Work and Days

Health and the General Welfare

Illegal immigration—let the law adjudicate?

Everyone disagrees on the effects of closing the borders. But if we were to—and we may be beginning to—the results would adjudicate the issue. Would Mexico go broke and face chaos, or begin reforms to feed and house its own? Would there be less crime or more here at home in the American southwest? More savings in entitlements or offset by great losses in unclaimed Social Security contributions? Too few laborers and industries shut down, or rising wages for citizen employees? More assimilation and English language unity or less? And so on.

So let us try at last enforcing the law and see what happens and then let facts settle the old arguments.

One final thought here. Why would deported illegal alien and activist Elvira Arellano, who according to the LA Times, “symbolized inhumane treatment of migrants to some,” wish to return to the US?

News reports suggested she does in petitioning the Mexican government for a diplomatic visa. Surely she might prefer either to bring her children to Mexico, or file citizenship papers to become an American. My sense is that she desperately wants to stay in the US and not Mexico and the reasons are more than just economics.

In my own observations, why do Mexicans come to El Norte? Not as said just for the money. Much of it is dignity. Despite the slurs, the US, especially its popular culture, treats aliens far better than does the Mexican government its own.

How? At our own government offices, clerks are respectful regardless of status. The average American doesn’t much care about class or diction. There is a meritocracy here absent in Mexico. But most importantly things work. In Mexico, the conditions of daily power, water, sewer, etc make life hard, and the future bleak. Police here often can’t ask the immigration status of those detained, in Mexico the arrested must pay bribes or face worse. So there is a sort of Orwellian doublespeak here, reminiscent of the Middle East: a desire to be a part of America, and when that proves impossible or difficult, then abstract furor or tantrums at the idea and policy of the United States—suggesting the root cause is desire for an alien culture, heightened by feelings of want, envy, jealousy, rejections, and feelings of inadequacy, all masked by chauvinism and ethnic triumphalism.

September 10th mentality in the post-9/11 world

This weekend I watched ads for new Hollywood movies detailing American evil, not jihadist killing. On C-Span there was a panel in Las Vegas for a libertarian conference; the speakers proudly praised isolationism and the “trumped” up war against jihadism. It was followed by a performance by a Glenn Greenwald at the Cato Institution, assuring us that we are all suffering the loss of our civil liberties (no examples how we are now unfree in our daily lives), due to a fake war against on terror.

I could go on. But I remember instead all the foiled plots since 9/11, the single-individual killings and attacks by radicals in Seattle, San Francisco, North Carolina, LAX airport and so on, and the number of al Qaeda kingpins who were trained or schooled or were living here. Or have we forgotten the careers of José Padilla (aka Abdullah al-Muhajir), Silicon Valley Al Qaeda recruiter Khalid Abu-al-Dahab, “Sheik” Omar Abdel Rahman, Ramzi Yousef, Abdul Rahman Yasin, and loudmouth Adam Gadahn?

Add in Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the Egyptian-American and U.S. army veteran Ali Mohamed, or the “20th-hijacker” Zacarias Moussaoui attended flight school in Oklahoma.

So here we have the ingredients for the looming other side of the present eye of the storm: we are doing too little to stop the jihadists among us while being accused for doing far too much. That’s a prescription for disaster. Perhaps the best example is Guantanamo where, despite Korans, Mediterranean food, and clean conditions, we are told it is a Nazi/Stalinist like Stalig/Gulag. The only mystery will be when we get hit big again—and what will these critics of the present war say?

American health care

I have two health care plans (HMOs), and have had excellent private doctors. The other day I had to go to emergency room while teaching on my vacation here in Michigan in connection with complications arising from past major operations for a torn kidney and ruptured appendix. Went in at 9:30 AM and left at 2:30 PM. Doctor time: 5 minutes, and a quick written prescription. No scan, or much worry over source of pain, fever, bleeding, etc. Two blood samples: since the first taken was either lost or destroyed. On the way home, I noticed they even forgot to take out the IV needle and tube out of my arm. At that point, I thought of going back to Libya for surgery.

I write this not to whine, but confused after resting on a bed for these hours listening to about five staff members a few feet away. Almost all the topics were small talk, complaints about the job, and worries over paperwork. The point is that our health care system seems to be geared toward a bureaucratic defense against lawsuits rather than a genuine care for the patient. Or at least that was my impression—about the same as last time three years ago for treatment of a broken arm in a California emergency room.

Al Qaeda

Teaching a short class at Hillsdale on post 9/11 terrorism, and just did a Fox interview for an upcoming documentary to be aired on the network. In reviewing the leaders, it is amazing how many of the pre- 9/11 kingpins are either arrested, dead, or in hiding. Almost every single one. (Almost as interesting is the enormous number, as said above, who were visitors or students in the United States, or indeed citizens—and how that paradox is not discussed). A good start is to collate all the names in Peter Bergen’s The Osama Bin Laden I Know, and then ask ‘where are they now?’.

As a footnote, watching the articulant and learned Peter Hitchens in an old pre-Bush adminstraton clip from 2000 explaining the phenomenon of anti-Americanism to Brian Lamb–all this before George Bush or the 2000 elections. My memory of the pre-9/11 Britain was one of deep anti-Americanism on issues like Ireland, Israel, and the Middle East in general. Polly Toynbee’s hysterical hatred of the U.S. in the days after 9/11 seemed to me to be expected. An odd complaint from Hitchens in his interview of 7 years ago was worry about growing US isolationism and withdrawal after the Cold War.