Farrar responds to Christchurch attacks and Kiwiblog content

As promised just after the Christchurch mosque attacks, David Farrar has posted on his opinions on what happened and explains more about his tightening up moderation in Kiwiblog content and comments.

Murder and Violence

The terrorist killed 50 people. He believed his beliefs justified violence and killing. There are lots of people with strong beliefs but very very very few who think it is okay to kill innocent people, let alone actually do it.

Any incitement to serious violence is of course not acceptable on Kiwiblog, and never has been. In fact I have on two occasions supplied information to the Police when a comment was seen as a serious threat.

White Supremacy

The terrorist was a white supremacist. He judges people based on their skin colour or where they are born. He doesn’t think non-white people should live in “European countries”

Again such views and beliefs are not and never have been acceptable on Kiwiblog. Judging people based on where they were born, their bloodline or the colour of their skin is repulsive.

Anti-immigration

The terrorist says he was profoundly anti-immigration, linked to his white supremacy. He claimed Jews were okay so long as they live in Israel. Muslims are okay as long as they live in a Muslim country. Asians are okay so long as they live in Asia. He says that he saw legal immigration as a very bad thing.

His views are repugnant to me. I am a huge fan of controlled immigration. I think NZ has a generally excellent immigration system where anyone can qualify for residency regardless of race, nationality or religion.

…there is a difference between debating immigration policy and the pros and cons of immigration and scapegoating immigrants who are already here. Statements suggesting people who have chosen New Zealand as their home should not be here will not be acceptable.

Islamophobia

When it comes to religion, it is a fact that there is huge antipathy in many quarters to Islam, compared to other religions. Why is this? Why does Islam have such antipathy which Hinduism doesn’t, Buddhism doesn’t, Taoism doesn’t, Shinto doesn’t, Sikhism doesn’t, and Baha’i doesn’t?

The obvious answer is because of the number of terror attacks that are done in the name of Islam or motivated by an interpretation of Islam.

The reason there is antipathy towards Islam in many quarters is because people are scared. They want these attacks to stop. It doesn’t matter they still have a higher chance of being killed in a road accident.

That is one reason. Another is simply religion – some of those who are most anti-Islam are Christians. It’s common for fundamentalists to fear any different faith to their own beliefs.

There are also other aspects of the Islamic religion that some people find problematic.Sizable minorities support the death penalty for apostates, stoning for adultery, honour killings for pre-martial sex.

Islam also differs somewhat from most religions in that it has a political aspect to it, commonly called Islamism. Most Muslims are not Islamists. There are difficult questions about how compatible Islamism (NB not Islam) is with liberal democratic values.

So I absolutely reject that one should not be able to criticise the Islamic religion. However it should be done in a way that doesn’t stigmatise all Muslims and/or suggests a commonality of view.

That should apply to any religion – including Christianity.

That guest post

One issue that has been discussed on Kiwiblog is whether there should be a ban on Muslim immigration. I vehemently disagree with such a proposal, and the proponents of it. But does that mean it should be deemed as beyond debate?

In fact the sad reality is the growth in support of far right parties in Europe is because the mainstream parties have not come up with credible solutions to issues around immigration and integration. Populist parties will always rush to fill a void.

So for the last two weeks some people have tried to close down Kiwiblog because three years ago I allowed a guest post (which I disagreed with) by David Garrett which advocated for a policy that has been debated endlessly in the United States for three years, has majority support in Europe and plurality support in Australia.

Here is the Guest Post: David Garrett on A case for immediate cessation of all Muslim immigration. It contains some common anti-Muslim memes, like:

It is really very simple. Every western country which has allowed its Muslim population to exceed 2% has experienced problems generated by that community – or at least arising because of their presence within those societies.

And:

I truly believe we are, in a very real sense, in exactly the position Western Europe was in the  early 1930’s. The prevailing sentiment among both  the political elites  and the population of Britain at large was then, as ours is  now, one of tolerance, or at least wilful blindness to the dangers posed by the rising tide of fascism in Germany. It is important to be reminded that the very word “fascism” had none of the pejorative connotations in 1933 that it most definitely carried ten years later.

Coincidentally being pushed again now – see Jumping the Whale, piling on Godwin and hypocrisy.

Garrett concluded:

Muslim immigrants are a very real threat to our way of life. We should not take one more of them.

Farrar followed that with:

For the avoidance of doubt, the post is the opinion of the author, not of Kiwiblog. Kiwiblog accepts guest posts, even when I disagree with the views in them.

It looks like there has comments deleted from the following thread, possibly quite a few. That was in the days when Kiwiblog commenting was fairly open slather.

Back to Farrar’s post yesterday:

Media have demanded to know why this post has not been deleted. I’ve been labelled a party to the slaughter in Christchurch because of this post. The sheer bile on Twitter has been vile led by certain prominent people.

