none fo that is true, just that arguing that the US is the very opposite of safe in one context, and that it is safe in another, seems odd. Perhaps I am conflating the meaning of “safe.”)

              2. Lambert Strether Post author

                Adding, the conclusion from the Lawfare article:

                The larger problem here is that zero-tolerance, safe-third-country agreements, and other deterrence policies are being presented as solutions to migration issues. They are not. None of these policies will solve the challenges surrounding migration nor eliminate the flow of migrants. Rather, moving forward on these challenges means addressing the structural issues that are driving migrants to leave Central America, the factors pulling them to the United States, and a lack of legal pathways to bridge the gap. Any migration policy that adds layers of enforcement and bureaucracy; requires extensive cross-border coordination across multiple agencies; and does not address the broader forces at play is unlikely to achieve its objectives. Instead, a safe-third-country agreement is more suitably described as a recipe for a logistical, legal and humanitarian headache.

                “Moving forward on these challenges….” On “moving forward,” Beltway cliché alert! Beltway cliché alert! The alert signaling, I think, that we have no way to “move forward”…..

      1. Darthbobber

        As debunkings go, that’s pretty pathetic. And the wardrobe critique was just egregious nonsense.

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      > undo NAFTA

      Here again, along with not overthrowing governments and installing nun-raping torturers, we have an idea the liberal Democrat hive mind cannot accept.

  9. McWatt

    Phenix: There is the rub. We have all sorts of people calling to decriminalize illegal border entry and open the borders. The problem? The entire world wants to live here. Good luck with that program. The world is a one way plane ticket away from coming here. And don’t think they won’t.

    1. a different chris

      >The entire world wants to live here

      ??? Have you spoken to a single immigrant in your entire life ??? Not one offering you a taxi ride or a shoe shine, but a real conversation.

      1. anon in so cal

        @a different chris, Have you yourself spoken to a single immigrant?

        I’ve personally spoken to plenty. Some of my undergraduate students are undocumented or children of undocumented parents. About four years ago, several weeks before graduation, I had a senior take me outside the classroom, telling me, in tears, that her father had been deported the night before (under Obama). Another student told me her father had been stopped by ICE for an equipment issue on his vehicle, held at an ICE facility in Adelanto, California, for months (also under Obama). Without his income, the family lost the small house they had managed to purchase in south LA.

        There are 1000s of gut wrenching stories like this. It still doesn’t mean open borders is a defensible position. It’s not solely Trump supporters who oppose illegal immigration. Plenty of Democrats used to oppose it and many still do. Democratic politicians knew this. There are recordings of Hillary Clinton speaking disparagingly of immigrants “standing on street corners,” and Obama was the “deporter-in-chief.”

        It’s gotten to the point where many people have been so propagandized that it’s nearly impossible to discuss the issue without eliciting venom, from both sides. My suspicions are that most potential immigrants are economic migrants, and that many of those in favor of open borders have not visited California, where the large urban areas and their surroundings have been massively transformed in the past 20 years.

        The whole issue is moot, however. We’re currently reading “The Uninhabitable Earth,” and none of this will matter.

        1. Yves Smith

          You are talking past each other. The claim “chris” was reacting to was “The entire world wants to live here” and your discussion of people who are here is not on point.

    2. JohnnyGL

      Tell the State Dept. to stop issuing visas from the most problematic countries.

      Something like half of all the people who reside here while undocumented arrive on planes (and overstay visas) rather than on boats and buses and cross land borders.

      Tourism business will take a hit….so will labor supply for a lot of building trades like painting, carpentry, landscaping. Universities, too. They NEED the lifeblood of foreigners paying the sticker price at colleges.

    3. danpaco

      I just spent 5 excruciating years living in your “sh&%hole country”, I’m glad to be home. You can count me as one foreigner who has no interest in repeating that mistake. I don’t know how Americans put up with all the crap they need to deal with just to live there!
      Be well!

  10. JohnnyGL

    Some of the top exports from Honduras are bananas and other fruit, coffee, gold and palm oil. From the amount of land-grabbing that goes on in that country, I’m willing to bet a lot of the refugees are created by the oligarchs who want to expand plantations.

