How did Ron DeSantis do in the debate with Governor French Laundry?

Americans have so few shared values or interests (see my favorite Harvard analysis on why we can’t agree on whether open borders are good or bad; low-skill immigrants are great for the rich and terrible for the working class) that they can watch different political events even while watching the same political event. Was last night’s debate between Gavin Newsom and Ron DeSantis an example of that phenomenon?

Based on a casual sampling of Twitter, every account with rainbow flags, #FreePalestine banners, etc. declared that Newsom was the winner while all of the conservative accounts tweeted how impressed they were with Ron D. Here are two that happened to show up adjacent:

Readers who watched: How did Ron DeSantis do? Is it time for me to switch allegiance from Nikki Haley?

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Checking the COVID-19 Olympics scores for Florida and California ahead of the DeSantis v. Newsom debate

Governor French Laundry and Governor Science Denial are debating this evening. Let’s do a little pre-debate fact-checking. Americans have agreed that all of a society’s success can be measured by the society’s score in the COVID-19 Olympics. A society that achieved 0 COVID-tagged deaths by pushing all of its citizens into Hamas-style tunnels for 10 years (until a vaccine-style vaccine became available that definitively reduced deaths on a population-wide basis) would, for example, be celebrated as the best of all possible societies.

Lockdown-champ California starts off in the lead in the COVID-19 Olympics by having a lower COVID-19-tagged death rate. Once you adjust for the percentage of the population over 65, however, the death rates are about the same and the excess death rate may actually be higher in California (the CDC makes these data available, but somehow doesn’t bother to make it easy to compare states).

Where is SARS-CoV-2 having a field day right now? The CDC’s wastewater page:

The Science-denying Republican strongholds of Minnesota and Vermont are seriously plagued (God hates Republicans and loves #Science). California is moderately plagued and the plague level in Florida is “low”. In other words, if we accept that current Scientific dogma that humans, especially politicians and bureaucrats, are in charge of viruses, Gavin Newsom’s lockdowns, mask orders, forced vaccinations, school closures, etc. have resulted in a higher rate of SARS-CoV-2 infection than the Team Sweden approach that Ron DeSantis adopted in the summer of 2020 (see Ron DeSantis and Coronapanic for excerpts from the not-so-great man’s book).

I continue to maintain my position that Nikki Haley would be more likely to prevail over Joe Biden in November 2024 because Ron D doesn’t have the soothing optimistic tone that Americans love. For example, Americans want to believe that someone who hates Jews and loves jihad will do a 180-degree flip once exposed to suburban life in Michigan or Minnesota. Ron just says “no”:

(Possible influence for Ron D’s rejection of Immigration Dogma: Florida is where, in 2016 (prior to Ron DeSantis assuming the governorship), first-generation Afghan-American Omar Mir Seddique Mateen killed 49 people at a gay nightclub. Mr. Mateen came from a “moderate Muslim” family and had spent his entire 29-year life in the land of Diversity is Our Strength (TM).)

Loosely related:

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Gun violence is a “public health crisis” and “urgent”, but Maskachusetts won’t pass a gun safety law this year

“Mass. Senate’s gun bill won’t bow until 2024, top Dem says” (, October 27, 2023):

The state Senate’s version of a much-anticipated gun violence reduction bill won’t make its debut until January — even as the chamber’s top leader has acknowledged “the true sense of urgency” around the issue.

That’s the word from Senate President Karen Spilka’s, D-Middlesex/Norfolk, office.

“It’s a very complex issue. The House struggled with it, they took their time as well,” Spilka said, according to Politico. “But we recognize the true sense of urgency here.”

The House passed its version of the bill after a marathon debate on Oct. 18, MassLive previously reported.

“Mass. House passes updated gun violence reform bill” (October 18, 2023) is the referenced story:

Since July 1, there have been 90 separate shootings in the Commonwealth, which have left 40 people dead and 86 injured, Day said.

“We are in the midst of a public health crisis and it is unrelenting,” he said. “‘Thoughts and prayers’ are not enough.”

The revised measure makes slight modifications to where people can carry firearms, expands the state’s assault weapons ban to include firearms developed after 2004, and aims to stem the flow of illegal firearms.

The bill also includes language that prohibits someone from bringing a gun into schools or government buildings and polling locations.

A major focus of the bill is also cracking down on “ghost guns” or untraceable firearms, by registering them with the state. As ghost guns are becoming more common Day said he hopes that serializing these firearms will help police trace where they are coming from and who’s putting them out on the street.

The updated legislation requires receivers – the part of the gun that contains the firing mechanism – to be serialized, but not the barrels or feeding device.

