Trump the Narcissist is Moving on to Another Bright, Shiny Object

Now the conventions are over, and low-information voters begin actually paying attention to the Presidential candidates. The tiny cadre of activists who voted in the primaries are now swamped by the much larger group of people who pay no attention to politics except occasionally bothering to vote for President every four years.

They're taking their first look at Trump, and they're not liking what they see:

The first batch of top line numbers are in, and they show Hillary Clinton pulling away from the narrow lead she had over Trump going into last month’s conventions. Her lead, in polls taken in the last few days, varies from three to nine percentage points, depending on which poll you’re looking at.

The challenge now for Trump is cutting into the major deficits he is facing among certain groups where he trails not just Clinton, but Mitt Romney’s levels in 2012: groups like college-educated voters, which Romney won by 4 percentage points in exit polls, but where Trump is now losing in the double digits, according to a new CNN/ORC poll. Trump will also likely need to improve his leads among groups where he is already outperforming past Republicans....

But Trump is also alienating college-educated voters, a group Republicans in the past were able to woo. Trump was behind by three percentage points among voters with a bachelor's degree, who prefer Clinton 44 percent to 41 percent, according to a Morning Consult poll taken in the two days following the DNC. In 2012, Romney beat Obama among college-educated voters 51 percent to 47 percent in the exits.

Trump’s problems with women voters -- who make up a majority of the electorate -- are also increasing the ground he’ll need to cover just to match Romney. Clinton’s lead with women voters is 13 percentage points in the CNN/ORC poll, which is greater than Obama’s 11 percentage point exit poll lead over Romney in 2012.... The CNN/ORC poll finds Clinton leading in this group by 3 percentage points, but there, Trump trounces her 60 percent to 34 percent among non-college educated white voters.

Trump is an exciting outsider candidate who has broken many of the rules which people thought governed American elections. If he had more charisma and better judgment, he could pose a genuine threat to Clinton. But Donald Trump is simply an asshole, subspecies blunt, brash, rich, nasal-voiced, arrogant New York asshole. He always has been and always will be. Americans don't like assholes, and the 310 million of them who don't live in New York don't like New York assholes.

There are intelligent people who support Trump. But many of them are falling victim to what I call the pissing-off-the-right-people fallacy, for lack of a better phrase. This is the tendency to support Person X because X angers and annoys people you believe deserve to be angered and annoyed, despite the fact that X's own ideas and character are obviously deficient. "The key thing is he's made the right enemies!" Or the German version, Viel Feind viel Ehr (many enemies, much honor).

This is why Milo Yiannopoulis and his ilk don't impress me. His shenanigans are enjoyable, and he does make valid points about the stifling effects of political correctness. But just because he sometimes POTRP doesn't mean his political judgment in general is reliable. And indeed, his support of Trump shows he has the political judgment of a rent-boy. A jest I can make about Milo because who's he to complain?

Trump has relied on the POTRP effect to run up huge majorities among lesser-educated white voters, but there still aren't enough of those to win an election. Barring some twist of fate, Trump has no chance. So now he's trying another tack: claiming the election will be rigged:

Hannity, Aug. 1: "You said at a speech today you’re afraid this election is going to be rigged. Explain."

Trump: "Yeah. Well, I’ve been — I’ve been hearing about it for a long time. And I know last time, there were — you had precincts where there were practically nobody voting for the Republican. And I think that’s wrong. I think that was unfair, frankly, than Mitt Romney. You had areas where a lot of people were curious, 'How is that possible?' "

"… and I’m telling you, November 8th, we’d better be careful, because that election is going to be rigged. And I hope the Republicans are watching closely, or it’s going to be taken away from us."

This is what happens when things stop going a narcissist's way: they invent excuses, stage a diversion, complain about the rules, and if all else fails, take their ball and go home. Take it away, Mayo Clinic:

Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for admiration and a lack of empathy for others. But behind this mask of ultraconfidence lies a fragile self-esteem that's vulnerable to the slightest criticism.

