Friday, June 29, 2007

Mark Steyn recently summed up John McCain perfectly, at least from where I sit: "Senator McCain is governed primarily by his indestructible sense of his own indispensability."

Now, unfortunately, McCain is an eminently dispensable Senator -- how hard would it be for our country to get along with full frontal assaults on the First Amendment, after all? So it's nice to be able to see that, for once, he was
quite literally indispensable -- but, since (as he's been doing for months now) he was out running for President rather than doing his job as a Senator, it turns out that his truancy killed his own pet monster of an immigration bill.

Look, I try to be charitable, but McCain for some reason tries my patience, and I just can't help but think this turn of events is high-larious...especially since at this point I probably have as good a chance at the Presidency as McCain does. Consider the perfect symmetry of his self-immolation: first, McCain torpedoes his presidential campaign by signing onto this comprehensive immigration bill -- and then he turns around and torpedoes the comprehensive immigration bill by going off and campaining for the presidency.

[cackling unrepentantly] I would like to feel bad about being uncharitable, but...BWA-HA-HA-HA, as Dave Barry might say.

HT: Ace

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Dude, It's Just That Bush Decided Jimmy Carter Needed Some Competition, Okay? Dept

The dumbest politician of the last ten years. I think -- whether you agree with the guy's agenda or not -- you have to recognize that this guy is just about the last guy you want on your side. He's like a Chris Webber who calls nonexistent timeouts every game. Even if you want his team to win, and you know he wants your team to win, you don't want him on the floor -- precisely because you'd like to, you know, win.

[shaking head] One absolutely wonderful thing about this whole immigration bill farce: our Senators, from both parties, made it clear to even the slowest voter's mind that they do not in any meaningful sense consider themselves to be our employees, nor do they consider us to be their bosses. Rarely in this nation's history can the arrogance of the Senatorial plutocrats have been more naked, and their disdain and contempt for those whom they pretend to serve more shamelessly displayed. And as somebody who thinks that the less people trust politicians the better, I think that's an exceptionally positive development.

Of course you don't necessarily want Senator Switchback in your tactical corner, either. "I did it on purpose." Um...a little help here in the comments section would be much appreciated, because I'm stuck in something of an ethical dilemma. Is it more charitable here to consider the man to be a liar, or to consider him to be an honest man with rather less intelligence than your typical paranoid chipmunk? I'd like to take the high road only I'm not sure which one that is...

UPDATE: The Senator's explanation has changed again, apparently. I'm not even going to try to keep up with his flailing. I'm just going to point out, impishly, that a lack of charity can be a whole lot of fun.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Why We Need Guys Dept, Again

Because while it is true that a goodly number of women run the Tough Guy race, there's no way on God's green earth that a woman would have thought of it in the first place.

Great googly balls of fire, how I'd love to do that.

I hate this back of mine most of the time, but now more than most. [sigh]

Be sure you watch the whole video.

Man. What it must be like to finish that. I can't even imagine the camaraderie...


Saturday, June 23, 2007

Robert E. Lee discusses the genius of a certain kind of self-impressed intellectual with whom we are all too familiar today

From Fred Singer by way of Michael Ledeen:

It appears we have appointed our worst generals to command forces, and our most gifted and brilliant to edit newspapers! In fact, I discovered by reading newspapers that these editor/geniuses plainly saw all my strategic defects from the start, yet failed to inform me until it was too late. Accordingly, I'm readily willing to yield my command to these obviously superior intellects, and I'll, in turn, do my best for the cause by writing editorials - after the fact.

-- Gen. Robert E. Lee, 1863
I think what strikes me the most about the Democrats in Congress and on America's editorial pages, is the fact that they patently (a) don't understand how important it is for the nation to win when once we have decided to go to war and (b) wouldn't understand what makes the difference between victory and defeat even if they were to come to some glimmerings of awareness of what's at stake.

It isn't intelligence that wins wars. It is a particular set of character qualities. A nation with a large percentage of people who overvalue intelligence and verbal facility, but undervalue and indeed despise the military virtues -- and the military virtues are, indeed, virtues, not vices -- is a nation that, like all nations, will sooner or later find itself in a war that it has to win -- but which on the day of decision, will choose defeat of its own free will.

For the citizens of such a nation underestimate both the cost of victory, and the price of defeat.

This seems absolutely reasonable to me... does the rest of the article from which this quote is taken:

Let me take this theme further by suggesting it might also help explain our low rate of marriage. There’s much loose talk in the popular literature about atmospherics such as today’s lack of commitment, but consider the possibility that men are refusing to marry women because the risks are too great.

Men have become broadly aware that they can be arrested and thrown out of their own homes on hearsay, and that their chances of prevailing in a child custody battle are small. With the presumption and the weight of the political bureaucracy against them, men have made what amounts to an economic decision to avoid situations that expose them to loss and ruin.

Instapundit Line of the Day Dept

As Insty discusses the collapsing Zimbabwean economy, he tosses in this delicious little aside:

"No money? I don't know if John would approve, but I'm pretty sure that Yoko wouldn't."

Requiescat in pace, Giovanni

I'm going to be out of pocket for the next couple of days, going to a funeral up in Oklahoma. My brother-in-law's father finally lost a long battle, one of those where you almost feel relieved for his sake. But when Mike and Stephanie got home from the hospital they discovered that the kitchen ceiling had collapsed and the kitchen cabinets had fallen off the wall, with all their dishes inside 'em. My father, who is a just-retired Disciples of Christ minister, has been asked to deliver the eulogy at Giovanni's otherwise thoroughly Roman Catholic farewell...

