Stephen W. Browne Rants and Raves

May 28, 2010

Libertarianism: slander and rebuttal

Filed under: Politics,Uncategorized — Stephen W. Browne @ 9:31 am

Last week I received a RightOn newsletter from an e-friend. It was a guest rant from one J.B. Williams on “Liberal-tarians.”

The rant does not appear to be archived, so I am reproducing it below. Further down is my reply. And do follow the link to Mr. Williams site.

First, let me be clear I do not find libertarians beyond reproach. Chuck, the owner of the RightOn site has forwarded proof to me of counterproductive, dishonest, and unethical conduct by local libertarians. For another example, the late R.W. Bradford researched and published in his magazine Liberty an expose of the conduct of the Harry Browne organization, which took over the Libertarian Party and left it with a crippling debt load and lower-than-ever vote totals.

And to be fair I’d have to mention that Bradford himself on more than one occasion edited article submissions he evidently disagreed with to make a totally different point than the author intended.

In short, there are valid criticisms of libertarians and libertarianism. This is not one of them, and below I go into some detail why.

Welcome to the RiteOn Newsletter
Sunday, May 23, 2010

T.E.A. Parties, Liberal-tarians and What Kind of Change?

RiteOn apologizes for the length of this article but, in our judgment, it contains important information and a point of view that is all-important to the success of the Tea Party movement. If you are an independent conservative and a supporter of one or more Tea Party
organizations, PLEASE READ THIS ARTICLE…. Ed
—————-
Constitutional conservatives and liberal-tarians have almost nothing in common

Do Liberal-tarians threaten the Conservative Resurgence?
By JB Williams Friday, May 21, 2010

The T.E.A. Party began as a simple but firm message from millions of average American citizens, “TaxedEnough Already…”-which is to say, the runaway federal government must rein itself in or the people will begin to send spend-n-tax politicians out to pasture.But over the last year, the movement has been morphed into several very different agendas, most of them operating at odds with each
other. Although the different factions can work together to dismantle the existing political power structure, working together towards building a new viable power structure is something which remains somewhat illusive. (Sic)

Even a broken clock is right twice a day. So even I can find statements by liberal-tarians which I agree with, such as this statement from Ron Paul-“There is nothing wrong with describing Conservatism as protecting the Constitution, protecting all things that limit government. Government is the enemy of liberty. Government should be very restrained.”

That might be the most valid statement Ron Paul has ever made, and he has regularly identified the conservative movement as the true defender of freedom and liberty throughout American history, as in this statement- “To me, to be a conservative means to conserve the good parts of America and to conserve our Constitution.”

I agree wholeheartedly with these statements by Paul. But then there has been another Ron Paul from time to time, a liberal-tarian Ron Paul which I disagree with and find someone dangerous. “Another term for preventive war is aggressive war”
“Have you noticed the debt is exploding? And it’s not all because of Medicare.”
“I am just absolutely convinced that the best formula for giving us peace and preserving the American way of life is freedom, limited government, and minding our own business overseas.”
“I have never met anyone who did not support our troops.”

As any national security expert will tell you, the best way to avoid war on U.S. soil is to address threats towards the U.S. before they reach U.S. soil. The best defense is very often a good offense, which means, the leftist notion of waiting to be attacked before defending our nation is a suicide mission.

While Medicare alone is not the only reason for an exploding national debt, social spending overall, which now accounts for more than 60% of the federal budget, certainly is the primary problem. The quest for “social justice” is the primary reason for our current financial calamity. To ignore that is to cover up reality. Minding our own business abroad is akin to watching a lady being viciously attacked in the supermarket parking lot, and deciding it is none of our business. Defending our own personal freedom and liberty has always required defending the freedom and liberty of others.

And yes, Ron Paul has met people who don’t support our troops. Much of his 2008 presidential campaign was funded by Code Pink and MoveOn.org anti-war protesters who like nothing about our troops.

The fact is – constitutional conservatives and liberal-tarians have almost nothing in common. Yet both are wrestling for control of America’s conservative party, the GOP, via the Tea Party.

Many of the Tea Party organizations are supporting liberal-tarian candidates in the GOP primaries, like Rand Paul in Kentucky. If the vast majority of Tea Party members are indeed “constitutional conservatives,” why are they supporting liberal-tarian candidates who are largely aligned with leftist progressive’s, issue-by-issue?

Leftist Democrats are strategically using the most extreme elements within the Tea Party movement to define the entire conservative patriot resurgence as a bunch of “fringe nuts.”

Only hours after winning the GOP primary in Kentucky, Rand Paul finds himself under attack for some of the more extreme sounding statements in his closet.

The DNC has gone so far as to write and distribute a strategy paper on how to neutralize the conservative resurgence by promoting liberal-tarian extremists in the GOP primaries, giving “mainstream” Democrats so-called “extremists” to run against in the general election come fall.

Still, many average patriots remain unaware of the official policy positions behind the effort to build a liberal-tarian powerbase within the GOP.

Official Liberal-tarian Issue Positions
Pro Abortion Rights
Pro Gay Rights
Pro Illicit Drug and Prostitution
Pro Illegal Immigration and Amnesty
Anti Strong National Defense
Isolationist Security and Economic policies
Pro Freedom from Religion
Pro Civil Rights for known Terrorists
Pro Criminalizing Acts of War

For those who doubt my assertions, the full official liberal-tarian platform and issue statement is available at the Libertarian Party web site. If constitutional conservatives take time to fully inform themselves of the real liberal-tarian agenda, they will not support liberal-tarian candidates.

Everyone from Ron Paul to Nancy Pelosi claims the title of “constitutional patriot” today. If nothing else, the Tea Party has taught every politician the proper campaign talking points for the upcoming election cycles. True constitutional conservatives are going to have to separate real constitutional conservatives from the
pretenders in order to advance the conservative resurgence needed to save this nation from certain ruin.

Not all who claim the name patriot are true patriots.

Liberal-tarians have perfected the art of nuanced policy positions in an almost John Kerryesque way.
They are both pro life and pro abortion rights
They are pro-national defense and anti-security
They are pro-national sovereignty and pro open borders
They are anti-social spending but pro-social depravity
And just like all other progressives, they pander for illegal alien
votes and Puerto Rico statehood

Again, I can go on and on with this list, but at the end of the day, the liberal-tarian gray area of nuanced nonsense is actually ideologically aligned with the leftist progressive movement, not the constitutional conservative resurgence. There are exceptions to every rule, but even in the case of liberal-tarians, the rule remains the standard.

The only place where liberal-tarians share common ground with conservatives is the area of taxation. Both want lower taxes and less intrusive government. But only conservatives seem to understand that liberal social policies always result in liberal social spending. So even here, the two are not really on the same team.

