29 June 2007
A caller to Rush Limbaugh’s show yesterday (28 June) argues that the government has the right to regulate the content of talk radio by virtue of its authority to regulate the airwaves (i.e., license broadcasters). Fine. By the same sort of logic, since governments have the authority to regulate the highways (i.e., to license drivers), they also have the authority to regulate the content of our bumperstickers.
28 June 2007

If not twelve million, then why one?

You have to love political discourse in this country. When you can’t find an argument which either actually supports your own position or refutes some portion (if not all) of your opponent’s position, you simply assert that your opponent’s position can be compared to that of some odious group, no matter how superficial the similarity.

Yesterday (27 June) while driving home from the office, I was listening to the Hugh Hewitt show. A caller to the show, in the course of his discussion of the bill, made the assertion that the United States cannot deport 12 million people – not because of the physical impossibility of such a deportation, but because doing that will get them (i.e., the United States) compared to nazis.

I’m not going to waste time distinguishing the deportation of illegal guest workers from the deportation of Jews in order to put them in concentration camps and gas them. I’m not going to waste time distinsuishing flying illegal guest workers home (or busing them, or sending them via passenger train) from herding them into cattle cars – again for the purposes of putting them into concetration camps and gassing them.

I don’t need to distinguish the two cases because the simple fact of the matter is that if we can’t deport 12 million without being compared to nazis then we can’t deport even one.

Let’s work backwards here. If we can’t deport 12 million people without being compared to nazis, may we deport 11,999,999 people? More than likely, even deporting just 11.9 million will still get us compared to nazis. What about 10 million? Can we deport 10 million without being compared to nazis? Again, probably not. How about just one million two hundred? Can we deport just that number? That’s 10 percent of the 12 million we’re talking about.

What’s the magic number? At what point do you get to deport illegal entrants into your country without being compared to nazis? Is it one hundred twenty thousand? That’s one percent of the number we’re talking about. Can we do that? If so, then can we deport one hundred twenty-one thousand? How about one hundred twenty-two thousand? If so, how about one hundred twenty-three thousand? At some point as we move down the number line we should come to that figure which these people would allow us to deport without comparing us to nazis, right? But then we can ask, “Why that number and not just one more?” and so on and so on until we get back to 12 million.

(Of course, it’s worse than that. For once they tell us how many people they will allow us to deport they’ll have to tell us who we may deport. Why these one hundred twenty-two thousand and not those one hundred twenty-two thousand, or those over there? So, really, we can’t even deport the one hundred twenty-two thousand.)

If you can’t deport 12 million people, then on what grounds do you deport just one? Besides, these 12 million (as I have the figures) are only the illegal Mexican guest workers. Since the caller asserts that we can’t deport 12 million, he must mean the Mexicans. Would he then assert that we can deport the remaining 18 million? Probably not. So again, we can’t deport anyone.

If we can’t deport 12 million, then why should we deport Zoila Meyer? And if we can (morally, not physically) deport Zoila Meyer, without being compared to nazis, then why can’t we deport 12 million illegal guest workers?

Note: I am not a proponent of mass deportation. I just disagree with the proposition that doing so -- if we did -- would earn us a just comparison with nazis. Give me a break. Deportation means sending them home, not to the gas chamber.
27 June 2007
Think tanks occasionally provide information which lawmakers may use in making policy decisions. As a think tank of one I humbly offer the following simple explanation for any and all senators (in your own language) of why many of your constituents don’t believe you about the present immigration bill.

Let us symbolize all present immigration laws as {L}, and any arbitrarily selected stipulation of such law (i.e., a subset of {L} as S.

Here’s our problem:

(1a) Presently {L} requires, among other things, that S.
(2a) But {L} is not presently enforced in its entirety; and one of the provisions not enforced is S.
(3a) Therefore (and oddly enough) S does not occur.

Let us now symbolize the new immigration law as {N} and any arbitrarily selected stipulation of such law as P.

Here’s what we are intended to believe:

(1b) The new law {N} requires, among other things, that P.
(2b) Whereas {L} was never fully enforced in its entirety (including the provision that S), we may rest assured that {N} (including, among other things, the provision that P) will be enforced in its entirety.
(3b) Therefore P will occur.

Right. Sure. Great. No problem.

Surely, senators, you jest. You tell us that we desperately need {N} as the only alternative to {L} because {L} (i.e., the “status quo”) is not working. You have yet to explain just how, given the facts as stipulated in (2a), above, we are to have any confidence that {N} will work. Given the uncontested truth of (2a), above, we are sceptical of (2b). Can you blame us?

