‘Coming Apart’ (Nearly) a Decade Later

Remember the alienated working class?

If my memory serves, the U.S. establishment took an interest in MAGA Land’s discontents for about nine months, beginning in mid-2016 and ending a month or two after Donald Trump’s inauguration, a period that roughly coincided with Hillbilly Elegy’s climb atop the best-seller charts. Thereafter, the media and talking heads went back to ignoring or demonizing the social bloc that had propelled the Orange Man to the White House, an approach that persists to this day.

But before Trump’s rise was anything more than a gleam in the reality-TV star’s own eye, one thinker saw trouble brewing among the lower orders and tried to warn the nation. I’m speaking of Charles Murray, whose prophecy came in the form of the 2012 book Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010. It was a work of meticulous research that should have prompted a drastic rethink on social and economic policy, not least on the right.

Except, it didn’t. The Republican Party carried on as before, largely indifferent to working-class misery, of which deaths of despair and the opioid epidemic were only the most glaring symptoms. Most conservatives and libertarians—lawmakers and intellectuals alike—were therefore surprised and baffled by the Trump phenomenon, though I suspect Murray himself escaped this deer-in-headlights effect.

Why was this? It is true that only a very few books truly change history. But some blame lies also with the author. Reading Coming Apart nearly a decade later, it is clear that Murray reinforced, rather than challenged, elites’ conventional wisdom: namely, that to the extent working-class alienation is real, it is primarily a cultural problem, rather than one having to do with law and political economy. This, in turn, rendered his commination ultimately harmless to U.S. elites.

The trends Murray had highlighted were alarming, but, the author reassured elites, there was little about our neoliberal social and economic arrangements that could or should be altered to reverse these trends. The best the overclass could do was to “preach what they practice,” as he famously wrote, exhorting the underclass to the “Founding virtues” of marriage, industriousness, honesty, and religiosity.

By now, Murray’s main findings are well-known, and I have no reason to challenge them, still less to present some alternative dataset. Indeed, Coming Apart remains a masterclass in the selection, compilation, and presentation of complex social data, and Murray deserves our thanks for having undertaken this labor. What I take issue with, rather, are the libertarian assumptions that sometimes distort the author’s analysis of his own findings, as well as the near complete absence from the book of class conflict and compromise, which lends his view of the American past a strangely rosy, ahistorical quality, making it harder to contextualize the more recent developments he would have us examine.

For those who still haven’t read the book—though you really should—allow me to briefly summarize its core contention. America, Murray shows, has since the mid-1960s been undergoing a dramatic process of social sorting. The members of a new upper class, enjoying the fruits of cognitive advantage and an economy that increasingly rewards them, have separated themselves from the rest of the country, clustering together conjugally, culturally, and geographically in “Belmont” (both an upscale Boston suburb, as well as a carefully constructed statistical representative of white, upper-class America).

Belmont, Murray demonstrates, still largely practices the aforementioned Founding virtues. Belmont children grow up in intact biological families, with mothers and fathers locked in stable marriages. As professionals, Belmonters work very hard. They form an honest community, at least as measured by rates of criminality and incarceration. And notwithstanding all the talk about elite secularization, they are still surprisingly churchgoing and actively involved in civic institutions.

But for much of the rest of America, particularly the new lower class, things aren’t going so well. In Fishtown (again, both a real working-class Philly neighborhood, as well as a carefully constructed statistical stand-in for the lower class), marriage rates have dropped since the 1960s, and many children grow up in unstable family environments headed by single mothers. A large share of workers, including prime-age men, have exited the labor force. Crime is spiking. And religiosity and civic engagement are down—way down.

Murray focuses his analysis on white Americans, on the ground that white-versus-minority comparisons risk obscuring the shifts taking place within white America, as the reference point against which other groups’ well-being is judged. If other ethnic groups were factored into his analysis, the author speculates, the class divergence documented in Coming Apart would only appear wider and more terrifying. It’s a sound decision. Again, I have no reason to criticize Murray’s empirical methods. It is his libertarian commitments and assumptions that give me pause. Often, Murray reveals these assumptions in passing—just enough to discount class conflict as a potential causal factor or to rule out solutions rooted in political economy.

