Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Miller: ‘Greatly Expanded and More Vigorous Immigration Enforcement’ Now Taking Place

Yes, they are being removed, Trump’s Senior Adviser Stephen Miller told “Fox News Sunday” and other newsmaker shows:

Right now, as a result of the president's order, greatly expanded and more vigorous immigration enforcement activities are taking place. It is true that operation cross-check is something that happens every year. But this year, we've taken new and greater steps to remove criminal aliens from our communities.

I had a phone call yesterday with someone who from DHS who talked about an immigration enforcement activity at 4:00 in the morning where a gang member was removed, a wife beater, somebody who was a threat to public safety, with a long arrest record. But because they didn't have the right kinds of convictions, they weren't considered a priority by the previous administration.

Because of President Trump's actions, innocent people are now being kept out of harm's way. And we as a country spend too little time thinking about the effects of open borders on vulnerable communities, including our migrant communities, lawful migrants trying to get their start in this country who have to deal with the scourge of cartel violence, the scourge of gangs, the scourge of violent criminals, that we're now removing from this country.

Miller told CBS’s “Face the Nation” that the focus is on removing “criminal aliens, individuals who have criminal charges or convictions against them, and that's what's been taking place all across the country.”

He said the removals will save lives.

“And the bottom line is this: In the calculation between a -- between open borders and saving American lives, it is the easiest choice we will ever have to make.”

Miller told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that the executive order describes a criminal offense as “anything from a misdemeanor to a felony; in particular, the emphasis is on crimes that threaten or endanger public safety.”

He also said the White House will not instruct federal law enforcement officers or immigration agents “to ignore the laws of the United States.”

“It would be highly unethical for me and the White House or anybody else to pick up the phone and call an ICE officer and say, well, when you encounter this particular felon, we'd like you to pretend the law doesn't exist.

"But I can tell you right now, there are enforcement actions happening all over this country, in which gang members, drug dealers -- sex offenders --  are being swept up."

Host Chuck Todd asked Miller, “What about if the only crime they committed was being here illegally? Is that enough to be deported?”

Miller said an immigration judge or an ICE officer makes those decisions. “I and the White House don't make those decisions.”

And if people don’t like U.S. immigration laws, “they can reform them,” he added. “Our emphasis is on deporting and removing criminal aliens who pose a threat to public safety.

"And I just want to say this. There's been a lot of coverage in the news about the effects of these enforcement actions on people who are here illegally. And that's an issue people are free to discuss.

"But what's more important and what should be discussed more is the lives that are being saved, Chuck, the American lives that are being saved because we're taking enforcement action.

"And when we didn't take those actions in the past, you have families like the Wilkerson family and the Root family and the Mendoza family, who lost people they loved because we were more concerned -- we were more concerned about the effects of enforcement on people here illegally than the well-being of lawful immigrants and U.S. citizens."


Against the caring state

Having long concerned itself with the happiness and wellbeing of the public, the political class now seems to have moved on to loneliness. Loneliness is undoubtedly a real, debilitating and isolating experience, and something that many people go through at some point in their lives. Questions should be asked, however, about why it is now being promoted as a major social issue, and whether the policy solutions that are likely to be advocated will bring positive changes to people’s lives.

More and more attention has been paid to this issue over recent months. At the end of last year, a report produced by the British Red Cross and the Co-op claimed that almost a fifth of people in the UK are lonely ‘always or often’. This has now led to the establishment of a Commission on Loneliness. Initially planned by the murdered MP Jo Cox, it was launched last month in her honour by MPs Rachel Reeves and Seema Kennedy, who describe loneliness as a ‘silent epidemic’.

It used to be the case that those who considered themselves progressives believed that the best way to help individuals lead fulfilling, rewarding and enjoyable lives was to change fundamentally the economy and society. But the left seems to have given up on this ambitious project. It is now diminished, and disconnected from the people it once sought to liberate. In place of a broader mission, so-called progressives have become obsessed with the technocratic micromanagement of people’s daily lives, an agenda which is often hostile to the interests of ordinary people.

Campaigns on issues such as loneliness are helpful for politicians, in this context. They give them an opportunity to reconnect with people, to present themselves not as distant bureaucratic meddlers, but as ‘carers’. It gives them a new sense of purpose. They may not have a substantial plan to deal with the decline of traditional industries and social institutions – which enabled people in the past to self-organise and support one another – but at least, in the words of the badges the new commission’s supporters were handing out on the Tube recently, they are ‘happy to chat’.

What’s more, in an era where reductions to welfare have been broadly supported by the public, emphasising mental-health and wellbeing issues is a way in which welfarists try to fight back. Proposals to cut state spending are resisted through the argument that there are new, damaging health or social issues that need to be combated. All kinds of state institutions and services can be rehabilitated on the basis that they will help end social isolation and boost people’s wellbeing. A claimed ‘epidemic’ of loneliness is used to demand more welfare services, not less. In this respect, the debate over state resources is depoliticised – framed as a battle between the caring and the callous.

