A little bit more sensible article at the National Review

Rich Lowry on Catch and Remove & El Salvador on National Review Online

I don’t necessarily agree with all of this, but I can chalk up the disagreements to philosophy rather than insanity.

Advocates of a guest-worker program and amnesty argue that the migrant inflow here from points south is literally inexorable. Actually, illegal migrants are people, and so they respond to incentives and disincentives. Enforcement matters to them, as is being demonstrated by the two different approaches to catch-and-release on the border.

Hey, what do you know, immigrants are people.  I fear the acceptance of this fact is much more difficult than it should be for too many people.

However, I’m afraid that the article is failing to take some things into account.  It blames an old rule that prevented the US from deporting Salvadoreans because El Salvador was in the middle of civil war in the 1980’s.  The rule is still on the books, and Mr. Lowry postulates that many Salvadoreans come here because they know about this law, and they know it’s harder to send a Salvadorean back.  Even illegals from other countries often try to claim to be Salvadorean.  I’m sure this old law is not helping, and it should be fixed.  Old laws that are no longer applicable should be rewritten.

The point he’s missing, though, is that there are other possible reasons that there are more Salvadoreans.  For example, let’s say that one Salvadorean leaves his home and comes to the US illegally and manages to stay because of this law.  He starts working and sending money back home, helping his family.  So his old neighbors see this happening, and they decide to try it, too.  His cousin comes along as well, knowing he’ll have family around to help him get started.

Contrary to popular belief, not all illegals know each other.  If there are strong Salvadorean communities here in the US, they will attract more immigrants, legal or not.

I don’t want to trot out the tired arguments in favor of letting all the illegals stay.  “Were your parents Native Americans?”  “What happened to bring me your tired, your poor?”  Those arguments have been made, and I think they have some validity, but it doesn’t really solve the problem.  I think we do need some control over who’s here and who’s allowed to stay.  But we do not need racist militia in border states shooting at people looking for a better life.  We don’t need a wall across the entire southern edge of the country.  We certainly don’t need a national id card that we all have to carry, all the time.  I will show my id when asked to prove my age at a bar, prove my identity at the bank, to vote, or to prove I can legally operate a motor vehicle.  That’s about it.  I like to think I would go to jail before I showed my id to prove I could legally walk down the street.  A small part of me hopes I’ll have to prove that sometime.  It would be fun to call my mom to bail me out.

I do think we need to do something about illegal immigrants.  But I haven’t yet heard a good solution, and I don’t have one myself.  But someone must.

Am I really a liberal?

I’ve realized lately that most of what I read online has a pretty liberal slant to it.  I think this is a problem, because I really do want a balanced viewpoint.  And I’ve always thought that I agreed with a lot of conservative viewpoints – small government, low taxes, take care of the economy and it’ll take care of the rest . . .

So I’ve gone looking for some conservative websites so I could read some stuff from the intelligent conservatives.  I know they’re out there, although clowns like Bill Frist and Ann Coulter seem to be pushing the good ones into the background.

I tried the National Review.  Wow.  I managed to read one article, which spoke of the Supreme Court decision that said that even captured terrorists have rights, and that was about all I could handle.  The biggest problem was the blind support of our President.

For a little background – I turned 18 in 1996 and I voted for Bill Clinton, flush with pride at taking part in the democratic process.  I didn’t really like Clinton by the end of his term – Hillary gives me the creeps, and if you’re going to get caught cheating, you should at least make the rest of us jealous.  I voted for George W. Bush in 2000, mostly I think because Al Gore didn’t really seem to ever say anything.  After four years of Bush, I started to think that Clinton wasn’t all that bad.  I voted for John Kerry in 2004, not because I like Kerry (I voted for Dean in the primary – at least he seemed to give a crap), but because I was embarassed to have a president who seemed to want to turn the world into a Christian theocracy when no one was paying attention.

Anyway, back to the National Review.  Or actually, not to the National Review.  I’ll try another article or two, but I think I’m done with them.  Where are the Republicans who say, “Whoa, these lunatics in power don’t speak for us.”?  Where are the Republicans who say, “You can’t use 9/11 as an excuse to declare war and then expand the office of the President in the name of national security”?  I need to find them.  I think we’d get along.

Perhaps the most insane thing ever said by a Senator (But probably not)

27B Stroke 6

This is going around today, I saw it on Fark, they got it from Daily Kos. In any event, it’s a partial transcript of a rambling diatribe given by Alaskan Senator Ted Stevens that plainly shows he does not understand what “the internet” is. He makes the claim that we need to separate the commercial part of the internet from the part that is “essential to small businesses, to our operation of families”. Now, I’m not sure how “small businesses” aren’t part of the commercial world, but maybe he just thinks that people feel warm and fuzzy about small businesses so it’s okay to lump them in with regular people.