You all seem to be under the impression that legislation is sufficient to correct a problem. In our system (which admittedly can be difficult to understand), legislation is only one-third of the operation of the laws, the other two-thirds being execution (see Art. II of the Constitution for more on this) and adjudication (see Art. III of the Constitution). (Your own powers and responsibilities are discussed in Art. I, incidentally.) When you find a way to assuage our fears about those other two-thirds you be sure and let us know.

In the meantime, please stop talking as if the simple act of passing legislation fixes anything.
26 June 2007
Listening to Ted Kennedy singing this song – a favorite of my childhood – was just sickening, on several levels.

This is how it should sound:

25 June 2007

Strange bedfellows

Recently, Linda Chavez took opponents of the senate bill to task for racism, saying that while many of them may not be racist their opposition to the bill means that they are “comfortable” in the company of those who are racists.

Now, as it turns out, we may find that our opposition to the bill also means we are “comfortable” in the company of (non-racist) leftists.

My internet acquaintance and “colleague”, Josue Sierra, blogs on six hispanic organizations opposed to the senate’s immigration spill – I mean, bill:

1. The Hispanic Federation
2. The Labor Council for Latin American Advancement
3. The League of United Latin American Citizens
4. The National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities
5. The National Day Laborer Organizing Network
6. The William C. Velasquez Institute

Sierra's last sentence sums up nicely a concern I share with him:

I'm concerned that La Raza is not fighting against it... I wonder why?
I too wonder why. I wonder why because the aforementioned latino groups are not right wing. What is it? Is it that La Raza is to the right of these groups? It’s hard to imagine that: William C Velasquez was once a state-level (Texas) Coordinator of El Movimiento Social de la Raza Unida (The Social Movement of the United Race) and later Field Director of the Southwest Council of La Raza.

In the end, it doesn’t matter much because I’ve read substantial portions of the bill, and entire analyses of the bill. But it is instructive to hear the silence from the media when it comes to “brown” – and leftist – opponents of the bill.
24 June 2007

Even if there were no hell. -- Wisdom Sunday

A great many people, Christians included, think that the threat of hell is intended to "inspire" obedience to God. So, of course, when one thinks that because of Christ's work on the cross, he is no longer liable to that punishment, there is no threat and, therefore, no reason to obey.

Actually, there is a better reason to obey.

[T]he pious mind...restrains itself from sinning, not out of dread of punishment alone; but, because it loves and reveres God as Father, it worships and adores him as Lord. Even if therewere no hell, it would still shudder at offending him alone. (Calvin, Institutes, Bk. 1, Ch. 2.2, Battles Tr. Emphases added.)

22 June 2007
Indeed: “For all of our vaunted interest in the supernatural, we really do not like it when we see it, when it confronts us, when it calls us to action. We prefer a natural religion, one which fits nicely and conveniently into our mental categories, one which we can meld into our daily exercise routine, one which improves our self image, one which causes us to feel warm and cozy, one which leaves us lethargically and comfortably in our sin and materialistic, pathetic groping for a meaning that mysteriously, inevitably, incessantly alludes us.”
Ya know, this isn’t such a bad idea. From one of my favorite, if little known comics, That Guy . He was the pizza delivery guy in one of my favorite comedies of error, Men at Work.
21 June 2007

If a (documented) man will not work...

The Center for American Progress offers up the corrections to many myths about immigration.

Without stipulating to the whole of this exercise in myth busting, I do have one criticism. On the issue of the jobs that illegal guest workers do, the report says:

Myth: Out-of-work natives could replace undocumented immigrants in our workforce.

Reality:Removing all undocumented immigrants from the U.S. workforce would leave 2.5 million low-skill jobs unfilled. In a paper commissioned by the Center for American Progress, William & Mary economist David A. Jaeger found a telling disparity between myth and reality in the effects of immigration on the workforce: out-of-work natives could not effectively replace undocumented natives. The jobs that undocumented immigrants currently hold require a substantially lower skill set than most jobless natives possess. As a result of the skills gap, only 105,000 natives could appropriately replace the 2.5 million immigrants in very low-skill jobs, leaving 2.4 million positions unfilled. Such a loss would put states with large immigrant populations, such as Arizona and California, in dire straits. (Read the fuller explanation in the full report, David A Jaeger, PhD., “Replacing the Undocumented Workforce,” here. And hereinafter referred to as “Report”.)