The House bill has been met with praise from gun safety advocates and lawmakers who’ve been pushing for the Legislature to act on Day’s bill since it was first proposed.

(It didn’t meet with praise from a gun enthusiast friend who still lives in Massachusetts. “I can possess normal magazines and ARs but won’t be able to carry magazines over 10 rounds. And they have to be stored at home both in a safe and also unloaded. And I will no longer be able to pick up my kids at school with a gun.” (I didn’t ask who needs to be shot in the pick-up line.))

So… politicians agree that we are in a crisis and there is urgency. It’s a one-party state so there is no political opposition to whatever Democrats might agree to do. People are dying and this new law will prevent those deaths. But there is no need for the Senate to act, e.g., simply approving the language already passed by the House, so that the new law can take effect.

And from the southeast part of the state…

And in the west-central part…

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What the authors of our modern immigration policy believed that it would do

“The Hard Truth About Immigration” (The Atlantic; paywalled, but included with Apple News subscriptions) has some interesting quotes from the people who authored our current immigration policy. This is not about the asylum policy that has effectively opened the border to anyone who asks, but the official immigration policy that has resulted in most of the population growth in recent decades. From Pew:

The author of the article is a New York Times journalist, i.e., from a team of cheerleaders for open borders. So perhaps we should be skeptical of any claims regarding the benefits of low-skill immigration to natives (see this 2016 Harvard analysis for how elites benefit and the working class gets destroyed financially), but I think that the quotes are likely accurate.

What did the best and brightest of the 1960s predict?

“This bill that we will sign today is not a revolutionary bill,” President Lyndon B. Johnson said as he put his signature on the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, at the base of the Statue of Liberty. “It does not affect the lives of millions.” All that the bill would do, he explained, was repair the flawed criteria for deciding who could enter the country. “This bill says simply that from this day forth those wishing to immigrate to America shall be admitted on the basis of their skills and their close relationship to those already here.”

Edward Kennedy, the 33-year-old senator who had shepherded the bill through the Senate, went even further in promising that its effects would be modest. Some opponents argued that the bill would lead to a large increase in immigration, but those claims were false, Kennedy said. They were “highly emotional, irrational, and with little foundation in fact,” he announced in a Senate hearing, and “out of line with the obligations of responsible citizenship.” Emanuel Celler, the bill’s champion in the House, made the same promises. “Do we appreciably increase our population, as it were, by the passage of this bill?” Celler said. “The answer is emphatically no.”

How wrong were they?

Johnson, Kennedy, Celler and the new law’s other advocates turned out to be entirely wrong about this. The 1965 bill sparked a decades-long immigration wave. As a percentage of the United States population, this modern wave has been similar in size to the immigration wave of the late 1800s and early 1900s. In terms of the sheer number of people moving to a single country, the modern American immigration wave may be the largest in history. The year Johnson signed the immigration bill, 297,000 immigrants legally entered the United States. Two years later, the number reached 362,000. It continued rising in subsequent decades, and by 1989 exceeded 1 million.

How did they get it so wrong? The miracle of chain migration, which Donald Trump tried to end:

The most consequential nonquota entries proved to be family members, including extended family. The law declared that immigrants who were coming to join relatives already in the United States would not count toward the quota. That loophole was not wholly new. But it had not mattered much before 1965, because the overall system was so restrictive. The new law opened the doors to the entire world without solving the nonquota problem.

Didn’t anyone foresee how the U.S. would be transformed?

The critics’ predictions—that annual immigration might soon triple, as one conservative congressman forecast, and eventually surpass 1 million, as another anticipated—ended up being more accurate. The advocates of the 1965 law also incorrectly promised that any increase in immigration would come from white-collar professionals filling specific job shortages. Willard Wirtz, Johnson’s labor secretary, went so far as to tell Congress that the bill offered “complete protection” against increased labor competition. In truth, many arrivals have been blue-collar workers, admitted as extended family, seeking a broad range of jobs.

The Harvard analysis that I cited above was considered hate speech in 2016 when Hillary was running for the Presidency that she so richly deserved. The author of this Atlantic piece presents the same conclusions, with the implication that we’re only figuring this out right now:

The decades when the American masses enjoyed their fastest income gains—in the middle of the 20th century—were also the decades when immigration was near historic lows. The 1965 law ended this era and caused a sharp rise in the number of immigrants entering the workforce. Shortly afterward, incomes for poor and working-class Americans began to stagnate. The 1940s, ’50s, and ’60s were a time of low immigration and rapidly rising mass living standards. The period since the ’70s has been neither.

