Monday, August 17, 2015

Response to The Useless Specifics

(See: Just Above Sunset: The Useless Specifics)

First off, I have my own beef with Chuck Todd.

In that famous interview segment with Donald Trump on his plane, Trump turns the tables on the costs of deporting all the immigrants, and starts asking Todd questions:
Trump: "Do you think there's tremendous cost for the illegals that are in here right now?"  
Todd: "Of course there's cost to it." 
Trump: "Tremendous! Do you think there's tremendous crime being committed by illegals?" 
Todd: "Well, there's definitely evidence that it's happening..." 
Trump: "Tremendous! Far greater than what..." 
Todd: "Heinous crime. Bits of heinous ones." 
Trump: "And you see it all over..."
Even overlooking whatever Todd may have meant by that incomprehensible "Bits of heinous ones", since I may have transcribed that wrong, I'm thinking maybe Chuck should stick to his job of asking the questions, rather than answering them, or at least get his facts in line first. This is from in 2009:
So, how much do illegal immigrants cost federal, state and local governments in the U.S.? Estimates vary widely, and no consensus exists. ... a 2007 report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office examined 29 reports on state and local costs published over 15 years in an attempt to answer this question. CBO concluded that most of the estimates determined that illegal immigrants impose a net cost to state and local governments but "that impact is most likely modest."
And "net", I would guess, refers to the fact that immigrants, even "illegal" ones, spend money in our economy -- food, shelter, clothing -- in addition to the money they send home.

As for crime committed by the undocumented? Jason Riley in the Wall Street Journal recently wrote about Trump's habit of trumping up of crimes committed by illegals, a subject which his fellow Republican candidates, seeking the Latino vote, might want to correct him on:
They might start by pointing out that numerous studies going back more than a century have shown that immigrants—regardless of nationality or legal status—are less likely than the native population to commit violent crimes or to be incarcerated. A new report from the Immigration Policy Center notes that while the illegal immigrant population in the U.S. more than tripled between 1990 and 2013 to more than 11.2 million, “FBI data indicate that the violent crime rate declined 48%—which included falling rates of aggravated assault, robbery, rape, and murder. Likewise, the property crime rate fell 41%, including declining rates of motor vehicle theft, larceny/robbery, and burglary.” 
A separate IPC paper from 2007 explains that this is not a function of well-behaved high-skilled immigrants from India and China offsetting misdeeds of Latin American newcomers. The data show that “for every ethnic group without exception, incarceration rates among young men are lowest for immigrants,” according to the report. “This holds true especially for the Mexicans, Salvadorans, and Guatemalans who make up the bulk of the undocumented population.”
I'm a big fan of Chuck Todd, but he should realize that it's one thing for an interviewer to not correct his interviewee on facts he gets wrong, but it's another to actually agree with him when he gets something wrong.

But secondly, going back to the question of deporting all those kids, I think Dara Lind, of Vox, is confused, because she may not be listening hard enough:
Donald Trump wants all unauthorized immigrants out of the country. He’s said it before, and he said it again on Sunday to Chuck Todd of Meet the Press: “They have to go.” But Trump also says he doesn’t want to split up unauthorized immigrants from their families. That is a real contradiction: many of the estimated 11 million unauthorized immigrants in this country have children who are US citizens.
I heard that soundbite again this morning, and I don't see the same contradiction that Lind and others see here. He wants to deport all "unauthorized" immigrants, and because he wants to keep families together, he wants to also deport their children, whether or not they were born here, which would make them American citizens.

Where's the contradiction? Maybe it's in that you can't deport American citizens, especially natural-born ones? But that's not a contradiction, it's a matter of law that, if he were to try it, he might find is even bigger than he is. Maybe he thinks he can change the Constitution on the question of birthright citizenship? But to do what he wants with deporting these kids, he'd have to make it retroactive -- and might just try to do that so he could prove that Barack Obama, who was born in Kenya, could not have been legally president, even though his mother was American born.

Are you following all this? If not, don't bother trying, since Trump's not getting the nomination anyway, much less the presidency.

At least not according to Nate Silver, of "538", the guy I followed on a daily basis in 2012 which ended up making me smarter than Karl Rove and everybody on Fox News Channel (except Megyn Kelly), since at least I knew going into election night who was going to win. Silver is one of those genius sports odds-makers, and he's not too swayed by these early polls:
In the case of presidential primaries, indicators such as endorsements and support from party elites tend to be more reliable indicators of eventual success. To the extent that you’re looking at polls, you should probably adjust for name recognition and the amount of media attention a candidate is receiving. And you should account for favorability numbers and second-choice preferences, since all but a few candidates will eventually drop out of the running.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, but then you have someone like Trump! He may seem like a noisy clown, but seems to defy all the pundits with his poll numbers staying high and going higher!
It’s possible — pretty easy, in fact — for a candidate to improve his standing in the polls while he simultaneously lowers his chance to become the nominee. ... 
What about being a jerk? If you can make yourself the center of attention — and no candidate in modern memory has been more skilled at that than Trump — you can potentially turn the polls into a referendum on your candidacy. It’s possible that many GOP voters are thinking about the race in just that way now. First, they ask themselves whether they would vote for Trump; if not, they then choose among the 16 other candidates. The neat thing about this is that you can overwhelmingly lose the majority in the referendum — 75 percent of Republicans are not voting for Trump — and yet still hold the plurality so long as the “no” vote is divided among a sufficient number of alternatives. 
Another trade-off comes from entrenching your appeal with a narrow segment of the electorate at the expense of broadening your coalition. I’ve seen a lot written about how Trump’s candidacy heralds a new type of populism. If it does, this type of populism isn’t actually very popular. 
Trump’s overall favorability ratings are miserable, about 30 percent favorable and 60 percent unfavorable, and they haven’t improved (whatever gains he’s made among Republicans have been offset by his declines among independents and Democrats). To some extent, the 30 percent may like Trump precisely because they know the 60 percent don’t like him. ... But running a campaign that caters to (for lack of a better term) contrarians is exactly how you ensure that you’ll never reach a majority.
Speaking for "538", Silver gives their bottom line:
Our emphatic prediction is simply that Trump will not win the nomination. It’s not even clear that he’s trying to do so.
I'm feeling more at ease already -- as also might be, I would imagine, Megyn Kelly.

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