Peace through victory - the American way.

Friday, April 28, 2006

United 93: On First Impression, A Disappointment.

United 93 is the third film adaptation of the events of United's Flight 93 on September 11, 2001, and it is the lesser of the three. The first two films showed on television: The Flight That Fought Back on the Discovery Channel and Flight 93 on A&E.

First, let's give United 93 its due. The movie is a tense portrayal of the events of Flight 93. The film also captures very well the chaos that was September 11th. For most of the movie nobody, from the flight controllers, to the passengers, to the military, seems to know what is happening or what to do.

Where United 93 falls short is in its portrayal of heroism without heroes. At no time in the movie are the passengers identified as individuals. We go through the movie without getting to know who they are. We see none of their interactions with family members before their flight and very little during the flight on their phone calls. Indeed, we never see entire phone conversations during the movie. All we see are snippets of the conversations from the perspective of somebody in the plane listening to what the passenger is saying. We never see family members talking on the phone or hear what they are saying.

The television dramas, on the other hand, identified the passengers by name. They also showed just a bit of the lives of the passengers before boarding the plane. The television films also took pains to show both sides of the many phone calls the passengers made to family and friends after the hijacking. This approach resulted in a much stronger portrayal of the passengers of Flight 93.

Showing who the passengers are gave them depth as characters. The television dramas' decision to spend as much time as they did on the phone calls also accentuated the bravery of the passengers. The focus of the two TV shows was on how the passengers, as individuals and as a group, came to their decision to take action. The result of that focus was to elevate the passengers into personal heroes in a way that United 93 fails to do. By keeping the passengers anonymous, and by spending so little time showing how the passengers decided to take action, the makers of United 93 make the heroism of the passengers collective rather than individual.

And make no mistake, the passengers of Flight 93 are heroes. To appreciate the passengers as individual heroes, you'll have to rent or buy The Flight That Fought Back or Flight 93. (Here and here.)

Nevertheless, United 93 is worth seeing because it graphically shows the violent brutality of the hijackers. It's a reminder we need of the nature of the enemy we fight. It is also worth seeing because it shows a group of American civilians who refused to be cowed and who fiercely fought back giving as much as they got. A reminder we need of the debt we owe the passengers of Flight 93 and why we need to win what they started.



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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Padres Death Watch.

The punchless Padres sank to 8-13 and strengthened their grip on last place today by losing to Arizona 3-2. Once again, no offense. Team batting today, 3 for 29, 12, count 'em 12 strikeouts. The two runs came on two solo homers. Only 3 LOB, but that's not a failure to capitalize on opportunities, it's a failure to create an opportunity.

On the bright side, there were no egregious Bochy blunders this game. Even sitting the team's hottest hitter, Josh Barfield, worked out as Mark Bellhorn turned in some stellar plays at second base and hit one of the homeruns.

Mister Americano's season ticket record: 2-2.


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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Cyborg Masters Of 24

Well, in last night's 24 the writers revealed a little bit more of the terrorist conspiracy. President Logan is seen reporting by phone to a bald man wearing a bluetooth earpiece. Bald bluetooth man turns out to have three cohorts; all of them bluetooth bejeweled as well. Is this the Borg Collective? The conspiracy calling the shots this season turns out to be cyborgs.

Or are the bluetooth boys really the masterminds? Maybe it's Peter Weller's character, Henderson, aka Evil Mr. Robocop. Not coincidentally, Robocop was a cyborg too. Hey, it really is a cyborg conspiracy. We can only hope.

More next week.


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Wishful Thinking Won't Resolve The Barry Bonds Situation.

San Diego Union-Tribune columnist Nick Canepa weighed in with some wishful thinking on the Barry Bonds situation on Sunday. (Here.) His advice won't solve anything. Essentially he wants Bonds to resign for the good of baseball.

So many people love a three-ring circus, but Barry Bonds should fold his tent and go find a nice sunset. It's time. For the good of Barry Bonds and for the game of baseball, he should quit. He can't function anymore and the sport is suffering from irregularity
That will never happen. Bonds is not going away on his own. He will stick around as long as he can still hobble to the plate and swing the bat. He may give up on ever passing Hank Aaron's record, but Babe Ruth's is only a handful of swings away.

Canepa is too dismissive of the capacity of Major League Baseball to conduct an investigation and to impose an effective punishment.

