International Trade: Oh God, Not This Again

Aright, bitches, the free trade thing.

This is not one of my “issues,” and I incline toward free trade, but the people who create these so-called free-trade deals obviously aren’t setting up free trade, and many of these “elites” (we need a better word for power-mad idiots) have an end-goal of eliminating western populations. They love treaties that destroy jobs held by European-descended people.

But they have much more dangerous ways of working toward that goal, which is why trade is low on my list of priorities. But for those for whom it is a high priority, some advice about debate:

Don’t contest free traders on theory. That’s their strength. Contest them on the thing that actually matters: the practical realities.

Why not take them on in the arena of theory? Because comparative advantage theory is not speculation. Its core proposition is a theorem, like the Pythagorean Theorem. That is, its core conclusion is proven to follow from the premises. We can judge from the amount of chatter that economists devote to it that the core proposition of comparative advantage theory is this:

If two nations have different tradeoffs in production, then there exists the possibility of mutual gains from trade.

(“Tradeoffs in production” means the slope of the production possibilities frontier, which describes a nation’s tradeoffs of one good for another. Like, how many apples they must sacrifice to grow another orange.)

This is the proposition free-traders have in mind when they repeat their mating call, “Ricardo!”

PPF
A production possibilities curve, showing tradeoffs in production.

And how are these gains from trade to be realized? Answer: if two nations have different tradeoffs in production, then it can be proven that they can minimize their joint costs of production… IF they trade in the right way.

The right way is the cost-minimizing way, where “cost” means the cost in terms of other goods you must sacrifice. (E.g., if you switch land from growing apples to growing oranges.) Minimizing costs of output means more output. So produce and export goods of which you’re the low-cost producer. That’s trade according to comparative advantage.

You cannot dispute the if-then statements in bold without looking like a doofus to anyone who is knowledgeable.

So don’t dispute them. If someone tells you, “Here is a triangle that is NOT a right triangle, and the Pythagorean Theorem tells us that…” you should point out that the Pythagorean Theorem doesn’t apply if it’s not a right triangle. Don’t dispute the Pythagorean Theorem; you’ll look like an idiot. Dispute its relevance to the matter at hand.

If you want to argue against so-called free trade agreements, here are some points you can make:

1. Verifying what a county’s comparative advantage is, is empirically impossible as a practical matter. Note what the central theorem says and doesn’t say. It says that if countries have different tradeoffs, then there exist some mutually beneficial trading opportunities. It doesn’t say that we know what those opportunities are… let alone that we can guarantee that actual trade is according to those mutually beneficial possibilities.

2. So-called free trade agreements are never actually that. Many people have made this point. They’re managed trade agreements, in which governments tweak the interventions they do in international trade.

Even George F. Will, before he became a contemptible cuck, pointed out when NAFTA was passed that if it were really a free trade agreement it would only be a couple of sentences, not hundreds of pages.

3. The proposition that there exist mutually beneficial gains is a statement about the aggregates of a nation. The theory does not say that all groups within the nation benefit. It leaves open the possibility that one group benefits to the tune of 10 units while another group loses 8, for a total aggregate gain of 2. OK, but if you’re in the group that loses 8 it’s not clear why you would support such a move. This is actually not heterodox, apparently. I once read on some Econo-blog about a (peer-reviewed!) paper that concluded that one group could benefit and another lose, from moving to free trade. I can’t cite the paper(s) off the top of my head, but apparently this has been out there in the literature for years now.

4. The theory says nothing about who captures the gains from trade even on a nation-to-nation level. It could be, in principle, that one nation captures all the benefits from trade and leaves the other nation exactly as well off as it was before. Except that not really, because all the adjustment costs are real costs, and then you never get any benefit. Adjustment costs include e.g. having to move to a new state to get a new job. Ricardian comparative advantage theory totally ignores adjustment costs.

The same point applies if your nation gets a small benefit from adjusting its industries, but the benefit is smaller than the adjustment costs.

* * *

Of course there is a real case against government interventionism in trade. The real case against interventionism is that governments are no more knowledgeable or angelic here than they are in any other area of life. They are ignorant and corrupt assholes, and there’s no reason to let them tell us what we can buy or sell.

Above I pointed out that many of the people who create “free trade deals” hate western populations. Well, giving those same psychopaths power to limit the trade we can do would be even worse than the current situation. In the current pro-free-trade political environment, they at least have to pay some sort of lip service to reducing trade barriers, which has occasionally forced them to actually do such. If we tell them, “Go ahead and control who we can trade with,” they will do exactly that, with great joy and gusto, and it won’t be with our best interests at heart.

