Posted by Brad @ 3:09 pm on April 30th 2012

I Love This

It may not help Princeton’s Mexican Migration Project – an ethnographic endeavor dispassionately studying human migration patters from Mexico to America – when the director speculates rather than just points to data. But, aside from reiterating that there is basically no “flood of illegal immigrants” – there is, in fact, no net gain of illegal immigrants at all, and migration rates have been basically level for 60 years – and aside from making clear, yet again, that this is an issue we really shouldn’t care about, at worst, he does mention that illegal migration patterns have indeed changed, somewhat. The same number of people are crossing the border, but while they used to just do it seasonally – pop into Texas, earn some money, pop back home – now, they wind up staying, moving further into the country, and starting their illegal immigrant families. Why? Because crossing the border has become harder. Ha!

What heightened border enforcement did, Massey says, was shift the problem. Unable to cross where they traditionally had — into California and Texas — Mexican migrants instead found new places to cross, particularly making the dangerous Sonoran Desert crossing into Arizona. If they succeeded, they then moved on to other states. Arizonans who complained during the 1990s and early 2000s about a surge in illegal migration were not imagining things. But it was the American government, Massey says, that unwittingly had channeled the flow of migrants into their backyard.

Mexicans had been crossing the Rio Grande ever since it was a border, but migration traditionally was seasonal and cyclical. Young men would head to El Norte in search of agricultural or construction work, earn money, and then return home. But when it became too risky and too expensive to migrate seasonally, migrants simply chose to stay in the United States. Because they no longer were returning home regularly, they could look for work farther from the border. They also settled down and had families, which made them even less likely to leave.

And he does have the causal evidence to back that up.

I often get the feeling that these whipping horses of partisan politics not only don’t serve their stated purposes—indeed, may not even be supposed to—but that they are so far removed from any practical consideration of results that even totally counter-productive results wouldn’t really move the needle. I don’t care how robust a study you might show proving the link between, say, abstinence-only sex education and teen pregnancy and abortion might be, it isn’t really germane to that discussion. Same with immigration. Amnesty and border enforcement are just bad and good respectively with no regards to real-world outcomes. They just ARE.

I also particularly love the notion that, instead of sealing us off from them, we may just be sealing them in with us (“I’m not locked in here with you…”, Rorschach howls…)

Posted by Brad @ 12:22 pm on April 27th 2012

And Just to Not Let it Pass Without Notice…

The Obama administration has approved the use of drones in Yemen not only for known terror suspects, including American citizens or noncombatants, but also those same terror suspects in cases where they are unknown.

Wrap your head around that one.

In practice, what this means is that when our intelligence sources—from legit to torture-based to gossip to paid-ransoming (“tell us about a terrorist and we’ll give you $100!” “Sure, that guy down the street—total terrorist”)—say “hey, a bunch of terrorists are meeting in that house tonight”, we can just go ahead and bomb that house even if we can’t figure out who, exactly, is in it.

Man, people sure do hate us for our freedom.

Posted by Brad @ 12:03 pm on April 24th 2012

What Voters Care About

Hint: it is not social issues. In fact, abortion, the #1 rated social issue, is only the 16th most important issue to voters at large, with 39% calling it “very important”—and that’s 39% that includes pro-choicers.

Mitch Daniels, when he proposed calling a truce on social issues, wasn’t making a values judgement—he was making a practical one. And guess what? He was right.

Posted by Brad @ 11:34 am on April 24th 2012

Meanwhile, in John Edwards, yes John Edwards, News…

The trial of John Edwards began this week, in the case of money from his political donors being funneled to decidedly non-election ends, such as a house for the mistress he had a love baby with, for instance.

But in the opening, the trial took an unexpected and soap-opera-esque turn, with the lawyers telegraphing that, rather than deny, they will instead blame it all on the original fall guy, Andrew Young, and argue that he stole that campaign money not for for Reille Hunter, but for a house that he and his wife were building. Andrew Young, let’s remember, is the guy that Edwards talked into claiming paternity of the love child he had with Reille Hunter, essentially forcing him to to say to the world that he cheated on his wife, screwed this chick, and he the baby dady. Young did eventually write a tell-all book, which must have struck Edwards as disloyal, but I feel you kind of have to let him have that one.

