April 19, 2007

What does Mickey Kaus have against "This American Life"?

When I was driving home from Austin two Saturdays ago, I listened to a lot of talk radio. I especially enjoyed the hours when "This American Life" played on the XM Public Radio channel. The segment on the DREAM legislation moved me to tears -- and I do try not to succumb to tears while driving. It told the story of a young woman whose parents had brought her to the United States when she was a child and who had worked very hard and achieved a lot toward her goal of becoming a doctor, but who could not go on to medical school or ever hope to be a doctor unless she were to first move back to the unfamiliar country of her birth and wait her turn to immigrate legally.

Here, Mickey Kaus blasts "This American Life":
Does it always feature tedious bits of propaganda like the recent segment (#4 on this link) from a "fellow at the New America Foundation" crudely presenting one side of the argument for the DREAM Act? ("There is a very simple solution to all of this, a bill called the DREAM Act ..." concludes narrator Douglas McGray--as if he were talking to children and there were no arguments against rewarding "undocumented" immigrants by granting their children legal status, in-state tuition and citizenship.) You'd get a lot more useful information from a two-graf editorial in USA Today.
Well, you listen to that segment and tell me if it's crude or profound. It doesn't set out to examine the provisions of the act. It reaches you emotionally by bringing you inside one person's life. Admittedly, that has a propaganda effect. I was ready to promote the act, though I didn't know the details of it. But I got the message that there is a narrow legislative proposal that is being stalled by those who want to deal with the much larger immigration problem and I realized I'd have to look up the proposal on the web and see if the details checked out. I don't see what is crude about making you care about a problem rather than dissecting the legislation.

So read about the legislation at Mickey's link and tell me -- Mickey doesn't -- why we shouldn't care in a special way about young people who were brought here by their parents, educated by Americans, and then left with no way to follow through on their dreams?

And let's look a little more closely about why Kaus doesn't like "This American Life." He seems quite concerned about Ira Glass and his "clipped, geeky," "ironic nerd/hip" voice. I think it's the big testosterone discrepancy between Ira Glass and Mickey Kaus that is squicking Mickey out.

ADDED: The producer of the "American Life" segment, Douglas McGray, wrote a long piece in the L.A. Times before he did the radio version linked in Kaus's post. Here's some detail about the DREAM Act from the article:
Together with Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, [Democrat Dick Durbin] introduced a bill called the DREAM Act. The bill recognized that kids such as Thi and Martha grew up as Americans and may not even remember another home. It offered them conditional resident status when they graduate from high school; if they graduate from college or serve in the military, that conditional status becomes a green card.

When Durbin and Hatch introduced the DREAM Act in 2001, it provoked the kind of deep disagreement that seems to follow each new immigration proposal. Eventually, though, the bill had collected a staggering 47 co-sponsors, nearly half the Senate, including immigration hawk Larry Craig, a Republican from Idaho; likely GOP presidential candidates John McCain of Arizona and Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and their Democratic counterpart, New York's Hillary Clinton; Minnesota Republican Norm Coleman; California Democrat Dianne Feinstein and Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada. The bill has enjoyed unusually broad support for an immigration measure for several reasons.

Only the most extreme immigration hard-liner would blame a toddler, or even an adolescent, for the choices their parents made. Some strain to make the case that offering opportunities to kids such as Thi, Martha or Esmeralda is akin to rewarding their parents, but that is just a polite way to argue that punishing children will discourage illegal immigration—not exactly a crowded bandwagon, when there are other ways to address the problem. Besides, there is something undeniably American about kids who scrap their way out of a bad situation with talent and hard work.

In 2003, the Senate's right-leaning Judiciary Committee voted 16-3 to bring the DREAM Act to the rest of the Senate. But the Senate's Republican leadership refused to schedule the DREAM Act for an up-or-down vote. The bill had Republican dissenters, and Majority Leader Bill Frist, a Tennessee Republican, appeared fearful of dividing his party and alienating right-wing activists.