A narcissistic personality disorder causes problems in many areas of life, such as relationships, work, school or financial affairs. You may be generally unhappy and disappointed when you're not given the special favors or admiration you believe you deserve. Others may not enjoy being around you, and you may find your relationships unfulfilling.
Implying that an election will be rigged can be a threat to democracy. It won't bring down the USA, because America's institutions are too strong. But it is irresponsible and dangerous. That's typical of narcissists: when things stop going their way, they stage a tantrum and don't care how much damage they inflict, as long as they somehow manage to reclaim the spotlight.
 
Now of course there was a candidate in this election cycle who also promised dramatic change, attacked elites, and as a bonus wasn't pathological: Bernie Sanders. Someone who had spent his adult life working to improve the lot of working-class Americans, and is also a genuinely decent, responsible person, as is shown by his decision to enthusiastically support Clinton. He did, however, open up the American political landscape, showing there is huge support for policies and programs that elites considered far outside the Overton window. I hope he stays in the spotlight. 
 

Enjoying a Casual Afternoon Stroll, Erect Member in Hand

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And while we're on the subject, thanks -- I guess -- to commenter Sandro for a link to this Swedish news story from 26 July. This man, according to locals an asylum-seeker from a nearby hostel, approached a 5- or 6-year old child in central Rättvik, Sweden, pulled out his penis, and began masturbating. The father chased the man away with a steel bar. The man apparently wandered around afterward, penis exposed, masturbating, and didn't stop even when someone pointed a camera at him and took pictures. Eventually the police arrested him.

At the risk of belaboring the obvious, this behavior is staggeringly abnormal. There are streakers and flashers and peeping toms in any society, certainly including Sweden. They're virtually all male, of course. But even those people know what they are doing is wrong. They try to limit their period of exposure, so to speak, so they won't be caught. Their behavior certainly indicates bizarre sexual urges, but it doesn't indicate a total break with reality, or complete ignorance (or defiance) of social convention. Walking around a crowded city center in broad daylight masturbating is far beyond flashing. It invariably signals some sort of profound mental disturbance.

The chances of this man ever contributing anything positive to Swedish society are, shall we say, not very encouraging. It should also cast doubt on his asylum claim, for several reasons. First, the UN Refugee Convention specifies that asylum-seekers and refugees are obliged to follow the laws of the country which gives them refuge. Second, if this man has claimed that he fears persecution in his native country, maybe it's because he masturbated in front of children there. Political asylum is meant for people who face unjust persecution, not for those whose activity is blameworthy and criminal.


The Grotesque Mystery of Train Masturbators

Here's a recent police press release from Erfurt (g, my translation):

Yesterday, shortly before midnight, a 21-year-old female traveler spoke to a member of the federal police in the Erfurt central station. She seemed frightened, and told the officer that she had been harassed by a man in the train from Kassel. After he had stared at her for long time, she moved to a different seat. The man followed her, sat on the seat opposite, and began manipulating his penis. He did not open his pants.

After she got out in Erfurt to change trains, the man followed her. For this reason, she approached the police officer, who located the suspect in the train station. The suspect is a 31-year-old Iranian national. Because he could not prove his identity, the officer detained him. It is also suspected that the Iranian is in the country illegally.

And here's a picture of another alleged train masturbator from Cologne, whom the police are actively seeking: 

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This guy is suspected of staring at, and masturbating in front of (g), a group of children from 6 to 8 years old in a Cologne streetcar. The children were engaged in Sternsingen ('star-singing') the German version of Christmas caroling. This involves dressing up as the Three Wise Men, singing traditional tunes, and collecting for charity. This guy apparently found this activity sexually stimulating, so he began touching himself in full view of the children, their minders, everyone else on the train, and the apparently the surveillance camera (actually, this probably isn't a picture of him in the act of jerking off in front of small children. But then again, given the facial expression, I'm not so sure).

