Donald Trump

Trump's Syria Withdrawal Does Nothing to Restore Constitutional Limits on Presidential War Powers

While the Syria intervention lacked proper congressional authorization, constitutional considerations had nothing to do with Trump's withdrawal decision. Indeed, his administration has doubled down on Obama-era arguments asserting broad presidential authority to initiate military interventions.

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

A Tomahawk missile of the type used in Trump's two strikes against Syria.

Donald Trump's recent decision to withdraw US forces from Syria has drawn praise in some quarters—including Reason's Robby Soave—for supposedly helping to restore "the rule of law." Such praise is undeserved. Trump's decision does little, if anything, to curb presidential power to initiate war without congressional authorization. Far from respecting constitutional limits on presidential warmaking, the administration has in fact doubled down on Obama-era arguments justifying broad presidential power to initiate new conflicts.

Under both Obama (e.g. here and here) and Trump, I was among those who argued that the US war against ISIS in Syria and Iraq is unconstitutional, because President Obama initiated it without the required congressional authorization, and neither he nor Trump ever got such authorization even retrospectively, during what has now been over four years of fighting. The various legal rationales that the Obama administration put forward to justify the war range from the bad to the laughable, and all would set dangerous precedents if they become generally accepted. The same goes for outside experts' efforts to prove that the war is legal, such as those of controversial legal scholar and former George W. Bush administration official John Yoo.

If Trump had acknowledged that the war is illegal and justified his decision to withdraw on that basis, he might have struck a useful blow for constitutional limits on executive power. But there is zero evidence that constitutional considerations played any role in his decision, or that this administration has any desire to shore up Congress' position as the only branch of government with the power to to authorize the initiation of war.

To the contrary, the Trump administration has gone out of its way to emphasize that they believe the president has broad power to initiate a wide range of conflicts. In April 2018, Trump's Office of Legal Counsel put out a memo defending exactly that view. As Harvard law professor Jack Goldsmith (a former Bush administration OLC head, and leading war powers expert) puts it, the memo builds on "Obama-era legal opinions" and "articulate[s] an extraordinarily broad conception of the president's authority to use military force abroad through air strikes without congressional authorization." Goldsmith also writes (correctly, in my view) that the Trump OLC opinion is "in no way surprising"—at least not to anyone familiar with the Obama administration's positions on this issue. But it should give pause to anyone who thinks Trump is somehow intent on reining in presidential war powers.

The administration's very broad interpretation of presidential power is also evident in Trump's notorious statements threatening to initiate wars with North Korea and Iran, neither of which includes even the slightest suggestion that congressional authorization might be necessary. No such recognition was evident in any follow-up statements by Trump and other administration officials, either. Finally, it's worth noting that Trump has continued the Obama-initiated intervention in Iraq and Syria for over two years (and still counting), without making any meaningful effort to secure congressional authorization for it. Indeed, he has made even less effort to get it than Obama did.

In sum, everything the administration has said and done on the subject of war powers is consistent with the view that the president has the right to start a wide range of conflicts without congressional authorization. He can also, if he wants, end them (as Trump now hopes to do with the intervention in Syria). But it's all up to him.

In this respect, Trump is continuing Obama's troubling legacy (and to some extent that of previous presidents), rather than making major innovations of his own. But we should not fool ourselves into thinking that he's making the situation any better.

The constitutional requirement that Congress must authorize the initation of war is more than just a technical legal formality. It helps ensure that no one man has the authority to take the nation to war, and increases the likelihood that any wars we do initiate will be backed by a broad political consensus, which in turn helps increase the odds of a successful outcome. The Founders wanted to deny the president the power to start wars on his own, and their reasons for doing so are, if anything, even more valid under modern conditions than they were in the eighteenth century.

If we are going to restore congressional control over war initiation, Congress itself needs to act. I suggested some possible ways to do so here, and Yale Law School Prof. Bruce Ackerman has outlined some others.

In the meantime, those who support withdrawing from Syria on policy grounds may have reason to cheer. For the reasons summarized by David French (who also recognizes the conflict is unconstitutional) here and here, I think withdrawing at this time is likely a mistake, and may well create a situation where a larger intervention will be needed in the future. Like French, I think it would have been better to secure congressional authorization for continued, but limited intervention. But whether or not Trump's Syria withdrawal is strategically wise, it does nothing to bolster constitutional limitations on presidential war powers. To the contrary, Trump and his administration have made their disrespect for such constraints abundantly clear.

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  1. “To the contrary, Trump and his administration have made their disrespect for such constraints abundantly clear.”

    Ah, and he’s worse in this regard than which recent President?

    I mean, there’s justice to the complaint, but only to the extent you don’t pretend Trump is unusual in this regard.

    1. W and Obama at least made efforts to justify their actions using legal arguments. You can label them as “poor” if you choose to do so… though this, like almost everything else, appears to be heavily colored by partisanship… as opposed to saying “I’m commander-in-chief, so they do what I tell them to do.”

      Now, (also subject to coloring by partisanship) you may have doubts as to whether or not W, O, or T actually understood any or all of the arguments raised by their subordinates. This is a case where, to me, T is different from W or O.

      1. If you consider calling a war a “kinetic military action” a legal argument. I don’t.

      2. “W and Obama at least made efforts to justify their actions using legal arguments.”

        So they’re all wrong but W and Obama tried clever lies and that’s better than Trumps simple lie. Cause lying’s ok if you feel a little bad about doing it.

        1. So they all did things I don’t think are right, but 2/3 of them at least tried to make an argument that they were right, while one doesn’t care if he’s right, or not.

          1. Trump’s gone on record as stating that it doesn’t make sense to have our troops in so many countries. So I’m not sure exactly what you’re crying about here.

            1. Yeah, but so did Obama. It’s all empty.

      3. Yes because ending and starting a war are equivalent and clearly a president requires congressional authorization to end a war even if it was never authorized in the first place. On case that distinction is too subtle, I assume no incompatibility exists here with the idea that the executive can not be compelled to enforce a law…

    2. It’s right there in the OP:

      “Far from respecting constitutional limits on presidential warmaking, the administration has in fact doubled down on Obama-era arguments justifying broad presidential power to initiate new conflicts.”

  2. What do you mean “if they become generally accepted”? No President has ever accepted the constitutionality of the War Powers Act, and no President has asked for a declaration or AUMF since Roosevelt except in circumstances where they were sure to get it without any real debate (eg 9/11 AUMF) or if they were up to something that they might want to blame the other Party for.

  3. Let us be clear, that what Prof. Somin calls “bad,” “laughable,” “controversial,” and “troubling” views are in fact the mainstream view, and his views are something of an outlier. I guess it’s fine if Prof. Somin wants to identify his personal views on the governance of a just state with “the Constitution,” although a lawyer in private practice who was giving legal advice to paying clients could hardly do such a thing. Lawprof privilege, I guess. It’s a good example of why first year associates taught by Prof. Somin and his comrades are not very useful and require a lot of training by actual practitioners.

    1. I think you’re confusing “practiced in the breach” with “we don’t think this is a breach at all”…

    2. I don’t know if I would call a cowardly, supine Congress, who refuses to vote, lest a positive vote be held against them if things go badly, or a negative vote as cowardly, as mainstream.

      Well, it probably is, but that does not make it constitutionally proper.

      1. Lawyers in private practice offering services that the market will actually pay for have to deal with laws passed by cowardly, supine legislators all the time. I know that would be hard for snowflakes who work for the State.

  4. “If we are going to restore congressional control over war initiation, Congress itself needs to act.”

    It seems to me that the problem is that Congress did act. Specifically, that it enacted the 2001 AUMF, a bill which, on its face, delegates to the President the ongoing power to declare war unilaterally against any country which, in his opinion, is responsible for a terrorist attack within the United States.

    If Somin is right, then that delegation was improper and should be challenged in the courts. That is, assuming he can find a potential plaintiff who would have standing, and that may be impossible.

    1. Where, pray tell, does it say that in the resolution that says that “the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons“?

      1. Elements of Al Queda formed Al Quada in Iraq and elements of Al Quada in Iraq formed ISIS.

        So long as there is a relationship of any sort between the original Al Queda and Terrorist Group X, jdgalt1 is not wrong.

        1. No he is, because he claimed such a nexus was not necessary.

          1. I don’t think he did, at least not explicitly. He simply summarised what he saw as the effect of the 2001 AUMF, which though on a cursory reading seem to be limited to matters related to the September 11 attacks, is, on a closer reading, much less limited.

            Thus for example if Syria in 1983 harbored anyone, even when he was a child. who later aided one of the September 11 terrorists, Syria in 2015 is a legitimate target under 2001 AUMF. In principle you could certainly scoop up the UK and Germany under that broad heading, since they have entertained asylum claims from all sorts of unsavoury characters associated with Al Qaeda, before and after 2001.

            A good comparison is the Mueller instructions, which appear at first sight to have something to do with Trump campaign-Russia collusion in relation to the 2016 election. But on closer inspection they refer to any links between the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump Campaign. So a journalist embedded with the Trump campaign to cover it, who had interviewed a Russian bureaucrat in 1995 about oil production would fall within the words. Hillary Clinton might be a legitimate target because of the links between Manafort and the Podestas.

    2. Didn’t we have this challenge, when W claimed the authority to hold an American, captured in America, accused of crimes entirely in the United States, in a military brig?

  5. I think the core problem here is that you are conflating “military action” and “war”, and the two circles overlap considerably but not completely.

    The nature of “war” was basically unchanged from Founding until the 1940’s, although the first hints of changes were around in the 1900’s, as treaties of alliance provided for an attack on one country being considered an attack on another. Thus, come 1951, you have the situation that an attack on South Korea is an attack on its allies, including the United States… thus justifying those allies responding with military force, even without a formal declaration of war.

    So… do we assume that the Founders somehow predicted this turn of events, and intentionally separated the power to direct the military from the power to declare war, believing that sometimes we’d want to have military action without a declaration of war?