According to the report (page 3) out-of-work natives cannot effectively replace illegal guest workers because the natives possess a substantially higher skill set than illegal guest workers in these low-skill jobs. Specifically, the report refers to the inability of our-of-work natives to replace illegal guest workers. Report 3.

Are they kidding?

One would think, “Wait. If I have a higher skill set than someone else, then my skill-set just may include the skill set possessed by an illegal guest worker.”

But, reading the report, one finds that possession of a skill set (i.e., ability) is not the issue. The reason that the higher skilled, out-of-work native cannot replace the lower skilled, working illegal guest workers is not the skills possessed. The reason, according to the report is that lower skills means lower wages. But still, it isn’t the skill set which is the problem. In reality, it’s an attitude problem.

If the undocumented immigrants were removed from the work force, these natives would either remain out-of-work or would need to find jobs requiring lower levels of education... .

Even if all of the out-of-work natives were to replace undocumented workers, 2.8 million natives with a high school diploma or some college would need to take lower-wage jobs that are currently held by undocumented immigrants with less than a high diploma or even less than a 9th grade education. Future job growth in the U.S. is also likely to be dependent on low-skilled occupations that require a high school diploma or less. Removing undocumented workers from the economy would not be a panacea for native unemployment. Report 4, 5.

The most that this report tells us is that, if one insists on acquiring a college education, one may also have to accept a job which does not require the skills associated with that education. One may also, as a consequence, have to accept a job which pays less than what that college education might otherwise command.

Something else this report tacitly tells us is that it is not just employers hiring illegal guest workers which causes, or contributes to, the illegal guest worker problem. Those Americans who would rather be unemployed (and probably living on the public dole) than work jobs requiring a lower skill set, and therefore paying lower wages, are also making their own contribution to the problem.

The issue is one of motivation. Think of it. Millions of people will travel thousands of miles to work jobs that a certain portion of Americans will not travel even hundreds of miles to do. I have read stories of Mexican families who haved saved tens of thousands of dollars, not to send their children to college but rather to send their children (with the help of coyotes) to the U. S.

Those out-of-work natives just haven’t experienced the proper motivating circumstances.

20 June 2007

Sanctuary Cities: The New Nullification?

As is probably well known, San Fransisco is a self-styled sanctuary city. This means, among other things, that the city has decided to exempt itself from a certain body of federal law. One could say that San Francisco has decided to interpose itself between the federal government and the illegal guest worker.

It is quite fascinating to see people who, if asked, would decry the employment of the same tactic by entire states during the sectional disputes that led up to the Civil War. During that controversy, the southern states relied upon what they called
interposition to nullify federal laws which they believed violiated the rights of states to decide their own internal affairs.

Of course, there is a difference. The southern states were (however misguided and morally wrong) attempting to protect the rights of citizens. These “sanctuary cities” are struggling to protect people who have crossed a nation’s borders. One wonders how it would be received if some other city decided that, with respect to federal drug laws, it would be a “sanctuary city” for drug users. (Oh, wouldn’t the drug cartels just love such cities!)

This desire to protect the illegal guest worker from federal laws passed pursuant to Congress’s constitutional duty to legislate in all matters immigration and naturalization has reminded me of a passage from The Republic (Book VIII, roughly 562b and following). It’s a lengthy passage, but relevant in just so many ways. In it, Plato (via Socrates) discusses the degeneration of democracies to tyrannies. Enjoy:

[D]emocracy has her own good, of which the insatiable desire brings her to dissolution[.]

What good?

Freedom, I replied; which, as they tell you in a democracy, is the glory of the State --and that therefore in a democracy alone will the freeman of nature deign to dwell.

Yes; the saying is in everybody's mouth.

I was going to observe, that the insatiable desire of this and the neglect of other things introduces the change in democracy, which occasions a demand for tyranny.

How so?

When a democracy which is thirsting for freedom has evil cupbearers presiding over the feast, and has drunk too deeply of the strong wine of freedom, then, unless her rulers are very amenable and give a plentiful draught, she calls them to account and punishes them, and says that they are cursed oligarchs. Yes, he replied, a very common occurrence.

Yes, I said; and loyal citizens are insultingly termed by her slaves who hug their chains and men of naught; she would have subjects who are like rulers, and rulers who are like subjects: these are men after her own heart, whom she praises and honours both in private and public. Now, in such a State, can liberty have any limit?

Certainly not.

By degrees the anarchy finds a way into private houses, and ends by getting among the animals and infecting them. How do you mean?

