Saturday, May 29, 2010

Science, God, Atheism, Creationism--finally the answer

I've heard that about 2/3 of American scientists call themselves religious, but that the more stellar the scientist, the less likely it is that he or she is religious.

In contrast, at least 85% of the American public describe themselves as religious, and if I recall right only a few percent call themselves atheist.

Logically, though, it's impossible to be both a scientist and an atheist--or even an agnostic for that matter.

...because, if you ask an atheist "Do you believe in God?" the atheist says "No," while an agnostic says "I don't know."

But a logically consistent scientist would say "Sorry, there's a word in that sentence I don't understand. What's a 'god'?"

The word "god" is scientifically undefinable, since science deals with phenomena in the natural world whose behavior can be described empirically or at least mathematically. Which makes scientists empiricists. No more, no less.

This is where lay people really don't get scientists--at least those whose personal beliefs are consistent with their scientific ones--who don't compartmentalize their minds, in other words.

Such scientists aren't "skeptical" about religious belief. They don't "doubt" or "deny" it. It's just irrelevant to them.

Religious people define those who aren't religious by their non-religiosity. They call them "secularists" or "unchurched" or "unbelievers" or "infidels" or "heretics" or "atheists."

Every one of these terms define the non-religious in terms of their non-religion, which makes as much sense as calling a blonde a non-redhead, or a college student a non-fish. These definitions may be true but they fail to say what someone is--just one of the many things they aren't.

And of course empiricism is utterly inconsistent with any sort of belief in any sort of supernatural agency.

However, at the same time, no scientist can say "there is no God" any more than he or she could say "there is no Bleckn." (don't lunge for your dictionary--I made the word up to make my point). The word "god" isn't empirically describable, and thus lies outside the realm of science.

And the only scientists who are religious are those who leave part of their minds outside science. Which many admittedly do.

The irony in all of this is that creationists are atheists.

Here's how. If you're religious, the Universe is God's Universe, created by God, operating under His rules--right?

Well, from that POV (point of view), science is merely the discipline of discovering God's rules--to see how God has organized this universe, absent Him showing up on golden clouds to explain it all in person.

Now what if someone denies the rules the universe runs by? That someone denies God, and is, therefore, an atheist.

Creationists deny God's rules--they continually flout scientific reasoning and conclusions, which simply make experimentally and/or observationally verifiable claims (plus, out at the edges, mathematically verifiable ones).

That's the same as denying that this is God's universe.

Therefore creationists are atheists. They're set themselves up as gods, since they believe their beliefs supersede those based on how God's universe actually operate.

So when someone tells you they're a creationist--ask them when they turned their back on God, and was that hard at first, and do they think they'll ever decide to accept God again?

That'll get 'em going.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Here's a comment to a Washington Post op-ed piece about the Arizona illegal immigrant law, written by an Arizona legislator:

pomeroyt wrote:
I liked the idea below that any citizen should be able to demand id from any suspected illegal. Maybe Homeland security could have cards made up to give to every American citizen that say: in English, Spanish, French, Chinese ,Hindi and Lao:

Please raise your hands and move back against the wall. Very slowly and carefully (if you value your life) remove your id from your pocket and put it on the ground in front of you. Then lay on the ground face down.

If you are a legal tourist, Bienvenido a los Estatos Unidos hace algunos anos, la terra Mexicana, perro ahoro terra nosotra.

If you do not have any ID please put your hands behind your back and don't move if you value your life, while I call the authorities. You are going to be very very sorry.

We should consider setting up camps for Hispanic American citizens and legal residents - for their own protection - like we did for Japanese Americans during WW II.

We may want to consider handing out cans of chemical mace along with the cards (probably tasers wouldn't be a good idea). But some of those foreigners or even American citizens with roots in those foreign countries can become pretty violent when they imagine they have been insulted.

My response:

pomeroyt has fun ridiculing the Arizona law. But one exaggerated scenario deserves another. Let’s look at how things would work in Leftieworld.

No one has to identify themselves to anyone about anything, because otherwise it’s Nazi Germany. Well, that would eliminate identity theft, because there’d be no such thing as identity.

So in this Workers’ Paradise, pomeroyt goes for a walk, and when he gets back to his home, sixteen brown-skinned individuals have moved in and dumped his belongings on the sidewalk. He tells them to get out. One says to him “Tu eres racista.” Pomeroyt doesn’t speak Spanish, so he goes and gets a cop, who, in Leftieworld, had to demonstrate Spanish proficiency to get the job. Officer Gutierrez talks to the people, and tells pomeroyt “Sir these people say it’s their house, and you’re some kind of white racist who seems to be telling them to get out.”

Of course since we’ve done away with identity as obviously a racist plat, it’s pomeroyt’s word in English against the others’ words in Spanish. And the cops have been trained to take the word of anyone who isn’t white against the word of anyone who is, because whites are by definition racist. So pomeroyt has to go sleep under the bridge.

This scenario is ridiculous, of course. And so is pomeroyt’s. I’ve traveled in 17 countries, from rich ones like the Netherlands to poorer countries like Indonesia, the Philippines, and Mexico. Everywhere I went both the locals and I were expected to have ID, and wherever I looked different I was expected to identify myself more frequently.

By pomeroyt’s logic a young Arab guy with no luggage and a one way ticket would get exactly the same scrutiny as an 80 year old Anglo woman traveling with two grandchildren, with round trip tickets and luggage.

This kind of insanity comes from people who believe that we as a group cannot make any sacrifice too great—up to and including cultural suicide—as long as individual rights are protected and individual responsibilities are nonexistent.