Again this year, the Judiciary Committee endorsed the DREAM Act, voting to attach it to the Senate's sweeping immigration reform bill. But before Congress left for recess earlier this month, that bill bogged down, perhaps indefinitely. Even if the measure ultimately passes the Senate, it must be reconciled with a tougher House bill on immigration. Just before legislators left town, however, a bipartisan group of House members reintroduced their version of the DREAM Act. Compared with the nightmarish task of overhauling America's immigration system, and determining the future of 12 million illegal residents, offering green cards to a few all-but-American college kids hardly seems controversial.

48 comments:

reader_iam said...

I think you'd know better than I, but isn't Kaus in general not a big fan of the more personal or anecdotal approach to things, especially serious issues?

I mean, it's not exactly the same thing at all, but I'm thinking of his conversation with Bob Wright about one of Wright's NYT pieces. Wright seemed surprised Kaus didn't tweak him more, because of the sort of thing that Kaus generally doesn't like much.

Does this make sense?

reader_iam said...

When I say conversation, I mean on BHTv.

PatCA said...

"Admittedly, that has a propaganda effect."

That's the problem: puff pieces work because arguments on the merits don't. Should we pay for the medical, dental, and educational needs of every person in the world who has a sad story and sneaks in--and thus charge out of state tuition to Americans? Where do you draw the line? I'm sure the lobbyists from academia are pushing DREAM because they want to grow and they see the middle class shrinking.

I see the result of this thinking...or feeling, I should say. We have an upper class and a huge lower class. The middle class is leaving because they cannot take the tax and insurance and home price burden any more.

Also, why don't these kids have fake papers like most illegals here?

Palladian said...

I don't like the show either. It's formulaic: the same quiet, pensive guitar music in the background, the same close-miked NPR voices reading the same texts in that contemporary American creative writing thoughtful essay style, mostly playing the same cheap emotionally manipulative tricks to get people to support the standard NPR editorial line. All of this accompanied by Ira Glass doing his hipster Woody Allen shtick. There are a couple of exceptions that I can recall, but those were solely because of the merits of the writers, not the show.

David53 said...

I grew up in The Rio Grande Valley in south Texas 20 miles from the border. I still occasionally work with educators down there. It is no secret that everyday cars in Mexico line up to bring their children to school in America. All you need to register for American public school is a birth certificate (can be Mexican) and a utility bill with an American address on it. Should we give all these children the benefits of the DREAM Act? Which enforcement agency is going to untangle who lives where and why?

The culture in south Texas is unique and if I lived in Matamoros I would do the same thing.

The DREAM Act is well intentioned but would probably just make matters worse.

Zachary said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John said...

"Admittedly, that has a propaganda effect"

No Ann it is not an "effect" it is propaganda. It is the kind of garbage emotionally exploitive tactics that if they were used to promote a cause you disagreed with, you would have a fit.

John said...

David53,

Of course no one ever bothers to ask about the children of citizens and legal immigagrants whose schools are overcrowded and worse off because of those cars coming accross the border. I guess those people aren't part of "This American Life".

Also, when you talk about immigration in the context of shows like this, it means "all Mexicans all the time". The thought of bringing in a software engineer from India or restaurant manager from Europe is never discussed. Immigration means Mexicans and only Mexicans. Anyone who would want to shut off the southern border but continue to have immigration but from more diverse sources, God forbid anyone but a Mexican get a chance to come to this country, is written off as a racist and a zenophobe.

paul a'barge said...

I think that Althouse has a point when she brings Testosterone into the discussion.

This explains my disgust with NPR. Aside from the fact that I despise their political slant (Liberal/socialist) and the fact that they push their propaganda using my tax dollars, there is the unmistakable fact that the male staff of NPR are virtually indistinguishable from the female staff.

Frankly, I think most of them are either gay or have been virtually neutered by spending their lives with the emasculatrixes that populate today's feminism.

Propaganda. Althouse is right that it's well done. Mickey is right that it stinks.

Richard Dolan said...