No word on whether he unzipped his pants. I assume I speak for everyone when I say I hope he didn't.

And these are not isolated incidents. Well, in one sense they are. We have to keep a sense of proportion here, your chance of being the object of some horny foreign man's intense staring and jerking off on your next train voyage is probably very small. But there have been literally thousands of these incidents by now in Germany. Almost without exception, they involve foreign males.*

When it comes to train masturbators, I am genuinely puzzled. I have taken trains in lots of developing countries, and have never seen this behavior there. Nor have I ever seen German males doing this in Germany. I've seen them get drunk and be rowdy, but never masturbate in public. 

Another puzzling thing is that these foreign train masturbators often don't seem to worry about getting caught. Most of the time, the woman who was the focus complains to police, and they often find the guy sitting in the train seat, as if nothing had happened. Many of these train masturbators seem unaware that anything they were doing was wrong, or that the woman they were jacking off in front of would complain about that. I am sure another factor is that Germans are a confrontation-avoiding lot who would rather complain to cops than confront train masturbators. I doubt a train masturbator who jacked off in front of a girl in Egypt would reach his destination uninjured.

I surmise there's often alcohol involved here. Most of our new fellow citizens come from countries in which alcohol is hard to come by. And then they land in Germany, where you can buy a bottle of rotgut which will get you pie-eyed for 5 Euros. I sometimes see them tottering along the streets of my own neighborhood, clutching half-empty bottles of cheap 80-proof booze, talking to themselves. But then again, I see Germans doing that, too.

Yet many of these incident reports don't mention alcohol (which police reports usually do when it's in play). Which implies that these men, while completely sober, decided to take their erect penises out of their pants in public and jack off while staring at females. Sometimes while staring at children

This is why I am convinced that there are an unusually high number of young males with mental problems among the recent migrants. Public masturbation is the quintessential sign of what psychologists call disinhibition and hypersexuality. I worked for almost 4 years in a public mental hospital, and one of the things we had to teach our acutely schizophrenic clients was the necessity of not masturbating in public (they were obviously allowed to masturbate, but in private only).

We don't have reliable stats yet, but I will be happy to bet any amount of money that if we ever get them, we will find very high rates of mental illness among these young lads.  

Continue reading "The Grotesque Mystery of Train Masturbators" »


No, It Can't Happen Here: America's Political Institutions Are Much Stronger than Trump

 

This video is making the rounds recently, mostly accompanied by a sinister warning that 'it could happen here', i.e. in the U.S. The idea is that if Americans elect Donald Trump, it could set in motion a chain of events that could transform America into a dictatorship.

Breathe easy, world. It won't happen. If America elects Trump, it will simply have made a dim narcissist demagogue President. Nothing more, nothing less. Trump will not transform the structure of American democracy because he can't. No President can, no President ever has, and no President ever will. It's that simple.

The American style of Presidential democracy, in contrast to the parliamentary style which is much more popular world-wide, has a number of disadvantages. Elections only happen every two years. The President may, and often does, lose his support in the Congress, leading to political gridlock which stymies new policy initiatives. The first-past-the-post electoral system means there are only two viable political parties. Third parties come and go, but never get a lasting foothold.

But there are advantages to the system as well. The number one advantage, by far, is its phenomenal stability. The USA has had the same system of government for the past 230 years, placing it in an extremely tiny, rarefied group of countries which have ever, at any time in history, kept the same basic governing structure this long. Even the Civil War did not interrupt the consistent election of new Congresses every 2 years.

One of the reasons for this stability is separation of powers, which strictly limits what the President can do. Here are some of the things the American President cannot do which heads of states in other countries often can:

  1.     Dissolve Congress and call a snap election.
  2.     Unilaterally declare a state of emergency.
  3.     Fire or otherwise punish or sanction members of the Supreme Court.
  4.     Unilaterally change the number of judges on the Supreme Court.
  5.     Declare war without Congress' consent (although Congress has relinquished a lot of this authority).
  6.     Change the Constitution, even if he has the support of 70% of all members of Congress.
  7.     Interfere with areas in which individual US states have exclusive legislative competence, such as family law, contract law, tort law, and dozens of other areas.
  8.     Name or replace governors of states.
  9.     Remove anyone from any political party, including his own.