A number of people have contacted me offline to discuss Kiwiblog’s moderation policy and the desirability of changes. Those exchanges have been useful. Inciting virtual lynch mobs far less so.

The view of some on Twitter is that such a view in opposition to Muslim immigration is so extreme that one can’t ever allow someone to read something in favour of it.

Now one should recognise that debating stuff such as an immigration ban on Muslims is hurtful to Muslims. Absolutely it is. And most Muslims are themselves victims of the violent Islamic extremists. They are often both literal victims (ie are killed) but suffer the backlash where they have to worry about their safety in public. They can suffer acts of casual abuse, and feel that elements of their adopted country are hostile to them. And the Christchurch shooting has shown how real those fears can be.

So bearing in mind that allowing a debate on stuff such as an immigration ban can be hurtful to many Muslims, why allow it at all?

Well as I explained to the media, my preference is for people to be convinced their views are wrong. The thing I like on Kiwiblog is that we have people who comment from across the political spectrum.

I sort of agree with what DPF is saying here about allowing debate. But he would have (or should have) known that a post like that would have been a red rag to the Kiwiblog bulls.

In one of the malicious misrepresentations I have ever seen, Russell Brown took this explanation I made to the media, and summarised it was that I tolerate racists and don’t want them to go to even more racist websites and I am “a piece of shit”. Remember that this is about allowing a guest post on a topic that is one of the most debated issues in Europe and North America.

Something I don’t think DPF has appreciated enough is how comments on posts at Kiwiblog are seen as reflecting on Kiwiblog as a whole and on himself. He has allowed a lot of abuse and fairly extreme views to be posted for as long as I have followed Kiwiblog – ten years or so.

So as should be clear I am not deleting the guest post.

I think it’s a fair decision. Everyone can read and make up their own mind about Garrett’s views on Muslim immigration.

I also think it was wise to run a heavy hand over the comments and delete the worst of them.

Of course there are some topics I would not allow a guest post on, even with a rebuttal. The post on Muslim immigration was a borderline call. But in the end my judgement was that one could not pretend this was not a topic that could be ignored as if it didn’t exist and have support from majorities in many democratic countries.

Posting it “was a borderline call” – but allowing unrestricted comments left DPF open to criticism. He seems to have finally woken up to that.

Muslimophobia

As I indicated earlier I don’t find the term Islamophobia useful. In fact earlier today I quoted the leader of the world’s largest Muslim organisation saying the term is often used as a weapon to prevent criticisms of extremist aspects of Islam.

I have no problems with criticism of Islam (or Scientology or Mormonism or Catholicism). But I do have a problem with people smearing all Muslims as if they all have the same beliefs, same characteristics etc. Some people have an unhealthy antagonism to Muslims, and I would say they should be called Muslimophobes, not Islamophobes.

And Muslimophobia is not welcome on Kiwiblog.

Now. It may not have been welcome by DPF but it has been rampant in the past.

Judging 1.5 billion people off their religious affiliation is bizarre.

Kiwiblog is now applying far far more scrutiny to comments that fail to differentiate between legitimate scrutiny of Islam and are just bile against Muslims. They are not welcome here, and if you can’t work out the difference, neither are you.

That’s similar to what I have done here to the best of my ability.

And some (a small minority) need to learn some empathy. When the Prime Minister wears a hijab at a mourning celebration, it is not an Islamic takeover of New Zealand. It is the Prime Minister being a decent human being and respecting the fact 50 people of the Muslim faith were slaughtered. If 50 people had been killed at a synagogue, I am sure a similar gesture would be made. Such a gesture means a hell of a lot to those who have been targeted for their faith. Have a bit of bloody empathy for what it must be like to be a Muslim in New Zealand at this time.

Fair comment.

I agree with most of what Farrar says as quoted here and on his post. And on his new moderation policy, which I will cover in my next post.

Royal Commission of Inquiry into security agencies

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the country’s security agencies, in response to the Christchurch terror attacks.

RNZ:  Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announces details of inquiry into security services

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced details of a Royal Commission of Inquiry into security agencies after the Christchurch mosque attacks.

She said, while New Zealanders and Muslim communities were still grieving, they were also quite rightly asking questions about how the terror attack was able to take place.

The inquiry will look at what could or should have been done to prevent the attack, Ms Ardern said.

It will look at the Government Communications Security Bureau (GSCB), the Security Intelligence Service (SIS), police, Customs, Immigration and any other relevant agencies, Ms Ardern said.

The Government Communications Security Bureau (GSCB) and the Security Intelligence Service (SIS) have been criticised over an apparent lack of monitoring of right-wing extremists.

