March 31, 2006
INAYAT BUNGLAWALA looks at apostasy and Islam.
INAYAT BUNGLAWALA looks at apostasy and Islam.
IN THE MAIL: A pretty interesting-looking book on Teddy Roosevelt. “His era shared many features with that of the twenty-first century, including growing economic interdependence, failed states unable or unwilling to discharge their sovereign responsibilities, and even a loose equivalent to today’s international terrorist networks in the form of an anarchist movement that felled Roosevelt’s predecessor, William McKinley.”
PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Declan McCullagh reports that technology pork is on the rise:
Buried deep in the initial version of a vital federal spending bill last year were some unlikely items slated for government money: a Waterfree Urinal Conservation Initiative, a Virtual Reality Spray Paint Simulator System and a community ski association in Telluride, Colo.
Not all the programs included in earlier drafts of the legislation, which was supposed to pay for Department of Defense operations and the war in Iraq, were included in the final version that President Bush signed Dec. 30. But such earmarks for favored recipients–known colloquially as pork–have become easier than ever for politicians to secure because of the rapid growth in homeland security and military spending, especially if they can find some plausible technological veneer.
Exact figures are difficult to obtain, mostly because spending bills tend to be intentionally obfuscated and specifics are usually absent from legislative text. Government watchdogs, however, say earmarks ostensibly related to technology are clearly on the rise.
“A lot of those projects are really directed at one company rather than a larger role of improving technology,” said Tom Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste.
A database compiled for CNET News.com by CAGW, a taxpayer watchdog group, also indicated a rise in technology pork projects from fiscal 2003 to 2005.
Read the whole thing. He thinks that things may be improving as the result of porkbusting efforts. I hope he’s right. This is clearly evidence that we need more transparency in the process.
A PRAYER STUDY shows no benefit:
In the largest study of its kind, researchers found that having people pray for heart bypass surgery patients had no effect on their recovery. In fact, patients who knew they were being prayed for had a slightly higher rate of complications.
Researchers emphasized that their work can’t address whether God exists or answers prayers made on another’s behalf. The study can only look for an effect from prayers offered as part of the research, they said.
They also said they had no explanation for the higher complication rate in patients who knew they were being prayed for, in comparison to patients who only knew it was possible prayers were being said for them.
Hmm. What’s the prayer equivalent of a placebo? Scott Ott, meanwhile, offers an alternative take.
Capitol Hill police plan to issue an arrest warrant today for Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.).
The warrant is related to the incident Wednesday when McKinney allegedly slapped a Capitol Hill police officer.
Charges could range from assault on a police officer, which is a felony carrying a possible five year prison term, to simple assault, which is a misdeamenor.
She should have just flipped him off, though that might have gotten more press. . . .
President Bush isn’t a fascist, and I can prove it.
We’ve seen what American bookstores and publications and universities do when confronted with real fascists: they knuckle under. You might not be able to find those Danish cartoons anyplace respectable, but you’ll sure find lots of anti-Bush stuff.
Ipso facto, America is doing just fine, thankyouverymuch.
CINDY SHEEHAN gets no respect from Rep. Jack Kingston, who calls her a “nutcase.”
PHOTOS LIKE THESE aren’t likely to stir sympathy for illegal immigrants.
UPDATE: Reader John Borell emails:
Do you know what is disturbing about that web site? At first I assumed it was something like what Little Green Footballs shows — the absurdity of one side’s argument. Not until the end did I realize that the site was done by a proponent of the movement — those photos are a source of pride!
My goodness, this issue cries out for some cooling down. I have no problem with an immigrant having ethnic pride. Mine did (Irish, English, German and Italian. Espeically the Italians). But ethnic pride, watered down through the successive generations is a far cry from a demand to deport all Europeans.
I fear, though, that this issue is going to get uglier. The extremes on both sides are doing our great country a disservice.
Yes. And here’s an interesting question: Why so little immigration protest in South Florida?
POWER LINE NEWS VIDEO makes its debut.
A BREWING FIGHT OVER accreditation in higher education. We need a fight on that subject, but I’m not sure this is the right one.
OKAY, I CRACKED AND BOUGHT ONE TOO. Only in black. Like people say, once you hold one, you want one.