All of this will almost certainly inform the final recommendations of the commission when it reports in a year’s time. No doubt it will call for increased welfare services and moralistic campaigns to make people talk more to each other, in line with David Cameron’s much-derided Big Society. Loneliness is a complex issue that is difficult to address. Rather than trying to find new ways for the state to help us manage our emotions, progressives would be better served working out how best to allow people the space to be free, independent and therefore more capable of supporting both themselves and those around them.


The boiling hatred in ‘love trumps hate’ liberals

Love trumps hate’ has become the rallying cry of the anti-Trumpers who have taken to the streets to protest against what they see as a rise in intolerance and division following Donald Trump’s election. Now, some of those same people have expressed interest in a film festival showing videos of Nazis getting punched in the face.

Taking place in New York, ‘Fash Bash: A Night Of Nazi-Punching On Film’ is the latest example of a new, liberal-approved form of hatred. It was inspired by the attack on Richard Spencer – a self-confessed white supremacist and Trump supporter – at Trump’s inauguration. The attack was praised across social media as a triumph for the kind of ‘progressive’ politics that prioritises love over hate.

Punching Nazis isn’t that controversial. They define themselves through hatred and violence towards others. A punch in the face is in many ways a taste of their own medicine – and left-wing groups in the past rightly faced off violent fascists where necessary. But not only is it a bit of a stretch to call the admittedly vile Spencer an imminent physical threat, it is also rather ironic, if not completely two-faced, for liberals to march against hate and then delight in Spencer’s bashing.

This double standard has come up time and again since Trump’s election. Liberals preach love over hate while at the same time spewing hatred at not just extreme right-wingers but also everyday Trump supporters. Those calling for a nicer, kinder, more loving politics can’t pick and choose when and to whom this should apply. It’s contradictory to promote universal love one minute, then indulge in your own preferred form of hatred the next.

Now, hate, whether it’s felt by neo-Nazis or those who take pleasure in punching them, is not something that should be censored. It is an emotion that has a place in politics. Hatred of Thatcher’s government fuelled the miners’ strike. Hatred of racism fuelled the black civil-rights leaders who took on the white supremacists of America. It can be a driving force for change, and those who want to police this emotion would do well to remember that.

But what should be ruthlessly challenged is the emerging double standard about hate among those on the left. Not only is glorifying Spencer’s attack unlikely to win over anyone who may be drawn to his crackpot ideas, but the love-hate binary is being used to demonise ordinary Trump voters – most of whom no doubt find Spencer loathsome. It is a simple, unthinking way liberals present themselves as being on the right side of the debate.

Want to punch a Nazi in the face? Be my guest. But if anyone’s on the receiving end of open hatred at the moment, it’s the ordinary American voters who had the audacity to vote for The Donald. If people are serious about tackling the authoritarian Trump, they should talk to Trump supporters instead of just hating on them.


Nanny State attack on gambling machines in Britain

The Nannies are ready to penalize the great majority to protect a few from their own follies

As a teenager living in a seaside town, I recall spending a lot of time and money playing slot machines at the local arcade. Putting coppers into one-arm bandits and hoping that silver coins would come out filled many a weekend and school holiday. Of course, the reality was that winnings were generally paid in two- rather than 10-pence coins. ‘It makes a lot of noise when it pays out’, my dad used to say to me, before noting that it doesn’t seem to make much noise when you put your money in.

I’ve not played on a slot machine since my early twenties, but the media coverage last week of Fixed-Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) – Assessing the Impact, an All Party Parliamentary Group report into a particular type of gambling machine, prompted me to try my luck once again. So I headed to a local bookies to investigate just what all the fuss is about.

What struck me on entering the bookies were the signs warning of the dangers of gambling and explaining where I could go to get help. They were everywhere, including on the four FOBT machines (the maximum number allowed by law) in the corner of the bookies.

I soon discovered that a FOBT allows you to set a limit in terms of time and/or money (although I’d already set myself a limit of £10). There are a choice of games, too, so I plumped for the one game that I knew how to play – Blackjack. To cut a long story short, my bankroll went up and down, but I eventually left with nothing. The experience reminded me why I rarely play Blackjack any more, and why I never play on fruit machines. I do gamble – poker at casinos, and a few horse-racing bets a year. But I shan’t be rushing off to play a FOBT again any time soon.

My experience of the mundane reality of FOBTs was in stark contrast to the fearmongering that accompanied last week’s APPG report. MP Carolyn Harris, speaking at the report’s launch, talked of how it was vital to protect the vulnerable, especially in poorer communities, from ‘the crack cocaine of gambling’. She said FOBTs were ‘sucking money out of the pockets of families’.

