Tuesday, December 18, 2007
The Washington Post has a new blog called "Stumped" in which Andres Martinez, a former LATimes editor (who'd been forced out in an ethics scandal), answers people's political questions. One question was whether recent legal immigrants resent illegals. Martinez said, basically, no, they just love 'em. Here's the answer I posted:
Of course American citizens of Latino heritage generally support a future replete with more and people of the same race and culture--especially if that includes Uncle Hidalgo and Aunt Dolores. This is simple tribalism, and all humans share this trait. That's a far simpler explanation than your spin-stuffed exegesis. And as Einstein observed, explanations should be as simple as possible (but no simpler).
You are also correct (to a point) that the Latino voting bloc is now so large--courtesy of two previous amnesties--that neither party leadership dares ignore it. OTOH that's hardly a moral argument.
But our southern border has several other virtual signs you failed to notice-- "Safety valve for Mexico's kleptocracy" being the most significant. Mexico's ruling class keeps half of the country's populace in dire poverty, due to their hogging so much of Mexico's rich natural resources. Meanwhile the Catholic Church's opposition to all forms of birth control has resulted in Mexico's populaton exploding from 20 million in 1940 to over 100 million now--far more people than Mexico's economy can absorb.
So according to you, America has to take the fall for the problems Mexico created all on its own. And that "help wanted" sign you allude to was posted there by America's ruling class--the prime beneficiaries of this mostly unarmed invasion. I don't need my lawn mowed by illegals. And I'm happy to pay a dime more for a head of lettuce--which is about what it would cost.
We force skilled workers with advanced degrees and a good command of English to wait a decade to come here while you advocate on behalf of unskilled workers who speak no English, and whose children are less likely to learn fluent English than any other immigrant cohort in American history.
Meanwhile American unskilled workers with a high school diploma or less have seen their real wages cut by a quarter because their bosses use illegals' labor as a club to cut wages and bust unions.
But you don't know any Americans with just a high school diploma, do you?
Your selective focus bespeaks an ethnocentric orientation all too common in today's Democratic Party and the academic sector. Mexican peasants are the new Negroes, taking on the mantle of the noble Rousseauian savage at one with nature. At the same time you dismiss the complaints of Anglos as simple racism, nativism, and other namecalling epithets.
But when you correctly observe that our exploding Mexican and Mesoamerican population is a potent voting bloc, you fail to couple that observation with the fact that you can only pander to this group by alienating the vast majority of America's indigenous--that is, born here--population. And calling us names will only silence a few of us.
Remember when Bush and our "Democratic" Congress conspired to jam what your side propagandizes as "comprehensive immigration reform" down our throats?
It didn't fly because those Congressmen heard from their constituents. What you insult as "nativist" is simply our love of our own culture.
I've been to 14 foreign countries, mixed with the locals, eaten the food, learned some of the language, gone scuba diving and done other forms of adventuring across four continents. In fact I speak Spanish, have studied at the University of Mexico, and am quite comfortable in Mexican society. This invasion doesn't gore my own ox particularly. Who gets hurt is Joe Lunchbox. But I come from Scots-Irish peasant stock myself--including a father with a 7th grade education--and I understand how these folks feel when their TV station turns into a Telemundo branch and their corner market becomes a Carniceria and their grundge rock station starts blasting Tejano. In large swaths across the American Southwest it isn't multiculturalism we're getting. It's ethnic cleansing, with a kind of American Quebec coalescing under our noses.
Your side is likely to win, since your side represents a Devil's bargain between Big Business, Latino racialists, the Catholic Church, and the Democratic Party leadership. Along with various far-left organizations.
All we've got is 80% or so of the American people and Republican pols awkwardly trying to balance their Big Business donor's demands for more illegals against their consitutents' demands for less.
So that's tough odds, I realize. But we'll do what we can.
BTW when you do take the Southwest back from us...will you return it to the Indians you stole it from? When I hear Mexican advocacy groups talking about how the Southwest is really theirs, I never hear them mention this. Ask a Navaho what HE thinks of such claims sometime.
You can see the whole thing here.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
That was the question raised by a website called The Moderate Voice. This was my reply:
Bush’s traits overlap with those of actually virtuous people. Thus his stubbornness at times will look like strength of character; his conscious dumbing-down of his speech at times will look like he’s got the common touch; and his warlike posturing at times will look like he’s an actual warrior.
In the case of the “surge” it has taken him the length of WWII to realize that you have to hold the ground you take or the enemy will take it back. Let’s see, how long has that been a military principle? Several millenia I’d wager. Talk about reinventing the wheel.
Another equally ancient principle is that war doesn’t solve political issues–however, it’s often a necessary precondition (something lefties rarely acknowledge). In this case, given that we’re up to our eyeballs in Iraq (and that’s a huge given, I realize), we can neither stay nor go without paying a terrible price in a variety of terrible ways. There is no easy/simple/satisfying solution. None. Even though we should never have gone in, that doesn’t have any bearing whatsoever on what we should do now. If only it did–that would make things a lot easier to figure out.
And don’t forget that one of these terrible prices is what’s going on in “Afghanistan, which will never get solved until or unless Al Quaeda’s and the Taliban’s stronghold in Pakistan is eliminated. Another potential price is China possibly deciding that we’re too entangled in Iraq to defend Taiwan, leading China to invade and conquer Taiwan soon after the Olympics. These are just two outstanding flashpoints. There are others as well. People all over the world carefully examine every move America makes, and then decide what moves they’ll make.
So taking all that into account, should we praise Bush for starting to do part of the right thing four years late? Yes we should. Centrists show they’re centrists by always giving the devil his due. That’s what “nonpartisan” means.
But now what will he do with the reduced level of violence there? Iraq’s million-odd Christians (many from families that have been in Iraq for literally thousands of years) are nearly all in exile today in Syria and Jordan, expelled by the forces we set loose when we decapitated Iraq’s government. Southern Iraq is more or less a province of Iran. Kurdistan is doing relatively well. Baghdad and western Iraq are still war zones, albeit at a lower simmer.
And the “government” of Iraq shows no interest in compromise with the Sunnis. The purpose of the “surge” was to make peace possible between Iraq’s opposed sectarian factions and apportion the country’s oil wealth fairly. But the “government” there appears to regard the current situation simply as a time to rearm and regroup for the coming civil war. As do many Sunnis.
I’ll give Bush plenty of praise if he can crack that nut.
I was gone for the last month or so due to going on a dive trip to one of most remote locations on Earth (for diving at least): the Raja Ampat islands of eastern Indonesia. Trips like this give you perspective. We spent 11 days on a dive boat crewed entirely by Indonesians who were Muslim, Christian, and Hindu--and who all got along perfectly.
Monday, October 22, 2007
Today the NYTimes published yet another pro-illegal alien editorial
[My comments in brackets, italicized.][Emphases mine.]
October 22, 2007
Ain’t That America
Think of America’s greatest historical shames. Most have involved the singling out of groups of people for abuse. Name a distinguishing feature — skin color, religion, nationality, language — and it’s likely that people here have suffered unjustly for it, either through the freelance hatred of citizens or as a matter of official government policy.
[in Propaganda 101 you're taught to start with a Mom & apple pie statement everyone must agree with--then you juxtapose it with your propaganda point--as if just putting it next to something true makes it true too. Even if you advocate on behalf of illegal aliens you shouldn't accept such dishonesty. It degrades your cause.]
We are heading down this road again. The country needs to have a working immigration policy, one that corresponds to economic realities
[Um, the "economic reality" is that corporatists here and elsewhere use illegal immigrants to bust unions and drive down wages of native-born unskilled workers. I love the delicate way ideologues have of alluding to these dirty facts--and of "forgetting" the demonstrable decline in prevailing wages for unskilled labor in direct correlation with the availability of illegal alien labor.]
and is based on good sense and fairness.
