Saturday, May 20, 2006

Good Question

Why is this [immigration] suddenly such a big issue right now? has occurred to me a number of times. But it's been simmering for quite a while. My guess is that people were looking for a new reason to denounce Bush, and this resonated with a lot of the right wing.

Anti-conspiracy conspiracy

Jim Pinkerton notes how effective the attacks on The DaVinci Code movie have been and dissects the missteps of making a film that attacks the faith of a large part of the nation.
Indeed, a book/movie this immersed in Christianity -- or, if you prefer, anti-Christianity -- can't help but get people thinking about Larger Things. It's said that some 45 anti-Code books have been published; does anybody think there would have been that much popular scholarship devoted to origins-of-the-church controversies without Dan Brown's provocation? And what about all those websites, each one a labor of agape?

I will bet that "The Code Controversy" is going to be remembered as a turning point in popular-religious culture. Christians flocked to see "The Passion of the Christ," which changed Hollywood, but then, two years later, they flocked to react to "Code"; they have created their own counter-culture, which will bear faith-fruit long after this particular movie is reduced to third-tier DVD-dom.
I hope he's right, but I doubt this will change the level of dreck coming from Hollywood.

Actually, the failure of the film is just people coming to their senses. Dan Brown's novel was the emperor's new clothes crying out for debunking. I found that the book was not as fast paced and suspenseful as advertised and many pages of exposition just can't translate to a movie, and making it two and a half hours long was a terrible mistake. Tom Hanks' character was not the likeable boy next door that most of his roles have been, but an arrogant know-it-all that I found hard to like. I haven't seen the film, but it would have taken a brilliant revision of the book to change that.

Of course, there's still a mystery that might make me go see it: how bad is it, really?

Friday, May 19, 2006

Ask the libertarians

A new civil right has been discovered. Will the ACLU sue restaurants for disallowing "support" dogs for people who feel anxious without a pet along?

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Too bad we just chose our state quarter design

KSL television reported last night about the case of a man in Ogden, Utah who left his townhouse with 70,000 empty beer cans on the floor. Jay Leno included the story in his monologue. Even Hugh Hewitt claimed that the house belonged to his producer, Duane. KSL showed a graph of its internet traffic, which shot up and nearly overwhelmed its website.

Let this be a lesson for Utahns wishing the state was famous for something other than polygamy.

Another Democrat "War Hero" Turns Out To Be Anything But

Representative Murtha charges Marines with an horrendous war crime in Haditha, Iraq, but, as a well-known friend of the grunts, tries to blame it on their leadership for creating too much stress for them. Isn't this sort of like the Twinkie Defense?

Murtha is supposed to have moral authority to criticize the war because he served in Vietnam and spent 30 years in the reserve, but his statements seem more and more to resemble that other great war hero, John Kerry.

The Living Dead

This clinches it. Al Gore is a zombie.

Crime does pay, apparently.

The Senate voted today to grant illegal aliens Social Security benefits for the time they've been working here illegally and having payroll taxes withheld.

I've always thought Social Security is a tool of the Devil and should be terminated, not reformed. This just adds weight to that conviction.

With a name like Peggy Noonan, how could she be opposed to immigration?

Peggy Noonan:
The disinterest in the White House and among congressional Republicans in establishing authority on America's borders is so amazing--the people want it, the age of terror demands it--that great histories will be written about it. Thinking about this has left me contemplating a question that admittedly seems farfetched: Is it possible our flinty president is so committed to protecting the Republican Party from losing, forever, the Hispanic vote, that he's decided to take a blurred and unsatisfying stand on immigration, and sacrifice all personal popularity, in order to keep the party of the future electorally competitive with a growing ethnic group?
I don't think that's really true. I think that Bush, as I do, remembers those words of Emma Lazarus on the Statute of Liberty as a part of what America stands for.

The problem is that with the growth of the welfare state and all kinds of socialist programs, a flood of immigrants, especially unidentified and illegal ones, could bankrupt government, healthcare, prisons, etc. If we had the same level of government handouts available in 1918, there wouldn't be the same impact because the allure of coming here wouldn't be so great. We're only beginning to realize how silly we were to think that entitlement programs could work in perpetuity, even as we granted increases in them without increasing the taxes to pay for them. Sadly, I don't see things getting any better until they get a lot worse.