In any event, even if it’s true, I think if you ask a friend to publicly claim paternity of your own illegitimate child to protect you from scandal, dude gets a free pass for life, don’t you? It’s right up there with helping you bury a body. Strictly from the Guy Codebook, he gets immunity for life from any dirt you might have on him, doesn’t he, even if he starts ripping into you? Right?

So somehow, John Edwards keeps finding ways to increase his scumbag quotient in my book.

Posted by Rojas @ 3:20 pm on April 20th 2012

Royally screwed

My beloved Kansas City Royals, with baseball’s worst record and working on a streak of 27 consecutive non-playoff years, continue to break new ground in futility and poor public relations.

The latest gem: the franchise decides, in poor economic times, that hosting a job fair would be a good PR move. And they’ll throw in a general admission ticket for those attending. For which the unemployed attendees will be charged $15. Plus the standard $10 parking.

Enjoy the game, though.

Posted by Jack @ 8:56 pm on April 19th 2012

Hypothesis regarding Ted Nugent’s Muslim alterego

If Ted Nugent were named Taj Numan (loosely: “Crown of Blood” in Arabic) he would currently be in custody, on the no fly list, and subject to warrantless wiretapping. Discuss.

Posted by Rojas @ 12:33 pm on April 19th 2012

Ron Paul: The Video Game

Kickstarter afficianados will finance anything. Ron Paul fans will buy anything with his name on it. It’s a match made in heaven!

Posted by Brad @ 5:07 pm on April 18th 2012

“If you want to understand why Americans love their country, go to a baseball game.”

So says a writer from the Telegraph, who went to his first one recently (sounds like Washington v. Cincinnati, but he doesn’t say). Anyway, it’s a little pat, but cute.

Posted by Brad @ 4:51 pm on April 18th 2012

A Letter to Andrew Sullivan regarding Tarek Mehanna

Glenn Greenwald had a great post up the other day about having met a number of people who really illustrate the lawlessness of the War on Terror and police state in this country. One such case is Tarek Mehanna, who was just sentenced to 17 years in federal prison basically for translating and promoting terrorist speech. Right now, there are also pushes, in Britain for instance, to criminalize the visiting of “terrorist websites” and the like, so this kind of thing is not altogether uncommon.

But what I found interesting is that Andrew Sullivan highlighted Greenwald’s post, the case of Mehanna, and a few reactions to it (including from Ross Caputi, who also sympathizes with Arabs and Afghanis trying to kill American military invading their home countries). He didn’t add his own thoughts, so I was spurred to email him, and thought I’d share.

Just out of curiosity Andrew, had either Tarek Mehanna or Ross Caputi traveled to Yemen or some remote area of Montana where catching them would be hard, and then set up their computers there, engaging in precisely the same sort of stuff mentioned in your post, would you have supported the United States military assassinating them summarily and without charge?

Because I can’t really reckon how the behavior they engaged in is of a different kind than the behavior that got Al-Awlaki murder-bombed. It seems to me, from a worldview that determined that Al-Awlaki’s behavior was not only a capital offense, but one that could be determined as such without due process, transparency, or review, Caputi and Mehanna have forfeited their rights both to due process and life. In your defense of Obama’s decision to summarily execute Al-Awlaki, I never heard you once use, as justification, any presumption that he himself had ever committed violence, but rather you tend to append a lot of words like “supported”, “advocated”, “called for”, and other such phrases that seem to indicate speech as the vehicle. So clearly, there’s a level of speech that you believe to be not only outside the limits of free speech, but outside the limits of the entire American system of justice or the Western World’s conception of natural rights (like, you know, living). You didn’t editorialize much in your post here, so maybe you believe that or maybe you don’t, I’ve no idea. But I wonder if you can explain your distinction, if you think there is one? Moreover, I wonder if you can explain how that distinction should be translated into rules of engagement and given the force of law?

Unrelated, but in Philadelphia last week, a guy on Broad Street hit a university student with his car, then fled the scene, plowing into a few other cars, one of which was unmarked police. He bailed several hundred yards down the road and took off on foot. An officer cornered him, and he yelled to her “Step back or I’ll blow your head off!” He didn’t have a gun in his hand, of course, and even the officer didn’t assert that she thought he had one or that he was reaching for anything. Nevertheless, that “Step back or I’ll blow your head off!” was justification for her to pull out her piece and plugging two holes through him, killing him.

