Friday, March 28, 2008

 

Notice

This is a temporary blog that I maintained while I was moving Liberty Corner from Typepad back to Blogspot. All of the posts at this temporary blog can be found also at http://libertycorner.us (alternative URL: http://libertycorner.blogspot.com).

Thursday, April 06, 2006

 

Two Heroes and a Blackguard

Laurels to
[t]wo Ukraininan doctors, Vadym Lazaryev and Vladymyr Ishchenko, [who] have been seeking asylum in Ireland since 2004, after they were forced to flee their country for exposing appalling human rights abuses of women and unborn children in the Ukraine.

The doctors were part of a group working to uncover a macabre system of medical trafficking in the bodies of unborn babies, European Life Network reported today. Doctors were deceiving women into aborting their babies for false "medical" reasons, and then selling the bodies of the children. The children would be aborted live, and their bodies cut into separate organs. In some cases live dissection took place.

Most of the body parts were apparently sold to the burgeoning cosmetic industry of "foetal tissue" youth-enhancing treatments, as well as quack "medical therapies."

In many cases, women were paid to get pregnant and to deliver the baby at a given gestation. They were paid a higher price for carrying the child closer to term, since abortion is illegal in the Ukraine after 12 weeks gestation.
Dr. Eric Pianka, on the other hand, probably roots for the dark side:
[A] few hundred members of the Texas Academy of Science rose to their feet and gave a standing ovation to a speech that enthusiastically advocated the elimination of 90 percent of Earth's population by airborne Ebola. The speech was given by Dr. Eric R. Pianka . . . , the University of Texas evolutionary ecologist and lizard expert who the Academy named the 2006 Distinguished Texas Scientist. . . .

. . . Professor Pianka began his speech by explaining that the general public is not yet ready to hear what he was about to tell us. . . .

Pianka . . . began laying out his concerns about how human overpopulation is ruining the Earth. He presented a doomsday scenario in which he claimed that the sharp increase in human population since the beginning of the industrial age is devastating the planet. He warned that quick steps must be taken to restore the planet before it's too late.

Professor Pianka said the Earth as we know it will not survive without drastic measures. Then, and without presenting any data to justify this number, he asserted that the only feasible solution to saving the Earth is to reduce the population to 10 percent of the present number.

He then showed solutions for reducing the world's population in the form of a slide depicting the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. War and famine would not do, he explained. Instead, disease offered the most efficient and fastest way to kill the billions that must soon die if the population crisis is to be solved. . . .

After a dramatic pause, Pianka returned to politics and environmentalism. But he revisited his call for mass death when he reflected on the oil situation.

“And the fossil fuels are running out,” he said, “so I think we may have to cut back to two billion, which would be about one-third as many people.” So the oil crisis alone may require eliminating two-third's of the world's population. . . .

When Pianka finished his remarks, the audience applauded. It wasn't merely a smattering of polite clapping that audiences diplomatically reserve for poor or boring speakers. It was a loud, vigorous and enthusiastic applause. . . .

He spoke glowingly of the police state in China that enforces their one-child policy. He said, "Smarter people have fewer kids." He said those who don't have a conscience about the Earth will inherit the Earth, ". . . because those who care make fewer babies and those that didn't care made more babies." He said we will evolve as uncaring people, and "I think IQs are falling for the same reason, too."

With this, the questioning was over. Immediately almost every scientist, professor and college student present stood to their feet and vigorously applauded the man who had enthusiastically endorsed the elimination of 90 percent of the human population. Some even cheered.
Pianka and his sychophants, I am sure, believe that they are among the chosen 10 percent who should be spared. Pianka clearly belongs to that breed of doom-sayers who want a society that operates according to their strictures. But society refuses to cooperate, and so they conjure historically and scientifically invalid explanations for the behavior of man and nature. By doing so they are able to convince themselves that their vision is the correct one. Because they cannot satisfy their power-lust in the real world, they retaliate by conjuring a theoretical world of doom. It is as if they walk around under a thought balloon which reads "Take that!"

I would trade a million Piankas for Drs. Vadym Lazaryev and Vladymyr Ishchenko.

(Thanks to my daughter-in-law and son for pointing me to the linked stories.)

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

 

More Communitarians

Occam of the Carbuncle improves on my analysis of communitarianism:

. . . Liberty Corner offers a convenient compass for navigating the political jungle.

"The communitarian state is simply too seductive. It co-opts its citizens through progressive corruption: higher spending to curry favor with voting blocs, higher taxes to fund higher spending and to perpetuate the mechanisms of the state, still higher spending, and so on. Each voting bloc insists on sustaining its benefits -- and increasing them at every opportunity -- for one of two reasons. Many voters actually believe that largesse of the communitarian state is free to them, and some of them are right. Other voters know better, but they grab what they can get because others will grab it if they don't." . . .

I would add a third type of communitarian voter to Tom's list - the one who knows the state's largesse is not free, but sincerely believes that the strictly enforced "compassion" of collectivist initiatives is the best way. This voter is typically driven by a belief in the inevitability of poverty and a sort of noblesse oblige toward the less "fortunate". Typically, the paying of taxes is viewed by this sort of voter as a sacred duty and even a privilege. The state is seen as a massive charitable organization.

Spot on.


Tuesday, April 04, 2006

 

An Immigration Roundup

My posts to date:
It's Time for Plain Talk about Illegal Immigration
As I Was Saying about Immigration
Societal Suicide
More about Immigration
My Diagnosis and Prognosis
In addition to the links to relevant material that I've included in those posts, there's "Immigrating Terror," published today at FrontPageMag.com.

UPDATE (9:50 pm): There's more from the Maverick Philosopher. (Be sure to follow his links to posts by Victor Davis Hanson.)

Monday, April 03, 2006

 

My Diagnosis and Prognosis

UPDATED 04/04/06

This message is prompted by the attempt to hijack the "melting pot" concept for the advancement of the welfare-regulatory state. The "melting pot" -- properly understood -- refers to the assimilation of immigrants to the prevailing culture and rule of law, not to the subversion of that culture and rule of law by a wave of illegal immigrants and their Leftist proponents.

Not all cultures and legal systems are beneficial, and none is perfect. But one culture and legal system -- the Anglospheric culture that shaped the Founding Generation of Americans and the Constitution they bequeathed us -- comes as close to perfection as one might reasonably expect in this imperfect world. It is no longer de rigeur to say that. And therein lies the tale.

Americans -- whether or not they know it -- are in a last-ditch fight to save the already much-diluted culture and rule of law that made possible our now-vanishing liberty and pursuit of happiness. And yet, many Americans and American institutions persist in enabling efforts to further dilute that culture and rule of law. This dilution, which is essentially anti-American and anti-liberty, arises from the Left -- as represented by Ted Kennedy, Michael Moore, and Hollywood -- and is abetted by the parrot-like political correctness that passes for thought among public "educators," academicians, the media, much of the legal profession, and most government officials and employees. At the rate we are going, I give the U.S. another ten years before it becomes a listless, socialist "paradise" on a par with Canada and Great Britain.

I can only hope that the Supreme Court will prove me wrong.

UPDATE: See this post by the Maverick Philosopher and follow his link to a column by Cal Thomas. Steve Burton (Right Reason) makes an excellent offering in a similar vein. Burton ends his post with this:
W$J conservatives and libertarians . . . will point out that we've done it before, back when we absorbed wave after wave of Europe's huddled masses, yearning to breathe free, and turned them in short order into unhyphenated Americans.