I think you're overanalysing Kaus's quick comment. He's written quite a lot on the immigration issue, and his consistent theme has been that American immigration policy/immigration enforcement has consistently encouraged and fostered illegal immigration, even as it nominally outlaws and punishes it. When he says that the segment "crudely presents" one side of the argument about the DREAM act, I think he is agreeing with you that the segment presents an emotionally powerful argument (Kaus would probably say it's the only powerful argument) for the DREAM Act.

What the segment leaves out, however, is any acknowledgement of how the US got into this fix in the first place; why that fix has remained not only unfixable, but has gotten much worse over time; and how the cost of ad hoc "remedies" like the DREAM Act inevitably are borne by the law abiding would-be immigrants who don't violate American immigration law. Thus, from Kaus's perspective, the emotional argument for the DREAM Act presented by this segment is, in its way, an agenda-driven distortion of the larger reality.

Of the many arguments that I suspect Kaus would find more persuasive than the emotional one in this segment are two that he has consistently stressed: first, the long history of fake immigration "reforms" over many decades, each incorporating a form of amnsety, has convinced many desperate people seeking entry to the US that the pattern of reform-cum-amnesty is just the American way, and that persistence in illegal activity thus generates its own reward; and, second, no matter what the US may do about immigration reform, bitter disappointments will inevitably be visited upon many who have done nothing to deserve "punishment." The would-be doctor in this segment certainly qualifies; children always do. But so do the children of would-be but law-abiding foreigners who wait their turn in endless lines for a chance to emigrate legally to the US. Those children, too, have dreams, probably a bit more basic than that of the would-be doctor. She at least has benefitted, inter alia, from an American education through high school. The children of those waiting for that impossible-to-get visa may be dreaming of more basic things, available to them only in the US, such as a grade school education, some hope for a future, perhaps just a chance to obtain a small portion of the goodness of life in the 21st century that they may see on TV.

I can see why Kaus is dismissive of appeals to emotion in this area. But I don't think he is being dismissive of the student featured in that segment, or the pain and loss that she (and lots of others) caught up in an immigration mess not of their making are going to experience. As for literary genres capable of capturing those realities, I think Kaus would find emotional melodrama to be wholly inadequate to these issues. Instead, I suspect that he views these problems as a modern tragedy, with super-human economic forces cast in the ancient role of Fate and destined to crush many who are caught up unwillingly and with no possibility of escape in the drama.

Trinity said...

Richard Dolan:

Well done.

Trinity said...

...there is the unmistakable fact that the male staff of NPR are virtually indistinguishable from the female staff.

Frankly, I think most of them are either gay or have been virtually neutered...


"Shake and conflate."

Palladian said...

"Frankly, I think most of them are either gay or have been virtually neutered by spending their lives with the emasculatrixes that populate today's feminism."

While I might agree that NPR seems to slant more towards what are understood to be traditionally feminine modes of conveying information, you're way off the mark in equating this with gayness I happen to be gay and I have a negative opinion of NPR's æsthetics. It's probably not worth repeating at this point, but gayness does not necessarily equal effeminate. I'd prefer not having my sexuality likened to an NPR broadcast. I don't put people to sleep in the boudoir.

reader_iam said...

Whoops. Signed into wrong gmail account (one I don't use for blogger, or any other online endeavour, at least intentionally). No sock-puppetry intended.

Trinity comments are mine.

Tyler said...

Patca: We have an upper class and a huge lower class. The middle class is leaving because they cannot take the tax and insurance and home price burden any more.

Yes, You're right. The immigration of middle class Americans to countries with lower tax and insurance and home price burdens is a problem that we need to take very seriously.

David53: It is no secret that everyday cars in Mexico line up to bring their children to school in America.

We must maintain constant vigilance against the undocumented baby cars that are flooding our glorious nation from the South!

Smilin' Jack said...

Palladian said...
...gayness does not necessarily equal effeminate. I'd prefer not having my sexuality likened to an NPR broadcast. I don't put people to sleep in the boudoir.


Sorry, Palladian, but real men don't use the word "boudoir."

reader_iam said...

No, they spend their time fighting cartoon bad guys and cultivating "de-icers," right, Smilin' Jack?

jbalmer said...

