Congratulations, France!

Belated congratulations to the people of France on Sunday’s election results. Hans reports that he has tossed his cup of hemlock down the sink. Meanwhile, Vasari, directs us to this column from David Leonhardt, remarking—possibly with tongue in cheek, or possibly not—that it’s nice to have the world explained in one column. Leonhardt writes,

The details are different in every country, but a theme cuts across much of the industrialized world. In France, Britain, Germany, Japan and the United States, the political left is struggling. It is struggling, in particular, to win over many working-class voters who were once its loyal supporters.

Yes, the French left — and much of the rest of the world, including me — is breathing a sigh of relief this morning, because Marine Le Pen, the far-right candidate, emerged from yesterday’s first round of the presidential election as an underdog to win. But Le Pen still has a path to victory, and that’s terrifying for many reasons.

She has a path partly because working-class French voters who supported the Socialist Party in past decades have drifted away from it. …

Beyond France, center-right parties have dominated politics recently in both Germany and Japan. The British Labour Party is so dysfunctional that it fumbled a chance to prevent Brexit, as Jonathan Freedland has explained in The New York Review of Books. One of the few exceptions to the left’s losing streak is Canada.

n the United States, of course, Democrats control neither the White House nor Congress. If you’re tempted to excuse this by noting that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, I’d point out that Democrats also hold only about one-third of state legislatures and governorships.

And an observation by yours truly, Aardvark, from the Department of the Bleeding Obvious: as return on capital increases globally and return on labor decreases globally, of course the working class will turn to tribalism and political charlatanism, unless and until the allegedly more responsible among the political class address the real economic concerns of the working class.

All that said, congratulations, France, on having dodged the bullet this time.

 

 

A Big Disappointment

disappointment

In Georgia’s sixth congressional district progressive Jon Ossoff got 48.1 percent of the vote and will face a runoff against Karen Handel, who received 19.8 percent.

Running third was Bob Gray, who achieved a whopping 10.8 percent by sucking up bigly to the Trumpster. Bruce LeVeil, who gave Gray a run for his money in Trump suckupery, earned zero point two percent of the vote, leaving him tied with someone named Mohammad Ali Bhuiyan, not to mention a bunch of other also rans.

Among the latter, also at zero point two percent, was Amy Kremer, the preferred candidate of Sean Hannity. Happily, Georgians were not buying whatever Hannity was selling.

Marco Rubio and Newt Gingrich—who formerly graced the Sixth District with his legendary legislative legerdemain—were for one Judson Hill, who went nowhere. Joining Mr. Hill on his journey to nowhere was Dan Moody, who was Senator Purdue’s man.

In short, the progressives were united, the Republicans were badly divided, and those among them who made a point of supporting Trump suffered humiliating defeats.

Greg Sargent gives progressives some fairly persuasive reasons to feel good about all of this. If you want to feel good too, please read what he has to say.

As for me, one, I am badly disappointed. But, two, building a border wall and doing away with affordable health care are not really popular in Cobb County. Ms. Handel will have to (1) embrace some very unpopular positions, (2) disavow Trump’s approach, and thus risk Trump supporters’ sitting on their hand, or (3) shuck and jive. Ms. Handel, whose ambition greatly exceeds her stature, will surely adopt the shuck and jive approach. It will be a sight to see.

Two of a Kind

Trump Congratulates Erdogan on Turkey Vote Cementing His Rule

 WASHINGTON — President Trump called President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey on Monday to congratulate him on winning a much-disputed referendum that will cement his autocratic rule over the country and, in the view of many experts, erode Turkey’s democratic institutions. …

The White House was also silent about the long-term implications of the referendum, which some experts have likened to a deathblow to democracy in Turkey. Mr. Erdogan’s narrow victory, in effect, ratifies his authoritarian rule. The change to Turkey’s Constitution will allow the winner of the 2019 presidential election to assume full control of the government, ending the current parliamentary political system

And the Winner Is …

smiling man

There were three entries in the recent Why is This Man Smiling? caption contest. They were,

1) “I’M SMILING BECAUSE I stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night.”

2) “I’M SMILING BECAUSE I’m still tasting that outrageous chocolate cake I was eating when he told me about the missiles he had fired at a country he couldn’t remember.”

3) “I’M SMILING BECAUSE I’ve got this nitwit by the short hairs.”

And the winner is …

Everyone who submitted an entry.

