Have you noticed the tendency of Republicans to attribute their own bad motives to others? Lindsay Graham is the latest example.

Lindsay Graham, cynically double-crossing John Kerry and Joe Lieberman on climate change because he’s terrified that what happened to Charlie Crist* might happen to him, calls the Administration’s decision – so far no more than a rumor, but in keeping with Barack Obama’s campaign commitments – to move ahead promptly with a comprehensive immigration policy bill “nothing more than a cynical political ploy.” Yes, the same Lindsay Graham who said a month ago that President Obama had to “step it up” on immigration reform.

*Embarrassing typo corrected

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

30 thoughts on “Projection”

  1. ..the same Lindsay Graham who said two weeks ago that..

    FWIW, the linked article is dated March 10th, not April.

  2. What do Charlie Crist and Lindsay Graham have in common? They're both somewhat-moderate Republicans from southern states, as far as I can tell.

  3. Better that we find out now that he was going to abandon it, than after months of negotiation and compromise.

  4. Also, John McCain (Montgomery Burns to Graham's Waylon Smithers) is currently humiliating himself by endorsing the racial harassment of 1/3 of his constituents, groveling before every xenophobic miscreant who'll listen, & telling the residents of Sun City that the careworn women who clean their bedpans are actually sicarios come to kill them. So, yes, cynical political ploys.

  5. I surmise that one reason for Mark's suggestion that Senator Graham is "terrified that what happened to Charlie Christ [sic] might happen to him" is that Governor Crist's sexual orientation has long been the subject of rumormongering, while a Tea Party gasbagger has recently questioned Senator Graham's proclivities. Apparently, when a teabagger says jump, a Republican asks "how high?" only on the way up.

  6. Hey, John in Nashville, didn't you ever hear anyone hit his thumb with a hammer and yell, "Charlie H. Christ!!" while jumping up and down?

    Immigration has gotten a lot of gasbaggery in the past few days, but I do not think I have heard a whisper about NAFTA. Is it weird that the law that bankrupted Mexican corn farmers and threw two million Mexican farm workers off the land has not been a topic of discussion recently? What is allowed for debate is how harshly we should be smashing illegal immigration, whether to smash their skulls in or whether it is better to just kick them in the groin.

    Insights, anyone?

  7. Realizing you're well on your way to losing yourself your seat does tend to focus most politicians' attention, doesn't it?

  8. Brett, you do realize that Graham's not up until 2014, right? Now, maybe he's decided that moving to reduce the impact of long-term climate change is a long-term political loser (though this could only be the case if the legislation actually passed, really; it's hardly likely people will be blaming him for merely wanting to reduce the impact of long-term climate change four years after the attempt), but it's hardly likely that any political benefits he realizes from making silly – and, notably, non-substantive – noises about immigration will last four years.

  9. Warren, I think it is true at least that McCain's abject reversal on immigration, although a long time coming, is a response to the prospect of losing his primary. (He still polls well, & better than Hayworth, against the possible general-election opponents.) I'm not sure it'd be wise for Graham utterly to discount the chance that what he does now may hurt him 4 years hence; an electorate that still holds a grudge about the Civil War is capable of nursing its resentments. In any case, politicians also respond to threats to other members of their caucus, & crass personal comments aside, it's not irrational for Graham to think, for example, that McCain's defeat isn't in his interest.

    It's another matter why anyone would take satisfaction in this.

    Immigration is going to become a more salient issue whether or not Graham, or any of us, likes it, & whether the Senate takes it up or not. I expect we'll be seeing fewer articles about how the Tea Party movement is essentially libertarian, & not at all motivated by racially-marked anxieties.

  10. K, you may be right that Lindsey wants to appease the hard right. And maybe that's why he wants to back out of working to reduce carbon emissions. But his noises about immigration are empty and moot.

  11. Warren, the governing class's determination to maintain high levels of illegal immigration in the teeth of persistent large majorities opposed to it has been a sore point in American politics for many years. It was a large part of the younger Bush's declining popularity. It's true that Grahamn is unlike to profit from insincere noises, and extremely unlike to move beyond them to sincere actions, but he IS demonstrating some awareness of the fact that the damage he's been doing himself on this subject is starting to move into territory threatening to incumbents.