    I think the solution isn’t Congress passing a statute. The President has the Constitutional power to direct the military forces, and it isn’t clear that Congress can override that power (either with the President signing a law or by overriding the President’s veto). I think you need a Constitutional amendment. The question then becomes… what restrictions on use of military force should be imposed, and what is the resolution if the power is misused (or used appropriately by the circumstances but contrary to the amended Constitution.)

    I suggest these are not easy questions to answer.

    1. All the President has to do is deploy the military into a war zone with instructions only to fight if attacked. Then he says “I’m not touching you! I’m not touching you!” OMG we’re attacked now the President gets to direct the ensuing kinetic military action!

      1. The Constitutional remedy is to pull the plug on the money spigot.

        1. Which Congress – BOTH PARTIES! – lacks to will to do on practically anything, much less on military actions against terrorists.

          1. So what’s your suggestion? If Congress won’t stop the President, who can?

            1. The courts could weigh in. They are our chosen experts on Constitutional analysis, after all.

              As I said, I don’t much care for the political question doctrine.

              1. The “political question” allows the court to demonstrate the same wisdom and courage as Congress in such matters. And there are other practical considerations.

                The Taney court might have been wise indeed to punt rather than opine.

                1. When the two other branches are fighting over the extent of their Constitutionally defined powers, the branch that is charged with interpreting the Constitution should weigh in. Not just punt to what will in effect almost always be the executive.

                  1. Yes, the courts do not have enough power.

                    Let’s give them power over war and peace too.

                  2. “Not just punt to what will in effect almost always be the executive.”

                    Why? What’s wrong with punting?

              2. “To be sure, if Congress cannot invoke our authority in the way that Justice Alito proposes, then its only recourse is to confront the President directly. Unimaginable evil this is not. Our system is designed for confrontation. That is what “[a]mbition . . . counteract[ing] ambition,” The Federalist, No. 51, at 322 (J. Madison), is all about. If majorities in both Houses of Congress care enough about the matter, they have available innumerable ways to com-pel executive action without a lawsuit?from refusingto confirm Presidential appointees to the elimination of funding. (Nothing says “enforce the Act” quite like “. . . or you will have money for little else.”) But the condition is crucial; Congress must care enough to act against the President itself, not merely enough to instruct its lawyers to ask us to do so. Placing the Constitution’s entirely anticipated political arm wrestling into permanent judicial receivership does not do the system a favor. And by the way, if the President loses the lawsuit but does not faithfully implement the Court’s decree, just as he did not faithfully implement Congress’s statute, what then? Only Congress can bring him to heel by . . . what do you think? Yes: a direct confrontation with the President.”

                1. That system ended up failing like right after Washington’s term.

                  And I’m not sure it’s a good idea to leave constitutionality up to the political branches anyhow, as the Bill of Rights is by design anti-majoritarian, and so is a bunch of the structural text (see: War Powers).

                  What mechanisms does the Congress have to confront the executive when the executive takes initiative? Maybe defunding, but even then the ‘take care’ clause is arguably a political question.

                  I don’t at all understand your argument that the Court’s weight does not matter – if the President chooses to defy the other two co-equal branches on a constitutional issue, that is much less deniable crisis than getting into a scrum with just one, no?

                  1. “That system ended up failing like right after Washington’s term.”

                    What do you mean?

                    “And I’m not sure it’s a good idea to leave constitutionality up to the political branches anyhow…”

                    That’s the entire point of the confrontation provisions in the Constitution. It was expected that one branch or the other might act beyond its constitutional scope. As Scalia noted, that’s what ambitions counteracting ambitions was all about.

                    “Maybe defunding, but even then the ‘take care’ clause is arguably a political question.”

                    The take care clause is absolutely a political question. But there are other remedies. Impeachment being the major one.

                    “…much less deniable crisis than getting into a scrum…”

                    The crisis for the Court is to get involved in a political scrum it cannot win. Congress and the President are armed to fight each other. The Court isn’t armed to fight either of them. And the country won’t be better off because the Court weighs in; it’s going to decide whether to side with the President or Congress in due time. If SCOTUS decides in a way the voters don’t accept, that’s the end of SCOTUS.

                    1. “it” being the country, not the Court. Poor syntax.

                    2. 1) I mean Marbury.

                      2) Is our current state of executive expansionism and Congressional laxitude not a counterexample to ambitions countering ambitions without some referee?

                      3) Impeachment seems the only remedy, and that’s a purely political act. Under your system, operationally, you’ve given the President power above and beyond the Constitutional limits so long as the people are behind him. So much for being a republic and not a democracy.

                      4) The Court is no more or less armed to get into conflict with the other two branches than those two are.

                      5) The final arbiter you are leaning on is the popular vote. This would seem to render the Constitution a nullity for practical purposes.

                    3. 1) I am confused by this. I don’t understand what the argument is.

                      2) It’s an example of Congress not caring enough to have a confrontation. Surely you aren’t advocating for every disagreement between Congress and the President to result in, say, impeachment? And there is a referee; it’s us.

                      3) SCOTUS does not have the practical power to stop the President from doing something if “the people are behind him”. That was intentional. There was much hand-wringing about a Supreme Court interfering in political affairs that were above their pay grade, and it was assured they’d stay out.

                      4) This isn’t true; the Constitution pits Congress and the President directly against each other. It doesn’t do this with the Judiciary.

                      5) Why? Why is the Constitution rendered a nullity when Congress decides constitutional issue wrongly but not when the Court does so?

                    4. 1) Judicial review doesn’t seem part of the world envisioned in the Federalist you quoted. And historically it wasn’t. So the whole power dynamic is pretty different.

                      2) Hah – that’s what it looks to me like you’re doing! I’m advocating for an arbiter to weigh in, precisely because it can resolve these disputes without doing violence to the balance of powers we have, unlike the status quo which has and does.

                      3) If the President and the People want something the Constitution forbids, and legitimacy bedamned, nothing can stop them except like a coup. But the point is that such Presidential action would be illegitimate, and that’s not nothing where the People are concerned.
                      The Court has serious sway over legitimacy for lots of reasons (expertise, the dispute resolution posture of judicial review, lifetime tenure…)

                      4) Judicial review pits the Court against each of the other two all the time as well.

                      5) We are not speaking of right or wrong; we are speaking of procedure. If when the President and Congress are in conflict about the fundamental structure of our government, leaving it to the people and not the experts charged with specifying that structure in all other instances, that means the people’s will rules all in the final operation.
                      Which is explicitly not the Founders vision, and they set up lots of anti-majoritarian stuff to make sure. Stuff you’d throw away by making majority the final arbiter of what the anti-majoritarian stuff says.

                    5. I think the numbering format is useful.

                      1) I’m still lost at sea here. I need to know what you meant by “That system” up thread.

                      2) If the President wants to invade Syria and Congress wants to look the other way, why is there a need for an arbiter? Nobody cares enough to have the fight. There’s no reason to manufacture a constitutional crisis. But practically, let’s say the President invades Syria and Congress cuts funding. SCOTUS declares the invasion constitutionally supported. Is SCOTUS going to tell Congress to restore funding, or accept the President’s nominees, or drop impeachment? No. Congress (like the President) is entitled to disagree with SCOTUS.

                      3) “The Court has serious sway over legitimacy for lots of reasons…” …including its entirely prudent decision to stay out of political questions. Do you think the Court’s legitimacy was increased when Justice Douglas ordered the military to stop bombing Cambodia, and they ignored him? Do you think the Court will survive to express its legitimacy if it gets into the business of micromanaging warfare?

                      4) Very rarely. When Congress is mad at the President, it has ways of speaking without resort to SCOTUS.

                      5) “Which is explicitly not the Founders vision, and they set up lots of anti-majoritarian stuff to make sure.” Like what? What did you specifically have in mind in the Constitution that requires SCOTUS to answer political questions?

                    6. 1) The system of unadjudicated conflict between Exec and Leg relies on a larger paradigm wherein all three branches police their own Constitutionality. That didn’t work pretty quickly (though to be fair it took something special like TJ being TJ to do it)

                      2) Yeah, I did get a bit muddy between conflict between E&L and the structure of powers between E&L. Lets stick to the former, though I do wonder about cures for the latter, and the SCOTUS does again spring to mind when it comes to laying out the Constitutional lanes.
                      As to your Syrian approps cut scenario, the Court analyzing where Commander in Chief ends and War Powers begin seems exactly in their skillset, no? As to your main issue – the remedy – courts enjoin both executives and legislatures all the time; I don’t see the issue. (thinking of redistricting cases for example)

                      3) I’m still unconvinced by your ipse dixit that the Court’s legitimacy comes from not weighing in on political questions. They adjudicate crazy political issues all the time, and with some price to their legitimacy amongst political types. Why is this set of questions at all different in kind?
                      You know it wouldn’t be like Douglas popping off. And you know the Court has lots of areas where it can micromanage and yet avoids it. The danger is no greater here than in arenas the judiciary already regularly treads.

                    7. 4) You are saying that the Supreme Court rarely strikes down executive or legislative actions on Congressional grounds? I’ll buy that. But I also think that rarely is enough to show that the Court can do it without issue. Political questions are not a high frequency event either.

                      5) There is nothing in the Constitution about what the ‘judicial power’ is. It is neither explicitly commanded or forbidden. But my point was not about text, it was about structure and operation. To repeat myself a bit, leaving the structure of the Constitution for voters to decide goes against not only judicial review, but having a constitution at all.

                    8. 4) I’m saying SCOTUS rarely directly adjudicates disputes between Congress and the President.

                      5) There is so. But at any rate my argument is also about “structure and operation.” What do you make of the fact that the Constitution requires the Exec to appoint justices, and Congress to affirm them? Or that they can be impeached by Congress but not the other way around? How do you interpret “such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make”? The Constitution arms the Exec and the Leg but not the Judiciary.

                      I get your point about anti-majoritarianism. But anti-majoritarianism alone doesn’t mandate that the Court do anything.

                    9. 1) I don’t agree with this. The adjudication of the conflict between Exec and Leg are the constitutional weapons that each is armed with. Power of the purse versus enforcement. Power to nominate over power to approve. Veto against power to legislate. The Constitution expressly contemplated the Leg and Exec policing each other.