["good sense" = only my side has any kind of reasonableness. If you don't agree you don't have good sense--you're stupid or bigoted or both. This is an example of loading the dice instead of giving the other side any credence, while at the same time pretending to argue fairly by using fair-sounding terms like "good sense." This is the kind of condescending rhetoric ideologues love, and they probably couldn't sum up the real arguments of the other side if you paid 'em.]
But it doesn’t. It has federal inertia and a rising immigrant tide
["tide" --ideologues use adjectives to discount the other side's points and magnify their own, whereas factual statements pin one down. In this case "tide" doesn't seem like a discounting, except that the numbers of illegals coming over the border would be more accurately described as a tsunami here in the southwest, where--to cite some check-up-on-able facts, these days the most-watched TV station in the nation's third-largest city only broadcasts in Spanish, and across America the proportion of Latinos has gone from under 2% in 1940 to 14% today.],
and a national mood of frustration and anxiety
[i.e., anybody who disagrees with me about immigration has mental problems--it couldn't be that those who oppose immigration have actual reasons to do so--they must be almost mentally ill. Otherwise they'd agree with me, since I am inerrant
that is slipping, as it has so many times before, into hatred and fear
[We are a society in which honest disagreement has been medicalized. "You who disagree with me aren't just wrong--you're sick in the head." This may have gotten started by the Soviet Union's Communists, who put numerous dissidents into insane asylums. And of course when you hurl so many insults at the people you're presumably trying to persuade, it shows that you aren't trying to persuade at all--just to rally your base. Here it's being done by self-described liberals. But Bush has been doing this for over six years straight. ].
Hostility for illegal immigrants falls disproportionately
["disproportionately"="Why aren't you equally upset about the five Estonians who are here illegally? You must be a racist! Racistracistracist!" Well duh--the vast majority of illegals are Mexicans. Add their Spanish-speaking Mesoamerican compatriots and you get perhaps 85% of illegals being Spanish-speaking, Latino peasants, mostly with the education level of a typical American high school dropout minus being able to speak English. I'm not seeing American TV and radio stations being replaced by ones that speak in Estonian rather than in America's common tongue. I'm not seeing America's vibrant multicultural society being replaced by monolithic Estonian ghettos. I'm not seeing Estonian gangbanger writing on walls and bridges etc. I'm not reading about Estonians ethnically "cleansing" neighborhoods of blacks. I'm not reading about Americans being killed by Estonian drunk drivers. And I'm not seeing Estonians flooding our emergency wards and schools on my dime. So yeah, I am more concerned with Latino illegal immigration than I am with Estonian, because I took statistics in college.
shorthand for on an entire population of people, documented or not
["undocumented" is goodspeak for "trespasser"],
who speak Spanish and are working-class or poor
[i.e., "You're racist! racist! racist! because you reeeely hate all those Mexicans. You're lying when you say you just oppose illegal immigrants. You oppose all Mexicans, illegal or not." Well, there's an element of truth in this. In 1940 Latinos comprised under 2% of the American population. Now they're 14%. And the bulk of that comes from several previous amnesties granted--each time for the last time--to earlier waves of illegal immigration, each promised to be the very last time, and from their children, who have established the educational record you'd expect from the children of uneducated peasants--an amazing level of high school dropouts and teen pregnancies, producing a multigenerational underclass, three quarters of whom demonstrate in their voting patterns more allegiance to Mexico than to their country of citizenship. I have never met or heard an immigration opposer who didn't welcome hardworking legal immigrants with enough education to actually contribute to our society, regardless of nation of origin. I'd welcome the Mercedes Benz Mexicans I knew when I lived in Mexico City. But of course they've got too sweet a deal to move here, since they've appropriated so much of Mexico's wealth to themselves and ruined Mexico's village society nationwide.].
By blinding the country to solutions, it has harmed us all.
The evidence can be seen in any state or town that has passed constitutionally dubious laws to deny undocumented immigrants the basics of living, like housing or the right to gather or to seek work. It’s in hot lines for citizens to turn in neighbors. It’s on talk radio and blogs. It’s on the campaign trail, where candidates are pressed to disown moderate positions.
["moderate= me; extremists=you...by definition." Nobody who opposes illegal immigration thinks the NYTimes editorial board is moderate on this issue. And over 3/4 of Americans oppose the positions taken by the NYTimes editorial board on this issue. So 3/4 of America is "extremist?" Oh really?]
And it can be heard nearly every night on CNN, in the nativist drumming of Lou Dobbs, for whom immigration is an obsessive cause.
[I watch Dobbs regularly, and on every single show he takes pains to point out his opposition to illegal immigration--and his enthusiasm for legal immigration. But this verifiable fact is an inconvenient truth for the NYTimes edit board. Nativist means you oppose any but your own ancestral culture. But Dobbs and most who oppose illegal immigration are fine with America's multicultural society--with its Anglo foundation, and with its rich evolving admixture of so many cultures and races. What we oppose is violations to the rule of law and the replacement of that rich multicultural society with huge monocultural Mexighettos across the Southwest.]
In New York, Gov. Eliot Spitzer has proposed allowing illegal immigrants to earn driver’s licenses. It is a good, practical idea, designed to replace anonymous drivers with registered competent ones.
[Sure. We can practically eliminate crime--just legalize it. Bingo. Crime rate plummets! This line of reasoning rests on the unspoken premise that illegals should be legalized and we should simply accept 10-20 million illegals. And that "good and practical" is only good and practical if you accept that premise. So debate the premise--if you dare.]
In show after show, Mr. Dobbs has trained his biggest guns on Mr. Spitzer, branding him with puerile epithets like “spoiled, rich-kid brat”
[They're only puerile epithets if they're false, and you haven't proven that; and if you oppose name calling, why are you name-calling yourselves?]
and depicting his policy as some sort of sanctuary program for the 9/11 hijackers.
[This is puerile (to use the NYTime's own namecall) hypberbole. Dobbs never said anything of the sort--or even close.]
Someday there may be a calm debate, in Albany and nationally, about immigrant drivers. But with Mr. Dobbs at the megaphone, for now there is only histrionics and outrage.
[This editorial is nothing but histrionics and outrage. Physician, heal thyself.]
Let’s concede an indisputable point: people should not be in the country illegally. But forget about the border for a moment — let’s talk about the 12 million
[possibly true, but could be many millions more; nobody's actually counted them]
who are already here. What should be done about them?
A. Deport them all.
B. Find out who they are. Distinguish between criminals and people who just want to work. Get them on the books. Make them pay what they owe — not just the income, Social Security, sales and property taxes they already pay, but all their taxes, and a fine. Get a smooth legal flow of immigrants going, and then concentrate on catching and deporting bad people.
C. Catch the few you can, and harass and frighten the rest. Treat the entire group as a de facto class of criminals, and disrupt or shout down anyone or any plan seen as abetting their evildoing.
Forget A. Congress tried a version of B, but it was flattened by outrage.
And so here we are at C. It’s a policy that can’t work; it’s too small-bore, too petty, too narrow. And all the while it’s not working, it can only lead to the festering of hate. Americans are a practical and generous people, with a tolerant streak a mile wide. But there is a combustible strain of nativism in this country, and it takes only a handful of match tossers to ignite it.