To which I reply: the great waves of American immigration in the 19th and early 20th centuries swept ashore in a harsh, sink-or-swim society where you either fit in and made your own way or died trying. The Latin American immigrants of today, on the other hand, show up in an advanced welfare state under the seemingly ineradicable spell of officially imposed multiculturalist dogma. So the first generation will be as hard-working and family-oriented as anyone could wish. But just wait until our educational system gets ahold of their children. Just wait. In the blink of an historical eye, their work ethic and family values will be replaced with a sense of aggrieved victimhood and entitlement to state compensation, with all the appalling panoply of ills that follow in their wake. After that, it will be ethnic separatism and socio-economic dysfunction as far as the eye can see.

It is a bitter cup that we are preparing for ourselves, and nothing in history teaches us how to drink it and live.
Dale Franks of QandO weighs in with this:
Allowing a large group of foreign persons into the country, and making no effort to assimilate them, will culminate in a disaster. Look at what is happening in Europe as a result of unbridled Muslim immigration. We're on a very similar path.

As far as I'm concerned, anyone who comes here and makes the effort to become an American, and to subscribe to our ideals and values, is welcome. Those who prefer to maintain their primary allegiance to another country need to go back to that country, rather than trying to make mine a mirror image of the Third World hellhole they hated so much that they risked their lives to flee it.
Given the difficulty of knowing ahead of time who will try to assimilate and who will not, the most effective immigration policy is one that discriminates on the basis of skills. As I wrote here,
It's time to seal the borders and admit immigrants based strictly on their demonstrated ability to make an immediate, positive economic contribution. That prescription might seem to run against my interest, inasmuch as I live in Texas, which is a first stop for immigrants who work for low wages. Given the cost of the regulatory-welfare state of Texas, however, I believe that I would be better off with fewer immigrants. In any event, the long-run economic vitality of the United States requires a citizenry that has a stake in, and is more likely to support, limited government and free markets.

An immigrant to the U.S. makes a positive contribution to economic growth only if he or she can be more productive here than in his or her homeland. That's true of Mexican construction workers who are harnessed to America's economic-growth engine, but it's even more true of scientists and engineers from Europe and Asia, who can advance the technology that enables economic growth. Furthermore, those scientists and engineers are not going to demand welfare benefits, and they are less likely (on the whole) to vote for politicians who seek to expand the regulatory-welfare state.

 

More About Immigration

I wrote about immigration here and here. Noted economist Greg Mankiw (who now has a blog) seconds one of my key points. Here's Mankiw:
The hard issues tend to revolve around the immigration of unskilled workers, who are more likely to drain resources from the social safety net and increase U.S. income inequality by pushing down wages at the bottom of the wage distribution.

Immigration of skilled workers is another matter. A skilled worker coming into the United States will likely pay more in taxes than he or she gets in social benefits. Moreover, an increased supply of skilled labor will tend to reduce income inequality. A strong case can be made that any worker with significant skills (such as a college degree) should be admitted without restriction.
Meanwhile, over at EconLog, Arnold Kling quotes himself:
What should you call someone who wants government to provide for our education, competitiveness, and health care but whose concern about "us" stops at the border? The obvious label would be national socialist. But George Bush and Paul Krugman are not Nazis...

The alternative ideology that I would propose might be called transnational libertarianism. The ideal libertarian world would have no economic borders. There would be no problem of illegal immigration, because all forms of immigration would be legal.
My comment:
The ideal libertarian world would be governed by a unified rule of law. That rule of law would protect citizens from predators -- including government-sponsored predation (e.g., welfare programs). To the extent that immigrants come to the U.S. because it offers "better" welfare programs, those immigrants are engaging in predation and enabling the election of politicians who would multiply the predation. Your prescription works in the ideal world, but not in the real one that we inhabit.
Mankiw is that rare economist who sees the real world.

 

More than Enough of Amateur Critics

I wrote "Enough of Amateur Critics" in response to all the finger-pointing and blame-shifting that ensued the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina. The principles therein apply to matters other than natural disasters. There's war, for instance. In that regard, Jay Tea of WizBang! advances my theme in "Everyone makes missteaks."

Sunday, April 02, 2006

 

Remember the "Little Ice Age"?

George Will does. As do I.

One Sunday morning in January or February of 1977, when I lived in western New York State, I drove to the news stand to pick up my Sunday Times. I had to drive my business van because my car wouldn't start. (Odd, I thought.) I arrived at the stand around 8:00 a.m. The temperature sign on the bank across the street then read -16 degrees (Fahrneheit). The proprietor informed me that when he opened his shop at 6:00 a.m. the reading was -36 degrees.

That was the nadir of the coldest winter I can remember. The village reservoir froze in January and stayed frozen until March. (The fire department had to pump water from the Genessee River to the village's water-treatment plant.) Water mains were freezing solid, even though they were 6 feet below the surface. Many homeowners had to keep their faucets open a trickle to ensure that their pipes didn't freeze. And, for the reasons cited in Will's article, many scientists -- and many Americans -- thought that a "little ice age" had arrived and would be with us for a while.

But science is often inconclusive and just as often slanted to serve a political agenda. (Also, see this.) That's why I'm not ready to sacrifice economic growth and a good portion of humanity on the altar of global warming and other environmental fads.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

 

Watching the Fringe

From Fringe Watch: A Look at the Legion of St. Louis and its Extremist Connections, a twenty-part study of the Legion of St. Louis and the neo-fascist International Third Position:
Extremism of any kind represents a deviation from sound judgment and morals. In the American context, postwar extremism was traditionally a monopoly of the left. But after the 1960s the anti-establishment movement became the status quo. In reaction to this, some people at the other end of the spectrum have ventured off into the fringes....

Despite surface appearances, neo-Nazism is in many respects a mirror image of the radical naturalism of the left. After all, it shares the same fundamental philosophical origins—Darwinism, Hegelianism, Nietzcheanism, etc. Catholic intellectuals like Kuehnelt-Leddihn saw Nazism as a variety of left-wing politics. Undoubtedly, international and national socialists alike view politics primarily as a "triumph of the will," or a conflict of relentless materialistic forces....

Like the incessant cant about tobacco use or "safe-sex," mainstream "anti-Nazism" keeps people’s minds off of the atrocities of the leftist establishment. At the same time, the new racial nationalism reroutes those who question the ideological status quo into a political dead-end, ensuring that they will not become a real force of opposition in the ongoing culture wars....

In 2005 the Irish journal The Brandsma Review published an insightful analysis of the new hybrid extremism which, among other things, is attempting to link up religious tradition with its own agenda. In particular, the UK neo-fascist International Third Position (ITP) and its affiliates have tried to subvert Catholic groups in Europe on many social issues. . . .

Neo-Conned and Neo-Conned Again!....are put out by the IHS Press, under its Light in the Darkness imprint. As [a] review opines, IHS "has assembled one of the most impressive lineups of scholars and commentators. . . ever seen on any subject." The bi-partisan authorship spans the entire political range from paleo-conservative Pat Buchanan to Marxist Noam Chomsky. Some contributors are entirely reputable. However, beneath the superficial respectability of IHS Press there lies a web of connections that conservatives should find disturbing....

[T]he founder, CEO, and editor of IHS Press is John Sharpe. The following points should send off alarm bells among his target conservative audience:

1) John Sharpe has a long record of sympathy with anti-American Arab regimes and tries to downplay the horror of 9/11 by blaming it on Israel and the US itself.