Members of ethnic and racial groups that suffered from state-sponsored persecution are especially likely to fall into this logical fallacy. “To a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” So if the Cossacks persecuted my ancestors in another country on another continent in another century, local cops are exactly the same as those Cossacks, and citizens of another country who are trespassing in this one are exactly the same as my ancestors who were legal citizens of the country that was persecuting them.

Sandra Day O’Connor said “The Constitution is not a suicide pact.” The pomeroyts of the world need to study that sentence.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

We are Mexico.

Today's Washington Post editorial reads: "Inaction trumps problem-solving when immigration is involved." Here's my answer:

Dear Washington Post editorial board:

When over 2/3 of Americans oppose something fiercely, that means the opposition is bipartisan.

You wouldn't believe that from all the Tea Party nutballs weighing in here on this comment thread, but whether they're nutballs or not, on this particular issue HALF of Democrats agree with them.

So you can't airily dismiss all opposition as simply nativist/racist/xenophobic opposition, or act as if it's purely an issue with those knuckle-dragging Republican troglodytes.

And yes we 2/3 realize it's impractical for to round up and deport every citizen of another country who's here illegally, as every amnesty-proposer from President Obama (when he was still campaigning for the job) on down has stated.

But that's a false choice. They won't disappear magically, but they didn't appear magically either. Every blessed one of them is a citizen of another country, came here from that country, and is a documented person in that country, and is legally entitled to return to that country.

They can return exactly the same way they came--on foot if need be, though I'd be glad for America to pay for a one way bus ticket for any that wanted it.

And if you want to propose something there's a shred of a chance we'll accept, don't talk to us about amnesty until the vast flood across our southern border becomes a trickle.

See, we remember what happened in 1986. We got real amnesty coupled with fake enforcement.

And the government has exactly as much motivation to pull that trick today as it did then. Corporate exploiters of low-skilled labor want it, many Mexican Americans want it, and the Catholic Church wants it--oh, and a lot of labor unions and the Democratic Party leadership want it.

But we won't get fooled again, to quote The Who.

We want America to decide who comes here, not the ruling class of Mexico, which is seeking to export Mexico's self-inflicted overpopulation problem here (Mexico went from 13.1 million in 1900 to 20 million in 1940 to 111 million today).

Mexico's ruling class isn't stupid. They have an illegal immigration problem too, with people coming from even poorer countries. Their solution is a very sensible set of immigration laws.

I think it would be a great gesture of respect for Mexico if we adopted its immigration laws, with the addition of some high tech stuff like biometric ID.

You can read about it here:

But in short, it's tougher than Arizona's--and requires ALL state and local law enforcement authorities to enforce the federal law (apparently Mexican president Felipe Calderon is unaware of Mexican law BTW, given what he said on the floor of Congress).

Plus it prohibits mass immigration that would change Mexico's demographic character--in other words, it defends Mexico's own culture from being morphed into something alien.

And as for family reunification, Mexican immigration law is OK with that IF and only IF the immigrant takes complete responsibility for the care of anyone he or she brings to this country under his or her aegis. They're welcome if the original immigrant will support them and cost our country not one cent.

Isn't Mexican immigration law great?

BTW when Americans bring up Mexican immigration law to leftists, guess what they say? "We're not Mexico." As if that ends the discussion.

Well actually we ARE Mexico. We're both sovereign nations, each with a distinctive national culture and language. We both have a severe illegal immigration problem. We both have a similar income distribution today, thanks to Wall Street's Masters of the Universe reconfigureing Wall Street to enrich themselves through money manipulation instead of fulfilling its original purpose of financing American businesses that actually make something.

And Mexico isn't a poor nation. That right, it's not. By UN estimates its poverty level ranks #37 out of some 140 nations. The average Bangladeshi would think he'd died and gone to heaven if he could live in Mexico.

So yes we are Mexico.

And to my fellow amnesty opponents--get the word out: let's all tell Congress we want to adopt Mexico's immigration law.

Now that's "comprehensive immigration reform" a vast majority of Americans would go for.

As for the 12-20 million citizens of other countries living here illegally--mostly from Mexico or parts south--they're welcome to apply for a visa in their home country, and when the unemployment rate for American unskilled laborers falls below 5% and the Mexicans now living here are actually assimilated into American society...we can think about letting more come here.

How did you celebrate Cinco de Mayo?

Here in California, many public schools devote themselves to honoring Mexico on May 5, known to Mexicans living here as Cinco de Mayo. This year students at several local high schools wore American flag T-shirts to school that day. Mexicans were outraged, and one principal sent the offending students home for being troublemakers. The Mexican students responded to this outrage by hundreds cutting school to march on the streets of their towns, waving flags. Mexican flags, of course. One non-Mexican student responded with an op-ed piece denouncing those terrible American flag-displaying kids. Here's my response:

Student columnist Nick Luther reasons that swanning about wearing an American flag T-shirt on Cinco de Mayo is "offensive and disrespectful."

Does he know that this actually isn't Mexico's independence day? That's September 16. Cinco de Mayo isn't even particularly celebrated in Mexico other than in the state of Puebla, since it commemorates a battle with the French that took place there.

So by his reasoning St. Patrick's day is also off-limits for American flags. And August 15, which is India's Swatantrata Divas. And Bastille Day, since that would be offensive to those of French heritage, And September 15, which is both Guatemala's and El Salvador's independence day. Oh, and July 4 is off limits for American flags as well--that's the day the Philippines gained its independence from the USA.

So by Mr. Luther's logic, before a student dreams of being so rude as to display the flag of our nation on a particular day, he or she must check to make sure that that day isn't the "special day" of the ancestry of anyone he or she might run into on that day.

And by that same logic, the fact that this happens to be America means exactly nothing. All nations have the same rights. So if I move to Guadalajara in Mexico and join the thousands of expat Americans living there, on the 4th of July I have a right to demand that the Mexicans around me not display La Bandera Mexicana on their persons.