Who is the T.E.A. Party?

According to an in-depth CBS/New York Times poll taken mid-April 2010, the following information rings true about T.E.A. Party folks… 94% are dissatisfied and even “angry” at the current federal government’s direction with 92% saying the country is headed in the wrong direction 88% disapprove of the Obama Administration-96% disapprove of the Democrat controlled congress
91% disagree with current economic policies
93% disagree with current Health Care policies
91% oppose the increasing deficit spending
84% dislike and distrust Barack Obama specifically-73% say Obama doesn’t understand the problems-75% say he does not share their American principles and values
92% say Obama is forcing the country deeper into socialism
94% say that congress does not deserve re-election
66% say Sarah Palin is the leader of the movement-59% say Glenn Beck is the leader
But Palin supports John McCain who earns only 35% – and Beck likes Ron Paul who earns only 28% TP support

Clearly, T.E.A. Party folks plan to force a change of direction in this country. However, what kinds of change remain unclear…

What Change?

In 2006 and 2008, American voters were foolish enough to vote for “change” without stopping to ask what kinds of “change” leftists around the globe had in mind for Americans. If we are foolish enough to do it again in 2010, we will likely never recognize this country again for generations.

Progressives had socialism in mind and it only took a few weeks or months after the election to figure that out. Too bad we didn’t take a few minutes to figure it out before the election.

Before T.E.A. Party folks get too excited about forcing “change” in 2010, they had better step back for a moment and very carefully define what kinds of change they have in mind.

We have no “broken immigration system.” We have a good immigration system backed by good immigration laws, but a very bad record of enforcement. If patriots want that to “change,” they cannot support leftists or liberal-tarian progressives, both of whom support “immigration reform” that essentially does away with legal immigration and rewards illegal migration.

Unless patriots want Puerto Ricans helping vote on the policies of the continental USA, they had better not support leftists or liberal-tarian progressives, both of whom are pandering for the Puerto Rican vote via statehood for Puerto Rico.

Neither leftist nor liberal-tarian progressives think we are in the middle of a global war with Islamic terrorism and neither wants to treat terrorism like an act of war, preferring US civil rights and criminal courts for known terrorists, while questioning the honor and tactics of real US heroes serving in the US Military.

Both leftists and liberal-tarians want to do away with a free-market economic system that both feel is unfair to many citizens and replace it with their version of a new economic system, complete with new currency and more government intrusions.

To cut taxes, you must first cut spending and in a nation with more than 60% of its federal budget tied up in social spending, you had better curb the social habits that cause social ills and result in
social spending, or you can’t do any of it. Leftists and liberal-tarians overlook this little gem of reality.

My point is this…
Change, YES! But just any kind of change, NO!

Constitutional conservatism is the foundation that made the USA the greatest nation on earth. No nuanced or pretender platform can compare and only true constitutional conservatives will put constitutionally conservative principles and values back at the helm of this nation.

This time, before you jump at the blind offer of “change,” stop for a moment and ask what kind of change. I have come to the conclusion that the most significant difference between true constitutional
conservatives and liberal-tarians is the conservative agenda of saving a nation and a liberal-tarian agenda of exploiting current conditions for benefit of building a liberal-tarian movement, no matter the cost for our nation.

In the end, it’s one thing to remove a RINO from office. It’s a whole different thing to put the right person in their place. It requires more than unity…it requires clarity of purpose.
—————————-
JB Williams is a business man, a husband, a father, and a writer. A
no nonsense commentator on American politics, American history, and
American philosophy. He is published nationwide and in many countries
around the world. JB Williams’ website is jb-williams.com/

Chuck’s disclaimer.

************************
PLEASE NOTE: RiteOn.org makes no representations or warranties of any
kind as to the fitness of content for any purpose or use whatsoever.
We present information and opinion for the public’s interest only.
Our capacity to research the validity and/or content of material is
limited, therefore, Guest Editor and other material, aside from minor
editing, is published as received and readers should be aware of
this. Material may or may not not agree with our views, though we try
within our means to present timely commentary that we consider to be
of value to others. Obviously, our success in this regard depends on
each individual’s perspective. We do not act on behalf of, or
represent in any way, any candidate, group, political party or other
entity of any kind. We unilaterally and unconditionally state that we
publish without malicious or harmful intent and take whatever
measures that are within our means to be accurate and truthful with
all content we publish. We claim no responsibility of any kind for
any content originated or used in any way, authorized or not
authorized, by guest editor writers, sources or any other person/s or
entity/ies.

My reply:

Stephen Browne is a professional writer and journalist, who is currently between jobs as he struggles to become more computer literate. Between 1991 and 2004 he lived and worked in Eastern Europe and the Middle East after the collapse of the Soviet Empire. In 1997 he was elected an Honorary Member of the Yugoslav Movement for the Protection of Human Rights for his work with Serbian dissidents and is the founder of the Liberty English Camps, which teach the principles of political liberty and free markets through Englishlanguage instruction in several post-communist countries and Africa. While sojourning he has been kicked with honest-to-God jackboots and beaten with real rubber truncheons. (They’re not just rubber they have a steel rod inside, just in case you’re curious.)

Reply to J.B. Williams

by Stephen Browne

In a recent article Mr. J.B. Williams asks the question “Do Liberal-tarians threaten the Conservative Resurgence?” – and answers in the affirmative.

In his tone he comes off, dare I say? a tad leftist. Williams apparently thinks the way to forge a coalition to beat back the current tsunami of statism, is to conduct Stalinesque purges of those who hew not to his party line. His article is a mixture of valid criticism, invalid generalizations, and outright falsehoods.

He begins by coining a childish neologism “Liberal-tarians,” a tactic the Institute for Propaganda Analysis gave the highly technical term, “name-calling.” Perhaps he learned this lesson from leftist idiot-ologs who coined the term “conservo-tards” to achieve the same effect. He then consistently refers to libertarians as “they” throughout. As if one could characterize an extremely broad and diverse intellectual trend with a few short brush strokes – a problem all conservatives should be familiar with from being on the receiving end of this kind of stereotyping.

To elaborate all of the misconceptions and outright falsehoods would take far more space than my host, or your patience, is likely to grant. But shall we fisk this monstrosity a bit?

“But then there has been another Ron Paul from time to time, a liberal-tarian Ron Paul which I disagree with and find someone dangerous.
“Another term for preventive war is aggressive war”
“Have you noticed the debt is exploding? And it’s not all because of
Medicare.”
“I am just absolutely convinced that the best formula for giving us
peace and preserving the American way of life is freedom, limited
government, and minding our own business overseas.” “

I also disagree with Paul, and elaborated at length in an article published in last month’s Dakota Beacon, ‘Isolationism, the Problem that Divides Conservatives,’ archived below.

