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David Frum: Biden’s Blurt Problem

October 11, 2022
Notes
Transcript

Putin’s left-wing supporters may be voluble on social media, but his supporters on the right are a political force. Plus, America’s crushing labor shortage, asylum laws, and the border problem. David Frum joins Charlie Sykes today.

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This transcript was generated automatically and may contain errors and omissions. Ironically, the transcription service has particular problems with the word “bulwark,” so you may see it mangled as “Bullard,” “Boulart,” or even “bull word.” Enjoy!
  • Speaker 1
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  • Speaker 2
    0:00:38

    Welcome to the Bullework Podcast. I’m Trelei Sykes. It is Tuesday, and we are joined by my good friend David from staff writer at the Atlantica who is the author of ten books most recently, Trumpocalypse and Trumpocracy. David, welcome back to the podcast. Thank you so much for having me back.
  • Speaker 2
    0:00:56

    Well, I wanna talk about Ukraine, Kevin McCarthy, the border, but could we just start with this little palate cleanser from last night’s Ohio Senate debate between Tim Ryan and JD Vance in case you all missed it. There was this moment where Tim Ryan is reminding JD Vance of something that happened at a recent rally that he held with the the former
  • Speaker 3
    0:01:18

    guy. Like just a few weeks ago in in Youngstown, on the stage, Donald Trump said to J. D. Vance, all you do is kiss my ass to get my support. He said that.
  • Speaker 3
    0:01:31

    That’s bad. Because that means J. D. Vance is gonna do whatever he wants. Mitch McConnell’s given him forty million.
  • Speaker 3
    0:01:36

    He’s gonna do what he wants. And Peter Teal gave him up fifteen million. He’s gonna do what he wants. And here’s the thing that’s most troubling about this. Lack of courage is that after Trump took JD Vance’s dignity from him, on the stage in Youngstown.
  • Speaker 3
    0:01:51

    JD Vance got back up on stage and said, start shaking his hand, take a picture saying, hey, aren’t we having a great time here tonight? I don’t know anybody I grew up with. I don’t know anybody I went to high school with that would allow somebody to take their dignity like that. And then get back up on stage We need leaders who have courage to take on their own party, and I’ve proven that, and he was called an ass kisser by the former president. And then he came back
  • Speaker 2
    0:02:16

    to this a little bit later saying, I’m for Ohio. I don’t kiss anyone’s ass like him, Ohio needs an ass kicker, not an ass kisser.
  • Speaker 1
    0:02:23

    So
  • Speaker 4
    0:02:26

    I don’t
  • Speaker 2
    0:02:26

    know that it makes a difference in that particular race, but, you know, it it is interesting that he highlighted the self humiliation of JD Vance, but that self humiliation has really become a feature of politics circa twenty twenty two, isn’t it?
  • Speaker 5
    0:02:40

    Yeah. I I’m sure JD bled a little on the inside. Mhmm. And it obviously it created a moment that has captured a lot of people’s imagination, as you say, when you try to think about who is undecided at this late hour, that person is probably not swayed in that kind of a way. Mhmm.
  • Speaker 5
    0:02:59

    But it must have heartened a lot of Tim Brian supporters that month.
  • Speaker 2
    0:03:01

    Yeah. And I I’m guessing that it’s going to be one of those things that they’re gonna keep pushing because you get the sense that a meme slash slogan has been born, you know, asskicker, not an ass kisser. Okay. From that to a much more seriousness, I’m really into talk with you about what’s going on in Ukraine, of course, of Vladimir Putin launching this massive revenge strike against a civilian population. In Ukraine after the attack on the Bridge and Crimea indiscriminate slaughter of civilians attack on the infrastructure.
  • Speaker 2
    0:03:31

    Russian state media celebrating the suffering that they are inflicting on the Ukrainian people. So let’s just start right there. What do you think is is happening with Ukraine. And whether or not this this barrage of missiles aimed at soft civilian targets, he’s going to make a difference as it does change the dynamic of the war. The
  • Speaker 5
    0:03:52

    barrage of missiles, of course, causes suffering and misery and grief, and and we all feel it. It is not a sign of success when an army has to turn to terror tactics, that means it is losing the fight on the ground. The Ukrainian strikes are fought for a purpose. The Russian strikes are fought to terrorize and maybe even reassure themselves. But the Russians did have an important success recently, not of their own doing, but because of a mistake on our side.
  • Speaker 5
    0:04:18

    And that is those poorly considered unguarded remarks that president Biden made at what he thought was an off the record fundraiser. About the imminence of nuclear catastrophe. Saying at no point since the Cuban missile crisis, have we been in greater danger? Just on the facts, it’s not only wrong but absurd, but it has given enormous comfort. People in Washington know that Joe Biden is given to blurting things without thinking them entirely through.
  • Speaker 5
    0:04:45

    And that’s been a feature of his entire career. He’s a man without a filter. And that can be one of his more winning aspects. It can be one of his more detrimental. But I just a few hours before this was on an important Indian for an affair show, not one that was run by people especially hostile to the United States or especially sympathetic to Russia.
  • Speaker 5
    0:05:02

    But they’re alarmed that the president of the United States has given this warning with nuclear apocalypse. He wouldn’t just pop that off the top of his head without giving a few a second slot beforehand. Woody, And you don’t wanna be the person who said, yeah. Yeah. He he kinda would.
  • Speaker 5
    0:05:16

