Thursday, June 28, 2007


I'll be away on a trip until July 8. Posting will most likely be in cryogenic stasis till then. Meanwhile, as always, I recommend the sites on the blogroll to the right.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Garbage out, garbage in

Mexico is an ocean-to-ocean garbage pile.
Soft drink bottles, snack wrappers, used diapers and cigarette butts clog city streets, rural highways and scenic beaches. Mountains of garbage stand sentry-like in empty lots and at the edges of bucolic rural villages. Discarded plastic bags hang in trees and dangle from cactus like bitter industrial fruit.

Not every Mexican litters, of course. And perhaps no one does so all the time. But enough of them do, enough of the time, that this nation of 105 million people is choking on its refuse.

Yet, there has been no concerted long-term anti-litter campaign. Only a smattering of Mexican towns and cities have municipal garbage dumps.

This is part of the culture that our Mexico-worshiping Supreme Leader doesn't want to acknowledge. There are so many more: gang warfare, bribery and intimidation as a way of life, machismo, drug trafficking, drunken driving ... yes, so many more.

The epidemic of trash is part of what Supreme Leader, along with his sidekicks Kennedy and McShame, wants to import. He doesn't have to wait for his Amnesty Disease to lay waste to the country he laughably swore to protect and defend. His border-jumping familia is already turning southern Arizona into a midden. See here and here.

Twenty-two bags of garbage gathered from a site used by illegals and tossed by protesters in front of immigration pimp Rep. Jim Kolbe's office.

But the larger point isn't the simplistic one that open borders will add immeasurably to littering the environment (although they will). Rather, the trash piƱatas are symbolic of a dysfunctional society that you have to be as demented as Supreme Leader to want to insert here. Tossing trash into public areas occurs when a population lacks self-respect or any sense of belonging to a culture larger than their own tribe. It's not only a Mexican phenomenon, of course -- you see it here and there in the United States too, but where it exists, you can be sure you're in an alienated area (often a hard-core urban neighborhood) through which hostility courses.

Who can be surprised that many Mexicans vandalize their own land? They are alienated. There is an undercurrent of hostility. How could it be otherwise? Some are descended from Aztecs whose idea of a good time was to cut the heart out of living prisoners of war. I'm sure there were more peaceful tribes as well, but they didn't have much luck after the Spanish dropped in to save their souls and loot their territory. Since then they've been ruled by a succession of dictators and bent politicos, or lived in anarchic backward districts. The army periodically puts down attempted rebellions. Cops make their living through shakedowns. What is there to nurture self-respect? How could they be expected to have any loyalty to society?

Of course, an open borders apologist will say that's exactly why they head to El Norte, where they imagine they can be free from everything about their country that stinks. But -- call me cynical if you want, although I think it's common sense -- migrating is not going to change their values. Los Angeles is an example of a safe house for gangs and welfare sows. Mexicans and other Third World immigrants bring their countries with them. "Yes, but that's only the first generation," the open borders pleader says. "They'll assimilate, like other immigrants before them."

Maybe, but the odds grow longer with every passing year. Mexicans have been in Los Angeles for several generations now, although in nowhere near the present concentration, and there is no evidence that they have assimilated except in the most superficial sense.

Yes, I feel sorry for those who are born and bred in environments that few of us would choose. But if large numbers of them are ever to improve their lot, it has to be a home-grown change. Running away to a richer neighboring country isn't the answer. And we aren't morally obliged to limp with the lame.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Feeding the beast

A while back I was griping about how tedious — albeit necessary — it was to keep banging on about the villainy of the Bush-McCain-Kennedy Axis of Weevils and their treasonous "comprehensive immigration reform" bill. Part of the tedium (Teddy-um?) of reading and writing about it, though, is in the concentration on the myriad details. Let's give you and me a break and step back to put this sorry business into the frame of political philosophy.

Everyone of every persuasion agrees, in principle, that a functional society must be supported by a structure of law. That law makes it possible for people to go about their lives knowing (a) what they must do and (b) what they must not do. (In any society that can reasonably be called "free," both categories should be carefully considered and limited, leaving a large degree of conduct in the hands of the individual, neither coerced nor prohibited.) Without such legal boundaries, every act becomes a roll of the dice, and a person lives in fear that those who are stronger or in authority can punish him at will. That's why the U.S. Constitution includes a clause prohibiting ex post facto laws (making something illegal retroactively).

