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May 17, 2006

Why I’m alarmed by proposals to militarize our borders
Posted by Teresa at 04:11 PM *

George said:

…in coordination with governors, up to 6,000 [national] guard members will be deployed to our southern border. The Border Patrol will remain in the lead. The guard will assist the Border Patrol by operating surveillance systems, analyzing intelligence, installing fences and vehicle barriers, building patrol roads, and providing training.

“Securing our borders” is a worthless fraud. It conflates foreign terrorists with illegal immigrants who are only here for economic reasons. It implies that there’s something newly insecure about our borders, which is absolutely untrue. And I’m deeply, deeply suspicious about the sudden upwelling of loony-right hysteria about how the usual individuals and small groups coming over the border constitutes an invasion and a threat to our national sovreignty.

And why are people suddenly professing to be worried about what MEChA says? They never were before; and MEChA’s been around, chanting SI SE PUEDE and making Large Statements about Aztlan, since grandma was a sprat. And the use of Reconquista? It was more than half a joke. How come all of a sudden nobody knows that?

“Authentic grassroots sentiment” is not the phrase that crosses my mind when I see Michelle Malkin weighing in on an issue.

Our border with Mexico is nearly two thousand miles long, and it runs through a lot of rough, empty country. What are we going to do, build the Great Wall of Immigration? Even if we were that insanely stupid, it wouldn’t stop illegal immigration. The U.S.-Mexican border is the most-crossed international border in the world. Vast numbers of Mexicans cross it legally each day. We’d do weird and awful things to the border economy if we tried to stop them. This just doesn’t make sense.

Here’s what worries me: go back to that description of what George is going to have the National Guard do. I don’t like it at all. Infrastructure that will keep immigrants from coming in over the borders will keep us from going out over them. I find I don’t want to see that power in the hands of George Bush and his successors and cronies.

The Bush Administration has no use for democracy. They don’t count votes. They use the national intelligence apparatus to conduct domestic spying operations on U.S. citizens. They’re spying on journalists, not for national security but to intimidate and suppress criticism. They arrest people and hold them indefinitely without charging them, and they deny them access to counsel. They operate secret prisons. They set up isolated “free speech zones” for protesters, hoping we’ll forget that this entire country used to be a free speech zone. They don’t consider themselves accountable to us; for example, they took us into war by blatantly lying to us about the danger posed by the weapons of mass destruction Iraq turned out not to have.

As I said in 2000, when out-of-state Republican campaign workers attacked and suppressed a Florida vote recount operation, these people aim to never go out of power. Too much of what they do is indefensible under basic U.S. law. They’d never misbehave so blatantly if they thought there was any chance that their opponents might come into power.

That alone is enough to tell you they’re not on the side of freedom and democracy. In a democratic system of government, no elected individual or political party can ever be certain that they won’t be turfed out in the next election. It’s an inherent property of democracy. A political organization that’s staked everything on the assumption that they’ll never fall out of power or be called to account for their misdeeds is one that doesn’t support democratic systems of government, howevermuch lip service they pay to our free and independent political institutions.

I don’t want them to be able to close the border. It’s too easy to scare people into silence when they know they can’t get out.

I still resent the way this administration makes me feel like a nutbar conspiracy theorist. But dammit, that’s how I feel.

Comments on Why I'm alarmed by proposals to militarize our borders:
#1 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2006, 05:58 PM:

For years I've used the phrase 'circuses instead of bread' to describe policies that promise the moon and deliver next to nothing. This is one such. Not only does it conflate people trying to make a living in the lucrative strawberry-picking and drywall trades with Osama bin Ladin, it doesn't actually do anything useful.

I just read an article in the paper (the Atlanta Urinal-Constipation) saying, in effect, that the high-tech fix that the president is talking about has the Border Patrol out chasing cows with great frequency, and even if they can see people crossing the border they may not be able to get the Patrol there in time. Not to mention the Predator that crashed for no known reason...

What this does, of course, is satisfy some of the demands of the 'Keep America (nearly) White' loony fringe and the less loony 'Unsecured borders are a threat' crowd, while, in effect, doing little to secure the border but a lot to put dents in the Constitution and in the long-standing tradition of keeping the military out of law enforcement.

In part, this is simple political calculation -- W wants to give the Reps a boost in November -- in part it is a sign of the total desperation of the would-be imperial court in Washington, as they try to spread the prestige and respect in which the military is held over their failed policies.

#2 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2006, 06:00 PM:

I wish I had something really soothing and hopeful to say here, but I don't. I'm sorry.