[This is a classic example of false choice, also known as the straw man argument. I haven't heard of a single illegal immigration restrictionist advocating any of the above. What nearly all of us advocate is vigorously pursuing employers of illegals; requiring the Social Security Administration and the IRS to cooperate fully with ICE to make it impossible for illegals to work here on the books with fake IDs, as most of them do. We want is to turn off the magnet, actively hunt down felons (and if we come across other illegals while hunting felons or hitting companies that hire large numbers of illegals, so much the better), provide a free national biometric ID for everyone within our borders, deny illegals access to all social services except for emergency medical care, and overall make it harder for them to stay here than to self-deport themselves back to their homelands, from Mexico to Estonia or wherever. I've heard that after 9/11 the government made a concerted effort to deport illegal Moslem aliens, and when it did, 100s of times the numbers of those we caught deported themselves.]
The new demagogues are united in their zeal to uproot the illegal population. They do not discriminate between criminals and the much larger group of ambitious strivers.
[See my previous comment, This is another attempt to simplify the stance of those who oppose illegal immigration. Of course the felons top our list of don't-want-heres. Also from Propanda 101--demonize your opposition; call them mentally ill, vicious, racistracistracist. This from America's leading newspaper: gutter politics with lofty pretentions. This is even worse than the honest racialism of the Latino activists leading the reconquista of the Southwest.]
They champion misguided policies, like a mythically airtight border fence and a reckless campaign of home invasions.
["airtight border?" How about just having one that drug runners can't drive across with impunity? This hyperbole conceals yet another unspoken assertion: the rejection of national soverignity. A country that can't control who is and isn't there has failed one of its prime obligations to its citizens. Note that Israel's much-maligned fence has reduced Islamofascist murder incursions radically. Sometimes, Robert Frost notwithstanding, good fences do make good neighbors.]
And they summon the worst of America’s past by treating a hidden group of vulnerable people as an enemy to be hated and vanquished, not as part of a problem to be managed.
[Talk about unmitigated goodspeak. Vulnerable? How about the hundreds of thousands of criminal alien felons within our borders? The drug traffickers, the human traffickers, the gangbangers, the drunk drivers, the identity thieves, the con artists, the elder abusers, the muggers--the New York Times' language includes them among that "hidden group of vulnerable people." Talk about oversimplifying the issues. As for "to be hated and vanguished"...the NYTimes can't seem to distinguish between historic racist demagogues like Father Coughlin and the leaders of the American Bund--and today's illegal immigration opposers. This is 2007, not 1937, but the NYTimes can't seem to tell that. Neither Lou Dobbs nor I "hate" Mexicans. In my case, I speak Spanish, have lived in Mexico, vacation in Mexico, scuba dive in Mexico, and have no problems with the Latinos in my life. I often have chats with our mailman in Spanish, for example, and I'd be happy to have him and his family as neighbors. What I have a problem with is 10-20 million illegal immigrants who have radically altered the society of the Southwest, and the amnestyites who appear to be unconscious of what countries and cultures are and the value they have for their citizens. The see indiduals suffer and want to help them--but the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. Kind acts often have cruel consequences--and vice versa.
Sunday, October 14, 2007
Yes, the Republican Party--more specifically, its patrons--won the last election, despite the Democratic Party gaining a majority in the House and Senate, and being likely to win the presidency in 2008.
The bottom line: Bonnie and Clyde didn't need to take possession of the banks they robbed permanently. They just needed a few minutes of possession.
Similarly, the Republicans only needed control of all three branches of government for six years. In this time they were able to enact laws, appoint Suprem Court justices, and set policies in place that, taken collectively, serve to enrichen America's wealthiest 1% enormously--mainly extracted from America's hollowed-out middle class. And, given the relative youth and hard-right tilt of the Supreme Court majority and the unlikelihood of the Democrats getting 60 votes in the Senate, the GOP will be able to keep the economic playing field tipped strongly in favor of that 1% for decades. Supporting player in this charade: the electoral college system, which gives rural Republican voters more than one vote per man and gives urban Democratic voters less than one vote per man.
The issues dear to the hearts of the social conservatives who prop up Republican power mean nothing to most of that 1%. What matters to the 1% is money and the power to guarantee future revenue streams for themselves and their families. Abortion, homosexual marriage, patriotism, evolution, stem cell research, church and state...these things are meaningful to the ruling 1% in the same way that a matador's red cape matters to the matador: the cape distracts the bull while the matador readies the sword.
The GOP's patrons could have made the theft more subtle and perhaps stayed in power longer. But if you grant that money and power are all that matter, they made the right decision. So to speak.
Meanwhile those patrons have already succeeded in co-opting the Democratic Congress, as practically every new law enacted attests. And if the reformers do gain power within the Democrats, it will take them decades to undo what the GOP wrought in six short years--and by then the public will have forgotten why they voted the rascals out in the first place, and the endless war on government regulation, taxation of the rich and suchlike will give the patrons' puppets another term or two to pull off the next big heist.
Some politicians are routinely described as "divisive" or "polarizing." Meaning they appeal to hard-core right-wingers or left-wingers and make no effort to build a centrist coalition. However, the term is now routinely applied to centrists as well by members of the press.
The reason is simple. Political strategists know that the average American is a centrist who's averse to extremists. Then what to do it your guy is one of those extremists? You paint your opponent as being an extremist too, whether he is or isn't. The easiest way to do this is sheer repetition, fueled by plenty of money to finance your smear campaign. Success won't be measured by attracting voters to your side, but more by discouraging voters from the other. You win just as much by getting the other side not to vote as you do from getting your side to go out and vote. The win is exactly the same--your guy in office, doing what you want.
Today, President Bush and Senator Clinton are both described as divisive figures. The problem is that Bush is and Clinton isn't. I don't say this because I support Clinton's candidacy. I don't , due to her enthusiasm for illegal aliens and disinterest in how corporate interests encourage illegal immigration in order to bust unions and drive down wages for unskilled workers. Nevertheless she has proven to be a centrist during her tenure as a New York State senator, and has won the support of many New York Republicans. Moreover, if you follow the diatribes against her in the left wing blogosphere you'll see that the left-wingers Republicans portray her as being their champion in fact regard her as a DiNO--Democrat in Name Only. And her husband was and is a conservative Democrat and a leader of the relatively conservative wing of the Democratic party. This matches her arguments and policy proposals in the various Democratic contender forums, and is reflected in her relative popularity with centrists who aren't as concerned with illegal immigration as I am.
Painting her as "divisive" is patent nonsense. Yet many in the mainstream media describe her as such when they're talking about the campaign for the presidency. This isn't because they're a bunch of Republicans--the majority are Democrats. Nor is it because their corporate bosses--mostly Republicans--have told them to smear her. They do it because they work in divisions of large corporations with no sense of journalistic mission, but only of constantly increasing profit. Even being steadily profitable isn't enough for Wall Street. In that environment, news=entertainment. Journalistic staffs are shrinking massively. It's not that the remaining journalists are lazy--they're just too frazzled to do much more than reflect the buzz du jour, whether it's factual or the result of well-financed propaganda campaigns--as is the case with making Senator Clinton out to be divisive.
As for President Bush--he has treated the 49% of the country that didn't vote for him as totally irrelevant to the governing of this country from the day he took office. His stated positions and executive behavior and Supreme Court appointments exclusively reflect the outlook of the 20% of the country that is farthest to the right. No president has been as far to one side as him in the last century. Even his supporters must concede this. And if they're honest they'll also concede that he lied to the American people in his first presidential race when he claimed time after time that he would govern from the center.
As far as in-your-face divisiveness goes, Bush wins this contest hands down. I can't name a more divisive president than him since the Reconstruction era over a century ago.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
* Universal ID --I don't see how we can get a grip on who's in this country without this. We also need it to prevent ID theft. There are many technical issues, but new technologies offer hope. I notice that the far left and the far right are unanimous in loathing this idea. That's a recommendation in my book.