  12. Brett, the way to address illegal immigration isn't harrassing random latinos, and it's not farcical fences: it's economic incentives. Talk to me when the nativists are ready to punish the employers.

  13. Warren, I agree with you about the harassing, and the employer sanctions. Not about the fence. The actual fence is not at all farcical, building something along that line that would effectively stop border crossings except at actual border crossing points would be an almost trivial exercise on the scale of our economy, were it not for the fact that our political class WANT the border to be porous. Go ahead, calculate how much Israel's border fence, deployed across our border with Mexico, compares in cost to even one year's US defense budget. We could build a new one every year, and it would be cheaper than Afghanistan, and more popular.

    The 'nativists', if you must use that inaccurate label, are fine with punishing the employers. Its the politicians who aren't ok with it.

    My own position on the matter is that we're in the enviable position of having a lot of people wanting to move here, far more than we could plausibly absorb. Highly educated people who already speak our language, and have demonstrated lawful histories. We deliberately set up massive barriers to their entry, to make room for people functionally illiterate in English, ill educated, whose defining characteristic is a willingness to violate our immigration laws. It's madness!

    Except it isn't, its the political class doing what's in THEIR interest, rather than the nation's. Highly educated immigrants, while they would contribute incredibly to our economy, would compete with their children and peers, illiterates only bring down the wages of their constituents. While providing business with a ready supply of cheap labor that doesn't dare go to the police when abused. Not a tough decision, apparently.

    I think the current rate of immigration is probably good, maybe even more would be better. What I object to is our government deliberately closing the border to the educated, English literates of the world, to bring in as many criminally inclined grunt laborers as they can. And doing so in deliberate defiance of sustained public opinion.

    Oh, and remember when the UK screwed over all it's citizens in Hong Kong, stripping them of the right to travel elsewhere, so that China would get the people, and not just a bunch of empty buildings? My opinion at the time, loudly expressed, was that we should have offered them all passports to come HERE. What a shot in the arm it would have been!

    In terms of immigration, 'you are what you eat', and why in Gods name would we want to become Mexico?

    Nativist, indeed… I think what the other side is up to is better described by this classic poem. They're electing a new people, alright, and the process is almost past the point of no return.

  14. I suppose I should answer that question; We don't want to become Mexico, but some in our government wouldn't mind one bit becoming the PRI.

  15. Brett, just curious: how many times did you have to proof that last long comment to make sure you'd removed all the references to 'white' and 'brown' people? I propose that at least one 'defining characteristic' of nativists is that they love immigrants, just so long as the immigrants look and talk just like themselves.

  16. It's funny to watch Brett move from Mr. Libertarian to Mr. Homeland Security. Does the Constitution actually grant the federal government powers to control immigration?

  17. "It’s funny to watch Brett move from Mr. Libertarian to Mr. Homeland Security."

    Barry has a good point: some folk claim everyone is free to do whatever they want until they get scared. Then the authoritarian daddy figures should come in to protect them.

    And I second the notion that we should be having a conversation about WHY folks are fleeing their country and coming here. But it can't be done in the context of immigration, IMHO, as this issue was created as a distraction away from the failed war, failed tax cuts, failed polices of BushCo. Pointing out failed policies opens too many windows and curtains, and that may let in fresh air and sunshine. Darkness is far better for some.

  18. "Brett, just curious: how many times did you have to proof that last long comment to make sure you’d removed all the references to ‘white’ and ‘brown’ people?"

    0.0 seconds. See the title of this post, for an explaination of your comment.

  19. Guys,

    When looking at immigration, look at who benefits from the current "system" and who would benefit if we could attract the most educated. But doing that can't mean we continue to gut public education. We're all in this together, no matter how nice our gated communites and "security" patrols seem to be. During my Army career, I spent a lot of time in Sub-Saharan Africa. Seeing nice homes surrounded by tall walls and barbed wire, armed guards for the children's commute to school, and armored cars for the adults is not what I want my nephews and extended family to experience here. To quote Teddy Roosevelt, "We're not building a country for today, we're building one for the Ages." We need to look further out, for all of our sakes.