    But that has been Russia’s top propaganda point, and now it has been endorsed by the president and it went reverberating around the world. See,
  • Speaker 2
    0:05:24

    the question that I would have is that our main goal has to be to deter the Russian use of nuclear weapons. Right that you would deterred. And yet, I wonder how making that comment at a Democratic fundraiser serves that purpose as opposed to deturing more aggressive western action. And look, I think that the the the Biden administration has done a lot of good things, but there has been this this sort of tendency to engage in this apocalyptic rhetoric, you know, that if if we do x, this will lead to world war three. There could be nuclear arm again So your take on this is that this does not deter Vladimir Putin.
  • Speaker 2
    0:06:01

    This actually might serve to be a counter deterrence. Against more aggressive Western intervention, I
  • Speaker 5
    0:06:08

    don’t think that the president’s remarks entered to the bilateral US Russia relationship at all. Russia is deterred by the same thing the Soviet Union was deterred by, and that is superior Western capabilities and their own desire for self preservation. Vladimir Putin has a path out of this war whereby he not only lives, but maybe even keeps power. So so long as he has those hopes, why would he do anything suicidal? The impact of those words is on opinion, especially in European states where the Russian claim, which is unless you give us a victory we will start a nuclear war.
  • Speaker 5
    0:06:43

    Mhmm. That claim is taken seriously by people of good faith and people of bad faith, and it now has the endorsement of the president that unless the Russians get something like a victory, is going to be a global thermal nuclear war. I’ve written about this on Twitter. You need to sort of parse out, what does the Russian nuclear plan look like? And if you just leave aside the horrific criminality of it, because they don’t worry about that too much.
  • Speaker 5
    0:07:02

    And just think about it from their point of view, what do they get? There is no path that leads them to anything but catastrophe. So that’s why they’re not going to do it. And for the president to be inflaming these fears, as you say, at other times, he has said things words. It does seems like he’s speaking aloud his own reasons for inhibition in a way that you didn’t need to speak them aloud.
  • Speaker 5
    0:07:23

    But in this case, I think he was just being dramatic, making the moment bigger, impressing the people at the fundraiser. And he then inflicted this tremendous blow to his own communication strategy. Well,
  • Speaker 2
    0:07:38

    let’s go back to the point that you made on it in the last couple of days about the Russian calculation involving the use of tactical nukes. You don’t think that they would do it because there’s really no upside. So what happens if let’s let’s run through the scenario that Vladimir Putin is in the corner, that he feels he needs to do something dramatic, he needs to terrify the west needs terrified the Ukrainians. So he uses a tactical nuclear
  • Speaker 6
    0:08:02

    weapon. What happens? So let’s play the hand of solitaire out.
  • Speaker 5
    0:08:05

    Yeah. What do you mean use the tactical nuclear weapon? So in the past, the Russians have war game scenarios where they have mind detonating a tactical nuclear weapon that is, you know, a a bomb smaller than the Hiroshima bomb, maybe a lot smaller than the Hiroshima bomb. Somewhere in the upper atmosphere to send a message that in the words of South Park. We’re super serial you guys.
  • Speaker 5
    0:08:29

    Okay. So they do that. Then what happens?
  • Speaker 4
    0:08:32

    Then what
  • Speaker 5
    0:08:33

    happens? They’ve breached the nuclear threshold. They haven’t heard anybody. They haven’t achieved anything. They’ve just broken into boo.
  • Speaker 5
    0:08:40

    Does the world say, okay, in that case, we give up, or does the world say, in that case, we need to respond to this by putting our nuclear weapons on higher alert or by doing something else that you wouldn’t like. You’ve only broken them to booh, you haven’t achieved anything. Right. Right. Okay.
  • Speaker 5
    0:08:54

    Let’s play another hand Okay. So we instead of dropping the upper atmosphere out in the middle of the black sea to say we’re super cereal you guys, we mean it quit it. Give us our hat back. We’ll drop it on some lightly inhabited peace of Ukraine in the territory. So now this is an even bigger atrocities and even bigger shock.
  • Speaker 5
    0:09:11

    But again, no strategic and no even tactical value. They are signaling but they’re signaling we are still inhibited. So they have all the podium of using nuclear weapons, but they have not impressed anybody one bit more with their murderous resolve. They’ve only breached the taboo. So now they they have to keep going up and up and up, but at each level of this hand, their problem becomes worse.
  • Speaker 5
    0:09:36

    Because ultimately, they’re playing against people who are stronger than they are. And what they are also doing is if they start breaching a taboo by, for example, blowing up a bomb in the upper atmosphere —
  • Speaker 4
    0:09:46

    Mhmm. —
  • Speaker 5
    0:09:47

    that invites others to breach to booths, like, if you were to spot what you think of as a Russian convoy bearing tactical nuclear weapons inside Russian territory, why wouldn’t you blow it up before they can
  • Speaker 4
    0:10:00

    launch it? That they
  • Speaker 5
    0:10:01

    invite the United States and its partners to say, you know what, our taboo has been your territory. There’s no direct American involvement We don’t provide the Ukrainians with weapons that can reach inside Russia. We deter the Ukrainians from irregular tactics inside Russia. That assassination of the daughter of the Russian propagandist, that I would, for me, was very ominous. Thing.
  • Speaker 5
    0:10:23

    I don’t believe the Ukrainian state did that. I don’t know who did it, obviously. But you can imagine there are a lot of Ukrainians who have a lot of private suffering to avenge. They speak Russian.
  • Speaker 4
    0:10:33

    Many of them
  • Speaker 5
    0:10:33

    have Russian papers. Russia is a very permeable country. Why isn’t there? Irregular action against civilians inside Russia. It is an amazing thing that hasn’t happened yet, but that could happen.
  • Speaker 5
    0:10:45