He’s arguing for regulation of the internet so that the bandwith hogging applications (he mentions on-demand movie downloads) don’t interfere with little Billy’s email to Grandma. Okay, fine, I’m in favor of that. But there are a couple of directions we can take here.

One, we can make the big bad corporations build their own internet so that it doesn’t interfere with families. Does that mean I’d have to have two accounts with Cox? One for my “family internet” and one so I can get on Buy.com? Not sure how that helps me.

Two, we can look at why (or if) this is really a problem. Maybe the RIAA and MPAA could stop trying to criminalize Bit Torrent and try using it for their own legal distribution. Maybe we could remove some of the monopolies granted to cable companies and get some real competition. Problems like the ones Stevens describes don’t happen in truly competitive markets. When they come up, someone figures out how to fix it, and everyone else follows along or gets left behind. It’s only when the barriers to entry are set so high that competition is impossible that we run into things like this.

Anyway, his statement would be really funny if it weren’t so scary.

NY Times, House of Representatives holding pissing contest

CNN.com – House vote slaps news organizations – Jun 29, 2006 The House of Representatives (hereafter referred to as Bickering Partisan Assclowns) passed a resolution “condemning news organizations for revealing a covert government program to track terrorist financing”. Now, this got me thinking – what, exactly, is a “resolution”? Well, answers.com had a nice definition. Interesting to note is that there are two types of resolutions – those that pass laws, and those that more or less express the opinion of the legislative body, in this case the Bickering Partisan Assclowns, or BPA. This type of resolution is in response to a certain event, such as the Times writing about our secret and probably illegal searching techniques for terrorists. It is not intended to be permanent or enforceable.

In a certain respect, [resolutions of this type] resemble the opinions expressed by a newspaper on its editorial page, but they are nonetheless indicative of the ideas and values of elected representatives and, as such, commonly mirror the outlook of voters.

Oh, really? So, the Times prints an article. The BPA gets its panties in a bunch, and publishes an editorial. Except that because the BPA is a large and powerful organization, it passes a resolution instead of publishing an editorial. This, in effect, says to the Times, “our genitals are larger than yours”. So that’s fine, I guess. Sure, it’s a waste of time and taxpayer dollars, but I suppose a response is justified. But then we see that the vote on the resolution was pretty much straight down the party line, with the Republicans (Not surprisingly) in the pro column. The Democrats had a problem with some language in the resolution that defended the legality of the search techniques. Now, here’s where I have a real problem, and why I think our government is broken. There are two issues that need to be resolved here. First, did the Times break the law? Are they guilty, as complete nutjob Ann Coulter says, of treason? Well, either they are guilty of breaking some law, and they should be dealt with by the legal system, or they’re not, and their actions are protected by the free speech, or freedom of the press, or whatever. Second, are the methods they wrote about illegal? Are we violating our citizens’ rights in the name of stopping terrorists? It seems likely that we are, but I can’t say for certain. Again, if these methods are illegal, then the legal system needs to deal with that, and if not, everything’s fine. So, what does the BPA do? It writes an opinion piece. It tackles none of the underlying issues, and simply drafts a non-binding opinion calling people names. Great.

Im sorry, Godwins Law says youre done now.

Pro-lifers against Buffett-Gates alliance – Yahoo! News

How misguided do you have to be to attack a man for pledging tens of billions of dollars to charity? Misguided enough, I suppose, to run smack into Godwin’s Law.

“The merger of Gates and Buffett may spell doom for the families of the developing world,” said the Rev. Thomas Euteneuer, a Roman Catholic priest who is president of Human Life International.

Referring to Josef Mengele, the infamous Nazi death camp doctor, Euteneuer said Buffett “will be known as the Dr. Mengele of philanthropy unless he repents.”

Now, for a minute, let’s assume that the Judeo-Christian God exists more or less as He’s described in the Bible. Then, we can suppose that Rev. Euteneuer asked Him, “So, God, we have this guy who wants to pledge literally billions of dollars to promote global health. He wants to bring medicine and education and all sorts of necessities to people who need them. But there’s a possibility that a small fraction of the money will go to promote abortion. Should we stone him, or simply banish him into the wilderness?”

Whatever God may or may not be, He’s not stupid. I’m pretty sure He’d tell the Reverend to go take a long walk. Actually, the Bible makes God out to be a little more aggressive. He might actually smite the Reverend.