The report has been criticised by the Association of British Bookmakers (ABB). Its chief executive, Malcolm George, said the report amounted to little more than ‘the view of a tiny group of anti-betting-shop MPs’. He also said that behind the report were the vested interests of those who would benefit should the report’s recommendations be implemented.

Despite claiming to be ‘evidence-based’, it is clear the report is driven, in the main, by the precautionary principle – namely, that in the absence of knowing future risks or harms, we should act just in case. So the report recommends lowering the maximum stake from £100 to perhaps as low as £2, ‘on a precautionary basis until sufficient evidence is presented that the high stakes on these machines do not cause harm’.

If these MPs were really concerned about the cost of gambling, the one thing they could do is to lower the minimum stake on betting, so people who enjoy gambling get more for their money. Not that that would appeal to the MPs in the APPG. They don’t want to make gambling cheaper. Rather, their underlying objective is to interfere in and regulate people’s everyday lives, to, as the report puts it, ‘protect the most vulnerable in our society’.

This move against FOBTs and betting shops sets a dangerous precedent. It treats us all as if we are vulnerable and need to be saved – or prevented from doing harm to ourselves. In effect, these MPs are seeking to save us from ourselves.

But there really is no need to do so. There is already help available for anyone who thinks they have a gambling problem. Funded by voluntary contributions from the gambling industry, GamCare, an advice and support service for problem gamblers, is advertised everywhere, including in casinos and betting shops. Better still, one can always turn to one’s friends and family for help and advice. As I often say to friends and family who are starting out playing poker, lessons can be expensive, and sometimes you don’t know you’re being taught a lesson until it’s too late. As in many areas of life, we sometimes need to learn those lessons ourselves.

The MPs’ report shows just how negative and condescending is their view of human beings and our ability to make choices for ourselves. The word ‘vulnerable’ appears 27 times in the report. With the exception of perhaps a small percentage who have real problems with gambling and money, I doubt that there are any gamblers who would refer to themselves as vulnerable.

This moralising assault on FOBTs is unlikely to go down well in the communities the MPs are saying they want to help. The vote for Brexit last year should have taught them the dangers of assuming that a small group of politicians knows what is best for us. Let’s hope that the government doesn’t listen to this report and leaves us to make choices for ourselves.


Australia: We want freedom of speech. And we want it now

Pollies and elite media are finally getting the message: when it comes down to the views of ordinary Aussies, freedom of speech matters — and we don’t want to be told what not to say.

Last year saw a tipping point. Bill Leak was attacked for drawing a cartoon intended to highlight indigenous disadvantage. Students at QUT got caught up in a silly computer-lab spat.

And then the Race Discrimination Commissioner appeared to be out and about touting for business by getting people to expand the meaning of racism. Finally, even the PM saw it was becoming a joke.

How did we get into this mess? For years, so-called ‘progressives’ have been telling us that Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act is all that stands between us and civil collapse.

Added by the Keating government in 1994, the new section made it an offence to offend, insult, humiliate, or intimidate someone on the basis of race, colour or ethnic background.

It was originally intended to stop acts inciting hatred or contempt, but not relatively minor things such as “a light-hearted racist joke”, the then Attorney-General said in his 1992 Cabinet paper.

But history took a different course. Aided and abetted by the Human Rights Commission, 18C has become our greatest threat to freedom of speech: a weapon used by anyone claiming hurt feelings.

Parliaments pass laws with the best of intentions; but some laws are applied in very different ways to what parliament intended. 18C was never intended to silence students and cartoonists.

Nor was it intended to prevent sensible debate about  social issues such as the plight of indigenous youths in custody, or what drives some disaffected Muslim youths to try to kill police officers.

Politicians kept telling us freedom of speech was a fringe issue. Tony Abbott flunked his chance to reform the law. Malcolm Turnbull tried “jobs and growth” to distract us from reform.

Then late last year, the Prime Minister finally set up a parliamentary inquiry about reforming 18C. It has received several thousand submissions. Not all are to be welcomed.

Australia’s  Grand Mufti, Dr Ibrahim Mohammed, wants to see 18C extended to protect religion —  a bad idea that would create a new blasphemy law. Picture what could happen…

Many submissions call for major 18C reform, some call for repeal. New research commissioned by the Institute of Public Affairs indicates as many as 95 per cent of us rate free speech highly.

Yet 18C is already stifling serious public discussion about pressing social matters. When we want to express opinions about culture or immigration, 18C can be used as a gag to silence debate.

Advocates for reform of 18C are scolded for defending bigotry. But if real hatred or real violence is incited, the criminal law stands ready to intervene and to prosecute.

When I tell American friends that in Australia it is unlawful to offend someone, they look at me with utter disbelief. They say using law to protect how I might ‘feel’ about something is a fool’s errand.

And they are right. Freedom of speech has never been about bigotry and offence: it is about a basic freedom underpinning our democracy — the freedom to speak openly.

We’ve had enough of that freedom being curtailed and patrolled. 18C needs serious reform — now.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


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