IRINA SLUTSKY OF GEEK ENTERTAINMENT TV interviews Larry Lessig.
A PATENT THICKET may be retarding nanomedicine.
MICKEY KAUS: “Note to Doris Kearns Goodwin–Ben Domenech Died for Your Sins.”
AP SAYS IT DIDN’T PLAGIARIZE but relied on interest groups: “The article written by the AP, ‘Security Clearance Rules May Impede Gays,’ attributed its information to gay rights groups, who happened to be wrong and who received their information from Raw Story.”
UPDATE: Jon Henke emails: “Didn’t the New York Times just do a story ripping bloggers for relying on information provided by Wal-Mart (an interest group)?”
Yes, but it’s okay when Certified Professional JournalistsTM do it.
TEXAS’ AGGRESSIVE ENFORCEMENT of public intoxication laws has generated considerable backlash. Perhaps that’s because the Texas legislature seems to be really, really dumb:
Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, was instrumental in getting the increased staffing, as a member of both the powerful Senate Finance Committee and the Criminal Justice Committee, which oversees the alcohol commission.
Although he agreed hearings are merited, he defended the principle of in-bar citations.
“Even though a public drunk is not planning on driving, that could change in an instant,” he said. “There is certainly potential danger.”
Even though a Senator is not planning on taking bribes from the underage-goat-sex lobby, that could change in an instant. Best we lock them all up now.
INSTAPUNDIT has its own Amazon page.— with reviews and everything. Seems like I ought to have noticed this before, but if I did I don’t remember it.
HELEN AND I ARE INTERVIEWED at the latest Israellycool podcast.
PEGGY NOONAN WRITES that anxiety about immigration is really anxiety about assimilation.
I just wonder when some anti-abortion, or whatever, group will recognize how easy it is to silence contrary opinions in the literary and academic worlds. When you reward behavior you get more of it. NYU is rewarding thuggery. On the other hand, they’re certainly providing the American public with an education — an education in how little all their talk about free speech and academic freedom means. To NYU, at least.
UPDATE: Perhaps NYU should consider poetry.
JOHN TAMMES GOES from de-cruiting to recruiting.
A LETTER TO CHARLES TAYLOR. “The letter would be almost comical and childish if the outcome weren’t so depressing.”
BORDERS AND WALDENBOOKS CHICKEN OUT: If you don’t like ideas, don’t bother arguing with them. Just threaten to kill people. They’ll back down. Or at least their booksellers, universities, and governments will. How long before other groups take this lesson to heart?
Advancing toward fascism, one cowardly institution at a time.
UPDATE: More here: “As a former President of the PEN Center USA (western US branch of PEN), I am calling for that organization to stand up against Borders/Waldenbooks.”
SO I GET A COPY OF THIS BOOK in the mail, and my secretary’s comment is “Somebody trying to tell you something?” Heh. Nothing I haven’t been told before . . . .
CATHY YOUNG looks at equal rights for unwed fathers.
STEVE JOBS IS A GENIUS: The Insta-Wife, who’s not into gadgets the way I am, finally cracked and bought an iPod nano yesterday. She then spent all night happily buying songs off iTunes to fill it. If you can sell gadgets to her, you’re sure to make money.
WHEN IT RAINS, IT POURS: My brother-in-law’s benign tumor turns out not to be benign: It’s a “high grade pleomorphic rhabdomyosarcoma, stage III.” Any oncologists out there with special knowledge of this apparently rather rare cancer?
LICHTBLAU SAYS ONE THING: Transcript says another.
JEFF GOLDSTEIN says that “it seems those who claim to despise Bush are secretly so confident in him and his administration . . . that it is they who regard 911 as a lucky blow.”
YES, BLOGGING HAS BEEN LIGHT for the past couple of days, and will likely remain so for a couple more. Sorry.
JACK GOLDSMITH has responded to my last post, over at Slate’s “Book Club.”
UPDATE: Reader Louis Rossetto emails: “Can we officially label this ‘A Crisis in Higher Education’® yet, a la what Time used to be able to do and get away with? Harvard, Columbia, NYU, Yale . . .”