    The United States could provide these long range American and NATO forces could begin inserting themselves directly. The territory of Russia could no longer be off limits, you could imagine. Again, they’ve used it once. They’re more tactical nuclear weapons on their territory. Why wouldn’t you stop them before they could be used.
  • Speaker 5
    0:11:01

    So you just start playing this game. Mhmm. And and as I said, Putin’s best option. When you really work it out is options, what I call option zero. Threaten, but do not do.
  • Speaker 5
    0:11:11

    And that’s the stage we are now American policy should be to reduce the value of option zero, not to increase the value of zero, which is what Biden did with his misplaced remarks. So
  • Speaker 2
    0:11:22

    that this, you know, brings us back to this nagging question. What is the offer? What are the access? Because I actually agree with you on Biden’s comments because if you in fact do think we’re on the brink of nuclear armageddon, that that would, I think, lead inevitably to thinking that we need to come up with some sort of a negotiated settlement that we need to make some sort of concessions, including territorial concessions. But where are we at now?
  • Speaker 2
    0:11:45

    What what is the off ramp you noted on Twitter this morning, you have both left wing and right wing sort of proputinist or anti anti putinist who are really ratcheting up the It’s time to negotiate. It is time to make concessions. What do you see as the exit from all of this? I
  • Speaker 5
    0:12:04

    think this is something we need to think about. Very seriously right now. And obviously, we’re in hypothetical mode. But I just remind people the American planning for post war Europe after the second world war began in about nineteen forty three, maybe even earlier. Because no one understood quite how the war would end or certainly when it would end, but they how it would end.
  • Speaker 5
    0:12:23

    Who wouldn’t be in charge? That was clear from the moment the United States entered the second world war. And
  • Speaker 4
    0:12:28

    you had
  • Speaker 5
    0:12:28

    to plan for a a better future so things like this never happened again. I mean, when I anticipate, in my imagination, how the war probably ends here’s what I see. The Russian army begins to crack apart. And the people in command of the Russian
  • Speaker 4
    0:12:43

    state are
  • Speaker 5
    0:12:43

    faced with the choice between losing the war and losing their army. And at that point, the supreme imperative will be to preserve their army while they’ve still got one. And when I say, I don’t mean everyone will be dead. Or that everyone will have run away. I just mean that they stop taking orders, they stop being a cohesive and effective force, they stop being away for Putin to keep power.
  • Speaker 5
    0:13:02

    I think at some point the Russians just turn around and walk home. That’s not the end though because now we have the whole world has this huge problem, which is we have this embittered radicalized Russia. It’s going to be very poor. We’ve got this shattered Ukraine. And by the way, Russia will still be under these crushing economic sanctions.
  • Speaker 5
    0:13:18

    There’ll be even more crushing. Russia will begin pumping, needing to sell more oil, so the price of energy will come down, and Russia’s resources will be less. So we need to start thinking both about how do we rebuild Ukraine but also how do we bring Russia back into the community of nations and get them out from under their sanctions while having some kind of stability in Russia and getting some kind of extracting from some kind of at least symbolic preparation for Ukraine. Is
  • Speaker 6
    0:13:45

    that possible with Vladimir Putin still in power? I have no idea. And and again,
  • Speaker 5
    0:13:50

    I think those are their sort of micro predictions that that I mean, whether he’ll be in power or not, I don’t know. But it would be pretty bad to have a defeated Russia engaged in internal power struggles where there’s no resolution of a conflict. You get a kind of situation that we have in trans in East Korea, we have this frozen conflict for thirty years. It’s never settled. And that means that the sanctions never come off, and that means the Russian economy can never recover.
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    0:14:13

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  • Speaker 2
    0:14:46

    So I mentioned your your tweet this morning about the proputinist on Twitter. And you you know a very interesting discussion about the the difference between left wing and right wing pro Putinism. You know, we’ve talked before about the useful idiots that They’re featured on Russian state TV all the time. I think, you know, over the last twenty four hours, Donald Trump, Mike Pompeo, Elon Musk, have had a lot of FaceTime. Because, of course, the Russians will seize upon any comment that they make, Tucker Carlson, has been virtually a prime time star.
  • Speaker 2
    0:15:13

    But there’s also people like policy gabbard. And by the way, everybody probably heard, you know, she’s now quit the Democratic Party because it’s run by war mongers.
  • Speaker 6
    0:15:21

    So David, what is the difference between left wing and right wing pro putinism? Well, functionally, there isn’t a lot of difference. They both repeat the same lies, Nazis in the
  • Speaker 5
    0:15:34

    government of Ukraine, the American Bio Labs in Ukraine. And they both, of course, want Ukraine to lose the war and and Russia to win. So in that sense, they functionally, they operate the same way. But people have different biographies. And I think there is a psychological difference when it matters.
  • Speaker 5
    0:15:50

    On the one hand, there’s a Julian Assange, a Glen Greenwald, the the lesser fry who emulate them. And they’re more important counterparts in Europe who are still, I think, recognizably of the left. And then I think Kelsey Gabbard, in this case, does function as kind of a right wing, probably, mister despite her background of the Democratic Party,
  • Speaker 2
    0:16:08

    and it’s it’s hard to keep up with her. Yeah.
  • Speaker 1
    0:16:10

    Yeah.
  • Speaker 5
    0:16:11

    President Trump and Dark Carlson. And here here I think is the difference. The left wing probe putinists are mostly interested in the United States and the Western Alliance. And they see prudent as useful because he is a tool against those things. A less powerful tool than maybe they’d hoped a year ago, but still he’s a tool against he
  • Speaker 1
    0:16:29

    will
  • Speaker 2
    0:16:29

    weaken the United States and the Western Alliance.
  • Speaker 5
    0:16:32

    Yeah. Syria, Libya, the United States and Western Alliance, they are the real source of evil in the world. Putin is a tool against them. And therefore, some of the aspects of his regime, the corruption, the incitement of sexual and the religious bigotry, they don’t love those things. They lie about them.
  • Speaker 5
    0:16:48