The proposed Bush-McCain-Kennedy abomination is another form of ex post facto lawmaking. The only difference is that instead of making something illegal after the fact, it would make legal something that wasn't at the time it was done. That is to say it would undercut the whole basis of law.

Law is effective in proportion to how convincing it is that it will be carried out. Some legal scholars are worried by the fact that the overwhelming majority of criminal indictments are nowadays settled not by jury trial but by plea bargains, because defendants (in many instances) lack the resources to go to trial with competent counsel and prosecutors lack the time and budget to try anything except the most exceptional or notorious cases. The concern is that law becomes no longer a matter of determining innocence or guilt, but of cutting a deal.

Experts in criminal psychology often decry the long period between the commission of a crime and the punishment. It is not only, in Gladstone's words, that "justice delayed is justice denied," but that in the minds of the perpetrator, his relatives and associates, the crime and the punishment are no longer emotionally associated. The law is not seen as being enforced; the eventual sentence — carried out maybe years later — seems arbitrary or vengeful. Shocking crimes often cause people to call for tougher sentences, but critics of the idea insist that it isn't the degree of the punishment that makes it work as a deterrent, but its swiftness and inability to be evaded.

Of course, the more serious the crime and its penalty, the more deliberate the legal process needs to be. Justice and humanity dictate that if someone is indicted for a crime in which conviction could result in capital punishment or lifetime imprisonment, for instance, the system should bend over backward to give the defendant every reasonable means to exculpate himself, even tolerating delays that observers may find frustrating.

(The American judicial system has not always followed its proclaimed ideals. Little more than a year followed the conviction of Bruno Hauptmann for the kidnapping and murder of the Lindbergh baby, until he was electrocuted. That interval was hardly time for the emotionalism to recede and for a serious appeal. In the years since, skeptics have argued that he was in fact innocent. I haven't studied the case enough to have an opinion; anyway, the trial itself was at best dubious and at worst a deliberate stitch-up.)

But illegal immigration is hardly in the same category. No one is going to be executed for it; realistically, no one will languish in prison for a first offence of illegal entry. The overwhelming majority of illegals, should the government ever adopt the bizarre concept of enforcing its own laws defending our borders, will simply be returned to the country whence they originated and of which they are citizens. Not exactly a medieval punishment.

But this is exactly the kind of law that should be prosecuted and carried out in a way that allows no long-drawn-out delays. One hearing with all the normal safeguards, including the right to legal counsel; if it goes against you, you're on the next bus or plane to Sonora or Cairo, and if you show your face again in these states you'll be spending time in a special resort with bars on the windows, where the service, the ambience, and the cuisine are all well below par.

If such a policy were adopted, it would be remarkable how quickly the "insoluble" problem of illegal immigration would go away.

The alternative — which, despite all the huffing and puffing and misdirection and hair splitting by its advocates, is amnesty for illegals — will be a further dilution of justice under law. When criminal behavior by millions is justified and rewarded, not only immigrants and would-be immigrants, but everyone becomes (quite rightly) more cynical. The law is further perceived not as part of the kit that makes liberty possible, but as a system to be gamed. That attitude is common enough already. Let's not feed the beast with a disastrous amnesty.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Brits get in touch with their inner racist

Why is this man smiling?

In Britain, where individual liberty is rapidly decaying, they are developing a psychological test for job candidates to detect those who give brainspace to "inner racism."
Candidates are asked to put images of black and white faces into categories of "good/positive" and "bad/negative" using arrow keys on the keyboard. By getting them to respond to prompts as quickly as possible, the test aims to side-step what is known as "cognitive control" - the brief, but significant time lapse needed to give an "acceptable" answer rather than an instinctive or "honest" one. The programme then automatically calculates a "response-index" that indicates a level of racial bias.

The test is being developed at London Metropolitan University and is aimed at the public sector and multinational companies. Its developers say it is harder to deceive than many of the psychometric tests used to gauge personality type. The test was condemned last night as a potential "Kafkaesque nightmare" where individuals are penalised for thoughts in their deep subconscious.

This goes beyond speech codes that make everyone go mute on any sensitive subject. It's a step beyond even thought control: soon British government agencies (a huge sector of the workforce in the U.K) and "multinational" companies will become psychometric truffle hounds, rooting around in people's minds for unconscious "racism." Even Stalin would have to admire this new form of eliminating deviationists.