Meanwhile, NYU alumnus Steven Sullivan emails:
I just wanted to write quickly to note the NYU event calendar for today, which is right on the main NYU page at www.nyu.edu. There’s a “coming out chat” and a “sex toy party” in addition to a seminar in the “Sex Work Matters” series going on today and tomorrow. All are open to the public. Now, I find nothing offensive in all this. But I feel certain there are some who might. Is John Sexton going to make sure no one comes in from off-campus who might not agree with the content of those sponsored events?
Thanks for bringing it to my attention. I’ve already written President Sexton a polite letter. I’m sure I’ll get something brief, chilly and condescending in return.
Sexton’s actually not a bad guy. But we’re seeing a distinct lack of backbone here.
PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Mark Tapscott reports:
It’s gotten little attention in the mainstream media but a potentially landmark measure authored by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-OK, and Sen. Barrack Obama, D-IL, was taken up by the Senate today. Call it the “Show Us the Money” amendment for Uncle Sam.
The measure is Amendment 3175, which is one of a bunch of amendments to the Lobbying Reform Bill now being considered by the Senate. Odds are very good that every Member of the Senate will have the opportunity to vote for or against the Coburn/Obama amendment.
The Coburn/OBama amendment directs the U.S. Office of Management and Budget to establish a publicly available database of the more than $300 billion the federal government spends each year via contracts and grants to more than 30,000 groups, businesses and organizations.
Trent Lott seems to have killed it. “Put another way, Lott just told taxpayers to butt out.”
MY RESPONSE TO TIM WU is now up, over at Slate’s “Book Club.”
HUGH HEWITT’S NEW BOOK seems to be doing quite well.
TIM WU has posted a response to my first post, over at Slate’s “Book Club.”
MORE ON SELF-MADE MEDIA: My TCS Daily column is up.
MY GRANDMOTHER, CHARLSIE FARRIOR TEAL, DIED TODAY, at about noon. It was sudden and quite unexpected; we’d all gone out to dinner Saturday and she seemed to be doing very well, but at 91, well I guess “sudden” isn’t really the word.
Got the call from my mother and headed out there, cancelling my afternoon class. Got there before the paramedics left; there were several nice deputies from the Knox County Sheriff’s Department there (they always do that when someone calls 911 to report a death) and even a Chaplain (they do that, too). They were very helpful and considerate.
Spent the afternoon dealing with funeral home stuff, etc. (the funeral will be in Birmingham, where there’s still some family, though my grandmother outlived all but one of her friends — her friend Ethel Claire, whom she met when she was 19, is still alive but has a broken hip and probably won’t make it).
My mom is spending the night with us tonight. Back later.
Meanwhile, to the right is a picture of my grandmother from last year, and below is one of her and my grandfather from Daytona in 1938. She had a long, and good, life. I’m still sorry that she died, though.
IN THE MAIL: Orrin Judd’s new book, Redefining Sovereignty. Rather timely, I’d say.
IMPOVERISHED ACADEMIC DR. RUSTY SHACKLEFORD will blog for food.
JIM BENNETT SAYS that he sees an emerging consensus on immigration: “Assimilation is going with the grain of American culture and history, and must be the focal-point of any attempt to address the problem. Securing the borders is a close second. Whatever the position of the major parties, I think the popular demand for reform is so strong that some poltician will emerge to ride that horse.”
JESSE WALKER WRITES on why unlicensed broadcasting shouldn’t be a crime.
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER CHARGES FRANCIS FUKUYAMA WITH “FABRICATION:”
A convenient fabrication — it gives him a foil and the story drama — but a foolish one because it can be checked.
But that’s just the beginning of a rather serious takedown. Not that his history of being wrong about, well, pretty much everything has hurt Fukuyama’s career so far.
UPDATE: Ron Butler emails: “Francis Fukuyama, the Paul Ehrlich of geopolitics?”
ANOTHER UPDATE: Byron Matthews emails: “His peculiar talent is to sense the intellectual tide and quickly ride it, which makes him the David Gergen of geopolitics.”
Of course, Zeyad also illustrates, as he has in the past, that he’s better at reporting not just the good, but also the bad news than most of the professional reporters in Iraq.