* Finding neutral debate terms. Every emotionally charged debate going on in this country is flooded with emotionally charged language in which one side or another--or both--try to tilt the playing field in their direction. I'd like to see a discussion in which people tried to find neutral terms for the debates. I find the media to be almost criminally negligent in this area. They just use whatever term has the most vigorous promotion behind it.
Terms that should be replaced:
>"Pro life," "pro choice," "unborn baby"
>"people of color," "African American"
>"atheist," "people of faith"
>"undocumented worker," "illegal alien."
--I think "illegal alien" is actually denotatively accurate, but I'm open to another term. "undocumented worker" implies that the person has no documents, but they may well have documents from their home country; "worker" doesn't imply that all illegals are worker--it states it; likewise "immigrant." But a person isn't a worker if they're a criminal or a dependent or plan to live off welfare/food stamps/begging etc. A person is only an immigrant if they plan to stay permanently. Some do, some don't. Many plan to return after earning some money. Those aren't immigrants.
>"war on terror" --it's not a war in the conventional sense of country-on-country armed conflict; it's not terror--that's a tactic, and we're not pursuing the Tamil Tigers, ETA in Spain, or any other terrorist group except for the Islamofascists who are trying to kill us. It's a multidimensional conflict with the Islamofascist movement and certain elements in certain countries that support this movement. Now--how about a pithy term from that that isn't actively misleading, as "war on terror" is?
Neutral terms might make dialog actually possible instead of the shouting matches we normally see in forums and on the air.
* underlying assumptions. Conservative people focus on the individual's responsibilities towards the group; liberal people focus on the group's responsibilities towards the individual. So when either makes a point he thinks is quite telling and the other dismisses it, the point-maker sees the other as a traitor to all that's good & holy. They talk past each other. I'd like to see a discussion about this fundamental issue, using actual conflict issues to tie it to reality--illegal immigration, universal ID, the draft, the conflict with Islamofascists, abortion--all provide numerous examples of this talking past-ing.
For example, in the abortion debate, anti-abortion people invariable say at some point that "life beings at the moment of conception," and this is rarely challenged. But that's not a definition of "life" any biologist worth his salt would accept--unless you agreed that your nose is also alive but your hair is dead (outside the follicle).
I think the anti-abortion people are actually proposing that we're ensouled at the moment of conception, but they've learned not to make this explicit. Biologists start raising uncomfortable points otherwise, such as the fact that identical twins and chimeras are not formed at the moment of conception. And real theologists will add that there's nothing biblical in the assertion either.
Monday, October 8, 2007
You can see how useless it is to argue with them about science. Side note: of course they claim they aren't hostile to science--just to evolution. At the same time, these are the sort of people who claim that you can't accept religion on an a la carte basis. Yet they fail to realize that it's even more true of science, which all rests on the same rigorous empirical foundations. You can't reject empiricism here and accept it there. You're either empirical...or not.
It's not that they're ignorant of science. It's that they're ignorant of their ignorance. You can't enlighten those who are both certain and incurious--kind of like The Decider, as even supporters of him like David Frum concede.
So I think it would be more interesting to probe such folk about their hostility to God. This is more paradoxical on the surface, since they all claim to be godly folk--indeed, the only godly folk, and definitely godlier than mainstream protestants and Catholics, who generally accept science, including of course evolution.
They're hostile to God because, from a religious viewpoint this is God's universe--right? And the way it works is How God Did It. And the way it works is the purview of science, which only turns guesses (i.e. hypotheses) into facts (i.e. the stuff that's proven, called theories, not to be confused with the lay meaning of the term) when those guesses are confirmed mathematically and experimentally/observationally--largely through predictive models that prove out.
Evolution is How God Did us and all our biological kinfolk, from bacteria to belugas. You can't reject evolution without rejecting the actual God of the actual universe. Those who do so worship themselves onanistically through a fake God they invented--a caricature of the real deal, carefully designed to justify their prejudices and cramped world view.
And this perversion of God and of religion has come to dominate the thinking of roughly half this country--and the teaching of biology in a majority of classrooms outside urban areas and college towns.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
"Mark Krikorian is executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, a think tank that supports tighter controls on immigration."
That's somewhat like saying that Lizzie Borden wss [sic] a member of a think tank that supports improvement in cutlery.
The institution you so proudly cite is as xenophobic and racist a site as I have ever seen.
Beware whey you post a reference to a site; some of us actually READ the reference.
I responded to this response as follows:
The reference I proudly cited was the LATimes, one of the nation's three leading newspapers. The piece itself is an advocacy piece, not a news item, obviously. The LATimes "proudly" prints op-ed pieces that agree with its editorial stance--and those that don't--like the one I copied into this forum. That's one thing that makes it a class act.
The other thing is something most civilians know nothing about. It's called [b]fact checking[/b]. If I had quoted something from an advocacy website, that's one thing. It's quite another when I quote something from a reputable newspaper--even if that thing is an article by someone associated with an advocacy group.
The LATimes runs a lot of advocacy pieces I don't agree with, such as most of the columns by Gregory Rodriguez, a hardcore advocate for all things Latino. But when a major newspaper publishes such pieces, at least I know that it has been fact checked. I may not agree with the conclusions but it's likely that the facts are straight. Even in an advocacy piece.
Nothing's perfect, and I'm sure that even the NYTimes, WashPo & the LATimes get their facts wrong sometimes. But it's a lot less likely than most other news/opinion sources, such as advocacy blogs/websites.
Of course to assess these ideas you need the ability to separate your assessment of someone's character from the facts they cite and the logic they use. For ideologues these are indistinguishable.
This is why the centrist columnist Thomas Friedman--who despises our current president--reminds us that "Just because George Bush says something doesn't mean it's wrong." Every so often he says something that isn't a baldfaced lie or, more likely, an artfully deceptive statement that doesn't lie itself but leads unwary listeners to believe the lie he wants you to believe while leaving his own hands nominally clean. For example, he said that what's going on in Darfur is genocide. That's true, even though Bush said it.
Zealots have trouble sorting these things out. They live in a simpler world, populated with Good Guys and Bad Guys, like a turn of the last century mellerdrama populated with Dudley Dorights and Simon Legrees. Anything less simple confuses them momentarily, but their need for clarity overwhelms the vestiges of reasoning their minds possess and they quickly "figure out" how anything good the bad guy did was actually bad, and anything bad the good guy did really wasn't so bad after all. It's fascinating to watch their wheels grind as they reduce reality to a kind of comic strip.
One way to tell if you're trying to reason with a zealot is to notice how quickly they lapse into labels instead of actually dealing with facts and arguments. In person you can usually spot one right away. They have "crazy eyes." And when you challenge their notions with reasonable facts/arguments, you can see an ember of reasoning flitter across their faces, then get blown out by the hurricane of their ungoverned emotions--which they believe is a virtuem, naturally. It's sometimes harder in print, but usually...not so much.
Zealots assume they're demolished someone's argument if they can show that the other person has opinions they disagree with. This is, of course, circular reasoning--a dog chasing its tail. It'd be amusing if it weren't so dangerous to our republic.
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Today's Washington Post published a posting in their "On Faith" blog titled "An Atheist for President?" This was my response:
What is an atheist?
Someone who doesn't believe in God?
That's what he's not.
So what is he?
I'm stumped, honestly. Because the word has no actual definition. All it tells you is what someone isn't--which is of interest only to religious people. For the rest of us, our so-called "lack of religion" is completely irrelevant to our lives. It means nothing, nada, zip. I also don't believe the world is flat. But I don't go around saying I'm an, say, "antiflatulist." If someone asks me what I believe, I simply say I'm an empiricist. Now that actually says something about me. A lot, actually.