If these people ever get the unlimited power they crave, they’ll try to starve us to death, following Stalin’s Ukraine genocide. Part of that attempt will be outlawing food imports. They’re likely to try that anyway, if they think they can get away with it, but for fuck’s sake let’s not make it any easier for them.

But all this is a relatively long-term issue. In the current political situation, worrying about international trade is rearranging the deck furniture on the Titanic just after it got hulled by the iceberg. Right now we need to worry about emergencies like immigration and the lawless judiciary. Once we solve those problems, we’ll have all the time in the world to worry about trivia like trade policy.

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Holiness Spirals and Wars of Attrition

A crucial concept in understanding our current political situation is holiness spiral. It may be the single most important concept.

A holiness spiral is equivalent, in terms of game theory, to a war of attrition. I know what you’re thinking: “Sure, Neuro, wars of attrition are interesting, but what about all-pay auctions and patent races? Is a holiness spiral game theoretically isomorphic to those also?”

You’re in luck; the answer is Yes, because they are winner-take-all contests.

AttritionWar

Why does that matter? Because once you’re invested in a winner-take-all contest, it is actually rational, in a certain sense, for you to keep putting resources into winning the contest even after the value of winning is lower than the value of the total resources you’ve put into it. No, I’m not crazy; this is well-known in game theory.

A classic example is the “dollar auction.” This can be an auction in which all bidders must pay their bids even if they don’t win (all-pay) or it can be such that only the two highest bidders pay their bids. Business schools have done experiments. A professor of business goes in front of his class and says, “Here’s a dollar bill. I’m going to auction it off. The rules: Highest bidder pays his bid and gets the dollar. Second-highest bidder pays his bid but doesn’t get anything. All lower bids pay nothing and get nothing.”

Some doofus bids a cent. Some other doofus bids 2 cents. And the idiocy has begun! Now that someone has bid 2, the guy who bid 1 is in the following position: If he doesn’t change his bid he loses 1 cent. If he raises his bid to 3 cents he wins the dollar and pays 3 cents, for a net gain of 97 cents. OK, so they’ll bid until one of them has bid 99 cents, then they’ll stop, right?

Nope. Say the bids stand at 98 cents and 99 cents. The guy who bid 98 loses 98 cents if he stands pat. If he bids a dollar he wins and breaks even. So he does that.

OK, now the bidding is done, right?

Nnnnnnnnope.

The guy who currently has a bid of 99 cents loses 99 cents if he stands pat. If he raises his bid to $1.01, then he wins the dollar, for a net loss of 1 cent. That’s better than a net loss of 99 cents.

Hmm. And the other guy? If he stands pat he loses his dollar bid. If he raises his bid to $1.02, he wins the dollar, for a net loss of 2 cents. But that’s better than a net loss of a dollar.

You see where this is going (“To infinity and beyond!”). Not only in theory, but in actual experiments, people do in fact end up paying more than a dollar to win a dollar!

Key features:

• Your outcome depends on where you are relative to the other player. Just knowing your own bid doesn’t tell you whether you’ve won; you have to know the other guy’s bid as well.

• You bear costs whether you win or lose. This is the “all-pay” feature. An all-pay auction is an artificial situation, but consider a war of attrition: some of your soldiers are killed, etc., whether you win or lose. It really is all-pay. Same for patent races: Suppose you spend $0.9 billion on R&D trying to develop a new medicine worth $1 billion, but your competitor is on track to win by spending $1 billion. Win or lose, you pay the R&D costs. It would actually be better to plow another $0.2 billion in, so you’ll “win” the race by paying $1.1 billion.

• Action is sequential: You would never start by bidding $1.02 for a dollar, obviously. But once you’re invested, you have some losses you’d like to recover. So your investment in the contest keeps rising.

So… holiness spirals. If you’re new to this concept, the word “holiness” is ironic here; it means “leftist.” It probably started centuries ago with some totally innocent-sounding thing like, “Let’s expand women’s rights. Why shouldn’t women be allowed to work as secretaries outside the home?” Before you know it, it’s the official position of the Washington Post that no woman should ever go to prison, no matter what crime she commits.

And someone said, reasonably, “Why should it be illegal for men to wear women’s clothes and vice-versa?” (Used to be illegal, apparently.) A century later, male-to-female transvestites are in the women’s bathroom, and a security guard who tries to remove one from the ladies’ room is charged with assault.

What the hell happened? What happened is that some asshole started the political equivalent of an all-pay auction.