                      2) Well what if the President announces (like Lincoln and Roosevelt) that its actions are based on emergency war powers? Do you think a law degree informs as to when an emergency is truly an emergency? Re: remedy, redistricting cases involve SCOTUS enjoining states, who are not coordinate branches. However, SCOTUS does enjoin the Exec and Leg. My point is they’re very careful about when they do so.

                      3) It’s hard for me to have this discussion with you in the abstract. As asked elsewhere, we should establish parameters of where you think “this set of questions” is. Then we can discuss specific cases. I think I will able to show that in agreed political questions, the juice is not worth the squeeze.

                    10. 1) I think the issue here is that the original quote is making an originalist argument, and I’m responding with policy responses. And a little arguing that originalism is particularity inapt in this case since Marbury rejiggered the playingfield from what the Federalist Papers thought.
                      Perhaps not the Constitution, but our Republic as it has operated since almost it’s inception has contemplated judicial review, which is as much a check on the other two branches as your examples.

                      2) I’m not being a credentialist. It’s not that you gotta be a lawyer, it’s that the job we pick judges and justices for is Constitutional interpretation. And what constitutes a crisis for constitutional purposes is indeed exactly their arena.
                      Fair enough about my redistricting cases, but you are correct that I am correct. I agree about care being needed.

                      3) Heh. I remain unconvinced. I am arguing in a more structural abstract, but your main examples is war powers, and still requires a lot of speculation about the reaction to the Court weighing in.

                      In the end, I think it comes down to this: we both agree that every use of judicial review risks some of the Court’s legitimacy, and as such should be used carefully. I just think care should be on a case-by-case basis, and that the PQD is an overinclusive line to draw.

                    11. 1) Since we’re talking about the scope of judicial review, I don’t think it is the case that the Republic since its inception has contemplated the judicial review you had in mind. The political question doctrine is a child of Marbury.

                      2) There’s nothing about an education in constitutional interpretation that can inform a justice whether an enemy threat is sufficiently dire that we need to respond in a particular way. They just aren’t qualified to answer the question, even though the answer bears on the constitutionality.

                      3) I already think the PQD is a case-by-case analysis.

  6. “If Trump had acknowledged that the war is illegal and justified his decision to withdraw on that basis, he might have struck a useful blow for constitutional limits on executive power.”

    And why in the world would Trump have done anything that would or could be construed as limiting executive power? Assuming, of course, that he would have recognized the consequence…

    1. To be fair, he has been somewhat better than the previous administration about complying with court orders, even ones that are obviously going to be overturned on appeal. He may complain about them, but he complies.

      So it wasn’t an entirely baseless hope that he might be willing to ditch some of the more blatantly unconstitutional modern Presidential powers, such as initiating wars.

      But when he made a show of going through the process of “withdrawing” from the Paris accord, instead of just stating that, as an unratified treaty there wasn’t anything to withdraw from, it became pretty clear that he wasn’t going to be venturing far in that direction.

      1. “But when he made a show of going through the process of “withdrawing” from the Paris accord, instead of just stating that, as an unratified treaty there wasn’t anything to withdraw from”

        The U.S. has a history of adhering to unratified treaties, because to fail to do so makes the U.S. an unfaithful negotiating partner, and renders nearly impossible the task of negotiating treaties.

        1. Doesn’t make the Paris Accord any less dumb.

          1. Or any more dumb. Or make Trump any more or less dumb. Or move the price of GM preferred by even a cent. So who cares?

        2. The Executive branch takes the position that the Executive can unilaterally obligate the country. The Senate takes the opposite view.

          The difference is that the Senate actually has the Constitution on their side. All the Executive branch has is the Vienna Convention, which is, surprise: A treaty the Senate didn’t ratify. So the legal basis for the President being able to obligate the US by signing treaties the Senate doesn’t ratify is a treaty a President signed and the Senate didn’t ratify.

          Somewhat circular reasoning, no? I’m going with the Constitution here.

          James, negotiating treaties which don’t have enough domestic support to be ratified OUGHT to be a nearly impossible task. Nothing is going to be more effective at giving the US a bad reputation as a unfaithful negotiating partner, than encouraging Presidents to pretend they have the power to impose unwanted treaties on the country, resulting in “executive agreements” which have no domestic support.

          Other countries are not run by children, they’re perfectly capable of understanding the concept of unratified treaties not being law.

          1. Agree with Brett on the legal point – this is why I do not care for the political question doctrine.

            Though I also agree James Pollock’s policy point that making the US less steadfast in it’s foreign policy should generally be considered pretty carefully.

            1. And my point is that pretending that unratified treaties are binding anyway actually makes the US a less reliable partner, because it encourages Presidents to negotiate agreements they know have no domestic support, like the Kyoto treaty or the Paris accord.

              The US would be more trustworthy a partner if Presidents were clear on the fact that their signature on an agreement means squat, legally, and that it was pointless to pretend the contrary.

              1. I think you’re blaming the agreement maker overmuch – the destabilizing act isn’t just the making of the agreement, it’s pulling out as well. There is blame to go around.

                Operationally, the President needs to be able to make agreements without always going back to the Senate. Though I absolutely agree that in the modern era the trend has been more and more to ignore the Senate, and the line is way out of wack.
                But that doesn’t mean there is no blame to a President ignoring America’s reputation and pulling out of whatever executive agreements he can.

                Everyone knows Presidential agreements mean nothing legally; they used to think it meant a bit more than that operationally. Because it did.

                Having America’s foreign policy ruled by domestic squabbles is not good, either for America, or for the general stabilizing influence we’ve had on the world since the Cold War.

                Not a policy dictate, but certainly a policy concern. And one our executive does not have.

                1. ” the destabilizing act isn’t just the making of the agreement, it’s pulling out as well.”

                  But the “pulling out”, only happens because the President got us “into” something he knew there wasn’t domestic support for. Make it clear enough that a President’s signature doesn’t mean anything without Senate ratification, and Presidents will have less motive to “enter into” agreements they know lack support at home.

                  1. Domestic support isn’t much of a thing with America’s foreign policy. We’re a superpower, and have the myopia to go along with it. I’ve watched the UK go from being our closest most vital ally to a Muslim-owned hellhole in the course of a week on this very forum back in the Obama years.

                    I agree with you that a President who blithely makes executive agreements because he can is making bad policy. I am unsurprising you don’t think that also applies to a President who blithely cancels them, given who that is these days. Predictable, but sad.

                    Other country’s diplomats know how America’s politics works, we don’t need to make some clarifying magic statement for that.

                    1. A President making an executive pinkie promise is neither bad nor good in and of itself, any more than canceling a previous executive’s pinkie promise. The problem is Presidents making promises instead of treaties because they know the promise is opposed by a majority in the Senate.

                      For a President to cancel a promise a previous President made in the teeth of Senate opposition is a good thing, not bad, because the Senate is supposed to have this power, and it should not be circumvented.

                      In “pulling us out of” a bogus pseudo-treaty, Trump restored the proper constitutional balance. I know you don’t care about that, but I do. We have Presidents, not kings. Or at least we’re supposed to.

                    2. It isn’t even a pinkie promise…

                      If Amber and Courtney make a pinkie promise, it is in no way binding on Britney if she replaces Amber…

                    3. My point is only that there are more consequences to operating in should-world than merely ceding power to a Senate who does not want said power.
                      And that Trump does not seem to care about those consequences, and he should.

                    4. I don’t give a damn whether the Senate wants said power. Unless the Senate ratifies a treaty, it isn’t law. NO part of the government is bound by it, and certainly not subsequent administrations.

                      If you don’t want subsequent administrations refusing to abide by Presidential promises, don’t make promises, make treaties. And if you can’t make a treaty, it’s because you’re making a promise the rest of the government is rejecting, and entitled to reject.

                    5. Law != policy, Brett!

              2. ” my point is that pretending that unratified treaties are binding anyway”

                With whom are you debating THAT point?

                1. Sarcastro, apparently. Who thinks it’s a bad thing for Presidents to not act as though unratified treaties were binding.

                  1. My point is only that there are more consequences to operating in should-world than merely ceding power to a Senate who does not want said power.
                    And that Trump does not seem to care about those consequences, and he should.

                    Do you know what binding means? Because that’s not what binding means.

  7. I am looking at the withdrawal from Syria as the President sensing great dangers there and no clear objective remaining to be achieved. Russia, Iran, and China are flooding the area with higher tech weapons that could cause real problems and high casualties for our special forces on the ground.

    We could still dominate the air, more or less, but heck, we had that in Vietnam as I recall from my front row seat back then.

    I am fascinated by that nifty 900km concrete wall that Turkey is building along its border with Syria, apparently with EU funding. Somebody has faith that walls are necessary and can work if given proper legal and military support.

    1. ” Somebody has faith that walls are necessary and can work if given proper legal and military support.”

      Well, as long as SOMEBODY believes, somewhere, Tinkerbell will survive.

    2. “Somebody has faith that walls are necessary and can work if given proper legal and military support.”

      The ancient Chinese had faith in that proposition so strong that they built what is still today the largest wall ever built. It didn’t work..

      1. Actually, it did work, for a long while. It only failed, IIRC, when somebody high up was bribed to leave part of it undefended.

        Walls work, so long as there are men behind them, prepared to defend them. Their purpose is not to stop invaders by themselves, but just to slow them down enough that MEN can arrive in time to stop them, before they can enter the country and blend into the population.

        1. Wasn’t it more about the symbolism a few months ago? Man, following Trump’s mercurial tweets must be tough.

          Walls alone do not work, even as just some delaying tactic. Look at the daily effort required for the Berlin Wall to work.

          The resources we would need for a wall of this length to function as any kind of effective barrier is kinda ridiculous. Might as well annex Mexico and build a wall across Panama.

          1. Now explain Israel’s highly successful wall/fence.

            1. Yeah, Israel’s wall is unmanned and super low maintenance.

              And their success metrics are different – there is a de facto state of shooting war over there that despite dumb invasion rhetoric we do not have.