It may be that there was little or nothing that could have been done to protect against this month’s attacks, but it is good to check out the performance of the security agencies, the GCSB, the SIS and the Police. It should ensure that the chances of a repeat are lessened.

 

White supremacists, racism and anti-immigration rhetoric

There’s a number of things that need to be talked about more in the wake of the Christchurch terror attacks, like white supremacists (including cultural and religious supremacists), racism and anti immigration rhetoric and immigrant bashing.

Richard MacManus (Newsroom):  We didn’t watch white supremacists closely enough

After the tragedy in Christchurch last Friday, serious questions are being asked of the world’s largest social media companies.

Why was the killer able to live stream this appalling act on Facebook for 17 minutes? Why couldn’t YouTube and Twitter prevent copies of the video from being propagated on their global networks? Why did Reddit have a forum named ‘watchpeopledie’ (another place where this horrendous video was posted) running on its platform for seven whole years?

To answer these questions, we need to look at the content moderation processes of Facebook, Google and others, plus examine the effectiveness of using algorithms to help police content.

The biggest issue though is that neither human nor AI moderation is much help in the case of live streams. The only viable solution, it seems to me, is to prevent people like Friday’s terrorist from live streaming in the first place.

One suspects the tech companies will need to work closely with government intelligence agencies to identify, monitor and proactively shut down people who use social media to distribute hate content.

Before Friday, the response to that would’ve been just two words: “free speech.” But we’re no longer talking about the trivial matter of two right-wing provocateurs being prevented from speaking in New Zealand. We’re now talking about preventing extreme terrorist violence in our country. I think our former Prime Minister Helen Clark said it best, in regards to free speech:

“We all support free speech, but when that spills over into hate speech and propagation of violence, it has gone far too far. Such content is not tolerated on traditional media; why should it be on #socialmedia?”

Why indeed. So let’s fix this, by advocating for meaningful change at companies like Facebook, Google, Twitter and Reddit in how they deal with hate speech.

And local websites – including the biggest political blogs, Kiwiblog and Whale Oil.

Thomas Coughlan (Newsroom):  Time to recall MPs’ anti-migrant rhetoric

Hansard, the record of parliamentary speeches, has 139 mentions of the word “Muslim”, 317 of the word “Islam”, and 238 mentions of the word “Islamic” in its searchable record, which dates back to 2003.

In that same time, only one politician — Aaron “do you know I am?” Gilmore, as fate would have it — has mentioned “white supremacy”, and none have spoken about “white nationalism”.

Other religions are mentioned too — the word “Christian” is mentioned 520 times. But look a little closer, and a distinct difference emerges. While mentions of the word “Christian” tend to be followed by words like “Social Services” more than half of the 238 times, the word “Islam” is mentioned it is followed by the word “State”.

New Zealand is not immune from the global trend of conflating Islam and its nearly two billion adherents with terrorism.

Dr Mohamed Alansari of the University of Auckland noted that when people speak about Islam “it comes with a hint of judgment or a hint of a stereotype and it comes from a place of fear rather than a place of trying to understand”.

The apparent threat of Islam is often conflated with other issues, including security and migration.

Amongst New Zealand politicians Winston Peters stands out on this.

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters has a longer history than most when it comes to linking concerns about terrorism to Muslims.

In a 2005 speech titled The End Of Toleranceand delivered in the wake of the London bombings, Peters singled out Muslim migrants for special attention.

He spoke about the “political correctness” in other parties:

“They say – ah yes – but New Zealand has always been a nation of immigrants. They miss a crucial point. New Zealand has never been a nation of Islamic immigrants…”

Peters also suggested that moderate Muslims were operating “hand in glove” with extremists.

His exact words are worth quoting in full:

“This two-faced approach is how radical Islam works – present the acceptable face to one audience and the militant face to another.

“In New Zealand the Muslim community have been quick to show us their more moderate face, but as some media reports have shown, there is a militant underbelly here as well.

“Underneath it all the agenda is to promote fundamentalist Islam.

“Indeed these groups are like the mythical Hydra – a serpent underbelly with multiple heads capable of striking at any time and in any direction.”

He went on to note that “in many parts of the world the Christian faith is under direct threat from radical Islam,” and said that he had sent a letter to all leaders of Islamic groups in New Zealand, calling them to name any “radicals, troublemakers and potential dangers to our society”.

Dame Anne Salmond (NZ Herald): Racist underbelly seethes just beneath surface

After this terrible tragedy, let’s be honest, for once. White supremacy is a part of us, a dark power in the land. In its soft version, it looks bland and reasonable.

The doctrine of white superiority is based on arrogance, and ignorance. Since other cultures, languages and religions are worthless, there’s no need to learn about them. The “others” are dehumanised, making their misery and suffering unreal.