Democratically-elected leaders have sometimes been able to transform their countries into authoritarian systems, and sometimes into totalitarian ones. But all of those countries differed from the United States in several critical ways. First, they usually gave the head of state at least some of the 9 powers listed above, or they gave the head of state the means to acquire some of these 9 powers. 

But the differences go even deeper:

First, their political institutions in these countries were much less robust, popular, and well-anchored. No matter how unpopular an American Congress is, Americans have never, and will never, support abolishing the institution itself. The same goes for the Supreme Court and the Presidency, for that matter. A President who suggested abolishing any of these institutions "in the name of national solidarity during a time of crisis" would be laughed at, or declared insane.

Second, the political institutions are designed for stability. Stability is one of the side-effects of the 9 limits on Presidential power listed above. There is simply no way the President can ever stop the Supreme Court from reviewing laws and declaring them unconstitutional. Now, the President can direct the executive branch to consciously and openly decline to enforce certain Supreme Court rulings, and this has happened on occasion in American history. But it's considered a major and controversial breach of trust, and hasn't happened in decades. And believe me, the US Supreme Court has handed down some extremely unpopular rulings that have gone directly against the President's wishes, such as the 2010 ruling about corporate campaign contributions, which Obama criticized in front of members of the Court.

Third, federalism. The USA is among the top 2 or 3 most federalist countries in history. Individual US states have a huge amount of authority to determine their own policies. They can and do all have their own, individual governments, including a governor, state legislature, state constitution, and state supreme court. They have their own criminal laws, family laws, tort laws, tax laws, inheritance laws, contract laws, commercial codes, hunting and fishing regulations, road traffic laws, drug laws, environmental laws, workplace-safety laws -- the list goes on and on. There is a lot of federal government legislation in some of these areas, but states still get to have their own policies, and they use this privilege with gusto. States could and would certainly rebel against any attempt to use illegitimate powers to force the entire country to obey a single unified policy handed down by an authoritarian President run amok. The Second Amendment fans among you might also point out that if the President tried to crush resistance by military force, he would face a well-armed and no doubt rebellious population.

So breathe easy, World. A Trump Presidency would be most regrettable, but the US has already had one dim, reckless, foolish President this millennium. He did a lot of damage which we're all still living with, but he didn't usher in Armageddon or AmeriKKKa, and neither will Trump.


Germans Delighted At Prospect of Violent Pro-Erdogan Protests In their Cities

...or perhaps not.

Pro-Erdogan demos which recently took place around Austria features participation by the Turkish ultra-nationalist group the "Grey Wolves" and attacks on Kurdish shops and restaurants. The violence, and the high profile of politicized Islam in the demonstrations, was criticized by basically all Austrian political parties (g). Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz took the unusual step of summoning his Turkish counterpart for a stern lecture, and even said people in Austria who wanted to meddle in another country's internal politics should leave the country.

Which is pretty amazing, until you consider that all mainstream Austrian political parties are terrified of the growing support for the right-wing populist Austrian Freedom Party. Its candidate for the Chancellorship, Norbert Hofer, lost no time in pronouncing himself "deeply concerned" about violent protests in the middle of Austrian cities: 

You know, I bet a lot of Austrians agree with him.

Good news, everybody! All of this and perhaps more is coming to Germany! A pro-Erdogan group in Germany has just announced a demonstration scheduled for Cologne on July 31. They anticipate up to 15,000 participants (g).