I mean that the father grows accustomed to descend to the level of his sons and to fear them, and the son is on a level with his father, he having no respect or reverence for either of his parents; and this is his freedom, and resident alien is equal with the citizen and the citizen with the resident alien, and the stranger is quite as good as either.

Yes, he said, that is the way.

And these are not the only evils, I said --there are several lesser ones: In such a state of society the master fears and flatters his scholars, and the scholars despise their masters and tutors; young and old are all alike; and the young man is on a level with the old, and is ready to compete with him in word or deed; and old men condescend to the young and are full of pleasantry and gaiety; they are loth to be thought morose and authoritative, and therefore they adopt the manners of the young.

It is really tempting to digress into some small praise of “The Great Books” curriculum and it’s importance for the general education of a free people. But I won’t.

The stranger (i.e., neither resident alien nor citizien: illegal alien) is quite as good as either the resident alien or the citizen. The operation of any body of laws requires, among other things, the making of important distinctions. Take, for example, a law which requires teachers to teach students. Such a law assumes at least one important distinction between teachers and students: teachers know stuff and students don’t. If the concept of equality is stressed too far (i.e., to the point at which a distinction between the knowledgeable and the ignorant is denied) this important distinction is ignored and teachers find it impossible, even undesirable, to teach. The law which requires education is de facto nullified.

Unchecked democracy (of which our founders were not fans) results in a refusal to make any distinctions at all. It shouldn’t be hard to understand why. Distinctions are norms; they are authoritative. The unchecked democratic principle doesn’t like authority. In the end it doesn’t care even for the authority of reason. (Sometimes, the authority of the facts isn’t very popular either.)

We have leaders who simply will not distinguish legal immigrants and guest workers from illegal immigrants and guest workers. How can any immigration law operate in such a situation? As we are seeing, they don’t operate at all.
Oh, goodie. Another immigration bill. You can download it (i.e., S. 1639) here.

It looks to be as much fun to read as S.1638.

On the subject of illegal guest worker program,
from the Christian Science Monitor:

Mexico's ambassador to Washington warns, even the "rosiest, peachiest" reform in the US won't end the flow of poor migrants. Reform must also take place in Mexico.

Golly gee, Mister Ambassador. Ya think?

Mexico, to be honest, certainly have their hands full. President Felipe Calderon, according to the aforementioned article, has dispatched 24,0000 troops to deal with the drug cartels. Of course,
as the Houston Chronicle informs us, over 100,000 Mexican troops have deserted the Mexican Army to work for the drug cartels. That makes part of our illegal guest worker problem an economic problem, supply and demand. It’s the duggies in the U. S. Apart from their demand for the cartels’ products, what business opportunities would they have here?

Who knows? Perhaps the Senate have also deserted for service with the cartels.

(Read that Houston Chronicle article and ask yourself: If I lived in such a country, wouldn’t I want to live and work in someplace like the U. S.? Of course you would; so would I. But that fact does not mitigate against the right of a nation state to control its borders.)
Hugh Hewitt sums up the entirety of his voluminous treatment of the immigration bill here.

Reformed Chicks
19 June 2007

Political expedience must be a family value

Family values,” the President lectured us, “don’t stop at the border.”

(One wants to respond, “Border? What border? Family values means never having to acknowledge a border.” But I digress.)

We hear from Republicans that hispanics are very conservative people and if the Republicans will just roll over on the matter of whether nation states have the right to enforce their borders they (i.e., Republicans) will garner a larger percentage of the hispanic vote. My own (hispanic!) family experience tells me otherwise.

It is true that my hispanic family, especially the elders, are very socially conservative. Being, for the most part, Roman Catholic they are very much pro-life; and they probably would not be in favor of same-sex marriage. But when it comes to issues like taxes, welfare, limited government and other (conservative) issues, I’m afraid they aren’t very conservative at all. I recall well when my abuelita (that’s “grandmother” for you “gringos”) chastised my father for voting Republican. “When have the Republicans,” she said, “ever done anything to help the poor?”

On her view, one role of a good government is to take money from people who have “too much” and give it to those who don’t. Oh, yes, she is a conservative all right – a conservative Democrat. And, alas, her generation of the family is by and large the last of the socially-conservative-but-fiscally-liberal. Her children, nieces and nephews, as well as most of her grandchildren (and their cousins) are now both socially and fiscally liberal.

The problem with Republicans is they believe – and they should know better – that being socially conservative is identical with being fiscally conservative.

Besides, a political party ought to to the right thing, not the thing it believes will get them more votes. In fact they ought to do the right thing even if it means they lose votes (see, e.g.,
Psalm 15). A political party ought to be in favor of border enforcement on the sole grounds that nation-states have the right to their borders.
“Let us in peacefully or we’ll smoke you out.”