Let’s look at holiness spirals in light of the three features above. We want to understand this because that will help us to stop the fucking thing. And a holiness spiral is like an asset bubble: It either keeps advancing or it collapses. So if we stop it, we destroy it.

Holiness spirals:

• Your outcome depends on where you are relative to the other player(s). You can attack people less holy than you, but they can’t effectively attack you. If Fred is the holiest he can say to the mob, “Attack Steve; he’s not holy enough!” But Steve can’t say, “Attack Fred; he’s too holy!” That’s saying, “Attack Fred; he’s too good!” So everyone tries to out-holy everyone else.

• You bear costs whether you win or lose. Say your position is that a man should be allowed to use the ladies’ bathroom. If your policy wins, you (along with the rest of the society, by the way) pay the costs of an insane bathroom policy. But you pay those costs whether or not some other lunatic is saying, “Yeah, AND anyone who objects should be thrown into the hoosegow!” If that guy wins, then there are dudes in the women’s bathroom— as you advocated— plus dissenters are punished. Why did he outflank you to your left? Because while that made the society somewhat more insane, it made him personally safer, since now he is the holiest.

• Action is sequential: You would never start by saying men should be allowed to use the women’s bathroom. Indeed people didn’t start by saying that, historically. But your initial sane position that “There’s no need for laws to enforce gender clothing norms” got outflanked by someone who said something a little more pro-trans. That put you in a less holy position relative to him, so he could attack you, but you couldn’t counter-attack. So you outflanked him with something a little more in that direction. Thus the bidding war. It starts with you saying “I bid one cent for that dollar.” It ends with guards being charged with a crime if they try to keep a man out of the women’s bathroom. Well, that’s not actually where it ends. We’re not done with our holiness spiral yet.

Fighting these fucking disasters.

Above I wrote this: “Say your position is that a man should be allowed to use the ladies’ bathroom. If your policy wins, you (along with the rest of the society, by the way) pay the costs of an insane bathroom policy.”

THIS IS KEY. One of the crucial aspects of all this is that even sane, normal people pay the costs of having trannies in their bathrooms, and women (if the WaPo gets its way) being allowed to commit murder without punishment. (Well, they already are, but the WaPo wants this to be expanded beyond babies.) That means that— unlike the all-pay dollar auction— even people who aren’t participating in the holiness spiral have an incentive to stop it. This mattered e.g., on November 8, 2016 and will matter more as the holiness spiral becomes ever more extreme.

What specific actions can we take? First, we need to spread the awareness of the insanity as far and wide as possible. I do this in various corners of the Net, and everyone on the right should.

Also— and plainly this has already started— we need to ramp up our black knighting. N.B. not black knighting as in Monty Python’s hapless knight, but black knighting as in attacking our enemies under the guise of being holier enemies. For example, when an organization proudly announces on Twitter that it has hired a homosexual female, attack them for not hiring a minority or Muslim homosexual female. This sort of thing happens all the time now, and one can’t tell whether it’s the crazies getting crazier or good guys black knighting. The great thing is precisely that one can’t tell. That’s why it’s effective.

And what is the effect? Simple: It eliminates the safety, and therefore the benefit, of leftward movement. If my proudly announcing that I just hired a white lesbian immediately gets me attacked for not hiring a black lesbian, there’s no safety in that holiness-signaling move, so no reason to do it. Lately, if you just hire a straight white Christian male and don’t say anything, you’re less likely to be attacked by the hate mob than if you’re a leftist who proudly boasts about that lesbian hire. (Leftists seek vulnerability: They go after other leftists because they know leftists (1) care about fitting in with the lefty herd, and (2) must comply with the latest left-wing demand to keep their leftist customers/donors/whatever. In contrast, what will happen if they scream about Vox Day hiring a straight white male for his publishing company? He’ll just laugh at them. His customer base sure as hell isn’t SJWs.) The realization will spread that you might as well just hire the best person and keep quiet about it. That is becoming safer. And to the extent that it’s not safe, it’s not much less safe than trying to appease the SJW mob. And that destroys the incentives that propel the holiness spiral.

Black knighting must be done absolutely straight-faced. Don’t try this in a forum where they already know you’re not an SJW; you’ll just be dismissed as stirring up shit. But: New personality (dox-proof) in a forum where they don’t know you. We can all get to work black knighting.

