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Episode Notes

DNC Chairmanship: Tom Perez and Keith Ellison (10:29)

Here’s an explanation of the function of the DNC chair from Vox. A notable exclusion is specifically made for ideology and platform:

The job of the DNC chair is not to set the policy agenda of the party or make decisions about what positions the party takes on issues. The party’s candidates decide those.

The New Yorker makes an argument about the ideological implications of Keith Ellison running as the DNC but more interestingly references Howard Dean’s 50 State Strategy mentioned on the podcast, opposed by Obama staffer Rahm Emmanuel.

Dean assumed the D.N.C. chairmanship in 2005, pledging a “Fifty State Strategy” to contest elections across the country. This put him at odds with Rahm Emanuel, then the leader of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, who wanted to focus on a few targeted swing seats. In 2006, Democrats retook both houses of Congress.

The Washington Post casually references Dean as the most successful chair in modern DNC history, which is probably true. The Democrats gained seats in both the House and the Senate under Howard Dean, and did so with emphases on local races and small donors.

In arguing against the existence of the candidacy of Tom Perez, much less his potential chairmanship itself, the New Republic persuasively argues that Ellison and Perez are ideologically very similar. Mother Jones dives even deeper into those similarities in a clarifying piece. In a linked piece, the New Republic also clearly articulates how different visions of organizing can have dramatic effects on the scale and success of a modern political party.

“MyBO,” as it was known, gave supporters the ability—unthinkable in a traditional, top-down political campaign—to organize their own local groups, campaign events, and fund-raising efforts. Its potential for large-scale organizing after the election was vast—and completely without precedent in American politics … This wasn’t just some passive list of campaign supporters … it was an army of foot soldiers, seasoned at rallying support for Obama’s vision of change.

Those are the kinds of differences between the prior DNC chairmanship and the potential future chairmanship that this race has to offer.

The picture of ideological policy similarity that TNR paints between Perez and Ellison can also be extended to include their organizational philosophies for running the DNC, as the Washington Post argues in a piece that we shamelessly stole the header picture from.

On key issues, Perez’s platform mostly resembled Ellison’s. Perez promised to refocus on small donors and online fundraising; Ellison set a goal for “low-dollar contributions from everyday Americans [to] account for 33 percent of revenue.” Ellison called for an “Innovation Hub” in Silicon Valley; Perez promoted DNC fellowships to “encourage developers, programmers, data scientists, [and] engineers.”

As for which Democratic party donors preferred which candidate, there’s no hard evidence of obvious big-money support for Perez, particularly as he also touted small-donor contributions, but his DNC chair campaign ran through a 527 with a number of large donations indicated in its year-end report, and there were 17 (of 54) donations larger than the maximum allowable donation through Ellison’s committee fund. Ellison also has a PAC with an allowable donation cap that is much larger, but drew only $18,000 of his $508,000 dollar campaign fund from it. That’s still murky, however, as there are perhaps $1 million not accounted for by those separate entities.

The general consensus seems to be that big-money donors preferred Perez, but there isn’t hard reporting to that end, and instead some broad conclusions drawn from the campaign that Haim Saban ran against Keith Ellison before Tom Perez stepped into the race.

Update: Here’s some indication that Perez isn’t as ideologically left as Ellison on two key class-related issues: college tuition and health care –

It was admittedly difficult to find his stances on those two issues.

Refugee Crisis (36:00)

A multitude of legal experts were confident that former mayor Rudy Giuliani’s statements about the “Muslim ban” could have landed the executive order in hot water. The various lawsuits that sprang up around it cited it, among many other statements from the administration itself to argue about the law’s intent. Intentions clearly matter when crafting the law, that CNN piece goes on to clarify, and it cites several recent court cases to make its point. Those statements were cited in the opinions given by the Virginia federal district court while the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals argued that those claims were relevant, but ruled on other grounds.

Those intentions presumably will not have changed when President Donald Trump crafts his new executive order.