U.S. Border Patrol agents seeking to secure the nation's border in some of the country's most pristine national forests are being targeted by illegal aliens, who are using intentionally set fires to burn agents out of observation posts and patrol routes.


Authorities said agents are being targeted by illegal aliens and their smugglers for rock attacks -- including grapefruit-size rocks wrapped in rags, dipped in gasoline and set on fire.

“As larger areas of the border come under operational control, we can expect violence to increase as smuggling operations can no longer operate with impunity and do not have unfettered access to the border for their criminal activities,” Border Patrol Chief David V. Aguilar told a Homeland Security subcommittee this year.

“This explosion of aggression is an indicator how desperate and angry drug and human traffickers are at the increasing disruption of their smuggling routes,” he said. (Jerry Seper, “Illegals light border fires to sidetrack U.S. agents,” Washington Times, 19 June 2007)

Fortunately, help is on the way (for drug and human traffickers) from the Democans and Republicrats.

Conservative Cat
18 June 2007


Or perhaps it's "Chrislamist".

Occasionally, my parents (members of the Anglican Mission in America) and I (former Anglican myself) will joke that the Episcopal Church in the U. S. A. (of which we were all, briefly, members) will ordain anyone with a heart beat.

it’s not really much of a joke anymore.

This lady reminds me of Tashlan in C. S. Lewis's The Last Battle.

I guess her religion is Christianislam.

H/T: Hot Air
I’ve been tracking for some years now the nature of political discourse in the republic. This video of Rivera-Malkin debate (here) provides valuable material. In the course of the debate that (at about 4:10 into the segment) Rivera forbids Malkin “invoking” 911 (at about 3:50 into the segment). This, after (at about 2:05 into the segment) “invoking” the treatment of Jews (e.g., the French, Spanish, British expulsions of Jews) at various times in history going back to Hamurabi. One wonders just why it is permissible for Rivera to “invoke” anti-semitism, but impermissible for Malkin to “invoke” the fact that some of the 911 terrorists were here illegally (which she did only in support of her overall argument that border security is a necessary component of national security.)

(It was unfortunate that Malkin employed a reference to Rivera’s suffering from “open borders narcisism”. That is ad hominem if I’ve ever heard it. Of course, that doesn’t alter the fact that Rivera tacitly asserted that those who want stricter border enforcement are racists. Yawn.)

P. S.

On the subject of the debate, Malkin says, in the second update to this posting, that the number of Mexican illegal guest workers in the U. S. (i.e., 12 million) amounts to 9% of Mexico’s population. I decided to check that because it seemed a little too high.

In reality the percentage is just a little higher.
Mexico’s present estimated population is 108,700,891. (A figure I double checked at the CIA World Factbook, for whatever that’s worth.) Actually, then, 11% of Mexico’s population is here. And Rivera wants to accuse Malkin and her ilk of wanting a population transfer.

By comparison if the same percentage of the U. S. population (estimated to be in July about 301,139,947) were in Mexico, Mexicans would be dealing with 33 million of us. Having wanted, at one time in my life, to emigrate “back” to Mexico, I’m somewhat familiar with Mexican immigration law. I doubt the Mexicans would be debating what to do with 33 million gringos in their midst.

Actually, I’m certain of it. In the best of circumstances you would not want to have an interaction with the Mexican police over a traffic violation. You darn sure don’t want to be there illegally.
15 June 2007
UPDATE (to this posting): I got to thinking some more...

I don’t know what Senator Lott has in mind for dealing with the problem of talk radio. But let’s say it involves passing some law. Will violators of that law be prosecuted? Or will they be “legalized”? Will violators of that law be harbored by self-proclaimed “sanctuary cities”?

On one hand, Lott wants to punish those who have broken no law, indeed are protected by the highest law in the land (uh, that would be the First Amendment of the Constitution, Senator). On the other he presents himself and stands as ready as a bitch in heat to “legalize” those who have broken a law.

Democracy sure can be a pain in the ass, eh Senator?

Like President Bush, Senator Lott must be getting his information from the CIA. According to him,

[S]enators on both sides of the aisle are being pounded by these talk-radio people who don't even know what's in the bill.

Talk radio people with whom I’m familiar, like Hugh Hewitt (who has done a fairly detailed analysis on his blog), read directly from the bill, citing title, section, sub-section and paragraph. And the best that the President and senators like Lott can do is tell us that critics just haven’t read the bill. It’s very simple: the bill contains the objectionable provisions or it does not. Obviously, it is too much to ask of our betters that they cite and read back the true contents of the titles, sections, subsections and paragraphs that critics find offensive.