For example, almost immediately after explaining his decision to limit his analysis to whites, Murray writes, “Don’t kid yourselves that we are looking at stresses that can be remedied…by restricting immigration.” Come again? Why would excluding minorities from an analysis of white-against-white decline rule out immigration’s role in the same phenomenon? We know that boosting the aggregate supply of unskilled and low-skilled labor by importing immigrants (of whatever ethnicity) adversely affects the wages, bargaining power, and social-services access of native workers (of all ethnicities).

It follows that restricting some forms of immigration could improve the material condition of underclass Americans, including the white underclass vis-à-vis the white overclass. This is why immigration restrictionism has been a working-class political demand going back at least to the Populist and Progressive eras, when the nation’s ethnic composition was far more homogenous than it is today. Now, if Murray holds the view that immigration doesn’t, in fact, undercut workers at or near the bottom of the labor ladder, then that is a belief we might have expected him to justify with as much statistical rigor as he deployed in making his other observations.

Or take work-force participation. Again, there is no denying the bare finding that in Fishtown, “a substantial number of prime-age, white, working-age men dropped out of the labor force” in the period under consideration (1960-2010), as Murray notes. Nor that the prime-age, white, male jobless rate jumped during the same period, even when taking into account “underlying trends in unemployment.” Yet in explaining these developments, Murray flatly concludes that “white males of the 2000s were less industrious than they had been 20, 30 or 50 years ago, and that the decay in industriousness occurred overwhelmingly in Fishtown.”

To reach that conclusion, Murray quickly rules out wage shrinkage and private-economy labor unionism’s long-term funk. Yes, he concedes, “high-paying unionized jobs have become scarce, and real wages for all kinds of blue-collar jobs have been stagnant or falling since the 1970s.” But, he goes on, these realities lack explanatory power, since “insofar as men need work to survive…falling hourly income does not discourage work.” In the “very bad” economic year 2009, he goes on, these men could have toiled as, say, building cleaners for $12.63 an hour, or $505 weekly, assuming a 40-hour week—not a “great” wage, yes, but “enough to be able to live a decent existence.”

Here, Murray reveals the moral and psychological limitations of a certain kind of econometric libertarianism. While one hopes that any working-age man will pick up work wherever it might be found, it is important to note the historical shift hovering in the background: “High-paying unionized jobs have become scarce”—a reminder that such jobs were not so scarce for earlier generations of Fishtown men. Could it be that while a statistical abstraction might be happy to work an insecure, wage-stagnant job for $12.63 an hour, a man who remembers that his father and grandfather had secure, well-paying working-class jobs might be less enthusiastic?

Murray fails to account, in other words, for the lost promise, so foundational to the American project, that “there is no fixed condition of labor” for the worker’s whole life, as Lincoln put it, that he can get ahead reasonably well and escape wage-drudgery and achieve a measure of secure and equal ownership, if not vast wealth. By the latter third of the 20th century, the Fishtown man wasn’t even secure in the fixed-if-decent condition of his unionized father and grandfather. The wages and opportunities on offer to him represented a dramatic retraction from the condition of his forebears.

What I’m getting at are the shortcomings of an interpretive frame that leaves out inter-class competition, conflict, and compromise—the workings of a class system—in attempting to analyze the admittedly troubling conduct of the white underclass. Murray, it seems to me, exhibits Michael Lind’s characterization of neoliberal and libertarian thought as a whole in attributing “the problems of the white working class not to the class system, but rather to personal shortcomings” of millions of Americans, who all seem to be making the same or similarly wrong choices in their lives as individuals. The process, as Murray would have it, just began in the 1960s, in a manner divorced from historical forces, from political economy, from the material substrate that makes it possible for people to build virtuous lives (or not).

When it comes to the period under consideration—as well as our history as a whole—Murray’s is finally a romantically individualized account of American life. To his credit, the author does recognize that there have always been distinct classes in America, which is more than can be said for many mainstream conservatives and libertarians. But he writes of an “underlying American kinship” between classes that strikes me as altogether airbrushed and ideologized: His lost Eden is an America where bosses and their workers lived not too far apart, and not too differently, both groups striving for the Founding virtues and sharing roughly the same aspirations.