In the present, let’s face it, online, on talkback, in taxis and around dinner tables, the doctrine of white superiority is still alive and well in New Zealand. It’s absolutely right that our Prime Minister should take a stand for kindness and generosity, aroha and manaakitanga in the relations among different groups in our country.

But let’s not pretend there’s not a dark underbelly in New Zealand society.

And let’s not pretend that it doesn’t happen right here.

It’s very challenging encouraging open discussion and debate on important issues while trying to moderate white supremicism and racism and religious attacks.

But these are things we should be talking about – and asking ourselves serious questions about.

And others are also asking serious questions.

 

Alt-right slight might

The ‘alt right’ organised protests in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch yesterday – see ‘NZ Sovereignty’ rallies against immigration.

Someone tweeted about someone at one of the protests having a swastika tattoo on his head…

Sad and a little shocked to see neo-Nazis out and proud. In Wellington, New Zealand. In 2019.

…but otherwise things seemed quiet and low key.

Another view of ‘good turnout’ from Greg Presland:

The rally was underwhelming.  There were maybe 30 yellow jackets there with perhaps another 30 supporters.

Whale Oil had been promoting the protests, including yesterday – Rallies against the UN Migration Pact TODAY 4PM.

They report A tale of two very different rallies: Christchurch & Wellington

Our Whaleoil citizen journalist reports that around 100 people turned out for the Christchurch rally against the UN Global compact on migration. There were no hecklers and no drama. There were no representatives from the National party at all but the New Conservative party fronted and “put on a good performance.”

Our reporter chatted with David Moffett afterwards and was impressed with both him and his speech.

Moffett has been generally quite unimpressive on Twitter. May he has learned from his mistakes.

The Wellington rally was quite different. Tim Levchenko-Scott from the blog RightMinds writes that Leftist bullies disrespected the National anthem and tried to intimidate the female speaker.

SB makes this claim:

If you watch the video you will see the same tired techniques being used to try to smear and silence the message. A man with a swastika tattooed on his head was targeted as being supposedly representative of the rally. I would not be surprised at all if he was a plant by leftists as that is a common tactic to enable them to smear those who are pro-free speech as Nazis.

If they were a plant were they a Greenie? A silly joke i know, but that’s what a conspiracy theory like this deserves. It is a common tactic of leftists and rightists to make ridiculous assertions about the other extremity.

Also from Whale Oil: Humour at the Auckland rally: ‘ Want to smoke some weed?’

Was that the highlight? Whale Oil keeps promoting Elliot Ikilei from the New Conservatives. They are toxic to everyone else.

Presland (mickysavage) has a report of the Auckland rally at The Standard – Auckland’s yellow jacket protest, and concludes:

To repeat one question which I heard asked a number of times yesterday, where has multiculturalism ever worked?

We were in Aotea Square.  There were young Chinese and Indian, Pacifica, a mother and daughter wearing a hijab, all peacefully coexisting.  Across the road there is this wonderful Turkish kebab shop.  There are no less than two Sushi shops within 100 metres of where we were. Queen Street is littered with businesses owned and run by different nationalities showing the really good side of globalisation.

Within the city there are plans to celebrate Waitangi day, Chinese New Year and the Festival of colours all within the next month or so. People from a variety of different backgrounds and experiences all happily living together.

I am cautiously confident that New Zealand is showing that multiculturalism is working fine and that the Yellow Jackets will not gain traction. Time will tell if I am right.

It looks like the rallies had as much impact as the TPPA protests after Labour and Greens got in to Government.

At this stage the alt-right seems to have very slight might.

 

‘NZ Sovereignty’ rallies against immigration

Rallies against immigration scheduled for today were always likely to struggle for serious attention, but they are trying.

I wonder if they are aware that many of the New Zealand soldiers who served in the trenches in world War 1 were either immigrants or children of immigrants.

But not the right to immigrate.

@NzSovereignty

The people of New Zealand reject completely the UN Migration Compact and call for the resignation of the politicians who signed and support it 

Calling on politicians to resign when they do something one disagrees with has never been a very successful form of activism here in New Zealand.

This news probably won’t help: Immigration numbers revised down

This appears to have been planned since December:

They may get a few people out of the trenches this afternoon, but I doubt this will get a lot of traction.

Their ‘About’ on Facebook talks about ‘we the people’ but there is just one ‘team member’ listed.

Immigration numbers revised down

Using different and supposedly more accurate methods  Statistics NZ  has revised downwards the number immigrants who have stayed in New Zealand over the last few years. net immigration peaked at 64,000 in 2016 instead of the previous estimate of 72,500.