The beautiful thing about black knighting is that the enemy has no defense against it. If they even try to defend, then you’re like, “Hey! They’re Anti-trans! Anti-wymyn! Anti-gay!” Etc., etc. They simply cannot deny that you’ve out-holied them. This isn’t theory; we’ve seen this happen increasingly in the last few years. E.g., the gay black author who was just SJW-shamed into pulling his book due to accusations of insufficient political correctness.

So, two things everybody on the right can do: Spread news to normies about the craziness. And join the black knighting movement, which is already well underway.

Leftists Surprised to Find Themselves Eaten by Monsters They Created (part of a continuing series)

The assault on leftists by monsters they created is not merely continuing; it’s accelerating.

SawingBranchYoureOn
“This can only end well!”

(1) Headline: Chelsea Clinton is berated by Muslim NYU students who blame HER for New Zealand mosques attack because she ‘incited an Islamophobic mob’ against Rep Ilhan Omar
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6815797/Chelsea-Clinton-berated-Muslim-students-blame-New-Zealand-mosques-attack.html

“This right here is the result of a massacre stoked by people like you and the words that you put out into the world,” says Dweik, gesturing to the vigil for the 49 who were killed in Christchurch when a white nationalist shooter stormed two mosques.

“And I want you to know that and I want you to feel that deeply – 49 people died because of the rhetoric you put out there,” Dweik continues, jabbing her index finger toward Clinton as other students snap their fingers in apparent approval of her words.

Via Vox Day, who comments,

It’s rather amusing to see how bewildered the media is about this unanticipated reaction. “Wait, you’re supposed to blame the false flag on white supremacists, WHITE SUPREMACISTS! How can you possibly screw this up?”

(2) On House Dems’ failed attempt to admonish Ilhan Omar for (alleged) anti-semitic remarks:
https://pjmedia.com/homeland-security/ilhan-omar-leader-of-the-democratic-party/

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) faced rebuke, albeit indirectly, from her own party in a resolution condemning anti-Semitism that had been developed as a response to her repeated anti-Semitic statements… Omar’s victory is total. The anti-Semitism resolution was turned into a condemnation of “Islamophobia” and “white supremacism,” she remains on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and the entire Democratic leadership has made it clear that they don’t dare cross her.

…the sclerotic Democratic Party establishment lacks the will to tangle with Omar, who is an exponent of a skilled and ruthless propaganda machine that has long been in the Democrats’ corner, but has never — until now — turned its brute force against the Democrats themselves.

Pelosi and her cohorts learned this week… that if they cross Ilhan Omar, they will be accused of “racism” and “Islamophobia” just as swiftly and reflexively as those smear labels are applied to Republicans.

Heh heh heh. In your fucking face, Pelosi. And all the rest of you.

And then there are Jews, who vote overwhelmingly Democrat, that is, for the party that has been avidly importing Jew-hating Muslims for decades. Seriously, what the fuck did they think would be the result of that?

(3) Related to the foreoing: It’s Omar’s Party Now

…Yesterday, the arch-leftist group MoveOn denounced the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which has until now enjoyed broad bipartisan support, and urged Democratic presidential candidates to boycott AIPAC’s upcoming conference.

…Democratic presidential candidates see which way their party is going. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke, Pete Buttigieg, and Julián Castro have all announced that they are boycotting AIPAC. So far, no prominent Democratic contender has said he intends to attend. The AIPAC boycott is obviously related to Ilhan Omar’s claim that American support for Israel is “all about the Benjamins,” followed by “AIPAC!” It’s Omar’s party now.

Just a few years ago, the idea of the Democrats turning anti-Israel en masse would have been unthinkable.

Actually, no, it was thinkable. In fact, it was bloody obvious… to anyone but a breathtakingly stupid and short-sighted leftist.

(4) Transvestites advocating violence against lesbians who don’t date transvestites.

• Today, do something for the environment and kill your local terf [Trans-Excluding Radical Feminist].

• you cant say “pun*h a t*rf” on twitter, but that doesn’t mean you cant do it in real life

• That TERF deserves a punch straight in the ovaries.
To which someone replied,
I’d pay to watch someone violently rip her ovaries from her abdomen

• …if you call yourself a lesbian except you’re only cool with girls with vaginas, YOU ARE SIDING WITH ANTI-TRANS RHETORIC.

• You’ve been a closted terf for while, but now you don’t even try to hide. Go choke on my dick you cunt.

Lesbians, bewildered to find themselves on the other end of the identity politics attack mob for once: “What?! But… but I’m BOTH female AND gay! Didn’t you hear that I’m female AND gay? I have lots of victim identity points! Why aren’t you respecting my victim points!?”