Or perhaps Mr. Luther thinks it's OK to offend--by his lights--the one Afghan student at his high school, but not the third-plus who are Mexican? In which case it's actually not principle we're discussing, but mob rule, isn't it? But if it's mob rule, then the Mexican kids will have to wait a few years until they're the majority.

So which is it--principle or mob rule?

I assume Mr. Luther would assert that it's principle. I look forward to him working out a chart of national days for every student, faculty member and staff at his high school, showing when Americans can wear our country's flag without offending someone by showing it.

But now let's revisit that Guadlalara scenario. There's Mr. Luther, in summer school there, demanding that a Mexican student remove the Mexican flag T-shirt he's wearing in his country--México.

Let's run that scenario in our heads and imagine what that Mexican student would say to Mr. Luther.

I hope that if Mr. Luther reads this he'll realize how useful it is to put yourself in the other person's situation and think it through, so you won't wind up expressing yourself in a way that will embarrass you later.

If someone wore a shirt with a Mexican flag in a circle with a diagonal slash through it, that would certainly be dissing Mexicans--on Cinco de Mayo, to be sure, but on any other day as well. Likewise Border Patrol shirts. I'm not saying it's wrong to do so by any means. What I am saying is that an American flag shirt on Cinco de Mayo--in America--is not innately disrespectful, any more than a Mexican wearing a Mexican flag shirt on El Quatro de Julio in Mexico in disrespectful.

You cannot demand that someone not express patriotism for his or her own country, in their own country, on any day of the year. This is a principle, and it has exactly nothing to do with any particular country, relative to any particular other country. Nor is such an expression inherently insulting under these circumstances.

Now it's certainly true that the Mexicans at these local high schools felt insulted under these circumstances. ( I call them Mexicans because they call themselves Mexicans, by and large, according to national Pew polls--and because when they went on their marches they proudly waved Mexican flags--not an American flag in the bunch; whereas, for example, on St. Patrick's day you see lots of American flags.)

So they felt insulted. But was that justified? White racists feel insulted every time they see our president's face. If someone feeling insulted is dispositive, will Mr. Luther then demand that President Obama resign so racist whites won't feel insulted?

Then there's the issue of intent. Suppose every single student who wore American flag shirts on Cinco de Mayo at Mr. Luther's school did it to show disrespect for the Mexican students there, and said so when asked. And yet their choice of iconography showed nothing explicitly disrespectful of anyone--it was simply an assertion of patriotism.

And in that case, unless the act itself is disrespectful—such as wearing an image mocking Mexicans in some explicit way—no one has any right to tell that person not to wear what they’re wearing, even if the intent was disrespectful.

On a larger scale, it appears that Mr. Luther takes for granted the fact that perhaps 40% of his student body is Mexicans. What he appears not to realize is that 50 years ago that would have been less than 1%.

That’s a huge demographic shift. It replaces one culture with another. Yet no one ever put this to a vote of the people being displaced. Never was there a referendum asking American voters if they wanted to surrender their culture for that of another country.

There’s nothing inherently racist about preferring the culture of your own country—of your parents and theirs—to some other country’s culture.

Travel the world, as I have. Amazingly, Indonesians prefer Indonesian culture to American culture. Philippinos prefer theirs. Brits prefer theirs. Dutch prefer theirs. All like their culture, their language, their shared rules, their music, their flag.

Now there’s a trick here. America is the most multicultural culture on Earth; the most accepting of foreigners on Earth. A few years ago I attended the naturalization ceremony of a Russian friend. At her ceremony, people from 68 countries became Americans.

We do it by assimilation. Everyone is expected to learn our culture and our language. They don’t have to give theirs up; and American culture now incorporates many, many elements of many cultures, just as the roots of English words come from languages all over the world. Nevertheless the framework remains American, and the language remains English.

The philosophy of multiculturalism seeks to replace this multicultural soup with a tossed salad and no framework at all. Every culture, every language is just as good as the next, and no one is expected to learn or adopt anything about America.

This is a U-turn from America’s assimilationist heritage, and this is what Mr. Luther appears unaware that he’s doing. And in doing so, he gives great offense even as he obviously believes he’s defending innocent people from being disrespected.

Because he’s treating the country he lives in as having no special claim to this land. Instead he’s demanding preferential treatment to people who have come here in such vast numbers that they’ve gone from one in 200 seventy years ago to one in 14 nationally and one in three locally. And when people move into an area en masse there’s no reason for them to assimilate.

I know Latinos who’ve lived here many years, who I can only communicate with because I speak Spanish. I’ve gone to Indonesia on vacation half a dozen times—never lived there—yet I speak more Indonesian than many Latinos here speak English.

And that’s why—though I doubt he’s aware of it—he has shown precisely the disrespect for a culture that Mr. Luther accuses those American flag-wearing teenagers of showing. Only in this case it’s the culture of the country that has nourished and supported and protected Mr. Luther all his life.

And that’s something worse than mere disrespect.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Gulf oil spill--who's to blame, and what's it got to do with railroads?

The Gulf oil spill is the Republican Party's fault. The response is the Obama administration's responsibility--it remains to be seen whether that's their fault or credit.

The spill occurred due to inadequate backup equipment currently in use in other countries (such as a backup well), and the equipment used not being properly maintained--all in the service of higher profits. All this occurred on Bush's watch, as part of a systematic deregulation of for-profit enterprises, both by changing the rules and by starving the regulatory agencies of funds (and staffing their top levels with cronies, as political spoils). And it has come out that the federal agency charged with supervising oil rigs has been not just lax but corrupt as well.

Some of that corruption was going on during Obama's administration, but it was all a direct continuation of Bush's policies. A year is not enough to reregulate what Bush was undoing for eight years--and it's always easier to take something apart than to rebuild it.