… Nigel Marlow, the principal lecturer in psychology at London Metropolitan who is developing the test, defended its use and said that organisations should take practical steps to screen for subtle "implicit attitudes" and beliefs about racism. "When implicit attitudes are applied, often unwittingly, they can become stereotypical attitudes; a belief that members of some groups have certain negative and positive attributes, often not based on truth or fact," he said.

"The test, which we hope will be available within the next 12 months, is a subtle way to catch racists out. It is based on the implicit attitude theory, which suggests that sometimes people are not even aware of some of their deep-seated biases."

In other words, you can be rejected for employment because of ideas you've never expressed, and that you don't even know you have. Once again, the leering ghost of Uncle Joe pops up. It was Stalin's practice from time to time to have members of the Communist Party and the Soviet government shot at random. It was believed that living with the possibility of being liquidated even without committing an offense would further break the will and individuality of his apparatchiks.

By the same token, today's ordinary citizen, trembling lest he be discovered to contain inner racism, can be made even more dispirited and worried about self-preservation, with a consequent lessening of the strength of character needed to resist.

Like so many other politically correct forms of hunting for witch marks, this "inner racism" test will provoke some dissent — already has, according to the article. Do you think that will make any difference? I don't. The grumbling will soon evaporate, and people will become habituated to one more note of subservience to the Jacobin leanings of contemporary Britain's state control over individuals.

Things haven't gone quite so far in the United States. Not yet. But don't imagine we are immune from the contagion. Today's news includes an item about a Kansas City parks commissioner — yes, parks commissioner — whom "organizations representing various racial and religious groups" and several city councilors want forced out of her position because of her political opinions that have no bearing on her fitness for office. It seems she is against illegal immigration. That makes her "divisive." (Of course, pro-illegal advocates are never divisive.)

Robert Conquest, the great historian of the incalculable damage inflicted on humanity by the Communist and Nazi regimes, has pointed out that these disasters arose not primarily from inherent social problems, but from solutions — solutions that hardened into ideologies, then one-party states based on those ideologies, then into tyranny.

It's true that racism was once, to one degree or another, part of Western civilization. (I mean racism in its real meaning, not as the all-purpose insult tossed around by today's leftists.) And the struggle to eliminate actual racism was a moral and honorable one. But since the struggle was essentially won, anti-racism has developed along the lines of the Soviet system, becoming a fanatical, intolerant creed that has gained political power to the point where it now exercises a great deal of control over daily life.

Will it follow the pattern of its predecessors? The new established civic religion of political correctness is already a "soft" totalitarianism that requires everyone to censor themselves before they speak on certain topics, or cover themselves by prefacing even innocuous statements with disclaimers like, "I don't mean to sound sexist (racist)(xenophobic) etc., but … ."

We've clearly reached the stage of ideological rigidity, and very nearly that of the one-party state, in which Republicans and Democrats alike fight over power but are generally in lockstep on issues like immigration, welfare, and race. We may be some distance yet from tyranny, but from a historical perspective, it's far from a negligible possibility at the rate we're going.

What rough beast … ?

Monday, June 11, 2007

Don't tread on us

On my observing to him that a certain gentleman had remained silent the whole evening, in the midst of a very brilliant and learned society, “Sir, (said he,) the conversation overflowed, and drowned him.”

James Boswell, Life of Johnson

About the so-called comprehensive immigration bill, I was starting to feel like that poor gentleman who found himself in the eloquent company of Samuel Johnson and his circle. Practically every blogger who mattered to me took up the subject, often with more knowledge and sharper logic than I could bring to the table. What could I add?

Writers hate to repeat themselves. How many different ways can you point out that venal politicians, from the president on up, were determined to give the benefits of American citizenship to millions of people who had done nothing to earn it – who had, in fact, entered the country and remained in it illegally and criminally, and who would bring with them an unstoppable chain of relatives and followers? Who would degrade the quality of American life through further overpopulation and demands on social services; most of whom had no desire to assimilate with our culture or contribute anything to it; whose only motivation was to milk the system for whatever they could?