Far be it from me to claim that such inter-class harmony has never reigned in American social life. It has, from time to time, especially in the two to three decades immediately following World War II. But the historical norm has been one of intense, violent class conflict. This other United States has been described by one eminent American as a place where “the fortunes realized by our manufacturers are no longer solely the reward of sturdy industry and enlightened foresight, but . . . result from the discriminating favor of the government and are largely built upon undue extractions from the masses of our people”; where the gulf between employers and the employed is constantly widening, and classes are rapidly forming, one comprising the very rich, while in another are found the toiling poor; where dominate “trusts, combinations and monopolies, while the citizen is struggling far in the rear or is trampled to death beneath an iron heel”; where “corporations, which ought to be carefully constrained creatures of the law and the servants of the people, are fast becoming the people’s masters.”

That eminent American was President Grover Cleveland, lamenting the social state of the republic in his fourth annual message to Congress. This was the America that witnessed furious railroad and coal strikes, the America of proletarian squalor set against plutocratic opulence, of farmers who still considered themselves frontier yeomen but who were, in fact, the near-slaves of creditors and the “money power.” It was an era as “honest” and as virtuous as a figure like Sen. James Blaine, the Gilded Age’s master of graft.

That era of class turbulence, stretching from the Civil War to World War II, came to a close thanks to pro-labor reforms enacted across the Populist, Progressive, and New Deal eras. What followed was the age of convergence whose loss Murray eulogizes. Which class set off divergence? Well, undermining private-sector unionism, shipping jobs offshore, promoting relatively open borders and generally deregulating economic life—these were concrete policies pursued by Murray’s virtuous overclass, beginning roughly at the outset of his timeframe (the 1960s). The result: The overclass did very well for itself in the decades that followed, while the underclass seems to have declined as insecure working classes tend to do.

None of this is to suggest that virtue and cultural factors more generally are unimportant, far from it. But culture and virtue, too, have a material, political dimension. The cultural changes of the 1960s—above all, sexual liberalization—were imposed by “libertarians in robes” (Lind’s term for the judiciary), and very soon, the hitherto unthinkable became thinkable and then doable. It would seem, then, that the mere exhortation to virtue that the libertarian Murray limits himself to won’t suffice to reverse the changes he laments. Something more is needed: law.

Murray, in his typically and admirably genial style, allows that the data presented in Coming Apart will likely reinforce Americans’ ideological priors—including his. Most of the author’s own explicitly libertarian prescriptions come only toward the end of the book, although, as I have tried to show, the libertarian commitments are also baked into some of his analysis and assumptions. Nevertheless, Coming Apart remains a signal achievement of American social and political science. To bring us back together in the 21st century, however, calls for a richer, more materially attuned analysis.

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Israeli prime minister visits Egypt in first official trip for a decade

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CAIRO — Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett will meet Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Monday for talks on Israeli-Palestinian relations and bilateral issues, Egypt’s presidency said, in the first official trip by an Israeli head of government to Egypt for a decade.

Bennett, the head of a far-right party who took office in June, was invited to visit by Sisi last month and the two were due to meet in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on the southern tip of Egypt’s Sinai peninsula.

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The discussions were expected to address “ways and efforts to revive the peace process” between Israel and the Palestinians, Egypt’s presidency said in a statement, as well as bilateral and regional matters.

Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians collapsed in 2014 and analysts say there is little prospect of reviving them. Bennett, a nationalist atop a cross-partisan coalition, opposes Palestinian statehood.

One focus of Monday’s talks will be the situation in the Gaza Strip, where Egypt helped broker a ceasefire after 11 days of conflict in May between Israel and Hamas, the Palestinian faction that controls the enclave, diplomatic and security sources said.

An uptick in cross-border violence since late August has tested the fragile truce. Over the past week, Palestinian militants have fired rockets into Israel for three nights in a row, drawing Israeli air strikes.

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Bennett and Sisi were also expected to discuss regional issues including Iran’s influence in the Middle East and the crisis in Lebanon, diplomats said.

Egypt became the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel in 1979, but relations have remained cool, restricted to security cooperation and limited economic links.

Egypt’s brokering of the Gaza truce allowed it to reassert its diplomatic role https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/gaza-truce-shifts-focus-egypts-regional-role-2021-05-30 in the region in the wake of deals by four Arab states to normalize ties with Israel last year.