              1. “Yeah, Israel’s wall is unmanned and super low maintenance.”

                Of course not but I thought it took a maximum effort like East Germany’s? Seems like Israel is having success with just routine effort.

                “de facto state of shooting war over there that despite dumb invasion rhetoric we do not have.”

                Ronil Singh and his family might dispute this.

                1. You think Israel’s maintenance of that wall is routine effort? They have compulsory military service.

                  I know you can tell war from criminality.

                  1. “They have compulsory military service.”

                    Yes, since the founding. Well before the wall.

                    “I know you can tell war from criminality.”

                    What is the difference between an Arab from Ramalla stabbing some one to death in Tel Aviv and Cpl. Singh’s death?

                    Both done by an invader.

                    1. So you agree Israel’s military resource scope is fundamentally different from ours, and that any actual comparison would have to go deeper.

                      I’ll just leave your attempted parallel between Mexicans and Palestinians there.

                    2. “Israel’s military resource scope is fundamentally different from ours”

                      The US has many, many, many times the military [and economic] resources of Israel.

                      Compulsory military service does not mean a large standing force. It just means everyone has to serve briefly.

                      You can make a coherent argument about Cpl. Singh/Jew in Tel Aviv so its just a veiled racist allegation.

                    3. We also don’t use the military on the border. It’s not a good comparison just because they have a wall. And Israel has a large standing military. And even with the wall, they still have to go kill a bunch of Palestinians every once in a while. Great no-fuss wall, there.

                      By your dumb logic, we’re in a civil war every time a citizen shoots someone in America.

                    4. “We also don’t use the military on the border.”

                      We should.

                    5. We don’t use our military to protect our border. We just use them in some God-forsaken desert on the other side of the globe. Makes sense, right?

                      If you look at the miles of Israel’s border vs our southern border, our border wall would be a much smaller undertaking in per capita and % of GDP terms. And the reason their wall is totally effective isn’t manpower, but appropriate laws which work in tandem with a wall to create appropriate deterrence and incentives. What we have in the U.S. is the opposite situation, actively encouraging and creating opportunity for illegal immigration. The reason we have a porous/open border is very simple — some have decided they want the border to be that way, and the U.S. simply hasn’t taken the steps to fix it & has done a lot to make it worse.

                    6. Look up why we don’t.

                      Our skepticism of domestic use of the military has some pretty good precedents behind it.

                    7. Protecting our international border is not “domestic use”; it’s fundamental common defense. Especially when it’s a real army, of course, but also when it’s heavily armed drug gangs and trafficking operations, and even all the way down to lawless rock throwers and violent mobs attacking border patrol agents and trying to push their kids over barbed wire (as happened on New Year’s Eve most recently).

                    8. Borders and immigration are not part of Commander in Chief duties in the Constitution, I don’t think it’s as clearly obvious and fundamental as your ipse dixit would indicate.

                      heavily armed drug gangs and trafficking operations
                      This clause brought to you from the late ’90s.

                      lawless rock throwers and violent mobs attacking border patrol agents and trying to push their kids over barbed wire (as happened on New Year’s Eve most recently)
                      Stop quoting nativist propaganda uncritically. This seems to be a lie.

                    9. Such ignorance. We’re not talking about immigration broadly here, but the security of our border. The paramilitary drug and trafficking gangs are real. They torture and kill and behead women and children all over Mexico, where the murder rate was at an all-time high in 2018. There are countless videos and instances of them crossing the southern border and they have operations here.

                      When faced with facts you don’t like, your response is to call the facts “nativist propaganda” and call our border patrol agents liars. You’re a dirtbag.

                    10. We’re not talking about immigration broadly here, but the security of our border.
                      Which is a subset of immigration, as this clause pretty clearly acknowledges.

                      The paramilitary drug and trafficking gangs are real
                      They exist; they wax and wane; they do not and have never found it a good use of resources to venture into the US. So this is irrelevant.

                      Smuggling isn’t invasion; it’s law enforcement.

                      I looked up your anecdote; I found posts on Breitbart and the Washington Times. I found a number of refutations from places that are not that.

                      When faced with facts you don’t like, your response is to call the facts “nativist propaganda” and call our border patrol agents liars. You’re a dirtbag.
                      That was a quote from U.S. Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman Katie Waldman. Hiding behind some bullshit patriotic paeon appeal to authority is the real dirtbag move.
                      Naming the wrong people, venerating border patrol agents above other citizens, namecalling.

                      When a story seems too good to be true do your research and you won’t have to pound the table so hard next time when you’re called out.

                    11. You didn’t find any refutations, Sarcastro. You found a Reuters story with a “Reuters witness” who “did not see any migrants throwing rocks.” But then the story confirms “migrants prepared to climb a border fence . . migrants began to pass youths and children over the razor wire.”

                      Sheesh. Are you losing your grip on reality? You just vomit out text from your imagination that you wish was true. You’re calling the border patrol liars because you’re a liar.

                    12. Multiple witnesses. Who would have seen something. Indeed, they did see some of the story – which makes it telling when they did not see the rest, no?

                      You want to militarize the border, wrap yourself in the flag on behalf of a spokesperson, and then call me a liar for quoting reuters instead of Breitbart or whatever your source was. Sad!

                    13. When Reuters contradicts a spokesperson, siding with Reuters isn’t some unpatriotic act. To argue otherwise is to be a bootlicker I don’t think you usually are.

                    14. Except Reuters didn’t contradict it. They just said they have a witness who didn’t see anyone throw anything, but confirmed most of the story (the story which you baselessly called a lie and nativist propaganda).

                    15. When someone says ‘we were unable to confirm what the spokesperson said, and we were there’ that’s contradiction.

                    16. Nope. There is no suggestion in the article that if it had happened, this witness would necessarily have seen it.

                    17. Furthermore, Reuters is only reporting the claims of a witness, without any kind of additional verification. A witness who, again, did not contradict the CBP, but mostly confirmed the CBP and only said they didn’t see rocks thrown.

                      Even if the witness had contradicted the CBP and said “If it happened I would have seen it, so it didn’t happen,” then Reuters would merely be reporting the fact that an anonymous, unnamed source has made a claim that contradicted the CBP.

          2. I don’t follow Trump’s tweets, I don’t even have a Twitter account.

            Walls alone do not work, but they do work as a delaying tactic, to permit somebody to show up in time to stop the person trying to cross.

            And the resources to make a wall of this length function are actually kind of trivial on the scale of the US. That’s one of the advantages we have over smaller countries: The US/Mexico border is less than half an inch per capita.

            1. Trump’s tweets feed many a media sycophant – you may be reacting and not even know it!

              I can’t be arsed to dig it up, but I seem to recall an another of these wall threads the argument was that it was a symbol. Which seems not to be the current argument. Of course, physical deterrence is way old and busted. Now it’s some kind of delaying tactic? Considering how that doesn’t work great with those going over/under the wall sections we have, I think your being quite optimistic.

              Your measurement of wall length per capital is pretty facile, but it does show the amount of national effort required to make the wall anything more than some act to own the libs.

              Seriously, I do recommend twitter, though. Took me a while, but it’s popularity exists for a reason. Even my Mom has succumbed.

              1. I’m of the camp who believe the reason that Democrats are so freaking adamant about not building the wall, even though they’re ready to burn billions of dollars for the stupidest things, is because they actually fear it might work. And their dreams of eventual demographic dominance depend on continued unabated illegal immigration.

                They really are determined to “elect a new people”, and until Trump came along, they had the Republican party as covert allies in that effort.

                Sure, it will only work if backed up by men ready to swoop down on anybody attempting to cross the wall, but at the same time footage of people breaking holes or climbing the wall, and attacking the men sent to stop them, are a powerful demonstration that it IS an invasion, and that, as much as the actual impediment, is what Democrats fear.

                1. By now, the reason both sides are adamant about wall/not wall is political. Neither side cares anymore about efficacy, or even what sort of message it sends to anyone not a US voter.

                  Democrats don’t like what they think the wall will do, but I have yet to meet anyone on the left who thinks it’ll stop illegal immigration. Of course, neither do I know any who believe in demographic dominance via illegal immigration as a policy. Except for those on the right speculating about what the left is secretly thinking. Which is more telling about the right’s fears than it is about the left’s hopes.

                  To turn that same analysis mode to the wall, Dems aren’t speculating the right wants the wall because they actually want to stop illegals. So whatever projection is going on, it isn’t from that angle.

                  Even under your dark Latino-horde-voting future, illegal border crossing isn’t invasion.

                  1. “Of course, neither do I know any who believe in demographic dominance via illegal immigration as a policy. Except for those on the right speculating about what the left is secretly thinking.”

                    That’s why I’m all the time reading this bragging about inevitable demographic victory, how whites are on their way to becoming a minority. Because I’m mind reading.

                    Of course very few people in a position of prominence are going to include the “via illegal immigration” part of it in their public statements. But it scarcely requires much line drawing to connect Democrats’ bragging about how demographics are going to give them inevitable victory, with Democrats’ fanatical opposition to border enforcement.

                    1. Democrats don’t need the trickle of illegals for demographic victory (nor do I, personally think demographics is destiny, so this is far from assured IMO).

                      It’s not line drawing – the jump you’re making is from that to ‘the REAL reason why Democrats assist illegal immigration” which is actually two jumps, one to an actual policy, and that they even are assisting illegal immigration, versus just not being as into immiseration as a good method to do anything.

                      And then there is your usual replacement of Democratic words with your own speculation about their unspoken thoughts, which is par for the course.

                      Though saying Dems are fanatically opposed to border enforcement is ignoring not just words, but actual actions by both Democrats in Congress and Democratic Presidents. Border enforcement ain’t just the wall. Hell, it isn’t even the wall at all.

                    2. “Democrats don’t need the trickle of illegals for demographic victory”

                      “Trickle”? Are you kidding me? “Trickle”? It’s estimated that illegal immigrants and their anchor babies are something approaching 10% of the entire population!

                      That’s not a trickle, that’s a flood.

