Ugly. Squabbling. Slugfest.
Each of those three words was used in different press reports to describe last night's Democratic presidential debate. Here are some of the media's observations.
The Hill declared, "Ugly Divisions On Display As Democrats Turn On Each Other."
Dan Balz, the chief political correspondent for the Washington Post, wrote, "Democrats turned their presidential debate into a spiral of attacks against one another . . . spending more than two hours squabbling over policy details and questioning each other’s honesty or character. . ."
And Yahoo News adds, "Second Night Of Democratic Debate Turns Into Slugfest Over Health Care."
Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the debate was the repeated attacks on a man who is not even a candidate.
In effort to knock Joe Biden off his perch as front runner, one candidate after another assailed the Obama/Biden Administration's legacy on a variety of issues. The attacks on Barack Obama stunned liberal reporters and party activists.
MSNBC host Joy Reid said, "It was weird for me to watch . . . almost 40 minutes of primary attacks on the Obama Administration's policies. It was odd."
Former Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill asked, "The weirdest thing to me, which I'm having a hard time with, is it a smart strategy to attack the Obama Administration? I mean, this is a Democratic president elected twice."
MSNBC political analyst Rick Tyler said: "I think the most disturbing thing is they went after President Barack Obama more so than they did [Donald Trump]. And it seemed as though a lot of Democrats were very upset about that."
And Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough tweeted, "Ok. Let me get this straight. Democrats hate Obamacare AND hated his immigration policies? What planet are they from?"
What goes around comes around. Kamala Harris surprised Biden last month with forceful attacks on his civil rights record. Last night it was Harris's turn as Tulsi Gabbard landed a solid punch on Harris's record.
Meanwhile, it seems that many voters have tuned out. Viewership for the July debates fell significantly compared to June's.
Automation & Immigration
There was one issue that came up in last night's debate that I believe deserves serious consideration -- the threat that artificial intelligence and automation pose to American workers.
One of the candidates noted that driving trucks was the most common job in 29 states. Well, three years ago, an automated self-driving 18-wheeler drove 120 miles and delivered 50,000 cans of beer. Technology is going to disrupt the workplace and displace millions of workers.
So why on earth is any politician advocating open borders and demanding we bring in millions more low-skilled workers?
It makes absolutely no sense to continue mass migration, given the stress that puts on the social safety net, when we know we are going to have major employment issues in the years ahead.
Barr Reforms Asylum Rules
A key element of the Trump Administration's immigration reforms is ending the concept of chain migration, which prioritizes family connections over other considerations like education or skills. This concept also applies in our refugee policy too. Earlier this week, Attorney General William Barr issued new reforms to change that.
Refugees can claim asylum in the United States if they are fleeing violence. But the case before Barr involved an illegal immigrant who entered the U.S. in 2011 and sought asylum because his father was involved in a dispute with a drug cartel.
The father could reasonably claim asylum, but there was no evidence that the son was being threatened. Barr ruled that allowing any member of a family to claim asylum because one family member faced threats of violence was excessive, and that Congress never intended to "cast so wide a net" when it drafted the asylum law.
And there's more.
Ken Cuccinelli, the acting director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) agency, is ordering immigration officials to enforce existing laws that require migrants to first take certain steps in their native countries before simply packing up and heading to the U.S. border to claim asylum.
In an interview with Breitbart, Cuccinelli said:
"We . . . know that there are safe places in all of these countries to live. So we emphasize to our officers that they need to check and see if people [asking for asylum] attempted to relocate internally. . . Let me clarify that it's not a new policy. This is my efforts to harness the information we have available and provide it to our officers and remind them of various requirements."
Graham Gets Tough
Senator Lindsey Graham, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, has been trying to amend our asylum and refugee laws to address the crisis at the southern border. But progressives on the Judiciary Committee have been abusing the rules to prevent a vote on his bill.
They were literally not showing up for committee hearings in order to prevent a quorum and thus prevent the committee from doing its work. (I think we should dock their pay!)
So today, Graham called up his legislation and forced a vote over their sanctimonious objections about "breaking the rules." If the minority is going to abuse the rules, the majority has every right to change the rules.