I don't think Obama reacted quickly enough. He made the mistake of believing BP's lying assurances. Hoever, it is true that only the private oil industry currently has the gear and expertise needed to fix this. Still, the navy could have been mobilized to move needed gear to the disaster site and provide other logistical support--all to be billed to BP. That hasn't happened, partly due to BP fighting relinquishing any control over the process--but that should not be allowed to be an impediment now.

I was listening to some far right talkshow guys today (Levin and Hannity), and they tried to lay most of the blame at Obama's feet.

My bottom line is that whoever's fault it is (and I suspect there will be blame to go around), this demonstrates that:

1. Offshore drilling can be done safely IFF (Boolean logic for 'if and only if") we mandate the safeguards already in use elsewhere, monitor application of the regulations stringently, and give the Coast Guard the tools to deal with emergencies when companies fail--but especially have emergency plans in place that utilize military logistical support blended with private contractors for the onsite work.

2. In general, when deregulation lifts the boot heel of "big government" off big business's neck, big business promptly applies its boot heel to our neck.

3. It's long past time to put a substantial tax on petroleum-based fuels, used for developing alternate power sources.

For example, the biggest impediment to electric power for vehicles is short range of vehcles coupled with long recharge time required. This could be addressed by a system already developed by private industry that would require battery packs built to government-supplied specs (size and capacity). Then when you needed more power you'd pull into a "pack station" and a simple automated system would swap your pack for a freshly charged one. You'd be on your way quicker than if you'd needed a gas fill-up.

4. We need a government-supervised national rail system rebuild. We've let the national rail system go to seed, even for freight shipment. Moving goods by rail is vastly more fuel-efficient than using trucks, and it makes roads a lot safer and roadways less quickly degrated as well.

Private industry does not do what's best for the nation. Surprise. It does what's best for a given company and, with publicly held corporations, what's best for the company in that fiscal quarter, and, with most corporations, what's best for top management--not necessarily what's best for shareholders.

There's nothing wrong with any of this unless you make out free enterprise to be morally good. It's not morally evil, as socialists/communists claim. It's amoral. And in fact any publicly held company that did what's best for the country at the expense of profits would probably see a shareholders' revolt and the replacement of that company's management.

I advocate a middle course: regulated private enterprise coupled with government-run elements where private enterprise doesn't work best for the country.

A national rail system, even if it's less profitable in the short run, would be best for the country instead of over-reliance on trucks and busses. This isn't some loony pie in the sky proposal involving untested technology. It's all out there, available now. It just requires more government involvement than Republicans like.

We were right to nuke Japan

The Texas Board of Education's new social studies curriculum befits a state whose popular governor recently threatened secession from the United States.

But as much of a travesty as it is, as much of a virtual salute to the Confederacy that it is...the Left has done as badly, and, I suspect with less public outcry.

Today the Tucson Unified School District offers a Mexican American Studies curriculum based on a South American Marxist's "anticolonial" pedagogy that bluntly and unapologetically anti-American, teaching that the Southwest is really part of Mexico.

It's hardly alone. Across the Southwest, you can find this sort of thing wherever Mexicans have managed to establish a major presence in American communities--through a combination of illegal and legal immigration, previous amnesties and a high birthrate. Yet American leftists vigorously support it because they've adopted an ideology that's condemns America as simplistically as right wingers deify it.

A prime example is our nuking Hiroshima and Nagasaki in WWII. Leftist historical revisionists have adopted Emperor Hirohito's stance in which he based his surrender on American barbarity--as shown by our using nukes against the Japanese.

This reveals the appalling ignorance of historical reality by leftists in America and abroad.

By August 1945 America was economically and spiritually exhausted. The war effort had cost many, many thousands of American lives, and the invasion of Okinawa revealed such ferocity on the part of the Japanese--soldiers and civilians--that we realized a million American lives could be lost in an invasion of Japan. And we didn't have the resources to mount a decades-long total blockade, the only viable alternative. Plus American public opinion at the time absolutely demanded unequivocal victory. If Truman hadn't done it the voters would have replaced him with someone who would.

PBS recently aired a somber, realistic documentary titled "Victory in the Pacific" that detailed what the situation really was like then. It totally refutes leftist revisionism--so remember this fact the next time someone mentions PBS's leftist tilt. Sometimes it does tilt that way, but more often as not it's as fair-minded as this documentary.

In the documentary a guy who'd been a marine in the Okinawa invasion recounted how he once saw an old Japanese woman come out of one of the many caves Japanese had been hiding in. She was responding to American soldiers calling into the cave, telling them to surrender. The Americans didn't know that the Japanese government had told civilians that if anyone surrendered for any reason, their family would be shamed forever, and that the Americans would murder the men immediately, then rape all the women before running them over with tanks.

This woman must have believed that, because, the soldier said, she pulled an American grenade out of her kimono, pulled the pin and threw it at the nearest American soldier. It exploded, killing the soldier. And the guy recounting his eyewitness account of this incident said "Then I shot her."

If you had polled the American soldiers like this Marine who were poised to invade the Japanese mainland later that month, and asked them whether they approved nuking Hiroshima and Nagasaki, 99% of them would have said "Go for it." Ditto their families and friends back home. And they would have supported nuking every other Japanese city, one after another, if the Japanese failed to surrender, rather than invade or blockade.

Before we nuked Hiroshima the Japanese government had decided to reject our calls to surrender--in fact, they thought we were bluffing, and that a spirited defense against invasion would force us to give up and allow the Japanese military to remain in charge.

What's astonishing is that after we bombed Hiroshima, the head of the Japanese military told the government that we only had one of these bombs--and they decided that the only way they'd surrender would be if we left Japan's military government intact and didn't occupy the homeland.

