Saturday, January 20, 2018

Scattershooting shitholes

-- A Houston man fell into a sewer last October when a manhole cover near US 59 was left uncovered.  He shattered his ankle, went undiscovered for nine days, ate bugs and snakes to survive ... and the hell he's living hasn't ended yet.

“I have nightmares,” Courtney told Free Press Houston in an interview this week about the personal injury lawsuit he’s planning. “I get close to any kind of hole and I start freaking out. I have panic attacks. Since October I haven’t even sat on the toilet once to take a shit. I do it in the shower. I don’t even want to touch my own ass any more. I don’t want to touch shit anymore; I was down in a shit hole.”

There's a Trump joke in there somewhere, but I don't want to look for it.

-- "Shithole countries" is essentially the official Republican party line on immigration now.  Everybody but them already knew that it always has been; they've just been forced to be out about it because Trump, you know, 'speaks his mind'.

If you’re arguing against race-conscious, pro-minority hiring or college admissions in the United States today, your main rhetorical weapons are quotas, set-asides, and merit. Your goal, politically, is to be perceived as advocating nondiscrimination. Your pitch is that we should treat people as individuals, not as members of racial or ethnic groups. The worst thing you can say is that, behind all the talk about quotas, set-asides, and merit, what you’re really interested in is helping white people.

Trump made the mistake of saying that part out loud in the Oval Office on Jan. 11. Republicans have spent years transplanting the careful language of quotas, set-asides, and merit to immigration. They said their goal was to get more productive immigrants, not whiter ones. In a flash, Trump blew up all of that. He blurted out an ethnic calculus behind the rhetoric. And his party is still trying to clean up the damage by obfuscating what he said and twisting his words to conform to the party’s race-neutral rhetoric.


That’s why Trump’s allies are ... recasting his outburst in the familiar tactical language of the affirmative action debate. The Democratic approach to immigration, (Sen. Tom) Cotton told (CBS News' John) Dickerson, is “to create more quotas, more set-asides for other countries.” (DHS Secretary Kirstjen) Nielsen, when asked what Trump had said in the Jan. 12 meeting about immigration from Africa, offered the same spin: “What I heard him saying was that he’d like to move away from a country-based quota system to a merit-based system.” Trump’s concern isn’t really about Africa or Europe, the argument goes. It’s about fairness.

There are two problems with this argument. One is that the immigration system isn’t unfair to Europeans. Every month, the Diversity Visa Lottery allocates more visas to Europeans, on a per capita basis, than to Africans. When you factor in the discrepancy in applications—Africans are more likely to apply than Europeans—a European applicant is much more likely to get in. More broadly, among the entire population of foreign-born U.S. residents, those accepted from sub-Saharan Africa are more likely to have or obtain some college education, and almost as likely to have or obtain a four-year degree, as those accepted from Europe or Canada. Immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa are substantially more likely to participate in the U.S. labor force than immigrants from Europe or native-born Americans—perhaps in part because, on average, they’re younger.

The second problem is that behind the rhetoric of merit, there’s a cesspool of prejudice. What irks many whites about immigration and affirmative action isn’t quotas or set-asides, which were widely accepted when they favored whites. It’s suspicion that quotas and set-asides now favor nonwhites. That’s what Trump expressed last summer, when he complained in an Oval Office meeting that Haitians coming to the United States “all have AIDS” and that people coming from Nigeria would never “go back to their huts.” Last week, he exposed it again. The hole full of filth isn’t in Africa or Haiti. It’s in the president’s head. And his friends are trying to cover it up.

Yeah, conservatives are bigots.  Whoodathunk?

-- Regarding #TX07 developments:  Stace confirms for me that I've got the right candidates in mind for my next Congress person.  From the debate last week, and their positions on the government shutdown over immigration obstinance by the GOP...