Let's just say I think I have some family members who need all the support they can get.

It's a bit iffy on the money...Perficient has yet again failed to get paychecks to me on time (this is, like, four times in the past three months), so that while a check for over $10,000 (covering several invoices heretofore left unpaid) is supposedly in the mail, we've only got a few hundred dollars in cash to get by on until the check clears on (given past experience) next Wednesday -- and that's presuming that Wells Fargo doesn't choose, as it often does, to drop a five-day hold on the check. Man, I gotta get clear of those guys (Perficient, I mean, not Wells Fargo).

Friday, June 22, 2007 Demotivational Thought For The Day Dept.

I was just reminded, by a conversation overheard in a coffee shop, of this profound insight from the pessimists over at

Winners never quit, and quitters never win. But those who never win AND never quit, are idiots.
These are the same people who once pointed out, in praise of procrastination, that:

Hard work often pays off in the long run, but laziness always pays off today.

News flash to Sheila Brown: a person raising two happy children is probably contributing more to society than is a person who keeps five quiet dogs

"I have five dogs," says Ms. Brown. "Five dogs don't make this much noise."

I'll tell you something, if the sound of children playing happily outdoors during the daytime doesn't gladden your heart, then you are in dire need of a personality transplant.

We can only charitably hope that the darker issues at which Ms. Brown hints ("...this is an ongoing issue far beyond children playing in the pool") have rather more substance to them...or, no, on second thought, while that might be charitable to Ms. Brown, it would be uncharitable to the Poczateks. (What do you want to bet that it's something like this: Ms. Brown is a conservative evangelical-Christian Republican and the Poczateks are secularist liberal Democrats? Or perhaps vice versa?)

Yes, yes, I know that I don't know the whole story. gods. Taking an eleven-year-old and a five-year-old to court because they make too much noise when they're playing in their backyard swimming pool...

I'm just really, really glad Ms. Brown isn't my neighbor. And since I have nine kids all of whom enjoy our small swimming pool, I imagine Ms. Brown can be glad she isn't mine.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Top-secret pictures recently smuggled out of Guantanamo

CONTENT WARNING: There are shocking and deeply disturbing images in this post. I'm very serious. The world has some very evil people in it and this post includes some pretty horrific documentary evidence thereof. You have been warned.


I am reliably informed by a friend who enthusiastically detests Bush, that Guantanamo is "by definition" a concentration camp and a gulag outpost. Now, thanks to an unnamed source with access to the most secret Newsweek archives, I have the proof. No doubt thanks to the brutal tyranny that Bush has established in what used to be the land of the free, I take my freedom and perhaps my very life into my hands by daring to publish these truths. But better to die boldly than to live cowering in the shadows! Give me liberty or give me death! The evil reign of Bushy McHitler cannot hope to survive these revelations! Sic semper tyrannis!

Here we see the poor innocent, peaceful inmates of Guantanamo in the midst of their daily routine of forced manual labor in the bitter cold of the Cuban winter:

Welcome to the Guantanamo barracks! Here is where Bu$hitler keeps the fortunate ones who are relatively healthy and well-fed and suitable for work... opposed to where he keeps the less useful inmates.

Perhaps the most heart-wrenching moment is that in which the military transports first pass through the gates of the Guantanamo hell. Here we have the hyper-efficient selection process in which perhaps three-fourths of the incoming detainees -- including all of the women who (like the doomed woman in the foreground) are accompanied by their demon-spawn Muslim children, and also the said demon-spawn (like the one she's carrying) -- are simply marched off to the Guantanamo gas chambers and disposed of immediately, at, one is forced in fairness to admit, a significant savings of cost to the American taxpayer.

But the days of Bu$hitler's vile reign of terror are coming to a close! Here we see a member of Human Rights Watch documenting the American brutality in preparation for testimony at the war crimes trial. Behold, All Is Revealed!

[whispering] Remember, children of the True Democratic Faith...The Truth Is Out There...


PLEASE NOTE: I am perfectly well aware that not all persons who object to the American policies and procedures surrounding Guantanamo are asses of the monumental stature of Dick Durbin and the "nutroots." If you have never referred to Guantanamo as a "concentration camp" then I am not satirizing you in this post; so please don't be insulted.

If on the other hand you have called Guantanamo a concentration camp or a gulag, then you should be thoroughly ashamed of yourself. And I hope to God you're not stupid enough to do it in front of any of my friends back in Karaganda whose parents -- or perhaps they themselves -- survived the tender mercies of Peschanlag and its nearby sister camps.


First image: Russian gulag slave laborers working on the infamous Byelomorsko-Baltiyski canal.

Second image: Slave laborers in their barracks on Liberation Day in Buchenwald.

Third image: Buchenwald corpses.

Fourth image: The selection process at Birkenau (Auschwitz). I'm not making up the 75% statistic.

Fifth image: Western investigators on the grounds at Buchenwald.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Paul Potts

Okay, look, I know that I like opera and so you guys think my musical taste perverse. But it's only four minutes out of your life...just trust me on this, and watch a shy and nervous mobile phone salesman from Wales walk onto the stage of the British version of American Idol, and change his life.

I'm warning you that I think the odds are bloody good that you'll catch your tear ducts starting to activate, even if you're a big tough man.

The President finds the solution to the problem of illegal immigration, in the wisdom of Brother Dave Gardner.

For as Brother Dave so memorably said:

"Actually, I think we oughta make everything legal, and then we wouldn't have no crime."

