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Wednesday miscellany

I’m sorry for not blogging the last few days. Last-Chance Gulch had company from far away and we were busy doing wild-n-crazy things. I intended to blog about the visit and our flamboyant visitor. But as I considered what to write, I realized that our activities — while harmless — were nearly all illegal, immoral, or fattening. Or at least some of the above.

Now that I’m recuperated, I may take time and use my better judgment before writing up any of our scandalously fun behavior. Or not.

In the meantime, I’ve been collecting. And some of what I’ve gathered goes beyond the usual newsbits. To wit:

  • “The Banality of Good.” The message of this speechlessly great op-ed is one we should all engrave on our hearts as we watch freedom fail around us. No matter how small, there is always something we personally can do. And man, I have simply got to read Every Man Dies Alone (Kindle edition) and (paperback edition), the new/old novel that set the editorial writer on the path of his thoughts.
  • Because I have a friend who worries … “The Talents of a Middle-Aged Brain.” They’re greater than we think they are — despite those pesky moments when you can’t find your car keys.
  • Via the ever-informative Rational Review News … how one man improved paradise. With guppies.
  • Why Stephen Hawking was right (though not in the way he imagined). Tip o’ hat to P.T. and more from P.T. on the infamous “believe-us-it-really-isn’t-bigoted” legislation: Los Suns. Not sure what I think of that. Seems silly to politicize sports, yet the solidarity is admirable and the comments by players and management well thought-out.
  • One of the less-bad federal legislators talks about how to diffuse our fiscal time bomb. Nothing new to us, perhaps. But it’s good to see this kind of message making it into the respectable Christian Science Monitor.
  • Does anybody have any personal experience with Smarty Pig, the goal-oriented online savings site? I’ve heard good things about it, and it pays a relatively high rate of interest for small deposits (relatively high; all savings rates are abysmal these days). Overall, looks like a good idea. Now tell about it if you know more, please.

Finally, I need to say thanks for the wonderful, warm comments people left in last Friday’s posting, Nadia the Noble. I’m always surprised and moved to get such comments on something as simple as a dog drawing. Several old acquaintances showed up to comment and several I need to reply to (either in the comments section or by email). I’ll be working on that. Today or tomorrow, for sure. But after getting this far, I’m realizing I might not be quite as recuperated as I thought.

But damn, did we have fun.


  1. Rural Mike
    Rural Mike May 5, 2010 2:50 pm

    Since the emotional baloney wave over AZ new legislation has yet to die away, it is worth revisiting a few points;
    1) The same Congressional/Executive types who so vociferously denounce it are the same ones who can’t jam down a national, biometric I.D. card fast enough.
    2) The vast majority of homicide suspects wanted in the Valley are illegals.
    3) Mexico has stricter and more draconian immigration law than the State of AZ.
    4) Illegals drain billions of dollars from the economy every year.
    Supporting illegal immigration is supporting both the underground economy of human ruin, and demanding that innocent Americans give up the opportunities they used to have in this country so that a new, permanent, unassimillated group capable and willing of resorting to violence and criminal acts can have their way.
    Hurray, AZ, for having the courage to stand up for your citizens.

  2. Claire
    Claire May 5, 2010 6:24 pm

    And since you still don’t get it, it might also be worth revisiting this point: Nobody denies that immigration (both legal and otherwise) causes problems. It’s just that, “Your papers, please!” isn’t a solution to any of those problems.

  3. Rural Mike
    Rural Mike May 5, 2010 8:35 pm

    You are right in the sense that demanding a whole person to “prove” their identity via “paperwork” is onerous. You are wrong if you think that this is not already the world which we live in. You and others who champion what is in effect status quo policy are practicing a form of exceptionalism that ignores reality.
    If we were all living in a world where Freedom required no responsibility, no code, no sense of right or wrong, where we could pick and choose our circumstances, then you would have a valid point, but in the real world, you don’t. What you are really saying is that it is more important to not have to produce documents than it is to keep murderers off the streets.

  4. Ellendra
    Ellendra May 5, 2010 9:54 pm

    “Nobody denies that immigration (both legal and otherwise) causes problems. It’s just that, “Your papers, please!” isn’t a solution to any of those problems.”