    A lot of times when the local inhabitants push back, the oligarchs send in the drug-gangs’ hired guns to clear out the residents.

    Capitalism’s original sin of primitive accumulation lives on!

    1. Efmo

      And aren’t a lot of those in-country oligarchs supported by our American oligarchs’ and corporations? The same corporations that, I am betting, some of the more anti-“illegal” immigrant “folks” among us benefit directly from in their stock portfolios and in cheaper food prices, etc.? And when the “peasants” push back, don’t they all call in the C.I.A. for help? Or am I being too harsh?

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Capitalism’s original sin of primitive accumulation lives on!

      Excellent framing. Land has so much to do with this, I am sure. I wonder if what we are really looking at is the result of “clearances” (as in Scotland) promoted by the oligarchs we have installed.

  11. Wukchumni

    I’m not so worried about climate change creating an exodus from other countries as you can’t get here from there with most of em’, but what about beachfront refugees from Malibu or La Jolla?

    1. ambrit

      The Sierras are a defensible position. Don’t worry too much about those fleeing the coast. They will push up against the dwellers of the plain, who will push out the citizens of the inland empire. Those last will be your real problem.
      Think the migrations from Central Asia to the West during the Classical Period, and the Domino effect that touched off.
      America has been called “The Melting Pot.” We will soon be calling it “The Boiling Pot.”

      1. Wukchumni

        I fully expect to see some class discontentment in regards to their useless beach pads that were so exclusive, and once the ocean rises will retain that exclusivity in a somewhat shallow Davy Jones locker fashion half submerged and fully folly. And what was the allure of all the water could you ever want and not a drop fit to drink, anyway?


        There is no empire there, but to merely call it ‘inland’ wasn’t enough, in it’s tumbling tumbleweeds territory, only worth something on account of proximity to somewhere else.

        1. Hepativore

          I wonder if the wealthy will then start buying huge boats to serve as floating mansions, i.e. super-yachts. Some might even start constructing artificial islands.

          Unfortunately, the 1% have numerous ways to buy themselves out of trouble and leave the rest of us holding the bag no matter what things happen in the future. Look at how society is organized in the book, Oryx and Crake with private corporate-run compounds that serve as independent states with full autonomy to do as they please with their employees.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > Unfortunately, the 1% have numerous ways to buy themselves out of trouble

            One thing that “open borders” will certainly enable, if it enables nothing else. If you want all of Manhattan or Denver* to be bought up by the dregs of every national oligarch, by all means allow anybody to immigrate and settle here.

            NOTE * I was about to add Miami, except I think lower Florida will fall into the “huge boats” category. So I went with high altitude Denver.

  12. PKMKII

    Many border crossers, both the economic migrants and the refugees, have existing social networks in America. They’re not just hopping the fence and then expecting to be provided with food and shelter, they’ve got an aunt or brother or parent somewhere in the US that they’re trying to get to that can provide them with those essentials. So for those, just have them declare who their “contact” is in the US, confirm with said contact, and then let them go to the contact. Little resource cost to the public, and the contact can be held accountable if the immigrant goes AWOL from court proceedings.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        This is a side issue, but I have never especially liked the emphasis on families, because it seems like a “family values” (ugh) rationale. I think Canada’s skills-based system is better (and let us remember that Canada seems to be free of a lot of our political pathology on this topic, so their system can be said to “work”).

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Many border crossers, both the economic migrants and the refugees, have existing social networks in America

      From a purely pragmatic perspective, that seems like a reasonable compromise (just like reverting to whatever we had going before DHS in 2002 would be reasonable).

      But reasoning from first principles — and the discourse is so degraded that may be the only possible approach — why should this be the policy of the United States? For example, suppose we had an industrial policy to rebuild manufacturing? Would it then not make sense to admit as many machinists as possible, whether they had family networks or not? Why optimize for family ties?