NZ Herald:  NZ has fewer people than we thought … so we don’t need to build so many houses

New Zealand’s immigration boom wasn’t as big as reported at the time, a major revision by Statistics NZ has found.

That means we’ll need to build fewer houses to meet the current shortage, says Westpac senior economist Satish Ranchhod.

The new, more accurate data shows there’s fewer people in New Zealand than we thought and that has major implications for the economic outlook, he says.

Net migration peaked at 64,000 in mid-2016, not 72,500 in 2017, according to revised figures.

It is now tracking at 43,000 – about 20,000 fewer migrants a year than previously thought.

That means we’ll need to build fewer houses to meet the current shortage, says Westpac senior economist Satish Ranchhod.

Stats NZ has revised the figures based on new research about how many of our new long-term arrivals actually stay in the country.

The previous data was based on the intended length of stay, as recorded on immigration forms by long-term migrants when they arrived at the border.

But it turns out more migrants decide not to stick around than we thought.

That’s particularly true for those in the 20-29 age bracket, which includes a large proportion of international students.

Population figures are due later this month which will be lower than previous estimates.

Ranchhod estimates the rate of population growth hit two per cent in 2016 and has slowed to 1.5 per cent.

This will have an impact on housing needs estimates.

More from Statistics NZ:

Restaurant owner faces possible deportation

Comment from Gerritt:


Probably the better place to post this – my WTF moment and as it encapsulate all that is wrong in NZL. We grant permanent residency to jailed useless trash (who so happens to have friends in Arderns social inner circle) that is costing tax payers $100K just to be here but kick out hard working, go getting tax payers and employers, that are integrating into and contributing to society.

Wonder if Lees Galloway will step in as minister and make the right thing decision regarding these immigrants.

NZ Herald: St Heliers restaurant owner fears deportation after immigration ‘error’, changes to entrepreneur visa

Import drugs, beat up wife, end up in jail, be friends with the PM inner circle, get permanent residency.

Run a successful business with $1.4M turnover, employ 26 staff, work hard, pay taxes, get deported.

Decision should only take 45 seconds Minister, not 45 minutes.

 

What border crisis?

Donald Trump claims there is a border crisis, an immigration crisis, a crime crisis. He is holding out on a partial government shut down to get funding to build a wall – which ironically is hampering border security.

Is there a crisis? Or is the US-Mexico border more secure than it ever has been?

Fox News: Trump insists that a ‘border crisis’ is ravaging America – Here’s what numbers tell us

What’s missing from all of this wall talk, though, is the reality of the “border crisis” that President Donald Trump insists is ravaging our nation.

Border crossings by immigrants without visas have occurred for decades, and for a long time, border crossers were treated pretty loosely by a system that knew America was a better landing place for many people from other parts of the world – particularly for our neighbors to the south.

That ended in the post-9/11 world. By 2010, comparatively few immigrants were entering the U.S. without inspection. Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama were all enforcement-minded on immigration. President Clinton signed the most draconian immigration laws of the modern era. And President Obama was so tough on immigration that he became known as the “deporter-in-chief.”

Data is a stubborn thing. And today, the government’s own data isn’t working in favor of the Trump administration. According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s 2017 Border Security Report, illegal border apprehensions have fallen 90 percent since the year 2000. The border has never been more secure than it is now.

This begs the question of whether we need to spend $5 billion building a wall. Historically speaking, walls have never really kept out “invading hordes.” Our current legal system and procedures are doing an effective job, according to the numbers.

The figures are clear. The numbers of illegal immigrants entering the country have dropped significantly in the last 10 years while the numbers of those overstaying their visas have risen. However, overstays only represented about 1 percent of those who lawfully travelled to the United States in 2017.

It’s not our borders that are the problem. They are statistically more secure than they have ever been.

Trump is the real problem.

Is the US-Mexican border problem a crisis?

Rhetoric and exaggeration are common in politics. There is currently a war of words in the United States over their immigration problem on the Mexican border. There is certainly a major problem there.

Is it a crisis? Possibly, depending on how you define ‘crisis’ – but if so, it may have been an ongoing crisis over decades. And Trump has been talking up crisis to justify his border wall since the presidential election in 2016.

It may be a long-term crisis, but the real crisis may be in a dysfunctional Government and political system.

New York Times: In Texas Visit, Trump Presses His Argument That There’s a Border ‘Crisis’

President Trump arrived in this city on the Mexican border on Thursday to dramatize his desire for a border wall, a hardened position that has caused the partial shutdown of the federal government.

He surrounded himself with border agents, victims of horrible crimes, a display of methamphetamine and heroin, an AK-47 and an AR-15 rifle, and a trash bag stuffed with $362,062 in cash that had been confiscated by law enforcement officials.

In his view, it all added up to a single word, “crisis,” with a lone solution, building a wall.