#3 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2006, 06:18 PM:

Didn't they end up with an international incident involving the Marines shooting a young man on the Mexican side of the border when they tried this last time? (Hint: Not in 1916, with General Pershing.)

Also, I can't tell where the Evil Plotting ends and the hard-core stupid begins with these people. Please advise, when any of you get some clarification about that.

Plus, where is the National Guard going to get the equipment, especially the vehicles, to do this with? Or will they just commandeer what they need from local civilians? Where will they stay? Or will they be quartered on the locals? What about food and water? Since, you know, they'll need these things? Do they count on Halliburton to provide these? Poor Guard, if that's the case.

More Jiminy Cricket planning, I guess. All together, let's sing: "When you wish upon a star..."

#4 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2006, 06:19 PM:

The fact the Shrub didn't fund the increase in Border Patrol agents that he promised was mostly not mentioned in coverage of the non-speech. (Promised: increase of 2000; delivered: 210. Heckuva job, Shrub.) Also mostly not mentioned: Mexico jails/deports the illegals it catches coming over its southern border. (They're trying to get here from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, all of them poorer than Mexico.) It doesn't work there either.

#5 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2006, 06:50 PM:

I find it interesting that the most heat that Bush is getting over this is from the right, for Not Going Far Enough. (Electric fences, pits full of quicklime, LA cleansed of taqerias and carnicerias and other places with confusing signs, payments to Real Americans to have babies.)

#6 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2006, 07:19 PM:

Stefan, you might want to take a look at this diatribe.

#7 ::: Edward Oleander ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2006, 07:20 PM:

The fact the Shrub didn't fund the increase in Border Patrol agents that he promised was mostly not mentioned in coverage of the non-speech. (Promised: increase of 2000; delivered: 210. Heckuva job, Shrub.)

Amen. This is the result when your brain cells are made primarily of cellulose. I'm sure it makes some sort of sense in that weird non-Euclidian universe the Republicans inhabit: Instead of paying permanent Border Patrol Agents who get living wages and good government benefits (adding yet another blob to the pulsating, amorphous mass of the Federal Deficit), it is perfectly logical to Pres. BubbleBoy to tear 6000 families apart on a rotating semi-permanent basis. After all, when the majority of these families have to go on government assistance because of their loss of incomes, it will be the responsibility of the individual states, not the Feds (and their deficit), which frees up more non-existent money for tax cuts for the wealthy. Thus the Shrub continues to provide shade for those who would otherwise be burning in the desolate desert of their own morality.

Normally, I would never use Round-Up, DDT or Agent Orange to eliminate unwanted plant life from the nation's back yard. However...

#8 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2006, 07:22 PM:

Normally, I would never use Round-Up, DDT or Agent Orange to eliminate unwanted plant life from the nation's back yard. However...

Y'know, if my name were Oleander, I'd want to think that through a time or two. ;)

#9 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2006, 07:47 PM:

From the diatribe Fragano linked to (I may need to wash my eyeballs and monitor from the inside out):

I know that there are plenty of white American traitors and quislings in the U.S. Senate today, and their perfidy in refusing to crack down on non-white immigration will be the reason why this sort of future [a military coup d'état led by a white officer corps] will take place.

Father Coughlin lives on.

#10 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2006, 07:59 PM:

Teresa, I thought exactly the same thing about not being able to get out. I had to go make sure that the National Guard was not also being posted at the Canadian border. I found that there were no current plans, but that many people were urging that it be done (and "American officials remain open" to the idea).

I still worry.

I, too, hate how I'm being turned into a nutbar conspiracy theorist. But this administration makes me nervous.

#11 ::: Samantha Joy ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2006, 08:14 PM:

I have a link here that you may be interested in, if you haven't seen it already. It relates to the present conversation if only because we're trying to decipher what the man means, right?

'Bush Speak' A Sophisticated 'Deception'

#12 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2006, 08:30 PM:

Twenty years ago, disgraceful stuff like that Fragano linked to would be printed on inexpertly mimeographed pages illustrated with grotesque caricatures and mailed to a blissfully small clique of poorly groomed creeps.

Now we get to see it in the cool and authoritative form of a web page.

Yeah, progress.

#13 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2006, 08:37 PM:

Stefan and Linkmeister: The problem is that there's worse out there. I found that blog by googling "2050 minority" on the blog search. The far right has been obsessing over the projection that after 2050 non-Hispanic whites will no longer be the majority in the US. Some of the nuttier have seen it as a kind of racial armaggeddon.