  13. richard

    I’m glad Lambert that you are drawn to problem solving and frame things in a way that includes a possibility for happy endings, believe me!
    I work in a community, public schools, that is very friendly to immigrant communities. The ideological underpinning, not just in regards to institutions and systems, but also in classroom content, is very much in the “immigration is a positive part of who we are” camp. Here is a little anecdote to give a sense.
    My 2nd grade colleagues and I teach a unit, well we actually had a bit of confict over this. One of my colleagues really pushed hard for a “racial identity” unit, to give young children the words that immigrant communities often use to decribe themselves as a group, and to support this with a lot of read alouds (“mentor texts”) that promote positive self-imaging for young people of color. We would tie this unit into our already existing unit on black history and the civil rights movement.
    I disliked intensely the idea of calling it a “racial identity” unit, and tried to make clear to my co-workers what I felt were the problems of even uncritically using the word “race.
    Anyway, we talked it out, and decided 2nd graders could handle learning about words that groups use to identify themselves. I made it clear that I wouldn’t be using the word “race”, and didn’t think they should either. So there’s the “vocab”. 2nd graders could also handle learning about and distinguishing between the forced immigration of African slaves and the immigiration that is “voluntary”, and the reasons people do that. We put them in categories of escaping from and going to. We talk about war, jobs, freedoms, persecutions of many kinds and brainstorm all the reasons someone might immigrate.
    Of course, liberally festooned throughout this unit is the idea that immigation is a positive good for people. Or “the people”. I’m quite aware it’s not that simple, but there it is.
    Honestly, the whole thing is a bit of a mess intellectually, and I’m a little embarrassed to bring it before you. The immigration component really feels tacked on now that I put it before you in writing. Anyway, I try to tie everything together by teaching the vocabulary word “oppression” (2nd grade definition: “pushing someone down forever”), and connecting our unit to a union-created BLM unit about institutional racism.
    Please advise and clarify if you feel like it anyone. But mostly I just present this to show how we reproduce our culture around here.

    1. a different chris

      >is the idea that immigation is a positive good for people.

      Yeah that is a thorny one. It is a weird reflection of capitalism, where something that’s ridiculously good for one person (Bill Gates), may be pretty good for a subset (computer scientists), but can be bad for a majority (widening Gini coefficient victims) yet nobody seems to notice those people.

      The problem is not that all immigrants leave their country for the same reason somebody moves from Ohio to California, where Ohio is bearable but Ca is better. Yeah many do. To the detriment of Ohio or wherever, but they aren’t being persecuted. But some of them move only because home has been turned to hell – it was OK before! – and the people behind that change very deliberately want them to leave.

      Yet trying to do something about it generally turns into the awful “liberal interventionalism” run by Ivy League idiots and… now I just want to bang my head against the desk and scream because even my non-Ivy League head doesn’t really know what to do. Decriminalize drugs I think would be a good start for this particular issue. Maybe. Sigh.

      Ah, humans.

      1. Mo's Bike Shop

        >is the idea that immigration is a positive good for people.

        Also set me to mind of the background radiation of happy talk our culture has about ‘move to opportunity.’ We’ll all be Mary Tyler Moore and move away from all our support networks to somewhere that we can turn the world on with our smile. If you don’t have to fly home for Christmas, you’re a loser. And then move again once the show is over. No, put down roots. If you grew up somewhere toxic, look for another place to put down roots and do that. If you have to move later, you’ll know how to put down new roots.

        Boy, the crap I read in the 90s. ‘Expect five jobs over your career!’ That’s not a career, that’s careering. Has anyone ever gone back to eviscerate the pop advice about everyone managing their own wealth package

        1. richard

          I know what you mean about the 90’s. The Baffler used to do a great job mocking that manic culture, back in the day when tom frank was editing. Manic and triumphalist. Not only were we supposed to expect 5 jobs in a career, and to get busy *developing our brand* and all that other happy h.s., but also we needed to be ecstatic about it, about this never ending treadmill of hyper productive job stress, because we won! We won! We …won…
          aye yi yi

      2. richard

        “Decriminalize drugs I think would be a good place to start…”
        from your lips to glob’s ear

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > One of my colleagues really pushed hard for a “racial identity” unit, to give young children the words that immigrant communities often use to decribe themselves as a group

      Surely these kids and their communities already have their own words (and concepts)*. What your colleague seems concerned to teach them are our his/her words (and concepts).