  • Fletcher: Work across the aisle, no shut down. (Because that has worked so well, huh?)
  • Alex T – No Shutdown, we need reform. (Y los DREAMers, que?)
  • Laura Moser:  Yes! Fight! (I liked her ánimo)
  • Sanchez:  Yes on shutdown. (Good)
  • Joshua:  Tough decision because of gov’t employees affected, but yes! (Good way to preface it)
  • Cargas:  No Shutdown, “we are better than Republicans” (The fight makes you better than Republicans)
  • Westin:  Yes. (Good)

I'll keep them ranked Moser and Westin in a first place tie, followed by Sanchez and Butler neck and neck for third. The rest, for me, are out of the running for my March 6 vote.

-- Read this insightful analysis of the Fifth Circuit's new judges, Don Willett and James Ho, the remaining vacancies on the appellate bench and the federal district courts within the circuit, and the possible appointees from David Lat at Above the Law.  Warning: it's heavier on the conservative cheerleading than you may be able to tolerate.  Know your enemies.  Excerpt:

Even after the Ho and Willett confirmations, there are still three current and future vacancies on the Fifth Circuit: the seats of Judges Edith Brown Clement (Louisiana), W. Eugene Davis (Louisiana), and E. Grady Jolly (Mississippi). For Davis’s seat, the nominee is Kyle Duncan, and for Clement’s seat, the nominee is Chief Judge Kurt Engelhardt. I predict that both Duncan and Engelhardt, deemed “well qualified” by the ABA, will be confirmed.

Kyle Duncan, currently in private practice at his own firm, previously served as general counsel of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and as Louisiana’s first solicitor general. His work on such controversial matters as Hobby Lobby and Gloucester County School Board v. G.G. (aka the Gavin Grimm case) made him friends among conservatives, who strongly support his nomination, and enemies among liberals, who strongly oppose it. But Duncan got voted out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, on a party-line vote, and I expect him to win confirmation along similar lines. (His most serious obstacle was actually his home-state senator, John Kennedy — a Republican, but miffed over how little the White House consulted with him — but Senator Kennedy came around after Duncan’s hearing, pretty much ensuring eventual confirmation.)

Chief Judge Kurt Engelhardt should be an even easier sell. He has ample judicial experience — a judge for the Eastern District of Louisiana since 2001, chief judge since 2015 — and he did well at his hearing. As Carl Tobias, University of Richmond law professor and longtime analyst of the judiciary, told the New Orleans Times-Picayune, “I thought that the judge did well in answering a number of difficult questions, especially from Democrats.” There’s no reason for any Republicans to defect from supporting his nomination, either in committee or on the Senate floor.

That count of three current and future vacancies on the Fifth Circuit, based on the tallies on the U.S. Courts website, does not include the Texas-based seat of Judge Edward Prado, since that’s still subject to his confirmation as ambassador to Argentina. But I predict that the moderate and well-regarded jurist will be confirmed to the post (despite his lack of diplomatic experience; many ambassadorships go to non-career diplomats, often friends or fundraisers of the president, and Judge Prado has great credentials when measured against the typical non-career diplomat). If that happens, look for his seat to be filled by one of the two runners-up in the Texas Fifth Circuit sweepstakes, Judge Reed O’Connor (N.D. Tex.) or Andy Oldham, recently promoted to serve as general counsel to Governor Greg Abbott.

Oldham's star is rising fast in Republican judiciary circles.

(There was a little game of musical chairs down in Texas: Governor Abbott’s former GC, Jimmy Blacklock, got appointed to Judge Willett’s former seat on the Texas Supreme Court, making way for Oldham to take over as general counsel. This is a modified version of a game plan I suggested last May during the Fifth Circuit deadlock: appoint Willett ahead of Oldham, despite Oldham’s similarly superb credentials, because that would allow Oldham — still quite young by judicial-nominee standards, as a 2005 Harvard Law School graduate — to take Willett’s SCOTX seat and get more experience.)

2018 needs to derail this train.

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