(5) Attack-mob asshole forced to eat the shit sandwich he helped make:

Kosoko Jackson, a gay black author writing about a gay black protagonist, gets taken down by the YA [young adult fiction] Twitterati.

Sourcebooks announced that A Place for Wolves, the debut YA novel by Kosoko Jackson, will be withdrawn from publication, at the request of the author.

Until recently, Kosoko Jackson’s website described him as “a vocal champion of diversity in YA literature, the author of YA novels featuring African American queer protagonists, and a sensitivity reader for Big Five Publishers.”

But Jackson was subjected to a Twitter attack mob due to some accusation of political incorrectness, and he was shamed and intimidated into withdrawing his book from publication.

Part of what makes this story so interesting is that Kosoko himself has been on the other side of these online attacks on authors.

He was outspoken during a particularly intense recent example, when a campaign based on misunderstanding and exaggeration led the author Amélie Zhao to take the unusual step of agreeing to cancel the publication of Blood Heir, her hotly anticipated debut novel…

And now the sadism mob he helped to create has destroyed him. Awww.

Leftists raise their heads, listening intently. “What’s that… What is that ominous bass note I’m hearing on the wind?”

It’s horror movie music, assholes. And the role you’re playing is… dinner.

Miscellany 12: Miscellany Theories: Neo-Classical vs. Post-Modern

1) You have gotta be fucking kidding me. National Review took money from Google. Maybe is still doing so.

Well, that explains a lot.

2) George Soros demonstrates that psychopaths can’t think like normal people. In particular, they can’t seem to process what a normal person finds desirable and not desirable.

In an essay at MarketWatch Soros writes,

“Europe is sleepwalking into oblivion, and the people of Europe need to wake up before it is too late. If they don’t, the European Union will go the way of the Soviet Union in 1991.”

As if anyone is going to be like, “Oh no! We all miss the USSR so much!” Severe rhetoric fail.

(Via http://voxday.blogspot.com/2019/02/no-one-misses-ussr-george.html)

3) Oh my freakin God, how bad is sex advice from women?

In Search of the Secret Switch

What is that elusive, secret switch you can flick to turn women on? I wonder whether you men suspect we women have one, whether we’re all in a giant conspiracy to hide it from you, sort of like Samson and Delilah in reverse.

If I could share any secret with you, it would be this: we women don’t actually know what that switch is either. …[But] let me give you a few thoughts that will at least send you in the right direction.

1. Tell Your Wife She’s Beautiful [in other words, “Act beta.”]
2. Touch Her Without Expecting It to Go Anywhere [“Act beta.”]
3. Don’t Increase Her Exhaustion [She elaborates: “If you want more sex, then go out of your way to make sure your wife isn’t exhausted. Pick up a mop. Put the kids in bed.” In other words, “Act beta.” Meanwhile, back in RealityLand, Heartiste once cited a study that showed that couples in which the men did a lot of housework had less sex. The actual cure for your wife’s “exhaustion”: If you act more alpha, you’ll find that she mysteriously feels well energized when sexytime rolls around.]
4. Talk to Her [As long as what you’re saying is, “Put on those four-inch spike heels that I like.”]
5. Figure Out What Feels Good to Her [“Act beta.”]
6. Trash the Porn
7. Clean Is Sexy
8. Love Her Anyway [“Act beta.”]

Via Dalrock, who amusingly translates and breaks down this addle-pated woman’s advice to husbands about sex.

4) This year is the 100th anniversary of Kipling’s “Gods of the Copybook Headings.”

5) March 2, 2019: President Trump says he’ll sign executive order for free speech on college campuses. Sweeeeeeet!
https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/432328-trump-says-hell-sign-executive-order-for-free-speech-on-college

President Trump announced Saturday he intends to sign an executive order mandating colleges and universities take steps to guarantee free speech to attain federal research grants.

“We reject oppressive speech codes, censorship, political correctness and every other attempt by the hard left to stop people from challenging ridiculous and dangerous ideas. These ideas are dangerous,” Trump said. “Instead we believe in free speech, including online and including on campus.”

“Today I’m proud to announce that I will be very soon signing an executive order requiring colleges and universities to support free speech if they want federal research grants.”

DOOOOONNNNNNNNAAAAAAAALLLLLLLDDD!

6) Meta stuff:
• Edited the About page.
• Took Eric Raymond off my blogroll and replaced it with Setting the Record Straight: https://aidanmaclear.wordpress.com/

Ann Coulter is too “black pill” sometimes

Ann Coulter plays a valuable role vis-à-vis Trump: She keeps him honest on immigration. It’s good to have people on your side who always remember to keep the pressure on in the right direction.