    Thank you Claire. It’s refreshing to find a person who doesn’t let themselves get locked into that binary, either-or mentality.

  5. Matt
    Matt May 5, 2010 10:20 pm

    Being somewhat cynical I would hazard a guess that Los Suns could of been more about marketing the Phoenix Suns to young latinos more than supporting illegal immigration.

    I agree that “your papers please” seems like a poor solution, but it is one that our world and our society uses on a constant basis. The AZ law might be struck down and might be up held. Pretty much all of the provisions are mirror images of federal law and procedures. We accept racial profiling when it is done by the federal government and sometimes even want more. Federal law also requires that legal immigrant keep their papers with them at all times and present them when asked.

    I think passing the law was unfortunate and the timing poor. Until just before its passing it didn’t get much attention in the local press. It surely didn’t seem to be something that AZ citizens were asking for.

    As far as fears of profiling goes, it happens. A lot. Profiling occurs constantly, even with good freedom loving police officers. Sometimes it is racial, sometimes based on economic indicators, sometimes it is age based (teenagers get profiled and hassled by the police a lot, they truly have little voice in our society), sometimes it is simply the neighborhood one might be traveling through.

    They way the law is written, and its recent modicications won’t encourage an officer to racially profile. The ones that are inclined to do so are already doing so with or without a new law. I do pity the officers though that will have to justify every traffic stop and every citizen contact as not being racially profiled.

    What’s a practical alternative to “your papers please?”

  6. Ellendra
    Ellendra May 5, 2010 11:03 pm

    “You and others who champion what is in effect status quo policy ”

    I’m curious RM, when has Claire ever argued for maintaining the status quo?

  7. Bill St. Clair
    Bill St. Clair May 6, 2010 5:27 am

    I can understand your reticence, Claire, at sharing the illegal, but the immoral and fattening, too? I hope your judgement allows you to share the non-intimate of those happenings.

    As for the immigration issue. It’s only the American government’s socialist pograms that cause us to no longer welcome with open arms all and sundry who want to live in our once-pretty-free country. With deadly results, of course, for those who abuse their liberty by aggressing against others. Oh, wait, that would be Arapaio’s goons.

  8. Claire
    Claire May 6, 2010 5:53 am

    “What’s a practical alternative to ‘your papers please?’”

    Get rid of the welfare state, end the drug war, open the borders. (Aside to Rural Mike: If you can consider that “advocating the status quo,” you’ve got a very interesting notion of what the status quo is.)

    Not practical enough? This isn’t what I advocate, but you could start with a guest-worker program.

    Do I pretend to have the solution to problems arising from immigration? Of course not. But various governments claim to — and their solutions invariably involve a loss of freedom for everybody. And in this case, Arizona’s solution will encourage racial profiling, no matter that politicians claim otherwise. “When they came for the Hispanics …”

    I see way too many people just assuming that any law any government proposes is okay as long as it “does something” about illegal immigration. That’s exactly how government gets out of hand. “Do something” about drugs, “do something” about health-care, “do something” about Wall Street, “do something” about the environment, “do something” about foreign brown people. There’s too much crying for government to do something, followed by virtually no critical questioning (by the “do something” advocates) of the specific things governments propose to do.

  9. Claire
    Claire May 6, 2010 5:59 am

    Bill … Well, maybe there wasn’t all that much that was immoral. Or fattening. 😉 Maybe …

  10. Dr. John
    Dr. John May 6, 2010 11:44 am

    Rural Mike: You appear to be misinformed. Try this link

    One excerpt :
    The state has an estimated 460,000 illegal immigrants. But contrary to myth, they have not brought an epidemic of murder and mayhem with them. Surprise of surprises, the state has gotten safer.

  11. Plug Nickel Outfit
    Plug Nickel Outfit May 6, 2010 12:38 pm

    It’s annoying to see people continue to conflate the actions of the worker bees of the smuggling cartels with ‘illegal immigrants’ – particularly when the criminal element is enabled by the prohibitions of this godawful War on (some) Drugs.