                    3. “”Trickle”? Are you kidding me? “Trickle”? It’s estimated that illegal immigrants and their anchor babies are something approaching 10% of the entire population!”

                      That’s not what your link says. It says the number approached 8% until ~2008 and since then has declined. That should tell you something about how weird it is that you’ve been caught up in the culture war zeitgeist for a wall when the problem that is intended to solve has been in steady decline.

                    4. He’s also mixing up rate with total.

                    5. If your opposition to illegal immigration is that it will cause Republicans to lose elections, maybe you should think of better arguments to persuade. Why would independents and democrats support a wall just to help Republicans win elections?

                      You do know there are Republicans who support relaxed immigration enforcement? Like Presidents Bush and Reagan?

                    6. My reason for opposition to illegal immigration is that assimilation works both ways. The immigrant assimilates to the new country, and the new country assimilates to the immigrant. As the number of immigrants increases, the immigrants have less need to adapt, and the country more.

                      Or to put it another way, “You are what you eat.”

                      Now, explain to me why we, as a country, want to become more like central and South America. What exactly about Mexico or Honduras strikes you as a wonderful society that we ought to become more like?

                      We become who we allow to immigrate. I don’t want America to become Honduras. Is that complicated?

                    7. “If your opposition to illegal immigration is that it will cause Republicans to lose elections, maybe you should think of better arguments to persuade. Why would independents and democrats support a wall just to help Republicans win elections?”

                      This is too easy. Better jobs and wages for the working class, achieve full employment & make the welfare state defunct. As opposed to the commies under Obama who gleefully rushed to sign up as many people as possible for daddy government food stamps. Also – pause immigration to allow assimilation & preservation of the culture of liberty.

                    8. “Better jobs and wages for the working class…”

                      If Mexicans will do the job for less, we should want them doing the work. If you want to centrally plan higher wages for locals, it’s more efficient to just price in a minimum wage, which is crazy.

                      “…achieve full employment…”

                      This hurts Americans, since the things immigrants do, in America, will have to be done by people demanding higher wages. Who do you think will pay those wages? Americans.

                      “…for daddy government food stamps…”

                      Yet you’re advocating for central planning governmental reduction in the workforce to mandate a set wage for domestic workers. Labor markets change day-to-day and cannot be planned efficiently by Congress.

                    9. “Now, explain to me why we, as a country, want to become more like central and South America.”

                      We don’t. I don’t agree with you that the people who fled central and south America are interested in turning America into those places. Because they came here to avoid those places. What’s nice about our immigration policy is that we literally rob Mexico and Honduras of their most ambitious unskilled laborers.

                      “Is that complicated?”

                      No, it’s so simple that it tells me everything I need to know about your fucked up worldview. The idea that 400,000 Hondurans–or 4,000,000 for that matter–fleeing economic plight in Honduras have either the inclination or capacity to turn America into a Tegucigalpan slum, tells me that you’re scared of your own shadow. Are the 3M+ Russians in the country going to transform us into Leningrad?

                    10. NTOJ–

                      You are the one that wants to “centrally plan” wages for Americans (low ones, to be specific) with your favored policy of unreasonably high (by any measure) levels of immigration and illegal immigration.

                      “This hurts Americans” Yes, there are at least some Americans who will be negatively impacted by any conceivable policy in any area. And you might even be able to show me that higher immigration levels could, under some models and given certain assumptions, result in higher GDP growth. But why should I care about that? Show me the divined predictions for per capita GDP figures and the distributional effects (e.g. on wages) of your quasi-open borders policy. Frankly your policy ideology here is very extreme from any historically informed perspective, and I don’t see any defense of it.

                    11. “…with your favored policy of unreasonably high (by any measure) levels of immigration and illegal immigration.”

                      In your magical world, abandonment of government regulation is central planning. You understand that criminalizing the free movement of labor is what immigration policies are all about? It’s regulation. Just own it.

                      “But why should I care about that?”

                      Well if you want what is best for Americans, you would support a policy that benefited Americans the most. Restricting the supply of foreign workers coming to the US doesn’t benefit Americans more than allowing them to come. Who do you think is hiring all these Mexicans, domestically?

                      “…of your quasi-open borders policy. Frankly your policy ideology here is very extreme…”

                      My policy ideology supports the current system we’ve had in place for decades, which has survived (and thrived) under Republican and Democratic Presidents, from Reagan to both Bushes to Clinton to Obama. And despite the current President’s rhetoric, nothing is going to fundamentally change because the interests in favor of having cheap labor available for Americans eclipse the interest of whatever pet group you’re advocating for. If Republicans lose the Chamber of Commerce, they will never win another election.

                    12. NTOJ–

                      “Well if you want what is best for Americans, you would support a policy that benefited Americans the most.”

                      And raising GDP while lowering GDP per capita and wages is what is best for Americans?

                      Please, try to be less sloppy and outright dishonest with your arguments than just snipping a quote and pretending to respond to it by blatantly ignoring its actual meaning from the context.

                      “nothing is going to fundamentally change because the interests in favor of having cheap labor ”

                      You’re right . . . an intentional policy of keeping wages as low as possible is politically unassailable! I don’t know why I didn’t see this before.

                    13. In economics, prices matter as well as productivity.

                      I don’t much care for how we keep our buying power so strong off the backs of what is effectively a peasant class we keep unregulated, but it’s pretty ridiculous to argue with NTOJ that cheap illegal labor doesn’t actually help the economy.

                      Good lord, did you get out of bed on the angry side today!

                    14. “but it’s pretty ridiculous to argue with NTOJ that cheap illegal labor doesn’t actually help the economy.”

                      Oh my, well if it helps “the economy” then never mind. I love “the economy”, it’s the best. So if there’s anything that helps “the economy,” I’m in favor of it.

                    15. “And raising GDP while lowering GDP per capita and wages is what is best for Americans?”

                      America’s immigration policies for the last 50 years have not lowered GDP per capita. They’ve raised it. This is because, fundamentally, allowing Human A and Human B to agree to perform work more efficiently than Human C, will increase overall human productivity and, accordingly, GDP per capita. Here it is.

                      “…an intentional policy of keeping wages as low as possible is politically unassailable!”

                      An intentional policy of letting markets decide wages as opposed to regulating them upwards. Do you support minimum wage legislation? We can price illegal immigrants out of American labor markets tomorrow.

                    16. “America’s immigration policies for the last 50 years have not lowered GDP per capita. They’ve raised it.”

                      Oops, you forgot to show your causation.

                      I’d prefer no minimum wage legislation. But I’m not so dumb as to claim it’s not politically popular.

                      Don’t forget wages, which are directly impacted by immigration. Borjas calculates that the “net surplus” of immigration is zeroed out by the net taxpayer cost (immigrants receive more government assistance than natives). The much bigger economic effect that remains is a redistribution of wealth on the order of $500 billion annually, from the native losers who are harmed by immigration to the native winners who benefit from immigration.

                      Setting all of that aside, your position stated here seems to be strongly in support of current immigration policy. Am I to understand then that you believe the current levels of immigration are optimal? So doubling those levels right now would be a mistake in your view, correct? And the composite of immigrants is also perfect — we don’t need less unskilled and more skilled?

                    17. 2/2

                      Lastly, your characterization of current immigration policy as merely keeping the status quo of the last 50 years misses the basic facts. Never before in America’s history has such a high percentage of the population been comprised of immigrants. We were close to this level a century ago, and then tapped the brakes because the need for mass amounts of labor had dropped off, and the level of immigrants had reached a tipping point. That’s where we find ourselves again now. The status quo of the last 50 years might look like the average percentage of foreign born population during that time — a figure which would be close to half what it is now. So another way of keeping the overall status quo of 50 years would be to reduce immigration until the immigrant population percentage is equal to the average of the last 50 years, rather than stuck on an exponentially increasing vector indefinitely.

                    18. “Never before in America’s history has such a high percentage of the population been comprised of immigrants.”

                      That’s not true, at least re: illegal immigrants. Per Brett’s link above, we’re lower today than we were in 2007.

                      “We were close to this level a century ago, and then tapped the brakes because the need for mass amounts of labor had dropped off, and the level of immigrants had reached a tipping point.”

                      It was higher, but in any rate, we didn’t tap the breaks because of some thoughtful evaluation of good policy, but because of the same working-class driven demands for higher wages that you’re selling in this thread. Since preferring native workers arbitrarily over non-native workers is a net loss for Americans, I’m just as inclined to reject the argument today as I would have been in 1920. And because mobility was more difficult, back then, a shifting job market really would have resulted in far more jobless and stagnant workers in 1890 than it did when the Mexicans just went home in 2008.

                    19. Talking about the total foreign born population by percentage here, not illegal immigrants.

                      But since you mention it, the evidence actually indicates that the number of illegal immigrants is likely more than twice as high as the estimates you are basing your figures on — some have long been pointing out that the given estimates were likely vastly understated.

                    20. “But since you mention it, the evidence actually indicates that the number of illegal immigrants is likely more than twice as high as the estimates you are basing your figures on…”

                      Unlikely since the figures I was relying on was from Brett’s link above. Here is the study. Read the names of the authors. Then read the names at the top of the article you linked to. Figure two from their article reflects the decline from 2007. See figure 2.

                    21. “It was higher”

                      It was not higher a century ago. We have just barely eclipsed that number, so at this point it has never been this high before in the history of the U.S. I would challenge you to cite the top 10 examples from human history of particularly high levels of mass migration, so that we might learn from the circumstances that surrounded such events.

                    22. “I would challenge you to cite the top 10 examples from human history of particularly high levels of mass migration…”

                      How about I just cite you to my source for the claim.

                    23. “Since preferring native workers arbitrarily over non-native workers is a net loss for Americans”

                      There you go again with your gibberish, and you’re smart enough to know exactly what you’re doing. Care to define “net loss for Americans” ?

                      The problem is you’re going to define this as GDP. Why should the vast majority of Americans care if a policy maximizes the profits of American multinationals, when such profits are not necessarily of any particular benefit to the American people generally?