The last official visit by an Israeli prime minister to Egypt was when Benjamin Netanyahu met former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in January 2011 in Sharm el-Sheikh, just before the uprising that toppled Mubarak. (Reporting by Mohamed Waly, Aidan Lewis, Maayan Lubell and Jeffrey Heller; Editing by Toby Chopra and Hugh Lawson)

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Production Prices See Largest Spike in a Decade

Producer prices have surged by the largest annual increase in nearly a decade, the Labor Department reported Friday.

The Producer Price Index, which tracks input costs for producers, is up 8.3 percent since August 2020—the largest year-over-year increase since November 2010. The index increased 0.7 percent in August alone, above the 0.6 percent expected by economists, marking the fifth consecutive month of record price increases.

The spike in prices comes as businesses struggle to hire workers, driving up their operating costs. Job openings hit a record 10.9 million in July even as millions of Americans remain unemployed, the Labor Department reported this week. President Joe Biden has faced criticism from economists who say his enhanced employment benefits, which expired this month, have exacerbated the country’s tight labor market.

Concerns about inflation are complicating Democrats’ efforts to pass the party’s $3.5 trillion spending package in Congress. Democratic senator Joe Manchin (W.Va.) said he will withhold his support for the reconciliation bill, saying it will worsen the nation’s soaring inflation, which is “bleeding the value of Americans’ wages and income.”

“I believe that spending trillions more dollars not only ignores present economic reality, but makes it certain that America will be fiscally weakened when it faces a future recession or national emergency,” the senator wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed last week.

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The GOP Had No Future A Decade Before Trump, But What’s Next?

Watch the video for “Culture War,” a monologue version of this article followed by an interview with Conn Carroll, commentary editor for the Washington Examiner.

The electoral map of our country is changing: A lot of states that were once solidly red have become purple or blue in the last two decades.

Those who might not have noticed before definitely did in 2020; and even if you think last year’s result was caused more by radical last-minute changes in election laws, it’s still worth noting that those changes were only possible in the first place because so many states have indeed become purple or blue over the last two decades.

Not too long ago, Virginia was solidly red; today, its laws and its capital city are barely recognizable. Take a look at the governor’s race, where the Republican nominee is facing an opponent who is severely damaged by lobbying ties and a long sordid history, says he wants to lock down the citizenry basically in perpetuity for fear of disease, and lies routinely to attack gun owners. He says that in Virginia.

What has the Republican done in response? Has he met him on the field? Kind of, in that he’s shifted solidly towards the center. Regardless of how this somewhat disappointing race goes, it’s going to be very difficult for Republicans to win that state on the presidential level in three years.

North Carolina was also recently a Republican stronghold; today, it’s a toss-up. Georgia voted for George W. Bush by 17 points; last year, it went for Biden and gave us two Democratic senators.

While Democrats dream every year — and Republicans wring their hands every year — Texas is still red. Any look at the trends, however, shows neither the excitement nor the worry is without merit — through foreign and domestic immigration, as well as colleges and shifts in industry, Texas is changing — and it isn’t getting more Republican.

Arizona, the home of Sens. John McCain and Barry Goldwater, standard-bearer of the 1960s conservative revolution, is now purple. Colorado’s Republican ship is sunk under a blue wave, and it shows in the decay of its beautiful cities. Nevada has changed from red to blue; and New Mexico, which once simply leaned Democrat, is today thoroughly Democrat.

In 2000, Oregon only voted for Gore over Bush by 7,000 votes; today, the state is so insane that COVID laws are the only laws it bothers to enforce.

That’s not a good trend: As hostile as the GOP often is toward the right, the Republican Party is the only major vehicle for conservative ideas in this country, and has been for decades.

It’s not a good trend, but really it makes sense. Why wouldn’t the GOP be falling behind? They’ve been near-frozen for decades, shackled to a political ideology instead of being guided by a political philosophy.

Year after year the Democrats went further left, and in the process they abandoned large swathes of blue-collar union voters — the very people who had formed the backbone of the Democratic coalition. Despite that huge opportunity, the GOP made barely an effort to take up those voters’ issues — to become their new champions.

It didn’t take a prophet to look closely at 30 years of free trade orthodoxy and see that its critics had been right, that it hadn’t worked, that it had left the most vulnerable Americans behind; but the Republican ideology kept them from meeting blue-collar voters on that ground until very recently.