I will also point out that this wrong-headed (in my opinion) approach to foreign policy is not shared by all libertarians but is gospel among the so-called paleo-conservatives, and pretty well describes the opinion of the late conservative icon Paul Harvey. See the Yahoo discussion site ‘Fight for Liberty’ for the opinions of libertarian “hawks.” And note surveys conducted by libertarian publications consistently show the publicly -visible libertarian leadership is not representative of the rank-and-file on this issue.

“The quest for “social justice” is the primary reason for our current financial calamity. To ignore that is to cover up reality. Minding our own business abroad is akin to watching a lady being viciously attacked in the supermarket parking lot, and deciding it is none of our business. Defending our own personal freedom and liberty has always required defending the freedom and liberty of others.”

Agree.

“Only hours after winning the GOP primary in Kentucky, Rand Paul finds himself under attack for some of the more extreme sounding statements in his closet.”

Williams cleverly fails to mention the “extreme sounding statement” Paul was under attack for: the issue of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which “outlaws discrimination” by taking away the right of property owners to discriminate against customers based on race.

This impacts the issue of victimless crimes, which sends Williams up the wall and makes almost everybody uncomfortable. At issue is the right of people to make foolish or immoral choices provided they
directly affect only the individual. (The problem of who they affect is a matter of much argument. Suffice it to say, the libertarian position is if you indulge in intoxicants you are affecting yourself. If you get behind the wheel of a car – that’s a different story. We don’t buy that hurting the feelings of those who care about you is the legitimate concern of the law – that’s a leftist notion.)

In any case, in today’s climate it takes a great deal of personal courage to defend a bigot’s right to dispose of his own property as he wishes. Whatever else I think of Rand Paul, my hat’s off to him on this one.

Your belief in freedom is tested by how far you are willing to extend it to people you despise.

On Williams web site, right at the top, is this:

    I have come to believe that the one flaw in our framers design is our freedom to destroy ourselves.

It may have been a mistake to ask average people (who don’t have the time, the energy, the inclination, the selflessness, the moral foundation or the good sense to run their own lives), to run the greatest nation on earth.” (Emphasis his.)

In other words, the average person can’t be trusted to make the “right” choices and must be led by a wise and moral elite – which evidently includes himself. (Who’d have guessed?) How is this different from Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama’s philosophy of government paternalism, save for the specific behaviors they think
are destructive?

G.K. Chesterton defined the libertarian position best, “The free man owns himself. He can damage himself with either eating or drinking; he can ruin himself with gambling. If he does he is certainly a damn fool, and he might possibly be a damned soul; but if he may not, he is not a free man any more than a dog.”

Williams describes the following “Official Liberal-tarian Issue Positions,” and cites the Libertarian Party website. To being with, the LP is one of a number of libertarian organizations, one which has been declining in membership and vote totals for some years, largely for hewing to the foreign policy positions criticized herein. Most self-identified libertarians don’t belong to any organization.

One-by-one William’s charges are:

Pro Abortion Rights: not shared by all libertarians. Ron Paul is a conspicuous example of an anti-abortion libertarian for example. And those who think it’s an immoral choice may not want it made a matter of law in all circumstances.

Pro Gay Rights: A misstatement. The libertarian position is, there are no fill-in-the-blank “rights.” There are only human rights. If you want to cite gays in the military as a specific, I’d refer you to the late Barry Goldwater’s op-ed, “You don’t have to be straight to die for your country – you just have to shoot straight.”

I will add this: I personally find aggressive, public, in-your-face, gays highly offensive. I feel the same way about loudmouth heterosexuals who like to boast about their conquests. But I do not think my offended sensibilities should be the law of the land. In either case they may merit a punch in the nose, not an act of congress.

Pro Illicit Drug and Prostitution: A deliberate mischaracterization. “Pro” has nothing to do with the issue, see the above Chesterton quote. And decriminalization of drugs is also a position supported by a great many conservatives such as the late William F. Buckley, and organizations such as LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.) The practical argument is not that drugs or alcohol are good for you, but that the process costs of prohibition are higher than any possible social benefit. Among other things, enforcement of prohibition necessarily creates those massive bureaucracies and egregious violations of civil liberties conservatives and libertarians hate.

Pro Illegal Immigration and Amnesty: Nope, libertarians are divided on the issue of open borders. A quote from one libertarian author (moi) in a published op-ed, “Does anyone else see how seriously weird it is that we’re even having this discussion? Every nation on earth takes their right to control their borders as a given. It’s pretty much what defines a nation.”

Anti Strong National Defense: This charge is loaded. There is a lot of argument in conservative/libertarian circles about what constitutes “strong” national defense. Though critics of foreign interventions like to point out that spreading limited military resources too thin weakens a country, and no country can maintain a strong military without a strong (i.e. free-market) economy.

Isolationist Security and Economic policies: Isolationist: ditto. See above. Economic: a falsehood. Libertarians are mostly free-traders who like to cite the 19th century French free-market economists, “If goods don’t cross borders – armies will.” (I myself have reservations about that one, since Tom Clancy pointed out that in 1939 Germany’s biggest trading parter – was France.)

Pro Freedom from Religion: Almost meaningless. Do you mean freedom to be an atheist or agnostic? Or perhaps not to have an established state church? Heavens to Betsy surely not! Me, I’m just dying to be hauled up before the Inquisition, or the Board of Presbyters, to have my (considerable) sins denounced before the congregation.

If you mean joining idiot lawsuits against religious symbols on public property, I don’t know any libertarians who get worked up about that. There may be some, I’ve just never run into them. And to be fair, it’s hard to get worked up over, say, the bronze doors on the Library of Congress, with their images of all the gods of writing from classical and non-Western mythology.

Pro Civil Rights for known Terrorists and Pro Criminalizing Acts of War: Not except for a delusional minority. You can find them hanging out with the paleo-conservatives over at antiwar.com.

Williams repeats many of the charges in a shorter list below this, accusing libertarians of being “John Kerryesque.” A straw man argument. He takes areas where libertarians – like self-described conservatives, disagree, ascribes all of the positions to a non-existent “they,” and triumphantly cries “they” are self-contradictory.

They are both pro life and pro abortion rights: Again, “they” disagree. Many, such as myself, are mired in the mushy middle. (Not much of a problem with the first trimester, beginning to worry in the second, and seriously wondering about the difference between a late-term abortion and a preemie saved by heroic medical efforts. And if some propagandist hadn’t invented the lying term “partial-birth abortion” we wouldn’t be having an argument about it. A “partial-birth abortion” is murdering a baby – the difference is literally a few minutes.)