                      Instead of a policy that maximizes GDP and corporate profits, why wouldn’t I instead be interested in a policy that maximizes wages for Americans?

                      But let’s even say that we accept your priority of maximizing GDP. Borjas demonstrated that immigration is likely a wash overall in terms of the overall GDP gain of $50 billion compared to the increased $50 billion in government expenditures. But the larger effect that remains is a $500 billion dollar wealth transfer from one category of natives (the less well off, generally) to a beneficiary category of natives.

                    24. “Care to define “net loss for Americans” ?”

                      Yes, the same way you define it in reliance on Borjas defines it, with the revisions I made upthread. I’m relying on the same data you’ve presented, subject to those caveats. This is hardly an aggressive claim; even Borjas says it’s a wash before factoring in native-consumer benefits and native-benefits associated with the welfare payments to non-natives.

                      “The problem is you’re going to define this as GDP.”

                      False. YOU tried to define it as GDP, per capita. Where did you see me try to define net gain in terms of the GDP?????

                      “Instead of a policy that maximizes GDP and corporate profits, why wouldn’t I instead be interested in a policy that maximizes wages for Americans?”

                      You have this myopic focus on wages. Americans pay wages too. They also enjoy the services. Where is your calculus for consumer benefits?

                      “But let’s even say that we accept your priority of maximizing GDP…”

                      Are you fucking serious???? To recap, you introduce GDP, find out you don’t have the data to support it, and then accuse me of not factoring in things I’ve already factored in.

                    25. 1/1

                      You’re all over the map here, unable to address a single main point, and only able to focus on myopia.

                      As Borjas and an insurmountable wealth of evidence demonstrates, a policy of very large amounts of immigration leads to a massive wealth transfer among Americans, generally from poor Americans to rich Americans. And that is by design, being the main intent behind the policy on the part of the donor class. No amount of dissembling on your part about “net loss” or gain (which despite your self-contradictions, is comprised of factors counted in GDP, according to your definition), changes this fact.

                    26. 2/2

                      This unreasonable immigration policy is a causal factor in wage stagnation and decline, described recently by the NYT as follows

                      Data from the Federal Reserve show that over the last decade and a half, the proportion of family income from wages has dropped from nearly 70 percent to just under 61 percent. It’s an extraordinary shift, driven largely by the investment profits of the very wealthy. In short, the people who possess tradable assets, especially stocks, have enjoyed a recovery that Americans dependent on savings or income from their weekly paycheck have yet to see. Ten years after the financial crisis, getting ahead by going to work every day seems quaint, akin to using the phone book to find a number or renting a video at Blockbuster” ?

                      In 2016, net worth among white middle-income families was 19 percent below 2007 levels, adjusted for inflation. But among blacks, it was down 40 percent, and Hispanics saw a drop of 46 percent. For many, old-fashioned hard work has simply not been a viable path out of this hole. After unemployment peaked in the fall of 2009, it took years for joblessness to return to pre-recession levels. Slack in the labor market left the employed and unemployed alike with little leverage to demand raises, even as corporate profits surged.

                      Maybe it was inevitable that when half the population watches its wages stagnate while the other half gets rich in the market, the result is President Donald Trump and Brexit.

                    27. “…is likely a wash overall in terms of the overall GDP gain of $50 billion compared to the increased $50 billion in government expenditures….”

                      Borjas wouldn’t say that. He knows $50B in government expenditures finds its way into GDP as well. He’s an economist. He would never say that a $50B investment into people who spend the money in the economy has no positive effect on GDP.

                    28. “Borjas wouldn’t say that.”

                      More precisely, he is talking about the more relevant net effect on Americans. Clearly, he is taking into consideration the factors that you rightly point out he would consider as an economist.

                      “What does it all add up to? The fiscal burden offsets the gain from the $50 billion immigration surplus, so it’s not too farfetched to conclude that immigration has barely affected the total wealth of natives at all. Instead, it has changed how the pie is split, with the losers?the workers who compete with immigrants, many of those being low-skilled Americans?sending a roughly $500 billion check annually to the winners. Those winners are primarily their employers. And the immigrants themselves come out ahead, too. Put bluntly, immigration turns out to be just another income redistribution program.”

                    29. By the way… If you agree with Borjas that illegal immigration is a net wash for Americans, why wouldn’t you support it? The benefits enjoyed by the non-natives should make it preferable to the alternative, right?

                    30. Because it’s massive redistribution of wealth, $500bn annually from the working class to the rich?

                      Because without assimilation, massive amounts of immigration destroys the culture and social fabric of the country? And leads directly to more socialism?

                      We’re talking about immigration levels here, not “illegal immigration” which is even more objectionable and fundamentally unfair.

                    31. Because it’s massive redistribution of wealth, $500bn annually from the working class to the rich?

                      Because without assimilation, massive amounts of immigration destroys the culture and social fabric of the country? And leads directly to more socialism?

                      We’re talking about immigration levels here, not “illegal immigration” which is even more objectionable and fundamentally unfair.

                    32. “That’s where we find ourselves again now.”

                      What are the economic indicators that you are looking at that tell you we face some real problem from illegal immigration?

                      “…rather than stuck on an exponentially increasing vector indefinitely.”

                      This sounds very 1995 of you. Are you sure you aren’t living in the past?

                    33. “What are the economic indicators that you are looking at that tell you we face some real problem from illegal immigration?”

                      That would the flat and falling inflation-adjusted wages over decades for most Americans? Curiously coinciding with the radically high levels of immigration that you are suggesting we continue?

                    34. “That would the flat and falling inflation-adjusted wages over decades for most Americans? Curiously coinciding with the radically high levels of immigration that you are suggesting we continue?”

                      Well I’d need to know how you define “wages . . . for most Americans”. Wages have gone up and down for different groups. Women’s wages have gone up a lot, men’s have gone down (which you’d expect from them competing with women). But you’re going to find stagnating wages, not decreasing wages, during the same period that you had increasing immigration. So you can’t even get to correlation. See for yourself. And if wages stagnate, wouldn’t you want consumer goods and services prices to go down, so workers can afford more stuff for their non-increasing wages?

                    35. NYT:

                      Data from the Federal Reserve show that over the last decade and a half, the proportion of family income from wages has dropped from nearly 70 percent to just under 61 percent. It’s an extraordinary shift, driven largely by the investment profits of the very wealthy. In short, the people who possess tradable assets, especially stocks, have enjoyed a recovery that Americans dependent on savings or income from their weekly paycheck have yet to see. Ten years after the financial crisis, getting ahead by going to work every day seems quaint, akin to using the phone book to find a number or renting a video at Blockbuster” ?

                      In 2016, net worth among white middle-income families was 19 percent below 2007 levels, adjusted for inflation. But among blacks, it was down 40 percent, and Hispanics saw a drop of 46 percent. For many, old-fashioned hard work has simply not been a viable path out of this hole. After unemployment peaked in the fall of 2009, it took years for joblessness to return to pre-recession levels. Slack in the labor market left the employed and unemployed alike with little leverage to demand raises, even as corporate profits surged.

                      Maybe it was inevitable that when half the population watches its wages stagnate while the other half gets rich in the market, the result is President Donald Trump and Brexit.

                    36. “Oops, you forgot to show your causation.”

                      Well you didn’t attempt to show even a correlation between relaxed immigration enforcement and decreased per capita GDP but ok.

                      “The much bigger economic effect…”

                      Is that even by Borjas’s calculation (which ignores a lot of things), it’s a net winner for natives. It only becomes a wash when you factor in social welfare costs, but he doesn’t account for the native benefits of those costs. I can’t tell if he is factoring in the net benefits that consumers enjoy as well, although I’m looking into his work to see if he does. He talks about a wealth transfer from employees to employers, but lots of people who aren’t employers enjoy the benefits of non-native workers. (If you factor in the overall benefit of non-natives, it’s obviously a huge net positive, even by Borjas’s calculation.)

                    37. “even by Borjas’s calculation (which ignores a lot of things), it’s a net winner for natives”

                      No, it’s not. He subtracts the government expenditures from the estimate of ALL “benefits” of immigration (like your $0.05 cheaper apples), and it makes a wash. The wealth transfer is essentially a redistribution of resources, and it’s much more specific than “employees to employers”, it provides outsized benefit and harm to specific individuals and groups.

                      “If you factor in the overall benefit of non-natives”

                      There are 7 billion people in the world. Why should a member of any given nation favor sacrificing his own individual, personal livelihood for a supposed benefit to members of some other nation — particularly when there is no evidence that such a policy is actually for the greater good of the world’s 7 billion people? Why is it seen as a viable solution to ship as many of them as possible into the U.S. and other nations, with the promise of a few more dineros, instead of helping their best and brightest contribute to their homelands?

                    38. “He subtracts the government expenditures from the estimate of ALL “benefits” of immigration (like your $0.05 cheaper apples), and it makes a wash.”

                      As I said above, he’s ignoring consumer benefits for native Americans from the decreased costs of goods and services, and he’s ignoring the native American benefits associated with the welfare payments to non-native Americans (i.e., the American grower of the food that the food stamp pays for).

                      “Why should a member of any given nation favor sacrificing his own individual…”

                      You’ve just said you agree that the average individual in our nation is not worse off because it’s a wash.

                      “…instead of helping their best and brightest contribute to their homelands?”

                      As Professor Somin has pointed out, it is the availability of foot-voting that is going to cause changes in the native countries. Soviet Russia wasn’t brought down by Reagan. It was brought down by East Germans looking jealously at the lights in West Berlin.

                    39. “he’s ignoring . . . ”

                      No, he’s not ignoring those things when he says ” it’s not too farfetched to conclude that immigration has barely affected the total wealth of natives at all. Instead, it has changed how the pie is split, with the losers?the workers who compete with immigrants, many of those being low-skilled Americans?sending a roughly $500 billion check annually to the winners.”

                    40. “Am I to understand then that you believe the current levels of immigration are optimal?”

                      No. What is “optimal” changes every day. There are countless labor market issuing demands for more or less labor on a daily basis. The idea that any person, or even any group of legislatures, who can determine an “optimal” amount is bureaucratic hubris.