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Why Bush is no Reagan

1. Because even when his speechwriters give him material this good, Bush's delivery undermines the speech's power.

2. Because he is terrified of telling the American people the truth about what it's going to take to defeat Islamofascism, and what the cost will be if we fail.

3. Because Reagan wasn't just talk.

I can't help but wonder how different the last few years might have been if America had had a President, on 9/11 and afterwards, with the moral clarity and leadership abilities that Dubya so sorely lacks.

In the meantime, Reagan's speech is still pretty bloody relevant today, IMHO (I realize that Democrats will not think so).

"A nation that can prefer disgrace to danger is prepared for a master, and deserves one." You guys already know I like Alexander Hamilton's stuff; so did Reagan, it seems.

By the way, to my Democratic friends who want to say that they don't mind fighting terrorists, they just don't want to fight them in Iraq...I'm not really interested in that line of conversation. I don't buy it, frankly, and I'm pretty sure I've heard all of the arguments for it, and they fail to impress. If America doesn't win in Iraq, it will be because we chose not to; it will be because we chose disgrace over honor, defeat over victory. Simple as that. If you disagree, then I think we'll just have to agree to disagree.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Engineer jokes

It's an obscure genre, but it has some decent stuff in it:


The respective wives of a mechanical engineer, an electrical engineer, and a software engineer are all talking about what it's like when their husbands make love to them.

The mechanical engineer's wife: "When my husband makes love to me, it's just incredible stuff -- he knows exactly how to rev up my engine, if you know what I mean."

The electrical engineer's wife: "When my husband makes love to me, it's just awesome -- he knows just which buttons to push to make the sirens go off, if you know what I mean."

The software engineer's wife [plaintively]: "When my husband makes love to me, he just sits on the side of the bed and tells me how great it's gonna be two months from now."


A mechanical engineer, an electrical engineer and a civil engineer are arguing about what kind of engineer God is.

The mechanical engineer's argument that God is a mechanical engineer: "Just look at all the different types of sockets, at the use of leverage in the ligaments and muscular system, at the delivery systems for nutrients and oxygen..."

The electrical engineer's argument that God is a double-E: "We can't even begin to imagine the complexity of the programming of the nervous system that makes consciousness and thought and creativity and art and even worship possible..."

The civil engineer's argument that God is a civil engineer: "Who else would run a toxic waste line right smack through the middle of a recreational facility?"


A mechanical engineer, an electrical engineer, and a software engineer are in a car that has broken down.

The mechanical engineer's suggestion: "Maybe we've thrown a rod."

The electrical engineer's suggestion: "Maybe the alternator's gone out."

The software engineer's suggestion: "Why don't we all get out of the car, get back in again, and see if that fixes it?"

Pat Buckley Zinger of the Day Dept

Kathryn Lopez interviews Linda Bridges here, giving Linda the opportunity to pass on this Pat Buckley zinger:

LOPEZ: What’s your most fun Mrs. Buckley memory?

BRIDGES: Well, my favorite Pat story is not a personal memory of mine — I was told it by others who were there (including her husband). But it has to do with the time in Switzerland when the Buckleys’ dear friends (though political opponents) Ken and Kitty Galbraith came to visit them, bringing along a friend of theirs, none other than Ted Kennedy. The Galbraiths lived in Gstaad, the Buckleys in Rougemont, a few miles down the valley. They spent a pleasant afternoon together, and then the Galbraiths had to continue down the valley towards Geneva, while Kennedy stayed on. Finally it was time for him to return to Gstaad, and rather than take the train he asked if he could borrow a car. “You certainly may not,” said Pat. “There are three bridges between here and Gstaad.”
This gives me the opportunity to tell again my favorite Marie Lombardi (Mrs. Vince Lombardi) story:

Marie was with the Packers on a flight to an away game (the NFL at the time was not the big business it is today, and teams did not charter their own airplanes). This was when flight attendants were still stewardesses and were still openly vetted during the hiring process for trophy potential. The pilot came onto the intercom and gives the standard welcome...but, alas, he forgot to turn the intercom back off. Moments later the passengers were treating to his observing heartily to the co-pilot, "Man, I could sure go for two things right now: an ice cold beer, and a little lovin' from that blonde stewardess in the back."

Now, pilots' conversations of the era being notoriously, shall we say, unrestrained, there's no telling where this conversation is about to go next, but wherever it's goin', it's probably gonna be bad. So the stewardess in question panics, and rushes up the aisle headed for the cabin. And as she passes by Marie, Marie reaches out, grabs and skirt, and admonishes her:

"Wait a minute, honey -- you forgot the beer."

Okay, so I know one other Marie Lombardi story, but it's apocryphal. Coach Lombardi gets home at about 2:00 a.m. from an away game, in the middle of the Green Bay winter, and crawls into bed. Marie snuggles up next to him drowsily, then gasps in shock, "God, your feet are cold!"

The Coach replies, "My dear, in bed you may address me as 'Vincent.'"

We Don't Need A Better Bill In Washington To Enforce The Borders...

...we just need a better George.

Sorry, couldn't resist. [chuckling] But really, do you think it will ever register on Dubya's cocker-spaniel brain that the reason he's lost the Republican Party -- on immigration more than any other single issue -- is that he refuses to do his job?

HT: Kathryn Jean Lopez.

Monday, June 11, 2007

"Top This One If You Can" Dept

The version you'd probably get from me: "Jim Thompson is a dim bulb."

