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Guest opinion: Barone answers his own question

By Kathy Adams - Special to the Standard-Examiner | Jun 22, 2022

Michael Barone’s column “What was the left thinking?” (June 13) begs the rebuttal “Here’s What…”

Barone writes an entire essay answering a question no one asked him. But that doesn’t stop him from fabricating a reply. Out of the gate, Barone globs onto the recall election of San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin. Barone concludes that Boudin was voted out of office because Democrats rejected his progressive policies — when quotes from Democrats in the San Francisco Chronicle state they “believed in Boudin’s overarching goals but his leadership had created an office in disarray.” So, contrary to Barone’s hopes that progressives are suddenly in step with indefinitely detaining citizens who have yet to be charged with a crime (a.k.a. eliminating cash bail) and unlimited qualified immunity for police — Democrats voted out Boudin for poor management skills.

Barone attempts to generalize Boudin’s loss and predicts criminal justice reform will collapse across the nation — carefully slipping in the phrase “George Soros-type reform prosecutors.” Soros supports such reforms as reducing racial disparities in sentencing and directing some drug offenders to diversion programs instead of to trial. Clearly, Barone is allowed to disagree with Soros’ ideas on criminal justice reform, but the use of Soros’ name is a dog whistle. Ultra-conservatives invoke the Jewish billionaire philanthropist’s name to invoke slanderous conspiracy theories and call up well-worn antisemitic tropes.

Barone goes on to his next personal grudge — immigration. He blames Biden for the increased number of undocumented immigrants flowing into the country. He says, “Most immigrants were arriving legally, and the 2010-2019 decade saw a rising proportion of high-skill immigrants.” Barone might recall that Obama was president during the decade he is praising (2009-2017). Is he proposing that the immigration policies of the administrations that bookend Obama (Bush and Trump) are the cause of the problems he now expects Biden to fix?

Barone says that Biden “abrogated” Trump’s Remain in Mexico policy (Migrant Protection Program MPP). When in fact, Biden temporarily suspended the policy pending a review and to manage the alarming rate of asylum seekers. Under Biden’s revised MPP, migrants are still required to remain in Mexico but are given increased access to medical care and legal aid. Many countries including the U.S. closed their borders completely during the early part of the pandemic (Title 42 emergency health regulation) bringing the number of immigrants to a halt. Yet, Barone credits Trump and his wall for the decrease.

Contrary to our promise to the huddled masses (“Give me your tired, your poor …”), Barone calculates human worth by the dollar. But his questionable math skills compare apples and oranges. Is he really surprised that women and children seeking asylum from gang violence in Honduras outnumber the HB-1 skilled worker Visa applicants?

Barone tries to throw shade on Biden’s deficit spending and blames Democrats in general for government overspending. The definition of a budget deficit is how much more the federal government spends than it receives in revenue annually. Trump’s last year in office (fiscal year 2020), the U.S. budget deficit hit $1.1 trillion. By comparison, Obama inherited a daunting $1.2 trillion budget deficit and eventually cut it in half, despite a sluggish economy.

The debt increase in percentages under the past six presidents are as follows:

  • Reagan the debt increased by 186.36%
  • George H.W. Bush, 54.39%
  • Clinton, 31.64%
  • George W. Bush, 105.08%
  • Obama, 69.98%
  • Trump, 152.93%

Barone closes philosophically, baring what is deepest in his heart — a basic dislike and mistrust of other people. “It’s nice to be nice, but it’s foolish to expect everyone to be nice in return.”

Kathy Adams is a former dance writer at the Salt Lake Tribune (2002-2019) and has written about dance for Salt Lake Magazine, Dance Magazine, Dance Teacher Magazine and more.


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