UPDATE: A reader emails: “Zeyad is Sunni.”
True, and that’s got to color his views, but I’ve always found him to be an honest reporter and it’s not as if he’s been spouting the Ba’athist/Sunni line.
PRINCE CHARLES, ISLAMIC DISSIDENT. And yet he’s a piker compared to Camilla.
GRAND ROUNDS is up!
MODERATE MUSLIMS in Madison.
THE F.E.C. AND BLOGS — this seems like good news:
The Federal Election Commission decided Monday that the nation’s new campaign finance law will not apply to most political activity on the internet.
In a 6-0 vote, the commission decided to regulate only paid political ads placed on another person’s website.
The decision means that bloggers and online publications will not be covered by provisions of the new election law. Internet bloggers and individuals will therefore be able to use the internet to attack or support federal candidates without running afoul of campaign spending and contribution limits.
AN ARMY OF TRANSLATORS: Here’s a news story on the Saddam document release.
HEH. If this report is true, it serves ’em right: “Hussain Andaryas said the publicity surrounding the Abdul Rahman case had resulted in a surge of interest in Christianity among Afghans.”
IS THE AP PLAGIARIZING BLOGS? A “we do not credit blogs” policy doesn’t sound like much of a defense. (Via Majikthise and L’Ombre de l’Olivier). Whether or not it’s plagiarism, exactly, it’s certainly tacky.
UPDATE: Jim Lindgren says the AP does credit blogs, regardless of its stated policy: “I find this story triply strange.”
ANOTHER UPDATE: Roger Simon says it’s all part of the class struggle. Onward, comrades!
MOUSSAOUI says he had advance knowledge of the 9/11 attacks. This should get him the death penalty, but it also underscores the damage done by the inept investigation after his arrest. As I noted some time ago: “FBI investigators misunderstood the law, and were thus too slow to search Moussaoui even though the evidence in their possession was more than sufficient. The bureaucratic resistance to searching Moussaoui was so great that field agents in Minnesota wondered — before Sept. 11 — if Usama bin Laden had a mole in Bureau headquarters.”
MUCH MORE ON IMMIGRATION: Over at GlennReynolds.com.
FIGHTING FOR Internet freedom in Cuba.
HUGH HEWITT HAS A NEW BOOK OUT: It’s called Painting the Map Red: The Fight to Create a Permanent Republican Majority.
I wish him well with the book, but I’m not that interested in the idea of a permanent Republican majority. I’m pretty disappointed in the Republicans now, and I’d just as soon see them under whatever discipline that the notion of a not at all permanent majority provides. That doesn’t seem to be enough. . . .
HEART-FRIENDLY BACON: “Geneticists have mixed DNA from the roundworm C. elegans and pigs to produce swine with significant amounts of omega-3 fatty acids — the kind believed to stave off heart disease.” Finish your bacon, dear — it’s good for your heart!
UH OH: “The Supreme Court refused Monday to block a defamation lawsuit against The New York Times over columns that linked a former Army scientist to the 2001 anthrax killings.”
PEOPLE COMPLAIN that I usually blog about expensive cameras. Well, here’s a very cheap camera, dock, and printer bundle — 4MP, 5x optical zoom, total price just over 200 bucks. My daughter has the EasyShare camera, and it’s good, and simple to use. I don’t know about the printer.
I’ve been pretty lame about blogging on cameras, electronics, etc., because I usually do so only when I buy something, and I’ve been too busy to spend time with new gadgets lately. But here’s an earlier post, and here’s the Digital Camera Carnival that I hosted, as well as an earlier post on printers.
Some reviewers have called Reynolds’ writing style “conversational,” and it is. This 268-page book, excluding notes and index, is a quick and engaging read. Reynolds’ prose style is just as absorbing as the ideas themselves. For example, he analogizes his beer-brewing hobby with blogging. As mass-produced beer, which has to appeal to the broadest market possible, tends to be “thin and flavorless,” mass-produced news and opinion journalism has become thin and flavorless.
Read the whole thing! But then, you knew I’d say that . . . .