      I have no personal pedagogy, but it seems to me that a curriculum designed to elicit from the children what their words are would be far more interesting, creative, and reinforcing for the children themselves.** Readers?

      NOTE * This may come as a shock to some, but working class people really are not stupid or ignorant.

      NOTE ** Of course, if the purpose of the course is to teach the children how to navigate the world of professional gatekeepers — [x] Cherokee — that’s another matter. But I don’t think that’s how your colleague would see it.

  14. barrisj

    Full marks for the Abu Ghraib analogy, Lambert. That was so on-point, and – as you noted – only the small-fry and grunts will (maybe) take it in the neck. Their supervisors on-site and back in DC will skate, as is the way of the world. That “special place in Hell” is fast overflowing with the sheer volume of miscreants, psychopaths, and willfully sadistic that populate “border enforcement”, “law enforcement”, and other categories of state-sanctioned violence. “It’s who we are” indeed.

    1. Skip Intro

      Indeed, well-played Lambert. I also recalled Abu Ghraib, and the convenient fact that it was staffed with fresh National Guard troops, who, conveniently enough, had never had the training about war crimes and lawful orders that presumably the regular troops got. It is hard, but not impossible to believe that the point of Abu Ghraib was open cruelty. To the extent that it was conceived as a way to create more anti-US fighters, that is a plausible explanation. How many ISIS leaders are alums of Abu Ghraib, Bagram or other US camps?

      With the border camps, the cruelty is part of the message, (call it terrorism) that is intended to scare other immigrants off, and more importantly, feed the lust for vengeance among Trump’s supporters, for whom these immigrants have served as all-purpose scapegoats. Even here, some commenters have celebrated the ‘just deserts’ of these ‘criminals’. We are all good Germans, we see nothing, we know nothing!

  15. Wukchumni

    Are our legions of homeless people really living much different lives than the immigrants in the ICE hoosegow?

    No toilets or running water, although they’re free to come & go as they please.

    1. blowncue

      There is a chance that someone who is homeless can avail themselves of running water and a toilet. There are shelters, dangerous, yes, but they have beds. And toilets. The occupants leave in the morning. There may be soup kitchens. They are not incarcerated by the US Government. They are not packed like sardines to where they literally cannot sit. What is the difference between a forced standing position whether it be coerced by an interrogator or environmentally produced? Where is the 8th amendment violation? Or the need to respond to a writ of habeas corpus?

  16. inode_buddha

    Re Sanders campaign, I just ran across a CBS video in my youtube feed stating that Sanders popularity is down after the debates. I would have to see the method of how they measured that. Also, how could it be down when he was given almost no airtime compared to the Establishment choice? Maybe if they had equal time there would be a basis for comparison.

    1. edmondo

      For a guy who has been touted as the “most popular politician in America” Sanders seems to be having a hard time staying in double digits. How’s that endorsement of Hillary in 2016 playing with your (former) supporters, Bernie?

      1. inode_buddha

        The man kept his word, which is more than anyone else can say. *shrug* hasn’t changed my mind any.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        I understand the argument, and would be happier if it were supported by data. In retrospect, it seems that a significant portion of Sanders’ support came from people who were open to a vote for him because they couldn’t stomach Clinton at any cost. We’ll see over the course of the campaign how many of those voters “come home” to Sanders.

    2. Grant

      Well, I don’t know if I would trust CBS on much of anything, and the polls are not only unreliable, one also does show that he has the highest favorables, higher than anyone including Warren. But then another poll showed that Harris was more “electable” than he is. Again, I am not sure how much value to put into any of their polls. I have to wonder who the hell they are asking that question and what logic they give in response, but whatever.