A lot of the anti-Hispanic, er, illegal immigrant, hysteria is driven by the fear that in two generations the US will cease to be a white-majority country. Some of it, though, is simple short-term political calculation (that's the case in Georgia, where the Republicans have passed stringent anti-illegal-immigrant legislation, secure in the knowledge that Hispanics are only 5 percent of the state population; what happens in 10 years, of course, isn't important).

#14 ::: loonunit ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2006, 09:08 PM:

Frankly, I'm down with the "this administration couldn't figure out how to use the National Guard to close a window, never mind a border" sentiment. I really don't think you need to worry too much, TNH.

That said:

I don't disagree with your general statement about Bush not liking "actual democracy". And I can't fault you for worrying about being locked inside of an increasingly un-democratic world power. And I can certainly understand why you would roll your eyes at the prospect of trying to effectively close a 3000-mile border.

But I live in Tucson. Five years ago I could go hiking in the Atascosa Mountains near Nogales, or in Organ Pipe National Park, or on the Huachuca Crest Trail (which, incidentally, is the first segment of the newly-completed Arizona Trail.) Bumping into immigrants was pretty rare then; at most, people told us, they might ask you for water or a Powerbar.

Now? I don't hike the border ranges anymore. These days the Huachuca Crest Trail is completely covered in trash: plastic bags, shoes, shirts, water bottle, toothbrushes, defecation. Groups of several dozen immigrants taking a break under the trees try to duck out of sight. People with machine guns occasionally pop out of the bushes and threaten hikers: "If you ever come back here, we'll shoot you." That's what the narcos/coyotes told some friends of mine -- while they were hiking on the Ft. Huachuca military base. But you don't argue semantics with machine guns.

The drug smugglers have replaced the old Mom-and-Pop coyote businesses, and occasionally they get into shootouts on the highway between Tucson and Phoenix, trying to steal groups of pollos -- they call the immigrants chickens -- from one another.

A few years ago a park ranger was shot in Organ Pipe. Which is notable only because he was an American -- 200+ non-citizens died in the desert last summer. (These two lists are incomplete, but they're as good as it gets if you're searching for a particular name.) The ecological impact to Western Arizona's fragile landscape is immense, but not many people venture out there on foot to see it anymore. Too much danger, too much litter, too many bones.

While bushwhacking, we're been threatened several times by increasingly-unfriendly ranchers in Cochise county. People in my hiking club have actually been shot at by ranchers while hiking in the National Forest near the New Mexico border. Well, I suppose a half-dozen bushwhackers probably do look a lot like a small group of migrants, or smugglers... but my perspective is that of a recreational visitor who simply wants safe access to my old stomping ground -- I can't imagine what it's like to actually be a rancher, sleeping every night with a gun beside my bed. I can't imagine waking up every morning to piles of human defecation next to my house, cut fences, missing cattle, and guys with machine guns threatening me on my own land.

It's a war zone here, and it wasn't five years ago. Frankly, at this point closing the border would be a dream come true; Orwellian/Atwoodsian dystopic nightmares seem pretty far-fetched compared to the dirty reality of living in the middle of a drug smuggling warzone.

Then again, you have to wonder what the Tohono O'odham think of all of this? It's their border, too, and we all know what the Bush administration thinks of "sovereign nations."

#15 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2006, 09:20 PM:

Fragano - The CCC sounds more like the KKK to me. What the heck planet is that guy on to not even realize that minorities are hugely over-represented in the military and therfore his putative saviors are the least likely to push his racial agenda? His whole premise is backwards and I want to go wash my eyeballs after reading that craziness.

I used to think that the racist nutjobs had been pushed to the fringe of society, but after this Media Matters piece on O'Reilly, I'm not so sure.

#16 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2006, 09:22 PM:

Increasing the difficulty of crossing the border puts border crossing more and more into the hands of a worse (more brutal) class of people.

I'm not 100% certain that setting up our own Berlin Wall is going to stop men with machineguns from demanding higher prices from would-be illegals.

Otherwise: 75% of the National Guard members have full-time jobs. Where and when the National Guard will be trained for their new mission hasn't been revealed (and we've seen what happens when you put untrained people in stressful situations dealing with civilians).

The most important, question, though hasn't been asked that I've seen: What is Bush trying to distract us from this time?

#17 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2006, 09:36 PM:

Over at Kevin Drum's place Paul Glastris suggests a reason for the sudden emergence of immigration as a hot topic in DC: an influx of immigrants to places they heretofore hadn't gone, like the rural South. He points to an article published in the Monthly a while back.