And even after we nuked Nagasaki, they still almost didn't surrender. Junior officers, hearing of the Emperor's surrender document, stormed government buildings in an attempt to mount a coup d'etat and destroy the document. They might well have succeeded if Inami, the head of the military, had supported them.

After the surrender, Hirohito said that the Japanese military had relied too much on "spirit" and not enough on science.

My favorite comment came from the Empress, however. She wrote about seeing waves of B-29s flying over Tokyo during those last days before surrender, and noted that "unfortunately, the B-29 is a splendid airplane."

Monday, May 24, 2010

Teaching American history, Texas Style: the Confederate persepective

Anyone with a few hours to kill can read the actual curriculum—showing all the revisions, deletions, and additions with color coding, here.

This curriculum will seem perfectly “fair and balanced” if you believe the following things:

1. The Republican Party is, was, and always will be, almost entirely right about everything.

2. The Democratic Party is a fringe party whose ideas, history, and leaders aren’t generally relevant to a high school social studies curriculum, except as negative examples.

3. Joe McCarthy was right—government was infested with Commie spies, and McCarthy’s an American Hero.

4. Ronald Reagan single-handedly ended the Cold War and defeated the Soviet Union.

5. This is a Christian nation, founded by Christians, using Christian governing documents
(never mind that the Constitution never mentions God or any religion except to forbid establishing one, or that many of the most important Founding Fathers weren’t Christians, or that the Pledge of Allegiance didn’t mention “under God” until it was added during the McCarthy Witch Hunt Era).

6. America is the greatest nation on Earth, Americans are the greatest people on Earth, and we should generally avoid teaching students anything that might deviate from this mantra; that is, they are to be indoctrinated more than to be taught actual critical thinking.

7. Scientific discoveries are made to meet actual needs—there’s no such thing as pure research (I wouldn’t have believed this if I hadn’t read it).


I realize that leftists have done their darndest to make high school social studies curricula the exact opposite of all this—aiming, just like these Texas Republicans, to indoctrinate rather than to actually teach critical thinking skills and a warts-and-all exploration of American culture and history.

For example, I oppose illegal immigration—including amnesty--along with around half of registered Democrats. But this is a topic with a substantial minority who favor amnesty. Social studies curricula should discuss the issue taking all of this into account, not turn it into pablum, or simply ignore the other side.

My conclusion, after reading the actual source document, and adding that I have a degree in sociology and am a political centrist: this new Texas curriculum is a giant leap backwards. No competent, politically non-ideological social scientist would endorse it.

Some critics of the Texas school board's right wing majority have accused them of substituting indoctrination for education, as I did above myself. But I should make clear that I don't think they think this.

You see, their model of education is Sunday School.

In Sunday School, what happens is education, but it's the worshipful study of the subject matter. The goal is what a nonreligious person would call indoctrination, and that's true, but for the faithful it's simply the transmission of the great truths of existence from one generation to the next.

The Texas Republicans who did this to Texas see analytic education from that worshipful perspective--i.e., there is only indoctrination. So if it's not indoctrination in what you might call Americanism, it's indoctrination in Com-yew-nism or some such.

So for them the Democrats on the board and those of us who criticize them are simply enemy indoctrinators who lost this fight.

And if you look at the innumerable comments on this thread supporting the Texas Republican Indoctrinators, you'll see that this is their model too.

That's probably part and parcel of some of them posting the same comments over and over. Just in case we didn't get it the first time and the second and the third etc.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Advice for Mexico

Mexico's president Felipe Calderon has denounced the state of Arizona in an address to Congress. And he advised America to get a grip on its demand for drugs, because it's harming Mexico by providing a ready market for Mexican drug gangs.

OK, fine. Now it's time for President Obama to address the Mexican congress in a spirit of reciprocity. And in that address he can denounce Mexico's Catholic Church for its part in Mexico's population explosion, the cause of so much unwanted immigration of Mexicans to our country.

He can follow up by demanding that Mexico adopt China's One Child policy, along with providing abortion on demand, no questions asked, to anyone who wants one.

I look forward to our President doing this.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The day's best quote from a politician

Mexican president Felipe Calderon called Arizona's new law discriminatory and warned that Mexico would reject any effort to "criminalize migration."

Evidently the President of Mexico is completely unfamiliar with Mexican law (along with the President of the United States, as far as I can tell).

The following description of Mexican immigration law quotes from the right wing newspaper Washington Times and Wikipedia, but it gibes with other sources & I believe it's accurate.

Mexico's "Ley General de Poblacion" (General Law on Population) mandates that federal, local and municipal police cooperate with Mexican federal immigration authorities in the arrests of illegal immigrants--as the Arizona law seeks to do voluntarily.

Illegal immigration is a felony punishable by up to 2 years in prison. Immigrants who try to re-enter Mexico after being deported face up to 10 years in prison. Visa violators can get 6 years. And it's a crime to assist illegals. How's that for "criminalizing migration"?

Mexican law provides for deporting foreigners deemed detrimental to "economic or national interests," and/or who violate Mexican law, aren't "physically or mentally healthy" or lack the "necessary funds for their sustenance" and for their dependents.
This law's details are also designed to:

1. Distribute immigrants across Mexico to prevent foreign enclaves from forming.
2. Restrict immigration to urban population centers if deemed good for the country.
3. Restrict immigration to foreigners with the "potential to contribute to national progress."

4. Restrict immigration to those with the income needed for themselves and their dependents.
5. Enable authorities to ban immigration of particular ethnicities/nationalities if "the national demographic balances is altered."
6. Enable authorities to ban immigrants deemed harmful to the national economic interests.