2) He promotes socialist/leftist economic theories, through the works of IHS Press' Sheffield Hallam University Press series and the works of the eccentric British "guild socialist" Arthur Penty.

3) He disseminates anti-Semitic publications through a subsidiary called the Legion of St. Louis (LSL).

If it is thought that this last charge is an exaggeration, consider Mr. Sharpe's argument for "sane" anti-Semitism:

Finally, let us not fear the epithet "anti-Semite" as it is used by the enemies of the Faith and of the West. . . . [W]e all then have the courage to respond with the words of Fr. Fahey: "In that sense, every sane thinker must be an anti-Semite" ("Judaism and the Vatican," The Angelus, June 2003).

The LSL is an ostensibly Catholic organization which pitches to traditionalists. But a perusal of the Legion's eclectic offering of books turns up such titles as The International Jew (admired by Adolf Hitler), the writings of British fascist A.K. Chesterton and an anti-Jewish screed by self-proclaimed "white separatist" Michael Hoffman....

Another item of interest is Mr. Sharpe's outrageous 9-11 commentary (part I, II and III), which includes quotes from anti-Semites like Ernst Zündel and Michael Hoffman. It is worth noting that the LSL site was in place in October 2001. The IHS Press site went up no later than November of that same year, demonstrating that while Mr. Sharpe was promoting "Catholic Social Teaching" he was peddling anti-Semitism and neo-fascism with the LSL....

Finally, there is an endorsement of the Legion's 9-11 commentary by Canadian neo-Nazi Ernst Zündel's ZGram for September 12, 2001. The fact that the Legion also cross-referenced Zündel's publications (in his original 9/11 commentary) shows that John Sharpe never hesitated to associate his "Catholic Action apostolate" with extremists. As discussed in a previous post, the LSL partnered with the ITP's St. George Educational Trust (discussed in the Telegraph), selling books like Catholic Action, Uses, Abuses and Excuses, which had the same mailing address as the ITP's openly racialist and neo-fascist "Legionary Press" outfit....

[C]risis politics, once the domain of fanatics on the far-right and far-left, have become fashionable. Such insights get us past the shallow (liberal) stereotypes about neo-nazism. Extremists aren't "monsters," and they don't crawl out from under rocks. They are real people who embrace what Lee Harris aptly calls a "fantasy ideology." We still need to account for why they think the way they do. How has the predominant mainstream culture created expectations which only extremism can meet? While Mr. Harris does not share my religious-conservative outlook, his essay is invaluable. "For the people who accepted" these fantasy ideologies (Communists, National Socialists and, now, radical Muslims), they "did not accept them as tentative or provisional. They were unalterable and absolute."...

Key to understanding the post-war political fringe are developments that took place in Britain in the 1980s. Specifically, these developments grew out of the British National Front. These developments helped set the "new nationalists" apart from the Nazi political dinosaurs who, to the young Turks of the movement, droned on endlessly about immigration and the cranial capacities of difference races. The achievement of the intellectually inclined nationalists seemed meager at first. In terms of sheer numbers, the NF membership plummeted. But over time the self-styled national revolutionary elite proved the most successful in breaking into new circles, especially those with religious affiliations....

Already mentioned is the fact that the Legion of St. Louis offers anti-Semitic titles, and that International Third Position (ITP) leader Derek Holland, a sympathizer with anti-American Arab governments – who traveled to Libya in 1988 and Iraq in 1990 – is a member of IHS Press's board of directors....

Another fact that puts Sharpe's Neo-Conned anti-war series...into perspective is that Derek Holland, through the ITP, is associated with the neo-nazi German NPD (Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands). Holland spoke at their events in 1999 and 2000. It turns out that the NPD is also linked to al-Qaeda via Ahmed Huber, a Swiss extremist who converted to Islam in the 1960s (see Financial Times story). The ITP and its cronies actively sympathize with violent activity against the US....

Derek Holland's Political Soldier has been a best-seller in radical nationalist, Third Positionist circles since it first appeared in 1984. The 24 page pamphlet is crucial to understanding the pseudo-spiritual direction in which neo-fascists have trended, including their desire to co-opt Christian (including Catholic) social issues through a strategy of infiltration.

An energetically written piece of agitprop The Political Soldier paints an exciting picture of a "spiritual struggle" for "national revolution." The Political Soldier borrows occasional phrases from religious authors like G. K. Chesterton and Thomas à Kempis. Nevertheless, what is not said about religion is just as important. In 1994, Derek Holland added a new preface to the tenth anniversary edition, dropping in references to "sin," "faith," and "God." Yet nowhere does he discuss the Christian faith itself, since he clearly so much at odds with it....

Mr. Holland’s idea of "spiritual struggle" is reminiscent of the Marxist inspired Liberation Theology phenomenon of the 1970s—a fuzzy pseudo-mysticism. The quasi-religious themes are distinctly reminiscent of the immanentist millenarian creeds discussed by conservative philosopher Eric Voegelin, which place the eschatological struggle for good and evil here on earth (in that respect being akin to Communism)....

In the early 1980s a radical nationalist journal called Rising was published by Third Positionists associated with the British National Front. Though authored anonymously, it was heavily promoted (and likely written) by Roberto Fiore and Derek Holland. It drew its inspiration from the Italian radical nationalism of Terza Posizione which, in turn, was influenced by the esoteric fascism of Julius Evola and the neo-pagan philosophy of Oswald Spengler. It involves a gnostic belief in a "higher spiritual tradition" which underlays all religions, from which radical nationalists try to derive a "moral" justification for their apocalyptic fantasies.

A re-issue of Rising is now sold by the International Third Position (ITP) and its offshoots (PoliticalSoldier.net and the England First movement). The ideas expressed in the series were also the direct inspiration for Derek Holland’s Political Soldier, which is considered the handbook of the Third Position movement. What is overlooked is that even as Holland and Fiore targeted "traditional Catholics" with their brand of neo-fascism, they continued to endorse views that these normal Catholics would find repugnant. It is also noteworthy that the ITP's Legionary Press shares the same address as the St. George Educational Trust—Forest House, Liss Forest, Hampshire, GU33 7DD, England. The St. George Educational Trust is a sister organization to the Legion of St. Louis....

Readers are referred to the LeFloch Report, published by Christopher and Jeannette Pryor, which is providing in-depth analysis of the ideology (and the ideologues) behind the "New Axis" of pseudo-Catholic/fascist collaboration. For example, there is a detailed study of Julius Evola, an Italian gnostic fascist and occultist who developed the "political soldier" concept promoted by Derek Holland....

It would be impossible to discuss the activities of the "Catholic fascist" faction of Derek Holland and John Sharpe without mentioning Bishop Richard Williamson of the SSPX. Nor are many supporters of the Society of St. Pius X bothered by an open discussion at this point, since they have been religiously and politically scandalized by that cleric's pronouncements over the past twenty years (as seen on many online forums). Whether one agrees with the SSPX or not, it is clear that Bishop Williamson has been an extremist and divisive force in Catholic tradition.

Based on my knowledge of the people involved, as well as correspondence with Bishop Williamson (in the 1990s), it is clear that he was fully aware of Derek Holland's politics but refused to distance himself from the "Catholic" neo-fascists. Instead he seems to have done all he could to insure that Holland (writing under a pseudonym), and later John Sharpe, would be prominently featured in The Angelus magazine and that the Angelus Press would sell many of the materials put out by the neo-fascist Legion of St. Louis/St. George Educational Trust....