They are anti-social spending but pro-social depravity: The first is correct, the second is a slander. To say that something is not properly a matter for law is NOT the same thing as saying it is good or desirable. And note one thing, only a totalitarian who believes “everything not forbidden should be compulsory” would say it is.

And just like all other progressives, they pander for illegal alien votes and Puerto Rico statehood: A falsehood. Where libertarians get nutty about statehood, they favor devolution and secession, not addition.

Neither leftist nor liberal-tarian progressives think we are in the middle of a global war with Islamic terrorism… Nope, this libertarian has written extensively on Islamic jihadism – and has lived in the Middle East. There is disagreement among libertarians, but look at Objectivists websites and the aforementioned Fight for Liberty discussion group and you’ll find strong support for the war against global jihad.

Both leftists and liberal-tarians want to do away with a free-market economic system that both feel is unfair to many citizens and replace it with their version of a new economic system, complete with new currency and more government intrusions: This cannot be a misunderstanding. It is a complete and utter falsehood. Libertarians are the strongest defenders of free-market capitalism there are, far beyond what any conservatives are comfortable with.

“To cut taxes, you must first cut spending and in a nation with more than 60% of its federal budget tied up in social spending, you had better curb the social habits that cause social ills and result in
social spending, or you can’t do any of it. Leftists and liberal-tarians overlook this little gem of reality.”

Really? And exactly how are you going to do this “curbing” without erecting massive bureaucracies staffed by legions of “experts”? And, isn’t this the same kind of social engineering so beloved of leftists? The only difference I can see is what he considers the invidious “social habits.”

How’s this for an alternative? Cease protecting people from the consequences of their own actions. Doesn’t cost a dime of taxpayer money.

“The only result of protecting men from their own folly, is to fill the world with fools.” – Herbert Spencer.

There is much to criticize about libertarians and libertarianism, as there is about any philosophy or movement, nobody has a monopoly on wisdom. I have done a fair amount of that criticism myself.

Libertarianism favors continuing, rather than halting the American Experiment of pushing the envelope of liberty to the maximum extent consistent with a reasonable degree of civil order. Since the Constitution was ratified we’ve been on unknown territory, boldly going “where no one has gone before” with few historical examples to guide us.

But this is not criticism, this is an argument for abandoning the whole enterprise of republican liberty.

In sum, it is obvious Mr. Williams has no use for libertarians. What he betrays in almost every line is, he is no conservative either. He is a totalitarian elitist, different from leftists only in the specific areas of your life he wishes to be in charge of. And not much of a difference at that. Williams has a lot in common with Hillary Clinton, who like many leftists is in many ways a notorious prude in spite of being married to a notorious libertine.

Confronted with a common enemy who is now on the ascendant, libertarians and conservatives of all stripes need each other to rally around the basic issue of combating the runaway growth of government, because we are too weak without each other. That is the grim reality.

What we don’t need are totalitarians who’d be more comfortable in a Red-Brown alliance than among those of us determined to live and die free men.

May 26, 2010

Soused on ethanol

Filed under: Uncategorized — Stephen W. Browne @ 12:10 pm

I did some research for a story on North Dakota corn growers and ethanol recently. It turns out ethanol was indeed a boon to corn growers this year, as the corn crop turned out to have low test weights and high moisture content.

Corn buyers pay by test weight, and grain elevators charge by percentage points of moisture to dry it. But neither of this matters much to ethanol plants, who aren’t interested in the food or feed value of the crop.

Since North Dakota is not big on cattle ranching, the feed market for lower-grade corn is minimal. Areas of the country where ranching is prominent tend to grow their own corn nearer to the end-user.

The ethanol plants sell their product to oil companies, who get a blender’s tax credit that enables them to sell the blend cheaper than straight gas and make a profit.

Yea for ethanol! Fuel of the future.

I have to wonder, can people count? Can they do simple experiments?

When I still had my ancient Honda Accord, I used to reset my trip meter every time I filled up to get an idea of what kind of mileage I was getting. It always seemed less when I used the 10 percent ethanol blend.

Now I have a Ford Ranger pickup. (I haven’t felt like a proper redneck without a pickup.)

Not long ago I filled my tank with pure gasoline and drove from North Dakota to Minneapolis. I arrived with a quarter of a tank left, which I used driving around town.

In Minneapolis I filled up with the 10% ethanol blend Minnesota requires by law, drove back and arrived with the needle on empty.

Conclusion 1: The slightly lower cost of the subsidized ethanol blend is more than offset by the lower mileage. I never use the ethanol blend if I can buy straight gas.

Conclusion 2: The function of the blender’s credit is to pay oil companies for the priviledge of selling watered-down gas. Nice deal for the oil companies.

This did not require me to search out and evaluate scientific studies, I did it myself.

The price of the blend is usually about 10 cents less than the cheapest unblended gas. Ten cents a gallon less for the blend, for about 14 gallons equals a buck-forty saved on a fill-up. That does not make up for the extra quarter-tank of fuel I burn. (That’s about 3 2/3 gallons of gas. Check the current price of gas, whatever it is today I don’t believe it’s $1.40)

Yet nowhere in the arguments pro or con ethanol have I seen anybody say they’ve tried this.

Can anybody do simple math or design a simple experiment anymore?

May 24, 2010

Isolationism: the Issue that Divides the Right

Filed under: Politics,Uncategorized — Stephen W. Browne @ 12:48 pm

Note: This appeared as an article in the March, 2010 print version of The Dakota Beacon.

There really is a Ron Paul revolution.

At the Conservative Political Action Conference this year, Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) won the straw poll for preferred candidate for president, with 31% of the 2,395 ballots cast. He handily beat three-time front-runner Mitt Romney (22%), and smashed conservative darling Sarah Palin (7%), up-and-comer Tim Pawlenty (6%), Mike Pence (Who? 5%), how-are-the-mighty-fallen Newt Gingrich (4%), and FOX News rock star Mike Huckabee (4%).

Ron Paul is known as the one avowed libertarian with a successful career in national politics.

And what a sensational career! He first won a seat in the House of Representatives in a special election in 1976 to fill a vacancy caused by the appointment of Robert R. Casey, who had defeated Paul for the seat in 1974, to the Federal Maritime Commission.

Paul then lost the seat to Democrat Robert Gammage by fewer than 300 votes (about the number of votes Lyndon Johnson once arranged to have “lost” in Texas) but came back to defeat Gammage in 1978. He was reelected in 1980 and 1982.

In 1984 Paul tried to move up to the Senate, but lost the Republican primary to Phil Gramm. He won a seat in the House again in 1997 and has been there ever since.

Paul ran for president as a candidate of the Libertarian Party in 1988, and as a candidate for the Republican nomination in 2008.