But baseball, for years wearing blinders, is not innocent. Baseball created Barry Bonds – and others. Selig's recent attempts to cleanse his game and his ordered investigation into past indiscretions – there was no drug testing then, so where's the proof coming from? – came 10 years too late, too late to save the life of a Ken Caminiti, who became lost and alone and
eventually recklessly collided with the culture. When the high-profile investigation is concluded, Selig may type in an asterisk after Bonds' records, he may even suspend Bonds, but it's hard to believe it could stick. Maybe somebody will drop a dime on Barry, rat him out, but that's your-word-against-mine stuff. Fact is, baseball didn't test, didn't have the spine, so it doesn't have the goods.
First, "your-word-against-mine stuff" goes by another name in the legal field: it's called "testimony" and "evidence." People go to prison for very long periods of time based on testimonial evidence. What's good enough for murder trials ought to be good enough forsteroidsods investigation by baseball.

Second, there probably never will be any direct evidence to implicate Bonds in steroids use. But circumstantial evidence is just as good. Expert testimony will help as well. Both kinds of evidence convicts people in this country all the time.

Third, Major League Baseball is not guilty. Back in the heyday of Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, the talk was not about steroids, it was about live balls, small ballparks, and diluted pitching talent. Baseball and everybody else was in denial.

The argument that baseball is just as guilty as players who may have cheated because it didn't prevent the players from cheating is absurd. Baseball did profit from the artificial power generated by steroids. So what? Aiding and abetting doesn't mean looking the other way while somebody else does something wrong. Moreover, baseball didn't give anybody steroids. In that respect, baseball's hands are clean. It's the cheaters themselves who are to blame. They are the ones who took advantage of the situation to enhance their careers.

Brushing everything back under the rug without taking action plays right into the hands of the cheaters and their supporters. Their argument now is to blame everybody else for what they did instead of themselves. Their tactic for getting away with what they did is to guilt-trip the rest of us into just moving on. If baseball didn't have a spine back before it banned steroids, then giving in now and just moving on would mean that baseball still doesn't have a spine. Now that the blinders are off, the only way for baseball to move forward is to take action and clean house.

Baseball needs to step up and do the right thing. Investigate Bonds first because, if the allegations against him are true, he's the one who appears to have profited the most from using steroids. His continued success does the most damage to baseball's reputation because he's the one who is closing in on the records of two of baseball's most revered hitters.

Force Bonds to cooperate in the investigation. If he doesn't cooperate, suspend him pending the result of the investigation. If Bonds is exonerated, then reinstate him. If he is not, then put an asterisk on his records and ban him for life. What's good enough for Shoeless Joe Jackson and Pete Rose is good enough for Barry Bonds.


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Monday, April 24, 2006

Politics Doesn't Stop At The Water's Edge.

Natan Sharansky makes a plea for a bipartisan war strategy against terror in today's Wall Street Journal online.
"The enemies of freedom must know that the commitment of the world's lone superpower to help expand freedom beyond its borders will not depend on the results of the next election.

Just as success in winning past global conflicts depended on forging a broad coalition that stretched across party and ideological lines, success in using the advance of democracy to win the war on terror will depend on building and maintaining a wide consensus of support." (Here.)

Good advice, but don't hold your breath waiting on it to be followed.

Spreading democracy to fight terrorism cannot become a bipartisan strategy in this political climate, at least not under this President and not with Democrats today. Most Democrats don't even believe it is a war strategy in the first place. They believe President Bush's argument for democratizing the Middle East is an after the fact excuse he invented when the President's other reasons for liberating Iraq were exposed as lies.

It is partly Bush's fault that the country is so divided on the war. As Sharansky argues, the President has not done a very good job at selling his policy. But Democrats have mocked Bush's campaign promise to be a "uniter not a divider" since the day he made it. The fact is, too many of them just don't want to be united.



Sunday, April 23, 2006

Getting Serious About Enforcing Immigration Law.

Congress returns from their two-week recess on Monday. Negotiations will begin again on an immigration reform bill. (Here.)

The anti-illegal crowd, led by Lou Dobbs, will be pushing lawmakers to pass an immigration law that gets serious about cracking down on illegal aliens. They've got their wall to build, illegal aliens to turn into felons and deport, and American employers to criminalize as well.

The wall has a chance although turning illegal aliens into felons probably won't fly. But what appeals to every political side in this debate is that handy scapegoat: Big bad business, employers.

If there's one thing Republicans and Democrats agree on in the illegal immigration debate, it's that Americans who employ illegal aliens are bad. They're bad! So tougher employer sanctions probably will emerge.

Who knows? Maybe to make sure only Americans and legal aliens can work in our free country we'll all get our very own tamper-proof ID card. Won't that be a great day for America? Home of the free.