All this means that either President Calderon is an imbecile--which I know he's not--or he believes we're a combination of imbeciles, tribalists and amoral pols eager to sell out our nation's interests for votes from Mexicans with American citizenship.

Mexican laws were crafted to combat a serious problem Mexico has with illegals trying to enter from poorer nations to the south.

As far as I can tell, it's perfectly sensible and would serve as an excellent model for our own "comprehensive immigration reform," with the addition of e-Verify and universal biometric ID (well, and other high tech items like armed UAV border patrols).

Monday, May 17, 2010

We should all advocate comprehensive immigration reform

People who oppose illegal immigration risk being tarred with the "Party of No" brush that's so aptly applied to the Republican Party. If we want to be most effective we need to stress that this isn't a Republican issue--especially considering that President Reagan spearheaded the 1986 amnesty, and then President Bush II and Congress's Republican leadership tried to pass another during their reign
So we can't depend on either party at the national level. They're too afraid of being labeled racist by racist organizations.

And we need to advocate comprehensive immigration reform. After all, it's a neutral term. The word "amnesty" doesn't appear in it. Racialist organizations did this purposely, so that they could bury amnesty for illegals in the details of the plan.

Well, two can play that game. So here's my proposal:

A model comprehensive immigration reform plan

1. Legal immigration: We welcome people of all nations, races, and creeds who want to contribute to America and can prove they have what it takes: demonstrated skills, degrees from accredited universities, English fluency or a reasonable promise of gaining it, clean criminal record--things like that. If they're willing and able to invest in an American business, that's good too.

Preference: For those already here legally--as on student visas--who have excelled at their studies or H1B work, or in the military.

Illegal alien exception: Those who were brought here either as children, by their parents, or as children or adults, not of their own volition (as in sex slaves), can be given an opportunity to prove themselves.

Family reunification: When someone applies to immigrate they're required to list everyone they'll want to include under family reunification. Others--a new fiance, a new nephew, a sister in law--are free to apply separately--just not under "family reunification" for this applicant.

Family reunification has two categories: immediate family--spouse and offspring; and extended family--everyone else. The bar is a lot lower for immediate family. But in either case, the main consideration is the concept of net contribution of the entire group the applicant wants considered. The applicant must demonstrate the earning power needed to care for anyone who might go on the dole in any way--otherwise the whole group runs the risk of deportation if they become a net burden on the state.

Thus the primary basis for approving a prospective immigrant's application is contribution to America--in business, science, technology, the arts, academics, the military, major investment, or something of comparable merit. Family reunification is secondary and placed firmly in the context of the primary goal.

2. Illegal immigration: The fact that a citizen of another country wants American citizenship obligates America in no way--even if that person was brought here as an infant, was raised here, and doesn't speak the language or know the culture of their own country. All this was done to such a person by his or her parents. Talk to them.

Now if such a person has skills America needs, they're welcome to apply on their 18th birthday or before, and to stay in the country while their case is being reviewed. If they
knew of their illegal status and don't apply, they become like any other illegal alien.

Illegal aliens 18 years old or older who want to be here legally need to apply in their own country, and will be considered along with other aliens, without prejudice, unless they've been deported.

Entering the country illegally remains a misdemeanor; returning illegally, after the law has been explained to the alien, is a felony, as well as precluding legal entry in the future.

A fence shall be built across the entire southern border--at least two parallel fences 12 feet apart, patrolled by UAVs day and night, with each state's National Guard tasked with armed patrol as well, focused on winter months when low clouds might impair UAV effectiveness.

Anyone entering the country armed will be treated as an unlawful combatant.

3. Illegal residents: Adopt e-Verify universally. Task the IRS, Social Security, and other government agencies with cooperating to uncover discrepancies. In the longer run, adopt a universal biometric ID database for everyone physically present in the United States and its territories, as well as US citizens residing or traveling abroad. It could use something like Fujistu's palm scanner, which scans the unique pattern of veins inside your palm--hard to fake that!

The trick is to have whatever scanner chosen implemented by federal, state and local agencies as well as private employers of size, such that using it becomes routine whenever anyone interacts with the government--to get a driver's license, register kids for school, use a hospital, become an employee who gets a W2 form, get stopped by the police (squad cars could carry scanners, linked to the database by WiFi).

So if everyone is in the universal ID system it can't be accused of discriminating.

Then prohibit use of government funds to aid illegal aliens except for emergency medical treatment, followed by deportation.

Legal relatives of illegal aliens who are being deported always have the option of leaving with the illegal relative of course.

Implement the Arizona law--which itself implements federal law--across the other states, denying federal funds to states that fail to do so.

4. Multiculturalism: America is a multicultural society wrapped around the solid core of our origins in the British isles and English language. So make English our official language and the only language on ballots, because people who can't understand ballots in English are going to identify themselves by their ethnic heritage instead of their American citizenship, and get their political information in their ethnic language from sources who profit from the cultural isolation of the hyphenated American.

And make the English language requirement for citizenship based on demonstrating understanding of a recent ballot, complete with candidate statements and ballot initiatives.

Answers to an Aussie on Illegal immigration

Well-intentioned citizens of other countries get their information about American immigration issues through the lenses of frequently biased anti-American reportage. Anyone who watches BBC news regularly will know what I mean.

I got a long comment on my last illegal immigration entry from an Australian reader. I'll copy most of it here, followed by my answers. Americans, note that I'm keeping the invective down and the factual/logical refutation up.

Remember that observers such as this one mean well, and we shouldn't ignore this fact in our responses.

1) The United States has enjoyed massive immigration from the moment of independence. America's history is one of people arriving on their shores and crossing their borders. Back in the 19th century there arose the "know nothings" who were scared to death of too many Germans Irish Catholics immigrating to the US. Has the US been destroyed by these 19th century immigrants? Or have they helped the US? The US in the future may have a far more tolerant attitude towards Hispanic illegals than is being expressed now. Hispanic immigrants are about as much a threat as Irish Catholics were in the 19th century, ie: not much.