I saw Ron Paul in Oklahoma when he was campaigning for the Libertarian Party nomination. Although American Indian Movement activist Russell Means could give a more impassioned speech three sheets to the wind, Paul took the nomination on the strength of his convictions.

Paul actually gets away with speaking his mind. Conservatives love him for taking solid free-market positions most Republicans don’t dare. Libertarians love him for fearlessly advocating recreational drug legalization. (A position William F. Buckley held, but didn’t promote.)

And honest men of all stripes love Paul because walks the talk. He has consistently advocated term limits, and is one of two congressmen (with Howard Coble, R-NC) who have pledged not to receive a congressional pension.

Perhaps it’s because of his, “The heck with you, I’ve got a life outside of politics” attitude. Paul doesn’t need Washington, and that’s why people who love liberty trust him, in spite of a lot of alleged nutty stuff about his past associations.

But then there’s that foreign policy thing.

“If Ron Paul is behind it and has nothing to do with foreign policy, I agree,” acerbic conservative columnist Ann Coulter said in response to a question at CPAC.

Paul is firmly on the isolationist Right. Unfortunately, not the Paul Harvey isolationist Right. Harvey believed alliances of convenience with foreign tyrannies were corrupting America.

Paul finds common ground with the Left, and I mean the Ward Churchill America-hating Left, holding that if we didn’t meddle so much in other countries business, they wouldn’t do things like flying hijacked airliners into our skyscrapers.

This is an attractive belief to many. In a world inhabited by a lot of really scary people, it’s comforting to think we can influence over their attitudes and actions by what we do, or don’t do.

The idea that some people hate for what we are is really scary.

Isolationism has a long history on the Right. Conservative/libertarians during the Woodrow Wilson administration (then called “liberals”) saw America’s entry into World War I as part of Wilson’s drive to expand government way beyond what the constitution allowed, and his megalomaniac desire to play on the world stage.

Nineteenth-century freedom-lovers Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau condemned the Mexican War as an imperialist land grab. Many who opposed slavery, nonetheless opposed going to war with the South to end it. Some contemporary isolationists still condemn Lincoln for waging the Civil War.

Patriotic isolationists hold the U.S. should maintain forces adequate to defend our borders, and cease sending and stationing troops abroad entirely, with the possible exception of retaliatory strikes against foreign enemies who attack us first.

I once held this position.

How and why I changed, lies in my experiences living for 13 years in Eastern Europe and the Middle East, and the revelations by the intelligence agencies of the U.S. and former Warsaw Pact countries after the fall of communism.

And full disclosure, for personal reasons. My wife is Polish, my children have dual citizenship. Some of my closest friends are Polish, Lithuanian, Belarusian, Romanian, Hungarian. What happens to them and their countries, matters to me.

What my position is now is hard for me to label. I still think an awful lot of American intervention abroad has been ham-handedly stupid and counterproductive.

In the 60s for example, I opposed the Vietnam War, not least because of the prospect of being sent to fight it personally at a time the campaign appeared to be circling the drain.

I still think it was an ill-thought out venture, and though fought by men as brave as America has ever sent to war, strategically inept. A position shared by the military academies these days, which have whole courses devoted to the mistakes of Vietnam. In terms of grand strategy, the Soviets kept American forces occupied in a theater remote from their real interests in Europe by supplying North Vietnam with materiel that was cheap compared with the cost of keeping our forces in the field at the end of a long supply line.

Nonetheless, I am not the isolationist I once was. What I am now, I’m not sure. When I was young, I had all the answers. Now all I seem to have is a lot of disturbing observations and questions.

I miss those answers.

So what I’d like to do is present some of those observations and questions. Please understand I am not trying to score rhetorical points on anyone. I don’t think I know the answers beyond doubt.

But, I don’t think you do either. I think this issue is an unsolved problem. I think it’s important we start defining those problems before we can approach a solution.

As an old Yellow Dog Republican once said to me, “If you make a mistake in domestic policy, you could wind up hurting a lot of people. If you make a mistake in foreign policy – you could lose your country.”

Charge: we meddle.

Yes we do. Iran is still pissed off about the CIA-supported coup against their Prime Minister Mossadegh in the 1950s. No Mexican ever forgets what few Americans ever remember, that the southwest quarter of the U.S. was once the northern half of Mexico. Many Latin Americans resent the presence of U.S. forces in their countries, “assisting” in a war fuelled by the drug habits of rich gringos.

But something overlooked here is, everybody meddles.

The USSR had a cabinet-level department, the Comintern, devoted to spreading world revolution, with the U.S. as a primary target.

The Mexican government actively and openly promotes illegal immigration to the U.S., with comic books and DVDs explaining how to sneak in and blend in. Mexican politicians and intellectuals boast about the ongoing reconquista of the Southwest.

During the Bush-Gore election the Chinese secret police got caught trying to funnel money into the Gore campaign. Public outrage was underwhelming.

Saudi Arabian bought-and-paid-for influence in Washington is a scandal waiting to break – that never does, because it’s bipartisan, equal opportunity corruption. Saudi princes boast how they’ve bought this country.
Could a decision not to meddle anymore be akin to unilaterally deciding to disarm?

Question: What constitutes “meddling”?

Sending troops abroad, for sure.

How about supporting dissidents in foreign tyrannies with covert aid? Economic sanctions against countries with appalling human rights abuses? Was establishing Radio Free Europe and the Voice of America meddling?

Ron Paul might think so.

Paul was the one “nay” vote on a bipartisan House of Representatives resolution asking the government of Bangladesh to drop capital charges against Bangladeshi journalist Saleh Uddin Shoaib Choudhury.

Choudhury it seems, was arrested for treason, sedition and whatever else they could throw at him, for the crime of attempting to board a plane to Israel to talk peace.

It was a resolution for God’s sake! Not a threat or a declaration of war. It wasn’t even a hint that we’d reconsider the $60 million gift the US bestows on them every year. Resolutions don’t mean anything but a gesture of moral disapproval, everybody knows that. Except that sometimes they means a lot to the people in those appalling countries.

Charge: The U.S. keeps troops garrisoned in more than a hundred other countries.

Yes we do. And the question of whether we’ll continue to do so may be moot. Troops and gear are expensive, and if our economy declines below a certain level the argument may be settled for us. We’ll draw down our forces because we can’t afford not to.

And more than sixty years of garrisoning Europe have taught us a bitter lesson. The NATO alliance, minus the U.S., is a military pygmy. The Western Europeans accepted the protection of the U.S. nuclear umbrella and conventional forces. Then instead of building up their own forces, they used the savings to build the comfortable social-welfare states they sneer at us for not having.