  20. There's an enormous amount of paranoid structuralism in the stories that get told, & not only in blog comments sections, about why the immigration system has become so dysfunctional. People who themselves form their views based on ignorance, visceral impulses & the occasional character disorder assume that, where this subject is concerned, monolithic elites have been engaged in a sinister, superrational calculation of benefits behind their backs & against their interests. These are paranoid fantasies that overlook the role of ideology, emotion, accident, inertia, & error in producing the situation we face now.

    It’s an error to think “elites” prefer that immigration be illegal. Pro-immigration actors, if offered a proposal that included legalization, wouldn’t & haven’t said, “no, we insist this immigration be illegal.” Existing limits on legal immigration didn’t come about because a unified political class wanted to “make room” for low-wage or illegal immigrants. The political power of industries that rely on illegal labor is, in general, exaggerated.

    It stands to reason that people whose alleged “libertarianism” is a tenuous rationalization for paranoia would also have far-from-libertarian views about walls & the free movement of people. We'll be hearing more from them. I really don’t look forward to a national discussion of this subject.

  21. I don't think I agree with Brett Bellmore about many things, but I can't recall offhand a time when he clearly seemed to me to be a bad person, and in particular I don't remember him being racist. Nor do I see such a subtext in his comment in question. On the other side, we have one Maurice Meilleur making an incendiary personal accusation, and I can't recall previous comments by Meilleur that would establish any reason to take him seriously. Pretty sleazy comment, and poorly founded.

    RE Brett's 4:08, our border is immense, our population density along the border is a lot lower than Israel's, and our incentives aren't so dramatic as suicide bombers. Most everything I've seen about efforts to ramp up border patrols and to build fences has made it seem fairly clearly a bootless exercise. Strictly as a way to employ minimally skilled labor, I have no problem with such efforts – but it seems pretty clear that they've had little if any effectiveness in decreasing migrant flow. At best, they've increased the number of attempts required to infiltrate the border and driven migrants into more dangerous border terrain. I suppose they may also have increased the costs associated with infiltration, which should be at least somewhat effective – but the economic incentives nonetheless so completely outweigh these costs that I'm not sure this makes a big difference. Sadly, one other effect of making border crossings more expensive is to drive the migrants into the arms of the drug smugglers, as packing a load of narcotics across the border is one way to fund the journey.

    Brett also complained that we don't let enough skilled, talented, educated people in. My (limited) understanding was that the H1B skilled worker program was extremely expansive. Certainly, I've met any number of H1B visa-holders, and their employers had no problem getting them visas. H1B isn't a panacea: they are obtained by the employer, so a skilled worker or entrepreneur can't easily come over on spec, and despite some reforms making them transferable their ties to the employer mean that they can function as a sort of high-class indenture. Renewing visas can be a real pain, especially since 9/11 (foreign workers may now have to return to their country of origin to obtain a renewal, and it may take a bit longer, rather than simply spending a long weekend in Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean and visiting the American consulate Monday morning). And even for skilled workers the path from an H1B or other visa to a green card or eventual citizenship is long and expensive. But I'm not aware that we keep a lot of skilled workers out – although some of our post-9/11 changes may have made things worse, and have certainly made it harder to get foreign students.

    I'm glad Brett is interested in penalizing employers of undocumented workers, but I haven't seen any politicians moving on this. Indeed, I haven't seen any particular action on this from anti-immigration groups. The last time I remember seeing such an impulse from an entity of note was when the unions were pushing this approach in the 80s and early 90s, before they switched tacks and decided to embrace the low-wage service sector, including the many undocumented workers within it. Certainly actions like the Arizona law that prompted this whole thread are all about scapegoating random Latinos, and have almost nothing to do with reforming a system that at present has a seemingly endless thirst for undocumented labor.

    One final addition to this wildly overlong comment: the current Mother Jones has a highly relevant article about unskilled "temporary worker" visas acting as a horrific indentured labor system. More evidence of the incentives in our system all being set up to encourage exploitation of powerless workers by an unaccountable elite.