Similarly, the social conservatism and religious values of the party were discarded or merely given lip service by politicians, even though every single conservative outside of a deep-blue city knows those issues are the backbone of the GOP.

Activist courts seized the issue of marriage as a sacrament and buried what our consumerist culture had long before killed, relegating marriage to the economic, feel-good, and easily undone legal status it’s now enshrined as. Most Republican politicians were happy to have that fight behind them. “See!? Not our fault! Nothing we can do.”

The legal sacrifice of over 2,000 babies a day was similarly dismissed on the national level as more of the “lost culture war.” A matter for the courts. “So sorry, can’t do anything. Law of the land.”

Donald Trump changed all that. He attacked global free trade orthodoxy in public. He defended the lives of the unborn — and even described the awful reality of abortion — on a national debate stage in Nevada. And what did we see? Tremors in blue-collar states like Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Sure, these three had technically been competitive states, but every single year they always seemed to go Democrat by just a few points — until 2016.

Florida, a state whose voters had been wavering back and forth, stood still, and is possibly even moving to the right again. Ohio and Iowa, toss-ups in previous elections, started turning red as well.

And then, between vote-by-mail shenanigans; a foolish, Fauci-first COVID policy; and a re-election campaign that lacked any coherent message beyond “liberals are bad and unfair,” Trump lost in 2020.

In his absence from the White House and social media, the Republicans who ran on his name and message have slowly crawled back to the way they were before the great shake-up. While the left indoctrinates our children and creates a caste system based on which injections its subjects have had, Republicans smear Ronald Reagan’s name to explain their own cowardice and weakness.

As Joe Biden and his visor-clown secretary of defense thoroughly botch the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, turning it into a full-fledged humiliation, many in the GOP who paid lip-service to ending unending, objective-less wars are suddenly hawks again. Every illiterate tribesman with a new AK and a new apartment — perks of the new job — is a hardened al-Qaida operative. Get excited: Washington’s bipartisan war party is back, people!

But the voters aren’t there; the old GOP is over. Having now seen and voted for a candidate who says something different, out loud, there’s no going back.

For the first half of the 20th century, America’s elite thinkers convinced the country that there was no conservative intellectual tradition — it was just a collection of old fogies and progress-hating reactionaries. They were wrong, and men like Russell Kirk, Bill Buckley, Ronald Reagan and Goldwater proved that.

Today, they’re trying to do the same, claiming the populist right is just white rage and unprincipled reactionary racism. This is as false now as it was then — the only hollow authority in this equation is in their own rotten existence. And with thinkers and writers like Sohrab Ahmari, Mike Gonzalez, Ben Domenech, Tucker Carlson, Oren Cass, Mollie Hemmingway, Rachel Bovard, Matthew Peterson, David Azerrad, Michael Anton, and Christopher Rufo, and even with politicians like Josh Hawley and J.D. Vance and Blake Masters, populist conservatism isn’t just an angry impulse, it’s a political philosophy with real anchors.

Some of these anchors are recent figures, like Pat Buchanan; others are rooted firmly in the 20th century, with men like Robert Taft, the “Mr. Republican” of the ’40s and ’50s; and still others go all the way back to the U.S. Constitution and earlier.

This is the kind of party that can fill the gap created by the modern left. The new Democratic Party is increasingly elite, increasingly anti-middle class, increasingly anti-Christian, increasingly anti-American. It’s not just anti-white, but also increasingly anti-anyone-considered-white-adjacent, which includes a lot of Hispanics, Indians, Asians, and even black people if they hold the wrong views or own a business or attend the wrong church.

There are promising signs this gap is being filled by the GOP. Trump lost last year because he shed support from the working-class white voters he picked up in 2016, but he did gain with Hispanics — especially those who most resemble traditional GOP voting blocs: Rural farmers in South Texas, suburbanites in Florida, weekly churchgoers across the country. It turns out they don’t like riots and critical race theory and outsourcing either.

Last week, NBC released a poll asking Republican voters who they considered themselves more a supporter of Donald Trump or the GOP. The former president took 40 percent, compared to the GOP’s 50 — his lowest score yet.