I don't know. When I hear the President and senators like Lott say that opponents of the bill don't know what's in it, it makes me wonder if they have read the bill themselves.

Senator Lott also doesn’t like free speech very much:

Comments by Republican senators on Thursday suggested that they were feeling the heat from conservative critics of the bill, who object to provisions offering legal status. The Republican whip, Trent Lott of Mississippi, who supports the bill, said: "Talk radio is running America. We have to deal with that problem."

Talk radio – this problem we have to deal with – is an exercise of First Amendment rights. (Drat, that Constitution!) Talk radio, which wouldn’t exist apart from participation in by the people (i.e., people for whom Senator Lott works, by the way), is a very democratic facet of our society. It is a true peoples forum.

Laura Ingraham said it best this morning: “If talk radio ran this country that border would have been shut down eight to ten years ago.”

Quite frankly, given the choice, I’d rather have any 100 talk show hosts than 100 Trent Lotts in the Senate. Talk show hosts depend upon the people for their livelihood – unlike Senators (apparently).
14 June 2007

Now it’s “You’re in favor of this bill, or you’re in favor of doing nothing.”

(An update to my previous posting.)

Well that’s what Tony Snow has just told Laura Ingraham . That’s the nature of polical discourse in the country today: let the logical fallacies fly, strawman arguments, false dilemmas, ad hominem. Let ‘em rip! Yeehah!

What was Laura’s problem with the bill? It doesn’t first tighten up the border, and then deal with the 12 million illegal “guest workers”. (I’ve decided to stop calling them “illegal immigrants”, since they are supposedly here only to work and then go back home. Or should we call them
“gate-crashing workers”?)

We critics of the present bill simply do not understand why supporters refuse to acknowledge that our illegal guest worker problem involves two discreet problems: (1) the porous border; (2) the 12 million illegal guest workers who illegally crossed that border. Being in favor of stopping the flow across the border and then debating the disposition of those 12 million illegal guest workers hardly makes one in favor of doing nothing.

I discovered last night that the drain to my bath tub is clogged. When I noticed that the plug was open, but the tub was filling I turned off the water, thus preventing any more water from entering the tub. And then I worked on doing something about the water in the tub. I suppose I could have just turned water flow down a bit, maybe just almost all the way off. But shutting it completely off and then working on the clog just seemed like a better plan.

You know, it still does.

12 June 2007

“Support this bill or you’re a racist.”

Apparently that’s our only choice when it comes to immigration reform. Of course, it amounts to no choice.

S.1348, Title VI, sec. 601(h)(2) provides: “No probationary benefits shall be issued to an alien until the alien has passed all appropriate background checks or the end of the next business day, whichever is sooner.” It just cannot make me a racist that I don’t favor a bill which says that an immigrant (one who presently is here illegally in the first place) gets a benefit after a full background check or a single business day, whichever comes first. It is not racist (a) to claim that the bill contains that provision (i.e., because it really contains that provision) or (b) to oppose the entire bill if it contains that single provision, unless the provision is removed, which to my knowledge has not happened. I don’t think it unreasonable, or racist, to think a complete background check ought to be done, and to believe it ought to take more than a single business day.

I know: Complete background checks on 12 million people could take a long, long time. Golly gee, I guess we should have done a job (note, I didn’t say better job) of enforcing the border and not allowing those 12 million people here in the first place. If the fed now finds it difficult to fix the problem they have only their own laxity to blame. As the Spirit of Christmas Past said to Ebenezer Scrooge: “That these things are as they are do not blame me.”

Other passages of the bill provide for a mix of real fences and “virtual fences” and other forms of border “enforcement”. Not only that, the amount of fence – real or otherwise – which has to be built before one of those famous triggers gets pulled isn’t sufficient either. It just cannot make me a racist that I don’t favor a bill which considers the aforementioned elements a sufficient repair of a porous border. A porous border amounts to no border.

The 12 million figure represents around 572,000 people entering the country illegally over the last 21 years. That’s without a fence. 572,000. Each year. For twenty-one years. Half a million people crossed our southern border each year for twenty-one years. That is no border. Being sceptical that the provisions of the present bill really fix that problem hardly makes one a racist.