Make no mistake, employer sanctions are a pernicious attack on American freedom. The American government now exercises the power to decide which adult is entitled to earn a living and which adult is not. Got it? Work in our country is a privilege granted by the state. And Americans have willingly gone along. Indeed, Americans have fallen all over themselves giving their government the power to decide who can work and who can't.

But years of employer sanctions have shown them to be an ineffective deterrent to illegal immigration. The country is in the mood for serious action against those illegals who come here and "steal our jobs." Anti-illegals say, "America's workers are under attack!" "Our country is being invaded from Mexico!" Lou Dobbs says there's a "war on the middle class."

These are desperate times, and desperate times call for desperate measures. The popular push for employer sanctions shows that Americans are willing to give up a measure of freedom to keep jobs away from foreigners. So let's go all the way. Enough with half-measures like employer sanctions. It's time for reform with teeth.

Let's make it a felony for any illegal alien to buy anything in our country. Even trying to buy something without citizenship or legal residence should be a felony. The privilege of being a consumer in the United States should be limited to Americans and legal aliens.

To make this reform work, the US government will give every American and legal alien an ID card that must be shown with any purchase, whether cash or credit. Just watch the illegal aliens stream back across the border to Mexico when they can't buy anything. "Vaya con dios, amigos!"

Who cares if this reform will give our government the power to decide who can buy food and who can't? Our country is under attack from illegal aliens. What part of illegal, don't you understand? Our very sovereignty is at stake. To protect its citizens against foreign invasion, a country's gotta do, what a country's gotta do.


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Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Why Attack Iran?

It was reported today that President Bush is leaving all options open for dealing with Iran's nuclear ambitions, including military action and the use of nuclear weapons. (Here.) Hugh Hewitt has a straw poll on his website that asks readers to choose what the President should do regarding Iran. (Here.)

It's an interesting question. As with all multiple choice questions the answers are limited. Mister Americano favors the military option but not as described in the poll.
"Order military action to degrade the nuclear program as soon as the Pentagon says it is capable of conducting such a mission."
The goal of the attack should not be limited to degrading the nuclear program. The goal of the attack should be to overthrow the regime. The reason Iran should be attacked is because its government is an enemy in the War on Terror.

Iran is a long-time enemy of the United States. It's our oldest enemy in the War on Terror. Its government commited an act of war against the US when it allowed our embassy to be overrun and our citizens to be held hostage way back when Jimmy Carter was President. America's big mistake was not to overthrow the mullahs then. Ever since Iran has been a major state sponsor of terrorism.

It warrants emphasizing that the War on Terror is not just a war against terrorists and terrorist groups. It's also a war against the states that sponsor terrorism. Today Iran continues to fight us with a proxy war in Iraq. Terrorists it supports are killing American troops.

Iran should be attacked as part of the War on Terror not because it's seeking nuclear weapons. Iran's ambition to possess nuclear weapons doesn't make the country our enemy. The proxy war against us in Iraq and the support of terrorism make Iran our enemy.

One of the things that must happen before we win the War on Terror is the overthrow of Iran's government. We have over 100,000 troops conveniently located right next door. Let's get on with it.


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24 And United 93

After watching tonight's episode of 24 you've got to wonder if President Logan is the real villain of this season's terrorist plot. His attempted justification to the Secretary of Defense for his involvement in the plot was pretty pathetic. His whining explanation that he cooperated with terrorists to secure oil from Central Asia in order to stop oil prices from going over $100 a barrel is too lame to be believed.

Maybe that's what the writers expect us to believe, however. They seem to be enamored of the idea that American corporate and big government criminals will do anything to get oil, especially from Central Asia. This is not the first time in the show that Americans have resorted to terrorism against their own government to secure an oil supply from that region. In a prior season the oil executives behind a terrorist plot were motivated by a desire to secure oil contracts from the Caspian Sea.

Yawn. This is tiresome.

How much more interesting it would be if President Logan were motivated by a more basic reason: pure, unadulterated, raw ambition. The kind of ambition that seeks total power and control over government. The kind of ambition that would lead a politician to do whatever it takes to get what he wants, including the assassination of political enemies, declaration of martial law, unleashing a nerve-gas attack on his own country. The kind of ambition that would lead a President to believe he should be an emperor and that the country would be better off as an empire and not a republic.

The idea that the President would play the lethal politics he's unleashed this season over cheap oil is just lazy writing. It's a throw-away explanation tossed into the story so the show can get back to its real strength: tense, fast-paced, action.