He also criticized Democrats who have accused him of trying to manufacture a crisis to justify his $5.7 billion border barrier demand. “What’s manufactured is the word manufactured,” the president said.

Democrats have insisted that the administration faces a large-scale humanitarian problem that is a direct result of Mr. Trump’s policy, but argue that a border wall is not the right solution and that Mr. Trump has failed to make the case that there is a true security crisis.

Frida Ghitis (CNN): Trump is creating a ‘crisis’ to distract from the real crisis of a flailing president

Something has changed. President Donald Trump’s headline-hungry governing style has never lacked for drama, but there’s a new sense of aimlessness lately in Trump’s frenetic search for a crisis, his efforts to control the headlines, distract from other events, and keep his base satisfied that he is the muscular fighter who will stop at nothing to achieve his goals.

In reality, the Trump administration is a vortex of incoherence.

In the final weeks of 2018, Trump suddenly revived his promise to build a wall with all the concentrated determination of a man fleeing a posse.

The promise was never quite dead (the second stanza of the “Build the Wall” campaign chant, the part about Mexico paying, has faded, drowned by the debunking of nonsensical claims) but two years into the Trump administration, the urgency of building a wall exploded onto the scene only after tangible threats to Trump looked imminent.

Trump’s claim that there’s an immigration crisis at the border is refuted by experts. His demonization of immigrants treads a well-worn path of demagogues seeking to invent enemies to build support. And even people who live along the border are skeptical of his claim that a wall is a solution. And yet he has brought part of the government to a standstill over it.

Investor’s Business Daily: Yes, There Is A Crisis At The Border — The Numbers Show It

Illegal Immigration: Democrats and the mainstream press accuse President Donald Trump of manufacturing a crisis at the border. The numbers tell another story.

As soon as the words “growing humanitarian and security crisis at our Southern border” left Trump’s lips in his Oval Office address this week, Democrats and media “fact-checkers” were trying to dispel it as a deliberate lie.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Trump “must stop manufacturing a crisis, and must reopen the government.”

Border Crossings Climbing

NPR’s “fact check” — like countless others — dismissed Trump’s claim as false because “illegal border crossings in the most recent fiscal year (ending in September 2018) were actually lower than in either 2016 or 2014.”

What they aren’t telling you is border patrol agents apprehended more than 100,000 people trying to enter the country illegally in just October and November of last year. Or that that number is way up from the same two months the year before.

Nor do they mention that last year, the border patrol apprehended more than half a million people trying to get into the country illegally. And that number, too, is up from the year before.

That’s huge numbers.

The Department of Homeland Security claims that about 20% of illegal border crossers make it into the country. Other studies, however, say border agents fail to apprehend as much as 50% of illegal crossers.

Even at the lower percentage, that means that 104,000 illegals made it into the country in 2018 alone.

Is that not a crisis at the border?

It is a big problem to deal with, but is it “a time of intense difficulty or danger”? Or “a time when a difficult or important decision must be made”? Important decisions have to be made all the time by Governments. But Trump made his decision about building a wall years ago.

Pelosi and company also don’t bother to mention the fact that there are already between 12 million and 22 million illegals — depending on which study you use — in the country today.

An analysis by the nonpartisan ProCon.org found that in 2010 almost 4% of the U.S. population was in the country illegally. The average for 13 other countries it analyzed was just 1.3%.

Large scale illegal immigration has been happening for a long time.

Isn’t having millions in the country illegally, with thousands joining them every day, not a crisis at the border?

Past Presidents Promised To Fix This

Here’s another problem with claims that we don’t have a crisis at the border.

Past presidents all treated it like one.

In 1982, for example, President Ronald Reagan said that “The ongoing migration of persons to the United States in violation of our laws is a serious national problem detrimental to the interests of the United States.”

President Bill Clinton said in his 1995 State of the Union address that “All Americans … are rightly disturbed by the large numbers of illegal aliens entering our country.” That’s why, he said, “our administration has moved aggressively to secure our borders.”

President George Bush, in a prime-time Oval Office speech in 2006, declared that securing the U.S. border is a basic responsibility of a sovereign nation. It is also an urgent requirement of our national security.”

President Barack Obama in 2005 declared that “we simply cannot allow people to pour into the United States undetected, undocumented, unchecked.” And in 2014 even he admitted there was a crisis on the border — one that he did virtually nothing to fix. (Apprehensions at the border last year were almost the same as in 2014.)

None of those past presidents are quoted as saying it was a ‘crisis’, but it was obviously a large problem of concern. One of the concerns about it was the impact on the US economy a major purge of illegal immigrants would have – illegals had become an essential part of the economy.