Do we have more illegal “white” immigrants than we do “brown” immigrants? Not the last time I checked. The racist charge might have some standing if we had 24 million illegal “white” immigrants, but only 12 million illegal “brown” immigrants, and no one were bothered by the illegal “white” immigrants. That is not the case. It is not that the immigrants are “brown” rather than “white”. It’s that they are illegal. It’s the numbers, stupid.

I was twenty-one years old when the 1986 amnesty bill became law. I was in favor of that bill. It seemed like a good idea at the time. But that law was supposed to be amnesty for those already here and border enforcement. In 1986 there were 3 million illegals here. Now there are 12 million. The amnesty seems to have worked out well enough. Border enforcement? Not so well.

Some of us (
Hugh Hewitt, for example, and they are worth reading) have specific recommendations about how the bill could be written or amended which would make it palatable to us. It is to me quite telling that supporters of the bill can offer little more than, “You’re a racist and a nativist” as a response. Telling. In fact what it tells us is that our characterizations of the bill are correct (which means that we aren’t racists and nativists) and that supporters have no other response and no merits to argue. Clearly, they have nothing to overcome our objections and criticisms.

In a country which gives at least lip service to the notion that although we are not a Christian nation we are a nation which has derived much of our political life-blood to the Judeo-Christian worldview it would be well for us to recall the prohibition of “bearing false witness” against our fellow men (Exodus 20.16). Bearing false witness is more than just telling lies. It is bringing a charge against someone and offering testimony in support of the charge. If you’re going to assert that someone is a racist then you should be expected to prove it. And it is not sufficient, as evidence of racism, that someone disagrees with your policy position, or asserts that a bill you support contains objectionable provisions (such as, e.g., the above-mentioned section 601(h)(2)).

Section 601(h)(2) says what we assert it says, or it does not. Supporters of the bill have only (and it isn’t too much to ask) to argue that section 601(h)(2) says other than we have claimed, or that the provision is truly reasonable and is truly consistent with the proposition that nation-states have a right to their borders, a right to say who gets in, a right to check the credentials of those wishing to gain entrance, and a right to mete out punitive measures against those who gain entry unlawfully.

Let me be intellectually honest (unlike those who can only call their opponents racists): It will be difficult, if not impossible, to convince me that the provision for background checks contained in section 601(h)(2) is reasonable. Also, this provision is for me a deal breaker. So is the fence issue. I will be much more amenable if these two elements, in addition to those identified by Hewitt, above, are corrected.

Furthermore, I object to one of the bill's apparently larger purpose, a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. It seems to me that had they been interested in citizenship they'd have come here legally, unless they came here believing that one day amnesty, or the next best thing, would be offered to them. It also occurs to me that a path to citizenship is pointless, given what we have been told. We have been told that we need them to do jobs that "Americans" won't do. We have been told that they come here only to work those jobs and send the money back -- remember this -- home. Why would they have the least bit of interest in a path to citizenship.

I will also admit this: I'm likely to prefer this bill, such as it is, to any bill arising in a Democrat dominated House and Senate, alongside a Democrat in the executive. But that is precisely why I would like to see the bill amended.
09 June 2007

"Inordinate Affections" -- Wisdom Sunday

This week's installment of Wisdom Sunday comes from Book One, Chapter Six of Thomas à Kempis, The Imitation of Christ

When a man desires a thing too much, he at once becomes ill at ease. A proud and avaricious man never rests, whereas he who is poor and humble of heart lives in a world of peace. An unmortified man is quickly tempted and overcome in small, trifling evils; his spirit is weak, in a measure carnal and inclined to sensual things; he can hardly abstain from earthly desires. Hence it makes him sad to forego them; he is quick to anger if reproved. Yet if he satisfies his desires, remorse of conscience overwhelms him because he followed his passions and they did not lead to the peace he sought.

True peace of heart, then, is found in resisting passions, not in satisfying them. There is no peace in the carnal man, in the man given to vain attractions, but there is peace in the fervent and spiritual man.

It is necessary in this day and age to be sure to point out that Brother à Kempis did not say the poor live in a world of peace. He said the "poor and humble" live in a world of peace. He is contrasting the "poor and humble" with the "proud and avaricious". The lives of the economically poor are not, by virtue of their poverty, filled with peace.
07 June 2007
And yet another exercise in mis-characterizing opponents of illegal immigration as opponents of immigration per se (John McCain), or as people who just don’t like “brown people” (Linda Chavez).

In the second linked article Linda Chavez makes an interesting comment:

[A]bout one-in-10 Americans harbors some animus based on race.
Ten percent is not a very alarming number…, even though I think the group includes a disturbing number of influential voices on the right, who even if they don't personally share these views seem perfectly comfortable in the company of those who do.