Two ads caught Mister Americano's eye while watching 24 tonight. The local news showed a teaser about an upcoming movie version of 24. The TV show is great entertainment. The real time restriction the producers impose on themselves works very well. There haven't been too many movies made using the real-time constraint. You've got to wonder if it will work in a two-hour movie. And what will the movie be called? 2? 120? On the other hand, an epic 24 hour-long movie would be groundbreaking cinema.

The other ad was the trailer for United 93. It's hard to understand the controversy over whether America is ready to see a movie about 9/11. There have been two docudramas on cable about the flight and neither generated an outcry against them.

More important, the United States is involved in a long and hard war against terrorism that is going to demand a lot more from Americans than being able to watch a two hour movie based on the events of 9/11. If Americans aren't ready to see a movie that shows the one victory we achieved on that day, we might as well just surrender now.

The story of Flight 93 is an inspirational tale of heroism. The passengers of Flight 93 sacrificed their lives to give America their only victory on September 11, 2001. This is a war in which America's enemy tries to make civilians into victims. The passengers of Flight 93 refused to die as victims. Instead they fought back and died as heroes.

The war we fight today against Islamist terrorists is the war the passengers of Flight 93 began. We owe it to them to win what they started.


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Sunday, April 16, 2006

Maybe There Is A God.

In the race between indictment and suspension from baseball on the one hand, and a cheater passing Babe Ruth to become the all-time left-handed homerun hitter in Major League Baseball on the other, Barry Bonds seems to be losing. Here are his early-season hitting stats.

Unfortunately, he doesn't have to hit too many homeruns to pass Ruth. One or two good weeks at the plate is all it will take. Fortunately, given Bonds's performance so far this year, Hank Aaron's record appears unassailable. Let's get those Bonds perjury grand jurors working 24/7.


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What Is This Guy Smoking?

There was a time when George Will recognized that America is not a libertarian, small government country. Americans support Social Security, Medicare, Public Education, and all the other programs that provide a safety net. Americans want a government that is big enough to help people when they need it. At one time in his career Will recognized this political fact. Who knows what to make of this?
The 211 Republicans who voted for big government regulation of speech will have no principled objection. How many principled Republicans remain? Only 18. The following, who voted against restricting 527s:

Roscoe Bartlett (Maryland), Chris Chocola (Indiana), Jeff Flake (Arizona), Vito Fossella (New York), Trent Franks (Arizona), Scott Garrett (New Jersey), Louie Gohmert (Texas), Jeb Hensarling (Texas), Ernest Istook (Oklahoma), Walter Jones (North Carolina), Steve King (Iowa), Connie Mack (Florida), Cathy McMorris (Washington), Randy Neugebauer (Texas), Ron Paul (Texas), Mike Pence (Indiana), John Shadegg (Arizona) and Lynn Westmoreland (Georgia).

On this remnant of libertarian, limited-government conservatism a future House majority can be built. The current majority forfeited its raison d'etre on April 5. (Here.)
That's right. You read it correctly. A new GOP majority in the House can be built around Ron Paul.

Being against George W. Bush has driven many a Democrat into near insanity. Since Hurrican Katrina and Harriet Miers destroyed President Bush's administration, something similar seems to be happening among conservative Republicans. Get ready for a new Democratic majority in Congress.


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Friday, April 14, 2006

South Park Heroes Fight Terrorism While Comedy Central Surrenders.

The South Park heroes tried to strike a blow against terrorism in their recent episode by showing an animated image of Mohammed. Comedy Central censored the image and a black screen with an explanatory message was shown instead. The South Park heroes then drove their point home with an over-the-top scene showing an animated President Bush and Jesus pooping all over the American flag.

South Park can't be accused of subtlety. But it's one of the best satirical shows on television and the bravest.

Not everybody thinks so.
A frequent "South Park" critic, William Donohue of the anti-defamation group Catholic League, called on Parker and Stone to resign out of principle for being censored.

"The ultimate hypocrite is not Comedy Central — that's their decision not to show the image of Muhammad or not — it's Parker and Stone," he said. "Like little whores, they'll sit there and grab the bucks. They'll sit there and they'll whine and they'll take their shot at Jesus. That's their stock in trade." (Here.)