  22. Oh, and one other thing (sorry).

    Brett, you mentioned the people seeking to leave Hong Kong prior to the turnover to Chinese rule, and how many of them were highly skilled, desirable immigrants. It's worth remembering that Canada, the US, and Britain all had programs to allow Hong Kong citizens to obtain residency permits if they deposited a million units of local currency. Canada started their programs first, and required that the applicant invest C$1,000,000 within Canada and employ three Canadian citizens. The US followed suit with an essentially identical program priced at US$1,000,000. Britain lagged them both in timeliness and in generosity: they required that applicants purchase 1,000,000 GBP in government bonds. Between the applicants already feeling betrayed by Britain refusing to honor their British passports, Britain being the last to implement a program, the higher value of the British pound than either dollar, and the lack of freedom in how to use the money, they didn't get many of the most desirable Hong Kong emigres. Canada's program was the first, the cheapest, and the easiest, and Vancouver already had a big Cantonese population. So most of these wealthy, educated, enterprising people went to Canada.

    On the other hand, if you were just as educated and enterprising a Hong Kong Citizen but lacked the money or family, you were indeed stuck.

  23. WT, whatever I've written in the past that gave you the vapors aside, when Brett mobilizes a half-dozen racist tropes to distinguish between the 'good' immigrants and the 'bad' ones, it's not 'projection' (thank you very little, Brett) to call him out. No one during the Reagan Administration had to say that all those 'welfare queens' and 'urban youth' breaking the law and mooching tax dollars were black and Latino to get their point across, and this is no different. To deny it is simply disingenuous or foolish. Brett's comment was appalling and ignorant. Whether he's a good or a bad person is not my concern and quite beside the point.

  24. Maurice, perhaps I was unclear. I only meant to say that I have no recollection of any previous comments by you on this board, and so wasn't inclined to give any special weight to your accusations. Google <a href="; rel="nofollow">finds five previous rBC posts with comments by you. I probably read some of those, but didn't remember them. Brett has commented on at least 588 posts here, and more elsewhere, which has given me plenty of evidence that I don't agree with him often, but I don't remember seeing obvious racism in those many, many comments.

  25. I wasn't happy about Brett's "criminally inclined" remark either. People who come here without permission are committing a misdemeanor (or did they make it a felony by now? (Btw, all Dems who voted for that are on my permanent S-list. I can hold a grudge too.) but they are obeying a higher law. The one that says, feed your children and keep a roof over your aged parents' heads.

    So, yes, technically it's "wrong."

    Just not very much, in my book. But if you want to "close the border," do it. It would almost be worth it for y'all to shut up about it.

    Having said that, I am glad Brett is here, I know hardly any intelligent conservatives and he puts up a good fight! Plus, I believe all Americans, of all colors, have a racist aspect, so it's not like he's any worse than me. (And I'm half Latin to boot.) So, Brett, don't take any extra grief, just the amount you actually deserve and who knows how much that is.

    Re Ed Whitney, Nafta, and history in general: it's because we Americans … not so bright.

  26. Those who kvetch about "illegal immigration" might be a bit more persuasive if they were to identify what Native American tribe(s) they are descended from.

    When was the last time any talk radio host griped about white people coming across the border from Canada?

  27. John, there's a local AZ variant on this old "Who're you calling an immigrant, pilgrim?" line. On this reading, what's happened in AZ is, approximately, a local political conflict between (Hispanic) natives & (non-Hispanic) immigrants. Two-thirds of the Hispanics currently in AZ were born there. Two-thirds of the non-Hispanics in the state were not born there. Because there are more non-Hispanics, non-native non-Hispanics make up a near majority of the population & an absolute majority of voters. (Hispanic immigrants are mostly noncitizens & exert no direct electoral power.) The ethnic polarization of state politics has been sharpened by the presence of a large undocumented population (among other factors), but it has deeper roots. (AZ separated from New Mexico before statehood because the early Anglo settlers disdained the political influence of the old Hispano population in NM.) The political base of the pro-SB 1070 coalition is dominated by non-Hispanics who've immigrated to the Southwest & evidently been discomfited by all the Hispanics they found roaming around. The politically enfranchised opposition to SB 1070 is dominated by native-born Hispanics, who naturally enough resist a measure that disadvantages them on the basis of "Mexican appearance" (in the imperishable phrase of Justice Powell in Brignoni-Ponce).