Answer: Every nation on Earth is a nation of immigrants historically, except for Kenya and thereabouts. America’s history is simply more recent than many, and perhaps more heterogeneous.

But the fact is that America is most assuredly not a nation of immigrants: the vast majority of living Americans were born here, as is true of most citizens of most other countries. At the same time America does have the biggest legal immigration program on Earth, both in total numbers and probably per capita as well.

I was born not just in America but in California, making me a native American by definition, and a native Californian as well (that’s pertinent to this debate because California is Ground Zero for illegal immigration to America, Arizona’s current tsuris notwithstanding). By the same token my spouse is also a native of both America and of California. Her maternal great-grandparents immigrated here legally from Europe. I may have had some immigrant ancestors from the 19th century wave of immigration, but my family history is less chronicled than hers. However, I also have some American Indian ancestry that goes back at least 10,000 years.

The “know nothings” opposed growing Catholic influence in the 19th century. To me their opposition has been historically validated, due to the Catholic Church’s aggressive, politicized opposition to every form of birth control, directly contributing to the world’s overpopulation crisis. It also institutionalizes blind obedience to a theological dictatorship and preserves numerous distortions in early Christianity, brought in during the Roman Empire’s waning centuries. Other Christian sects also promote blind obedience, but few call their leader infallible.

But beyond that, it’s just as big a mistake to misapply the lessons of history as it is to fail to learn from them. Just because 19th century German immigrants may have helped America in the long run doesn’t mean Mexican immigrants will or won’t today. Both their demographics and our circumstances differ in significant ways. Inferring from American 19th century experience that all immigration is always good under all circumstances is indefensible.

You’ll have to be more specific and show how those circumstances match current ones to make such an argument stick. Only they don’t match—not by a long shot.

It’s like saying that because Saudi young male adult airline passengers didn’t hijack aircraft in 2000 proves that they were no threat on 9/11.

2) The US and Mexico have a shared history. The Western states were once part of Mexico until they were forcefully taken by the United States. It was the Spanish who named the major cities on the West Coast such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and others - all Spanish names. Whatever immigration reform occurs must occur on both sides of the border. The US must work with Mexico and not against Mexico.

Answer: If we return the Southwest to Mexico, will they turn around and return it to the Indian tribes they stole it from earlier? Then will the Navaho give back most of their territory to the Hopi, and the Hopi to the Anasazi? Will the Mexican government then return Mexico itself to the Indians they stole it from? Or, more exactly, since a majority of Mexicans are mestizos, will those whose DNA is, say, 51% Spanish or more return to Spain? Or does any Indian blood qualify to let them stay? In which case I can stay, since I’m 3/32 Cherokee (though I’d have to move out of California, being neither Chumash, Miwok or other original Californians).

Will the Aussies then give Australia back to its aborigines? Will its Anglo-Saxons return to Britain, or join their Brit Anglo-Saxon cohorts in returning to Germany, leaving their isles to the Celts? Then will all the Aryans in Europe go back to the Middle East? And since most humans today have mixed DNA, what do we do? This is an impossible demand. Basically we just have to take our borders and populations today as a given and go forward from there. Historical claims create infinite regresses and solve nothing.

2b) “The US must work with Mexico and not against Mexico.” What possible reason could be proffered to support this assertion? We surely have a shared history. So did the Third Reich and Poland. So would you, in late 1939, have insisted that “Poland must work with Germany” and not against it?

When you say “whatever immigration reform occurs must occur on both sides of the border,” you gloss over the fact that Mexico is a sovereign nation, and has consistently refused to cooperate, since remittances from Mexican citizens working in America is Mexico’s second-largest source of foreign currency, and since Mexico is using America as a safety valve for its overpopulation crisis.

We can’t make Mexico cooperate short of invading and conquering it. Is that what you’re recommending?

The plain fact is that the interests of Mexico’s ruling elite are in direct opposition to American interests.

Or perhaps you think we should regularize our immigration laws? I’d be happy to support adopting Mexico’s immigration laws and practices, which are, like those of most nations, quite harsh—even draconian.

And you can be certain that Mexico would refuse to adopt America’s vastly softer laws.

Mexico is our neighbor, but it is not our friend. The average Mexican holds strongly anti-American views, and the average Mexican immigrant to the US considers himself Mexican, not even Mexican-American, even if he holds American citizenship.

Adjacency guarantees nothing. Neither does shared history. France and Germany have plenty of shared history—that didn’t keep them from fighting war after war over the space of just one century. Even today there’s no love lost between people of these countries.

3) Any law that is broken often and with impunity is a law whose very existence is questionable. Mexicans have been illegally entering the United States for well over a century and they have not been a "threat" to the US in that time.

Answer: It is a legal principle that you can challenge laws that haven’t been enforced, or which have been enforced in a discriminatory fashion. It is also true that historically Mexicans have wandered back and forth over the American border with impunity, and weren’t generally considered a threat (Pancho Villa being a big exception).

The fallacy here is that the actually numbers involved were miniscule until recently. The entire population of Mexico in 1900 was about the same as the number of Mexican citizens living here illegally today, and considerably smaller than the number of Mexican-Americans living here legally.

So you’re equating surf to a tsunami. Scale matters, and here the scale is staggering. Los Angeles, America’s second largest metro area, is half Mexican today. It was, like, 1% in 1940. If Sydney’s demographics had flipped from, say, hardly any Philippinos to half today, Aussies would have plenty to say on the matter—particularly if those Philippinos were drawn nearly exclusively from Philippino peasants from the countryside, most them speaking no English, and lacking any job skills except for menial labor.