What aembarrassingng remark. First, perhaps somebody needs to treat hookers better. Second, Donohue represents a religious organization. You'd think he'd hold himself to a higher standard and use some other term than "whores" to describe Parker and Stone. Hembarrasseses himself and his organization by resorting to that vulgarity. It doesn't matter that South Park goes even lower. That show makes no pretense of speaking for God or religion. Donohue does. He doesn't speak for this Catholic, however. Third, he just doesn't get it. Parker and Stone didn't take any shots at Jesus in the Mohammed episodes. Showing Jesus pooping all over the American flag was pretty obviously a swipe at our owhypocriticalal and cowardly media culture which allows for offensive representations of Christianity, American leaders, and American symbols, but not Islam. Finally, he probably doesn't recognize the irony but his own whining comment about what the South Park heroes ought to do is just the sort of thing Cartman would say.


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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Second Amendment Disaster Preparedness Kit, Part Three.

This is the latest addition to Mister Americano's small but growing defense program.* It's a sweet little Marlin 925M bolt action .22 rifle. (Here.) The cat on the stairs is not included with purchase. The rifle is not heavy ordnance, by any means: useful for practice; self-defense, not so much. Still, it's very nice.


*Parts One and Two are here and here.

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Monday, April 10, 2006

The Music Of 24

Mister Americano was at the office until 930 tonight and so missed most of his second favorite live-actor television show, 24.* Did get home in time to see the last 15 minutes and hear the guitar-dominated music playing during the action in the bank. The show's music this year is superior. Sean Callery (here) deserves yet another Emmy.


* Number 1 is Battlestar Galactica. And numbers 1 and 2 on the animation hit parade are South Park and The Simpsons. Those South Park guys are American heroes in Mister Americano's book.

Errata: Okay, the guitar music wasn't only played during the bank scene it was also played during the satellite surveillance scenes at CTU. Mea culpa.


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Sunday, April 09, 2006

Three Years On.

Three years ago today American troops toppled a statue of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad, a symbolic victory in the campaign to overthrow Saddam's regime and liberate the Iraqi people. American troops got to Baghdad from Kuwait, where more than a decade before they won a war and drove Saddam's army from its occupation of that country.

America's military action came after more than 10 years of low-level combat between Saddam's regime and the United States during which American planes dodged Iraqi anti-aircraft fire while patrolling the skies of Iraq enforcing no-fly zones. The United States and Great Britain established these zones to prevent Saddam from using his Air Force against the Kurds in the north and the Shiites in the south. Under American and British protection the Kurds achieved a degree of self-government and independence from the central government.

Since the liberation all of Iraq is under American protection. Iraqis have achieved a degree of self-government denied them by Saddam's regime, which treated them as subjects. Since the liberation Iraqis have been empowered to act as citizens. Iraqis have voted in free elections for a constitutional assembly, a new constitution that protects the rights of all Iraqis, and for a new parliament that represents all Iraqis. Sectarian, ethnic, and political differences, coupled with a constitutional requirement of 2/3 majority approval in parliament, have stalled the formation of a new government.

After defeating Iraq's Army, American troops have fought revanchist Baathists and Sunnis angry at being toppled from their dictatorship over the Kurds and Shiites. Sunni Islamists from other countries have also come to Iraq to fight a holy war against Americans to further their dreams of establishing a theocratic dictatorship over all Muslims. Iran continues to support insurgent groups against the United States and the new Iraqi democracy in order to further its own goals of expanding its Shiite form of theocracy.

Three years on, America's work in Iraq remains unfinished. America's immediate mission of removing Saddam from power was accomplished quickly. Viewed narrowly, America won the war three years ago when Saddam was toppled and later captured. But America's strategic objective is far from fulfilled.

Since 9/11 America is fighting a war against terrorists and the countries that support them. Both Iraq and Afghanistan supported terrorist groups and both governments had fought against the United States: Iraq directly in the Gulf War and during the 10 years that followed the Gulf War, Afghanistan by proxy with its support of Al Qaeda. Thus, America's two military campaigns since 9/11 have toppled two very different regimes each of which supported terrorist groups, and each of which was an enemy of the United States. In their place are budding democracies allied to America.

America's first military campaign in the war liberated Afghanistan from the Taliban, a theocratic and fascist dictatorship. The second military campaign in the war liberated Iraq from the Baathists, a secular and fascist dictatorship. The strategic objective in each case was to leave behind a democratic government allied to the US. The rationale underlying this objective is to create American allies in the Muslim world and to plant the seeds of a democratic alternative in the region. This is a long-term strategy for fighting terrorism and flows from the idea that democracies typically don't fight each other, that dictatorships create and support terrorist groups, and that democracies typically don't.

Just as it was not known whether America's containment strategy would succeed in defeating communism when it was first implemented, it's not known now whether America's strategy of replacing dictatorship with democracy will succeed in defeating Islamist terrorism. Time and American resolve will tell.