That’s a positive sign for the Republican Party; no ideology can survive if it’s entirely tethered to one man. But this won’t stay positive if the GOP uses that poll as an excuse to fall back into its old ways — the ideological habits that brought the party so low in the first place. The party will thrive without Donald Trump if — and only if — they take his 2016 message and carry it forward, as Gov. Ron DeSantis has done in Florida.

Of course, Trump has already released his first campaign ad for 2024, so the most influential Republican in the room might be back before he’s gone. Regardless of what happens in terms of people, the paths to a lasting national Republican Party are treacherous and few.

The next presidential election aside, if they’re to still win elections in 2028 or 2032, they need to become the kind of party America’s working and middle classes caught a glimpse of in 2016; the kind of party that, if done right, won’t just defend its existing states but can even turn the tables in a state like, say, Connecticut.

A few years ago, I gave a speech to a GOP club in that beautiful New England state. I was their guest and had a lovely evening in a tony little town on the Atlantic. Then, as now, extremely wealthy towns on the Atlantic were the last enclaves of the Connecticut Republican Party, and all around us to our north and our east lay mile after mile of solid, working-class blue.

I told them during dinner that if this experiment works, they will see that map reversed: a tiny island of blue elites clinging to the rocks amid a sea of red. They took it surprisingly well; they were tired of losing. And so are we.

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This Navy Veteran Was Deported Over a One-Time Marijuana Offense. After Nearly a Decade in Exile, He’s Back in the U.S. – Reason.com

Howard Bailey came to the United States from Jamaica when he was 17. He served nearly four years in the Navy right out of high school, completing two tours in Operation Desert Storm and earning a National Defense Service Medal. But when it came time for Bailey—a lawful permanent resident—to apply for citizenship, his application was denied over a one-time marijuana offense.

What was already a devastating blow then turned into almost a decade in exile, with Bailey deported to a country he hadn’t seen in 24 years. Last Wednesday, he finally won the fight to come home.

In 1995, shortly after returning to Virginia from his service in the Persian Gulf, he found himself in hot water. As Bailey wrote in a 2014 Politico feature, a neighbor asked if he could have some packages from New York sent to Bailey’s home. Once they arrived, the man gave Bailey a drop-off address. Bailey loaded the boxes into his car, and the police stopped him during his drive. According to Bailey, “The boxes came from California, not New York, and were filled with marijuana. The cops had been tracking the packages.”

Bailey said he’d never smoked marijuana and had no prior knowledge of the packages’ contents. But with Virginia’s strict drug laws, his lawyer suggested he take a plea deal. So he did 15 months in a state work camp and avoided going to trial. “No one—not the judge, nor the lawyer I’d hired—told me when I pleaded guilty to the drug charge that I was giving up my right to be a legal permanent resident of the United States,” he wrote.

Unaware of the damage his plea had done, Bailey set to work rebuilding his life. He returned to his wife and two children. He started two small businesses. He built up wealth, bought a house, and took his family on vacations every year. When he applied to become a U.S. citizen in 2005, he disclosed the marijuana charge from one decade prior.

In 2010, Bailey’s citizenship application was denied. Then his situation got worse: He woke up on June 10, 2010, to the knocks of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. “We’re here to take you away,” one agent said before removing him in front of his wife and children. He spent the next two years in immigration detention, then was deported to Jamaica in 2012. Bailey hadn’t been to his home country since he was 17. At age 41, he had to rely on the help of distant cousins while his family struggled to stay afloat without him in the U.S.

In December 2017, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe pardoned Bailey. It took Bailey’s testimony before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee and a letter from Sen. Alex Padilla (D–Calif.) to the Department of Homeland Security for his immigration proceedings to be reopened. After those efforts, Bailey received humanitarian parole and was allowed to return. He came home last week for the first time in almost a decade.

“It’s a joyous feeling today. I actually woke up in Virginia,” Bailey said on a call hosted by the National Immigrant Justice Center this afternoon. “I’m still coming to grips that I’m actually home after fighting for so many years.”

Bailey is by no means alone in this misfortune. From 2003 to August 2018, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University, over 45,000 people were deported for marijuana possession. And according to immigration lawyers and advocates, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has denied citizenship applications from immigrants who admit to using marijuana in states where it’s legal. The agency requires that applicants have “good moral character.” Even legally sanctioned behavior can come into conflict with such a subjective criterion.