I understand why people are against abortion. I’m against it, too, although I won’t support laws that make it illegal. But when you’d stand in the way of all the good that can be done with this money just because you don’t like where some of it’s going, you’re not doing God’s work.

And I know the vast majority of pro-lifers aren’t as dumb as this guy. Nor are the vast majority of Christians. But when you let idiots like this be your voice to the public, it’s not helping things.

This sounds like a bad idea

Internet providers to combat child porn – Yahoo! News

I was actually going to post this earlier today, but the article I first saw on Slashdot was from some little Florida news site, and I wanted something a little more reputable.  But then I thought that searching for “child porn database” probably wasn’t a good idea.

The gist of the article is that they’re going to catalog all known child porn images so we can scan for them.  Now, I’m all in favor of getting rid of child porn.  People who involve children in their sex lives should be sent to jail for a long, long time.  But I think this is a misguided and doomed attempt to do something about it.

When you start scanning for these “known” images, it will drive people to find or create new images.  You may catch some people who are emailing stuff to others, but I can’t imagine that’s really the bulk of the problem.  I’d really rather catch the guy who makes the images rather than the guy who looks at them.  And this database only encourages the making rather than the looking, because the old pictures are all marked.  It’s basic economics – the old pictures are less valuable, and new ones are more valuable, so it encourages more people to make new images. I also don’t like the idea of a big database full of child porn.  We’ve all seen lately how securely companies and the government protect sensitive data, like our social security numbers.  What makes anyone think that the security on this database will be any better?

Ive had it with the rain

For Wetter or Worse: A Wanton Excess of Water

The above Washington Post article suffers from a great many maladies. First, alliteration is a nice literary tool, but I think it’s better suited to fiction, or perhaps poetry. Second, aside from a few quotes and factoids about the weather, it doesn’t have much of a point. “Too much rain can be a bad thing”. Yeah, thanks for the bulletin. At least we were spared some remark about drought in other countries.

Third, and most importantly, I’m a little bitter about the weather already, and reading an article like this (I know, I could have skipped it) doesn’t help. I’m not sure if we’ve broken any records in the DC area these past few days, but I’ve lived in and around the area my whole life, and I don’t remember anything like this.

The article also mentions Al Gore, in the news lately for finally showing that he has a soul (A little late for the Democratic party, who maybe invested some time and money in him a while back).  It doesn’t actually come out and say that the rain is a direct result of the global warming that Gore’s been talking about, but I think it’s clear what we’re supposed to infer.

Anyway, I lost my point long ago.  I just wish it would stop raining.

The shrinking American social network

Last night, Barb and I had dinner at the little Mexican bar/restaurant across the street. We hadn’t been, because last time we went it was an Indian place. We were the only native English-speakers in the restaurant, which wasn’t a surprise. I think it’s a good sign for a Mexican restaurant to be full of Latinos – it probably means the food is good. Which it was.

Everyone in the bar seemed to know each other. Partly it’s a small place, so many of them probably came together. But I suspect that it’s also because we have a large Spanish-speaking community right around here, and my impression is that these communities tend to keep a bit to themselves. The language barrier probably contributes to that.

Today I saw this article that tells of a study that found that Americans are more socially isolated than we were twenty years ago. We have fewer close friends now than we did in 1985.

I think it’s causing problems in our society. How many people know their next-door neighbor? The family across the street? People are social by nature, and I don’t really understand why Americans as a society have pulled away from that. Is it television? Do we turn on the tv and ignore the rest of the world? Are we spending more time in online communities? There’s probably not one answer.

But I’m curious why the Latino communities I see still have that sense of togetherness, of knowing everyone, and I’m also curious if they’re better off for it.

I know I have friends who live less than ten minutes away on foot, and I see them maybe once a month. I spend the vast majority of my time at work, or alone with Barb. And not that spending time alone with Barb is bad – it’s actually great. But maybe we’re missing something. And it will be even more important when we have kids. I think Barb and I are even ahead of the game. We both have close friends that we can turn to when we need something.

So, I don’t know what this study means, or what can be done about it. Harvard University Public Policy Professor Robert Putnam suggests in the article that flexible work schedules would allow people more time for community, but that sounds like a pretty simplistic answer. Working fewer hours a week might help, if we turned to community activities to fill the extra time. But there’s no guarantee we would. I’d love to see the construction industry start planning housing developments to be more community oriented. But we can hardly put the responsibility on them, as much as they might make an easy target in these days of over-development.

Anyway, go out and meet your neighbor. Offer him a beer or a cup of coffee. Or maybe brush up on your Spanish and head to the local Mexican bar. And don’t work so much. Tell your boss some guy from Harvard said so.