The version you get from Mark Steyn:

Prosecutor Cramer's contention that the Skimmer was "kept in the dark" is only true in the sense that no matter how many lights you switch on for Jim Thompson, how many chandeliers you dangle in front of his eyeballs, how many sconces you mount on his forehead, how many follow-spots you shine across the relevant agenda items, in the dinginess of the Governor's self-serving testimony it's endless night.

Which is why Steyn gets paid lots more than I do.

Upbeat update on Linda Chavez

Ms. Chavez has calmed herself down, recognized that she crossed a line that she should not have crossed, and apologized handsomely. Which as far as I'm concerned ends the matter. (As long-term readers of the blog know, I have strong views about good apologies and tend to admire people more if I have seen them make a truly mature apology, than if I don't yet know of anything they need to apologize for.)

She further goes on to restate the point she wished to make, much more carefully this time, and I think reasonably effectively. I am particularly glad to see her not making the facile "bad cultural stereotypes = racism" assumption; instead she attempts the much more arduous task of showing that the bad cultural stereotypes to which she objects, are actually not valid. Whether you find yourself convinced or not (and I don't have the subject matter expertise to feel confident either way), this is exactly the way a responsible person approaches a discussion of this sort.

This doesn't excuse the fact that her column was terribly written and didn't come close to saying what she was trying to say -- but I can finally reconcile her stated intent with the column, something that I just couldn't manage with her earlier attempts to defend herself. A few days ago I listed three conclusions to which I felt myself "reluctantly forced;" but her apology today allows me with relief to abandon at least the first and the third, and to reduce the second to a mere possibility. For it would seem she was just still too wrapped up in emotions to be able to read what she actually wrote. And being a bad writer when angry, while regrettable, is no major offense.

So I am happy to record here my restored, and indeed greatly heightened, admiration of Ms. Chavez, and to recommend her piece to persons interested in the debate on immigration.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Linda Chavez fantasy runs into some facts (though I sincerely doubt she notices)

Comments provided along with the results of a Rasmassun poll released today:

From the beginning, the President and most other Beltway politicians have misunderstood the public debate over immigration. The initial discussions in Washington implied a debate that was either pro-immigration or anti-immigration. Those who favored some form of legalization or earned citizenship were pictured in official Washington as pro-immigrant while those who favored border control were thought to be anti-immigrant, ignorant, and perhaps racist. [No "perhaps" about it if Ms. Chavez is to believed, of course.]

However, Rasmussen Reports data shows an entirely different picture. Among those who favor enforcement-first policies, 59% also favor a national policy goal that welcomes all immigrants except national security threats, criminals, and those who would come here to live off the U.S. welfare system.

Among those who oppose an enforcement first policy, just 50% favor such a welcoming policy goal. In other words, those who favor an enforcement-first policy are more likely than others to ultimately support a welcoming immigration policy.

While favoring an immigrant-friendly society, most Americans also favor a society in which the laws are observed by everyone. By a 3-to-1 margin, voters say it doesn’t make sense to consider additional laws until the government first gains control of the borders and enforces existing laws.

What an odd's almost as though most of the voters who oppose the immigration bill on grounds of national security and the rule of law and the costs to society as a whole, are actually motivated not by racism, but by -- the mind reels -- concerns about national security and the rule of law and the costs to society as a whole. But wait -- that would imply that the people who disagree with Ms. Chavez might actually disagree with her for precisely the reasons they say they disagree with her. But that can't be, surely...because that would imply the possibility that people disagree with Ms. Chavez not because they are the sinners who display her relative sainthood to good effect, but because she is, shall we say, an excellent candidate to serve as a weapon for some modern-day Samson.

(For the less than Biblically well-versed, Samson famously killed a whole bunch of Philistines while armed only with the jawbone of an ass.)

Linda Chavez's disgrace

Linda Chavez notoriously penned a highly inflammatory column back on 11 May that was widely taken as saying, "Conservatives who oppose the current immigration reform bill, do so because they are anti-Hispanic racists." I read the column and, I have to say, found myself deeply offended and lost a tremendous amount of respect for Ms. Chavez. The best excuse I could manage to make for her was that she, like all columnists and influential bloggers, no doubt gets lots of hate mail, and because of her last name she probably gets a disproportionate amount of "you wetback bitch" hate e-mail from the Buchananite fringe. That wasn't much of an excuse but I was doing my best.

Then I heard a part of a Laura Ingraham segment -- not all, I admit, because the segment was fifteen minutes long and I didn't have that much time in between the family-of-eleven responsibilities -- in which Ms. Chavez attempted to defend herself. And her defense, it sounded to me, was basically, "Look, I said it was only 10%; so if you people took it to mean that all the people who are disagreeing with me are racists, that's because you can't read." I didn't remember her column that way at all, but, again, I didn't have lots of time to go back and check. But this gave me a new excuse for her: she's an incompetent writer who managed to give most of her readers -- certainly including myself, who has no pre-existing ax to grind with her -- the impression that she was resorting to the most shameless ad hominem distraction rather than dealing honestly with critics' arguments.

But in the last hour I had occasion to Google up the column, and before I got to the column I was looking for I found two others: one by Chavez herself, and another by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Dmitri Vassilios. And I am forced reluctantly to the following conclusions:

1. Chavez's original column was, absolutely, intended to accuse those who disagreed with her of racism.

2. This is not just the result of her having had a bad day, but is part of a pattern of behavior.

3. Even more damningly, Chavez is lying through her teeth about the original intent of her column.

These are weighty charges; so let me walk through my reasoning carefully.