I am happy to note, however, that Ms. Noonan does believe there's a Devil.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Are conservatives going the way of the looney left over the immigration issue? Could be. President Bush's speech just seemed to make a lot of people mad, because he didn't propose to round up all the tired, the poor illegal aliens and dump the huddle masses, yearning to breathe free, teeming masses on some other shore.

I think the fence will help a lot, but I also think we ought to take the poem off the Statue of Liberty and replace it with one of those Yosemite Sam pictures I used to see on truck mudflaps. The one with the words "Back Off!"

Wrong question

I don't care what's better for conservatives. I just don't think it would teach the Democrats anything if they get back in power. It wouldn't be all that good for the country, either.

I hope this isn't what they mean by "Don't be evil."

Google is the largest corporate underwriter of

Here's another view on immigration:
Nor has Bush come up with a smart, sustainable "solution" to the "problem" of immigration, because there isn't one.

"First, the United States must secure its borders," Bush began. "This is a basic responsibility of a sovereign nation." That wasn't what our forefathers thought. Before 1918, the term "illegal immigrant" had no meaning, for the US did not require passports. But then came the first half of the 20th century, those dark times for liberty, when collectivist ideologies ravaged Europe, while milder forms of social engineering began to be practiced in America. A legacy of those times is that an archipelago of US consulates around the world now have arbitrary authority to admit, or not, the millions of people who wish to come here.
I still say we need a fence.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Arnold Kling:
If one views a strong state and a strong family as incompatible, then a case can be made that taking the state out of issues related to prostitution or abortion or marriage actually helps serve family values. If people know that they cannot rely on the state to arbitrate these issues, then they will turn to families, religious institutions, and other associations within communities to help strengthen our values.
This sounds to me like saying that if the government doesn't enforce public health laws, we'll all be more careful about what food we buy.

Absolute libertarianism is as dystopic as totalitarianism. It would do away with the reasons we form societies in the first place.

The vital myth of public broadcasting.

Whether you watch or listen to it or not, you're the public in public broadcasting. Evenry time I hear one of their pledge drives it makes me wonder why I should be such a snob that I don't want to take money from capitalism. It's a huge business, still trying to tell us that it's not really based on capitalism. Where does it think its money comes from originally. If they get grants from the Ford or Rockefeller or Pew trusts and foundations, it came from capitalism. But by giving them donations, we can pretend smugly that this programming is unsullied by - ugh - business.

It's also unsullied by anything not liberal, as the fight over adding conservative programming illustrates.

Here's what I mean:
"That is public broadcasting's role, or at least that's the role we take on ourselves," Greeley said. "To take this unbelievable volume of information, some of it fascinating, and figure out how to add to it the values of public radio, which are sourcing, finding a narrative and figuring out how to present it to people in a way that they retain it and also know where it came from."
Even with 18,000 of the elite, it's still an oligarchy, promising to "figure out" how to combine it with their elite liberal values and feed it to the ignorant masses, who after all aren't up to the job of figuring out what they should listen to or watch on their own. Those "values of public radio" aren't necessarily the public's values, but that doesn't seem to have occurred to Mr. Greeley.

Their idea of "Public" is different from mine. They keep telling us that their programming wouldn't be on the air if we don't contribute to broadcasting it. If they need contributions, why not put it on a subscription basis on Sirius or DirecTV? Because then it would no longer serve its purpose of indoctrination.

Something about a Fence

The reaction on the right to Bush's speech last night seems to be that he was equivocal on building an actual fence along the southern border. If he wasn't, Julie Myers sure was.

Why do so many people think a fence will solve the problem? It obviously won't completely, but it would be a statement that we're serious about securing our borders. It also tells those who come to it that they are not welcome to come across without a valid visa and going through customs. Sure, there are ways to beat a fence, but they're all more work than what faces illegals now.

Monday, May 15, 2006

The Privacy Fallacy

Mark Steyn:
I'm a strong believer in privacy rights. I don't see why Americans are obligated to give the government their bank account details and the holdings therein. Other revenue agencies in other free societies don't require that level of disclosure. But, given that the people of the United States are apparently entirely cool with that, it's hard to see why lists of phone numbers (i.e., your monthly statement) with no identifying information attached to them is of such a vastly different order of magnitude. By definition, "connecting the dots" involves getting to see the dots in the first place.
Good point. Read the whole thing.

Bush's speech

I'm listening to Hugh Hewitt following the speech. The calls are all negative. It seemed to me that he covered all the points I wanted him to, but not what all the angry people are demanding. The truth is that the President cannot do what these people want, not legally, politically, financially or in any other way.