      I have given up trying to make sense of what Americans think of politics. Only in a system as irrational and dysfunctional as this political system could someone have the impact Sanders has had, in a system desperately needing the changes he supports, having inspired lots of people to run for office and to take part in activism, and then have people yawn at giving him actual power. The left’s ideas are actually popular, but it isn’t because of the left. Many I see online that identify as being on the left are quick to dismiss him for what really are relatively trivial things. We need the most radical changes we can get, and we don’t have much time to put those changes in place. But, the dominant institutions in society and the media have utterly failed us, and most people for various reasons aren’t really paying too close attention. A poll done by the Sierra Club found that Biden was the top choice among voters they polled that prioritized the environment. So yeah, we’re kind of toast, or they are asking people that are lost and don’t represent those that will vote in the primaries. We will see. We are collectively irrational and the people at the top are leading us into the abyss.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      The idea of actual immigration courts is interesting. This from the linked Mother Jones story:

      a fairer, more efficient, more humanitarian system for asylum seekers

      It fascinates me that the question of “a fairer, more efficient, more humanitarian system” for the citizens of the United States isn’t the first principle from which the MJ experts are reasoning. Don’t they see, cannot they see, how vulnerable they are making themselves? A Trump 2.0 would hammer that contradiction — and take any legal immigrants who want to pull up the ladder after themselves with him/her, too!

  17. Geo

    Unrelated to the immigration topic but thought the NC crowd would be interested in this. Got an email from IMdB which perfectly illustrates the way Amazon will be using Prime membership to continue creating a “valued class” even in markets that aren’t related directly to Amazon.

    I’ve tried to boycott Amazon since it’s early days of being primarily a book seller (I love indie book stores and have never bought from a Barnes & Noble in my adult life either). But, as a filmmaker I use IMdB, which Amazon owns, because it’s an online utility that is used in my industry as an easy way to measure a person’s professional career (like a resume in other fields). IMdB Pro is the paid subscription version that gives you better ability to update and correct your profile, access to contact info for others in the industry, and more valuable things.

    Here’s the message in the email I received:
    Prime Members save 60% on IMDbPro
    Renew your IMDbPro membership with Amazon Prime and save 60% on your first year back.

    Obviously this is a niche category but it’s easy to see where something like this will go. Just as was discussed with the Amazon purchase of Whole Foods where the notion that Prime Members would get better deals on groceries than non-subscribers. But, as Amazon continues to expand it’s reach it’s easy to see how more and more people will be strong-armed into buying a Prime Membership.

    With an Amazon Prime membership ($60 annually) I would save $90 on the IMdB Pro membership. So, would technically save $30. Either way my money is going to Amazon so my refusal to subscribe means I’m just giving Amazon more of my money. But, does not subscribing to Prime merely as a small form of protest matter at all? They’re probably assuming that once I subscribe to Prime the allure will sucker me in to shopping on Amazon.

    Anyway, figured I’d share this. It seems like a validation of my fear since day one of Prime – that Amazon would use it as a way to funnel non-Amazon users into their shopping portal and make us all dependent on their subscription service.

    1. Dan


      If you subscribe to Prime, make sure to order all items separately, that is no bundling into one package. That way you cost Amazon more money.

      BTW, “With an Amazon Prime membership ($60 annually)”. Wait a minute! Ours costs $99 a year.

      Did you mistype, or is Amazon charging people living in a higher income zip code more per year?

      1. anonymous

        I just tried “try Prime” and was shown $12.99 a month after a one-month free trial. I’m in one of the larger cities in Iowa and almost never buy from Amazon, unless I can’t find something elsewhere, and that which I have bought has been inexpensive.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > strong-armed into buying a Prime Membership

      Remember how Google has been crapified so badly it’s lousy at search? Wait ’til Amazon crapifies IMDB to move product.

  18. BoyDownTheLane

    “The platform is to support “space assembly, microgravity experimentation, logistics and storage, manufacturing, training, test and evaluation, hosting payloads, and other functions.”
    While the near-term requirements are obviously aimed at prototyping an autonomous, robotic mini-space station to house experimentation, the “future desired capabilities” listed in the solicitation are much farther reaching. They include the capability to dock with unmanned and manned spacecraft and, even more surprisingly, “human rating.”