The post-1965 immigration wave has had both benefits and costs. On the plus side, it has probably accelerated economic growth, mostly by expanding the labor force. With a larger population, the United States has been able to produce more goods and services. Immigration also appears to have benefited many high-earning, native-born professionals. The costs of immigration for these workers have been fairly low because they face relatively little competition from immigrant workers. Few of the highly educated immigrants who come to the U.S. are lawyers or doctors, partly because some professions have created barriers that restrict entry. In medicine, foreign doctors are required to complete a multiyear residency program in the United States, regardless of their prior experience. Professionals who have enough political influence to shape labor-market rules, like doctors, understand that a larger labor pool can reduce incomes.

(When I lived in Maskachusetts and a cardiologist would talk about how the borders should be open, how no human was illegal, how much Trump needed to be hated, etc., I would ask “Should a cardiologist from Switzerland or the UK be allowed to come here and practice?” The answer was inevitably “No.”)

After acknowledging that low-skill immigration makes the working class poor, just as the Harvard nerds said in 2016, the author explains that “racism” is why working class voters oppose open borders:

Racism, of course, is part of this story. In both the United States and Europe, right-wing politicians like Trump have tried to raise fears of immigrants by using xenophobic stereotypes and lies. This racism can be anti-Latino, anti-Asian, anti-Black, or anti-Muslim, depending on the time and place. The tactic has proved distressingly effective at winning working-class voters.


  • “Effects of Immigration on African-American Employment and Incarceration” (NBER, 2007): For white men, an immigration boost of 10 percent caused their employment rate to fall just 0.7 percentage points; for black men, it fell 2.4 percentage points. … For white men, a 10 percent rise in immigration appeared to cause a 0.1 percentage point increase in the incarceration rate for white men. But for black men, it meant a nearly 1 percentage-point rise. [This study is not cited in the Atlantic article by the NYT writer!]
  • “A price tag to reject migrants? It’s not the only fight threatening a reform package” (Politico EU): Negotiators are haggling over a per-migrant fee — somewhere between €10,000 and €22,000, according to numerous people involved — to charge a country if it declines to take in asylum seekers. [We are informed that low-skill migrants make a country richer, which means each migrant should be valuable. Instead, the price within Europe is negative and countries will have to pay to unload a migrant.]
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The right wingers who fund Gavin Newsom’s lockdowns, DEI programs, gun safety laws, and welfare schemes

I’ve got my mother’s AOL account password and try to log in every day or two to clear out the spam, unsubscribe her from all of the scam mailing lists that she’s on, etc. Considering that mom says she’d vote for Joe Biden even if he were a mental vegetable and/or dead, it is a little strange that she is on‘s mailing list:

The folks behind this are bravely defending “the American way”:

Where are these rightwing warriors based?

Glendale, California! In other words, every day they are paying taxes to keep Gavin Newsom’s lockdowns, DEI programs, gun safety laws, and welfare schemes going.

I find this even harder to understand than my mom being on their list!

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Did anything interesting happen in the 2nd Republican primary debate?

I can’t bear to watch politicians, but I found a transcript of last night’s Republican debate.

A few sections…

HUME: Forty years after Reagan’s landslide reelection, the Republican Party faces critical questions: What does it mean to be a conservative?


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We are not going to worry about what the left and the media say about us.

Nobody else answered? Vivek’s answer seems crazy. Which truth is he fighting for? His truth? I can’t believe this guy is polling higher than my favorite, Nikki Haley. DeSantis’s answer is terrible in my opinion. Shouldn’t a conservative be able to exist without the “left” (whatever that might mean in America’s incoherent politics) and the media?

Should I be worried that I agree with Chris Christie?

During the Trump administration, they added $7 trillion, $7 trillion in national debt. And now, the Biden administration has put another $5 trillion on and counting. They have failed, and they’re in the spot they’re in now because none of them are willing to tell the truth; none of them are willing to take on the difficult issues. They just want to keep kicking the can down the road.

DeSantis basically says the same thing, but works in low-skill immigration, which drives up costs for everything that the working class might want to buy, e.g., housing, while feeding the elites:

DESANTIS: The people in Washington are shutting down the American dream with their reckless behavior. They borrowed, they printed, they spent and now you’re paying more for everything. They are the reason for that. They have shut down our national sovereignty by allowing our border to be wide open.

Now, I can tell you this as governor of Florida, we cut taxes; we ran surpluses; we’ve paid down over 25 percent of our state debt. And I vetoed wasteful spending when it came to my desk. And as your president, when they send me a bloating spending bill that’s going to cause your prices to go up, I’m going to take out this veto pen and I’m going to send it right back to them.