    They cover them up. They indulge them. They condone them. They don’t love them. I think, across them.
  • Speaker 5
    0:16:54

    For him. He loves that that he’s he’s gonna he uses. He’s
  • Speaker 2
    0:16:58

    excited by that’s exactly what does jazz him on. Exactly. Exactly.
  • Speaker 4
    0:17:02

    So
  • Speaker 5
    0:17:02

    the the left puteness, those things are bugs that you lie about. And for the right wing pro pateness, they’re features that they’re the reason you’re excited. And they are excited about him rather than sort of reluctantly making peace. With him. I I
  • Speaker 2
    0:17:13

    love your line. For them,
  • Speaker 6
    0:17:14

    Putin’s corruption and appeals to racial and sexual bigotry are thrilling examples to emulate. Yes. That’s how they’d like to see this kind of government. Whereas, I think the left wing
  • Speaker 5
    0:17:25

    approach would do this where they really want is some kind of Jeremy Corbyn dream world of perfect socialism. And they think that Putin can help them — Mhmm. — get there.
  • Speaker 4
    0:17:32

    Now, here’s the
  • Speaker 5
    0:17:33

    other difference, which is left in proputeness, although they’re very valuable on social media, And although they may be important in the politics of certain European countries, particularly France, they’re not, I think, much of a factor in politics in the English speaking world. But the right wing pro Putin’s, they really are. And I think Putin’s God of Hope is only path to success. Is the Republicans come to power in twenty two in congress in a way that empowers his friends and that Donald Trump come
  • Speaker 1
    0:18:01

    back.
  • Speaker 4
    0:18:02

    Mhmm. One
  • Speaker 5
    0:18:02

    more point on this that because I’m thinking so much about reconstruction. Certainly in the Senate and may probably even in the House. It will be possible for the Biden administration to squeeze out military aid as needed for Ukraine. But the military aid needed for Ukraine is in the billions, maybe the low tens of billions of dollars. And in fact, they got forty billion last year that money’s authorized still has not been expended.
  • Speaker 5
    0:18:26

    The amounts of money needed are compared to the United States government’s budget, not that big by American standards. But the reconstruction bill that is coming is going to be colossal. And the Russians contribution will be at most symbolic. So — Mhmm. — that’s going to fall in the United States, the EU, and other friends to cover, and it will be a fantastic investment.
  • Speaker 5
    0:18:48

    I can we can talk about why they will we’ll get that money back, but it will be a big upfront check. And if at that point you have Trumpism, having the upper hand, if they say look, we’re looking at spending two trillion dollars over the next fifteen years. And the American share will be a third of them. Those are the kinds of figures you have to be thinking. And I swear to you, you will get the money back, a little bit like a marshal plan.
  • Speaker 5
    0:19:09

    You will never even notice that it was expended. So fast will you get your return. That said, it’s a big check and it’s a big check up front. So this
  • Speaker 2
    0:19:17

    will be a reprise of the debates that we had after World War I and World War two, you mentioned the marshal plan where we had bipartisan support for rebuilding Europe, but of course, after World War one, the country decided it was gonna pull back from its commitments to Europe and become more isolationist. So we will have a major choice to make whether or not there will be the kind of bipartisan support for reconstruction that we saw after World War two. And right now, there’s bipartisan support. But I think you’re right to raise the question will that survive? I think there are real questions about that, especially watching the trajectory of of Republican politics right now.
  • Speaker 2
    0:19:54

    Let me expand a little bit on this scenario of why I believe there is
  • Speaker 5
    0:19:56

    such an enormous upside. Ukraine is a big country, is a population bigger than Spain. It’s not quite at the France and Germany level, but it’s going to be one of the major players in Europe. It’s also has been a very poor country. GDP per capita in Ukraine, at least on the on the books GDP per capita in Ukraine before the Russian invasion or the most recent Russian invasion was about thirty eight hundred US dollars a year per person.
  • Speaker 5
    0:20:21

    Maybe the real truth figure is higher. Maybe there’s a lot of economic activity off the books, but that’s that’s the the official estimate. Just put that in context. Romania, next door, also a very poor country,
  • Speaker 4
    0:20:31

    has a
  • Speaker 5
    0:20:32

    GDP per capita of fourteen thousand US dollars. If you could raise the GDP per capita of Ukraine to Romanian levels, and that surely cannot be unachievable. That adds right there, a third of a billion euros per year to be of Europe. Just imagine forty five million, fifty million people needing new apartments needing insurance for their apartments, needing refrigerators and televisions and cars and bicycles, needing educational resources, needing software, needing new phones, what that economic jolt that will be to the European economy and to America as a trader with the European economy, you will see it back, but you’ll have to pay it upfront and that will be hard.
  • Speaker 2
    0:21:14

    Okay. Let’s switch gears because you have been writing extensively about the ongoing fight over immigration, the real world consequences of of all of that. You wrote after, you know, Rhonda Sandoval’s Martha’s Vineyard Stump, which by the way seems like like a couple of years ago right now. But I I keep coming back to a piece that you wrote some time back, which was essentially saying, you know, if Liberals and Democrats and centrist don’t come a whole way fixing the border. Americans are gonna turn to the fascist to do the border.
  • Speaker 2
    0:21:44