The word "atheist" was coined by religious people. It's a loaded term. Calling me an "atheist" is pretty much the same as calling a black person the N word. How about if we start calling religious people "antiempiricists?" Or "realityphobes?" I'm not seriously proposing that, because it would be as unfair as it is for religious people to call those who aren't atheists. Personally I define people as interesting or not, as jerks or OK people--stuff like that. Now those terms are actually useful.
Saturday, July 14, 2007
Our Santana tandem provides a stable, comfortable riding experience--especially useful when one rider is a lot stronger than the other. With a tandem each can pedal just as hard or easy as they wish without one riding away from the other. A tandem can test a marriage, but if you pass the test it's a great recreational device.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Monday's Washington Post published this editorial:
Police on the Spot
In the absence of a workable immigration system, state and local officers are forced into a quandary.
Monday, June 25, 2007; A18
DESPITE THE objections of police chiefs all over the country, officers at the state, city and county levels are increasingly being drawn into what should be the federal government's responsibility to deal with illegal immigrants. In some instances officers are compelled to arrest undocumented immigrants a fter routine traffic infractions if a computer shows that they are facing outstanding federal warrants. In this way local police are being made complicit in federal deportations, which subverts their attempts to establish ties and cooperative relations with immigrant communities. Hence the police chiefs' objections.
This is a potentially serious problem. Violent gangs have gained a dangerous foothold in many immigrant communities, including some in the Washington area. To contain them, police need informers and other kinds of help in those neighborhoods. But what immigrant informer will come forward if he knows that as soon as police enter his name into a database, they will be compelled to arrest him because he failed to appear at a hearing on his immigration status or a deportation proceeding some years ago?
A handful of police departments have refused to enforce the federal warrants, which include about 250,000 from the Immigration and Custo ms Enforcement agency. Most departments, including those in this region, are enforcing them, albeit unenthusiastically in some cases. Lawsuits have been brought challenging the inclusion of the warrants, which are for civil violations, in a national criminal database.
All of this is symptomatic of the underlying sickness, which is the nation's failure to devise a workable immigration policy and the resulting problem of 12 million illegal immigrants. The tensions between federal and local law enforcement will only worsen until lawmakers in Washington figure a way out of the impasse -- one that recognizes the reality that most of those immigrants are an integral part of the U.S. economy and are here to stay. As the Senate prepares to take up its immigration bill for the second time in a month, it should be mindful of how tenuous the status quo has become.----------------------------------------------------------
I posted the following response:
Once more, Beltway insiders—and that includes the Washington Post editorial board, Congress, and King George—are touting a clever plan to outsource your generosity to the border states. You won’t pay the price for this generosity. We Californians and Arizonans and New Mexicans and Texans will. How convenient. All the self-satisfaction of good-heartedness, with none of the messy consequences. Woo hoo.
Well, here’s a little reality check. You all proposed the same thing in 1986—“comprehensive immigration reform” combining amnesty for those already here and enforcement to make sure there’d be no repeats. Only it turned out to be real amnesty and fake enforcement. So instead of 3 million and no more, now there are 12 million “and no more.” That extrapolates to next time facing 48 million “and no more.” Do you really think we’re that stupid? Do you have any idea of the impact of dozens of millions of non-English-speaking unskilled workers on the economy of the border states? The Congressional Budget Office recently reported that on balance these workers will put more into the economy than they take out of it…300 years from now.
And the so-called “reform” of 1986 turned out to be yet another unfunded mandate. We border state taxpayers got to foot the bill for their huge social costs, while their productivity swelled corporate coffers and went to their home villages south of the border. And the bosses have used their presence to bust unions and drive down wages for the working poor.
But not only are none of you Beltway insiders here—few of you have any first-hand experience of the world of the warehouse worker, the Walmart clerk, the American field hand. Their real wages have gone down substantially since 1986, and much of that is due to your generosity towards foreigners. And why not? Those unskilled Americans have dirt under their fingernails, for goodness’ sake. They wouldn’t know Bach from a box cutter. They watch American Idol non-ironically. Who wouldn’t disdain their misery in their trailer park homes?
You say how unfair it is that cops are being forced to do the Feds’ dirty work. Certainly it interferes with community relations. But your alternative—“Come on down!” is even worse. The choice is between bad and horrible.
And you say we have to recognize “the reality that most of those immigrants are an integral part of the U.S. economy and are here to stay.” Oh really? You act as if we sent busses down to Mexico, Guatemala etc. and kidnapped families off the street and brought them here. In fact they left home because they thought opportunities were better here than under the kleptocracies that pretend to be governments in Latin America. They will return if they come to think the reverse. And we have a way to make them think that.
We can now implement a universal biometric ID database—which one presidential candidate has endorsed, BTW. It could erect a virtual border throughout America. New biometric technologies include a palm vein reader, for example. Hold your hand over a pad for a moment and it reads your palm. You can fool it only if you can rearrange the veins inside your hand. It doesn’t cost a lot. We could put one in every outlet for social services and every corporate HR office. If employers can’t get away with employing illegals, many will go back—and, hopefully, start long-overdue revolutions in their home countries.
While we’re at it, why do you act as if they dropped out of the sky? Every one of them is a citizen of a country. Why don’t you ever talk about that? Mexico is only number 53 on the UN’s poverty index. It’s not a poor country. It just has a poor government. Agitate for reform there for once.
As for the current bill in Congress….tell you what. We’ll be glad to talk about amnesty for the 12 million here the moment the feds turn the flood of illegals into a trickle. You can use universal bio ID, fences, UAVs, National Guard on the border, vigorous prosecution of large employers of illegals, you name it. We’re not fussy.
We agree that “comprehensive immigration reform” seems better than “enforcement first.” But, see, you’ve taught us to not believe you. Last time you broke your word. Why do you expect us to think you won’t do it again? Especially since you all act as if the 1986 amnesty sans enforcement never happened. As if this is the only time we’ve faced a horde of illegals across the border states.
And another BTW: “we” aren’t just the cranky old white guys who listen to right-wing radio, like you think we are. If you analyze California voting records for several anti-illegal immigrant initiatives over the last decade, you’ll find that “we” includes a quarter of all citizens of Latino ancestry and as much as 40% of registered Democrats.
What we aren’t is Charley Brown--though you are Lucy. We aren’t holding the ball for you this time. To quote The Who: “We don’t get fooled again.”
Thursday, June 21, 2007
...So in that light, perhaps "European" would care to enlighten us about Europe's no doubt vastly superior model for accommodating large numbers of illegal immigrants (and legal ones, for that matter). How all those Muslims and Blacks and Caribbeans and Pakistanis and Indians work and live happily shoulder to shoulder with native Euros in the UK, Germany, Italy, Spain, France etc.
Your little essay on logic (and, BTW, it was Mill, not Locke, who developed the theory of utilitarianism) was fairly convincing, until your last paragraph, which is quoted above.
There you, like all the 'phobes on this forum demonsrate that your issue, once again, is not migration but non-white migration.
The simple fact was, is, and forever will remain the color of the migrants at issue. Whether in the deep recesses of your being you want to admit it or not, the issue with you and your ilk is what you see as the loss of domination of the culture by white, Christian folks. If today the migrants were blond haired, blue eyed Scaninavians, we would not be hearing a peep from you.
To which I responded:
Still trying to change the topic from immigration to people's motives, I see. When this website starts a forum titled "Ehkzu's motives" we can talk about my motives. Until then you're off topic. Try to address the actual arguments for once.
