Friday, October 6, 2006

Nonsense Density

The world record for "nonsense density", i.e. the number of nonsensical statements per line of print, is placed in serious jeopardy by this article at The nonsense is not generated by NewsMax, so much, but by the people they quote for the column:

Mexico lobbied for six years for a comprehensive immigration reform that would allow millions to cross into the United States legally. Instead, they're getting a fence. Mexicans - from leading politicians to migrants preparing to cross illegally - consider the U.S. plan to fence off much of the border shameful, offensive and ill-conceived.

People who want to break our laws and plunder our treasury think it's shameful that we resist? They think it's offensive that we insist that if they wish to come here they do so legally?

President Bush on Wednesday signed a bill that would allot $1.2 billion for hundreds of miles of fencing along the U.S.-Mexican border and for more vehicle barriers, lighting and infrared cameras. But migrants resting at a Tijuana shelter after being deported from the United States said more walls wouldn't deter them. Alfonso Martinez, a 32-year-old from southern Mexico, had been working as a farmhand for six months in Vista, Calif., when he was arrested and deported last week. "Wall or no wall, I will try at least three times," said Martinez, who said he would try to cross by himself through Tecate, a mountainous town about 35 miles east of Tijuana. "I have three girls that I have to support, and in Mexico there is no work."

This is truly sad, but it's a problem the Mexican government, which sits on vast reservoirs of oil, silver and other mineral assets, could do something about were they so inclined. Rather than create prosperity for all in Mexico, however, they prefer to keep the wealth in the hands of a corrupt few and send the discontented masses north while lecturing the gringoes on our obligation to receive them with open arms.

Mexican immigrants in the United States and the Mexican government had lobbied lawmakers for more ways to cross the border and work legally. While Bush had proposed a temporary worker program, it didn't garner enough support in Congress for passage. The idea has been dropped by Washington, at least until after the November congressional elections.

It didn't garner support because enough representatives had been instructed by their constituents that there was no sense in trying to mop up the water until someone managed to turn off the spigot.

Congress focused on security over immigration, arguing that the porous border could be used by terrorists who want to sneak into the U.S. undetected. There is no evidence that has happened, however.

Now there's a good argument. Terrorists could easily enter this country from Mexico, but, since we haven't caught any of them trying to do that, we might as well assume that they haven't done it. I take back what I said above about the nonsense not coming from the NewsMax writers.

The Mexican government this week sent a diplomatic note to Washington criticizing the plan for 700 miles of new fencing along the border. Foreign Secretary Luis Ernesto Derbez called it an "offense" and said Wednesday his office was considering taking the issue to the United Nations.

The United Nations?! Mexico is going to complain to the United Nations that the U.S. is building a fence along its border? What sort of herbs has Mr. Derbez been mixing with his pipe tobacco? What jurisdiction does the U.N. have in this matter? Mr. Derbez is like the neighbor who complains to the authorities because you're tired of having him coming into your house and using your bathroom whenever nature calls. Now you've locked your door and he's going to complain to the neighborhood association.

But Ruben Aguilar, the spokesman for President Vicente Fox, said Thursday that Mexico had ruled out that possibility. He added he was "confident" the additional fencing would never become a reality because an immigration accord would eventually replace it.

If an immigration plan will solve the problem of the massive illegal entry into this country why do Mr. Aguilar and Mr. Fox object to the fence? What do they care if the U.S. builds the fence if Mexicans will not be trying to sneak into the country illegally once an immigration accord is in place? Their only reason for caring is that they want Mexicans to be able to enter the U.S. illegally if they cannot get in legally.

President-elect Felipe Calderon Thursday criticized the U.S. plan, but said the case is a bilateral issue that should not be taken to any international organization. "I think it is a deplorable decision that has been made by the United States Congress for the construction of this wall, and it does not solve our common problem, which is emigration," Calderon told a news conference in Santiago, Chile.

This is exactly wrong. The problem is not a "common problem" at all nor is emigration a problem for the Mexicans. Emigration is rather a solution to the problem of poverty in Mexico. The Mexican solution is to export their poverty to the U.S. so that we will pay for it. The problem is ours in toto. The wall will be a problem for Mexico but emigration is not.

Guillermo Alonzo, a migration expert at the Tijuana-based Colegio de La Frontera Norte, said fences instead will force migrants to look for new ways to sneak into the United States and find new routes through deadlier terrain. "When migrants are determined to cross, they find a way to jump the fences," Alonzo said. "Walls don't stop anything." Alonzo cited the construction of a fence between Tijuana and San Diego, known in Mexico as "the tortilla wall." It was completed in the 1990s and forced migrants into the sparsely populated and dangerous Arizona desert.