[A]lthough Bishop Williamson is careful to avoid explicit pronouncements. He has a way of pulling his punches even while he desensitizes his readers to fringe views. Yet the pattern of soft-sell extremism is so persistent it is impossible to overlook. It can no longer be written off as mere "eccentricity."...
US and Israel to Blame for 9/11 - The first of many writings/speeches implicating the US and Israel as the "real" culprits behind the Al Qaeda terror attacks: October 1, 2001 newsletter. Initially, like so many other fringe spokesmen, Bishop Williamson denied that al Qaeda had anything to do with the attacks. In a speech in Bordeaux in October 2001 he stated that "the bombing of [the Taliban] Afghanistan is not intelligent... it is not just to bomb these countries.... Nobody has proven that Bin Laden was behind the attacks, no one has shown proofs, Bin Laden denies it." Left-wing terrorist sympathizer William Blum has gained attention as "Osama's Pen Pal." Yet there is little noticeable difference between his treatment of al Qaeda's actions (and America's "guilt") and those of Bishop Williamson, who actually made conspiracy theory literature (e.g., Exposing the WTC Bomb Plot) part of seminary reading at Winona....
To help put the neo-fascists' false emphasis on the "Jewish question" in its proper perspective, I offer the following comments. It is not enough to say that anti-Semitism is lunacy....

Despite liberal misstatements on the topic, the Church repeatedly intervened to protect Jews against mob violence and prejudice. These points are discussed in two very good books by Jewish authors – Norman Cohn's Pursuit of the Millennium, which details the ideological/psychological origins of anti-Semitic politics, and its links to theological heterodoxy in the West; and Rabbi David Dalin's The Myth of Hitler's Pope: How Pope Pius XII Rescued Jews from the Nazis, which highlights papal protection of Jews throughout history.
There's much, much more. Read it all.

 

Societal Suicide

Eternity Road has an excellent post about societal suicide in the West. Relatedly, this op-ed at OpinionJournal suggests that the Supreme Court is about to help the U.S. slide a bit further down the slippery slope of defenselessness.

 

More about Just War

Edward Feser replies to a reply from David Gordon on the subject of just war. For background, read my earlier post about the Feser-Gordon exchange, and follow the links therein. Feser's latest is here.

 

Thomas Woods Creates Traffic

Thomas Woods graciously links to my critique of his anti-war posture. And the visitors are rolling in. Thank you, Prof. Woods.

 

There Goes My Excuse

From SFGate.com:
UCSF points out flaw in studies tying alcohol to heart health

Researchers at UCSF pored through more than 30 years of studies that seem to show health benefits from moderate alcohol consumption, and concluded in a report released today that nearly all contained a fundamental error that skewed the results.

That error may have led to an erroneous conclusion that moderate drinkers were healthier than lifelong abstainers. Typically, studies suggest that abstainers run a 25 percent higher risk of coronary heart disease.

Without the error, the analyses shows, the health outcomes for moderate drinkers and non-drinkers were about the same. . . .

The common error was to lump into the group of "abstainers" people who were once drinkers but had quit.

Many former drinkers are people who stopped consuming alcohol because of advancing age or poor health. Including them in the "abstainer" group made the entire category of non-drinkers seem less healthy in comparison. . . .

Dr. Tim Naimi, a physician who works for the National Center for Chronic Disease at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, said "the whole field of 'moderate drinking' studies is deeply flawed,'' because of the lack of randomized trials.

In a study published in May 2005 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Naimi and other CDC colleagues found that the comparatively higher risk of heart disease in abstainers could be explained by socioeconomic factors rather than lack of protection from alcohol consumption.

Non-drinkers, for example, tended to be poorer than drinkers, had less access to health care, and had less healthy diets.

"Anyone who suggests that people should begin drinking, or drink more frequently, to reduce the risk of heart disease is misguided,'' he said.

Ah, science! It's so objective and conclusive (not). In view of that, I'll just ignore this latest bit of "evidence" and continue to drink to and for my health. (Moderately, of course.)

(Thanks -- or no thanks -- to Alex Tabarrok for the pointer.)

 

My Heroine

Friday, March 31, 2006

 

Thomas Woods and War

RECOMMENDED READING FOR VISITORS FROM LEWROCKWELL.COM AND KAREN DE COSTER'S BLOG:
Practical Libertarianism for Americans
The Meaning of Liberty
THE POST YOU CAME HERE TO READ:

Thomas Woods, who earned a bit of blogospheric notoriety for his book, The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History (which I own and have read), later endorsed "Neoconned and Neoconned Again, two new collections of essays that make just about every argument you can think of against the war in Iraq." Woods's endorsement of the Neoconned books is unsurprising, given his indiscriminate embrace of the non-aggression principle, so beloved of paleo-libertarians.

I am not here to rehash the non-aggression principle, having thoroughly dismissed it in several earlier posts. (See this, this, this, this, and this.) Suffice it to say that Woods adheres to the principle with deranged fervor. (In addition to Politically Incorrect, read his oeuvre at LewRockwell.com.) Woods's embrace of the fatuous, suicidal, non-aggression principle fatally undermines his credibility as a critic of the war in Iraq. A review of Politically Incorrect at History News Network concludes with this:
Woods condemns Roosevelt, with much justice, for his concessions to Stalin at the Tehran and Yalta Conferences. He seems to be aware that not only did Soviet domination of Eastern Europe create unspeakable misery for its inhabitants, but that it was not in American interests. But a Europe run by Prussian militarists or the SS? That'’s something we could have happily coexisted with, apparently.

Conversely, he praises Reagan for having "challenged the Soviet Union to tear down the Berlin Wall and defeated Communism, while hardly firing a shot." Reagan didn't have to fire a shot because he had challenged the USSR by more meaningful measures than his plea to Gorbachev to tear down the Wall. Among other things, in a provocative, interventionist act roundly condemned by Paleos and Liberals alike, he placed intermediate-range missiles in Europe.

Politically-correct history is offensive not because it seeks to celebrate the accomplishments of privileged groups, but because, in ignoring or denigrating the accomplishments of others and exaggerating or inventing their crimes, it does violence to the historical record. Particularly in his discussion of events in Europe in the 20th century, Woods's contempt for the evidence is as thoroughgoing as that of any p.c.-textbook-writing hack. It does students no service to expose one set of myths if you’re going to substitute another.
The conclusion of a review of Politically Incorrect at reason sums it up:
Woods is a bad ally for libertarians, though his message may appeal to those who can'’t distinguish the flaws of America from those of outright despotisms. Decentralization is an important libertarian value, but surely our first principle is individual liberty; and nothing is more inimical to liberty than slavery or totalitarianism. The Civil War may not have begun as a war for abolition, but it nonetheless led to the end of slavery and to fuller enfranchisement of blacks in the North. And U.S. intervention in World War II and the Cold War may have been vital to defeating totalitarianism. On those two crucial battles, Woods is wrong.
I enjoyed Politically Incorrect for its irreverence and feistiness, but Woods's deep cynicism about the wars America has fought had become tiresome and whiny by the time he reached World War II. (As for the Civil War, about which Woods is unhinged, read this.)

Given the reality of German, Japanese, Soviet, North Korean, Chinese, Iraqi, and Islamist aggression, it is simple-minded sophistry to paint America as a war-crazed, militaristic, imperialist, aggressor. America's presidents and Congresses haven't always been right in their decisions to go to war, but it's better to be wrong at times than to be foolishly, consistently, against war when liberty is at stake -- as it always is in a world crawling with real aggressors.