There’s no outcry over that, no real review of the justification of lethal force in this instance, and even the officer involved didn’t try to drum it up as her being fearful of her life or having no other choice. Dude said it, and that gave her cause to shoot him. The barely implicit assumption here seems to be that just advocating/threatening killing a police officer, in that situation, was for every intent and purpose the same as actually trying to do so. It didn’t even seem to occur to anybody that it might not be. Whether you agree with the officer’s actions or is immaterial—it just strikes me that it doesn’t even really come up for debate.

This is how the corrosion of the rule of law works. Exceptions don’t make rules—they dissolve them. It strikes me that, as it concerns advocating violence against the United States (however you define that—the citizenry is actually not trusted to know or discuss that), we’ve made a very big leap very quickly, and not with a bang, but with a whimper.

Mehanna ought to consider himself lucky. Because if important voices for civil liberties and rule of law like yourself don’t see these distinctions, we’re not very far from a country where he was just taken out back and shot to save us the court costs.

Posted by Brad @ 1:26 pm on April 16th 2012

Music Video of the Week

Michael Penn – Long Way Down (Look What the Cat Dragged In)

This song is maybe in my all-time Top Ten. Just a gorgeous, gorgeous song, great writing, slide guitar solo, karaokeable—it’s got it all. In a righteous world Penn would be up there with Costello and Waits in terms of fame, cred, and output—he certainly had the talent.

And I had never seen a video of it until it popped up in Cracked, of all places. So thanks Cracked, for the MVOTW excuse.

Posted by Brad @ 12:48 pm on April 12th 2012

Cool Ad Watch

Posted by Brad @ 12:33 pm on April 12th 2012

Hideous Dino-Men….IN SPAAAAAAAACE!

It is a scientific certainty.

Posted by Brad @ 11:36 am on April 11th 2012

A Brief Flash of Insight Inspired by Derb

Daniel Foster tackled the Derbyshire flameout at the Corner, and in so doing gets at what I think is a truth not articulated nearly enough.

Iíve always thought that conservatives should simply bite the bullet and admit that there are racists among self-described conservatives, and moreover, that these conservativesí racism is an evitable (that is, unwarranted) extension of the mainstream conservative position on race. But this is true in the same way it is true that there are communists among self-described liberals, and that their communism is an evitable (that is, unwarranted) extension of the mainstream liberal position on political economy. To put this even more forcefully, we have to yield that there is something to it when liberal trolls snark about how tough it can be to distinguish a conservative from a racist. The fact is that both conservatives and racists think that considerations about race should play a much smaller part in our political discourse. And while only racists think that this is so because blacks are less than fully human, it can be tough to get them to admit as much. Until, that is, they inevitably slip up.

There. Thatís why itís tougher for conservatives to police the line on racism.

That’s right on the money, I think. It IS true that most racists are conservative and that there are more racists within conservatism than within liberalism. The Left is absolutely right about that. It’s stupid for conservatives to get knee-jerk and defensive about it.

But that it is true doesn’t give it any special insight into the character or quality of conservative ideas. My conservative friends tend to get pissed off at me for frankly noting the racism within the GOP, and my liberal friends tend to get pissed off at me for being relatively dismissive about it. But I’ve never quite understood why those positions were supposed to be mutually exclusive.

I made this point in relation to Ron Paul as well. OF COURSE Ron Paul supporters are disproportionally likely to be either conspiracy theorists or anti-Semites (or both). So what? Why is that either surprising or telling? Ron Paul is, by extension of a philosophy that is easily traceable, consistently applied, articulatable and not based in either anti-Semitism or conspiracism for their own sakes, the candidate that is most critical of Israel and the candidate that is most distrusting of government. Why ought it to then be surprising that people critical of Israel or distrusting of government would then migrate to that banner? In the same way that it isn’t particularly surprising that racists are attracted to the political philosophy most disinterested in a proactive kind of multiculturalism, or that communists are most attracted to the political philosophy most interested in the division between the rich and the poor?

The fact that most racists are conservatives, most radical socialists are liberals, and most anti-Semites and conspiracy theorists are Ron Paul supporters (well, you know what i mean) is both true, intuitive, but not necessarily informative in the least. Which is why I’ve never been quite clear on why people get so hung up on it.