Chavez complained bitterly to Ingraham that she didn't call everybody who disagreed with her racist, but then went right back to saying that there would be no controversy, and everybody would be perfectly cool with all these illegal aliens here, if there weren't a bunch of racist pundits making it out to be an issue. Then in her non-mea-culpa column, she makes the following assertions:

My column last week argued that "Some people just don't like Mexicans — or anyone else from south of the border," and that this sentiment was playing a pervasive and destructive role in the current immigration debate...Ten percent is not a very alarming number (Americans are among the least intolerant groups in all international studies of the issue), 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. Those in positions of influence, whether elected leaders or talk show hosts, have a special responsibility not to inflame racial passions and animosities.

So how is it that some of my fellow conservatives have demonstrated that I am wrong to think a small group of them might not want Mexicans to come to America — even legally?

She then cherry-picks inappropriate comments from to show that, sure enough, it is possible to find racist conservatives in comment sections on political sites in the blogosphere.

If I may digress for a moment, I note with sardonic amusement that, in a country in which there are millions of Mexicans who hate Americans and consider us to have stolen half their country or even an entire continent -- does Ms. Chavez think that the anti-gringo prejudice rate among recent Hispanic arrivals is less than ten percent? -- Ms. Chavez has written a column that had the effect (even though she claims it was unintentional) of saying, "Hey, all y'all Hispanic people out there -- you know all those conservatives who are arguing against this bill? It's because they're Hispanic-hating racists." Um, now, do you think it might be remotely possible that such a column would have the effect of inflaming racial hatred? But Chavez seems to want other people to stop criticizing her bill -- even on the merits, and without mentioning race at all, and even with repeated denunciation of racism and clarification that racist motives were out of court -- because, "those in positions of influence, whether elected leaders or talk show hosts, have a special responsibility not to inflame racial passions and animosities." Perhaps Ms. Chavez thinks she has little influence on American popular opinion? (To be fair, that statement is far more true this week than it was last week.)

At any rate, let's look at whether (a) Ms. Chavez is willing to say, "You're a racist," when the only real evidence is that somebody dares publicly to express the opinion that the current immigration reform bill is a bad one, and (b) Ms. Chavez, in her defense of her column, is honest.

You will note the following facts:

1. The bitter reaction against her was due to the impression that she appeared to be trying to say that people who disagreed with her were doing so because they are racist, and that even when they present arguments that don't mention race -- and indeed explicitly disavow racist motivations -- this is simply due to the fact that they know better than to be honest about their true motivations.

2. In defending herself against this charge, she hypes her mention of the 10% number, both in the Ingraham segment and in her column, and she at one point seems by implication to portray her prior column as saying merely, "A small group of my fellow conservatives might not want Mexicans to come to America — even legally." But so far as I can tell she does not say, "I'm sure that there are many prominent conservatives voices in this debate whose views are sincerely held and have nothing to do with racism." Also, while she admits to having argued that the debate is being influenced by racism, she portrays herself as having said merely that racism "plays a pervasive and destructive role." That insofar as racism plays a role, it is destructive, we would all agree (except insofar as Ms. Chavez wishes to use the leftist trick of redefining "racism" to mean "believing unflattering generalizations about another culture"). But did Ms. Chavez really argue merely that it was "pervasive" in the debate, or was her previous column much more sweeping?

In short, Ms. Chavez protests angrily that people who say she's implicitly accusing everybody who publicly disagrees with her of being racists who are hiding their true motives, are misinterpreting what she says. And she appears to be complaining that they are thus misinterpreting even though her column clearly implied that only a minority of conservatives who think the bill is bad are racists. And besides, their criticism is unfair because there's a whole bunch of those racists.

Now let's look back at Ms. Chavez's original column. She does, indeed, mention the 10% number -- in a parenthetical aside in one sentence of a twenty-three sentence column. But that column also includes the following sentences, which Ms. Chavez subsequently tries to downplay in pretending that her column did not in fact say precisely what it was universally interpreted as saying.

The 10% caveat is instantly followed by the next sentence, whose only possible purpose is to imply that the number among people who disagree with her is way higher than ten percent:

"Unfortunately, among this group is a fair number of Republican members of Congress, almost all influential conservative talk radio hosts, some cable news anchors — most prominently, Lou Dobbs — and a handful of public policy 'experts' at organizations such as the Center for Immigration Studies, the Federation for American Immigration Reform, NumbersUSA, in addition to fringe groups like the Minuteman Project."

And the next paragraph -- which I defy anybody to interpret as meant to apply to a number closer to 10% of her opponents than to 100% -- is this stunner:

Stripped bare, this is what the current debate on immigration reform is all about. Fear of "the other" — of those who look or sound different, who come from poor countries with unfamiliar customs — has been at the heart of every immigration debate this country has ever had, from the infamous Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 to the floor of the U.S. Senate this week.[emphasis mine]

Got that? Not, "some of the people who think comprehensive immigration reform is a bad idea have racist motives or assumptions," or even, "most of the people..." No, racism is what the debate "is all about."

Well, perhaps she just got rhetorically carried away and didn't mean that so sweepingly? Maybe she will clarify it later in the column?

Indeed she does:

The only difference is that in the past, the xenophobes could speak freely, unconstrained by a veneer of political correctness. Today, they speak more cautiously, so they talk about the rule of law, national security, amnesty, whatever else they think might make their arguments less racially charged.

Now, if Ms. Chavez does not intend this to imply that people who list those arguments are (a) really motivated by racism and (b) dishonestly trying to hide this fact, then she is the world's most incompetent writer. For she went out of her way just one paragraph back to say that racism is what the current debate is all about. That would seem to imply that when you hear other, apparently non-racist arguments advanced, they are fraudulent masks covering up racist motives -- and when given a chance to clarify, she takes every serious argument advanced against the comprehensive reform bill by reputable conservatives and explicitly attributes the use of those arguments to a desire to "make their arguments less racially charged."