From boobs to balls, Ann, you've done it again.

John Burgess said...

I prefer to hear rational arguments, ones that engage my brain, rather than those that tug at my heart strings. NPR is great at the latter; for the former? Not so much.

I object to NPR's relentless use of anecdotal evidence to demonstrate its point of view. It's pretty easy to come up with a hard luck story about anything you care to choose.

It's considerably harder to look at that story in its full context, see where it fits in with the bigger picture. This is something I find NPR funks as a rule.

Further, I have a negative reaction to blatant attempts to enlist my emotional support without engaging my rational support. Perhaps it's cynical. Perhaps it's proper caution.

Paco Wové said...

What I kept wondering as I listened to that was, "Why can't she go to college/med school in Mexico?"

Roger said...

I do enjoy some of Ira Glass' work, but a little bit of Ira is all I can take--NPR is simply playing to its audience and donor base. As an aside, I do miss Bob Edwards on ME; esp given the BBC wannabe Steve Inskeep and his esp snarky comments and interview style.

Anthony said...

Ray Suarez was a very good interviewer on Talk of the Nation. He was quite liberal, but he always was very well informed on whatever subject matter a program was dealing with and was generally as hard on liberals as anyone else.

After he left, I quit on NPR, TOTN was the only thing I really listened to anyway, after Daniel Schorr went off on a rant about how awful the Supreme Court was for "installing" GWB. Jaysus, you could at least try to hide your bias if you're going to pretend to be a journalist. . . .

PatCA said...

"Yes, You're right. The immigration of middle class Americans to countries with lower tax and insurance and home price burdens is a problem that we need to take very seriously."

I did not say they're leaving the country. They ARE leaving CA for other states--I (wrongly) assumed you had read this widely reported fact. As to Mexicans enrolling their kids in US schools, perhaps you had better check Google again before dismissing that fact as well.

Snark is not enough.

Ann Althouse said...

If you miss Bob Edwards, get XM satellite radio. He's on for hours a day with his own show.

Theo Boehm said...

Chacun á son goût.

Aside from the arguments about this particular piece, I rather like "This American Life."   Admittedly, Ira Glass was a little hard to take at first.  But he's grown on me, and I'm no longer bothered by his mannerisms.  There have been pound-the-steering-wheel funny moments, shows that moved me to tears, stories and images that have stayed with me for years now.

(My favorite funny bit, BTW, is Sarah Vowell's American Goth makeover piece from quite a few years ago.)

"This American Life isn't perfect.  I tune out when things get too whiney or weird, despite a high tolerance for weird.  And, yes, I'm discounting the NPR political/social/cultural bias.  What do you expect? "Savage Nation?" Oliver Wendell Holmes' formulation of "three-fifths sheer genius and two-fifths sheer fudge" has it about right here.

Others may apply other ratios, but that one works for me.

And, on the substantive subject here, kudos to Richard Dolan for his comment upthread.

Revenant said...

By far the biggest problem is this: the bill does not require that the required services be performed in advance. The person in question just has to go to college/join the army/perform 910 hours of service sometime in the next SIX YEARS, and can apply for an extension after that. This means that even people who have NO intention of EVER meeting the requirements get to live here, legally, for six years, and can't be touched.

There are a number of other problems with the DREAM act:

(1): The bill lacks provisions limiting the child's ability to act as an "anchor" for his or her parents. Under existing immigration law this effectively makes the DREAM act the "Make It Easier for Illegal Immigrants with Kids to Stay in America Act". That's not good.

(2): So far as I can tell the current bill *still* has that asinine provision to make it easier for states to offer student financial assistance to illegals.

(3): The bill does not require that either the child or his/her parents reimburse the government for the back taxes they avoided, prior to enjoying these benefits. Pay up first, kiddies.

(4): The bill covers too large an age range. People who came here the day before their 16th birthday five years ago are in an entirely different situation from people who came here at the age of 6 months eighteen years ago -- the latter know nothing of any culture beyond their own while the former are not significantly different from people who snuck across the border at age *18* five years ago.