Now it is questionable if Old Europe could build up their militaries if they had to. Would their citizens accept diversion of resources that subsidize four-week vacations, 30-hour work weeks, and retirement at 50? Can a continent of one-child families even contemplate sending their sons to war?

As allies, they leave something to be desired.

But to the east of them, in many small countries recently free of Soviet domination, are peoples who look to us for the preservation of their new independence. Peoples who are willing to be allies, not dependents, and carry their share of the load.

They, like the West Europeans, are part of Western Civilization, our kin. Are we ready to say we don’t need friends? That they aren’t worth the trouble of saving if it comes to that?

But is Lithuania, a little bigger than West Virginia, worth going to war for? How about Poland, the size of New Mexico? World War II started in Poland.

Some suggest we might take in refugees from humanitarian crises such as another holocaust, rather than send troops abroad to try and stop it. This could someday include Europe refugees from a resurgent Russian Empire, indigenous Europeans fleeing the Islamization of the continent, white South Africans and Zimbabweans fleeing genocide.

What if Israel is overrun? Does anyone doubt the first war Israel loses will be the last war it ever fights? We could wind up taking a lot of these peoples in, or stand by watching as they’re slaughtered. We could get a lot of fine new Americans, but how long could we keep that up? How many could we take in?

Observation: every country capable of projecting power beyond its borders, on occasion does so.

But, the argument goes, we needn’t do so. With two wide oceans on either side, and countries to the north and south who are friendly, or at least no military threat, we can stand in proud isolation, espousing “friendly relations with all, entangling alliances with none,” in George Washington’s words.

The example often given is Switzerland’s armed-to-the-teeth neutrality.

The Swiss actually made the Nazis back off of their plans for invading their country, convincing them it wasn’t worth the cost. Quite a trick to pull on the mighty Wehrmact without firing a shot.

It is worth noting an integral part of Switzerland’s defense policy is to destroy the country rather than let it fall into foreign hands. Bridges, tunnels, roads, etc throughout Switzerland are deliberately designed and built to be mined and destroyed in the event of an invasion.

More to the point, Switzerland can do nothing to protect its citizens beyond its own borders. Two Swiss were recently arrested in Libya, apparently in retaliation for a Swiss ban on constructing new minarets.

Do we want to adopt a policy of: beyond our borders you’re on your own? Can we? How long would it last after foreign governments and non-state actors went into the thriving growth industry of “kidnapping citizens of rich and compassionate countries”?

We’ve been there before. Thomas Jefferson launched America’s first foreign war after the U.S. government found itself paying as much as a tenth of its annual budget to ransom our citizens captured on the high seas by the Barbara Pirates based, come to think of it – in Libya.

Question: Much international trade depends on keeping the sea lanes open, particularly in places such as the Panama and Suez Canals, and the Straights of Hormuz, Malacca and Gibraltar. Is this a justifiable projection of American power?

I’ll never forget what a Dutch woman told me during the Iran-Iraq War, when U.S. Navy ships were escorting oil tankers through the Straits of Hormuz.

“YOU’VE got to escort those ships,” she said, “that’s OUR oil!”

Perhaps the rest of the world doesn’t want us to “mind our own business” as much as they want us to use our power in ways they approve.

What I call naïve isolationism makes two claims about the U.S. and its place in the world.
1) Other people hate us because of what we do, not who we are.

We could argue this one back and forth all day. Instead I’ll pose another question.

Our current enemies come from a particularly fanatic sect of Islam. Their soldiers are technically non-state actors, supported covertly by factions within rich states who are ostensibly our friends and allies.

The Islamic jihadists are fighting for values that include:
– Honor killings; the notion that if your wife, mother, sister, or daughter is raped, or just gets uppity, it is your duty to murder her.
– Speaking critically of the Prophet or questioning the divine origin of the Koran is a capital offense.
– Apostasy, converting to another religion, is a capital offense.
– Killing someone who insults your family and clan is praiseworthy.
– Slavery is acceptable to God.

In an increasingly interconnected world, do you think we can share that world in peace with them?

Objection: not all Muslims are Islamic jihadists!

Probably not. So can we tell those Muslms who aren’t jidahists, that the jihadists are their problem – until they win and become our problem whether we like it or not?

2) If you don’t aggress against others, they will not aggress against you.

This flies in the face of history. All experience, over many weary centuries, shows that what most provokes an aggressor is weakness.

During the Cold War, libertarian isolationists argued the Soviet Union, though tyrannical and paranoid in the extreme, had no intention of waging aggressive war against the U.S. or Western Europe, and was largely reacting, perhaps overreacting, to American truculence.

We now know this was false. According to documents released by the Polish government over the past few years, the Soviet Union always intended to invade and conquer Western Europe. The invasion was originally scheduled for the early 1980s. (This is confirmed by in-laws of mine in the Polish military at the time.)
From the testimony of a high-ranking defector, Col. Ryszrad Kuklinski of the Polish Army General Staff, the Russians counted on driving the Polish, Czech, Hungarian and Romanian forces ahead of them to take the first bullet, and to remind them which side they were supposed to be on.

What caused Kuklinski to contact the CIA and start feeding information to them, was discovering the Soviets had made the horrific decision that Poland and much of Eastern Europe was expendable if the war went nuclear.

I repeat the question: can you share a world in peace with people who think like this?

Question: It seems sooner of later “no-name nukes” are going to be loose in the world. What if the only thing which can prevent, or at least delay that day, is pre-emptive attacks on rogue states attempting to acquire nuclear weapons?

Question: What happens if a nuke explodes on our territory and we cannot tell for certain who is responsible? What if we have to face the choice of retaliating on mere suspicion of responsibility? On that day might we not look back and decide pre-emptive war was the more moral choice?

In conclusion, American foreign policy sometimes appears to both our enemies and allies, to have an alarming inconsistency. President Barack Obama has given signals to our friends in Eastern Europe, Israel, and Latin American states trying to create stable democracies, that he is either indifferent or actively hostile towards their interests and simpatico to their enemies.

On the other hand, Obama has completely adopted the Bush policy on the War on Terror he ran against. He has continued renditions, put off closing Guantanamo, and actually increased Predator drone attacks targeting Taliban leaders. (Not to mention family and bystanders – Bush would have been crucified.)

Obama, like Right isolationists, found it easier to criticize from the outside looking in. Now he’s in the position of having to go with the flow, or make it up as he goes along.

If we want to insure the survival of the United States for a while longer, and of liberty for the future, we’re going to have to address some hard questions. We’re going to have to do some hard thinking that is both idealistic and tough-minded. It’s not going to be easy, or comfortable.

May 19, 2010

It’s actually refreshing…

Filed under: Uncategorized — Stephen W. Browne @ 8:41 am

Woody Allen loves President Obama and thinks Republicans should stop obstructing him.