    So I wanted to get your sense of how this is playing out because at least politically and I don’t think that’s the most important question to ask. Politically, this is not hurting Republicans in the way that I think that there was some wish casting that that it might do, you know, that they’ve called attention to the fact that the border is a mess. And I have to tell you my sense is that the democratic approach is simply to pretend it doesn’t exist. Not
  • Speaker 4
    0:22:08

    to address
  • Speaker 2
    0:22:08

    it at all. And I don’t see how that is a successful strategy to politically or
  • Speaker 4
    0:22:15

    Day or
  • Speaker 5
    0:22:16

    two after the DeSantis stunt, I had a phone interview with the mayor Brown’sville, Texas. That’s on the Rio Grande on, you know, toward the Gulf of Mexico. An especially impressive mayor, by the way, and somebody with probably a pretty big future in politics ahead of him.
  • Speaker 4
    0:22:29

    Very thoughtful
  • Speaker 5
    0:22:30

    person, very knowledgeable. So here’s what happens in Brown’s Bramble is not a big place. Every day, every day, somewhere between two hundred and six hundred people. Walk across the border. In their little sector,
  • Speaker 4
    0:22:43

    present themselves to
  • Speaker 5
    0:22:44

    the border patrol. The border patrol does the paperwork, drives them into downtown Brownsville, to the bus dish. A few go to the airport because they have a little bit more money. They get some paperwork and they’re put on a bus and they’re sent elsewhere in the United States or they’re put on a plane. They arrive with destinations.
  • Speaker 5
    0:23:00

    They arrive with money. They arrive with plans to meet relatives. And everyone treats this as if, yeah, two hundred, six hundred people. And just in the Brownsville section, and it’s not that big a place, two hundred and six hundred people day cross the border without authorization, and they arrive with plans to settle permanently in the United States. Without a say so from any point.
  • Speaker 5
    0:23:18

    That’s how it works. You could tell that story across Arizona. You could tell that story across West Texas. We’re talking about you know, a million people a year just walking across. And not hiding, but presenting themselves to the authorities to say, I I wanna enter the asylum system and pending my hearing, which may be, god knows when.
  • Speaker 5
    0:23:38

    You know, give me papers and release me into the interior of the country as so long as my case winning, I will keep coming to court. And if my case ever stops winning, then I’ll vanish. The reason people think the the the people like the vice president say, this is a safe and orderly process is what is orderly? I mean, it’s orderly that it’s like if if you have a parking garage and the the barrier gets broken and the cash machine isn’t working and the cars don’t, like, they queue in an orderly way and enter the parking garage where they’re supposed to pay. They enter for free.
  • Speaker 5
    0:24:06

    That’s orderly. But it’s not the way things are supposed to be. It’s not conforming to the rules. And I think a lot of people is the the closer you get to the board, the more the thing, there’s there’s something kinda missing here that any sense of of law and the order is created by this alternative legal system where you walk across and then you enter into this multi year asylum process. So
  • Speaker 2
    0:24:26

    the asylum process is become a kind of fake kabuki dance, right, that, you know, you come in, you’re allowed to live and work in the country for years and years. If you lose, you can peel it, you lose again, and then the government has to go through the process of a deportation order, then there’s more appeals. So
  • Speaker 6
    0:24:45

    basically, everybody’s figured out how to game this system. What’s the answer, David? The asylum process was written into law and treaty after world war two with the story of the
  • Speaker 5
    0:24:54

    Anne Frank. Family and the people on the Saint Louis and Biden, which is — Yeah. — people who, through no fault of their own, are being targeted by their own government. For something either that they can’t help their race or something they shouldn’t have to help their religion. And they are in threat and they need somewhere to go.
  • Speaker 5
    0:25:10

    And so we’ve created this an an elaborate international system. But the way it’s being used now is to say, you can use it even if they’re not targeting you. If generally the place you live is disorderly or dangerous or poor, then this generalized threat can become the basis of an asylum claim. So well well, you know, in that case, practically two thirds of the world qualifies for a song. This is not about the Anne Frank family anymore.
  • Speaker 5
    0:25:37

    This is about everyone in any country where life is less attractive and appealing than it is in the developed world. And that’s a lot of the world. And if you can get yourself to the border, you can walk across. And the irony of this, of course, is that the poorest people in the world can’t do this because this process costs thousands of dollars. I’ve seen this again, another report I ended.
  • Speaker 5
    0:25:55

    This becomes part of a a very cohesive strategy of the moderately well-to-do in poor countries. Any extent, one son inherits the farm, one son goes to the city and the country, and one’s the one son gets, you know, two thousand dollars in the cell phone and gets sent on, try your way to Europe and the United States, and we have different We have this diversified portfolio of economic strategies for our family. We’ll see which works. So what do we do? We have to remember why we have asylum.
  • Speaker 5
    0:26:22

    And and if necessary, change the law and maybe even rewrite treaties to say, this is for people who are under individual threat of persecution. And then we also need to deal with this other problem, which is one reason why the Biden administration has been so tolerant. Is because of the crushing labor shortage inside the United States, which is caused by the continuing abstention from the workforce of so many able-bodied, prime age people, post COVID, they have not come back. And that’s not necessarily because they’re lazy. They may not be able to get day care or maybe because the particular kind of work they did doesn’t exist anymore, and they don’t see why they need to move across the country to a different kind of job.
  • Speaker 5
    0:27:01

    But nonetheless, we have Americans who are not working. And because of that, a lot of employers are passively welcoming this migration. From the employer’s point of view, I talked to an employer who said, you know, if somebody has walked a thousand miles to come to the job interview, I believe that person is a motivated
  • Speaker 6
    0:27:18

    employee. That seems
  • Speaker 1
    0:27:19

    reasonable.
  • Speaker 5
    0:27:22

    Yeah. Yeah. I I get it from your point of view. I get it from that person who walked the thousand miles point of view. I’m not saying he’s, you know, but you can’t run your country and say, well, what would I do if I were in that position because you can’t govern that way.
  • Speaker 5
    0:27:34