Posted by Brad @ 5:17 pm on April 9th 2012

Fair’s Fair

James O’Keefe is an idiot, and “voter fraud” is one of the dumbest bugaboos on the right, but at least this latest stunt is vaguely clever.

Posted by Brad @ 4:27 pm on April 9th 2012

The Derbyshire Affair

We suck at posting, but I wanted to chime on this very briefly to say two things:

1. I’ve always generally enjoyed Derbyshire’s writing, although he often tries to get too cute by half, which is at least part of the problem with his offending column. The other part of the problem: it was really, really racist. Which is usually the other half with Derbyshire.

2. I’ve actually gained a bit of esteem for National Review, and a fair bit of hope for mainstream conservatism on racial issues, due to their handling of things. Even the comments have been on balance heartening. Oh sure, there’s the usual loatheable and idiotic whiny stuff (John Derbyshire shouldn’t be crucified because…Spike Lee tweet!)(if you can get past the bit where Steyn drops in Islamaphobia, you beat me), but it’s not necessarily a majority lock-step view. Progress!

Anyway, it is too bad that Derbyshire’s generally worthwhile take on many other areas of politics is just too hard, ultimately, to compartmentalize from his very and long-time-evident abject racism and tribalism. But, of course, many people might say that’s true of conservatism generally, and when things like this come up, it’s kind of hard to argue with them.

Posted by Jerrod @ 3:34 am on April 8th 2012

Fear and loathing in US business community

No one wants to hear anything that challenges preconceived notions.

A friend of mine works, or did until recently, as a futurist and strategic intelligence analyst. He aimed to identify trends and developing factors that would be relevant to businesses and governing bodies interested in staying ahead of the curve and avoiding falling behind. But he’s quit now, and as that article explains, he is giving up simply because the market has evaporated. No longer is leadership interested in hearing from knowledgable sources in order to develop an educated position based on facts and expertise. Instead, they refuse to acknowledge trends that don’t fit their preconceptions and are only looking for “expertise” that reinforces their established notions.

I’m sure that EVERYONE isn’t this closed minded and fearful, but enough of the world has reached this point that he feels he can no longer contribute. He’s got some interested thoughts regarding corporate consolidation and the effects of expanded bureaucracy as well (see video at the end).

Two thoughts that came to mind immediately was that general sense of fear that pervades modern life these days. Everyone is afraid of everything, be it terrorists, financial collapse, jobs, the government, the Republicans/Democrats, or whatever. Secondly, the trends that Eric mentions in business leadership are trends that we’ve been seeing in the news (see Fox News’ use of “experts”) and government (UK government’s attempts to fix data in support of an Iraq invasion and the Bush administration’s willful disregard of opposing viewpoints in the lead-up to the Iraq war as two blazingly obvious examples). It is bad enough when its in the general media and government, but there was hope that at least the business community would remain grounded enough to resist succumbing to the fear/fearmongering that have infected public discourse. If Eric’s experience is accurate of the larger community, it’s a tragic demonstration that it hasn’t.

This doesn’t bode well for the future of our nation, alas.

Posted by Brad @ 9:20 pm on April 2nd 2012

NCAA Championship Game

Here we go.

Posted by Brad @ 7:07 pm on April 2nd 2012

Quote of the Day

“Our basic purpose is to keep the sovereign, that Leviathan, to manageable proportions. That task is not an easy one, because a constitution requires that one make judgements in the abstract, with confidence that they will hold good in the particular cases that arise in the future. That has proved a recurrent difficulty with all substantive guarantees, but not a hopeless one. The ambiguity and error at the margins, be it with property or speech, are well worth tolerating to preserve the core.”

—Richard Epstein, Self-Interest and the Constitution

I think of this a lot when I talk to liberal or conservative apologists for clearly unconstitutional overreaches in specific cases, be it health care or killing American citizens, due to that case being some kind of special exception. In other words, we’re asked to define constitutionalism by the outliers (which then sets the rule that it was originally supposed to be the exception proving). The problem, of course, is that we have become ruled by the exceptions. And we don’t understand that, in a constitutional system, we have to tolerate ambiguity or errors on the margin for the sake of protecting the core, in a very similar way to our justice system ostensibly being organized around protecting the innocent even if it means a hundred guilty go free—which is another organizing principle that I get the feeling Americans don’t believe in much anymore.