And once again, for the benefit of readers who may fall into this little trap, I'll explain:
In any debate the motives of the debater matter when the debater has based her argument on her personal reputation--some variant of "trust me." However, when the debater relies on logic and independently verifiable facts--and not on personal reputation--accusations about motives are a dirty trick--the sort of thing Karl Rove specializes in, though he's got plenty of company.
It's a dirty trick because it's at attempt to change the subject, and it's so emotionally charged you'll be tempted to forget what you were discussing and rush to defend your honor. Resist! Call the other person on it and challenge her to deal with the actual items being debated.
And of course I've done no such thing here. How could I? We're all anonymous in this forum, so I couldn't reasonably ask anyone to trust me personally even if I wanted to. My arguments are based on logic and independently verifiable facts. Period. So feel free to imagine that I'm a card-carrying member of--what's that called?--the Christian Identity Church, which champions a racist theology. Or the Aryan Nation. Or Mecha. Whatever.
Reader, you'll run into this sort of underhanded tactic so often when discussing politics that you really need a slime shield. I recommend "Crimes Against Logic" by Jamie Whyte, a past lecturer of philosophy at Cambridge University who lives in London. It's only 157 pages long and well worth reading. Especially because he's so readable. Here's an example that's germane to this discussion:
The Motive Fallacy is so common in politics that serious policy debate is almost nonexistent. The announcement of a new policy is greeted, not with a discussion of its alleged merits, but with a flurry of speculation from journalists and political opponents regarding the politician's motives for announcing it.
Journalists and politicans now devote their attention to instegigating the possible causes rather than the likely effects of their opponents' policies.
Good actions can be performed for bad reasons. Equally, bad actions can be well intended. [I believe that's the case with those advocated amnesty for illegals, for example].
The difficulty with the Motive Fallacy is not so much seeing that it is a fallacy, but spotting its instances in everyday life. It is so common that we have become desensitized, and it can be committed in subtle ways.
Here's a tip for spotting it: watch out for the word just, as in 'You're just saying that.' Why has the 'just' been included in such sentences? Everyone knows that when I say something I'm saying it...Well, it is supposed to show that what I am saying is also not true...The mere addition of the word just can, of course, achieve no such thing--it has no magical power of persuasion. Nevertheless, people try it all the time. Beware!
Whyte also points out in a later chapter that a related way of winning an argument is to shut up your opponent. I recall listening to a liberal talk show as a listener called in to brag that he and his pals had silenced Ann Coulter as she was scheduled to speak on some midwestern college campus. The host, Ed Schultz, congratulated this guy on his liberal achievement. It didn't seem to occur to Schultz that this kid's action involved some heavy ironies.
In this case, theCap0 is playing the race card. Heaven forfend that anyone be thought of as racist. Better to be accused of being a bank robber. As Whyte says, watch out for "remarks that serve only to shut you up, without showing that your position is wrong...In public debate, the idea that you can refute a view by claiming its advocate is not entitled to speak is pervasive, especially on race-related issues." And "We mustn't confuse being sensitive with being right. Nor rudeness with error.
Refutation by association, which Whyte also talks about, comes into play here. Amnesty advocates will observe that some acknowledged racist opposes illegal immigration--therefore [i]anyone[/i] who opposes illegal immigration must also be a racist. And if they're a racist their facts and logic must be wrong, or at least needn't be dealt with, since racists have no right of free speech--that's only accorded to folks who agree with you.
I've also observed that left- and right-wing zealots tend to hold a lot of beliefs in common, many of which are not logically related to the concept of liberalism or that of conservatism. For example, Democrats ought to oppose illegal immigration and Republicans ought to favor it, according to the traditions of each party before both were taken over by special interests. And conservatives ought to be conservationists--heck, it's the same word. Yet it has become an article of faith on the far right to celebrate the extermination of animal species in the service of some corporatist's short term profits.
In Whyte's words, "most social groups, even those that are not explicitly ideological, have membership opinions."
Lastly, theCap0's comment also commits the fallacy of confusing messenger with message. My comment about European immigration focused on the groups that have been having and giving the most trouble assimilating. There are lots of Caucasion Eastern Europeans flooding into Western Europe, but their challenges to assimilation are far less than that of people who are more obviously different. Someone named Fyodor can get a job. Someone named Muhammed can't in many areas. This reflects the general cultural homogeneity of traditional European countries. America started out multicultural, and we've had centuries to get into it. The Euros have only had 50 years or so, and it shows.
Many years ago there was a TV show called "All in the family," derived from a Brit show about a bigoted working stiff and his family. In America that character, Archie Bunker, was played by the actor Carroll O'Conner. Archie Bunker was a right wing bigot. Carroll O'Conner was a stereotypical Hollywood liberal. Yet people on the street would constantly clap O'Conner on the shoulder and praise him for sharing their (and Archie's) racist worldview.
Depiction is not advocacy. The Bible does not advocate fratricide, even though it leads off with one. I might or might not be a racist, but observing that there are race-based issues in Europe says nothing about the observer unless that observation is incorrect and you want to start a new topic about the observer's motives.
I like freeways. Hitler invented the freeway (for military purposes, actually). Therefore I'm like Hitler.
Basic logic ought to be a high school graduation requirement. Maybe we'd elect fewer buffoon and scoundrels then.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Incadove, your comments on arguments having to be based on humanitarian principles gave me pause. To some degree I agree. For example, I know an ardent libertarian, and the heartlessness of his worldview certainly turns me off. Moreover, what's the purpose of continuing to live if you don't get positive feelings out of life--and try to contribute to the good-heartedness of the whole shebang while you're at it.
OTOH, I was raised by drunks as you'll perhaps recall. They weren't stupid people, but they always put their feelings first, and gave me a rotten childhood as a consequence of their dionysian wallowing. A little more cerebralness would have been welcome.
There has to be a balance. The reason for reason is to give us as accurate an understanding of the world and our condition as is possible. Seems like in the long run you'll get and give the most happiness to others if your reason mediates your feelings.
Maybe that's why my favorite saying is "Hope clouds observation."
Think of the guy with TB who flew on seven airplanes and subjected hundreds of people to lengthy medical treatments, the harrowing fear of having contracted a drug-resistant strain of a serious disease, and has become an icon of self-centeredness. When he made his decision to go home this way, he obviously went with his gut feelings. He wanted to go home. To get treatment in America. To not spend an enormous amount on a private medivac flight. But what he did was wrong for both him and everyone else.
I believe there must always be an utterly cold, remorseless Eye of Logic nestled in your head somewhere, cooly regarding every choice, every action in the pitless sunlight of reason. You'll be a better person for it.
In the immigration debate, it seems to me that much hurt has come from much good-heartedness. Locke's Utilitarian notion of the greater good needs to be considered.
TB guy just wanted to go home. We all should feel sympathy for that desire. But that doesn't justify the choice he made. Likewise, I'm moved by every propaganda piece I see on PBS about hardworking illegals. No, I'm not being sarcastic. Remember, I know a fair amount about Latin culture.
There's an Italian movie titled "L'America." I'm sure someone with European's vast sophistication has seen it. It's about immigration--only, in this case, from Albania to Italy. It's called "L'America" because Italy is to Albanians what America was to Italians. It's a wonderful movie. In it two Italian con artists go to Albania to set up a fake factory for the sole purpose of gulling Italy out of foreign aid which they'd then pocket. But one of the con artists gets stranded in rural Albania without resources, and in his struggles to get out of there he slowly--very slowly--comes to see the Albanians as humans, and not just as ciphers to be exploited.