But.

Coulter’s latest Goes Too Far.

She has believed the hysterical worst-case interpretations of the recently signed budget deal without reading what it actually says. I understand the reaction because that was my reaction at first too. But check out the links below that actually get into the details. The upshot is that while it has some bad features, it’s not the disaster that some on the right believe. Read the actual text, and listen to what actual LEOs say, people!

(1) At Fox News, a DHS official provides a per contrarum on the poison pill alarm:
https://www.foxnews.com/politics/dhs-official-border-security-bill-does-not-contain-amnesty-poison-pills

(2) Your humble blog proprietor: Wall Good, Budget Bill Bad, But Maybe Not as Bad as Feared:
https://neurotoxinweb.wordpress.com/2019/02/15/wall-good-budget-bill-bad-but-maybe-not-as-bad-as-feared/

The second problem with Coulter’s piece is that she simply ignores that Trump has gotten funding for the wall, and has declared an emergency to free up more funding!

She says,

“Trump also promised an executive order on anchor babies. As with the wall, we’re still waiting.”

President Trump has declared a state of emergency, you silly goose! He’s doing it! Coulter, you don’t have to worry that he might not declare a state of emergency to build more wall: He did it! He. Has. Done. It. It has been done!

You can relax about that! Yes, we on the right have been burned many times over the decades. Yes, we must always stay vigilant for betrayal; we can never let our guard down. But it’s counterproductive, and bad for morale, when your vigilance is so extreme that you won’t let yourself perceive victories, but force yourself to hallucinate that they’re actually defeats.

It’s one thing to have a sensitive betrayal detection system. That’s appropriate, given how often we’ve been betrayed in the past.

But it’s another thing to have a betrayal detection system that always says “This is a betrayal!” no matter what happens. That’s not a “detection system.”

When your “detection system” looks like this:

CoulterCalmDown

Then something has gone wrong.

For fuck’s sake, Coulter, false negatives are a problem, but so are false positives! We’ve got to try to be accurate.

And when you shriek that everything is a poison pill, your warnings about the real poison pills – there are some in the bill – will be drowned out in the noise, or simply ignored.

Now get back on track, will you? Year in and year out, you’re one of the more valuable voices on the right. And a major reason for this is that you’re usually so fact-based and knowledgeable.

Stay vigilant, but please, cut out the hysteria.

The bill contains a poison pill. Trump should use Emergency funds to get around it.

The short version: The bill says that in certain areas in Texas, “You can’t spend this bill’s wall money before September 30, 2019, and you can’t spend it after September 30, 2019 either.” And you can’t spend it on September 30, 2019 unless the word “until” is interpreted in a certain way.

The details:

From the bill:

SEC. 4. STATEMENT OF APPROPRIATIONS.
7 The following sums in this Act are appropriated, out
8 of any money in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated,
9 for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2019.

And

SEC. 501. No part of any appropriation contained in
this Act shall remain available for obligation beyond the
current fiscal year unless expressly so provided herein.

Here are the specifics on the already-infamous “negotiate until September” part of the bill:

SEC. 232. (a) Prior to use of any funds made avail-
able by this Act for the construction of physical barriers
within the city limits of any city or census designated place
described in subsection ( c)
[SEE BELOW], the Department of Homeland
Security and the local elected officials of such a city or
census designated place shall confer and seek to reach mu-
tual agreement regarding the design and alignment of
physical barriers within that city or the census designated
place (as the case may be). Such consultations shall con-
tinue until September 30, 2019 ( or until agreement is
reached, if earlier) and may be extended beyond that date
by agreement of the parties, and no funds made available
in this Act shall be used for such construction while con-
sultations are continuing.

This literally runs down the clock until the funds can no longer be spent.

Although:
SEC. 505. Except as otherwise specifically provided
by law, not to exceed 50 percent of unobligated balances
remaining available at the end of fiscal year 2019, as re-
corded in the financial records at the time of a reprogram-
ming notification, but not later than June 30, 2020, from
appropriations for “Operations and Support” for fiscal
year 2019 in this Act shall remain available through Sep-
tember 30, 2020, in the account and for the purposes for
which the appropriations were provided…

So if I understand all this, it means that any amount of money that Trump would like to apply to wall in the specifically-mentioned areas in Texas (see below), cannot be spent, unless

(1) the “local elected officials” in those areas are amenable to an agreement before 9/30/19 (I suspect they’re all heavily Hispanic that near the border, and therefore Dem. One of them, Salineno, is more than 99% Hispanic.)
or
(2) Trump can swing a way to build the wall outside of the “city or the census designated place”
or
(3) he simply uses funds freed up by the emergency declaration
or
(4) we can use half the desired funds, up through 9/30/2020. Hmm, does that mean the good guys can simply request double the money they think they need for those areas, then get half of that?

