GM and Tear Gas: MAGA Open on Two Fronts

Last week, Hillary Clinton said the EU should close the door to migration, lest it ‘roil the body politic’, liberty depends on it.  Her worry isn’t ragged foreigners, but native imaginations.  But they’re choice words; reminds us it’s the head she’s protecting.

I suspect she had us in mind, too.  The US presidency seems to preoccupy her.  And, like any alcoholic, she knows the first step is to surrender.  But she’s wrong as usual.  Cracking down on immigration won’t deflate ‘populism’, because migrants aren’t driving it.  Even our most-bonified populists, Clive and Ammon Bundy say so (check out Ammon’s facebook page for a more-liberal view on immigration).

Regardless how -and I doubt she knows- Americans feel, the numbers aren’t there.  Immigration has been dropping.  New PEW data says undocumented labor has dropped more than 8% since 2007.  In other words, migrants didn’t take our jobs.  Rather, when the banks took our jobs, they took theirs, too.  Then more went home than came.

There are far-fewer ‘recent-arrivals’ (here 5 years or less) than in past surveys.  So even if we’re still convinced that migrants are the problem, the border still isn’t.  Moreover, it was Bill Clinton’s 1996 Immigration Act that made petty crime grounds for deportation.  (Priorly, the threshold was a conviction yielding 5+ years in prison.)  The report finds ‘the overwhelming majority have been here a decade or more’.  That casts doubt that most are criminals.

And there’s less unemployment.  3.7%. The lowest in a half-century.  I know facts aren’t everything, there’s fear, but fear’s not impenetrable, either.  Trump tweets that the job market is growing and growing, near as often as he tweets we’re being invaded.  So even within his playlist there’s a contradiction.  And if it’s not, and we’re losing jobs, it’s because jobs are leaving, not because workers are coming.  Ask 1 in 5 GM workers who ruined their Christmas.  Emigrating capital, not immigrant labor.

Migrants crossing from Tijuana last Sunday weren’t met by auto-workers, nor fear of any civilian stripe, but soldiers ordered to divert them from seeking amnesty.  The resulting photos of tear-gassed children have rounded the internet.  Officials claim gas was deployed–only after the agents were pelted with debris.  They claim also that mothers and their children were pushed to the front by the men after the gas had been released.  Which makes as much sense as walking 30,000 miles just to throw rocks (they must know attacking the US complicates their asylum).  Pictures don’t reveal that, so more-likely the agents attacked first.

To me, that sounds like state power, not populism.  It bears far more resemblance to what our police visit on us, daily.  If Hillary cared, she’d note that.  Instead, it’s up to the Bundy’s to expose Trump’s excesses.

Trump  campaigned on ‘Law and Order’, hoping to get out of it what Nixon did.  Nixon said Mexicans we’re criminals (though not as hopeless as the little black bastards). So, literally, nothing Trump said was new.  He evoked south of the border rapists, but equally, Regan’s welfare queens, Clinton’s super-predators, and Bush and Obama’s shit-country terrorists (with whom Trump counted Obama, himself).  Voter’s liked his insouciance and deep breathing the same way the liked Dirty Harry’s and Darth Vader’s.  But I suspect, in the grand-Trumpian scheme of things, migrants weren’t much. Migrants were just good theater.

Trump’s so-called ‘populism’ isn’t new, either.  There was a populist note to Reagan.  Nixon had tried to foster one.  George W. nailed it–ironically–with his seeming lack of intelligence in the face of his elite education.  (so Trump wasn’t first there, either.)  But it turned out that the same hooligans that have always terrorized decent Americans, were them, and the welfare queen and the WMDs were myths.  But myths, first in the minds of think-tanks, then, with much effort, in the minds of people.

Hillary should know, she was there.  The Clintons, following Reagan’s cue, kicked half of all recipients off welfare. Since then, poverty hasn’t declined, extreme poverty has increased, and tax payers haven’t saved a dime.  She speculated, along with her comment on immigration, that people living in democracies might be tiring of their freedom. Today, thanks to her husband’s legislation, only 1 in 4 people living in poverty receive help.  For once, she may be onto something!

Pissing away $5,000,000,000 and 370,000 human lives in Iraq and Afghanistan didn’t help either.  And her ‘ya’ vote, didn’t help her future campaigns.  Once Iraq proved the fiasco it obviously was, the most Hillary could say was that she was against it after she was for it.  If Trump’s base sours because he tear gassed -or worse- homeless, hungry children, the most she could say is that she was for it, every time.

And that’s where we are. Trump was a theatrician.  However, when you start beating migrant children for real, it’s not theater anymore.  So what remains to be seen is if people still like it when Trump’s downward punches actually land.  The GM workers, the Bundy’s, and I presume most of his fans feel beat on themselves, which makes it’s easy to spot, even when its happening to someone else. Stubbornly-blind Americans learned how not to love Vietnam that way.

US citizens watched children being teargassed from the comfort of an adjacent Mall.  (You used to have to visit Israel for convenience like that.)  Even Thomas Friedman–whom I trust to never be right– noted the Democrats’ silence on the matter.  But Democrats commit to silence, unless they think speaking will get them elected. Then they just pick the wrong words.

Friedman, on the other hand, writes just for attention.  He goes on to say Democrats should demand a ‘high wall with a big gate’, to quell ‘populism’, but still garner talent.  Or so when Trump’s re-elected we can still get out.  Hillary, Friedman, and their like don’t know that wall has ceased to be a metaphor.

Or, so they can.  GM is closing 4 US and 1 Canadian plants, cutting 6,000 of their hourly, and 15% of all salaried, workers.  GM has tipped blame at Trump’s steel tariffs.  Though, before that, GM received billions of dollars in bail-out from the last administrations, and billions in tax-cuts from the current.  (Both were, ostensibly, to keep jobs here.)

Trump has countered, threatening more tariffs and to pull subsidies.  But there’s no expectation these are more than tweets.  Trump has more than once used the stock-market to measured his presidential worth.  Closing 5 plants jumped GM stocks 7.9%.  Yet more reminder, Trump’s stated goals, and other stated goals, can’t thread.

Hillary has close ties to GM, particularly through their CEO Mary Barra, and through Cisco Systems, who absorbed their stock once they filed Chapter 11 in 2009.  She and the Democrats have been silent.

Accordingly, GM workers will blame Trump’s steel tariff, not cheaper labor, for their job losses.  Or they will blame Neoliberals for granting corporations both right and incentive to discard their workers at whim.  Or they’ll blame GM for being an egregious company that pays its CEO 295X the median company wage, just to fire them. As it stands they’ll blame one or the others.  Because their isn’t a party on radar, nor even dissidents within the 2 parties -nor the business community (which now owns the press)- willing to address how all 3 collude on these outcomes.

That should get Democrats’ attention.  But it won’t because their upside down with their alliances.  The young and Left of the party, if they exist, need to sever their aged and increasingly Right, Trump-mimetic, and in some cases, bat-shit crazy leadership.  GM is closing plants in so-called Trump country, and Trump’s gone from abducting to attacking children.  The class war is in full swing.  Is it really time for surrender?