                      Current levels of illegal immigration already respond to the American economy. The reason illegal immigration levels decreased during the recession, and have slowed in their rate of increase since, is because many of the jobs dried up. I think the government should have the policy that it does: generally permit some unskilled immigration through looking the other way as necessary, without having totally open boarders. I think we almost certainly need to increase our express legal immigration (which is mostly focused on skilled labor), but I’d increase the availability of legal immigration for unskilled labor. If you believe that there are illegal immigrants trying to enter the country today, you acknowledge that there is a demand for their domestic employment. That tells me that the labor market domestically needs unskilled laborers.

                    41. Finally, what is “perfect” is not some thing that Congress has the ability to regulate. If there’s a construction boom in central Texas, that market needs laborers more quickly than Congress could possibly answer. The entire idea that we can solve a market problem by having Congress just double, triple, or halve immigration levels is stupid.

                    42. “The idea that any person, or even any group of legislatures, who can determine an “optimal” amount is bureaucratic hubris.”

                      I agree. And yet you are going to have to choose, whether you like it or not, which sort of immigration policies, as to levels, processes, and selection criterias, you are going to adopt. One extreme is to have truly open borders. Anyone that wants in is, welcome home, the welfare office is around the corner, and here’s your free health care and education. The other extreme would be zero immigration.

                      Coming in at just slightly less than open borders, we have “We will basically let anyone in, if you overstay a visa, sneak across the border undetected, or get caught trying to cross illegally and then claim asylum. Bonus points if you bring someone’s kids along. Later on, you can have amnesty. We never deport anyone unless they commit serious crimes, and even then we try not to — just be in a sanctuary city and you’re ok! And don’t forget — anchor babies!”

                      So, I think we have some room for improvement in our current immigration policy.

                    43. “The other extreme would be zero immigration.”

                      And between the two of us, which one of us is closer to open borders? That should tell you which one of us is advocating for more government regulation.

                    44. “which one of us is advocating for more government regulation.”

                      That would be you, easily, since massive immigration levels come with massive welfare and other government expenditures, and moreover lead obviously and directly to more socialism and progressive policies, as countless liberal publications have expressly explained and openly celebrated.

                    45. ” I don’t agree with you that the people who fled central and south America are interested in turning America into those places. ”

                      I don’t care if they’re interested in doing it, I care if they ARE doing it. They can’t help doing it, they bring their culture with them whether they want to or not, and if they’re coming in sufficient numbers, that culture will influence ours. Maybe the whole country won’t turn into a South American slum, but we’ll develop pockets like that, and the whole country will become more like that.

                      You can already see it happening. More and more you run into people speaking Spanish, not English, for instance.

                      And while with legal immigration we can minimize this effect, by selecting only for immigrants with English literacy and demonstrably good character, illegal immigration selects in the opposite direction, selects for people who have contempt for our laws. Which is why a large fraction of our prison population are illegal immigrants.

                      It’s not a problem we have to volunteer to suffer from.

                    46. You can already see it happening. More and more you run into people speaking Spanish, not English, for instance.

                      According to page 6 of this census report, this is just your confirmation bias talking.

                      Your use of English fluency as a proxy for American cultural identity is also really reductive.

                      And I would return you to NToJ’s original point – your fear that illegal immigrants (or rather their kids) will cause cultural change by not voting like you do is whole big mess of circular logic and question begging.

                    47. ” if they’re coming in sufficient numbers, that culture will influence ours.”

                      The number of people who have to come here to influence our culture is 0, so, yeah, they’re coming in sufficient numbers to influence us.

                    48. “…but we’ll develop pockets like that, and the whole country will become more like that.”

                      When you put it that way what’s there to be concerned about? Don’t you love Mexican food?

                      “You can already see it happening. More and more you run into people speaking Spanish, not English, for instance.”

                      Is that what this is about? You having to listen to other people speak in a different language? What do you fucking care? English is spoken in other countries too.

                      “…illegal immigration selects in the opposite direction, selects for people who have contempt for our laws.”

                      It selects for wildly ambitious people who are willing to move to a place where their existence is criminalized to escape economic poverty, and who will work for peanuts. The incarceration rate for illegal immigrants is lower than natives, even when you include immigration-related offenses. That’s hardly surprising; illegal immigrants don’t leave home just so they can come hang out in our prisons.

                    49. “And while with legal immigration we can minimize this effect, by selecting only for immigrants with English literacy and demonstrably good character…”

                      Yes, we shall have the omniscient geniuses in Congress determine the sufficient characteristics we want from foreigners to fill domestic labor needs that change, literally daily, everywhere in the country. Comrade Bellmore is on to something.

                    50. There was a hilarious story recently where farm workers had to be paid a lot more because there was not sufficient itinerant 3rd worlders being ushered in. The end result was that the produce cost like 5 cents more . . . and regardless, the contributions of unskilled immigrants are frequently outweighed by billions in additional health care, education, welfare and other costs. All of the chicken little bullshit about how the economy would be destroyed without illegal immigration is propaganda. The real motive is plainly stated on a regular basis, just a few days ago the NYT joyously celebrated the success of the “demographic change” tactic of replacing Americans with new voters to achieve the progressive victory and the fundamental transformation of America.

                    51. “All of the chicken little bullshit…”

                      Yes, it is I who is screaming about the sky falling. Not you. For you, all that is at stake is a multi-billion dollar infrastructure plan necessary for the “preservation of the culture of liberty.” You’ve really kept this discussion data driven as well, with your “hilarious story” anecdote. Way to stay above the fray.

                      I guess Reagan was a manchurian candidate all along.

                    52. I wasn’t talking about you as chicken little, I was talking about the countless headlines warning of economic doom and industry failures if we don’t continue bringing in sufficiently large waves of 3rd world peasants.

                      See my response above to your 2:24pm post. I tried to post it earlier and lost it and had to retype.

        2. The last time it failed the general defending the wall was informed his family had been executed to the third generation for picking the wrong side in a dispute with the Palace Eunics, this led to him failing to obey a summons to the capital when a bandit army attacked and the Emperor hung himself. The Manchus he was supposed to be defending against declared their intent to crush the bandit army and occupy the now vacant throne he decided to throw in with them and switched sides.

          Every other failure of the walls on the Northern Frontier was either remarkably similar or involved the barbarian army going around the wall by traveling less than a hundred miles, and often less than thirty, to some place where the wall had been converted into a local building stone depot and thus no longer existed. The latter is how Genghis Khan himself did it.

        3. “Walls work, so long as there are men behind them, prepared to defend them.”

          This hasn’t been true at least as far back as Troy, and possibly longer.

          1. So, things don’t work unless they’re perfect? Is that your perspective?

            1. Walls don’t work like you’re arguing they do is the point, Brett. And equating a wall with border security is very wrong, with countless counterexamples across the world.

            2. “So, things don’t work unless they’re perfect?”

              If a thing is made for a purpose, and it does not achieve that purpose, it doesn’t work. It is ALSO not perfect, but how is that relevant?

          2. “This hasn’t been true at least as far back as Troy, and possibly longer.”

            Troy’s walls worked great. They held off a siege for 10 years. It was only when they were stupid and threw their gates open to the invaders that they lost.

            1. “Troy’s walls worked great”

              History says otherwise. I suppose Carthage did well against Rome, too, in your reckoning?

  8. War powers post. Check.

    Just need immigration and political ignorance and 2019 is official.

    1. ***chuckle***

    2. An ignorant, uninformative and gratuitously insulting comment from Bob. Check.

  9. The War Powers Act doesn’t need any help. Congress can cut funding for any and all military adventures at any time. The last thing the members of Congress want is responsibility for American deaths – including responsibility for preventing them.

  10. The argument many are making that the best place for Congress to make war policy is appropriations isn’t how appropriations work politically.

    1. Might not be but what other remedies are there?

      1. Get real contours of what powers a declaration of war gives the executive, and what he can do without it.

        Constitutionafy the WPR.

        1. Ha, try stuffing the post-WWII national security genie back in the constitutional bottle? Why sir, we have a world order to impose! That requires an adventurous executive and compliant Congress, not the absurd design of the Founders.

          1. Or, as I discussed above, the Supreme Court weighing in.

            1. If a President will act in direct opposition to Congress, why wouldn’t he just act in direct opposition to SCOTUS?

              1. The President is just one guy. What matters is the armies… both literally and figurative, that take their orders from the President, and… whether or not they’ll take those orders.

                If President Numbnuts orders the Marines to occupy South Dakota, and the SCOTUS says “What? No!”, some of the professional officers will find themselves conflicted Of those, some will follow the President, some will refuse unlawful orders. Get enough of the latter, and the crisis is resolved.

              2. The President defying Congress has a long precedent, and largely without consequence. The President defying the Court does not. The President defying both…not at all the same.

                1. “The President defying both…not at all the same.”

                  That’s because of the political question doctrine.

                  1. I disagree.
                    While we can’t know the counterfactual here we do have some info from history.

                    The President didn’t defy the Court before the doctrine was codified in the ’60s. Except Jackson once, though he took no adverse action, and Georgia went along with the Court’s finding that time.The Court got Truman to back down in Youngstown.

                    1. I don’t know what you mean “doctrine was codified in the ’60s”. If you mean 1860s, I’m not aware of the case. If you mean Baker v. Carr, that case demonstrates the history of the political question doctrine from Marbury (1803), Luther (1849), Coleman (1939), etc.

                      There would have been very few instances for the Court to adjudicate disputes between the President and SCOTUS because of that history. If you have examples I’ll hear you out. Youngstown Steel wasn’t a fight between POTUS and Congress, and has been dialed back since then at any rate.

                    2. Carr codified it. Finding some tendrils of history is not the same as setting out the the explicit formal and open operation.

                      My examples were about the Court forcing the Executive to stand down, without a political question on the scene. Which would seem to be counterexamples to your proposition that the PQD is required for the Court’s power of political persuasiveness.