Selected bibliography:

Incorrect History (a review of Politically Incorrect by Max Boot, posted at The Weekly Standard, 02/15/05)
The Purgatory of an Inadvertent Public Intellectual (an article by Woods, posted at the Ludwig von Mises Institute website, 03/16/05)
Final Thoughts on Thomas Woods and His Critics (a post by "william" at Southern Appeal, 03/21/05)
A Factually Correct Guide for Max Boot (an article by Woods that ran in the 03/28/05 issue of The American Conservative)
Response to My Critics (an article by Woods, posted at LewRockwell.com, 04/12/05)
Behind the Jeffersonian Veneer (a review of Politically Incorrect by Cathy Young, which ran in the June 2005 issue of reason)
Political Correctness in The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History (a review of Politically Incorrect by Jeff Lipkes, posted at the website of George Mason University's History News Network, 06/06/05)
The Case Against This Monstrous War (Woods's review of Neoconned and Neoconned Again, posted at Lew Rockwell.com, 11/09/05)

Related posts:

Defense, Anarcho-Capitalist Style
But Wouldn't Warlords Take Over?
My View of Warlordism, Seconded
The Fatal Naïveté of Anarcho-Libertarianism
Anarcho-Libertarian "Stretching"
More Final (?) Words about Preemption and the Constitution
QandO Saved Me the Trouble
Comrade Gorbachev, Sore Loser
What If We Lose?

 

As I Was Saying about Immigration

UPDATED @ 9:02 PM

Immigration, legal or not, is more than an economic issue. Most economists -- even economists I respect -- just don't get it. It is stupid to let people enter the U.S. if the result of doing so is an expansion of the regulatory-welfare state, both directly -- for the benefit of immigrants -- and indirectly -- as a result of the votes those immigrants cast (eventually) for politicians who seek to expand the regulatory-welfare state.

It's time to seal the borders and admit immigrants based strictly on their demonstrated ability to make an immediate, positive economic contribution. That prescription might seem to run against my interest, inasmuch as I live in Texas, which is a first stop for immigrants who work for low wages. Given the cost of the regulatory-welfare state of Texas, however, I believe that I would be better off with fewer immigrants. In any event, the long-run economic vitality of the United States requires a citizenry that has a stake in, and is more likely to support, limited government and free markets.

An immigrant to the U.S. makes a positive contribution to economic growth only if he or she can be more productive here than in his or her homeland. That's true of Mexican construction workers who are harnessed to America's economic-growth engine, but it's even more true of scientists and engineers from Europe and Asia, who can advance the technology that enables economic growth. Furthermore, those scientists and engineers are not going to demand welfare benefits, and they are less likely (on the whole) to vote for politicians who seek to expand the regulatory-welfare state.

Immigration is an economic issue, but a far more complex issue than the one depicted by most economists, who omit the economic implications of the politics of immigration.

UPDATE: The Conservative Philosopher says
. . . if we could kick out one leftist for every immigrant, I'd favor it.
Roger that.

Recommended reading:

Answering 13 Frequently Asked Questions About Illegal Immigration, at Right Wing News.

The 1965 Immigration Act
, at WizBang! A related note: constant-dollar (real) GDP per capita grew at an annualized rate of 2.1% in the 39 years from 1965 through 2004, compared with a rate of 2.3% for the 39 years from 1926 through 1965. The higher rate for 1926-65 was accomplished in spite of the Great Depression; for the 10 years from 1929 through 1939, real GDP per capita grew at an annual rate of 0.2%.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

 

A Footnote about "Eavesdropping"

My rather long post about "Privacy: Variations on the Theme of Liberty" includes a reading list that I update from time to time. Here's the current version:
President had legal authority to OK taps (Chicago Tribune)
Our domestic intelligence crisis (Richard A. Posner)
Many posts by Tom Smith of The Right Coast (start with "Thank You New York Times" on 12/16/05 and work your way to the present)
Eavesdropping Ins and Outs (Mark R. Levin, writing at National Review Online)
The FISA Act And The Definition Of 'US Persons' (Ed Morrissey of Captain's Quarters)
A Colloquy with the Times (John Hinderaker of Power Line)
September 10 America (editorial at National Review Online)
A Patriot Acts (Ben Stein, writing at The American Spectator)
More on the NSA Wiretaps (Dale Franks of QandO)
The President's War Power Includes Surveillance (John Eastman, writing at The Remedy)
Warrantless Intelligence Gathering, Redux (UPDATED) (Jeff Goldstein, writing at Protein Wisdom)
FISA Court Obstructionism Since 9/11 (Ed Morrissey of Captain's Quarters)
FISA vs. the Constitution (Robert F. Turner, writing at OpinionJournal)
Wisdom in Wiretaps (an editorial from OpinionJournal)
Under Clinton, NY Times Called Surveillance a Necessity (William Tate, writing at The American Thinker)
LEGAL AUTHORITIES SUPPORTING THE ACTIVITIES OF THE
NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY DESCRIBED BY THE PRESIDENT
(U.S. Department of Justice)
Terrorists on Tap (Victoria Toensing, writing at OpinionJournal)
Letter from Chairman, Senate Intelligence Committee, to Chairman and Ranking Member of Senate Judiciary Committee
Letter from H. Bryan Cunningham to Chairman and Ranking Member of Senate Judiciary Committee
Has The New York Times Violated the Espionage Act? (article in Commentary by Gabriel Schoenfeld)
Point of No Return (Thomas Sowell, writing at RealClearPolitics)
Letter from John C. Eastman to Chairman of House Judiciary Committee
FISA Chief Judge Speaks Out, Bamford Misinforms (a post at The Strata-Sphere)
DoJ Responds to Congressional FISA Questions (another post at The Strata-Sphere)
To that list I now add two posts at Power Line, in which John Hinderaker and Scott Johnson assess the testimony of five former judges of the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Court who testified recently before the Senate Judiciary Committee. From the transcript (as quoted in Hinderaker's post):

Chairman Specter: I think the thrust of what you are saying is the President is bound by statute like everyone else unless it impinges on his constitutional authority, and a statute cannot take away the President's constitutional authority. Anybody disagree with that?

[No response.]

Chairman Specter: Everybody agrees with that.

The president's inherent constitutional authority includes the use of surveillance against foreign nationals -- even if a U.S. citizen in the U.S. happens to be on the other end of the phone line or e-mail exchange. That point is reinforced by this passage from Johnson's post:
Senator Hatch . . . pursued a series of hypothetical questions that he posed to Judge Kornblum regarding the admissibility in criminal trials of evidence obtained indirectly from the NSA surveillance program:
Judge Kornblum: To be admissible, the evidence would have had to have been lawfully seized or lawfully obtained and the standard that the district judge would use is that, depending upon where this is, is the law in his circuit. In most of the circuits, the law is clear that the President has the authority to do warrantless surveillance if it is to collect foreign intelligence and it is targeting foreign powers or agents. If the facts support that, then the district judge could make that finding and admit the evidence, just as they did in Truong-Humphrey.
(Emphasis added.) Judge Kornblum's reference to Truong-Humphrey is to the federal appellate cases that acknowledge[s] [a] president's inherent authority to order warrantless foreign intelligence surveillance, previously discussed by John here.
So, let's knock off this nonsense about "illegal wiretaps" and get on with finding the bad guys. Actually, I'm sure that's precisely what Bush and company are trying to do, in spite of the ankle-biters in the media and Congress.