    This reproduces in a nonviolent form the conflict a century ago in South Texas, when Anglo farmers immigrating from the South & Middle West came into conflict with the existing Tejano population. That episode ended in a bloody campaign of racial intimidation, exacerbated by Anglo hysteria over the violence across the border attendant to the Mexican Revolution. Compared to that, things are really going swimmingly now.

  28. "Brett has commented on at least 588 posts here, and more elsewhere"

    Geeze, *I* don't keep track of my comments in that detail! :O

    Ok, seriously, in no particular order;

    Criminally inclined: Illegal entry into the country is a misdemeanor: If you then proceed to hide in the wilderness, having nothing to do with other people, you might keep it to that. If you get a job, set up a life, and make a return visit, you will indeed have committed a variety of felonies, starting with identity theft to handle the little problem of not having a social security number. So there's not a lot of question that illegal immigrants are willing to violate our laws. They get here by violating them, they stay here by violating them, they help maintain the identity theft industry by providing it with a massive market. Whatever else they are, they ARE criminals. In a way the legal immigrants I work with every day are most assuredly not.

    Now, why would a libertarian be bothered by illegal immigration? Look, we don't live in a libertarian society, we don't have a libertarian government, and you guys want, if anything, to take us further from that libertarian ideal of a nightwatchman state that keeps people from assaulting each other, and otherwise stays out of it. You want a social welfare state, paid for by taxes.

    I live in a gated community now. We've got nice facilities, which I pay for as part of my rent. Maybe I would have preferred lower rent and less nice facilities, and am not blind to the way they're being treated as a commons gets treated by the other tenants, but there you are. I live in the private equivalent of a social welfare state, albeit one with a reasonably fair 'tax' structure by my standards. Suppose my nice gated community just happened to be located right next to a slum? Maybe a few hundred yards from a gang hangout? Think we could do without the fence? Not bother to have a code on the gate? Just let the neighbors waltz in to use the pool and the playground that WE are paying for?

    Nope, wouldn't work for a second. Either the fence has to be there, and maintained, or the nifty facilities that make the neighbors want to come by and freeload have to go. Nice stuff and poor neighbors demand fences.

    Why do you suppose that you can run a social welfare state next to a third world country, (Hell, a third world country with an ongoing civil war!), and have open borders? Seriously? Reality based community, people. Try to make it more than an empty slogan.

    Finally, I'm a racist? A nativist? That's truly hilarious. I'm a happy part of an inter-racial marriage to a legal immigrant, proud parent of a mixed race son. I LIKE immigration. I think it's good for the country. Cultural diversity, hybrid vigor, and so on. We don't want to get stale, we want to bring the best of the world here, to mix and ferment.

    But that hardly requires me to think our current immigration policy, of making it difficult for educated people to immigrate here legally, in order to make room for under educated illegal immigrants, is even remotely sane.

    As I see it, our current immigration policy, (The one we HAVE, not the one we PROCLAIM.) is motivated by two factors:

    1. Democrats "electing a new public", pushing a deliberate ethnic transformation of the country in their favor, whether the people already here like it or not.

    2. Democrats AND Republicans providing business with a ready pool of easily intimidated cheap labor, in return for kickbacks of one sort or another. Again, whether or not the people already here like it.

    What it is NOT motivated by is any interest in the welfare of the general public, or even the illegal immigrants themselves.

  29. The Latin vote is Democratic here in California because the state GOP is insane. Otherwise, it would have been more like 50-50. They did it to themselves.

    Again, shut the danged border if you want. I don't care. But you can't, can you? This whole AZ thing is because of the last push to "shut" the border, which just moved people east into the desert and killed more of them.

    I don't believe in an open border because I don't like chaos. I also think there's some truth to the argument that US undocumented immigration lets off steam that ought to be focused on politicians to the South.

    But I think it's a bit much to call Mexico a slum, when we a) stole half of it, and b) are the ones financing a lot of that crime. That big snorting sound is our friends and neighbors, financing terror. And that's not even getting to our history of interference with elected governments.

    So if we're going to point fingers and call people criminals, let's not forget our own many, many worse historical and ongoing sins.

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