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Thursday, April 06, 2006

Moral Vanity, Not Courage

Today the most powerful leader in the world spoke at a public forum and during the question and answer period listened to a speech by an ordinary American who attacked his policies and his presidency. The back and forth is here:
Q You never stop talking about freedom, and I appreciate that. But while I listen to you talk about freedom, I see you assert your right to tap my telephone, to arrest me and hold me without charges, to try to preclude me from breathing clean air and drinking clean water and eating safe food. If I were a woman, you'd like to restrict my opportunity to make a choice and decision about whether I can abort a pregnancy on my own behalf. You are --

THE PRESIDENT: I'm not your favorite guy. Go ahead. (Laughter and applause.) Go on, what's your question?

Q Okay, I don't have a question. What I wanted to say to you is that I -- in my lifetime, I have never felt more ashamed of, nor more frightened by my leadership in Washington, including the presidency, by the Senate, and --


THE PRESIDENT: No, wait a sec -- let him speak.

Q And I would hope -- I feel like despite your rhetoric, that compassion and common sense have been left far behind during your administration, and I would hope from time to time that you have the humility and the grace to be ashamed of yourself inside yourself. And I also want to say I really appreciate the courtesy of allowing me to speak what I'm saying to you right now. That is part of what this country is about.

THE PRESIDENT: It is, yes. (Applause.)

Q And I know that this doesn't come welcome to most of the people in this room, but I do appreciate that.

THE PRESIDENT: Appreciate --

Q I don't have a question, but I just wanted to make that comment to you.
The moral vanity of the questioner is breathtaking. Here he is telling the most powerful man in the world that he's afraid of him and what happens? The President lets him speak and then answers.

Anti-Bush Americans like to flatter themselves that they are dissidents in a dangerous, fascistic state where liberties are fast disappearing and where the government is a greater danger to freedom than any terrorist. (See final paragraph here, for example.) That view is delusional. It's also the most obscene moral vanity and an insult to dissidents worldwide who really have risked and given their lives for freedom, and still do.

In this country, political opponents of President Bush simply have to convince enough of their fellow Americans to vote their way come November and the President's party will lose control of Congress. After that, they just have to wait another 2 years until 2008 for the Presidential election, when the man they fear so much as a dictator, will voluntarily leave office and turn over power to his democratically elected successor. Apparently, Bush is so incompetent he can't even do dictatorship right.


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More Sense On Illegal Immigration; And Knowledge Too

Today Alan Reynolds adds another sensible comment on illegal immigration from the conservative side. Even better, his commentary is informed by the fact that he knows what he's talking about. Would that the anti-illegals were paying attention. Go here to read what he has to say. It may change your mind.

Meanwhile today's San Diego Union-Tribune publishes Tom Friedman's column in which he echoes this blog's metaphor from last week that if the US builds a wall to secure our borders, we should include big, wide-open gates. (Link unavailable.) Great minds think alike. So do ours.


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Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Getting Unstuck From Stupid On Illegal Immigration.

Today brings more sense from a conservative commentator on what to do about the problem of illegal immigration. This time from Linda Chavez. (Here.)

Not that the anti-illegals will pay it much heed. They can't get past the word "illegal" to the word "immigration" when thinking about solutions. Let's read what Chavez has to say about the contributions of illegals to our country:
Third, the overwhelming majority of illegal aliens pay taxes, including Social Security, Medicare and property taxes, not to mention sales taxes. The chief actuary of the Social Security Administration estimates that three-fourths of all illegal aliens have Social Security (and Medicare) taxes deducted from their wages. How? It's simple.
Since it is illegal to hire someone who does not present a Social Security number (and show other documentation of legal residence), many illegal aliens use phony numbers or cards to get jobs. In 2002 alone, the Social Security Administration reported it had collected $7 billion in payroll taxes and $1.5 billion in Medicare taxes from workers who could not be matched with valid Social Security numbers.
In addition, illegal aliens pay property taxes just like everyone else, either directly, if they own homes (and surprising numbers of illegal aliens do), or indirectly through their landlords' property taxes in the form of rent. Most illegal aliens pay income taxes -- since these, too, are automatically deducted -- but they fail to claim any refunds since they are fearful of drawing attention to their illegal status.

Then, after recommending illegals pay a fine for violating our immigration laws, she suggests a broader solution that echoes what this site has argued (here and here).
The more difficult question is how to stop more people from coming here illegally -- and the best way to do that is to increase border security and change our current, inflexible laws to make it possible for more people to come here legally.
Increased border security, expanded legal immigration opportunities from Mexico, and legalization of current illegals is the right mix of solutions for our country.