In fact, according to the Los Angleles Times, Woody told a Spanish interviewer, “It would be good…if (Obama) could be dictator for a few years because he could do a lot of good things quickly.”

Woody is expressing a frustration with the messy democratic process a lot of really smart people are feeling these days.

New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman, recently went into more detail about how he thinks really smart people should be running things.

“Watching both the health care and climate/energy debates in Congress, it is hard not to draw the following conclusion: There is only one thing worse than one-party autocracy, and that is one-party democracy, which is what we have in America today.

“One-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks. But when it is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can also have great advantages. That one party can just impose the politically difficult but critically important policies needed to move a society forward in the 21st century. It is not an accident that China is committed to overtaking us in electric cars, solar power, energy efficiency, batteries, nuclear power and wind power. China’s leaders understand that in a world of exploding populations and rising emerging-market middle classes, demand for clean power and energy efficiency is going to soar. Beijing wants to make sure that it owns that industry and is ordering the policies to do that, including boosting gasoline prices, from the top down.

“Our one-party democracy is worse. The fact is, on both the energy/climate legislation and health care legislation, only the Democrats are really playing. With a few notable exceptions, the Republican Party is standing, arms folded and saying “no.” Many of them just want President Obama to fail. Such a waste. Mr. Obama is not a socialist; he’s a centrist. But if he’s forced to depend entirely on his own party to pass legislation, he will be whipsawed by its different factions.”

So how are we a “one-party democracy” with one of the parties opposing the other? Never mind.

Further down Friedman approvingly quotes blogger Joe Romm, “China is going to eat our lunch and take our jobs on clean energy — an industry that we largely invented — and they are going to do it with a managed economy we don’t have and don’t want.”
Yeah, love that managed economy.

MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, he of the tingling leg, thinks the Chinese way of getting things done is pretty cool too. After the Gulf oil spill Matthews asked, “Why doesn’t the President go in there, nationalize an industry and get the job done for the people?”

He went on to explain how the Chinese would deal with this, “They execute people for this. Major industrial leaders that commit crimes like this…Everybody says ‘Capitalism is great. Unbridled free enterprise is great.’ Look at it! This is great, isn’t it?!”

Anita Dunn, White House communications director, quotes Mao approvingly, but doesn’t quite get away with it.

Examples multiply. And I must say, I find it refreshing.

If I may explain. Regular readers know I’m a multi-culti kind of guy. Meaning I’ve actually known and interacted with a fair number of people in non-Western cultures. Some years back during one of my sojourns at university, I met a lovely Iranian girl studying in the U.S. This was during one of our free-speech/assembly debates, having to do with members of the American Nazi Party wanting to hold a march through a Jewish neighborhood in Skoke, Ill.

She was shocked, “You Americans with your ‘freedom.’ You let them do these things?”

What really blew her away was that Jewish lawyers from the ACLU were defending these bozos right to do so.

(Yes fellow-libertarians, I know if the streets were private this wouldn’t be an issue.)

That’s the refreshing thing you find when talking to people from other cultures who don’t share, or feel any need to pay lip service, to the basic assumptions of Western culture. They don’t see freedom as a given, thus you can have a conversation more honest than any you’re likely to get with a home-grown enemy of liberty.

With our fellow-Americans who hold to political philosophies which would extinguish freedom, there has always been a need to claim something like, “Oh but we mean real freedom, real democracy, etc.”

Until now.

The elitists who believe America is a far worse place because they are not allowed unchecked power to run it are coming out of the closet, in a manner of speaking. They’re starting to openly admit their convictions that property rights, free speech, and all our liberties, are not the highest good and end of free government.

That’s great! Now honest debate can begin in earnest.

And one more thing. Do the people who’ve said this debate might come down to a trial of arms seem quite so crazy anymore?

May 15, 2010

Words, words, words

Filed under: Uncategorized — Stephen W. Browne @ 8:35 am

“Men do not long continue to think what they have forgotten how to say.”
-C.S. Lewis

Mark Steyn has an article with a videolink to Attorney General Eric Holder’s squirming on the Congressional hook while he twists and turns like an earthworm to avoid uttering the phrase “radical Islam.”

Who’s the coward now Mr. Holder?

Over at PJTV, Bill Whittle created a little visual aid to go with one of his marvelous commentaries, in the form of a table. (Older posts go into a subscription-only file, so hurry.)

In three columns: the 9/11 Commission Report, the 2008 National Intelligence Strategy, the 2009 FBI Counter-Terrorism Analytical Lexicon. In each column is a word count, how ofter certain words and phrases appear in each document.

Summarized thusly:

“Violent extremism” 9 – 9 – 29

“Enemy” 39 – 0 – 0

“Jihad” 126 – 0 – 0

“Muslim” 145 – 0 – 0

“Islam” 322 – 0 – 0

“al-Queda” 36 – 1 – 0

“Sharia” 2 – 0 – 0

I’m not even going to comment, you can’t make this stuff up.

I will treat you to an anecdote from a few years back though.

During the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Konzentrationslager, my wife was perusing the web site of Krystina Janda, the grande dame of Polish theater. She is a lovely lady of a certain age, who we’ve had the pleasure of seeing play Marlene Dietrich on stage and with whom my wife occasionally corresponds.

Janda had collected several dozen articles about the ceremonies from the major newspapers and magazines of Western Europe, including The UK and Ireland.

What had her and my wife steamed was, in nearly every single article the camp was referred to as the “Polish” concentration camp. The word “Nazi” appeared (if memory serves) precisely once, the word “German” – never.

This is one of those examples of clever lying I collect. It’s not technically wrong, the camp was “Polish” in the sense of being in Poland. (Though come to think of it, that could be argued, since Poland was then incorporated into the Greater German Reich.) Nonetheless, it’s a whopper.

Robert A. Heinlein once pointed out the highest from of the art of lying is to tell the truth selectively.

And of course, as Eric Hoffer said, “We lie loudest when we lie to ourselves.”

So have we become so soft, so cowardly, that we’ve become afraid to utter the name of evil?

* And by the way, an observation about the town of Oswieciem according to Jan Karski, the man who tried to warn the world about the Holocaust.

That’s the Polish name of the town of Auschwitz. I’ve been there, an experience I can safely say I’ll never forget.

The reason it has a German name is, the town was ethnic German before WWII. When Poland was invaded by the Third Reich and the Soviet Untion, Polish reserves assembled at the army base there. The base which was taken over by the Nazis and converted into a concentration camp.

When the Polish army retreated from it, the townspeople were taking pot shots at them from their windows with hunting rifles.