Perhaps the US has had an ongoing immigration crisis since the 1980s. One problem is that mass deportation would likely create a labour shortage crisis, and could create an economic crisis. And it would almost certainly create crises elsewhere, wherever the large number of deportees went to.

And perhaps here is a more recent crisis – a crisis in US government. Now that the Democrats have taken control of Congress, and they are refusing to fund Trump’s wall, there could be a developing political crisis. A dysfunctional democracy may have reached crisis point.

Building a wall on the Mexican border is nor going to fix their massive immigration problems, but the funding issue has created a clash of crises – immigration and a dysfunctional Government.

It’s hard to see any quick or easy solutions to either, with politicians from the President down seemingly hell bent on putting their own political interests a priority over trying to find solutions to their entrenched immigration problem.

New York Times:  What Trump Could Learn From His Shutdown

You know the system has broken down when the clearest way out of a government shutdown may be for the president to declare a fake national emergency.

This was the direction President Trump appeared to be leaning on Thursday, as he flew to McAllen, Tex., to promote his border wall — a P.R. stunt that he didn’t want to perform and that he said in advance was unlikely to bear fruit. “It’s not going to change a damn thing,” he was reported to have said, “but I’m still doing it.”

Bottom line: Mr. Trump loves to boast that he leads with his “gut.” He really can’t be bothered with all the humdrum details of governing, remaining proudly ignorant of how anything works in Washington — the presidency, the Congress, the Constitution. That’s left him in a standoff for which he was wholly unprepared.

For the sake of the millions being hurt, let’s hope he manages to blunder himself back out of this mess soon.

It’s alarming to see that “a stupid or careless mistake” is suggested as the sole way out of a clash of crises.

 

Reaction to Trump’s border wall speech – more crisis in Washington?

After Donald trump asked all major US television channels to broadcast live a speech on trying to secure funding to progress his Mexican border wall project, there has been a range of reactions.  As usual both sides of the standoff deserve criticism.

The United State’s southern border is a major problem, but Trump’s (and his Administration’s) handling of it has been terrible. Bluster, tantrum and false claims keep Trump in the firing line for criticism, dominating the problems.

Washington Examiner editorial:  All’s not well at the southern border

We do not have an emergency at the southern border, and so it’s good President Trump did not try to seize power by declaring a state of emergency during his national address on Tuesday night.

We do have a serious problem with border security, and so it’s unfortunate Democrats and the press have tried to downplay the problem.

Some of our southern border has physical barriers. For much of it, though, we depend on natural barriers to deter illegal entry, such as the cruel desert or the Rio Grande. If it’s already illegal and deadly to cross in these places, there’s little sense to the protestations by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., that a physical barrier there would be immoral.

Of course, Trump doesn’t help his cause when he exaggerates, misrepresents, and misunderstands the facts. It’s not true that terrorists are streaming across our southern border. It’s also not true that our unprotected border areas are the main avenue for illegal drugs — those are mostly smuggled in through valid border crossings, as far as the data can tell us.

Is the problem growing, declining, or generally steady? That depends on how you measure it. We wouldn’t call it an emergency, and we argued against such a declaration by Trump.

But Trump has a magical power to control what people think, particularly his opponents. Trump’s overblown statements about terrorists, heroin, and emergencies have driven his critics to declare our southern border is just fine. That’s a lie.

Are there really people saying the US-Mexican border is just fine?

Our border is porous, and our country suffers from it. Better physical barriers would help. Once we accept that basic truth, we can have a better debate.

It looks unlikely that trump is interested in debate let alone better debate.

New York Times:  The Crisis Is in the Oval Office

How fitting is it that President Trump’s first Oval Office address, which he requested be televised live in prime time by every major network, was aimed at stirring up the American public about a crisis largely of his own making?

Pursuing poorly thought-out and even more poorly executed policies on the pretext of battling a nonexistent national security crisis, Mr. Trump has helped create a pressing humanitarian one.

Mr. Trump is now invoking the urgency of the situation as a justification for pursuing more wasteful, hard-line measures that most Americans do not support, chiefly the ludicrous border wall over which he has shut down critical pieces of the government. The president and his enablers have been busily knitting together inaccurate data, misleading anecdotes, exaggerations and other “alternative facts” about the flow of criminals, drugs and terrorists across the southern border.

Failing that, Mr. Trump has also been floating the possibility of stiff-arming Congress altogether. With his advisers increasingly anxious that Republican lawmakers are poised to abandon them on the shutdown, the president has raised the threat of declaring a national emergency, which he thinks would allow him to command the Pentagon to build his wall.

Such a move would prompt a swift and furious legal challenge, if not a full-blown constitutional crisis, that could drag on indefinitely.

I wouldn’t rule out this being a plan of Trump’s. Who would know what his aim is?