At the very end of the movie, there's a long shot of a rusty freighter loaded to the gunwales with desperate Albanians trying to sneak into Italy illegally. The shot starts with the freighter at some distance as it plows across the Adriatic. Then the camera slowly zooms in on the passengers until it's close to their faces. It goes slowly from one face to another, each so sad, so hungry, so nearly out of hope. There's no fatuous dialogue or bombastic music telling you how to feel. Just their faces. It made me weep, and that doesn't happen to me often.
I'm sure Chakotay Feels the same way as I do about all this. But I'm also sure he and I agree with Patricia_K that until we have one world government or some such, nations are the ultimate unit of government--the one we all depend on ultimately for our safety and the safety of those we love. No other country on Earth would take in an American refugee willingly. You ought to see how Mexico treat American illegals there (mainly American citizen children of deported illegals). Vastly worse than anything here.
We have an obligation to care for our own working poor, therefore, since there is no world government or other nation's government that will look out for them. TheCap0 calls this a zero sum game. It's no game. As Krugman pointed out, every cycle of massive immigration has depressed the wages and protections of the working poor. General idealistic statements cannot fool the Eye of Logic, wishful thinking notwithstanding. "European" pointed out that Krugman drew different conclusions than I did. That's true, but I quoted the factual part of his essay, which is incontrivertable. My different conclusions don't stem from a disagreement over the facts on the ground, but over having different values than Krugman in some regards.
Lastly, Patricia_K alluded to the fact that the high-immigration states are being forced to bear the brunt of illegal immigration, while the federal government--whose policies made it possible for them to come here--has forced us to provide for their social services vastly in excess of the value they add to the economy. That goes to Washington and the corporatists. And I'm a native-born resident of the highest-immigration state of all: California. Much of the fatuous idealistic pronouncements I read in NYTimes editorials and suchlike show no awareness whatsoever of what's it's like here, and how it's draining us to do so. All you who advocate for illegals: go spend your next vacation in LA. Please, please find out what's actually happening. Might change your minds, or at least help you take Joe Lunchbox's concerns more seriously.
PS: I believe in learning from other countries' experiences when I consider America's social issues. For example, the Netherlands provides a vastly superior model for a transportation infrastructure. So in that light, perhaps "European" would care to enlighten us about Europe's no doubt vastly superior model for accommodating large numbers of illegal immigrants (and legal ones, for that matter). How all those Muslims and Blacks and Caribbeans and Pakistanis and Indians work and live happily shoulder to shoulder with native Euros in the UK, Germany, Italy, Spain, France etc.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Paul Krugman is a Princeton economics professor, an avowed liberal, and a New York Times columnist--oh, and most conservatives spit on the ground when you say his name. I say all this to help provide context for something he said in his May 25 column:
>>There's a highly technical controversy going on among economists about the effects of recent immigration on wages. However that dispute turns out, it's clear that the earlier wave of immigration increased inequality and depressed the wages of the less skilled. For example, a recent study by Jeffrey Williamson, a Harvard economic historian, suggests that in 1913 the real wages of unskilled U.S. workers were around 10% lower than they would have been without mass immigration. But the straight economics was the least of it. Much more important was the way immigration diluted democracy.
>>In 1910, almost 14% of voting-age males in the United States were non-naturalized immigrants. (Women didn't get the vote until 1920.) Add in the disenfranchised blacks of the Jim Crow South, and what you had in America was a sort of minor-key apartheid system, with about a quarter of the population -- in general, the poorest and most in need of help -- denied any political voice.
>>That dilution of democracy helped prevent any effective response to the excesses and injustices of the Gilded Age, because those who might have demanded that politicians support labor rights, progressive taxation and a basic social safety net didn't have the right to vote. Conversely, the restrictions on immigration imposed in the 1920s had the unintended effect of paving the way for the New Deal and sustaining its achievements, by creating a fully enfranchised working class.
I gather from those advocating for illegals that they want to help people--that they want to be, and to be seen as being, generous, kind, loving, welcoming. At least to foreigners who want to live and work here.
But there's the rub. You can't help illegals without harming America's working poor. Helping one group hurts the other. Of course the mechanism is greedy, narcissistic CEOs who ruthlessly exploit the illegals directly, then use their exploited labor to drive down wages and benefits for America's working poor--and bust unions while they're at it. But that means that by supporting illegals you become the dupes of those selfsame CEOs--you help them in their quest to squeeze America's working poor.
This amazes me. The little guy was the core of the Democratic Party's membership and focus for a century. The Republicans stood for the Big Guy--the Demos for the Little Guy. Now the Democratic Party stands for a group of special interests and the Republicans for another (though overlapping) group of special interests. Neither looks out for the little guy.
Of course no one on this forum is a Little Guy. You all probably have college degrees and a fairly safe spot in the middle class--as do I. But my dad had a crappy Georgia education and dropped out in the 7th grade to go work in Florida where he lost a finger in a sawmill. He spent the rest of his life working with his hands. I only remember one comment he made about politics. He said "Government is where the rich and the poor get together and decide what the middle class has to pay to support them."
And as a consequence of being a Little Guy's kid, I grew up in blue collar neighborhoods, surrounded by the kinds of people who are being beaten down by the generosity of liberals towards foreigners.
You'll do anything to avoid facing the fact that your particular kind of generosity is hurting America's working poor, won't you? That you're violating your own humanitarian principles. That rich as America is, we can't give everything to everybody all the time. Somebody has to get the short end of the stick, and without admitting it you've picked American working stiffs to get shafted.
You say that the intense anger boiling out of America's lower and lower middle classes over the immigration comes from their racism/nativism.
That's easy to say--especially since no one can disprove accusations that are based on mindreading. But this accusation fails to account for the fact that one out of four California Latino voters oppose illegal immigration.
It's more reasonable to suppose that this intense anger comes from their feeling--accurately--that they're getting the shaft, and that you're helping them get the shaft. They don't hate the illegals. They know they'd be doing the same thing as the illegals if they were in their situation.
Want to know who they hate? They hate the leadership of the Democratic and Republican parties, who represent every special interest under the sun--but not Joe Lunchbox. They hate the greedy, soulless CEOs who exploit both the illegals and them. And they hate you, for stepping over them to help someone else--as if they didn't even exist.
Monday, June 18, 2007
I watch the Lehrer News Hour on PBS regularly, and the team there seems to work hard at providing factual news coverage and balanced editorial analyses.
But the topic of illegal immigration seems to have unhinged them. Today they presented a 10 1/2 minute segment on the sanctuary movement. Of that coverage, 87.5% of the time was devoted to sympathetic, evocative portrayal of what they terms "undocumented immigrants," interviewing one at length. She came here 10 years ago but still appears to speak no English--the interviewing was entirely in Spanish.
Lip service was paid to the other side via a former immigration official was interviewed twice, for a total of 1 minute 10 seconds--12.5% of the segment. His points were rebutted by church workers and activists. He wasn't given a chance to challenge the rebuts, nor did the reporter. The main rebuttal was an appeal to "higher law" and comparisons to the civil rights movements of the 50s and 60s.
Beyond the lopsided apportionment of coverage, the pro-illegal side was presented vividly, with a lot of affect, while the other side was a guy in a suit in an anonymous room.
Cameras do lie.
The overall effect was that of an unapologetic propaganda piece for illegal immigration, with just enough lip service to the other side to let a PBS official claim both sides were represented. Really, they were not.
I'm sorry to report this. My spouse--a diehard social and fiscal conservative--believes PBS and the Lehrer News Hour are as left-biased as Fox is right-biased. I try to disabuse her of this belief. And then pieces like this come along.