(5): Giving in to this sort of "Argumentum ad Sob-Storium" means that you'll just get hit with a fresh sob story six years down the road. I am sick to death of getting taken advantage of by a fresh illegal immigrant amnesty every 3d6 years.

That said, I think it is reasonable to work on a law to solve the problem of "culturally American" children of illegal immigrants. But you can't address it in a vacuum without dealing with the rest of the illegal immigration problem too, and you CERTAINLY can't pass a law that rewards illegal immigration while punting on laws that (a) punish it or (b) do something else to restrict it.

Revenant said...

We must maintain constant vigilance against the undocumented baby cars that are flooding our glorious nation from the South!

If you have no problem with people using a system without paying for it, can I please stop paying for the public school system? Because I'm paying six thousand dollars a year in property taxes and a large chunk of it is being used to educate Mexicans.

Oligonicella said...

Where is the ire for her parents putting her in this position?

peter hoh said...

Doesn't Congress regularly pass legislation that benefits very small groups of people whose sob stories hit the right people?

As to the male-ness issue: The idea that there is only one way to "be a man" really irritates me.

I think of This American Life as blog-style radio. It's supposed to be quirky and personal. Complaining about that is like complaining that McDonalds is fast.

paul a'barge said...

Palladin: I happen to be gay and I have a negative opinion of NPR's æsthetics

Point taken. I have good gay friends who are neither Liberals, leftists nor female-like.

However, I'd point out that today's demographics would illustrate that folks like Palladin are exceptions to the demographic.

I should not have painted the gay community with the same brush with which NPR, liberals, leftists, socialists and today's feminists so richly deserve.

David53 said...

We must maintain constant vigilance against the undocumented baby cars that are flooding our glorious nation from the South!

Obviously my point flew over your head like a meth-addicted hummingbird.

It was an observation. It happens. Everybody knows it happens. It's a way of life in south Texas and has been for decades. DREAM legislation will only make for a bigger government and more taxes. It will not solve any problems.

Dewb said...

Mickey's last sentence is "But it wouldn't be told in that clipped, geeky, knowing fake-Ira-Glass voice."

I read that as referring to the aforementioned "narrator Douglas McGray." Kaus seems to be criticizing McGray for, among other things, imitating Glass poorly.

However, the post title ("Glass Snobbery") and the intro sound like Kaus would level the same criticisms at the real Glass, also... so I'm not sure if I have a point here.

Robert Burnham said...

I find Ira Glass' voice to be very offputting. That flatter-than-flat affect quickly becomes almost unlistenable.

What's really interesting is that he clearly knows better.

About 10 years ago he did one of his TAL radio shows and had his father Barry Glass on as well. Turns out, Dad Glass had been a professional disk jockey -- and he effortlessly skated verbal rings around his son.

Dad's voice was warm, inviting, had an interesting pacing -- and everytime Glass Junior's voice came on, you felt the energy just vanish from the segment.

Here are some links:

http://www.thislife.org/pages/descriptions/96/14.html (Bottom entry, "Act Two")

http://www.thislife.org/pages/trax/photo_galleries/accidental_docs.html
(top photo)

http://www.thislife.org/pages/archives/archive96.html Scroll or search for "Barry Glass" about halfway down

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ira_Glass

If Ira's smart, he'll keep Dad well away from the mike forever more.

boston70 said...

Kaus basically hates everything and everyone.

Kaus is a miserable, uninteresting commentator. He never has anything decdent to say about anything.

Other than that I am sure Kaus is a fun date. Also, he is best girlfriends with Coulter so I guess he isn't all bad.

Paul Zrimsek said...

The bill had Republican dissenters, and Majority Leader Bill Frist, a Tennessee Republican, appeared fearful of dividing his party and alienating right-wing activists.

Compared with the nightmarish task of overhauling America's immigration system, and determining the future of 12 million illegal residents, offering green cards to a few all-but-American college kids hardly seems controversial.

Once you've completed the all-important step of ignoring the people whose opinions just don't count... no, I suppose it doesn't.