    You can have human sympathy, but you also need collective rules. Let’s
  • Speaker 2
    0:27:39

    set aside the the rules because that you made that case. So on this issue of work, I mean, obviously, we need more Americans to work, to go back to work, but also we need more immigrants to fill many of these jobs, and this is, you know, wherever you go in the country, you know, people saying, we have a hard time hiring employees. Now whether that will change with a recession, we we don’t know. So, how do we balance this? You know, what you’re describing requires acts of statesmanship and compromise and practicality in coming up with a humane system of asylum, but also dealing with legal immigration and solving the employment problem.
  • Speaker 4
    0:28:18

    Do you have any
  • Speaker 2
    0:28:19

    optimism that the political moment matches the need that we have out there for these kinds of compromises because the last decade, it certainly has not been an indication that we’re anywhere close to coming up with a rational approach to immigration, illegal immigration, legal immigration, or employment at all.
  • Speaker 5
    0:28:36

    So our present legal immigration system was created more or less thirty years ago in the George h w Bush administration. They were responding to a crisis of their time, which is that there’s a lot of illegal immigration, there’s a big backlog of relatives of people who’ve gotten status because of the amnesty of nineteen eighty six. And so the Bush people said, look, the the pre nineteen ninety quote was five hundred and eighty five thousand legal people a year. Let’s double it. Take it to one point one million.
  • Speaker 5
    0:29:01

    And we’ll we’ll apportion it in various ways, but the largest block of the one point one million will be relatives of people already in the country. So you get people who have got status, typically recently legalized immigrants because They are the people who have people in the other countries. And we’ll define what a relative is pretty generously. It’s not just an aged parent. It’s not just a child who wasn’t able to follow you, but it would be siblings and their children.
  • Speaker 5
    0:29:24

    Mhmm. So they created a system where the United States takes one point one million immigrants a year, which a very big number, especially given how low American birth rates are. It has a huge impact on the character of the country. But most of the people are coming are coming because they have a relative already in the screen, not because they line up with the needs of the American economy. Mhmm.
  • Speaker 5
    0:29:43

    So surprise that this system of taking one point one million the largest block of the big relatives did not meet the needs of the American economy. And so illegality in the nineteen nineties became an even biggerish than it had been in the nineteen eighties. Well, the line between legal and illegal turns out to be quite blurry. Legal people the way of becoming illegal, and as they come we have a student visa, student visa ends and they stay and they moved from legal to illegal. And illegal people the way of becoming legal, they marry an American against status that way.
  • Speaker 5
    0:30:11

    Yeah. Something else happens, they they become legal. And so you have these corridors of migration. But the country has never seriously thought about immigration as part of its manpower or human resources policy. It’s always been driven by the interests of the immigrant.
  • Speaker 5
    0:30:29

    The asylum policy is driven by the needs for humanity, the refugee policy, the same, asylum and refugee are different things. Refugees aren’t in the country already asylum seekers are. Most of the legal immigration policy is driven by the family needs of recently settled immigrants and their desire to have their relatives come followed into the United States. But as to how you get the kinds of workers the American economy needs, and how you think about it. I get why fast food operators want large numbers of docile workers willing to work for low wages.
  • Speaker 5
    0:31:00

    If you’ve got American visas to distribute, is that who you really should be recruiting? Yes, I get why they don’t want to make the investment in automatic french fry machines and we’d rather have docile workers they can pay less to, but maybe they should invest in automated French washing machines instead and like it or not. And maybe we need a more thoughtful, deliberate approach to merit based, skill based.
  • Speaker 6
    0:31:20

    Merit based is something notorious about it. I meant skills based. Yeah.
  • Speaker 5
    0:31:25

    Because, like, I don’t wanna deny the merit of someone who’s made out, radical sacrifices. That is a hardworking, maybe even heroic kind of human being. It’s not a human judgment. My bad choice of words. I’m sorry.
  • Speaker 5
    0:31:36

    I’m not school anymore. I’m just I’m just I just wanna make us think about this in a more utilitarian way. What does the United States economy need? What does the US society cope with? How do we make this work for all of us?
  • Speaker 5
    0:31:45

    Because if we don’t, we are at a state where there is an important part of the untrue that says the answer is, close the board or put up a wall that nobody in, and that’s that’s not useful. Okay. So
  • Speaker 2
    0:31:58

    let’s switch gears again. Alright? Wanna do something that I very rarely do, which is to ask about another podcast. You are on the talking Fed’s podcast and I was I was with them down in Texas. You you described it as lively, and you were on with Jennifer Rubin, Rick Wilson, Harry Littman, for what’s described as a sharp edged and sophisticated look at the legal landscape, you know, the DOJ, January sixth committee through the prism of the midterms So I have not had a chance to listen to it, but when you describe it and when they describe it as sharp edge and you describe it as lively, I
  • Speaker 5
    0:32:32

    am curious. So Well, I’m I’m getting some some credit to to Rick Wilson here who always speaks in a way that is a little bit more more directed than I would Tell me
  • Speaker 6
    0:32:42

    what you disagreed about. I’m I’m I’m most interested in what what you disagreed with with everybody else about. That podcast was recorded immediately after Biden’s remarks,
  • Speaker 5
    0:32:52

    but nuclear conflict rights. And I was really mad about them. Mhmm. And so I I talked about that. And I you know, we all live in these solid information worlds.
  • Speaker 5
    0:33:00