 

My Old Sears Home

From the archives of Sears:
From 1908–1940, Sears, Roebuck and Company sold more than 100,000 homes through their mail-order Modern Homes program. Over that time Sears designed 447 different housing styles, from the elaborate multistory Ivanhoe, with its elegant French doors and art glass windows, to the simpler Goldenrod, which served as a quaint, three-room and no-bath cottage for summer vacationers. (An outhouse could be purchased separately for Goldenrod and similar cottage dwellers.) Customers could choose a house to suit their individual tastes and budgets. . . .

While browsing the Imagebank, you may see many houses that partially or even closely resemble a house that you own or have seen. Look closely, because the floor plan may be reversed, a dormer may have been added, or the original buyer may have chosen brick instead of wood siding. Plumbing may look like it was added after construction, or storm windows may appear on the house but not in the catalog’s illustration.

All of this and more are possible, because the Modern Homes program encouraged custom designing houses down to the color of the cabinetry hardware. The difficulty in identifying a Sears home is just a reflection of the unique design and tastes of the original buyer
My old Sears house was built in 1915, on the outskirts of a village in the western part of New York State. The house -- which I sold in 1979 -- is a variant of the Chelsea Model of 1908 (third home on this page):



The "front hall" (foyer) featured a main staircase, which rose on the right-hand side of the foyer and joined the "back" staircase (shown in the drawing) at a landing one-half flight up. The foyer was large enough to accommodate our baby grand piano, with plenty of room to spare.

The area at the back of the first floor had been converted from pantry, entry, and stoop to half-bath, laundry room, and entry. The second floor had been reconfigured to yield a large master bedroom on the right at the back. (The bathroom was placed between the two bedrooms on the left.) The space above the back porch had been enclosed for use as a den/sewing room, and was separated from the master bedroom by French doors.

If you'd like to live in a cold, cloudy (but scenic) valley town, you can probably buy my old Sears home (or one very much like it) for less than $75,000.

 

Brian Leiter, Academic Thug

That's the appropriate title of this blog, which has moved to a new location. Proprietor Keith Burgess-Jackson explains:
As if to prove that he is a thug (should anyone have doubted it), Brian Leiter has threatened PowerBlogs with a lawsuit if it doesn't change the URL of my blog devoted to exposing his abusiveness. I don't care what the URL is, and I don't want PowerBlogs to risk liability, so I changed it. Here is the new address. Please reset your shortcut, bookmark, or favorite, and spread the word. This thug—Leiter—needs to be shown that he can't control others.
My take on Leiter (thus far) is at these posts:

Brian Leiter Is an Idiot
Through the Looking Glass with Leiter
The Illogical Left, via Leiter

P.S. Here's the threatening letter from Leiter -- as reprinted at Brian Leiter, Academic Thug -- which prompted Burgess-Jackson to change the URL of Brian Leiter, Academic Thug:

Dear Mr. Landsown [sic]:

I am writing to put you and your company, American Powerblogs Inc., on notice that a user of your service, Powerblogs, has engaged in tortious misappropriation of my name in order to advertise and draw attention to his web site. Keith Burgess-Jackson, who runs the site in question (www.brianleiter.powerblogs.com), has not received my permission to register my name, or any variation of my name, or to otherwise utilize my name, or any variation of my name, in order to promote or otherwise identify his site. Please close down that particular URL immediately. Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

Very truly yours,
Brian Leiter
Joseph D. Jamail Centennial Chair in Law,
Professor of Philosophy, and Director of the Law & Philosophy Program
The University of Texas at Austin

It's the sort of thing sissiness one would expect of an "intellectual" bully whose stock in trade is abuse, not logic and facts. Leiter's abusiveness is probably an attempt on his part (subconscious or otherwise) to compensate for a felt inferiority. Here's Leiter:


Source: B. Leiter's homepage.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

 

A True Libertarian Speaks

In an article at LewRockwell.com, David Gordon replies to Edward Feser's recent series of posts at Right Reason about paleoconservatism and the war in Iraq. Feser, posting again at Right Reason ("Rothbardians [anarcho-capitalists: ED] and Iraq: A Reply to David Gordon"), observes that

libertarians, including most Rothbardians and probably also including the Nozick of part III of Anarchy, State, and Utopia, would allow that it is in principle possible for a community to develop on a purely voluntary basis that prohibited all sorts of consensual activity among its members. For instance, they would allow that a Puritan commonwealth might require, by law, all of its members to refrain from fornication, drug use, reading of anti-Puritan tracts, etc., and that if everyone who joins this commonwealth does so voluntarily then no one has a right to complain. We can imagine that such a commonwealth eventually grows into a large city or even country, that all non-Puritans who decide to settle within it are required as part of the deal to abide by its “blue laws,” and that all the children raised in it might also be required to abide by those laws and will have to emigrate if they refuse to do so. The result would be a society that to most people would seem radically “un-libertarian,” but which would in fact be perfectly acceptable from the point of view of a Rothbardian anarcho-capitalist or maybe even a Nozickian.

Since this sort of paternalist society seems perfectly possible even on a Rothbardian or Nozickian view, and since the specific position I developed in the article cited by Gordon [link added: ED] still rests on the idea of self-ownership, at the time I wrote the article I thought it was reasonable to characterize it as a broadly “libertarian” position. It seemed to me then that I was not moving that far beyond what many libertarians would already accept as in principle possible within a libertarian society. To be sure, I would now no longer characterize my view as libertarian, but part of the reason I wouldn’t is that I now think the arguments I have presented, both in the article Gordon cites and elsewhere, show that “libertarianism” just isn’t anywhere near as determinate, straightforward, or even coherent a view as its advocates assume it to be.

My only quibble with Feser's position is this: He should continue to characterize himself as a libertarian for the very reason that libertarianism isn't "anywhere near as determinate, straightforward, or even coherent a view as most of its advocates assume it to be." As I argue in "The Meaning of Liberty,"
liberty and happiness cannot be found in the abstract; they must be found in the real world, among real people (or totally apart from them, if you're inclined to reclusiveness). Finding an acceptable degree of liberty and happiness in the real world means contending with many subsets of humankind, each with different sets of social norms. It is unlikely that any of those sets of social norms affords perfect liberty for any one person. So, in the end, one picks the place that suits one best, imperfect as it may be, and makes the most of it. Sometimes one even tries to change it, but change doesn't always go in the direction one might prefer.

Think of the constrasting visions of liberty and happiness represented in a hippie commune and a monastic order. The adherents of each -- to the extent that they are free to leave -- can be happy, each in his and her own way. The adherents of each are bound to, and liberated by, the norms of the community, which set the bounds of permissible interaction among the adherents. Happiness is not found in the simplistic "harm principle" of John Stuart Mill; happiness is not found in a particular way of life; happiness is found in the ability to choose (and exit) a way of life that, on balance, serves a person's conception of happiness.

In sum, there is no escaping the fact that the attainment of something like liberty and happiness requires the acceptance of -- and compliance with -- some social norms that one may find personally distasteful if not oppressive. But it is possible -- in a large and diverse nation where each social group is free to establish and enforce its own norms -- to find a place that comes closest to suiting one's conception of liberty and happiness. The critical qualfication is that each social group must free to establish and enforce its own norms, as long as those norms include voice and exit. . . .