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
I attended a citizenship ceremony today here in Silicon Valley, with hundreds of participants. The new citizens came from 60--sixty--different countries, speaking dozens of different languages. The proceedings started with an invitation to the about-to-become citizens to register to vote. And in fact voter registration booths were set up outside the auditorium for the two major parties and I believe some of the others as well. The speaker pointed out that you could get ballots in a wide variety of languages in case your English was too rudimentary to understand the ballot propositions and whatnot.
Then a series of speakers got up and gave lengthy speeches in Chinese, Vietnamese, Tagalog, and Spanish. We sang the national anthem and recited the pledge of allegiance, the about-to-be-citizens on the main floor, and the rest of us up in the balcony. They provided text for both, but some of us already knew the words. The guy next to me was there for a Filipino friend who he said had wanted citizenship primarily so he could vote against Republicans. They played "Proud to be an American" --a Red America anthem I've mainly heard in conjunction with fireworks at 4th of July celebrations on Lake Tahoe.
President Bush gave a little video intro that made the guy sitting next to me squirm. The President seemed sincere, though. The denouement was the group reciting the Oath of Allegiance.
I was there for an Indian friend who as a child in Puna had seen a video of our astronauts landing on the moon and said to himself "I want to live in the country that did that!" On our way out I persuaded him to register. He wanted to register Independent but I explained to him that the major parties had gone to court and defeated the open primary initiative that California voters had passed with a large majority. So here if you aren't a registered Demo or Publican you have no voice in primaries.
This was the first citizenship ceremony I'd attended. I was surprised by the huge variety of source nations; by how moving it was; by how multilingual the proceedings were; by how political involvement was so integrated into it.
Living near the nation's #2 university, I know plenty of people who consider themselves far too advanced to relate to the unabashed patriotism of this ceremony.
They don't know what they're missing. But the new Americans emerging from that auditorium today do know. I admire them for how they persevered in their dream of becoming American citizens. I just wish every one of them had had someone in the balcony rooting for them like my formerly Indian friend did.
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Basically, you can't help illegal aliens without harming the bottom rungs of America's working class. It's lovely to talk about transcending national boundaries, but it's not a zero-sum game. Everything--and I mean everything--you do to help illegal aliens in this country harms us. Well, not nice middle-class, college-educated people. Our jobs are safe. Our neighborhoods are safe. MS-13 (and please don't be discussing immigration if you don't know what that is) isn't in our neighborhood. They're all in the neighborhoods whose people you speak of so patronizingly and call racist for resenting the fact that their $12/hr. jobs now pay $9--when they can get them.
And you're helping Mexico's corrupt ruling class stay in power. They're outsourced their social welfare system to the U.S.A. Our illegal immigration is their societal relief valve. That's good-hearted how?
Yes, scripture enjoins us to help the poor and the suffering. Doesn't that include America's own poor and suffering?
Perhaps you don't think their needs count as much as Mexican illegal immigrants' needs. But if you're gauging alms based on need, we should expel every Mexican here and replace them with folks from Niger, or the Congo, or the Darful. I can assure you the Darfurians would think the were in heaven if they had the lives of the average Mexican peasant.
If your basis is thinking we're obligated--well, houw about our obligation to the TWO MILLION Iraqi refugees who are on the run as a direct cause of our actions? We do owe them--big time, since we invaded their country.
And it's easy to be dismissive of mere nationality when you're a comfortable American middle-class citizen. Traveling in the third world changed my perspective. We take our legal structure for granted. But it's a heavenly gift we all benefit from, and anyone who disagrees with this should spend an hour in Mogadishu. That's all it would take.
Lastly, we're all flying blind. No one knows how many illgal aliens are here, or what they earn, or what they take in the way of social services. Just as no one knows how many Al Qaeda members have thrown on a poncho and climbed the fence with the other pollos.
The only way we'll be able to tell who's here--and then to make policy based on real knowledge instead of guesswork--is a universal national biometric ID, which has only become possible in the last few year. So please recommend this innovation to your local legislators. We can all only benefit from really knowing what's going on. And though only a small percentage of illegal aliens are felons or harboring multidrug-resistant TB, wouldn't it be nice to know who they are and how many are here?
Monday, June 11, 2007
Or assume the exact reverse. It doesn't make a bit of difference to the question "Is there a God" whether believing makes you swell or fell.
Even atheists get trapped in the endless noodling of literate Ptolomies like Fish. Because the only rational answer to the question "Is there a God" is "Huh? What was that last word?"
All definitions of God and arguments to support those definitions are tautologies. The word "God" is completely meaningless from any scientific/rational context. You can't deny the existence of something whose existence can't be meaningfully described. So it's impossible to be an atheist, really. The term "atheist" was invented by religious people to describe "those who deny the existence of God." It's a propaganda term like "miscegenation." You can't deny the existence of things that aren't definable/describable. Nothing to deny.
Hope clouds observation. We're born. We live. We die. Deal with it. Life can still be deeply meaningful once you realize that it's up to us to create meaning. Stop looking for it and start doing it.
Friday, June 8, 2007
Note sent to the PBS news show Washington Week:
In this week's reportage Charles Babington told Gwen Ifil that the public favored amnesty a lot more when it wasn't called amnesty. The smiles and body language of all strongly implied that the public was just fine with giving illegal aliens citizenship and benefits as long as it was worded correctly without prejudicial terms.
I have a degree in sociology from UCLA and over 20 years' experience in publishing, including interpreting polls, and IMO this issue is not nearly so cut and dried as you indicated it to be.
I regularly read the NY Times, Washington Post, and the LA Times, as well as some local papers, and all of their editorial pages tirelessly promote amnesty for illegal aliens. That's their prerogative, but their news reportage promotes amnesty more subtly--as I believe this interchange did.
The most common form of covert promotion consists of presenting human interest stories about noble illegals who just want to work. Each is true and accurate as far as it goes, but it creates a false context around illegal immigration, neglecting the rapidly growing problem of transnational gangs such as MS-13, human and drug trafficking, widespread ID theft, and plausible estimates that undereducated illegal immigrants and their kin consume vastly more in social services than their unskilled labor ever puts into the economy--and that a new amnesty will plant a time bomb in the social security and Medicare systems that will go off in twenty years and wreak havoc in those systems and our economies.
The other bias that appears outside the editorial pages is a complete lack of focus on the fact that these people didn't drop out of the sky. Every one of them is a citizen of some other country--and it's that country we all should be tackling when it comes to alleviating their poverty and need for social services.
Lastly, other than proximity, why Latin Americans? Mexico is only 53 on the UN poverty index. If we want to help those in need, shouldn't we help the neediest? That would be the citizens of Niger (177), the Darfur, or the two million Iraqis who are now refugees thanks to us. If we want to benefit America, we should be fast-tracking educated, English-speaking, middle class immigrants of every race and country. Simple proximity, unlike these alternatives, is based on no principle at all--just convenience.
Instead of talking about any of this we get target fixation on the current plight of today's illegals. I'm not discounting this but I urge you to consider the long-term implications and greater context that I've outlined here.
And I put it to you that the more adverse public reaction to calling it amnesty could be a more accurate reaction to more accurate language, while not calling it amnesty is deceptively euphemizing it. And believe me, to the illegals themselves, anything whatsoever that lets them stay here legally--with or without citizenship--means amnesty to them. And it's their understanding of the term that counts most, doesn't it?
You don't have to agree with all this. What I do want you to agree with is that presenting it the way you did embodied the implied presumption that Babington's pro-amnesty interpretation of the facts was the only one possible. It was not, and I'm not parsing words to say so.
I know Gwen Ifil prides herself on her objectivity and fair-mindedness, and I hold up Washington Week in Review to my right-wing friends as an exemplar of unbiased reporting. Please don't disappoint me in this area.