    And I think a lot of people have been feeling like you can’t give an inch ever. So if — Yeah. — the Donald Trump people are saying that Joe Biden is a drooling mental case, then everything he says and does must be defended in a way that nobody who voted for Joe Biden would have defended him six months before he president. We all knew he had this blurb problem. We knew that in nineteen eighty seven.
  • Speaker 5
    0:33:23

    We knew that — Yeah. — in nineteen if you were around, you knew it in nineteen seventy seven. He was around. He was blirting then. This time the blurt had real world consequences.
  • Speaker 5
    0:33:31

    I I gave ventilation of
  • Speaker 6
    0:33:33

    that thought. Alright.
  • Speaker 1
    0:33:34

    So
  • Speaker 2
    0:33:34

    what do you think about the the DOJ? Where do you come down on this rule about whether or not the DOJ should go big or whether or not it is just not worth the risk of a violencepolitical division to charge the president. I think the the
  • Speaker 5
    0:33:48

    threat of violence here’s a little bit like Putin’s nuclear weapons. It becomes true only if you agree that it’s true. If the president committed multiple felonies at Mar a Lago, if he lied to his bankers and the New York State tax authorities when he valued his buildings and declared his rent rules, things that are crimes for anybody else, they should be crimes for an ex president. Who returns to the body of the people. The ex presidency is a role.
  • Speaker 5
    0:34:11

    It’s not a status. And if an ex president is proven to a committed. Not political crimes, but ordinary crimes that any human being could have committed, telling one story to your bankers and another story to the tax authorities that suggest there’s fraud in at least one direction and maybe both. And that’s there are consequences for for commercial fraud. There are consequences for stealing government documents.
  • Speaker 5
    0:34:35

    And especially if it turns out that you have been irresponsible in how you stored the documents afterwards. So I I think he has to face the music, and I think we will all be amazed at once and how much that that will hurt him and how little upward there will be. I mean, there’ll be a lot of talk on TV and social media. But our Republicans who have probably gained control of the House of Representatives who see their way to winning the election in twenty twenty four with a different candidate. Are they actually going to, like, go get guns and commit violence against police?
  • Speaker 5
    0:35:04

    Because Donald Trump faced the consequences that any of them would have faced for taking nuclear documents away. Trump might. It does it doesn’t
  • Speaker 2
    0:35:10

    take a large number. Crimes can be committed by
  • Speaker 5
    0:35:13

    one person. But to endanger this public authority of the United States, Robert league is unsuccessful. And this this is one of
  • Speaker 2
    0:35:20

    those, you know, many issues where I hope that you are right and that I am wrong because I think that the the indictment of Donald Trump will create a huge uproar, and and again, I am in the camp of. We must reaffirm the principle that nobody’s above the law, and I think the precedent of letting him get away with it would be absolutely deadly or decades and decades, but I think we also have to recognize that there would be an uproar, and there would be real damage because I I was asked, well, if he’s indicted with the Republican Party still nominating for present. And and right now, I’m saying yes. Absolutely. I think that the all of the indications are, look, this is a Republican party that is embracing Hershel Walker.
  • Speaker 2
    0:35:53

    They basically say, look, we don’t care about any of this stuff. It’s all about winning. If you’re willing to embrace Hershel Walker, you’re certainly going to embrace whatever Trump does or has done, in twenty twenty four. I mean, this logic that they have internalized that it just doesn’t matter as long as we have power. I mean, this has become the party line, hasn’t it?
  • Speaker 2
    0:36:15

    I mean, and and there’s really no I mean, there’s no gloss on it. They’re not pretending in any way.
  • Speaker 4
    0:36:20

    That’s one of the things that I
  • Speaker 5
    0:36:20

    think is important about the election twenty twenty two in that I can understand and follow the logic. I’m horrified by, like, follow the logic of saying, well, I don’t care how many abortions he paid for. If he can win the Georgia seat, I’m for
  • Speaker 4
    0:36:33

    him. Yeah. Okay.
  • Speaker 5
    0:36:33

    I won’t endorse if I follow the logic. If it turns out, well, because he paid for an abortion, he doesn’t want the Georgia seat. That logic suddenly doesn’t look so compelling. It looks like Blake Masters just want to lose an Arizona. He’s not caught in any particular just for being an an unpleasant person in the history of saying crazy things.
  • Speaker 5
    0:36:48

    He’s not an unintelligent person. They’re not stupid crazy things, but they are reprehensible crazy things. Hirscher walker. I mean, literally paying for an abortion. I I don’t think anybody is now very seriously denying that that’s what happened.
  • Speaker 2
    0:37:01

    They’re finding
  • Speaker 5
    0:37:01

    ways to not say it, but his supporters are acknowledging that that’s what happened. There may be other such cases too where people because of their Trump style character flaws actually as happened in in twenty twenty one when Trump threw away two seats in Georgia because of his reckless behavior. You know, there comes a point where you say, you know, the logic is he’s a winner. But not only is he a criminal, he’s also a loser. Okay, Nick, this is an interesting point.
  • Speaker 2
    0:37:25

    You’ve got me thinking about this because we’ve been assuming that the whole access Hollywood incident changed the rules of politics in one way. You are suggesting that a defeat of Hershel Walker might turn the dial back saying, okay, this doesn’t actually work. If you want to win, you can’t do this. And by the way, if Hershel Walker loses just think of the many, many ways that Donald Trump has just screwed the Republican Party in Georgia. Yeah.
  • Speaker 2
    0:37:53

    It’s just like, please, sir. Can I add another one? I mean, wow. If if Hershel Walker loses and Brian can’t win.
  • Speaker 4
    0:38:00