Around 5,000 noncitizens enlist in the military every year, and an estimated 94,000 veterans do not have U.S. citizenship. Biden administration officials announced steps to support noncitizen veterans and service members in July, including allowing those who have been unjustly deported to return to the U.S. There are likely around 1,000 military deportees in 40 countries, and recourse for those wrongfully removed is difficult to come by. “Pardons by governors have paved the way for a few repatriations, though they can take years,” The New York Times reports.

Though Bailey is extremely grateful for the chance to return home, his deportation left wounds that will take time to heal. On the call today, Bailey said his son is “locked up as we speak,” having gotten into legal trouble over the years. “I understand,” Bailey added. “He didn’t have his father.” As for his daughter, “there’s a lot that still needs to be fixed” as well. She was young when her father was deported and didn’t understand why he left.

“The fight is not over,” said Bailey on today’s call, surrounded by family. “I’ve got a lot more fighting to do.”

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Terrorist-Sympathizer Ilhan Omar Tweets Photo of 9/11 Attacks on Deadliest Day in a Decade for US Military

Un-American DISGRACE: Terrorist-Sympathizer Ilhan Omar Tweets Photo of 9/11 Attacks on Deadliest Day in a Decade for US Military

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For Haitians, quake reawakens trauma of disaster a decade ago

People look for survivors at a house destroyed following a 7.2 magnitude earthquake in Les Cayes, Haiti August 14, 2021. REUTERS/Ralph Tedy Erol

August 15, 2021

By Andre Paultre and Kate Chappell

PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) – When Lydie Jean-Baptiste saw her neighbors running from their homes on Saturday and felt the ground begin to shake beneath her feet, the 62-year-old Haitian was flooded by terrifying memories of the earthquake a decade ago that devastated her hometown.

For many in the poor Caribbean nation, Saturday’s major quake – which killed more than 300 people and left hundreds injured – revived the trauma of the Jan. 12, 2010 temblor from which the country was still reeling.

“The neighbors, I saw them running and running. I said ‘What’s wrong?’ They said ‘Earthquake!’ and I rushed to the front door,” Jean-Baptiste said. “All of a sudden, I had all those images of January 12 coming to my mind and I felt really, really scared.”

Her neighborhood of Delmas, in the southern outskirts of Port-au-Prince, was tossed by Saturday’s quake, whose epicenter was some 150 km (90 miles) to the west of the capital.

But in 2010, the tremor struck much closer, leveling many of the houses in her neighborhood and across the capital.

Estimates of the number of dead from that tremor vary widely, from below 100,000 to as high as the government’s 316,000.

When the 2010 quake struck just before 5 pm, Jean-Baptiste was covered in debris in her office and had to walk home through the wreckage of familiar streets.

“People had their head cut off, corpses, everything. For 48 hours, I just felt like: Am I alive? Did I awake somewhere else?” Jean-Baptiste said, adding it took her nearly a year before she was able to sleep under her own roof without worrying it would collapse.

“The trauma is coming back. I am home and we are just wondering, are we sleeping inside? Are we going to sleep on the veranda?”

Her worries were echoed by Haitians across the south of the country, with some in the worst-affected areas saying they preferred to sleep outdoors than worry about the roof crashing down on them.

“There are aftershocks every now and then, so I will be sleeping outside,” said Yvon Pierre, 69, former mayor of Saint Louis du Sud, now living in Les Cayes.

“I am strong but this affected me psychologically and that is probably the same as the rest of the population.”

Saturday’s earthquake came from the same system of seismic faults as the massive tremor that convulsed Port-au-Prince in 2010, running east to west across the nation.

Haiti – the poorest nation in the Americas – still bears the scars of the 2010 quake https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-haiti-quake-life-idINKBN1ZB0MY, with its infrastructure and economy weakened.

Iconic buildings, including the Notre Dame l’Assomption cathedral, have not been rebuilt, while tens of thousands of people still live in provisional housing.

Efforts to rebuild have been hampered by a flawed international aid system, corruption and political turmoil, experts said. Just last month, President Jovenel Moise was assassinated https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/haitian-president-shot-dead-home-overnight-pm-2021-07-07 at his home.

