Monthly Archives: April 2018

A Card from the Bushes

The funeral for Barbara Bush reminded me of my one personal experience with the politeness and decency of the George H.W. Bushes.  I was deputy director of the State Department office dealing with “green” environmental issues — animals, plants, and health — while George H.W. Bush was President.  Somehow, I got word that President Bush wanted to encourage tree planting; one of Bush’s personal secretaries in the White House asked me to take care of it.

The difference between dealing with Bush’s personal staff and the National Security Council was like night and day.  In my previous job working on missile proliferation, I had frequently dealt with the NSC, and I always had trouble with them.  They would never take my calls, would never keep me informed about where decisions stood, etc.  President Bush’s personal secretary could not have been nicer.

At their request, I drafted a cable to all the embassies in the world, asking them to do a public tree planting with an official of the host government, at the request of President Bush.  As usual, some embassies ignored it, but some took it to heart and the ambassador planted a tree with a high official of the host government, the foreign minister or the president.  President Bush was apparently pleased with the result, and I ended up getting a White House Christmas card, probably the lowest, most impersonal type, but still the only one I ever got.

It was my personal experience with the decency and kindness of the Bush family.  I wish them the best.  I was particularly impressed with Barbara Bush’s funeral service because of its upbeat tone, and lack of feeling sorry for themselves.  It was an example of the old British “stiff upper lip” that saw them through the Blitz and World War II.  The American news media today love weepy, sorrowful victims feeling sorry for themselves and sobbing on TV.  Cowardness sells ads, and then the anchors call it heroism, because they have no idea what true heroism is.  The Bushes know.  Barbara taught them.


Foreign Affairs on the Death of Democracy

The new issue of Foreign Affairs magazine asks, “Is democracy dying?”  Editor Gideon Rose’s introduction says,”As a Latin American friend put it ruefully, ‘We’ve seen this movie before, just never in English.’”  What Rose fails to note is that English is less and less the language of political discourse in the United States, as Spanish displaces English throughout the country.  America is becoming a Latin American country (where authoritarian government is more common), rather than a Western European country founded by British colonists who rebelled against the authoritarianism of the British king.

Analyzing whether the US is becoming more authoritarian is a legitimate topic, but it is clearly aimed at being critical of President Trump.  I haven’t read all the articles, but I guess it is going to have a strong anti-Trump bias, perhaps deserved, perhaps not.  One of Trump’s main issues has been immigration, but surprisingly much of the Mexican immigration is due to Republican President Reagan.  However, much of the recent immigration has been due to Democratic appeals to Latinos, such as DACA, more lenient enforcement of immigrtation laws, etc.

The bipartisan Latinization of the United States didn’t really begin until the middle of the 20th century.  The most important impetus was Ronald Reagan’s grant of amnesty to illegal aliens in 1986 to deal with a vastly increased immigration flow that had begun about 20 years earlier.  This law triggered a subsequent more massive influx of aliens hoping to benefit from the next amnesty.

The following graph from the Migration Policy Institute show the dramatic increase in Mexican immigrants following Reagan’s 1986 amnesty.

According to that group:

In 2016, Mexicans accounted for approximately 26 percent of immigrants in the United States, making them by far the largest foreign-born group in the country….  The predominance of Latin American and Asian immigration in the late 20th and early 21st centuries starkly contrasts with the trend in the mid-1900s, when immigrants were largely European. In the 1960s no single country accounted for more than 15 percent of the total immigrant population. 

It’s not clear how these statistics differentiate between legal and illegal immigrants.  There are a number of legal Mexican immigrants, and the number of illegals is difficult to measure because most of them are in hiding of some kind.  So, estimates of illegals are untrustworthy, but from looking through some internet data, it looks to me like there are more or less equal numbers of legal and illegal Mexican immigrants.

I believe that the Foreign Affairs thesis about the death of democracy is largely the product of massive immigration that the changed the cultural climate of the United States.  This is no longer a Western or Northern European nation with a tradition of democratic institutions.  It has developed a culture that favors a caurdillo over a popularly elected president responsible to Congress and the people. 

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