Revenant said...

Once you've completed the all-important step of ignoring the people whose opinions just don't count... no, I suppose it doesn't.

Heh -- yep.

Besides, saying this is about "all-but-American college kids" is just the usual rhetorical game politicians and political activists play every day -- ignore what the bill actually *does* and what its probable effects will be and talk only of the alleged problem the bill is supposedly being written for.

When Senator Hubert P. Blowhard proposes his Make America Super Duper Extra Safe Act (requiring a 5-day waiting period extension for handgun purchases by college English majors) we will undoubtedly be told that, gee, "wanting to prevent mass murder hardly seems controversial". Because it doesn't really matter what the law says, I guess, so long as the people voting for it have their hearts in the right place.

Paul Zrimsek said...

Funny thing is, I might very well be willing to support a bill like this-- but first, I'd want to hear how its backers answer the most obvious objections. And "Objections? How could there possibly be any objections?" is perhaps not the very most reassuring response.

Tyler said...

patca: I did not say they're leaving the country. They ARE leaving CA for other states--I (wrongly) assumed you had read this widely reported fact. As to Mexicans enrolling their kids in US schools, perhaps you had better check Google again before dismissing that fact as well.

Yes, and most of them appear to be fleeing for illegal-Mexican-free states with good Anglo names like "Arizona" and "Nevada," because they're sick of all the illegals in California.

California, by the way, has four of the 10 fastest growing cities, including Elk Grove, the second fastest growing city in the nation between 7/03 and 7/04. As far as the middle class of Elk Grove goes, the median household income increased to $82,784 from $60,661 between 2000 and 2005.

The middle class is getting squeezed out here in Chicago, too. The same goes for plenty of places with much lower immigration rates -- cleveland, detroit-area, etc. The reason, I'd guess has as much to do with the collapse of American manufaturing as illegal immigration. (That last link is about Cali specifically.)

Did both you and david53 really miss my reason for making fun of this sentence?:

It is no secret that everyday cars in Mexico line up to bring their children to school in America.

Look again. Here's a hint, the punchline of my comment was "undocumented baby cars." Of course there are Mexican kids studying in the states. I think that's great! I'd rather have my tax dollars going to the education of foreign children than to, say, the V-22 Osprey.

Revenant said...

Yes, and most of them appear to be fleeing for illegal-Mexican-free states with good Anglo names like "Arizona" and "Nevada," because they're sick of all the illegals in California.

The link you provided does not support that claim. It says only that Nevada and Arizona are the two fastest-growing states in percentage terms and that much of this is due to migration from other states, not that people from California are moving to those states. You also missed the rather obvious point that those numbers include population growth due to illegal immigration, so small wonder that lightly populated states located near to the gateway for the 0.5 to 3 million illegal immigrants who enter the country each year are experiencing a population boom.

In any case, one out of every seven people in California is an illegal immigrant at this point, and in cities like Los Angeles it is more like 1 in 5. You can move basically anywhere in American and be "escaping illegal immigrants", compared to living in Southern California.

California, by the way, has four of the 10 fastest growing cities

Nobody disputes that California's population is booming. Its just that it is booming with Mexicans, not Americans.

As far as the middle class of Elk Grove goes, the median household income increased to $82,784 from $60,661 between 2000 and 2005.

Elk Grove is a rustic little town in rural California. Many such towns experienced booms median incomes due to middle and upper-income families fleeing the big cities.

The reason, I'd guess has as much to do with the collapse of American manufaturing as illegal immigration.

You guess wrongly. The reason the working class is squeezed to death and the middle class is having a rough time of it is that several thousand illegal immigrants enter California every day looking for work. This creates a massive labor pool chasing after a limited number of jobs. There are obviously plenty of jobs for all the working-class Americans here, because the number of employed illegal immigrants in California exceeds the number of UNEMPLOYED Americans here.

Jeff said...

Ira Glass sounds like the female Terry Gross.


The Onion agrees!:

This American Life Completes Documentation Of Liberal, Upper-Middle-Class Existence

http://www.theonion.com/content/node/60836?utm_source=slate_rss_1

Theo Boehm said...