Contrary to libertarian purists, the path to liberty is not found in Mill's simplistic "harm principle," which is a formula for atomism. The path to liberty winds tortuously through the complexity of human nature, which shapes -- and is shaped by -- a society's mutual striving to survive and prosper. To give a stark but apt example: If you will kill an unborn child for your convenience, why should I trust you not to kill me for your convenience when I am old? And if I cannot trust you, why should I subscribe to the defense of your life, property, and pursuits?
Edward Feser is a libertarian, even if he chooses not to call himself one. That is, he is dedicated to the practical pursuit of liberty, as opposed to the impractical pursuit of ideological purity that evinces itself in anarcho-capitalism. Feser is absolutely right to find parallels between Rothbardism and Marxism, as he does here:

One of the many striking things about this [Rothbardian] worldview is how closely it parallels Marxism. . . . Marxist and Rothbardian alike regard human history as a long nightmare of oppression from which we are only now awakening thanks to the advent of a sound economic theory, the application of which is our only hope for liberation.

Indeed, Rothbard and his followers seem in other ways too to ape standard Marxist themes. Despite their fervent adherence to capitalism, they regularly denounce large corporations (Halliburton, big oil, big media, etc.) as government’s partners-in-crime, manipulating its officials to their own ends and beholden to its favors; they speak and think in capitalized abstractions, substituting “The State” for “Capital” and endlessly analyzing “its” motives and actions; they divide society into inherently hostile classes, the exploiters (government officials and recipients of governmental benefits) and the exploited (taxpayers and those subject to governmental regulations); they have a tendency to reduce all social and political problems to economic ones; they believe that when a “stateless society” is finally achieved, many of the social problems previous generations regarded as an inevitable part of the human condition will disappear, having in reality been generated by state oppression; they constantly attribute selfish financial interests and other hidden motives to those expressing dissent from the Rothbardian line and/or support for American policy; and they often evince a greater sympathy for what the Marxist would refer to as the “objective allies” of their cause than for those who might seem notionally closer to them. Hence, just as certain Stalinists were quite happy to ally with Hitler against the capitalist West while vilifying Trotskyites and other heretical communists, so too are Rothbardians constantly excusing or minimizing the crimes of various dictators as long as they oppose the United States, while excoriating less extreme libertarians and free-marketers for “selling out” to “The State” and its officials. (See here for discussion of several examples.)

Related posts:

A Political Compass
Defense, Anarcho-Capitalist Style
But Wouldn't Warlords Take Over?
My View of Warlordism, Seconded
Anarcho-Libertarian Stretching
QandO Saved Me the Trouble
The Meaning of Liberty

 

It's Time for Plain Talk about Illegal Immigration

UPDATED @ 2:50 PM

Steve Antler (EconoPundit) has a neat graphic in this post, which illustrates a key point. The point? The minimum wage -- to the extent that it is actually paid by employers of illegal immigrants -- raises the unemployment rate. That, in turn, gives pandering politicians yet another opportunity to buy votes by expanding welfare benefits for illegal immigrants (and other low-income groups).

Minimum wage laws and welfare programs are especially favored on the Left (though large corporations have no objection to taxpayer-funded welfare programs that subsidize labor). An article by Ben Johnson at FrontPageMag.com details the Leftist connections to the massive protests of proposals to curb illegal immigration; for example:
As events spanned from California to Detroit, Phoenix to Washington, D.C., the media kept up its anti-enforcement drumbeat. Although some have credited Latino DJs for the 500,000-strong illegal immigrant turnout in Los Angeles alone – and some credit is deserved – the real legwork was done by a more eclectic group of organizations: leftist labor unions, George Soros-funded agitators, Open Borders lobbyists, Roman Catholic clergy, and teachers unions. . . .

Andres Jiminez, director of the University of California's California Policy Research Center, told the media, “It's not only Latinos who are marching in the streets, its unions too: firefighters, farm workers and Hispanic students who had thought of U.S. law as protecting them and are now starting to see it as a threat to their future.”

He was right about this much: Latino organizations did not act alone. The media has failed to report that organized labor directed the illegals and minors. The L.A. Times revealed the rally’s “security” was handled by a union identified only as “Local 1877.” That would be local 1877 of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the far-Left union founded by New Left radical Andrew Stern, which called for the withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Iraq in June 2004 and worked in concert with Ted Kennedy to roll back anti-terrorist Homeland Security measures. According to the L.A. Times, the SEIU’s goons kindly helped “herd marchers along the route.” That was not the extent of SEIU’s help, though. The union also “coordinated the more than 100 buses that dropped off marchers from throughout California, Las Vegas and a few Southwestern cities.”

In other words, the massive rally against Homeland Security – since that is what gaining control of America’s borders would promote – was staged by a leftist labor union and staffed primarily with illegal immigrants.

SEIU did not work alone in this. It was aided by other radical or left-wing political pressure groups [which Johnson details].
Pandering to illegals is, of course, an exercise in building political power. The pandering curries favor with those legals who want the company of their "brothers and sisters" from south of the border. And many of the illegals will become voters themselves -- sooner rather than later if the Left has its way. (U.S. Rep. Steve King (R-IA) analyzes the Left's strategy in an article at Human Events Online: "Democrats Will Use Immigration to Divide and Conquer.") President Bush seems to believe that he can corral some of those voters into the GOP, but I have no doubt that the GOP will come up with the short end of the stick.

Which leads me to Thomas Sowell, who makes sense, as usual, in "Guests or gate crashers" at townhall.com:
The Bush administration is pushing a program to legalize "guest workers." But what is a guest? Someone you have invited. People who force their way into your home without your permission are called gate crashers.

If truth-in-packaging laws applied to politics, the Bush guest worker program would have to be called a "gate-crasher worker" program. The President's proposal would solve the problem of illegal immigration by legalizing it after the fact. . . .

None of the rhetoric and sophistry that we hear about immigration deals with the plain and ugly reality: Politicians are afraid of losing the Hispanic vote and businesses want cheap labor.

What millions of other Americans want has been brushed aside, as if they don't count, and they have been soothed with pious words. But now the voters are getting fed up, which is why there are immigration bills in Congress.

The old inevitability ploy is often trotted out in immigration debates: It is not possible to either keep out illegal immigrants or to expel the ones already here.

If you mean stopping every single illegal immigrant from getting in or expelling every single illegal immigrant who is already here, that may well be true. But does the fact that we cannot prevent every single murder cause us to stop enforcing the laws against murder? . . .

Let's hope the immigration bills before Congress can at least get an honest debate, instead of the word games we have been hearing for too long.

I fully understand and agree with the economic arguments for "open borders" -- and I do favor free trade and outsourcing (e.g., read this post and follow the links at the bottom). But the immigration issue is really about political power. The cause of illegal immigration is mainly (though not entirely) a Leftist play for power and the expansion of the welfare state.

UPDATE: For many of the "legals" and "illegals" the real name of the game is "stick it to the man" or "stick it to whitey" -- and white-dominated Leftists play along, in the naive belief that they are immune from being "stuck." Relevant images and text, from Michelle Malkin:

You will not see this heart-stopping photo on the front page of the NY Times or on the lead story of the major news networks. You should (hat tip: Mika and F/R):

upsidedown.jpg

03/28 : Student protest

Whittier area students from Pioneer, California and Whittier high schools walked out of classes to protest the proposed federal immigration bill March 27, 2006. The protestors put up the Mexican flag over the American flag flying upside down at Montebello High. (Leo Jarzomb/Staff photo)

More:

upsidedown002.jpg

upsidedown003.jpg

upsidedown004.jpg

Meanwhile: Mexico Cheers Passage of Immigration Bill

Like I said: Welcome to reconquista.