    Only slightly less annoying is that even when some folks might agree with the idea of ending this Wo(S)D – the first thing that pops out of their mouths is – “let’s tax those drugs”.

  12. JB
    JB May 6, 2010 1:44 pm

    Earlier in our nation’s history, we did not document workers or have secured borders. We also had no serious immigration problem. Yes, there were waves of immigration, but those people assimilated into and contributed to society. There are three problems that people commonly associate with “illegal immigration” now.
    1) Using up our resources, whether medical or otherwise.
    2) Drug smuggling.
    3) Violent crime.
    These would all be solved generally by shifting responsibility toward individual citizens and away from government. More specifically, we need to dismantle our “entitlement” programs. This includes not only AFDC, WIC, and Social Security, but also the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act that threatens hospitals with huge fines if they turn away anybody from an ER and that person can later convince our courts that their sniffles were an emergency. I see plenty of Mexican people as clients, and they pay me cash that they earn through work. That stimulates the economy. First problem solved. We need to repeal the Prohibition amendment. Oops – we already did that. We just need to remind Congress that they have no authority to prohibit drugs. During the twenties, there was drug smuggling and gang violence surrounding alcohol. The same thing is happening now with other drugs. Get rid of those prohibition laws, and the profits and smuggling will disappear, as it did with the cessation of the first Prohibition. Problem two solved. We also need people to take responsibility for their own defensem rather than leaving it to government officials, aka police officers. The saying, “when seconds are all you have, the police are only minutes away” is a truism. A person, who does not have mental or physical limitations against doing so, cannot claim to be a responsible adult if he/she does not routinely carry a gun and be able to effectively use it. Even if a reasonable proportion of people would start exercising their responsibilities in this regard, then problem three would be solved. All of our problems would be solved without government surveillence of employers and tracking of workers.

  13. JB
    JB May 6, 2010 1:58 pm

    I need to amend the 3rd sentence from the last. “Cannot claim to be a responsible adult” should be changed to “cannot claim to be a FULLY responsible adult.” The person might be quite responsible in other ways. The person may not have thought the issue through. However, when one realizes that there are almost twice as many violent crimes (11.5 million per year) in the US as auto accidents (6.5 million per year), then it is more irresponsible to be unarmed than it is to drive without a seatbelt, which many people would say is irresponsible.

  14. Rural Mike
    Rural Mike May 6, 2010 5:13 pm

    According to a recent poll conducted by the AZ Republic, 70% of Arizonans support their new law. According to a recent poll by an East Coast newspaper, 9 out of 10 Americans want action on curtailing illegal immigration. The estimated influx to the Mexican economy of $$ sent to Mexico from their ex-patriots exceeds $30 million a year. The amount of money brought into Mexico via the illegal drug trade exceeds $30 billion.
    Dr John, you link to one opinion piece and expect me to accept it as fact, while the message from the street is 180 degrees away from the suggested atmosphere in the piece. I could go into a long diatribe of how these stats are analyzed and manipulated, but the essence of any stats on crime, economics, unemployment, productivity, and CPI, etc. are nothing but professional liars playing with numbers.
    Here is the real issue, Dr. John, it is whether or not the fruits and opportunities of America are extended first to her own citizens, or to illegals who sneak across the border and break myriad laws simply because they can.
    Claire, your assertion that laws demanding foreign nationals produce their documents is anathema to freedom walks in lockstep with current immigration policy, thus is simply supporting the status quo. Phoenix itself has a policy whereby no law enforcement officer can ask the immigration status of anyone. So, you can split a few ideological hairs, but in effect, your assertions about the issue of illegal immigration reflect those opinions of the feds, various leftist members of congress, and our foreign national president.
    Now, no one here, with the possible exception of Matt is going to want to hear this, but the illegals are a negative and corrosive force on our society. It is never good for any society to have a slave class to exploit, and the illegals are pretty much just that. If this makes me guilty of “binary thinking” as so accused by Ellendra, then so be it, because allowing unrestrained illegal immigration does what to help the Mexicans, and the Americans?
    What it does do is ensure that a thriving underground economy of fear, abuse and murder thrives. C’mon, people, get out your ideological ivory towers long enough to see what is really happening on the ground, ok?
    Have you ever wondered why NATO troops are guaranteeing the opium and cannabis harvests in Afghanistan? Have you ever wondered why our borders can never be sealed by an overreaching fed guv? Have you ever wondered why there is a war on drugs? Its all related people, all of it.
    Finally, it is well within the jurisprudence of AZ to pass this law. God bless them.