Then, for a few magic hours, the clouds parted. The bill to transition the U.S. into the Third World was stopped in the Senate on a prcedural issue, but there was a sense that — other than the usual incorrigibles — legislators were beginning to wonder whether voting for such a bill would be a wise career move. Even the New York Times had to acknowledge that this pseudo-compromise over immigration didn't fool most of the people most of the time, and that the much invoked but rarely heard from "grassroots" voters had finally made themselves known.

The Bush-Kennedy-McCain Axis of Weevils had lost. We'd won. How sweet it was.

That's not the end of the story, of course. Mexico's ambassador to the United States, George W. Bush, was offended that mere citizens had taken it upon themselves to stand in the way of his Master Plan for "solving" the problems caused by virtually unrestricted immigration (problems for which he was more responsible than anyone). What a nerve.

"Amigos, we've got to do something about these little people who think family values stop at the Rio Grande. Get Linda Chavez on the phone and tell her to do another column about how opponents of My edict, er, bill are bigoted racists. Tell what's-his-name, that Reid character, to put a cork in all the other business and get back to pushing My Legacy. Set up a prayer meeting at the Capitol between Me and all the Republicans you can round up. We'll promise 'em they'll get knighthoods or medals or girls or boys or whatever, just make sure they've got the picture. It'll be in the bag by lunchtime tomorrow."

I don't know, any more than anyone else, how far our obsessive-compulsive leader of the free world will go in aid of his Master Plan. It would not surprise me if he is at this moment meeting with constitutional lawyers, probing the possibility of some sort of executive order (we're at war, remember) he could sign that would bypass the inconvenience of legislation and erase the borders with a stroke of the pen. Maybe that's what he actually had in mind with "see you at the signing." Or maybe he was thinking of miraculous signs in the sky that would show him the way to victory — in hoc signo vinces.

He's not going to quit till we do.

Still, I think the political equation has changed. Millions of previously quiescent voters found that they could make themselves heeded on something that mattered enough. The whole immigration issue is now under the spotlight and is going to stay that way; no more chances to sneak amnesty through at night in proceedings illuminated only by a poacher's moon. Bush's self-inspired determination to ignore the voice of the people is now plain to see.

Americans have gotten a taste, perhaps for the first time in their lives, of what it means to overcome the corporate interests and their running dogs in Congress, the Democrat immigrant-vote harvesters, and the social work bureaucracy itching to magnify its client base with a grand influx of new case fodder.

It's not the neocon all-purpose elixir, democracy, which doesn't poll well in Iraq and which has been notably missing from the immigration controversy. Call it the revival of a concept so unfashionable that the very word is hardly ever used in political discourse any more: liberty. Meaning, among other things, people taking back the responsibility for their own condition. At the time Samuel Johnson was dazzling his listeners in London, some Americans designed a flag. It said, Don't Tread on Me.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Tying shoelaces: Yes you can!

Fathers should strip off their shirts before holding their newborn babies to aid the "bonding" process, says a booklet funded by the Government.

The pamphlet, which has prompted accusations about interference from the nanny state, also recommends that they should gaze into their baby's eyes for short periods to develop the child's brain. It also suggests that fathers should be rewarded with gift vouchers if they attend antenatal classes.

The booklet, Including New Fathers: A Guide for Maternity Professionals, has been published by Fathers Direct, a publicly funded charity that advises the Government on fatherhood.

The Telegraph, June 5

Yes You Can! A Guide to Tying Shoelaces
Pamphlet #127-16-345B-12
Prepared by Shoes You Can Use
With the Kind Support of Her Majesty's Government

Many of our new residents in today's multi-cultural Britain have little or no experience with tying shoelaces. After all, sandals have no shoelaces, and nor do yakskin boots! In fact, you may not be entirely familiar with the concept of shoes. So let's start at the beginning, shall we?

Take a look at Figure 1.

Figure 1. Shoe.

Now, this may not be the kind of shoe you and your mates are familiar with. This is somewhat different from the athletic shoes you are used to robbing people for or nicking from Marks & Spencers. These are what are called — don't laugh please — dress shoes. Not what you think. They're called that because you may sometime be expected to wear them when you "dress up" as the expression goes, such as if you should get a job in an office, or burglarise an office and do not want to call attention to yourself.

The thing about it is, these shoes don't wrap themselves tightly around your feet (see pamphlet #129-75-BH-16, "Recognizing Common Body Parts") unless you tie something to stop them coming loose. That something is called shoelaces (Figure 2).