She's not done even yet.

Where once the xenophobes could advocate forced sterilization and eugenics coupled with virtually shutting off legal immigration from "undesirable" countries, now they must be content with building walls, putting troops on the border, rounding up illegal aliens on the job and deporting them, passing local ordinances to signal their distaste for immigrants' multi-family living arrangements, and doing whatever else they can to drive these people back where they came from.

Um, building walls and putting troops on the border, and rounding up people here illegally and deporting them -- that would be, um, like, enforcing the law and securing our borders. But Linda Chavez knows why we want that done -- it's because we want to "drive these people back where they came from." After all, in the previous paragraph she already told us that people who talk about "the rule of law" and "national security" are just xenophobes trying to disguise their racism. And notice that "the xenophobes" in the previous paragraph are people who argue against the President's immigration vision on grounds of the rule of law and of national security, but in this paragraph "the xenophobes" are people who advocate forced sterilization and eugenics, and in the next couple of paragraphs they'll be identified with "the No Amnesty crowd." Again, either Ms. Chavez is deliberately resorting to shameless and contemptibly slanderous demonization of people who merely commit the unforgivable sin of disagreeing with her, or else she is a spectacularly incompetent writer who should for her own safety not be allowed near a computer keyboard.

And, just because Linda-before-the-storm didn't have the sense to realize that Linda-after-the-storm might want to backpedal, and might want to be able to pretend that she really only meant that a small percentage of those who disagreed with her were motivated by racism, she wraps it up with this categorical statement:

"But we need to quit pretending that the 'No Amnesty' crowd is anything other than what it is: a tiny group of angry, frightened and prejudiced loudmouths backed by political opportunists who exploit them."

Um, should the rest of us return the favor and quit pretending that Linda Chavez is anything other than what she gives every evidence of being?

And that brings us to Dmitri Vassilios. Ms. Chavez might try to tell her friend Laura that she does not simply label as "racist" anybody who disagrees with her on no evidence other than their disagreement -- at least, I certainly got the impression that, in that interview, she was trying to claim that she does not consider "this person thinks the bill is a bad idea" as proof that "this person is a racist." But here is Mr. Vassilios's version of his interaction with Ms. Chavez:

1. Mr. Vassilios writes this column on the disastrous effects the government's inability to control the border has had on the Arizona border, which column, as he subsequently and quite correctly notes, never mentions race. It does, however, cite at length a pamphlet warning about high crime rates on the border -- a pamphlet handed out not by the Border Patrol or the National Guard or the local sheriff's department, but by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which gives the pamphlet to Americans wishing to visit the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge in Arizona. It also gives the testimony of a local woman whose house has been repeatedly broken into by illegals, and of a staff member at the visitor services department who speaks of cars being stolen, of visitors being robbed by illegally-present bandits, of murders, of rapes. It closes by criticizing President Bush for his cavalier attitude toward illegal immigration.

2. His article, along with three government reports about the impact of illegal immigration on infrastructure and crime, is forwarded to Ms. Chavez by an independent researcher.

3. Ms. Chavez's e-mailed response to the researcher (who forwarded it on to Mr. Vassilios): "Don't email to us your racist propaganda again."

4. Mr. Vassilios tried to contact Ms. Chavez about the whole incident, and his side of the what-happened-next story is this:

Immigration pundit Linda Chavez could have said the e-mail message was a hoax, a merry mix-up like in one of those screwball 1940s comedies or that she did not consider my writing to be "racist propaganda." What she said was "no comment." Her office manager said "it's just not that big of a deal. Honestly, we don't have time for something like this. It's just silliness."

Now, from where I sit, that looks a whole lot like, "This person disagrees with me; so even though none of his arguments have anything to do with race, he must be a racist."

Is it possible that Ms. Chavez's side of the story might provide some conveniently-omitted details? Sure. Is it possible that Ms. Chavez does not really assume that almost all those who disagree with her does so because they are evil people, and that those whose arguments do not appear to be based on evil motives are just trying to disguise their true nature? I imagine so. Would Ms. Chavez prefer that I give her the benefit of the doubt? I'm sure she would.

But would she return the favor if I were to observe that I am deeply opposed to the immigration bill on grounds of national security implications, the precedent for the rule of law, the likelihood that the bill will greatly accelerate the pace of illegal immigration and render future enforcement even more hopelessly difficult than it already is, the likelihood that neither Bush nor his predecessor will actually attempt to enforce the provisions that would shut down the immigration flow, and by the immense financial and economic cost that I believe the bill will impose on the American economy and the American taxpayer? Or would she say that I am just a Mexican-hating racist trying to hide my true motivations?

I leave it to you, and to Dmitri Vassilaros, to decide.

P.S.: Remember that Ms. Chavez doesn't know that I have spent time with my parents in Mexican slums helping build churches, that when I lived in Austin I more or less informally adopted the extended family of a young man I knew was here illegally and eventually helped pay for the medical bills of his mother back home in southern Mexico, that I not only took in a Brazilian high school exchange student for a year but also brought him back to the States at my expense a couple of years later and provided him with a car and paid his college tuition, that I know the names of and chat with most of the people who man the cash registers at BP even though 95% of them speak English with a heavy Mexican accent -- which would be why I habitually talk to them in my limited but enthusiastic Spanish. If Ms. Chavez really wanted to know whether I hate people from south of the border, she could talk to Edgar or to Luz or to Annabella or to Lorena (who, like me, has twin boys) or to July (whose name I pronounce correctly) or to Higro.