I bet a lot of people in Cologne are going to wonder why large sections of their city have been blocked off. And why thousands of people are marching through the streets of Germany literally wrapped in the flag of some foreign country. And why they should have to pay for the police presence and cleanup -- and quite possibly arrests, prosecutions, and jail sentences -- for a demonstration about something which happened 2500 kilometers away. And why the obscure Turkish-Kurdish conflict, which 90% of Germans neither care about nor understand, is once again leading to violence in their own neighborhoods.

And, of course, they'll be wondering how many other global problems Germany just imported in 2015, when it let over a million random strangers from the most unstable parts of the world wander in with no checks or controls. The violent conflicts between different ethnic groups (g) in German refugee shelters are a sinister omen. 

This is why countries have borders.


Maybe Not the Time for Visa-Free Travel From Turkey?

50,000 newly-unemployed civil servants in Turkey: 

In the days since the coup was foiled, authorities have suspended or detained tens of thousands of bureaucrats for alleged links to the plot. Mass dismissals have also hollowed out the army, police, schools, universities and the state’s highest religious-affairs council, bringing the number of people in detention or newly unemployed to roughly 50,000.

“It’s total chaos. They are not applying any kind of law at this stage,” Gunal Kursun, assistant law professor at Turkey’s Cukurova University, said of the legal system.

Rights advocates have warned that the speed with which the government is firing and detaining opponents suggests authorities have bypassed laws requiring criminal investigations.

Just a few months ago we were being calmly assured by most mainstream German politicos that allowing visa-free travel from Turkey would be a no-brainer.

In any event, I would be fine with accepting a certain number of actual political refugees from Turkey. They're likely to be comparatively well-educated and orderly. Educated Istanbulites who visit Germany are often taken aback by the how unsophisticated many German Turks are. Most Turkish Germans are descended from immigrants hoovered up from Eastern Anatolia as factory labor, and have often preserved, for generations, many quaint customs and attitudes from the sleepy backwaters they came from. They have as much in common with an educated Ankarite as a genderfluid Green Party social worker from Kreuzberg has with a Bavarian Schuhplattler.

But let's be adults about this, Germany. Let's not simply throw open the borders, import millions of random Turks, and hope at least some of them are actually political refugees. That's what happened in 2015, and it really didn't work out very well. Perhaps this time Germany could do what every other country does, and make sure it actually lets in only genuine refugees. You know, by applying the law. Is that possible?


"Are 'Safe Zones For Women' Europe's Future?"

Swedish columnist Paulina Neuding bluntly states some uncomfortable truths: 

Indeed, the refugee crisis in Europe is more a matter of culture than of numbers. And cultural clashes are much harder to address than logistics – especially once they leave the regulated confines of the asylum center, which can mitigate potential conflicts with surveillance and design. How will individuals who cannot share a shelter with gays and Christians without harassing them be able to integrate into liberal European societies?

The German and Swedish governments have not placed a high priority on addressing this question. In fact, both have failed to take seriously the cultural differences – on issues like women’s rights, minority rights, family honor, and individual liberties – between asylum-seekers, mainly from the Middle East and North Africa, and the European societies where they hope to live. In Sweden, in particular, a strong commitment to political correctness has severely limited public debate.

In ignoring these differences, the political elites in both Germany and Sweden are risking some of their countries’ most valuable social assets, including security, stability, equality, tolerance, and individual freedom. Yet they fail to note these risks. They act like their hard-won social advantages are inexhaustible natural resources, rather than the product of centuries of development – a product that is far more fragile than is widely assumed.

Perhaps the most obvious example of the threat European societies faces occurred in Cologne, Germany, on New Year’s Eve, when more than 600 women were sexually assaulted – and in some cases also robbed – by large gangs of men, most of whom were illegal immigrants or asylum-seekers. Only four of the 153 suspects detained were German nationals.

Though mass sexual abuse is not unheard of in Europe, it has historically occurred only during conflicts – for example, during the Balkan wars of the 1990s and in the areas occupied by the Soviet Red Army at the end of World War II. What happened in Cologne last December has no equivalent in peacetime Western Europe.