There are no winners and losers anymore.

short hairs

Bush Speaks; Congress Should Listen

George W. Bush, Manyongo Mosima "Kuene" Tantoh, Baron Misoma Loyiso Tantoh, Paul Yowakim,

George W. Bush: PEPFAR saves millions of lives in Africa. Keep it fully funded.

President Bush writes,

It is clear that the generosity of the American people has had a huge impact — one that reflects the view that all lives are precious, and to whom much is given, much is required. This lifesaving work also has a practical purpose for Americans. Societies mired in disease breed hopelessness and despair, leaving people ripe for recruitment by extremists. When we confront suffering — when we save lives — we breathe hope into devastated populations, strengthen and stabilize society, and make our country and the world safer.

As the executive and legislative branches review the federal budget, they will have vigorous debates about how best to spend taxpayers’ money — and they should. Some will argue that we have enough problems at home and shouldn’t spend money overseas. I argue that we shouldn’t spend money on programs that don’t work, whether at home or abroad. But they should fully fund programs that have proven to be efficient, effective and results-oriented. Saving nearly 12 million lives is proof that PEPFAR [the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief[works, and I urge our government to fully fund it. We are on the verge of an AIDS-free generation, but the people of Africa still need our help. The American people deserve credit for this tremendous success and should keep going until the job is done.

Nah, Hardly Anything Happened Today

Leading up to his meeting next week with China’s President Xi Jinping, Trump has begun to soften up his forthcoming visitor with a series of vicious tweets.

Aardvark is confident that royally pissing off one quarter of the human race will work out really well for the Trumpster, and for the rest of us.

In other news, the President’s former chief security adviser has graciously agreed to chat with the FBI—on condition that he receives immunity from prosecution.

Has anybody here seen my old friend Abraham?

Nothing Much Happened Today

jack

Today is March 31. Nothing much happened.

Witnesses before the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee testified that Russia was successful in its 2016 disinformation campaign because Trump kept on endorsing and retweeting the lies the Ruskies cooked up.

A propos of which, Morning Joe observed that hammer and sickle flags now fly on country club flagpoles all across the country.

Meanwhile, the House Intelligence Committee has just gone out for popcorn for the next four years.

President Twitter, in another pathetic attempt to bully the unbullyable, viciously attacked right wing House Republicans—without whose support the House Republican leadership cannot pass diddlysquat.

And in North Carolina the valiant opponents of excessive governmental intrusion into our lives continued their protracted and bitter debate over where we should all piss and crap.

Nothing much happened today.

Has anybody here seen my old friend Jack?

Happy Brexit Day

Britain has served notice of divorce from the European Union. Please join Aardvark in raising a wee glass in honor of his Scottish ancestors–bold hearts and nodding plumes/wave o’er their bloody tombs–in honor of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, and in anticipation of Scotland’s rejoining the European Union.

And now, please rise for Scotland the Brave.

Alas, Poor Montenegro

Montenegro

Rand Paul Now Works for Putin

As you know, gentle readers, Aardvark finds nothing more delightful than sharing with you the views of the Heritage Foundation. Accordingly, I direct your attention to their fine article, Support for Montenegro’s Accession to NATO Would Send a Message of Strength—and I am sure you know to what address the folks at the Heritage Foundation would like to send the message.

Regrettably, Rand Paul did not get the memo, and is now blocking Senate consideration of the treaty that would let Montenegro into the club. Asked why, Senator Paul cited the national debt and the need to avoid expanding our military obligations.

According to John McCain, Paul’s position is irrefutable proof that the senator from Kentucky is now the senator from Moscow:

‘The senator from Kentucky is now working for Putin’: John McCain slams Rand Paul for blocking Montenegro from joining NATO

Republican Sen. John McCain slammed his GOP colleague, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, on Wednesday after Paul blocked the passage of a treaty that would allow Montenegro to move forward with joining NATO, Defense News’ Joe Gould reported.

McCain warned before the vote that “If there’s objection, you are achieving the objectives of Vladimir Putin…and I do not say that lightly.”

Paul then entered the Senate chamber, voted against the accession protocol, and exited.

“The only conclusion you can draw when he walks away is he has no argument to be made,” McCain said after Paul walked out abruptly, according to The Washington Examiner. “The senator from Kentucky is now working for Vladimir Putin.”

Nero Wolfe—Montenegro’s most famous native son—is very unhappy.

Nero Wolfe

A New URL for Aardvark

From now on, you can reach us at trumpedprogressives.com.

Yes, yes, I know. Dot com isn’t really correct, because we are not a business. But it’s easier to remember than the alternatives.

And, not to worry, the old URL, trumpedprogressives.wordpress.com, will still work. It redirects to the new URL.