What Hugh's callers seem to fail to understand is how long this problem has been building and how intractable it is. We don't have the personnel or the facilities to do what they want to happen. The kind of mobilization it would take is more like the effort required to win WWII than anything else I know of. It's a legal problem because what these angry voters demand would probably not be allowed by the courts.
It would require a kind of policing that is unimaginable to most of us, being asked for our national ID 10 times a day, roadblocks everywhere, longer lines at airlines, train and bus stations, deportations without hearings or due process. It is also a problem of scale and the cost of rounding up 11,000,000 people and hauling them to the border is not something we can do, legally, or detaining them pending hearings.

What are the alternatives? Detention camps for eleven to fifteen million people? Do they understand the size and logistics problems with that?

No hearings. Just repeal all the rules that allow refugees, students, temporary work permits, and no due process. If you're not legal, you get dumped at the border. The courts, with their usual efficiency will put a hold on all of this and give us an answer maybe 10 years from now that these people have rights to due process and we can't toss them out without a hearing, representation and right of appeal.

What most of the angry callers don't seem to get is that this is not something Bush can do by executive order. He can't even get terrorists held without giving them a jury trial. We have a major party demagoguing this issue hard as it can, despite the fact that no liberal has ever proposed beefing up our border control. Employers have opposed making them responsible for hiring illegals, and will continue to do so.

Everybody is in favor of grabbing those Mexicans we don't know who are working at the Burger King or Arby's, but when it comes to people we know, like the housekeeper or gardener, we're not quite so willing to just snatch them and put them on a bus.

This situation didn't happen overnight and it won't be corrected that way either. I support a wall and better enforcement. We need to start building this year and keep at it until it's done, if it takes a hundred years. I think we need to have ID cards that are harder to forge and streamlined deportment procedures. But I understand that the logistics of (a) finding all illegals, (b) detaining them humanely, (c) making sure they have no legal right to be here and (d) transporting them to their country of origin are almost unimaginable. It also creates hassles for those who look foreign but are here legally, particularly those who are citizens.

To solve this problem, we have to radically change our whole system, economically, legally, politically, judicially and constitutionally. In the end it will prove divisive, difficult, expensive and futile. We can't even get people to support the measures we must make to prevent terrorists from operating here under cover of our privacy "rights."

In many ways this reminds me of the situation Katrina created for New Orleans. The flood walls when down, then the pumps were only pumping the flood waters into the canals which were breached. We don't even have any physical barriers on our borders, and the illegals are pouring in. We don't have "pumps" adequate to send them back out of the country, if we had the flood walls. The country is awash in illegal aliens who are asserting our own laws and Constitution to prevent or hamper removing them.

In the case of New Orleans, the realistic answer is obvious. Raise the city above sea level or don't rebuild it. The people there don't like those choices, but do we really want to put hundreds of billions into rebuilding an area that could be flooded again before we even get started?

The problem for the nation is even more discouraging. The obvious solution includes a quick, unforgeable means of identification, cracking down on employers who hire these people, including homeowners and farmers, and putting up walls and a tough program to crack down on tunnels, smuggling, etc., and an end to all invitations to foreigners to come here to live, even temporarily.

To sum it all up, the president would have done better, after announcing his proposals, to note what changes all this will require to our way of life, and then tell them what to do to support him. For example, are they willing to overrule the courts on their rules on privacy, due process, etc., by passing new amendments to the Constitution?

I realize that this post is rambling and a little incoherent, but it's a kind of stream of consciousness of my thoughts as I try to imagine what we can do. What I'd like to do is get even more agressive in spreading the principles of our democracy to other countries. The origin of the problem is the difference between even the life of an illegal alien here and what they face at home. We could do as the Democrats would like and raise taxes to the point where our economy won't attract foreigners, or we could get to work bringing the rest of the world to a condition where the love of home will at least balance the hopes driving illegal immigration.

I liked Hugh's reaction to one of his callers who wanted to know what we'd do about the Canadian border: Napalm. In other words, he doesn't know either.

If the problem were easy, we'd have solved it years ago. We are so polarized that half of us will try to block whatever the other half propose just because we oppose them.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Whose side are they on?

Newsweek sounds like it thinks the NSA, not the leaks of classified information, is the scandal. I guess I underestimated the willingness of Bush-haters to tear down the country to get at him