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Tuesday, April 04, 2006

More Workers, More Prosperity.

Larry Kudlow of National Review Online makes an excellent point about the positive relationship between an enlarged workforce and more economic prosperity. (Here.) He makes the following recommendations for solving the illegal immigration problem.

As long as the American boom beckons, Mexicans in search of prosperity will continue to stream to this country. They have a strong incentive to do so. The only way to reduce illegal immigration, therefore, is to raise the unskilled H-2B visa level and bring it in line with job openings in the United States. This is the only feasible economic solution to the chronic problem of illegal immigration. The idea worked forty years ago with the successful Bracero program for farm workers. It can work again.

Today’s low visa limit of only 140,000 has caused illegal flows to skyrocket. This must be changed. Tamar Jacoby of the Manhattan Institute estimates that U.S. labor-market conditions can absorb about 400,000 Mexican immigrants per year. This would balance labor supply-and-demand conditions and illegal immigration would plummet.

You can build a fence, but desperate Mexicans in search of economic opportunity will climb over it or tunnel under it. This is the reality. And by the way, our H-1B visa program for skilled workers, now at only 65,000, should be unlimited. We need all the scientists and engineers we can get.

Not only do his recommendations make a lot of sense, they are more in keeping with the best of America's nature. Too bad Kudlow doesn't have Lou Dobbs's job. Our country would be better off if he did.


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What Part Of Family Don't You Understand?

In the heated aftermath of Hurrican Katrina as New Orleans awaited the arrival of another potentially devastating hurricane, Lt. General Russell Honore gave the best advice anybody could hear about anything: "Don't get stuck on stupid." The anti-illegal immigration crowd would do well to think hard about the general's remark.

The anti-illegals have a favorite slogan when debating the issue: "What part of illegal don't you understand?" The slogan is thrown out as if it provides a self-evident solution to the problem of illegal immigration. It doesn't.

Recent estimates put the number of illegals in the US at 10 to 12 million people. Let's leave aside whether it's reasonable to aggressively look for and deport them all. It's doubtful that anti-illegals even want to do that. Their solution is to solve the problem the same way we're doing such a bang up job at solving drug abuse: criminalizing it. They propose to make illegal entry and residence in the US a felony.

Criminalization might lead to self-deportation as some illegals voluntarily leave the country rather than risk imprisonment. It's just as likely that illegals will stay and be driven further underground into deeper marginalization and exploitation. Criminalization has not exactly eliminated drug abuse in our country.

Moreover, criminalization has one really huge downside that is evident to anybody who chooses to listen for the real reason why hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets in the last week. Illegal immigrants don't live in this country in isolation. They live here in families. Those families include citizens and legal residents.

If we criminalize illegal immigrants we attack those families and in many instances we make criminals out of entire families as aiders and abettors. If we criminalize illegals we make political enemies of their relatives who are citizens and legal residents.

Many of the radicals who have had a hand in organizing the demonstrations might like to believe the protests have been about reconquista and Aztlan; that is, taking the Southwest United States back for Mexico by changing the demography with Mexican immigration. With apologies to La Raza, it's not. Radicals have been pedaling that nonsense for decades now and have gotten no traction in the general Mexican-American population.

No, these protests have not been about recapturing faded Mexican glory. These protests have been about the same things that have always motivated ethnic minorities to take to the streets in this country: ethnic pride, respect, equal rights and opportunity, and inclusion in the American family.

Anti-illegals are making a huge mistake by trying to criminalize the illegals and their families. These people want to live here and contribute, they want to join the American family, many of them are already voters, and many will become eligible soon. Don't believe for one minute they will forget who was with them and who was against them when the next elections come around.

Anti-illegals need to get over their hangup with the word "illegal." Don't get stuck on stupid. The solution to the problem of illegal immigration is not to turn on our neighbors who have come to this country to make a better life for themselves and their families. The solution is a mixture of border enforcement and legalization. Those 12 million people aren't going home; they're home now. Deal with it.


Here's a sampling of quotes from the past week to demonstrate what these protests are really about.
“We're not criminals! We're not criminals!”
Chant by hundreds of high school students at a peaceful rally in Escondido's Grape Day Park
“All we want is equality and equal opportunity, just like everybody else. We're trying to unite, not to isolate.”
Maria Fernandez, student at Orange Glen High School in Escondido
“I think the Mexicans, we are the ones who work more and do more for our children so they can have a better life.”
Julie Mejia, 19, a mother

Amy Cervantes, 17, said she learned about the House bill at school and on television. On Friday, the Morse High School senior and two younger sisters joined other teens and a few adult chaperones in a downtown San Diego march that drew roughly 4,000 participants.
“It's that law,” she said of her reason for participating, though the House bill has not yet become law. “That 4437, where anyone who helps someone illegal is a criminal.”