But if she knew my views on immigration...hmmm, what do you think are the odds she would bother to ask the people who know me to enlighten her as to my character before she dispatched me to my demonized pigeonhole?

A proposal I consider modest...

...but Dubya's and Kennedy's real intentions can be guaged by how fast they'd reject it:

How about an amendment stating that whatever relief is granted to any illegal immigrant under this bill, must be granted to all persons here legally. So:

1. If illegal immigrants are to receive full amnesty for all back taxes they have failed to pay, then all Americans and legal immigrants currently owing back taxes are also instantly and fully amnestied -- all tax debts forgiven. If they only have to pay one year's taxes, then all persons here legally who owe more than a year's worth of back taxes have their tax debt instantly and irrevocably reduced down to one year's worth. Whatever break the illegals get, everybody gets.

2. Any legal immigrant instantly qualifies for any provisions of the Z visa, including such things as no obligation to learn English before your twelfth year here, the right to bring your family over to visit you even before there's any system in place to make sure they go back (thus getting them at the head of the line for the next amnesty even if you don't just get your next-door neighbor to sign an affidavit that they were here on 1 Jan 2007, thus getting them the instant Z-visa), the right to apply for all amnesty benefits immediately with no paperwork more onerous than that required for the Z visa, any legal immigrants facing deportation orders because of connections to terrorism are granted amnesty just like they would get if they were here illegally and their deportation hearings had already been held, etc. Oh, wait, we don't want people with terrorist connections to be granted amnesty? Too bad, you're not the President, and that's what the President wants -- since clearly the President (not being a hypocrite) has read the bill in its entirety and approves of all its provisions.

3. Any benefits such as Stafford Loans that are available to any alien, including former illegals amnestied under this travesty of a bill, must be made available to all U.S. citizens. It must be completely and utterly impossible for any alien amnestied under this bill to receive any taxpayer-funded benefit that any American citizen or legal immigrant is not eligible to receive -- and the illegal dude should stand in line behind the citizens and legal immigrants for those benefits.

4. Any crime that a rational person would consider a less serious infraction than entering the country illegally, committing repeated document fraud, and making use of public services to which one is not entitled while not paying taxes (and thus underbidding legal residents and citizens who have to demand wages high enough to cover the taxes they are paying), shall not under any circumstances be penalized more heavily than the $1,000 fine required to apply for a Z-visa. (The opinions of moronic intellectual contortionists who have talked themselves into believing that illegal immigration has not "really" been illegal for the last couple of decades, are to be completely discounted in this calculation.)

And if you can't get illegal aliens to come "out of the shadows" without offering them a better deal than you are willing to offer to people who are actually citizens or who have conscientiously followed our laws -- well, then, let 'em stay in the shadows for now.

I now pause to give Linda Chavez a chance to call me a racist, to give Dubya a chance to call me somebody who doesn't "want to do what's right for America," to let John McCain observe that I wish "intentionally to make our country's problems worse," and to allow the Anchoress to accuse me of stamping my feet childishly...

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Chuckling affectionately at Her Anchorship's foibles

You can tell when The Anchoress is really pissed because she fires off a bitterly insulting, you-people-are-such-morons-and-if-you-had-just-listened-to-me-all-along-you'd-look-smarter-now-you-jackasses post...usually within minutes of complaining about "the tone of the debate." (Also she spends a lot of time in a big hurry to attribute disagreement with her to anti-Catholic prejudice, which I can only assume has something to do with nasty comments she deletes and nasty e-mails we don't get to see.) This doesn't bother me because she's usually even-tempered enough to give me an inferiority complex; so the occasional flash of very human weakness and lack of self-perception is endearing rather than infuriating.

The real differences between the Anchoress and the "you've-said-just-what-I-was-thinking, aren't-those-people-who-disagree-with-us-jerks-for-calling-us-jerks" clones in her comments (I'm not at all implying, by the way, that her comment section is nothing but clones) are mostly this, I think:

1. The Anchoress still trusts Dubya to enforce such provisions of the law as would actually stop the flood of unskilled Mexican immigrants; whereas those she sneers at, figure this President does not now and never will have even the slightest intention of doing anything that would keep Mexicans from coming into the country. That would be, you see, because we've actually paid attention to Bush's record on the subject (and I might add that as a Texan for the past two decades I've been watching Bush deal with the Hispanic community quite a bit longer than I suspect Her Anchorship has been). The most hilarious line in her whole post is, "...the president is appreciably weakened..." Um, no, honey, the President has on this particular issue been very much strengthened by getting a Democratic Congress, because the President is far closer to Teddy Kennedy on the question of what needs to be done about immigration than he was to the Republican Congress and is to the majority of those whose votes got him the power he now wields.

2. Her Anchorship, in her post, at least, pulls a Linda Chavez in which she imagines up a straw man whose motives and emotions are easily savaged, and then savages all of us who have dared to disagree with her on the grounds that we have bad motives and emotions. We actually know what our motives and emotions are and have been, and her performance does not move us to awed respect for her powers of insight.

3. Her Anchorship suffers from the fallacy of bifurcation that says, "We have to either solve the problem with new laws or else deport the whole 12 million." She thinks that the people who disagree with her disagree because they want "perfection." I don't think it's possible for any person to come to such a conclusion unless they have not bothered at all to pay attention to what their opponents have been saying with an ear for understanding them rather than with an eye for snatching out phrases that will allow you to insult them. I don't know a single serious opponent of this immigration bill who is holding out for perfection, and if the Anchoress thinks that's what's going on then she needs to be quiet until her skills of comprehension have improved drastically.