Also, what exactly does it mean for funds to be appropriated, obligated, encumbered, and/or authorized? All these terms come up in budgeting, and it’s not clear what exactly their import would be in this context. Can funds be requested/ encumbered/ whatever for wall even while “consultations” are underway? Any accountants out there who want to chime in?

Let’s look at the specific places mentioned. From later in Section 232:

(c) The cities and census designated place described
in this subsection are as follows:
(1) Roma, Texas.
(2) Rio Grande City, Texas.
(3) Escobares, Texas.
( 4) La Grulla, Texas.
(5) The census designated place of Salineno, Texas.

The second hit in Google for Roma, Texas is

Roma, Texas: A Smuggler’s Paradise

Fucking great.

Roma borders the Rio Grande, i.e. borders Mexico:
https://www.google.com/maps/place/Roma,+TX+78584/@26.4217324,-99.039651,13z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x86646e1008049ee3:0xe66708d7b6fcc558!8m2!3d26.4088523!4d-99.0156554
so there’s no way to build wall along that stretch of border without it being within city limits.

This is a naked, blatant requirement that illegal immigration be allowed to continue in that town. Presumably it’s the same for the others.

From online maps:
I guesstimate the total Mexican border of Roma at 3 miles.
Escobares, 1 mile.
Rio Grande City, about 3 miles.
La Grulla, less than 500 feet. The city is weirdly gerrymandered so that it has a long, thin arm that stretches to the Rio Grande.
The census designated place of Salineno, Texas. About 1.5 miles.

There are things that can be done, as noted above, and this bill doesn’t make the situation worse. But still:

President Trump should make public the cheap trick in this bad faith bill. Use Twitter, use a special address, use the White House web page, everything. By any reasonable standard, he now has carte blanche to stop “negotiating” with Democrats and to go “unilateral” on anything pertaining to immigration and border security.

Wall Good, Budget Bill Bad, But Maybe Not as Bad as Feared

Wall good. “Compromise budget bill” bad, but perhaps not nearly as bad as early reports indicated.

Here’s the text of the bill, the “Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2019.” It’s more than 1,000 pages, pdf file:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1SYQ-X1tQhWe4uPUi1odmN-IiMAliJBvs/view?usp=sharing
(Note if you’re re-directed to https://drive.google.com/file/d/1SYQ-X1tQhWe4uPUi1odmN-IiMAliJBvs/view, the word search function doesn’t work. I had to download a copy to do searches.)

(Found via https://www.cbsnews.com/live-news/shutdown-watch-latest-congress-vote-today-government-funding-bill-2019-02-14-live-updates/ Props to CBS for providing the link, which no other “news” source did.)

1) I did a word search for sponsor in the text of the bill, found this:

SEC. 224. (a) None of the funds provided by this Act
12 or any other Act, or provided from any accounts in the
13 Treasury of the United States derived by the collection
14 of fees available to the components funded by this Act,
15 may be used by the Secretary of Homeland Security to
16 place in detention, remove, refer for a decision whether
17 to initiate removal proceedings, or initiate removal pro-
18 ceedings against a sponsor, potential sponsor, or member
19 of a household of a sponsor or potential sponsor of an un-
20 accompanied alien child ( as defined in section 462 (g) of
21 the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (6 U.S.C. 279(g)))
22 based on information shared by the Secretary of Health
23 and Human Services.

I think that “based on information shared by the Secretary of Health and Human Services” is key. If you ignore that, then this says that an illegal just has to say “I live in a household with a potential sponsor of a minor, so you can’t deport me.” But look at that last clause. That seems to just mean that if a person shows up in an HHS database of STDs or something and ICE gets their hands on that database, they can’t deport the person based solely on that info. Hmm. Why the fuck Congress wants to protect people running around with herpes (or fucking Ebola or whatever) is beyond me, but hey, they’re leftists: The less sense it makes, the more they like it.

2) SEC. 231. None of the funds made available by this Act or prior Acts are available for the construction of pedestrian fencing-
(1) within the Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge;
(2) within the Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park;
(3) within La Lomita Historical park;
(4) within the National Butterfly Center; or
(5) within or east of the Vista del Mar Ranch tract of the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge.