It really isnt’ relevant that, although someone doesn’t share a view, he is comfortable in the company of those who do. I do not view pornography; I don’t care for it at all. Most of the people with whom I work view pornography; to say they care for it would be an understatement. I do not share their view that pornography is not wrong. And yet, I’m perfectly comfortable in their company – at work. When I was at university, my favorite professor was gay; I am not. But I visited his office several times a month just to chat with him. Although I am not gay, I was perfectly comfortable in his company.

I am not “perfectly comfortable” in the company of those who don’t like brown people: my father is brown, my siblings are brown, one of my living grandparents is brown, two of my aunts are brown. (I leave myself out because I’m fair complected.) So although I clearly do not share a disdain for brown people, I am comfortable in the company not of those who don’t like brown people but those who, however they may feel about brown people, think we are well within our rights to say 12 to 20 million people crossing our borders with impunity is simply unreasonable.

My position on illegal immigration is quite simple. I believe nation-states have the right to enforce their borders. I believe nation-states have the right to determine how best to enforce their borders, to include building a fence. We have between 12 million and 20 million illegal immigrants. The present arrangement isn’t working.

The issue really comes to three facts:

1. The border is being crossed without our permission (i.e., contrary to our laws).
2. There are presently 12 to 20 million of those border crossers here.
3. The reason for the border crossing is economic: the border crossers want work, which we have and they do not have.

I see no reason why an appropriate solution cannot involve three elements:

1*. Enforce the border with measures that will successfully get the job done. Whatever we’ve been doing since 1986 isn’t working. I am unconvinced that measures in the present bill – especially the so-called virtual fence – will be successful. I’m in favor of a border fence
2*. Deportation by attrition, rather than the mass deportation which we are told won’t work.
3*. A guest worker program which denies citizenship to the children of guest workers, who would become citizens of the country their parents are citizens of.

I don’t know about others, but I find the present bill to be a little weak in it’s response to 1 and 2, above. With 12 to 20 million people here illegally, a physical barrier to border crossing seems reasonable. And simply regularizing 12 to 20 million illegal border crossers seems unreasonable.

Besides, if Chavez wants to know why it seems that only “brown people” are the focus of some peoples’ concerns, it may be because, according to Gordon H. Hanson 56% of Mexican immigrants appear to be here illegally, compared with 17% of all other immigrants. Gordon H. Hanson, “Illegal Migration from Mexico to the United States”, March 2006, p. 1, available
here as of 7 June 2007.

In the end, nothing Chavez says about someone’s dislike of “brown people” alters the fact that the border is being crossed contrary to our laws and that there are presently 12 to 20 million of those border crossers here.

On the matter of just who is crossing our southern border see
this posting by Hugh Hewitt.
According to Lindsey Graham people like me view bipartisanship as heresy. And that, apparently, explains our antipathy towards the immigration bill. He could not be more mistaken. I think most of us see bipartisanship as irrelevant. Graham would have us believe that our opposition to the present immigration bill is grounded not in any flaw we see in the bill itself (God forbid!), but in its being bipartisan.

We don't like the bill because it's bipartisan? Let's say there was another bill, giving to every illegal immigrant male the right to sodomize any legal immigrant male, and that this bill had wide bipartisan support. I would be opposed to it.

Pop quiz, Senator Graham: Is my opposition to such a bill grounded in the fact that I believe forced sodomy is wrong, or in the fact that the bill has bipartisan support?

Will I have to tolerate Graham chastising me for believing that bipartisanship is heretical?

My but these politicians are kind to themselves.

UPDATE: Senator Graham says that the purpose of this legislation is to "make them right with the law." Something about his phraseology doesn't seem quite right. Shouldn't he have said that the purpose of the legislation is to make the law right with them, to make the laws conform to their behavior? Too bad Senator Graham is not God. For if he were he would justify poor sinners by simply rescinding the Law. The LORD GRAHAM would say, "You poor people. Requiring that you not steal, murder, commit adultery, dishonor your parents and all that other silliness is just too difficult for you. I can see that now. So, I'll tell you what. I'm going to make you right with Me by rescinding all those difficult laws. From now on, you are all righteous."
06 June 2007
I have expressed doubt about the notion that scientists are guided solely by facts (like here and here). Macht has a posting up on “science and self-deception”, here.



About Me

James Frank Solís
Former soldier (USA). Graduate-level educated. Married 26 years. Texas ex-patriate. Ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America.
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