"What are you going to do with the twelve million..."? Leave 'em where they are for now, mostly -- they've got a heckuva lot sweeter deal than they would have as legals, since they currently get the services without the taxes. "But something must be done" -- why? You're durn tootin' something "must" be done, in the sense that if something useful isn't done the country will reap dire consequences: the borders have to be secured. But the bill that's about to be passed has a whole bunch of provisions that we know (because the President is, on this issue, a Democrat) will be implemented to the full and that make the problem vastly worse. These are coupled with a whole bunch of "compromise" provisions that we unfortunately are certain that the Democrat to be elected President in 2008 won't enforce and that we are pretty damn confident the "Republican" currently holding office has no intention of enforcing, either. Plus even if the President were serious about enforcement, those provisions are supposed to be enforced by an agency that is already hopelessly overwhelmed -- and which will see its workload explode by an order of magnitude as a direct result of this bill. But the President and his supporters (like Her Anchorship) want us to approve the bill without any even half-decent explanation of how all the bill's promises to conservatives can possibly be kept. Hm, now that's pretty appetizing. If we fail to be convinced...well, The Anchoress isn't going to give us that explanation, she'll just fire back, "Well, we have to do SOMETHING; so what do you suggest?"

See, Her Anchorship thinks she's being pretty devastating by saying, "Okay, fine, if you don't think this bill will work, then tell us what will." But she forgets that, to true conservatives (and granted that she's a liberal who just got sick of the people running the Democratic Party -- which goes a long way to explain why she just can't grasp why so many conservatives dislike Democrat-in-Republican-clothing Bush, I suspect -- so she may not grasp this concept)...she forgets, I think, that true conservatives want more than anything else for the government to adopt the Hippocratic principle of, "First, do no harm." Doing nothing at all is better than doing something devastatingly and irretrievably destructive, which is what this bill is, especially with this President in charge and a Democrat likely to take the White House in 2008.

And that's the last of the major differences:

4. Her Anchorship thinks that Something Must Be Done. But the truth is more complicated. It is true that (a) Something Useful Ought To Be Done. It is also true that (b) We Ought To Hold Out For The Best Available Outcome. But (c) it's entirely possible that the best available outcome (especially with a leader of Dubya's caliber and proclivities) is the status quo -- that is, doing nothing is often the least bad option even when doing nothing is a bad option. H.A.'s whole deal about "porridge" and "gruel" and "ice cream" is question-begging imagery (that is, it is a petitio principii presented in a picture rather than in a syllogism). A much more accurate image, I think, would be this:

Situation: you are in the initial stages of a disease (rampant illegal immigration and hopelessly open borders) that stands an 80% chance of killing you slowly over the next twenty years if you don't figure out a cure.

Doctor the First: proposes a round of chemotherapy that will make you miserable and will increase your odds of dying in the next five years to 90%, and ensures that your chances of dying within the next two decades to 100%. You turn this down.

Doctor the Second: proposes a course of action that in your opinion not only won't cure the disease you have, but will also give you AIDS, double the severity of your original disease, plus while you're waiting to die it will make your back really, really itchy. You turn this one down, too.

Whereupon the Anchoress calls you an idiot because you turned down Doctor the First, on the grounds that his option was way better than Doctor the Second, and "you have to do something."

See, sometimes there are no good options, and of the available bad options, "just be still and don't make things worse" is the best you can do. If the Republican Congress were to unite against this bill, could they keep it from going through? Yep. If we think this bill will do nothing but make bad problems far worse, is it a temper tantrum to shoot down the bill and stick to the status quo? Pace Her Anchorship and Gerald, I don't there's anything immature or childish in that at all. I can't say as much for the habit of insulting those whose positions you don't understand or who do not share your own unexamined assumptions.

So, since Her Anchorship wants solutions:

President Bush: prove that you are willing to enforce the laws we currently have.

While waiting for Hell to freeze over, we now turn to the Republican Congress.

Republican Congress: do no harm by new legislation that worsens the problems, and give the country a chance to come to its senses and elect a genuinely Republican Congress and (even more importantly) a Republican President whom we trust to have a genuine desire to close the borders and halt illegal immigration.

People like Her Anchorship: stop talking as though people who disagree with you are thereby revealing their moral inferiority to yourself, and stop disgracing yourselves by attacking straw men. Really, how are those of us with an I.Q. above room temperature supposed to respect a person who is capable of saying -- under the apparent impression that he is devastatingly refuting the position of those who disagree with him -- "obviously, if 12 million people vanished over night, the American economy would collapse"? Well, yes, it would. And obviously, if we wiped out the entire Arab world with a series of atom bombs, the nuclear fallout would hurt us as well; and thus have I (by the apparent standards of rationality held by the Anchoress, who recommended this guy's post) refuted the views of the neocons who think we need to take a tough stand against Islamofascist terrorism.

Now, let me wipe the affectionately and sardonically amused grin off of my face and stop giving the Anchoress and Gerald a hard time. In all fairness, I think people like Gerald and the Anchoress really have no idea how far they are from comprehending the genuine concerns of the people who disagree with them, and I think they have no idea how many assumptions they bring to the table without realizing that the rest of us do not share those assumptions, and therefore I think they are trying to contribute useful discussion. The fact that their listening skills are in dire need of enhancement...well, that's not exactly an uncommon failing, now, is it?