AVIAN FLU UPDATE: A worrisome report:
The spread of avian influenza to at least 29 new countries in the last seven weeks — one of the biggest outbreaks of the virus since it emerged nine years ago — is prompting a sobering reassessment of the strategy that has guided efforts to contain the disease. . . .
The speed of its migration, and the vast area it has infected, has forced scientists to concede there is little that can be done to stop its spread across the globe.
“We expected it to move, but not any of us thought it would move quite like this,” said Dr. David Nabarro, the United Nations’ coordinator on bird flu efforts.
Even if bird flu never mutates into a human-transmissible form, this should be a wakeup call about our preparedness for pandemics generally. The good news is that people seem to be noticing. One datum: Our podcast interview with Bill Frist on the subject is our most popular so far, with over 330,000 downloads. Interestingly, a much higher percentage of them are the lo-fi dialup variety than for our other episodes; I’m not sure what that means, but I’m guessing that there’s more international interest in the topic.
Many people are eager to fight the Battle of the Borders. The idea is to prevent illegal immigration. In addition, what I might call the “new xenophobia” is eager to fight the Battle over Outsourcing and the Battle over Foreign Ownership. In my view, all of these battles represent misplaced priorities.
I believe that illegal immigrants bring relatively little economic benefit and cause relatively little economic harm. I believe that there are substitutes readily available for the work done by illegal immigrants. Legal residents could do some of the work. Other labor could be replaced by capital or by alternative production techniques. By the same token, because there are many substitutes available for unskilled labor, the salvation of American workers does not lie in immigration restrictions.
I’m not sure how much of the political resonance comes directly from economics, though. I think there’s a political aspect, too, having to do with the effort of people who aren’t citizens, and aren’t here legally, to wield political power within the United States. I think this has a particularly unfortunate resonance in light of recent events in Europe. It’s not The Camp of the Saints, but I think it has overtones of that sort.
Meanwhile, the obvious tendency of this weekend’s marches to provoke a backlash makes me wonder why they’re happening. One possibility is that the organizers are dumb, and don’t think there will be a backlash. The other possibility is that the organizers aren’t dumb, and figure that they’ll benefit from a backlash if it occurs. Either they win (which means they win) or they lose, and get a prop. 187 type response, leaving both illegal and legal Latino immigrants polarized and looking to them for leadership (which means they win). Given the GOP’s inroads into the Latino vote, this may be, in part, an effort to sabotage any Latino realignment toward the GOP.
Mickey Kaus thinks that this will wind up hurting the Democrats more than the Republicans. I’m not so sure — but I am pretty sure that the march organizers don’t think so.
UPDATE: Of course, the march organizers may not care as much about how this issue affects the Democrats vs. the Republicans as they care about how this impacts their own political positions. The creation of a visible Angry Latino bloc may hurt the Democrats, but still help those seen as the leaders of the bloc.
Meanwhile, Arnold Kling responds to my comments on his piece: “I can see his point. I would rather see immigrants assimilate first and become a political force later, rather than the other way around.” That seems to work better. As Jim Bennett likes to say: Democracy, Multiculturalism, Open Immigration — pick any two.
HENRY PORTER: “Blair will need to rush through his ID cards bill before people have time to wake up to how terrifying it is.”
JOHN HAWKINS interviews Claire Berlinski about her new book, Menace in Europe. “There is something going on in Europe, a flourishing of sects, all of which have something in common and that is an absolute, virtually pathological, refusal to profit from experience. . . . If young Germans are now seen muttering darkly about how they deplore American militarism-a sentiment, I am persuaded, that represents nothing more than their own stifled longing to switch on the tank’s ignition and thrill once again to the low deep rumble of its engine-it is certainly nothing new; Germans have complained for a very long time of these things.”
UPDATE: If you missed it, our podcast interview of Berlinski is here.
AIRBRUSHING at the Los Angeles Times.
J.D. JOHANNES ON BODY ARMOR — I told you so: “When I chased a Marine infantry platoon around Al Anbar last Summer I was armed only with a Canon XL-2 camera and only wore a kevlar vest similar to what a police officer would wear. By wearing/carrying 50 pounds less I was able to out run and climb the 21-year-old grunts.”
His earlier post on the subject is here.