Nor was it a one-off event. Shortly after the news of the Cologne attacks broke, it was revealed that similar attacks had taken place at the We Are Stockholm youth festival in the Swedish capital two years in a row, with young refugee men encircling and sexually assaulting teenage girls. Police had to escort 200 male attendees from the festival area last year....

In response to the mounting anecdotal evidence of sexual abuse, Swedish police undertook an analysis of all harassment that has been occurring in public spaces. Their findings confirm that there is a problem with immigrants acting in groups to attack women and girls.

In response to this so-called “culture clash,” Sweden has launched an initiative to educate young asylum-seekers about gender equality. Likewise, Germany created an informational website, offering advice on sex and sexuality, among other topics. Whether or not such initiatives ultimately have an impact, there is no denying that in Germany and Sweden – two of the world’s most open, tolerant, and equitable societies – women and girls now face a new reality....

Large numbers of police, together with safe zones for women, helped to protect against mass sexual assaults at the carnival festivities in Cologne in February. But, as the debate over refugees rages on, one must ask: Are “safe zones for women” Europe’s future?


Immigration Policy Should Exclude Crackpots and Fanatics

The father of the Orlando shooter, an Afghan immigrant who came to the USA sometime in the 1980s, hates homosexuals just as much as his son did, but thinks we should leave it to God to punish them. Plus, he makes long, rambling, controversial YouTube videos about obscure ethnic conflicts which have nothing to do with the US. This case raises the same questions as the Tsarnaev case: Why is the US welcoming and granting citizenship to crackpots with medieval views from the most unstable parts of the world? The question is also obviously relevant to contemporary Germany.

Being permitted to live in another country is not a right, it's a privilege -- I should know, I'm doing it now. A country's constitutional guarantees only apply with full force to nationals of that country who are within its borders. The USA, like any other country, is permitted to discriminate on any basis it chooses when it comes to deciding who should be permitted to relocate permanently to within its borders. This is why Donald Trump's proposal to ban Muslim immigration is quite possibly constitutional, as long as it's not applied to US citizens. It may be a bad idea, it may be bigoted, but it's not against the law.
 
Many people have some vague idea that countries are not allowed to engage in ethnic and religious discrimination when it comes to immigrants. There must be some international treaty or something that says this is not allowed, right? The answer is no: There never has been, and there never will be. Countries may voluntarily bind themselves to non-discrimination in immigration, but no international law can force them to do so. It's the privilege of any nation to choose whom it wishes to let in and keep out. Germany grants privileged access to Russian-Germans and Jews over all other ethnic groups, and this was and is legal and proper under international law.
 
This means that people from culturally remote, conflict-torn regions where backward views and noxious superstitions are commonplace (such as Afghanistan) can and should have to face high hurdles and extensive, days-long background questioning. Sure, we'll let Afghans in, but only if they have worldly, tolerant views comparable to the mainstream of the developed Western country they wish to relocate to (let's say the US). 
 
Allah hates gays? Permanent blacklist. Wife-beating's alright? Permanent blacklist. Any trace, no matter how remote, of sympathy for extremists? Permanent blacklist. Anything but 100%, full-throated, unequivocal support for Western-style representative democracy, with all its attendant flaws? Permanent blacklist. As a practical matter, this will mean the majority of Afghans who are given the right to permanently resettle in the US will be members of the educated urban elite.
 
This is a feature, not a bug.
 
In the next line over, Norwegians of Norwegian ancestry who want to enter the USA are whisked through with just a few superficial questions. Why? Because it's statistically likely that the majority of Norwegians hold views which will enable them to successfully adapt to American society. The chances of finding a Norwegian who prefers God's law to democracy or passionately hates homosexuals is so small, it can be ignored as a heuristic matter. 
 