I was hoping this would just be about "This American Life," but immigration has taken over this thread, and I suppose it's as good an opportunity as any to get in my two cents.

I'd rather have my tax dollars going to the education of foreign children than to, say, the V-22 Osprey.

Spending money on weapons of dubious utility is an old tradition that goes back at least to Jefferson in this country, and has a long history elsewhere.  Oddly enough, I was just reading about the explosion of the Peacemaker last night.  It's easy to find many other examples of transgressive weapons, most of which fail less dramatically, and all of which were paid for by tax dollars.

My question is, what does efficiency in weapons procurement have to do with educating foreign children?  If we stop wasting money on weapons of dubious utility (or weapons altogether, if you're of that persuasion), will that free up money to spend educating foreign children?  How will this will come about?  Do you expect the new Democratic Congress to cut military spending in time of war and earmark the savings for aid to states so they can educate more foreign children? How long do you expect the Congress to remain Democratic if they did this?

Of course there are Mexican kids studying in the states. I think that's great!

Here we have the nub of the matter.  Should U.S. Federal, State, or local governments be responsible for services to foreign nationals who are here illegally?  What services, and why should they be provided?

Larger questions include, what does citizenship of a nation-state entail?  What do international borders mean in both law and fact?  Is the nation-state viable in the current world of both rapid communications, and mass migration?  What should ultimately replace the current concept of national governemnts?

Assuming for the sake of argument that we are seeing the beginnings of the break-up of the nation-state system, should the U.S. get ahead of the curve and enter into joint administrative arrangements with Mexico?  How could this be done Constitutionally from the U.S. side?  Would it make more sense to cede back to Mexico all or part of the territory seized in 1845?  Again, how could this be done, both politically and from a Constitutional perspective?

These are, in my opinion, some of the questions we should ask ourselves.  I am not proposing answers, but I do think we should face our problems squarely.  Both continuing the current wink-and-nudge system of vast illegal immigration, or pretending to stem the tide with more meaningless legislation, will only prolong the chaos and misery all around.

Those on the Left side of the political divide who cheer on everything that appears to many to weaken the United States, should explain what specific policies they have in mind.  And those on the Right, whose outlook can often be condensed as "Mexicans suck," should tell us what realistic solution they propose.  I am willing to entertain even the most radical ideas, but I do wish that everyone would put their cards on the table, and leave off snarky non sequiturs and self-righteous bloviation as a substitute for political thought.

ShadyCharacter said...

What the hell is the deal with the new gd sign in procedure? I wrote a big post and it made me switch over to a fricken GOOGLE account at which point the comment I had typed up was simply GONE.

I HATE GOOGLE!

---------end rant---------
"And those on the Right, whose outlook can often be condensed as "Mexicans suck," should tell us what realistic solution they propose."

Could be condensed, sure. And one could condense War and Peace as a tale of the forbidden love between a Norwegian geisha and her NASCAR mechanic downstairs neighbor...

PatCA said...

"Did both you and david53 really miss my reason for making fun of this sentence?"

Yes.

I also missed the reason for mentioning anglo-sounding names of illegal-free states, Ospreys, growing cities, and baby cars. But Revenant and Jeff did make eloquent sense of these things, so I will defer to them.

(And, yes, I hate the new sign-in too)

Moira Breen said...

Theo Boehm: "Here we have the nub of the matter. Should U.S. Federal, State, or local governments be responsible for services to foreign nationals who are here illegally? What services, and why should they be provided?"

Why? Because all lower- and middle-class American naturally feel a compassionate obligation to protect and subsidize, out of their own pockets, the status quo in Mexico. I understand her elites have more important things to do than attend to the educational and medical needs of their own tired, huddled masses. Frankly, I think it's selfish and racist of you even to ask the question.

Revenant said...

And those on the Right, whose outlook can often be condensed as "Mexicans suck," should tell us what realistic solution they propose.