We were a little wrong on the podcast, but at least in this instance it strengthens the point. There in fact was never a hold or a ban on Iraqi refugees in 2011, so it isn’t comparable. Instead, even more stringent vetting processes were put in place that created a logjam, delaying the visas being processed at the time of the new procedures. There wasn’t even an informal injunction, merely a procedural delay that was a byproduct of new policy—not the explicit result of one.

Here is an explanation from Travel Weekly on what the Visa Interview Waiver Program is. It is also, weirdly, one of the few publications that on first run correctly distinguished between the Visa Interview Waiver Program and the Visa Waiver Program, which are incredibly distinct.

The Wall Street Journal published the evidence that immigrants are significantly less likely to commit crimes in the United States than other Americans. That article is driven in part by this meta-analysis of dozens of studies on the subject, the vast majority of which concluded that immigrants were significantly less likely to be involved in committing crimes.

While there doesn’t seem to be any evidence connecting the recent riot in Rinkeby, Sweden to refugees, the anecdotal evidence surrounding the riot points to immigrants from London.

An analysis of Sweden’s crime figures conclude that 2015 is a trough more than 2016 is a spike, as 2016’s crime numbers are still lower than 2013’s. Any crime figures in Sweden that do not take into account general trend-lines will be sorely lacking, particularly because there is no explanation for why crime would spike in 2016 after Sweden had been taking in refugees for years. Not only that, but specific statistics about rape in Sweden must take into account two waves of legislation: one in 2005 that expanded the definition of rape and one in 2013 which did even more to that end. Moreover, legislation was aimed at increasing the willingness of victims and subjects of sexual assault to report crimes, which naturally increased the reporting rate.

It also is the case that repeated rape attempts from the same assailant are documented as separate instances, increasing the incidence report and skewing per capita statistics. FactCheck.org covers all of those claims here.

There seems to be evidence that Sweden is contrary to American with regards to migrant crime rates, as the incidence of crime among migrants is larger (per a study in 2005) than in the non-migrant population of those countries—though that also doesn’t fit the perception that critics have created with regards to Sweden, as the majority of those crimes are committed against migrants as well. That look in 2005 also doesn’t take into account socioeconomic factors either, which the government of Sweden would like to point out, eliminates the effect.

There is no evidence after 2005 with regards to migrant crime rates, however, as Sweden (like many European countries) no longer collects information on ethnicity for the perpetrators or victims of crime. An analysis by a Swedish newspaper claims that only one percent of all crimes were committed by refugees. Given that 12 percent of migrants before the crisis were refugees and that 20 percent of the Swedish population are non-Swedish, there’s a good chance that it’s disproportionately low, not high. It’s also relative—the Swedish city of Malmö, touted by critics as evidence that immigration spikes crime, has a homicide rate more than nine times lower than Chicago. Also Malmö has a lower crime rate than another Swedish city, Stockholm.

Vox has a quick explainer on the Syrian conflict from 2015. It’s a complicated situation, but they do a decent job.

The bigger issue in Sweden surrounds their inability to keep up carrying capacity for who they accept, not that those who have come in have created compounding infrastructural problems.

We misspoke in the podcast with regards to Swedish immigrant crime rates—my initial impression was based off data from Germany, where county-by-county analysis indicated a marginal effect on crime rates as a result of immigration, and largely crime related to fare-dodging and drug offenses, not assault. Balance that with the 10 attacks a day being committed against refugees and more on refugee organizations and it seems clear to us that much of the coverage with regards to refugees and crime is skewed. Particularly because virtually no one is talking about the very real problem of sexual assault against refugees.

Violating international law harms the ability of the United States to negotiate treaties. Repeated violations of international law inhibit American interests in the long-term more than they do any other country because of the reliance the United States has on international law and treaty language on the international stage.

General Michael Flynn, the disgraced former head of the National Security Agency, was a strong proponent of the Clash of Civilizations theory. Here’s a Wikipedia article on that very theory.

His replacement, General H.R. McMaster is absolutely not and stands opposed to Trump on that very issue.

UPDATE: Oh.