  15. Dan Perkins
    Dan Perkins May 6, 2010 8:01 pm

    Until you can prove to me that being born within a certain geographic area intrinsically makes you a better person, then all cries about “the illegal problem” amount to racism. We have more than our share of “American Born & Bred” killers and scum. Besides, if the feds are gonna steal my money, I’d rather it went to 20,000 Mexican families than 20 fatcats at Halliburton.
    Also, Rural Mike, I have to point out that your statement dismissing the usefulness of statistics comes just after the paragraph in which you quote a bunch of them. I happen to agree with you that statistics are a tool of the liar, but you can’t have it both ways.

  16. Matt
    Matt May 6, 2010 9:15 pm

    Various Native American groups might have a different opinion of open borders.

    During our countries history, I think we have had more years of immigration controls than not. We had immigration entry points along the East coast, Ellis Island, Charleston NC, Portland Me etc most of the 19th and 20th centuries. The country expanded and flourished.

    I would like to see a guest worker program and think it would be useful. If it was designed and managed right it would be a win-win situation. Unfortunately I don’t have faith in our government, corporations, or charitable corporations to manage it in a just manner.

    Illegal immigration, or the various H1b and similar visa programs simply allow corporations to import labor that are in effect indentured servants. It allows corporations to undercut wages, benefits etc. Some would call it a form of insourcing. Many jobs there were entry level for americans are now held by illegal immigrants. Many of these jobs, construction, landscaping, manufacturing led many of the americans that held them to earn enough to go to college, get better jobs, invest in their communities etc.

    Illegal immigration is a romantic topic and a great cause celebre until your house is broken into or your neighbors car stolen, or you watch the ranch you inherited from your family slowly destroyed by constant foot traffic, some freindly, some deadly.

  17. Ellendra
    Ellendra May 6, 2010 9:16 pm

    “If this makes me guilty of “binary thinking” as so accused by Ellendra, then so be it, because allowing unrestrained illegal immigration does what to help the Mexicans, and the Americans?”

    Actually, binary thinking is the assumption that if someone disagrees with you on a given idea, that they “must” be in support of the opposite.

    There are complex variations possible with binary logic. It’s fascinating to watch a debate and find the boolean algebraic equations that match the assumptions behind those arguments.

    Sorry, is my geekiness showing?

  18. Matt
    Matt May 6, 2010 10:23 pm

    I have worked with people and computers my entire life. Most people don’t even come close to thinking as clearly as binary math.

    On fixing illegal immigration I wonder if part of the solution is relatively simple. If the state and federal minimum wage laws were repealed, would the market for off the books, underpaid employees go away? Would it at least shrink considerably?

    On another note, when the Mongols started their expansion and great migrations, were they illegal immigrants, or open borders advocates?

  19. Pat
    Pat May 7, 2010 4:33 am

    “On another note, when the Mongols started their expansion and great migrations, were they illegal immigrants, or open borders advocates?”

    This rationale is ridiculous. The Mongols were out to conquer the countries they “migrated” to. And in fact, *so were we* when we migrated to Texas, Arizona, Mew Mexico, California, etc. — when we took those areas FROM the Mexicans and before that, when we took all of America from the American Indians (and the Spanish and the French as well). Most, if not all, of the countries existing today are results of “conquering hordes” from other nations or other regions. (And we are still doing it in Iraq, Afghanistan, and around the world.)

    The immigrants being discussed are not trying to conquer anybody; they simply want a better life than what they have or had. And, in the face of so much legal and prejudicial opposition, the fact that they STILL want to live in this country says a great deal for their desire to be free of political and economic restriction — in spite of the obvious social blacklisting they receive.