To celebrate Aardvark’s rebirth, Hans has helpfully supplied this depiction of the young Aardvark.

aardvark

What Is Our Actual Position on Illegal Immigration?

immigrants

Not talking about Muslim bans and immigration orders here. Talking about illegal immigration as a general matter.

I don’t know how many people read Josh Barro at Business Insider. But if you don’t read him, please start doing so, because he always has useful things to say.

Yesterday’s column was Democrats are lost on immigration — and they’d better rethink their ideas to beat Trump. Not exactly an enticing headline for progressives, but Barro raises some important points.

Sometimes, you need to hear some things that you would rather not hear.

Quickly moving past the chaos surrounding the executive order on immigration, Barro argues,

Eventually, Trump will get to more comfortable political ground: the question of whether immigration to the US is in the interest of American citizens. He has a theory of why restrictive policies are good for Americans, one that was the centerpiece of his successful presidential campaign.

Democrats are much less clear about what they see as the purpose of immigration and how they believe their policies would serve the interests of existing American citizens. Often, their arguments for immigration focus on the opportunities it affords to potential immigrants — that is, people who cannot vote.

Is our position that borders should be open to any and all immigrants? If so, that’s not a politically winning position, nor is it a practical position.

But if we agree that there are to be some limitations, there must be some rules. And there must be some consequences for those who don’t obey the rules.

But what policies—and whose interests—should immigration law promote? “Trump has been clear: His view is that immigration policy, like all policy, should be made foremost on the basis of the interests of American citizens,” Barro writes. Democrats have good arguments about the inaccuracy of Trump’s claims about immigrants. But what is their own policy, and whose interests does that policy promote, Barro wants to know.

There are broad appeals to the economic and cultural benefits of immigration.

But the economic case is undermined by the arbitrary nature of the way the consensus reform position would admit immigrants: guest-worker programs at both the high and the low ends of the skill spectrum, as well as millions of admissions allocated to existing unauthorized immigrants primarily on the basis of when they arrived in the US rather than their ability to contribute economically.

As for the cultural case, the desirability of “taco trucks on every corner” is a matter of opinion.

Immigration policy really is a matter of globalism versus nationalism.

I think the true reason that immigration advocates fail to make strong national-interest arguments for immigration is that the pro-immigration impulse is not really about the national interest.

Potential immigrants are human beings with moral worth. Especially in the case of refugees, they have been disadvantaged by the place of their birth. The human condition is improved by their admission to the US. This — a global, humanistic concern — is a driving factor behind support for immigration.

Plus, elites in government, media, and business tend to be in positions where they stand to derive disproportionate benefits from immigration to the US and bear relatively few costs related to it. Thus immigration is a relatively easy area to favor policy altruism.

But what if about half the electorate disagrees? What’s in it for them?

Progressives need to rethink their arguments—and, somehow, to synthesize nationalism and globalism. And, they must seriously address the enforcement of immigration laws.

For the last 20 years or more, the federal government has pursued a policy of benign neglect. Trump presents this as a problem of “weak borders,” but the main issue is a failure of interior enforcement — particularly a failure to aggressively enforce laws against working in the US without authorization.

Members of Congress in both parties have bent to the will of employers who do not want to have to prove their employees are authorized to work. …

A lender should not foreclose on every homeowner in default, but you cannot have mortgage lending without the option of foreclosure. Similarly, you do not have an immigration policy if you cannot deport non-citizens for violating immigration law.

This neglect is a major reason for the failure of comprehensive immigration reform.

Immigration reform is supposed to be a trade: amnesty for unauthorized immigrants and high future levels of legal immigration, in exchange for stringent enforcement of immigration laws in the future.

But why would anyone believe that Democrats or pre-Trump Republicans would follow through on a promise to enforce immigration law effectively? Even Trump has not (yet) made workplace enforcement a priority.

The Ayatollah’s Amicus Curiae Brief to the Ninth Circuit

ayatollah

From an official Iranian web site, not from The Onion, not from Aardvark:

We thank Trump for exposing the reality of the U.S.: Ayatollah Khamenei

His Eminence stated: “We actually thank this new president [Trump]! We thank him, because he made it easier for us to reveal the real face of the United States. What we have been saying, for over thirty years, about political, economic, moral, and social corruption within the U.S. ruling establishment, he came out and exposed during the election campaigns and after the elections. Now, with everything he is doing—handcuffing a child as young as 5 at an airport—he is showing the reality of American human rights.”

Signed, Love & Kisses,

The Ayatollah