A typical counter-argument is that there are plenty of American crackpots with extremist views, so why should America get to exclude Afghan crackpots? The answer is: Because they're our crackpots. They are our problem. The fact that we have problems in our society doesn't mean we should import additional problems from other societies. Especially societies we don't understand, whose problems mean nothing to us.
 
And even if this argument doesn't strike you as rational, it doesn't have to. If you are allowed to discriminate, that means you can discriminate for good reasons, bad reasons, or no reasons at all. If Germany wanted to, it could pass a law saying that only people with green eyes can immigrate to Germany. If some international tribunal asked Germany why, Germany would not even have to give an answer. 
 
Countries like the USA and Germany have enormous leverage: they are (comparatively) safe, prosperous, well-run societies to which millions of people would like to relocate. They should leverage their desirability to attract only the most adaptable and talented immigrants. Anything less is a disservice to their people.
 
Why so many mainstream German (and some American) politicians cannot seem to grasp these obvious principles has the world scratching its head.

Intercept and Return is the Only Workable Policy for African Boat Migrants

As I have been pointing out for some time now, there's only one workable answer to the coming African migration 'crisis': Europe must intercept all migrant boats in the Mediterranean and immediately return them to their place of origin. No exceptions. This is the Australian policy. Austria's foreign minister, Sebastian Kurz, broke the taboo two days ago (g) and said boats must be intercepted and people returned (after a brief on-the-spot asylum hearing). Other European politicians are still in denial about this fact, wasting time in virtue-signaling, but they will eventually have to buckle under and accept reality.

Typically, what happens now is smugglers pack a boat full of all the migrants that fit. Then they add 20% more, and send it off. The boats don't even have a destination. The migrants wait until they are in international waters, and then send an SOS signal. At that point, they are intercepted by European ships and brought to European territory to file asylum claims. This foolish policy is a pull-factor that has encouraged millions of Africans to pack their bags and bribe smugglers. There are now something like 800,000 migrant waiting in North Africa to board rickety boats.

If they are all brought ashore in Italy, this will be a crisis of unimaginable proportions. Italy is already a country with massive problems, and is already dealing with hundreds of thousands of African migrants sleeping rough, working illegally, committing petty crimes, and dealing drugs. Adding 800,000 new unskilled illegal migrants might well push Italy over the brink into -- well, it's hard to say, but it will be ugly. And trust me, those 800,000 migrants are all going to stay in Italy. No other European country will take them, except perhaps a token contingent for Germany. Austria has already announced it will monitor its border with Italy to prevent passage north. Italy and the EU have been locked in fruitless negotiations for months about what to do with the migrants.

Italy's other plan is to address the so-called 'root causes' of migration (g) by helping African governments better protect their borders and intercept migrants on the way north. In return, Europe will establish asylum processing centers in Africa and open up legal means of immigration to Europe. This is as far as the center-left Renzi government can go. But like the EU's agreement with Turkey, this silly plan outsources Europe's immigration policies to repressive, corrupt, and/or ineffectual states. The whole world asks why Europe should do this instead of simply securing its own borders effectively.

Other countries have long since grasped the nettle. Not only do they reject all illegal boat migrants, they openly announce that they are doing so, and explain why:

As the United States' primary maritime law enforcement agency, the Coast Guard is tasked with enforcing immigration law at sea. The Coast Guard conducts patrols and coordinates with other federal agencies and foreign countries to interdict undocumented migrants at sea, denying them entry via maritime routes to the United States, its territories and possessions.  Thousands of people try to enter this country illegally every year using maritime routes, many via smuggling operations.  Interdicting migrants at sea means they can be quickly returned to their countries of origin without the costly processes required if they successfully enter the United States.

When successful, illegal immigration can potentially cost U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars each year in social services. In addition to relieving this financial burden on our citizens, the Coast Guard's efforts help to support legal migration systems. Primarily, the Coast Guard maintains its humanitarian responsibility to prevent the loss of life at sea, since the majority of migrant vessels are dangerously overloaded, unseaworthy or otherwise unsafe.