    Human-rating is short-hand for a set of requirements developed by NASA and the Federal Aviation Authority (which licenses launch and re-entry of commercial spacecraft) to ensure the safety of astronauts aboard a spacecraft. These include things like special insulation to protect crew from extreme temperatures and radiation…..

    Before anyone gets too excited about a future US version of Star Trek’s Deep Space Nine, the baseline requirements for Orbital Outpost — including an 80 kilogram payload capacity and and internal volume of 1 meter cubed — are not even close to being able to accommodate humans.
    “The thing is too small, 1 m cubed, and low power to do anything remotely human-rated,” said one space scientist.

    One Air Force space official agreed, adding “I think the kicker is the 0 to 1 atmosphere pressurization. If DIU will accept vacuum or near vacuum, it won’t be able to support life at all, without some extensive upgrades. In short, this platform would be small, dark, cold, and without any life support!”

    Indeed, Col. Steve Butow, director of DIU’s Space Portfolio based in Silicon Valley, says that DIU’s chief interest is in autonomous and robotic capabilities on orbit. “In short, we are casting a wide net for commercial solutions that can meet the basic needs described in the first part of the solicitation (autonomous/robotic, etc),” he told me in an email today….. ”


    Recommended reading: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24611668-saturn-run

  19. C kimball

    My daughter said regarding immigration or homeless
    “give them a mall, break up the concrete and grow gardens.
    The facilities are there to accommodate a small city.”

    1. JBird4049

      But that’s the socializm and unAmerican. Or something bad. Because it is not Free Market Capitalism™️!

      Actually that is an excellent idea. It is too bad that I do not see it being done because nobody will make money over it.

  20. VietnamVet

    With Climate Change, Endless Wars and Offshoring the USA is hardly the underpopulated New Land that paid good salaries to exploit virgin resources and make and transport goods. The current treatment of immigrants is natural outcome of neoliberal exploitation, blowback from the endless wars, and elite contempt of little people. Corporate democrats are stuck. They must support free flow of people, goods, capital and services in order to get paid. The only way to keep elections close is to run on racial prejudice; us versus them (The Russians are coming). Government has been flushed down the toilet. Long term planning ended. All that matters are short term corporate profits.

    Geographically isolated by three Oceans and the Darien Gap and relatively less populated, North and Central America can survive sea level rise better than most of the world. But this is only possible if the Hemisphere’s wealth is used for the public good. Dual Language Public Education in Spanish and English. Keep families at home or resettled to higher ground. Family supporting jobs for males. Good government and the rule of law restored. The wars ended. The Coast Guard enlarged to return overseas refugees. Everyone cooperates.

    South America, Eurasia and Africa will have to fend for themselves.

  21. C kimball

    I’m still on the idea to repurpose vacant malls into something useful we could be proud of. We could House people in them in a good way like a campus with schools for children, English as
    A second language, restaurants could metamorphisize into cafeterias with people cooking
    Their own cuisine??….

  22. Lambert Strether Post author

    Query: Aren’t the moralizing arguments for open borders similar to the arguments for humanitarian intervention? “Responsibility to protect” and so forth? Cut from the same cloth, as it were?

    It occurs to me that the United States, as a State, has a positive duty to maximize the “life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness” of its own citizens. It has not such duty to non-citizens, hence no such duty to migrants (economic, asylum, or any other kind). The United States, as a state, has negative duties to inhabitants of the rest of the world, like not creating the conditions that would force them to leave their homes (whether through installing dictatorships, trade treaties, or endless wars*).

    There’s probably an international relations way to frame that idea (I’m not sure if a “negative duty” is a thing**) but does this formulation begin to make sense? (This is an answer to my question “What is a State for, a question open borders advocates, in my experience, are never willing to address.)

    * Or climate change. It also strikes me that Barber’s “policy murder” formulation is useful in this connection.

    * “Thou shalt” vs “thou shalt not.”

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