Fonie Pierre, director of Catholic Relief Services for Les Cayes, 49, said Saturday’s quake was so strong that she could not bring herself to move, and as she stood there in her home, she had flashbacks from 2010.

She had traveled from Les Cayes to the capital days after the tremor and seen corpses piled up on the side of the road.

“It brought back to my mind’s eye the dead bodies, the white dust of homes crumbling” said Pierre. “I thought: this is it, it’s the same thing.”

Haiti had been struck by calamity after calamity – and now also has to face Tropical Storm Grace, on track to blow through the nation early next week, she lamented.

“It’s as if the sky were falling in on us,” she said. “And you ask yourself: What have we done to deserve this?”

(Reporting by Andre Paultre in Port-au-Prince, Kate Chappell in Kingston and Sarah Marsh in Havana; Writing by Daniel Flynn and Sarah Marsh; Editing by Christopher Cushing)

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6 Dead In Britain’s First Mass Shooting In A Decade

A gunman killed five people before turning the gun on himself in Britain’s first mass shooting in over a decade.

Police identified the gunman as 22-year-old Jake Davison, according to The Associated Press (AP). Witnesses said Davison used a pump-action shotgun during the Thursday night spree that killed five victims ranging from three to 66 years old, AP reported.

Britain hasn’t seen a mass shooting in more than a decade and has strict gun laws. However, authorities said Davison did have a gun license, but did not confirm whether or not the gun he used was the firearm he had a license for, AP reported.

Police said Davison’s rampage began just after 6:00 p.m., when he shot and killed a woman in her Plymouth home, according to Shaun Sawyer, chief constable for Devon and Cornwall police. Sawyer added that authorities are investigating if Davison was related to the woman, according to AP.

Police said Davison then shot a “very young girl” and her male relative just outside the house. He shot and injured two more people as he walked down the street, police added. Then, Davison went to a park where he shot and killed one man and one woman, according to police.

Police responded to emergency calls about the shooting spree at 6:11 p.m., and arrived at the Plymouth house where he killed the woman six minutes later, Sawyer said, AP reported. But, Davison had already killed himself before police arrived at the scene, eyewitnesses claimed, AP noted.

Authorities are still searching for Davison’s motive, but do not suspect terrorism or links to extremist groups, Sawyer said, AP reported.

“We believe we have an incident that is domestically related that has spilled into the street and seen several people of Plymouth lose their lives in an extraordinarily tragic circumstance,” Sawyer stated, according to AP. “Let’s see what’s on his hard drive, let’s see what’s on his computer, let’s see what’s on social media.”

Davison apparently had a YouTube channel where he would post under the pseudonym “Professor Waffle,” AP reported. The account has now been taken down because YouTube claims the channel violated community guidelines. In Davison’s last video, he talks about how he has been “beaten down and defeated by … life,” and about struggling to lose weight, working as a scaffolder when he was younger, as well as his lack of romantic love life by invoking the term “incel,” according to AP. (RELATED: Man Self-Described As ‘Incel’ Charged For Plotting Mass Shooting Of Women In University Sororities)

The last mass shooting in Britain occurred in 2010 after a taxi driver killed 12 people before turning the gun on himself, AP reported.

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Consumer confidence plunges to lowest level in a decade as inflation, infections surge

U.S. consumer confidence plunged more than 13% in the last month to its lowest level in a decade as Americans fretted about rising inflation and surging COVID-19 infections.

The University of Michigan reported Friday its consumer sentiment index fell from 81.2 to 70.2, the lowest level since 2011 and the largest drop since the early days of the pandemic in April 2020.

“The losses covered all aspects of the economy, from personal finances to prospects for the economy, including inflation and unemployment,” survey director Richard Curtin explained.

He added that the recent surge in COVID-19 from the Delta variant was largely to blame.

“There is little doubt that the pandemic’s resurgence due to the Delta variant has been met with a mixture of reason and emotion,” Curtin said. “Consumers have correctly reasoned that the economy’s performance will be diminished over the next several months, but the extraordinary surge in negative economic assessments also reflects an emotional response, mainly from dashed hopes that the pandemic would soon end.”

Consumers also expressed concern that inflation will continue growing. Just days after the government reported it recent annual rate of 5.4% in July.

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