The US, like Australia, unapologetically protects its own interests, and defends its policy as more humane than any alternative. 

But then, of course, the United States is notoriously hostile to refugees. Right?

Wrong. UN Dispatch places the US in the top four countries worldwide for refugee resettlement:

The United States. Influenced by its political and military position regarding conflict in Syria, the U.S. has not favorably made the news on the current refugee crisis, offering to resettle only approximately 10,000 Syrian refugees. Yet looking holistically at its system reveals a sunnier picture of U.S. refugee policy. The United States permanently resettles more refugees than any other country in the world, historically taking half of all applications received via the UN Refugee Agency. Last year, this amounted to about 70,000 refugees worldwide who, for the most part, were living in limbo in the country to which they fled.  The USA may not be a viable option for Syrian refugees, but large numbers of refugees from elsewhere are routinely resettled in the USA.

It's simple: if you bribe a smuggler, cram yourselves into boats, and try to sneak into the country illegally, you will be summarily rejected (except for Cubans, but that's changing as we speak). If you comply with the law, cooperate with international organizations, and can actually prove you as an individual face severe persecution, we will resettle you.

It's called setting the right incentives. And it's not only a reasonable policy choice, but by far the best one. All you have to do is give up a few sentimental illusions. But boy, do Europeans love those.


Europe Doesn't Have Private Charities for Refugees

 
Non-Europeans can't understand the immigration debate in Europe without recognizing a key fact: Every single migrant who enters a (Northern) European country and files an asylum claim is immediately entitled to state-funded housing, healthcare, and education, plus a monthly cash stipend and child benefit. And is automatically legally entitled to all these things indefinitely, no matter what.
 
If they eventually get to the point where they are employable and then turn down suitable jobs, the benefits may be reduced. But never eliminated. Since the vast majority of migrants arrive not speaking the native language, and a large percentage never learn it to proficiency, all immigrants will be welfare cases for at least 10-15 years, and many will never stop being welfare cases.
 
In many Western countries, including the U.S. refugees are sponsored and funded by a public-private mix of government (which does the screening), and private charities, often religious in nature, who find housing and aid in integration. This doesn't happen to anywhere near the same extent in Europe. In Europe, private charities operate on a much smaller scale, since they have essentially been frozen out by state welfare. Religious charities run by the major established churches usually have significant government involvement. As the chart above shows, Germany has a comparatively small private charity sector. It's about the OECD average, but it's worth remembering that the OECD includes a lot of countries much poorer than Germany. 
 
So every migrant let into the country who possesses no job skills immediately begins costing the state money. And lots of migrants cost lots of money. Germany is now spending an amount on refugee welfare that exceeds its annual federal education budget. It is spending almost €3 billion per year (g) just caring for 65,000 unaccompanied minor migrants.
 
Denmark has similar policies to Germany's. Which brings us to Daham Al Hasan, his three wives, and his twenty children: 
In Denmark these days, Daham Al Hasan is making headlines. He has twenty children with three wives, but two years ago fled alone from Syria to Denmark, and left his wives and children behind. Recently, under the Danish rules of family unification, one of his wives and eight of his children have joined him in Denmark. But Al Hasan wants all his children with him, as well as all his wives. He has been granted permission for nine additional children to join him, but as Denmark does not allow polygamy, the two remaining wives, under the same rules of family unification, are not permitted to join him. Lawyers, however, estimate that the remaining wives will also be able independently to join their children in Denmark, once they are there.
The case has caused rather a shock in Denmark, not only because of the extraordinary size of the family, and what it will cost the Danish state just in child allowance, but because Al Hassan claims that he is too ill to work or even to learn Danish. "I don't only have mental problems, but also physical problems", he says by way of explanation, "My back and my legs hurt." He has admitted that his "mental illness" consists of missing the children he voluntarily left behind. This means that he and his family live exclusively off the Danish taxpayers' money.