    AND they’re willing to be — God forbid! — “illegal” to get this freedom. If the Founding Fathers waited till they were “allowed” to be legal, we would still be a colony.

    The entire argument for the AZ law and against “illegal” immigrants is based on the *status quo:* governments at every level who can and do tell the individual where and how he should live; how he should identify himself; how much he should be allowed to earn, and how much he can keep from that income; under what circumstances he can move about, work, play, or breathe freely.

    “This is how it is, and this is how it should remain.”
    “If not AZ law, then federal law, should be the guidelines.”
    “The leaders of this nation know what’s best for everyone; you have no right to oppose them just because you don’t like the laws they write.”

    This status quo has been going on for hundreds and thousands of years. This is what put Robin Hood on the map. It is what “Braveheart” died fighting against. It is what tortured and killed the victims of the Spanish Inquisition. The laws these leaders pass were what were used against the Jews by Nazi Germany.

    If you can’t recognize this fact and apply it to this issue, maybe you live too close to the status quo.

  20. Claire
    Claire May 7, 2010 10:05 am

    Rural Mike,

    I don’t advocate the status quo. I certainly recognize what the status quo is. But I advocate change that’s so radical it’s not likely to be tried.

    I also do not advocate “a world where Freedom required no responsibility, no code, no sense of right or wrong, where we could pick and choose our circumstances.” There is no such world. Freedom always carries the responsibility for bearing the consequences of one’s own actions; anybody who thinks otherwise wants what never was and never will be.

    And I am absolutely not saying, or implying, that “… it is more important to not have to produce documents than it is to keep murderers off the streets.” I’m a gun-rights advocate, am I not? Doesn’t that, by definition, show that I’m not in favor of “murderers in the streets” — but of prompt and forceful defense against murderers? (However, I’ll also note that I live among many illegal immigrants — yet the only murders committed lately in my part of the world have been committed by native-born white guys. And you have not yet provided any statistics to back your claims that illegal aliens are prolific murderers.)

    Your continual refusal to try to understand what others here are actually saying is frustrating. I don’t mind that we disagree. That’s life. I do mind, greatly, having you constantly twist people’s words.

    You keep restating the problem of illegal immigration as you perceive it. You propose no solutions; you simply applaud Arizona for its new law.

    I and others here have proposed numerous solutions: End the drug war, end the welfare state, institute a guest-worker program, abolish the minimum wage, etc. You act as though nobody has spoken of any of these things. “Status quo,” you repeat — and repeat — and repeat.

    I say that, “Papers, please!” will destroy freedom while not, in the long run, doing anything to solve problems. It may, at best, put a temporary damper on “illegals.” But the (intended) unintended consequences of such laws will in the long run hurt everyone.

    Now, others have given their proposals for long-term solutions. How about this? Instead of just repeating, “We have a terrible problem; good on Arizona for doing something,” write out your proposal for 1) solving the problem of illegal immigration without 2) limiting freedom or violating the Bill of Rights. Go for it. I’m eager to hear your plan.

    But if I hear, “You just want the status quo,” or “You want murderers roaming the streets” one more time, from here on out, I’ll just let you rant and ignore you entirely. Deal?