Since I usually get lumped in with "the Right" around here I'll take a crack at a response -- first with a proposed solution, and secondly with a personal refutation of the "Mexicans suck" thing.

My solution to the illegal immigrant problem:

(1): Build a wall along the entire border with Mexico. There's a wall here in San Diego and it *works* -- the illegal traffic has been deflected to the east, past where the wall ends. If the wall stretched the whole way from the Pacific to the Gulf illegal immigration would be reduced by orders of magnitude.

(2): Implement a national ID card, require it for voting, and provide a stiff criminal penalty for forging one. We need this for many other reasons, voter fraud being the biggest one, but it would also have the benefit of making it easy for employers to spot illegal immigrants -- they won't have the id card. This is important, because we need it in order to...

(3): ... provide stiffer penalties to anyone who hires illegal immigrants.

(4): Bar anyone caught entering the United States illegally from ever attaining legal residency here by any means and deport them. On a second offense bar them from ever entering the country again for any reason. Give a three-month lead time before implementing this policy in order to give current illegals time to leave the country.

(5): Provide a genuine "path to citizenship" option for immigrants that makes it easier to get residency here if you plan to become a citizen. The program should be open to anyone willing to first (a) demonstrate fluency in the English language and (b) legally renounce citizenship in their country of origin as a precondition for entering the program.

(6): Cease providing any government assistance to immigrants.. I'm annoyed enough at paying for *American* deadbeats.

Now, as for "Mexicans suck":

Mexicans don't suck (although, yes, many right-wingers, especially of the Pat Buchanan variety, think they do). Immigrants don't suck either. I like immigrants. How could I fault a person for wanting to live in America? *I* want to live in America.

Mexico itself, on the other hand, DOES suck. Hoo boy does it suck. I can't blame Mexicans for not wanting to work there. At the same time, Mexico is never going to get any BETTER so long as the current situation of "easy money north of the border" exists. Mexico needs some tough love so that the twenty million ambitious workers currently illegally earning a living in America will instead go back home and work on straightening things out *there*.

David53 said...

Theo,

I'm with you on this one 100%.

F15C said...

"As far as the middle class of Elk Grove goes, the median household income increased to $82,784 from $60,661 between 2000 and 2005."

I live 30 miles from Elk Grove. The reason for the above statistic is that Elk Grove is a bedroom community of the Bay Area and Sacramento. Middle income people searching for affordable housing have flooded to Elk Grove and other small Central Valley towns/cities causing cancerous growth and its attendant problems - and raising the measured income level.

The ridiculously high price of housing in California that produces such effects is driven by population increase, and population increase is driven predominately by illegal immigration.

Theo Boehm said...

Thanks, David53.  I appreciate that, and I appreciate your comments, too.

And thank you, Revenant, for stepping up to the plate.  Some of us might have different opinions, but at least we have some clear positions to kick around, whether in this soon-to-disappear thread or elsewhere.

For my part, I'm not totally opposed to national identity cards, although I've been skeptical in the past.  There are many reasons to consider them aside from illegal immigration and voter fraud, and given the security situation in general and problems such as identity theft, they are getting more and more attractive.

A wall, on the other hand, seems to me to be a bad idea, both from an environmental and symbolic point of view.  As time is short, I can't say anything about the environmental part.  But I will say that a wall would provoke unnecessary anger.  We came withing a hair's breadth of having a left-wing, overtly anti-U.S. Administration elected in Mexico last time, and something like a wall might push more Mexican voters into the arms of of the Left.  How would we like a Hugo Chavez or Fidel Castro elected in Mexico?  We think we have problems now? We need to walk a fine line between maintaining our national sovereignty and not unnecessarily pissing off our most dangerous neighbor.  Getting that right is a huge, ongoing challenge, and explains a lot of the Bush Administration's actions.

Anyway, time's up, and I've got to go.  I am embarassed, though, about the grammar and punctuation in my last post.  Looking it over, it seems as if chunks of plaster were falling from the ceiling and hitting the comma key.  What I wrote was assembled from bits and pieces and pasted together during my morning break, and there's a lot of glue dripping from the joints.  Sorry.