I rate this last statement “partly false” because the U.S. president doesn’t have a line-item veto as most state governors do. I guess a hypothetical President DeSantis could have vetoed coronapanic spending and massive spending programs authorized by individual bills, such as the “Inflation Reduction Act”.

More from Vivek:

Look, I have a different view on this. I think Trump was an excellent president. But the America First agenda does not belong to one man. It does not belong to Donald Trump. It doesn’t belong to me. It belongs to you, the people of this country. … When we rallied behind the cry to make America great again, we did not just hunger for a single man. We hungered for the unapologetic pursuit of excellence.

He raises an interesting question: What are Republican voters voting for? “Pursuit of excellence” doesn’t seem right. Given the chance to sit on the couch and collect money from others who work, most Americans grab the deal with both hands. (My favorite recent example: police officers in a San Francisco exurb who got paid about $300,000 each while sitting at home suspended due to being investigated for criminal activity. One moved to Hawaii! (Mercury News). None of them chose to pursue any kind of productive employment or education during their suspension.)

Readers who watched this live or on video: What struck you as interesting? Does this format make sense? It didn’t seem as though any of the candidates had enough time to utter a coherent policy point of view.

Maybe the November 30 debate between DeSantis and Gavin Newsom will be more interesting:

If Biden on the union picket line is the senile version of AOC, maybe Gavin Newsom is fairly characterized as the young edition of Bernie Sanders, i.e., someone who can articulate a vision of vastly expanded government presiding over a miscellaneous collection of humans that has been vastly expanded via immigration.

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Sanctuary for undocumented immigrants in New Jersey


A day after President Donald Trump’s administration filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn controversial restrictions on when police New Jersey can cooperate with federal immigration officials, Gov. Phil Murphy on Tuesday vowed to defend the policy “with great vigor.”

“Fearmongering for the purposes of an election only further complicates the work of law enforcement and jeopardizes public safety,” the governor said in a statement. “We will continue to provide a welcoming and inclusive home for our immigrant communities.”

“This is beyond inclusivity, celebrating and embracing diversity, being good human beings,” he continued. “I hope we always are that and continue to be. But this is cold-bloodedly about the safety and security of all nine million folks who call this great state their home.”

Now, Politico:

No sanctuary in New Jersey: Democrats about-face on migrants as election looms

The Biden administration’s decision to float Atlantic City International Airport as one of 11 potential sites to house migrants living in New York City put New Jersey Democrats in a tough spot.

… with state lawmakers up for reelection in November, Gov. Phil Murphy and other state Democrats — many who’d previously pledged to make New Jersey a “sanctuary state” — immediately pushed back.

“I don’t see any scenario where we’re going to be able to take in a program in Atlantic City or, frankly, elsewhere in the state,” Murphy said in a TV interview.

Does this mean that Gov. Murphy is now a “bad human being”?

A 2018 tweet from the “good human being” version of this governor:

(Immigration enabled cities to “flourish”)

Murphy was a “good human being” with a mask in January 2023:

(Why is it only “every child” who gets taxpayer-funded health care in New Jersey? Shouldn’t the governor also extend coverage to every adult, including undocumented migrants?)

In 2020, Murphy celebrated the ability of the undocumented to “fully participate” in an economy that he had shut down for coronapanic:

Back to 2018, concern for “our immigrant communities” (which presumably include the undocumented):

How did someone who was so good become bad?


  • ChatGPT and Women’s History Month (in which Governor Murphy says that he is passionate about “true equality” for women, but refuses to resign his unearned position of power so that a politician who identifies as a “woman” can take his place)
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Who watched the Republican debate?

How did my favorite Nikki Haley do in the Republican debate a couple of nights ago? And, in a matter of local interest, what about the hated fascist tyrant of Florida, Ron DeSantis (who continues to oppress Latinx migrants such as Lionel Messi)?

I happened to be at my mom’s retirement apartment building on the night of the debate. The elderly Democrats there (DC suburbs, remember, so all of these folks made their money from bigger government) were intensely interested. I asked “If Joe Biden were a mental vegetable, would you still vote for him?” The answer was “yes”. I followed up with “What if Joe Biden were dead. What you vote for his corpse to serve as president rather than a Republican?” The answer was again “yes”. I never figured out why people who would never consider voting for a Republican would bother to watch. (They also expressed intense fear that Trump would return, though none can cite any example of personal suffering or even suffering of an acquaintance that they attribute to Trump’s first administration.)