Figure 2. Shoelaces.

Do not be confused if you run across shoelaces that don't look like this at all. They come in all colours, even multiple colours on the same laces (Figure 3).

Figure 3. Cool shoelaces.

The chances are, when you buy a new pair of shoes that need to be laced, most of the bother will have been done for you already. The laces will have already been inserted in the proper holes. All you need to do is tie the ends together in a knot, typically a bow knot.

Still with us, mate? Right, then. Here's how you tie your laces in a bow knot.

Pass one shoelace end under the other and pull both of them smartly. Now, keeping the crossed lace ends tight, take one end and loop it. Take the other end and wrap it around the base of the loop.

Next, take that other end and pass it under — no, hang about. Pass it through — er, wait just a tick.

Let's see, you've got one end looped, the other end wrapped around the bottom of the loop … now … blimey.

Look mate, we're not kidding you up. You really can tie shoelaces. For the rest of the dish on how to get on with it, consult pamphlet #433-34-DS-33RM, "Advanced Course: Exxtreme Shoelace Tying."

Best of British luck to you, mate!

Monday, June 04, 2007

Lucky this time

Terrorism Plot

U.S. counterterrorist forces have done themselves proud again in rolling up the Muslim plotters who intended to blow up a fuel pipeline servicing JFK airport in New York, which if successful would have caused almost inconceivable harm. From the information released, it sounds like a beautifully run sting operation by the authorities, who deserve credit and our gratitude. Maybe this country is finally getting its heretofore abysmal counterterrorist act together.

I hate to be a wet blanket, but while justly celebrating this success, we are to keep a few important points in mind.

The plot was infiltrated by an informant. The details are a little unclear, but apparently the convicted drug dealer either went to the police or FBI in exchange for a deal, or was already involved, caught, and "turned." The AP story said:
Tom Corrigan, a former member of the FBI-New York Police Department Joint Terrorism Task Force, said the Kennedy airport case and the recent plot to attack Fort Dix illustrated the need for inside information. Six men were arrested in a plot to attack soldiers at the New Jersey military base after an FBI informant infiltrated that group. "These have been two significant cases back-to-back where informants were used," Corrigan said. "These terrorists are in our own backyard. They may have to reach out to people they don't necessarily trust, but they need - for guns, explosives, whatever."

Without informants, Corrigan said, investigators are often left with little more than educated guesswork. "In most cases, you can't get from A to B without an informant," said the ex-NYPD detective.
No doubt true — and the trouble is, there's not always going to be an informant. A lot of these jihadists don't seem to be among God's brighter children, but that won't always be the case, either. Especially now that the authorities have twice (in this and the Fort Dix plot arrests) revealed their modus operandi. You can figure that the sleeper cells or freelance terrorists already working on the next plan are going to be twice as suspicious and on the lookout for double agents.

In my view, the U.S. counterterrorism agencies should keep absolute radio silence on their tactics. They should be revealed only in court in closed sessions. In this life-and-death game, you don't send memos to your opponents about your methodology. That is, you shouldn't. A few years ago, in a lead front page story in USA Today, a whole batch of politically appointed birdbrains in airport security positions explained exactly what behavioral clues they were looking for among passengers.

Once again, the plotters this time were militant Muslims (including one who had resided in this country for 30 years). The USA, the world's no. 1 sucker, not only accepts but encourages immigration by Muslims. The Multi-Culti Establishment thinks the country would be nothing if not constantly nourished by immigrants from anywhere and everywhere, as long as they're Third World countries.

So we wave them in with nary a passing thought, and some turn to plans for carnage, and those plans may issue in action. Thus our counterterrism agencies, whatever their skills and resources, must particpate in a perpetual game of hide-and-seek.

No more Muslims should be admitted to the United States except for the briefest of visits (with their exits monitored and enforced) until their religio-political system learns to work and play well with others.

Severe? Yup. Want to think about more severe still? Try to imagine the JFK plot succeeding.

Because one of these days something like it will. The cell leader will be real smart. All the participants will be checked out six ways from Sunday and any double agent will be executed. And there won't be any slip-ups that time. As the IRA said to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher after they nearly killed her with a bomb at a party conference: "You were lucky this time. But you need to be lucky every time. We only need to be lucky once."

We were lucky this time.