UPDATE: J.D. would move even faster if he used a Canon GL2, which is smaller than the XL2 by far but has the same imaging. No interchangeable lenses, but I suspect that’s a minor drawback when covering combat.
The Insta-Wife shot most of her documentary with a Canon XL, but on one interview where she had to fly solo she took the GL2 and it was the best video — and audio — of the whole thing.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Greg Johnson says I’m wrong about the GL2:
The image system on the XL2 isn’t identical to the GL2. The XL2 also has 24p option (the GL2 doesn’t), where frames are “pulled down” within the camera itself to simulate the film “look.” This is the big new development in DV prosumer technology in the past two years, the Panasonic DVX100 series has it as well. One step closer to under $5000 cameras looking no different from film (to a layman) on the DVD player.
Hadn’t noticed that, but then that’s not an option that I’m interested in.
And be sure to read this underlying story on the armor subject:
Extra body armor — the lack of which caused a political storm in the United States — has flooded in to Iraq, but many Marines here promptly stuck it in lockers or under bunks. Too heavy and cumbersome, many say.
Indeed. Of course, on the general subject of whether more armor is always better I can say I told you so too!
CORY DOCTOROW: “A video made by an elections observer in Belarus shows evidence of electoral fraud. . . . Damn I’m glad my grandfather left Belarus.”
JAY LENO says that Owner’s Manuals have changed for the worse. I think he’s right.
TROUBLE FOR MICROSOFT? Blogging is involved.
“MARRIAGE IS FOR WHITE PEOPLE.”
Deaths from revenge killings now exceed those from terrorist or anti-government activity. Al Qaeda is beaten, and running for cover. The Sunni Arab groups that financed thousands of attacks against the government and coalition groups, are now battling each other, al Qaeda, and Shia death squads. It’s not civil war, for there are no battles or grand strategies at play. It’s not ethnic cleansing, yet, although many Sunni Arabs are, and have, fled the country. What’s happening here is payback. Outsiders tend to forget that, for over three decades, a brutal Sunni Arab dictatorship killed hundreds of thousands of Kurds and Shia Arabs. The surviving victims, and the families of those who did not survive, want revenge. They want payback. And even those Kurds Shia Arabs who don’t personally want revenge, are inclined to tolerate some payback. Since the Sunni Arabs comprise only about 20 percent of the population, and no longer control the police or military, they are in a vulnerable position.
After Saddam’s government was ousted three years ago, the Sunni Arabs still had lots of cash, weapons, and terrorist skills. Running a police state is basically all about terrorizing people into accepting your rule. For the last three years, the Sunni Arabs thought they could terrorize their way back into power. Didn’t work.
Yes, they chose unwisely.
AUTOBLOG reports that the first street-legal hydrogen powered Mazda RX-8s have been delivered in Japan. I’d like to test drive one when they get to America.
MORE CRUSHING OF DISSENT IN BELARUS: Gateway Pundit has pictures.
SO NOW AMAZON seems to think that I’m interested in knitting. At least, recommendations for knitting books, knitting supplies, etc., keep showing up.
I don’t knit, I’ve never bought any knitting supplies or knitting books, and I have no idea where this is coming from. I’ve actually been buying less stuff than usual from Amazon, and the only non-book purchase I’ve made lately was not very knitting-related. Maybe they’re pushing knitting on everyone, like they did with the defibrillator? Hard to believe. I mean, I know all the cool kids are doing it, but still . . .
UPDATE: Apparently all the cool kids are doing it. Who knew?
ED MORRISSEY wants to censure Russ Feingold.
RUSSIA AND IRAQ: Gateway Pundit has an excellent roundup. It’s a must-read.
MORE AGGREGATION: An Army of Davids gets a good review in the Sun-Times: ” I will make a prediction — in December, when lists of the most important books of the year are drawn up, this one will be near the top.”
I could live with that. Plus, Nick Gillespie reviews it in the New York Post: It’s “breezy and eminently readable,” and Gillespie says “there’s no question that he is providing an essential guide to the new world we live in.”