First, note that “None of the funds made available by this Act or prior Acts are available for the construction.” That doesn’t say anything about funds re-allocated by, oh I don’t know, let’s say an Emergency declaration by the President! For those of you who just got back from a trip to Epsilon Eridani, he pulled the trigger on that earlier today! FUCKING SWEET!

Second, I checked the size and location of these areas, to get at their importance to invaders. To an extent, enforcement manpower can be substituted for a wall, of course. So it depends on the length of border that’s left un-walled by this part. Here’s what I found, which is basically that it only amounts to a few miles:

(1) The Santa Ana one: This border is on the Rio Grande. It’s hard to judge scale, but I think, judging from Google maps, the arc length of the winding river border would work out to a couple of miles.
https://www.google.com/maps/place/Santa+Ana+National+Wildlife+Refuge/@26.0665944,-98.1685208,14z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0xb06ad8e91077e584!8m2!3d26.0732056!4d-98.1495308

(2) the Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park looks to be about 1,500 feet of border:
https://www.google.com/maps/place/Bentsen-Rio+Grande+Valley+State+Park/@26.1676323,-98.3895777,15z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x86650759cb11cce1:0x3b257ea3108a5124!8m2!3d26.185498!4d-98.3794443

And the park does not actually abut the Rio Grande. There’s some space in between the edge of the park and the river. Now read the language again: barrier cannot be built “within the Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park.” So this is fine as long as Trumpy and his homies realize it. And of course they will, since the first thing they’ll do is bust out a map and look at all this stuff. In fact, one hopes that’s what they did in the first place.

(3) within La Lomita Historical park: This is a tiny little thing, and it doesn’t abut the border anyway: https://www.google.com/maps/place/La+Lomita+Historical+Park,+Mission,+TX+78572/@26.1575951,-98.3330924,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x86650794d543f425:0xf6c385194f8a9c4c!8m2!3d26.157631!4d-98.330918

(4) within the National Butterfly Center: The Google map only shows the main building, and you can’t tell whether the park abuts the US-Mexico border.
https://www.google.com/maps/place/National+Butterfly+Center/@26.1798398,-98.3675923,18z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x8665a9d8fb962ef9:0x4f83ecdabad3ac0d!8m2!3d26.179835!4d-98.3664926
Here’s the map at the Center’s webpage. It looks like it abuts the Rio Grande, so yes, it abuts the border: https://www.nationalbutterflycenter.org/about-nbc/maps-directions

And apparently wall segments were going to go up there, so it was a desirable place for a wall. Grrr. https://www.expressnews.com/news/local/politics/article/Wall-construction-spotted-near-McAllen-13616604.php

“Heavy equipment operators began bulldozing trees in recent days near the city of Mission under a contract to build 6 miles of wall that eventually was to cut through the Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley park and the butterfly center.
The 6-mile section is part of a project approved by Congress last year to build 33 miles of wall in the Rio Grande Valley.
Cuellar’s budget amendment voids wall-construction contracts in the protected areas.
…The sites hug the Rio Grande…”

Asshole. But manageable.

(5) within or east of the Vista del Mar Ranch tract of the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge: Not sure about this. Doesn’t seem to be anywhere near the border. This is puzzling, or it’s a clever ploy to literally forbid any wall “east of” that point at all, as opposed to “east of” it within the Refuge.
https://www.google.com/maps/search/Lower+Rio+Grande+Valley+National+Wildlife+Refuge,+vista+del+mar/@26.1152364,-97.8131186,11z
The Refuge does not border Mexico. A prohibition on a wall “east of” the refuge can simply be avoided by noting that one would want to build a wall to the southeast, not to the east.

So yeah, some stretches will be wall-less, but they only amount to a few miles, and with wall going up elsewhere, manpower can be re-assigned to wall-less stretches to an extent. So, an inconvenience, not a disaster.

3) Requires Trump Admin to try to negotiate with local officials until September 2019 or until an agreement is reached. As a practical matter, this means we can’t start building it in certain places until September:
https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2019/02/14/gop-dem-deal-trump-must-have-approval-from-left-wing-county-to-build-wall/
Well, that’s obnoxious, but some people were resigned to waiting that long anyway.

I want to check some other shit then maybe will update or add a second post later.

Addendum February 23, 2019: A DHS official explains why people shouldn’t panic over this bill:
https://www.foxnews.com/politics/dhs-official-border-security-bill-does-not-contain-amnesty-poison-pills