Jacqueline Mundo, 17, said she walked out of Clairemont High on Tuesday and marched for miles to Chicano Park with about 1,800 students from about a dozen San Diego schools.
Yesterday, she sat calmly along the parade route eating pizza next to her mother, Alejandra Justo, who came to San Diego from the coastal Mexican city of Acapulco 23 years ago. “I'm proud of her because she's fighting for our rights,” Justo said of her daughter, “but I'm not happy because she missed school.”

Parents who missed work yesterday to retrieve their children at schools and the police station were torn between pride for their children and concern for their safety.
“My daughter is expressing her rights as a citizen and I'm proud of her. But she needs to be in school,” said Lucila Aguilar, who had to leave her job at Sea World to pick her daughter up after she was arrested for leaving Memorial Academy of Learning and Technology.

“I don't think that immigrants are felons. They're just trying to make a better life,” said Castle Park High School freshman Rebecca Ortiz, who was among those cited yesterday for loitering.
Rebecca, 14, said her grandfather immigrated illegally and was bitten by snakes as he made the arduous journey.

“We're here to support our friends. This whole thing is ridiculous, making immigrants felons. Our complete country was built by immigrants,” said Hawk Adlimakado, a 16-year-old junior at San Dieguito.
Some parents took off from work to accompany their children on the march. Some pushed baby strollers and carried toddlers.
Nicholas Quintero, 15, a ninth-grader at Memorial Academy, said, “We're here because they're treating us badly. The Mexicans just want a better life and they're just doing what white people did a long time ago.”

“Illegal immigrants are not criminals. They just want to be here to support their families. They are not like terrorists,” said Mayra Mendoza, 18, a senior at Escondido High School.
Annette Medina, 14, a freshman at Mount Miguel High School, was among about 340 students protesting in Spring Valley. “I have family that was born in Mexico, a grandmother, grandfather, Mom, Dad and uncles,” she said. “My uncle got deported because he wasn't a citizen. I don't think that's right.”


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Monday, April 03, 2006

Et Tu, President Logan?

It's Monday night so it's another night of 24 in the Mister Americano household. Tonight's episode uncovered the real villain and it turns out to be President Logan. That's right. The spineless President who has bumbled his way through every crisis turns out to be an evil mastermind.

Upon reflection, his actions make more sense viewed as part of an evil design on total power than as the bumbling actions of a weak fool. The President is more believable this way. His bumbling and weakness were hard to believe in a politician who had reached so high in American politics.

This season of 24 may turn out to be as much fun as the season of Buffy The Vampire Slayer when the mayor was the nemesis.

If only tomorrow were next Monday already.


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Finally: An Exciting Padres Victory In Petco Park.

For fans of the San Diego Padres today's opening game victory was a long time coming. The team combined speed, timely hitting, power, and good pitching to beat the San Francisco Giants, 6-1. The game was exciting.

The team won the division last year with gutsy play and a never-say-die attitude, but the games were ugly and boring, boring, boring. Today's exciting victory gives hope that times have changed. It's one and oh today, but there are 161 games to go. Our fingers are crossed but we're not holding our breath.

Today Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth's status as the two greatest homerun hitters of all time remained secure. Barry Bonds did not hit a homerun. Today was a good day. Any day without a homerun by Barry Bonds is a good day.

Bonds doubled and scored but then made outs in his other three at-bats. His weaknesses were also glaring. His last at bat he hit what should have been a single to right field, but the grounder was taken by the second baseman who was playing in shallow right and threw him out at first. In the field, Bonds caught a few fly balls hit in jogging distance of where he was playing, but several other balls landed for hits and his slow jogs to field them and his weak throws to the infield hurt the Giants defensively.

There were two superstars among the 6 starting outfielders of the Giants and the Padres: Barry Bonds and Brian Giles. In contrast to the one-dimensional play of Bonds, Brian Giles hit, ran the bases aggressively, including a key take-out slide at third base, and made an important diving catch of a sinking liner in right field. More important, his presence on the field added a measure of class and pride. The continued presence of Bonds on the playing field is a source only of shame.

What's good enough for Shoeless Joe Jackson and Pete Rose, is good enough for Barry Bonds.


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