May 12, 2010

Books I can’t find anymore

Filed under: Uncategorized — Stephen W. Browne @ 8:18 am

Over here, Jonah Goldberg has a column about the stunning loss of Senator Robert Bennet’s (R-Utah) loss of the nomination of his own party, in spite of his seniority and “connections.”

“Sen. Robert Bennett, an honorable and sincere politician, was brought down by the rank and file of the Utah Republican Party over the weekend. Bennett, visibly shaken by his loss, seemed as stunned as anybody that he didn’t pass muster with his own party.”

One of the commenters pointed out that as good as the news is, for those of us who want to see the Republican Party, or either party, cleansed of statist sell-outs, any “new blood” in office will immediately face a test of courage.

This brought to mind the distant memory of an old Jack Anderson column, a book review.

The book, Anderson said, was about how congressmen are corrupted by the office, and analyzed the process in some detail.

The question was, we actually do regularly elect idealists to office. We can’t be fooled all the time can we? So what happens to them once they get there?

I recall the intriguing suggestion that it starts with the franking privilege – though I don’t recall exactly how.

Can anyone help? I can’t recall the title or author, and it seems to have sunk without a trace.

It’s one of a short list of books I’ve seen or heard about, thought, “Gosh, I’ve got to read that when I have time,” put back on the rack and lost forever.

Another from about the same time, late ’70s I think, was from an article in People magazine. This was an interview with two social scientists, sociologists or psychologists, or perhaps one of each, who had done a detailed study on members of congress.

What they’d done was interview the madams of the 12 most exclusive whorehouses in Washington and asked about congressional clients.

They claimed about half of congress were regulars, with a strong preference for S&M.

They didn’t name names, and just ID-ed them as “a prominent New England senator,” or “a well-known Midwestern congressman.” One of whom had allegedly put about a dozen working girls in the hospital, and bought their silence, another of whom was said to like his girls to dress up as, well girls. You know, pigtails, lollipops, etc.

The interviewer asked, “What do their wives think of this?”

Answer, “Mostly they just thank God they’re not doing it to them anymore.”

Again, lost without a trace. I’d love to find that article, and that study. I wonder if it’s ever been followed up on? I recall that it came out before, and perhaps within the same year, as a national Libertarian Party convention held in Los Angeles. That would be…?

Another fascinating, though less salacious book, I found on the library shelf in Norman, Oklahoma and meant to check out some day.

It was something about children and philosophy. The blurb argued that children think in a genuinely philosophical way, and gave fascinating examples.

What kind of questions do children ask, soon after they are told about certain concepts, like infinity or God?

“When you go as far as you can go till you can’t go any farther, what’s after that?”

“If God made the world, who made God?”

And a fascinating display of a child’s thinking about relativity.

A little girl who had seen airplanes take off, took her first airplane ride. She was OK, but visibly a little nervous.

Then as the plane ascended, she looked around and said, “Oh. It doesn’t get smaller.”

Perhaps the basic philosophical questions sometimes sound childish, because they are the questions children ask about reality as soon as their minds begin to comprehend it.

And there’s one more I’d really like to see again, especially after blood work revealed I’ve inherited the family high cholesterol levels.

It may have been on the library shelf, or in a store bookrack. I have no recollection of the title. But I remember it was about cholesterol plaquing of the arteries.

What this book claimed was that plaque formation in the arteries is not a natural consequence of bad diet, but a genetic disease common to people of European descent.

That this is in fact, the white folk’s sickle-cell anemia, the gentiles’ Tay Sachs disease.

The corollary would be that Western medicine doesn’t recognize this because well, We don’t have that kind of thing. We’re white.

Anybody else remember any of these?

May 10, 2010

Random thoughts on the hot-button issue

Filed under: Immigration,Op-eds,Politics — Stephen W. Browne @ 10:12 am

Note: my weekend op-ed.

“¡Pobre México! ¡Tan lejos de Dios y tan cerca de los Estados Unidos!”
(Poor Mexico, so far from God and so close to the United States!)
-Porfirio Diaz, President of Mexico 1876-1911

The issue of what to do about America’s huge population of illegal residents is again a hot-button issue.

Arizona has just passed a law requiring local authorities enforce existing federal law concerning illegal aliens.

Enforce the law, what a concept!

As a consequence, the people of Arizona are being called Nazis, Nativists, and worse.

The first thing I’d like to ask is, does anybody else see how seriously weird it is we’re even having this conversation?

Every country in the world, except ours evidently, regards their right to control their own borders as a given. It’s pretty much what “country” means, an area defined by a border. Our law on our side, your law on yours.

That said, I have to confess to some ambiguous feelings about the issue. We have friends who though legal, have an illegal granny who takes care of their kids. (Requests for details will be politely ignored.)

What’s the harm in that?

And in my long-term residence abroad… I wasn’t entirely scrupulous about work permits myself.

But we’re talking about an estimated 9 to 12 million people here illegally, with an estimated inflow of a half-million a year. That’s not immigration, that’s an invasion!

Yet several dozen communities have declared themselves “sanctuary cities,” forbidding their own police to enforce federal laws, or even inquire of people they arrest whether they are in violation of them.

The federal government then discovered a new-found respect for federalism. Rather than declare them in a state of rebellion and sending federal marshals to arrest the mayors and councilmen, it preferred to ignore the issue in hopes it’ll go away.

Again, in what other country would that happen?

I am married to a legal permanent resident, who by law must carry her residence permit with her at all times. We were separated for four months after I came back to the U.S., while our embassy in Warsaw made up their minds to let my wife and son in. And they weren’t always polite to her either. (You’d think a three-year-old child would have clued them the Fraudulent Marriages Act wasn’t an issue here.)

So what does that say about how you’re treated when you follow the rules?

But of course we’re mostly talking about Mexicans, so you must be a racist if you suggest we shouldn’t welcome the ongoing reconquista of the southwest quarter of the U.S. – formerly known as the northern half of Mexico.

I love Mexico and it’s people. The time I spent there was delightful, as most everybody who goes there without a gringo attitude finds.

But is it a favor to allow its corrupt (and by the way, overwhelmingly white) oligarchy to export its potential troublemakers so they can remain in power?

That Right-wing think tank Freedom House, founded by that Right-wing ideologue Eleanor Roosevelt (sarcasm alert,) noticed that of the countries they categorize as “free” or “partly free,” almost all have one ethnic group that constitutes at least a two-thirds majority.

We might be the exception. We’ve already assimilated lots of people from all over the world – though never that many from a single origin. And never from next door.

But if we want to try that experiment we’d might want to consider that once done, it probably can’t be undone.

So what do I think?

I think we’re going to be neighbors with Mexico for a long time. And since I began with an apropos quote, another occurs to me.

“Good fences make good neighbors.”

Powered by WordPress