                    3. I don’t think the political question doctrine announces just an arbitrary set of decisions the Court wants to avoid. It’s precisely because political questions implicate the Court’s legitimacy that they duck them. If Justice asks the Justices to uphold a conviction, the Executive is asking the Judiciary for something the Executive wants from the Judiciary. The Judiciary’s decision to leave it alone (or not) is fairly uncontroversial because nobody thinks SCOTUS is overstepping its bounds when it simply refuses to go along with some other branch. The considerations elaborated on in Carr are what you would expect from a Court interested in its own legitimacy, and uninterested in exercising primacy over a coordinate branch.

                      Those considerations amount to: Don’t pick fights you can’t win. Your answer is: Well that’s dumb because the Court always wins its fights! As an initial matter, that’s untrue. In any event, while I’m sympathetic to your overall point (it’s rather amazing that the Supreme Court survived Dred Scott) I’m suggesting that the reason SCOTUS wins is mostly because SCOTUS has been very smart about picking its battles.

                      Even Jackson in his Korematsu dissent acknowledge that. The day the Chief Justice tells the President of the United States how to protect the country is the end of SCOTUS. Nobody elected the lawyers to decide such things, and the Constitution certainly doesn’t demand their input.

                    4. Let me make one other quick point. SCOTUS sweats a veneer of humility, legitimacy, and independence. But there’s nothing necessary about its humility, legitimacy, and independence. SCOTUS tomorrow could announce that it is abandoning Article III standing entirely and just start declaring laws void prior to any case. SCOTUS tomorrow could show up at the State of the Union with Vuvuzelas and dare its colleagues to stop them from disrupting the event. SCOTUS tomorrow could issue an expressly partisan decision–that is one that announces it is ignoring the Constitution in favor of a partisan result.

                      We don’t agree that the political question doctrine is part of SCOTUS’s maintenance of its own legitimacy. Ok. But would you at least agree that SCOTUS has to behave in a particular way to maintain its own legitimacy?

                    5. I don’t know that I see nonfeasence as preserving the moral highground you do. IMO most of the concerns you have are ships that have already sailed either from past cases or thanks to our current partisan moment dragging the Court in.

                      The Supreme Court can still be humble without this unneeded bright line rule. Given it’s cert rate these days, it could not help but be so. This, I will agree with you, is a good thing, and vital to our republic staying as kickass as it has.

                    6. Let’s just clarify our disagreement. Which political question case that SCOTUS ducked, or which political question controversy that you think SCOTUS would duck under its current “bright line rule” (I don’t agree with this characterization), do you think SCOTUS should decide, and how should they decide it?

                    7. My beef began in law school reading Goldwater v. Carter. But war powers are a good example. Immigration might become one. And these state lame-duck powerstripping shenanigans worry me a bit as harbringers of federal stuff.

                      As you noted above, my argument is more about a properly reactive structure as our government gets more extreme, but there are plenty of past conflicts to point to. And, with our newly minted Democratic House, probably some to come up shortly.

                    8. Let’s focus on Goldwater. I can’t make sense of your concern in light of what you’ve said upthread, since the issue was essentially the Court refusing to rule where the Senate had acquiesced to executive action. If Congress had voted on the resolution at issue, the case would have come out differently. So what do you think the result should have been? SCOTUS allows a minority of Senators to bind the entire Senate? Or SCOTUS rules that the President has authority to unilaterally end treaties? In either event, what constitutional crisis would have been averted?

                    9. Tellingly, you assume an answer on the merits.

                      The treaty was ratified. I think at the very least it’s an open question as to whether you need positive action by the Senate to reverse that. The same policy concerns apply for getting out of a treaty as for getting into it, after all.
                      It wasn’t a minority of Senators binding the Senate, it was a duly passed treaty binding the Senate until repealed, just like duly passed laws do.

                      Or at least that’s the issue at bar. But the Court declined to weigh in, saying the other two branches should fight it out. Which was a default win for the executive, as these things almost always end up being.

                      Perhaps no explicit crisis, but a passage of power from L to E. Not a preservation of the separation of powers.

                    10. I don’t know what else to assume. If you aren’t advocating for an answer on the merits, what are you proposing that SCOTUS do that it isn’t doing?

                      “It wasn’t a minority of Senators binding the Senate…”

                      Yes it was. There’s a good discussion of that in the COA’s concurring opinion. Paragraph beginning “Appellees point to…”

                      “Which was a default win for the executive…”

                      It was a default win because the Senate agreed with the President. Goldwater tried, unsuccessfully, to get the votes.

                      “…but a passage of power from L to E.”

                      The power passed because the President’s position was agreed with by the Legislature. Why are we concerned with such passages of power?

                    11. The SCOTUS chose not to answer, but you and I are debating about the merits, because the case cries out for such a decision, not just ‘let them fight it out’ when that defaults to the President every time.

                      If the Senate agrees with the President, let them pass something saying so. That’s what we require with a law, right? Or are you okay with a system wherein the President just abrogates a law and if the Senate doesn’t act all is good.

    2. It may not be the way appropriations work now, but it should. It is unfortunate that Congresscritters care more about maintaining power for their party rather than defending congressional prerogatives.

      1. You are not wrong. But you make policy with the political field you have, not the one you wish you had.

        Reform the balance of powers later – it needs it, and as you will see elsewhere on this thread I have some ideas about how.

        But the common suggestion that the way to change broken procedures is to suddenly act like they are fixed isn’t actually how you fix things.

  11. “Trump did something good. But in other news here’s a decades-old problem that he hasn’t fixed yet.”

    1. This is how you advocate to fix decades-old problems.

  12. On the subject of how walls work, I once wrote a historical dissertation on Hadrian’s wall and how it actually was an anti-cattle raiding measure against those damn thieving Scotsmen. The thing was, livestock were the valuable mobile property in the ancient world. Hadrian’s wall was not that tall, but raiders coming down would have to bridge it to get their horses over, which dramatically increased the chances they would be detected.

    Then, on the way back, the thieves would have to devise a bigger bridge of some sort to get the cattle across.

    The Great Wall of China served the same purpose. The Mongols could always sneak up to the wall on a foggy night and scurry over via ladders, but Mongols were horsemen. Getting the horses over was the problem. The walls had permanent garrisons, frequent patrols, and well-devised lines of sight for the signal towers to give the alarms of intrusions day or night, literally with smoke or mirrors flashing sunlight.

    1. Right, the goal isn’t to stop the invader, it’s to slow the invader, give you a chance to detect them before they can vanish. The better the sensors and the closer the guard posts, the lower the wall can be. With enough guards and sensors, all you need is a strip of land that lacks cover.

      1. Didn’t both those walls end up not working due to their builders not being able to spare the resources to keep them manned?

        1. “End up not working” is a vast improvement on “never worked at all.”

          Walls work perfectly, souffles always rise perfectly, and children are behave perfectly, in Utopia.

          1. The point is that the operations costs were the main killer. And no one is talking about those in this case.

            1. If people even thought about operations costs, all those huge windmills thrashing the sky and processing birds into broken bags of bones and feathers all over America would be non-starters. The key operations costs for electrical generation are maintenance and line loss due to resistance. Both dramatically increase when multitudes of energy generators are in a grid spread over a huge area.

              How do you service wind mills? You drive in a Jeep to each one, climb the internal ladder 120 or more feet up carrying your tools, work in a tiny, cramped, dangerous space or out on top in the wind, then you hope you don’t need parts or really big tools which is more trips up and down the ladder.

              Walls are usually the most cost effective security for prisons, especially really tall walls. History has forgotten that when Italy controlled Libya from 1912-45 Mussolini spent a lot of money building irrigation systems and farms there, but also a barbed wire fence along the entire border with Egypt to keep the Bedouins out. It actually worked, one machine gun post every 250 meters.

              1. What are you talking about?!
                Bird deaths are taken into account when putting up windmills. As is the cost to integrate with the grid and maintenance costs.

                If our country were the size of a prison, your analogy might work.

                Italian policy in the first half of the 20th century might not be a great go-to for cost-effective policy, plus it was a humanitarian horror show: ” The wire was patrolled using aircraft and armored cars from the forts, by the Italian army and border guards, who attacked anyone seen in the frontier zone.”

                ” The Frontier Wire, a barbed wire fence was built from the Mediterranean to the oasis of Al-Jaghbub to sever lines critical to the resistance. Soon afterwards, the colonial administration began the wholesale deportation of the people of the Jebel Akhdar to deny the rebels the support of the local population. The forced migration of more than 100,000 people ended in concentration camps in Suluq, El Magrun, Abyar and El Agheila where tens of thousands died in squalid conditions.

                Overall, five main and ten smaller concentration camps were established. Badoglio proposed to convert the camps into permanent settlements, but this was prevented by the dismal living and economic conditions in the camps.”

                Why not set up a mine field at our border?

  13. Apparently the costs to integrate with the grid and maintenance costs were not taken very realistically into account by many customers, as there are an estimated 14,000 windmills world wide now indefinitely out of service, almost all of them far short of their estimated service lives.

    As for the Black Shirt Italians, it would have been far more humane had they built a real wall. You do know that Turkey is building an 800 km concrete wall the entire length of its border with Syria and that the EU is paying for it! Hungary has already built a similar wall on three sides of their nation to keep out illegal Islamic immigration but I don’t know who paid for that.

    1. You moved the goal posts. What you were arguing was an effective wall you are now arguing is a great example of trying too hard when a wall would be enough. Backpedaling from advocating for war crimes in a situation where there is no war is not something that’s as easy as you think.

      Operators making a mistake about windmills would seem proof we should not make that mistake about walls, no? Did you just even fail at tu quoque?

      As for your pointing to Turkey’s plans to build a wall is another telling look at how often you need to lean on authoritarian regimes for examples of effective ‘walls.’ For the low low price of our ideals, and a bunch of money, we can be as secure as Turkey! FFS. And this one isn’t even operational yet, and also doesn’t seem to be paid for by the EU.

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  15. This comment is a test. I was just wondering if anyone would notice this, now that this post is over two weeks old, and there’s not system for notifying one of activity on “watched” threads. Which there should be. This commenting system is so 20th Century!

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