While Mr. Trump proved a wily campaigner and political street fighter, as president he has been painfully out of his element. Two years in, he remains ill suited to the complicated, thankless, often grinding work of leading the nation. Governance clearly bores him, as do policy details both foreign and domestic. He has proved a poor judge of talent. He prefers grandstanding to negotiating, and he continues to have trouble with the whole concept of checks and balances.

While the Republican base remains enamored of him, most of the electorate has grown weary of his outrages and antics.

Which is why, with his wall on the line, Mr. Trump so desperately needs to convince the American people that they are facing an acute crisis — maybe even a bona fide emergency.

Josh Campbell (CNN):  Presidential address: The one word Trump didn’t say

In recent days, his administration has sought to whip up fear by scaring people into believing our nation faced a major crisis involving known or suspected terrorists attempting to gain entry in the country. The goal appeared to be trying to manipulate the public’s emotions to persuade people that a border wall would stop dangerous terrorists from coming into the country to kill innocent Americans.

After persistent and repeated fact-checking by journalists and experts, all pointing out the administration’s lies and misleading statements, the White House seems to have retreated from the terror scare. In addressing the nation Tuesday, Trump never uttered the word terrorism.

Last week, DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen stood in the White House Rose Garden and caused jaws to drop by publicly indicating authorities had stopped over 3,000 known or suspected terrorists from entering the southern border.

Vice President Michael Pence later echoed these same figures on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

The problem is, this number was in part highly misleading and in part actually false, as it referred to a broad category of people, based in part on their country of origin, not necessarily their own individual actions, and mischaracterized where they entered the country.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told the biggest whopper of them all, insisting last weekend on Fox News that nearly 4,000 terrorists actually made their way into the country, adding “we know that our most vulnerable point of entry is at our southern border.” She was fact-checked in real-time by host Chris Wallace, who pointed out that although suspected terrorists have been prevented from entering the country, their method of transit was mainly airports, not just the southern border. He said, “They’re not coming across the southern border, Sarah, they’re coming and they’re being stopped at airports.”

The false Sanders narrative went uncorrected by anyone from the Trump administration until Tuesday, when Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway finally shrugged it off as “an unfortunate misstatement,” adding, “Everyone makes mistakes.”

Some make more ‘mistakes’ than others.

One of the biggest mistakes being made by Trump and his administration is the amount of bullshit they keep spinning. They have got away with a lot, but soft supporters must gradually be questioning their truthlessness and lack of honesty.

Howard Kurtz (Fox News):  Many pundits rip Trump’s border speech — both before and after

President Trump used his much-disputed television time to portray the border as a humanitarian and law-enforcement crisis of the “heart” and “soul,” but not before some media organizations preemptively accused him of spreading lies about the issue.

The president, in sober tones, said nothing about declaring a national emergency, focusing instead on how migrant children are used as “human pawns” and how drugs and criminals are pouring across the border. He also made the economic case, saying illegal immigrants drive down wages, especially for blacks and Hispanics. And he declared that “the federal government remains shut down for one reason and one reason only” — that the Democrats refuse to provide $5.7 billion for “border security.”

Nancy Pelosi, with Chuck Schumer, soon offered the rebuttal, saying the Democrats were all for border security, but not an ineffective wall. She said Trump was holding federal workers “hostage” and that his remarks were “full of misinformation and even malice” — a phrase the Democrats had used hours before the Oval Office address.

In similar fashion, some cable news anchors who had been predicting the president would lie in his speech came on the air soon afterward to make that charge, which was not leveled at the Democratic leaders.

Despite the enormous buildup, nothing that either side said seemed likely to change many minds — or hasten an end to the 18-day partial shutdown.

There is a growing crisis for many Government workers:

There’s a case to be made that this is an artificial crisis, with Trump using the border situation to pound away at his signature promise to build a wall and the Democrats determined to deny him that funding. But there’s also a very real crisis, in which both parties play a role, as 800,000 federal workers continue to go without paychecks and the ripple effects of the partial shutdown are increasingly hitting the economy.

But there’s no denying the political dimension of the shutdown. Half an hour after the Trump speech, his campaign sent out a fundraising pitch saying “he will NOT cave to the Democrats when it comes to YOUR SAFETY…The President is counting on you in this fight, we must hit our goal of $500,000 in ONE DAY.”

Does Trump have a fundraising crisis? This was Trump’s first Oval Office address in two years of office. It seems cynical to use that as a fundraising opportunity.

Trump is due to visit the southern border soon, in an apparent PR blitz, but so far the Democrats who now have the numbers to allow or deny him his wall funding are holding out.

While it can be argued that there is some sort of crisis on the border, it is getting easier to argue that there is a growing crisis in Washington – their dysfunctional system of government looks like it’s in a slide downhill.