If the fence will force migrants to cross where crossing is more hazardous and difficult then evidently the fence will indeed stop migrants from crossing where the fence is. The more difficult the crossing the fewer people who will try it and the fewer times they will try it. The solution to the problem of Mexican illegals risking death in the desert is for the Mexican government to stop them from attempting the crossing. This, however, is not a live option for the Fox administration.

While there are walls at various points along the border, the one in Tijuana is the longest stretch, running 14 miles west from the Otay border crossing and plunging into the Pacific Ocean. It has become a symbol of the divisive immigration issue, a blank slate for graffiti, crosses, photos and other remembrances of those who have lost their lives trying to sneak into the United States. Some families, divided by the border, even meet at the fence, talking through the metal wires.

The point being...?

While the wall downgraded Tijuana from the illegal migration mecca it was in the 1990s, hundreds of migrants still come here, Alonzo said. "Now smugglers hide migrants in trunks of cars or get false documents," he said.

Yes, but surely Alonzo doesn't think he's providing an argument against building the fence. He seems to be claiming that since smugglers will hide people in cars if we build the fence we may as well let them just walk across the border. Does that make sense to you? Me neither, but Alonzo sounds brilliant compared to Luis Kendzierski:

Luis Kendzierski, a priest who directs a Tijuana migrant shelter, said building a wall is an unfriendly gesture that will lead to a hike in smugglers' fees and more migrant deaths.

An unfriendly gesture? Is locking your door when you leave your house an unfriendly gesture? Is refusing to allow your neighbor to raid your refrigerator whenever he gets the urge an unfriendly gesture? If Mexicans are dying in the American desert then the Mexican government should stop them from trying to cross the desert. If they're unwilling to do that then why are we obligated to open our doors to them? This is just nutty.

Between 2001 and 2006, almost 2,000 migrants died while trying to sneak into the United States, according to El Colegio de la Frontera Norte. "We are supposed to be neighbors and friends, and instead of building bridges and doors, we're building obstacles," Kendzierski said.

And this is even nuttier. The good Father is saying that anyone at all who wishes to take what's yours, who wishes to move into your home uninvited, who wishes to commit crimes against you and your family, who wishes to strain your resources and degrade your standard of living, should not only not be prevented from doing this but should actually be encouraged and assisted.

If we follow Fr. Kendzierski's logic to its conclusion then we should abolish police forces and eliminate all laws. Whatever you own really belongs to anyone who wants it. Whatever others want that they can't afford you are obligated to pay for. There should be no laws preventing people from taking what's yours, and, indeed, you should help them to take it.

Yes, we have an obligation to help the poor, but we do not have an obligation to help the poor ruin us. Our kindness must be our choice or else it's not kindness. Charity should not be a vehicle for national suicide.

There may be people reading this who agree with Fr. Kendzierski. If so, just answer a simple question. Do you lock your house or your car when you leave them? If so, why do you?

The Conservative Soul

Mark Gavreau Judge reviews Andrew Sullivan's latest book, The Conservative Soul, at Christianity Today. To sum up: Judge doesn't like it. Little wonder. Sullivan calls himself a conservative but he is so only on fiscal issues. He's a libertarian on social matters, and, although he's a Roman Catholic, he's at odds with almost all of the Church's teaching on sex. He's also viscerally contemptuous of the current administration as well as conservative Christians whom he disdainfully refers to as "Christianists".

Judge writes this about the book:

[I]n The Conservative Soul...there is ...tautology, narcissism, and enough moral relativism to light Manhattan for ten years. Sullivan's premise is simple: We just can't know anything for sure. There's no real truth, and anyone who claims otherwise is not really a conservative but rather a fundamentalist. "The essential claim of the fundamentalist is that he knows the truth," Sullivan writes. "The fundamentalist doesn't guess or argue or wonder or question. He doesn't have to. He knows." In opposition stands the true conservative, whose "defining characteristic" is that "he knows he doesn't know."

It should be pointed out that Sullivan has an expansive definition of "fundamentalist". The term as he uses it refers pretty much to anyone who holds to a more conservative theology than he does.

If you're familiar with Sullivan, who is one of the most popular bloggers on the net, you might want to check out the rest of Judge's review at the link.