There are a fair number of Jews in the building and they have followed recent political events in Israel in U.S. media. Their impression is that “everyone in Israel is out protesting.” (I didn’t have a chance to ask whether the victims of tyranny in Israel will seek asylum in Syria or if Lebanon is the preferred destination for refugees.) A couple of young visitors who had just returned from two weeks in Israel said, “We didn’t see anyone protesting,” but this wasn’t persuasive.

Based on consumption of U.S. media, another prevalent belief among the older crowd was that most of Hawaii had been torched. They’d checked in with anyone they knew who might have been on Oahu, for example.

I’m not sure what it matters what Yellow Dog Democrats at the NYT think about candidates in a primary that they’d be ashamed to vote in, but Nikki Haley was chosen as the best of the worst:

(Winning “most levelheaded person onstage” is like being a dwarf among midgets?)

Readers who watched: What did you learn?

From an aviation group, regarding the candidate who wasn’t there….

Note that the jet-fuel-pumping FBO chain Signature is substantially owned by climate charge activist Bill Gates.

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Would Supreme Court Justices retire younger if they couldn’t live like billionaires while in the job?

I always wondered why Supreme Court Justices didn’t quit their $400,000ish/year (total compensation) jobs and become law firm partners making $5 million/year arguing cases. Why live like civil servants when they could easily be living the multimillionaire lifestyle? And why not retire prior to becoming 98% dead? Recently we’ve learned the answer: they’re living like billionaires just as long as they keep sitting on the Court. Examples: “I shot myself a deer,” Elena Kagan said of a recent big game hunting trip with the conservative justice [Scalia] in Wyoming.” (Atlantic) and “Justice Samuel Alito Took Luxury Fishing Vacation With GOP Billionaire Who Later Had Cases Before the Court” (ProPublica).

If ethics rules were changed so that Supreme Court Justices couldn’t spend weekends and vacations on Gulfstream G700s, I wonder if they’d retire at a more typical age and/or leave government at 60-65 to earn some big $$ in the private sector before hanging up their pens.

Here’s one of our heroes on a July 2008 trip to a $1,000/day fishing lodge in Alaska:

(i.e., right before the world was about to melt down for the peasants)

From the ProPublica article:

“If you were good friends, what were you doing ruling on his case?” said Charles Geyh, an Indiana University law professor and leading expert on recusals. “And if you weren’t good friends, what were you doing accepting this?” referring to the flight on the private jet.

If nothing else, I guess we can be sure that our legal system will remain friendly to the interests of billionaires!

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Supreme Court saddens the guys working at our house today

The “abnormal” Republicans on the Supreme Court prevented the working class from paying for elite kids’ gender studies degrees. “Supreme Court blocks Biden’s student loan forgiveness program” (CNN):

In a stinging defeat for President Joe Biden, the Supreme Court blocked the administration’s student loan forgiveness plan Friday, rejecting a program aimed at delivering up to $20,000 of relief to millions of borrowers struggling with outstanding debt.

The decision was 6-3 with Chief Justice John Roberts writing for the conservative supermajority.

Roberts said the government needed direct authorization from Congress.

“The question here is not whether something should be done; it is who has the authority to do it.”

The liberal dissenters said the majority is basically making political decisions.

“The Court acts as though it is an arbiter of political and policy disputes, rather than of cases and controversies,” Justice Elena Kagan wrote.

The end of this glorious scheme comes just as there are three guys working at our house. One is a plumber rebuilding the Watts 007M3 backflow preventer, a 20-year-old device that protects the public water supply from contaminants (SARS-CoV-2?) that could be introduced from our house’s irrigation system, which is entirely separate and fed by “reclaimed water” (maybe we don’t want to know the details?). There are two guys installing a new garage door that meets the latest code for impact resistance (shooting 2x4s at the door with a cannon) as well as wind resistance. I actually went up to W8 wind resistance, which is required down in Miami, on the theory that the New York Times might be correct about the appropriate level of climate panic. (Hurricanes may actually be getting less common; see “Declining tropical cyclone frequency under global warming” (2022) from Nature Magazine)

(The new garage door should pay for itself within a few years because it is insulated, unlike the other one, and it will give us a discount on homeowners insurance, a rare Florida problem that the New York-based media does not exaggerate!)

I wonder if these hard-working guys are experiencing personal sadness that, while they can still pay for the elites’ new Teslas, they can no longer fund elite kids’ college tuition and, indirectly, enrich anthropology professors and administrators.

Separately, it’s interesting that what is constitutional is now entirely predictable based on the political party of the Supreme Court Justice. A layperson might be excused for thinking that these sacred legal principles are entirely arbitrary!

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