  21. Rural Mike
    Rural Mike May 7, 2010 10:01 pm

    A few points in rebuttal;
    Pat, Mexico was created through conquest. The Navajo Nation was created through conquest, the Apache were slavers and killers. Your assertion suggests that because we here in the Southwest live on conquered land, that makes our claim somehow baseless. If so, then the same goes for every other group as well.
    Dan Perkins, re read my statement, my quote was on polling, which is a pretty simple stat following pretty simple mathematical procedures. Can they be twisted, sure, but whether or not you accept the final figure, the trend therein should be obvious. On the other hand, stats involving employment, productivity, crime, etc use lots of exclusion and manipulation of data to get desired results. Finally, being born in different geographic areas is extremely significant for every other country I’ve bothered to research, exactly what is your basis for exceptionalism other than a blanket view of racism? What ever it is, it sure ain’t based on the constitution.
    The issue of illegal immigrants does not stand alone, it is intimately linked with drugs, with the Mexican elite, with corruption in our own country, and with our own government. It exists in collusion with economic policies designed to disenfranchise the common citizens of both Nations in question, and to destroy the sovereignty of both. This is not idle chatter or conspiracy theory, it is flat out fact. For example, before NAFTA went in, critics were pointing out that this treaty would destroy small business in both countries, nullify environmental regulations on large corporations-thus insulating them from accountability, and would lead to greater volumes of narcotic traffic flowing over the border.
    The idea that removing social security, WIC, or any other program is going to remove the incentive for illegals is completely laughable.
    The incentive for illegals is due to their inability to thrive in their own country, and because they are mere subjects who are routinely killed by various branches of government. A law enforcement officer who has lots of border experience once put it this way; In Mexico, life is cheap.
    So, the first thing that needs to be done is to cancel the economic treaties that amount to nothing less than 100% corporate welfare. Once corporations are prevented from manipulating and destroying the fabric of society for their perverse profits, regular people can once again begin to make a life for themselves.
    Secondly, I don’t give a good goddamn for anyone who thinks its racist to create immigration policy, because we have the right and the authority to do so. My suggestion to those who wish to find a land without borders is to find another planet.
    Third, we need to take the financial incentive away from illegal drugs. Facets of our government enjoy immense profit and power directly and indirectly through the flow and high price of illegal drugs. It has been argued that Mexico would financially collapse without the $30 billion annually of illegal drug money, but that is only because the current economic policies are absolutely without merit. The best method for eliminating the price incentive is to eliminate the profit behind trafficking. This is addressed through removing the policies designed to increase price, and instead through developing policies geared toward regulation.
    Fourth, corporations and banks in this country must be diminished to the size which best reflects their productivity and subservience to the needs of of the Nation. Corporations and banks that work directly against the best interests of country and people need to be disbanded immediately, and their management/boards tried for treason.
    Fifth, The National conscious must be purged of the various and sundry manipulations designed to create an atmosphere of American self-hatred. This ideology creates a dependent and weak character, easily manipulated by propagandists. This is a big reason why the worst political, social and economic policies are accepted by so many. It is, in effect, an attack on our own culture.
    Together with the above, it is absolutely critical to develop an economy based on the circulation of goods and services, not on the dark manipulations of a demented financial sector. Do these things, and the nature of illegal immigration will change from a major into a minor problem.
    However, in the absence of any such sanity, steered as we are by madmen at the helm who cannot realize that their welfare is linked to a healthy land, the AZ law is the best we can get.

  22. Grey76
    Grey76 June 5, 2010 9:26 pm

    Just a point.
    Mexicans coming to the USA illegally do NOT all want to be US citizens. In *my* experience their are a significant portion of mexicans working and living in the USA who want to liver here, reap the benefits of our economy/welfare system/medical establishments on the mexicans terms and NOT join the community or learn the language or history or contribute to the culture in a positive way.
    I have been told point blank that *I* have to learn spanish and that it is my responsibility to be *culturally sensitive* enough not to ask for common courtesy from an illegall imigrant. This same imigrant further that he and his family could do as they like and have benefits that they were “owed” even though they were here illegally. the same benefits I was denied (prior to my understanding of freedom that makes those benefits abhorent)
    I welcom with open arms those who come to this nation to become part of the nation. Illegal immigrants sometimes are in this group – but not always, *legal* immigrants who go through the convoluted process of being here legally are often in the group who want to love the ideals of the USA .
    Illegal immigrants are an underclass that we must find a way to nutralize.
    The AZ law (ive read the whole thing) amounts to “if the cops are asking for your papers anyways (like they already do)/ and or you have broken another law to come to their attention, the cops should hold you for the immigration authorities if you have broken immigration law.” thats all. Its really not a big deal, and not a bad idea, nor a monstousity of a law like the health care bill I STILL havent finished reading.
    – The ideas and laws _preceeding_ this law (cops having the right to ask for papers/drivers licenses/etc for even trivial legal infractions, etc.) are the flawed laws that need to be changed.

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