    Yes.
  • Speaker 2
    0:38:00

    Which is likely.
  • Speaker 5
    0:38:01

    So the the man who Donald Trump went on the rampage against, he wins, and maybe wins quite big. The person he foisted on the Republican Party despite every probably every Republican office holder in Georgia just about saying, don’t do this to us. That person loses. And with it, by the way, becomes then very hard to see a way that the Republicans gain the fifty one seats in the senate that they need against the only fifty that the Democrats need. At Mitch McConnell’s aspirations may be thwarted.
  • Speaker 5
    0:38:28

    And as I say, I don’t doubt that the Republicans are on balance whenever pretty good year. And one of the things that Rick Wilson reminded us in the talking Fed’s podcast is that for now some very large number of elections, I think maybe six, possibly eight. The polls have systematically underestimated Republican gains burned into our consciousness
  • Speaker 2
    0:38:43

    after the last couple of
  • Speaker 5
    0:38:46

    cycles. Nonetheless, if we do wake up and the Republicans are at fifty seats, not fifty one in the Senate, if they’ve gained six or eight or ten in the house, but not nothing like what happened in twenty eighteen for the Democrats for twenty fourteen or twenty ten. There’s there’s gonna be the need for someone to blame. And there will be many people to blame, but Donald Trump will be a very convenient person for a lot of people to blame.
  • Speaker 2
    0:39:09

    Okay. Speaking of who to blame, just very briefly in the moment, we have left us a new book out detailing how Kevin McCarthy came to support Donald Trump after January sixth with some pretty dazzling details frustrated that Trump wouldn’t talk to him, stressed to that his chance to become house speaker could be in jeopardy and furious that a trusted confidante had publicly disclosed a Ken’s call between himself and Trump. McCarthy snapped and then it describes, you know, how angry he was that Jamie Herrera Butler had had passed on the word of his conversation with Donald Trump, you know, I alone and taking all the heat to protect people from Trump alone and holding the party together. It is one of the exceptional stories of our time watching the transformation of Kevin McCarthy in the way that he’s handling. And apparently, he was very, very angry about all of this.
  • Speaker 2
    0:39:58

    Your thoughts about Kevin McCarthy, who is is by all conventional, the conventional wisdom assumes that Kevin McCarthy will be the next speaker of the House of Representatives. There needs to
  • Speaker 5
    0:40:06

    be kind of like anti Robert Caro spoke about him. So Robert Caro brought all these volumes for about how people can parlay things never seem to have power into power. You know, you’re the Parks commissioner of New York City. You’re the senate majority leader in time with that like one of the worst jobs in American politics. And people take these place.
  • Speaker 5
    0:40:27

    They discover potentiality for power and they build power. Okay. Now we need a book with how You can be neither the number two party lines of representatives and soon to be speaker of the House of Representatives and be an absolute doormat. How you take position of master power. This is, like, like, you know, you’re kinda and inverse Robert Moses.
  • Speaker 5
    0:40:46

    Anything? Yeah. I’m not parks commissioner. I’m, like, chairman the joint chiefs of staff, and I can’t get a
  • Speaker 2
    0:40:51

    coffee. No. That that is true. That that is a great idea. I mean, it it is the path to power through objects self humiliation, you know, here.
  • Speaker 2
    0:41:00

    Take take my testicles, put them in a lockbox, give me power. It’s not the way it usually works. He thinks the
  • Speaker 5
    0:41:05

    job would be speaker of the house is a little bit like being conceres some rock star hotel where people come downstairs at all hours and they make crazy demands and you say yes or right away, sir, we’ll have the the dim sum and cocaine to your room in fifteen minutes, sir. Like, you’re going to be speaker. Trump should be scared of him you know, he can impeach people. He can he can set edges. He can decide what legislation comes.
  • Speaker 5
    0:41:28

    He’s going to be potentially the most powerful man in Washington or one of them and and and potentially one of the last one of the most powerful men in the world, and he’s cringing and sniveling and it’s just that
  • Speaker 2
    0:41:40

    maybe that’s what the speaker of the house has become. Now, the the speaker of the house is a glorified concierge. Nancy Pelosi doesn’t cringe. No. She she she does not.
  • Speaker 2
    0:41:49

    But I you you kind of wonder why anyone wants this job, you know, seeing how it is destroyed virtually every other person that this held it to certainly Republican speakers. When was the last group of you a successful Republican speaker of the house? One needs to say it, but it was
  • Speaker 4
    0:42:04

    Kenny Haskett. And that comes with
  • Speaker 2
    0:42:06

    an asterisk. Doesn’t
  • Speaker 4
    0:42:08

    it? David from thank you
  • Speaker 2
    0:42:10

    so much for joining on the podcast. Again, it was a lot of fun. Bye
  • Speaker 5
    0:42:14

    bye. And thank you
  • Speaker 2
    0:42:15

    all for listening to today’s Bulwark podcast. I’m Charlie Sykes. We’ll be back tomorrow, and we will do this all over again.
  • Speaker 4
    0:42:28

    You’re worried about the
  • Speaker 8
    0:42:30

    economy. Inflation is high. Your paycheck doesn’t cover as much as it used to, and we live under the threat of a looming recession. And sure, you’re doing okay, but you could be doing better. The afford
  • Speaker 5
    0:42:40

    anything podcast explains the economy and the market detailing how to make white choices on the way you spend and invest. Afford anything talks about how
  • Speaker 1
    0:42:47

    to avoid common pitfalls, how to refine your mental models, and how to think about how to think. Make smarter choices and build a better life.
  • Speaker 8
    0:42:56

    Afford anything wherever you listen.
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