I predict this stunt will be the nail in the coffin of any guest-worker/amnesty plan on the table in Washington. The image of the American flag subsumed by another and turned upside down on American soil is already spreading on Internet forums and via e-mail.

The battle for borders and immigration laws that actually mean something, however, hasn't even begun.

***

Update 3/29 1030am EST. New photo from the Dallas pro-illegal immigration student rally via the Dallas Morning News:

flagbattle004.jpg

Click here for full-size.

Caption:

flagbattle002.jpg


Tuesday, March 28, 2006

 

Today's Recommended Web Reading

At LegalAffairs Debate Club, John Robertson and Barbara Katz Rodman debate "Choosing Your Child's Sex?" The question for debate: Should it be unlawful for parents to select an infant's sex through abortion or in vitro techniques and, if so, under what circumstances should it be legal? Robertson offers the usual liberal cant ("we prize individual autonomy and reproductive choice") and tries to cajole fellow liberal Katz Rodman into going along with him. She won't:
In this "more choice is better" argument, the children that are never created (whether as fetuses aborted or embryos unselected or sperm washed away) can hardly be said to be harmed by the fact of their non-being. So then there are the children who are "chosen," the selected ones, chosen for their sex. I think there really is the potential for harm there—any time we give parents reason to think they can control the kind of people their children are, I think we are doing damage to the child, the parent, the relationship. . . .

A woman with one or two daughters will face more, not less pressure to produce a son if sex selection becomes part of ordinary practice. The new "choice" will probably pretty quickly become an obligation.

And as to whether "family balance" will inevitably lead to sex selection in the first place: you know the "slippery slope" argument? Think greased chute.

Russell Roberts at Cafe Hayek explains once more (this time in "Mental Experiment") why international trade isn't a zero-sum game or a threat to the well-being of Americans:
A lot of people are worried about China as an economic threat to the United States. I'm not. China's economic success is good for Americans. When Americans buy toys and clothes and iPods made in China it means that we have more people and capital available to make other things.

A variation on the Chinese threat is that someday, if they keep growing, they'll pass us. This is the view that economics is like the Olympics. If you don't finish first, you're stuck with the bronze or silver medal or worse, you don't even get to the medal stand. But economic success is not like the Olympics. It's not a zero sum game. . . .

What if you woke up one more morning and discovered . . . . [that the] Chinese had mismeasured their national income information and it turned out that the Chinese, in fact, had a per capita income many times that of the United States. . . . . How would it change your well-being? Would it make any difference whatsoever?

Maxwell Goss at Right Reason points to a story about
Dutch MP Sharon Dijksma [who] proposes fining women with college degrees who choose to stay at home instead of entering the paid workforce. Dijksma explains: "A highly-educated woman who chooses to stay at home and not to work -- that is destruction of capital. If you receive the benefit of an expensive education at the cost of society, you should not be allowed to throw away that knowledge unpunished."
The first mistake, of course, is the subsidization of education, which encourages persons who will not use it (or use it well) to partake of it at taxpayers' expense. The second mistake is to assume that it is a "waste" to educate women who choose not work outside the home. Mothers are the main civilizing influence in society -- or they were before they went "to work" in droves. It makes a lot more sense to have college-educated mothers than it does to have college-educated pharmaceutical salesmen (to take but one of many examples of "wasted" education).

The Federal Election Commission has decided -- more or less -- to go along with the First Amendment. Tongue Tied reports:
The very idea of rules for the internet is anathema to me but America's FEC does not seem to think so. The rules they have just handed down have no terrors for bloggers at the moment but as sure as night follows day, more and more regulations will follow.
The Tongue Tied post then links to a story that includes a recap of some of the main points of interest to bloggers:
Feds' Internet rules

The FEC's final Internet regulations adopted on Monday are less onerous than an earlier version. Here's what they say:

• Paid political advertising appearing on someone else's Web site would have to be reported, regardless of how little or how much it costs. But that responsibility would lie with the candidate, political party or committee backing the ad--not a Web site accepting the ads.

• All ads that expressly advocate the election or defeat of a candidate or solicit donations would have to carry disclaimers.

• Bloggers and other individual commentators wouldn't have to disclose payments received from candidates, political parties or campaign committees--but those groups would have to report payments to bloggers.

• No one except registered political committees would be required to put disclaimers on political e-mailings or Web sites. The e-mail requirement would kick in only if the committee sent out more than 500 substantially similar unsolicited messages at a time.

• The media exemption enjoyed by traditional news outlets would be extended to "any Internet or electronic publication," which could include everything from online presences of major media companies to individual bloggers.

Thanks to the FEC -- for nothing.

Monday, March 27, 2006

 

Bare Ruined Choirs

Yesterday's post about "Red-Brick Buildings" reminds me of "Memories of a Catholic Boyhood," Chapter One of Garry Wills's Bare Ruined Choirs.* There, Wills could be writing about my boyhood. I hasten to add that I don't agree with Wills's politics or his juvenile attitude toward the Church, the many traces of which I have excised from the following excerpts of his "Memories."
We grew up different. There were some places we went; and others did not -- into the confessional box, for instance. . . .

We "born Catholics," even when we leave or lose our own church rarely feel at home in any other. The habits of childhood are tenacious, and Catholicism was first experienced by us as a vast set of intermeshed childhood habits -- prayers offered, heads ducked in unison, crossings, chants, christenings, grace at meals, beads, altar, incense, candles . . . churches lit and darkened, clothed and stripped, to the rhythm of liturgical recurrences . . . .

One lived, then, in contact with something outside time -- grace, sin, confession, communion, one's own little moral wheel kept turning in the large wheel of seasons that moved endlessly, sameness in change and change in sameness, so was it ever, so would it always be . . . .

We came in winter, out of the dark into vestibule semidark, where peeled-off galoshes spread a slush across the floor. We took off gloves and scarves, hands still too cold to dip them in the holy water font. Already the children's lunches, left to steam on the bare radiator, emanated smells of painted metal, of heated bananas, of bolgna and mayonnaise. . . .

Or midnight Mass -- the first time one has been out so late . . . . The crib is dimmed-blue, suggesting Christmas night, and banked evergreen trees give off a rare outdoors odor inside the church . . . .

The bigger churches, with windows of a richly muddied color -- fine gloom up behind the altar . . . .

Bells at the consecration . . . .

Certain things are not communicable. One cannot explain to others, or even to oneself, how burnt stuff rubbed on on the forehead could be balm for the mind. . . .

All these things were shared, part of community life, not a rare isolated joy, like reading poems. These moments belonged to a people, not to oneself. It was a ghetto, undeniably. But not a bad ghetto to grow up in.
Amen.


St. Stephen Church, where I was a parishoner in the late 1940s and early 1950s, occupied an entire block in my home town. Behind the church and rectory (left and right) was the school where I took catechism lessons on Saturday mornings.
__________
* Wills takes his title from a phrase in Shakespeare's Sonnet 73:
That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see'st the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west;
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death's second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see'st the glowing of such fire,
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed, whereon it must expire,
Consumed with that which it was nourish'd by.
This thou perceiv'st, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well, which thou must leave ere long.

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