AMBIENT REALMS: Long night last night, as I had to go get the Insta-mother-in-law from the hospital around midnight; she had gotten a bad case of the stomach bug that’s going around and had to go get rehydrated. (She emerged a new woman, walking under her own power and looking 20 years younger than just a few hours earlier — let’s hear it for Ringer’s Solution!)
While I was waiting in the hallway, something you always do a lot of at hospitals, there were three different monitor devices of some sort, beeping at irregular intervals. Their different pitches formed a perfect minor triad, and I was more or less right in the middle. I wish I’d had a digital stereo recorder: Instead of Todd Steed and John Baker’s Music for Bus Stations, I could do Music for Emergency Rooms. Or maybe not.
I’VE GENERALLY FAVORED OPEN IMMIGRATION, but I find myself feeling less and less that way in the face of mass rallies by illegal immigrants like this one.
Illegal immigrants as individuals just trying to make a better life are sympathetic. Illegal immigrants as a mass movement making demands on the polity are considerably less so.
I’m not the only one to get this impression, as Mickey Kaus’s report on the rallies in Los Angeles indicates. I think that these marches just made passage of strict immigration laws much more likely.
UPDATE: Reader Harmon Dow emails:
I saw the rally in Chicago about a week ago. Got caught up in it in the Loop at lunch.
What struck me was that it was a very pro-America rally. Here & there, a Mexican flag, quite a few anti-Sensenbrenner signs, but mainly American flags & signs, carried by a lot of young & middle-aged men & women. There were a number of kids, & I had the feeling that many of the marchers were family groups.
Right now, these people are positive about our country, and are interested in being Americans. I hope we have the sense to go with that, rather than subvert it, because at some point, I fear that they might decide that if they can’t be Americans, they’ll just have to be Mexicans. But not in Mexico.
Kaus’s take on the L.A. march is a bit different (then again, so is L.A.), but this is a good point.
ANOTHER UPDATE: A more positive take on the Los Angeles march here, from A.M. Mora y Leon. On the other hand, reader Jake Jacobsen emails:
With all due respect to Mr. Dow I attended the rally and covered it for my blog. I found the proportions of Mexican to American flags ran about ten to one and while yes, it was a primarily family affair I had zero sense that “these people are positive about our country, and are interested in being Americans.”
Didn’t see it at all.
His blog posts are here and here. And Virginia Postrel observes: “Workers, especially those who want to settle and become citizens (or have their children become citizens), are not threats. They’re contributors to American society.”
MORE STILL: Bill Quick thinks that Virginia is overly optimistic.
PERRY DEHAVILLAND has a report, with numerous photos, on today’s free speech rally in Trafalgar Square. By “free speech rally,” of course, I mean “rally to oppose efforts at Islamist censorship.”
Perry concludes: “On two occasions, The Plod tried to prevent certain signs being shown (one featured the Mohammed Cartoons on a placard from the Iranian Communist Party and another showed a mask of Tony Blair over a Nazi symbol). These incidents at a ‘pro-freedom of expression’ rally, and the presence of the police taking pictures of the crowd, were a useful reminder of the deadening hand of the state and just how precarious . . . civil liberties in Britain are.”
MORE ON PROBLEMS IN FRANCE, from Claire Berlinski in The Washington Post.
The other opposition candidate, Alexander Kozulin, marched a few hundred people to a detention center where the October Square demonstrators had been taken to. They faced a SWAT team and the army. Just hours after the peaceful rally, they were all beaten.
The head of the SWAT team beat Kozulin and arrested him. They fired smoke grenades, noise-makers, and tear gas into the crowd. They exploded directly above people. One by one they were stripped away and beaten in the face, back, and legs with batons until they bled. The women, instead, were punched in the face. Then they were taken away in paddywagons to who knows where. At least one person is confirmed dead with a skull injury. Even sicker is that Belarus state television showed up so that they could film a beaten man and say that he was stomped on by his fellow protestors. The protestors are hardly the animals here. All they could do was throw snowballs back at them.
Milinkevich’s press secretary Pavel Mazhejka was briefly detained, and for awhile Milinkevich himself was nowhere to be found. But he is alright and has said that the authorities are fully responsible for the slaughter of the protestors and they will be held to account. He has sworn that Lukashenko will not finish this five year term. It has become the top news on CNN.