4) Maybe the answer is to have an open border - allow anyone to freely cross between the US and Mexico. This system works well in the European Union - Spanish people can leave their home country and settle in the UK and look for work without any sort of permit or passport. Moreover, many from the UK have done just that by moving to Spain! Anyone who is a citizen of a European Union country can move and live in and become a citizen of another European Union country. This has not led to massive immigration problems there. If the US is concerned about Mexico's southern border and illegals entering there from Guatemala or Belize, the length of the border is quite small and easy to police, unlike the one between the US and Mexico.

Answer: The open border argument would work if the neighboring countries had compatible culture, language, education, and affluence. We have this with Canada, and only need any kind of border control to control non-Canadians trying to get here over that border. However, none of these things hold true with Mexico.

Half—HALF—of Mexico’s population (the peasant half, unfortunately) has said they want to move to America. If the border were opened most of them would, and we’d then have something like 70 million manual laborers here competing for unskilled jobs against Americans now suffering from around 20% unemployment in this job sector.

I couldn’t think of anything more destructive to America’s own working poor, to our cities, to our infrastructure, and to our English-speaking society. One out of five Americans would then be a Mexican peasant, but that’s not really accurate, because they’d mostly settle where they have been settling—in the Southwest. Here they’d be the majority by a solid margin. So the politics would be their politics, structure to favor their interests.

For us to advocate this would be culturally suicidal.

5) The fertility rate of Mexican women is only slightly higher than the comparable figure in the US (2.34 children per Mexican woman, 2.05 in the US). The fertility rate of both nations has dropped in recent decades. Even if open borders were introduced there is no real threat of a Mexican population explosion to dominate the US.

Answer: you’re using misleading figures. The fertility rate of Mexican women in toto is irrelevant. It’s the fertility rate of Mexico’s bottom half—its peasantry—that matters, because 99% of immigration from Mexico comes from this cohort.

And their fertility rate is staggering—including unwed teen mothers—as demonstrated by their reproduction patterns in this country, which shows the most rapid reproduction of any substantial slice of the American population. That’s how they went from .5% of the American population in 1940 to over 14% today, exceeding even that of Blacks.

So it’s true that “there is no real threat of a Mexican population explosion to dominate the US” because it’s already a reality—especially since, as I keep saying, it’s concentrated in the Southwest, which is turning into America’s Quebec. Today the most-viewed TV station in Los Angeles doesn't broadcast in English--only in Spanish. And already the California state legislature doesn't dare pass any laws that Mexicans would object to.

6) If Americans want more Mexicans to stay in Mexico, then the US government should involve itself in helping their southern neighbour to grow economically and socially. NAFTA has certainly helped in this regard.

Answer: Again, Mexico is a sovereign nation with zero interest in advice from America. They want money and visas—not advice. They hand out comic books to illegal immigrant wannabes, giving them advice on how to avoid the American border patrol and contact Mexican consulates, which work tirelessly across America to help illegal aliens from Mexico get money and jobs and welfare benefits (especially through anchor babies).

Mexico doesn't want advice especially since it's grotesquely overpopulated (from 20 million in 1940 to 111 million today), meaning our first advice should be for them to adopt China’s One Child policy, along with financing planned parenthood clinics throughout Mexico offering free abortion, sterilization, and condoms—all forbidden by Mexico’s dominant religion. That’s what Mexico needs but it's not about to listen to anyone telling them this.

It also needs a revolution so its tiny ruling clique quits stealing most of the country’s GDP for itself. What do you think that clique would think of our helping Mexico do that?

We could quit subsidizing American agribillionaires, and legalize hard drugs for adults. That would help Mexican farmers and economically cripple Mexico’s drug lords who have harmed Mexican society so much. But as long as there are five times as many Mexicans as Mexico’s ecological and sociological carrying capacity can support, any help aside from population reduction and revolution is likely to be futile.

The best thing we can do for Mexico is adopt a universal biometric ID and offer to help Mexico set up one itself. With this we could make it impossible for Mexican citizens residing here illegally to get work or access social services, thus bottling up Mexico to solve its internal problems instead of using us a s a safety valve. All they've done with that safety valve so far is...not change.

I should add that I speak Spanish, have lived in Mexico, have a relative who taught Mexican anthropology at the University of Mexico, have traveled in Mexico fairly extensively, have scuba dived in Mexico, and have a degree in sociology. I've traveled in 17 countries on four continents.

Hardly the CV of a “know-nothing.” I’m just realistic.

And part of that realism is recognizing that every sovereign nation on Earth has the right to decide who gets to live within its borders--how many, and with what national, racial, educational, occupational, religious, and legal background--or any other criteria they choose to apply. It's racist to make some of your citizens second-class citizens. It isn't racist to choose who gets to come to your country, however, as long as legal residents and citizens are all treated the same way.

America is one of the world's most successful nations in its ability to assimilate large numbers of immigrants. Part of this has been sheer luck--we're a rich country, and, for example, we've done well so far with Muslims (one just won the Miss USA contest) because we've gotten mainly middle class, educated ones with good job skills, and we've utilized those skills. Europe has gotten hidebound, xenophobic Muslim peasants, with predictable results.

We've also done well by dispersing immigrants throughout the country, preventing large permanent non-American enclaves from persisting--except with Mexicans in the Southwest, whose numbers are now large enough to form stable monocultural, Spanish-speaking areas wherein you don't need to learn anything about American culture or language to get by, except for your legal and welfare rights.

We don't need more peasants of any country or race, and especially not Mexican ones. Mexican doctors, lawyers, engineers, divemasters, chemists, sure. Come on down. Peasants--stay home. We have a huge unemployment problem with American peasants. Why burden them more?