#18 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2006, 09:36 PM:

Reading loonunit's post, I come from a long line of hikers and sometime desert rats, and I feel for him/her. I'm pretty sure the reason why immigration in that area have gotten dramatically worse in the last five years is that fences were built and patrols stepped up elsewhere, at what used to be the safe easy crossings. That also has to be a factor in driving the mom & pop coyotes out of the business. Crossings now require longer journeys that are more difficult and dangerous, and require more sophisticated, organized, and ruthless operators.

Now, will Bush's proposal make this situation better or worse? Since it doesn't even pretend to fence the entire border, the best case is that it will push the immigrants off to other crossings. The new routes are likely to be even further away from civilization, in even more difficult terrain. In other words, prime hiking wilderness.

#19 ::: Carl Dershem ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2006, 09:37 PM:

This whole thing is Sturm und Drang, and little else.

The more blatantly racist implications are clearly there to bolster the segment of the GOP base that relies on the CCC, KKK and similar groups for door-to-door activism. The links in this thread show a sample of their 'thinking.'

But the more dangerous implications, as always, are the ones hidden under the rhetoric - they are the economic and social implications.

Consider the fact that the military and the INS have radically different missions and training. Consider the multi-million dollar contract with Halliburton for concentration camps. Consider the subtle encouragement given radical racist groups by the administration and the media in general.

But the wall (and the enormous amounts spent on it) is guaranteed to be ineffective, making this whole thing both a boondoggle and a major distraction from real problems.

#20 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2006, 09:39 PM:

Another reason for getting hysterical about illegal immigration is that all of the 9/11 terrorists were in the US on legal visas, none of them were latinos, and none of them came over the border from Mexico.

#21 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2006, 09:39 PM:

Otherwise: 75% of the National Guard members have full-time jobs.

Had full time jobs. Now, they may as well be in the Army.

#22 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2006, 10:05 PM:

Larry Brennan: I've studied these organisations, and I'm tempted to do more work on them. They're moving closer and closer to the mainstream.

Eight years ago, I did a presentation on 'The Racist Right on the Internet' at the Midwest Political Science Association, and the consensus of the discussants was that my fears were overblown (I'd argued that the Internet puts all ideas on a footing of equality, that it was a gigantic forum of free political speech with far-right nutjobs having the same authority as serious scholars, and this had a number of implications not all of them positive). Since then, it's got worse as a lot of far-right morons have found space on the net, and people like O'Reilly (not to mention Hannity, Boortz, Limbaugh, Malkin, and Hamblin) provide a more respectable version of the same sewage.

Of course, the answer to speech is more speech, but it isn't easy when the other guys are shouting pre-rational, emotional bulls***t.

If you want to see how bad it can be, google "fourteen words" or "14 words" or even "14-88". There is some serious nastiness out there. And it is being fed by the mainstream right as the Shrubbery becomes more and more desperate.

#23 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2006, 10:20 PM:

The point of all this is *not* to stop illegal immigration. There are too many people who love migrant workers -- you can work the hell out of them, pay them damn near nothing, and if they even think the word "Union" too hard, a quick call to INS, and that troublemaker is gone. Civil rights? Son, you have the right to be picked up by La Migra.

Ending this problem is easy -- enforce work laws *at the employer.* Don't punish the illegals -- hell, offer them $1000 and a green card for turning in the employer. Suddenly, illegals can't get work, and they'll stop coming, because that's the point -- they come here to work, because we hire them.

Cheap, exploitable labor is exactly what BushCo's core supporters want. So, a fence that appeases those on the border is exactly ideal. It looks like it might help, it'll send millions of dollars to certain contractors who've only made billions so far, and it won't stop the cheap labor they want. Bush's speech is music to the ears of BushCo -- and the fact that it pissed off just about everyone else? Who cares?

#24 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2006, 10:22 PM:

Well, just today, the Senate overwhelmingly voted to put in a "370-mile, three-layer fence".

As has been noted here, our border with Mexico is over 1900 miles long. A partial fence does not meet the definition of an actual fence, no matter how many "layers" it has. It's just a detour. So, the purpose of this so-called "fence" does not include, you know, actually stopping illegals.

(Why not a "1-mile long, 370-layer" fence?
It would be equally as effective in stopping traffic across our border.)

So, I wonder what the real point of this boondoggle is. Who gets the contract?
Hmm, construction work in the desert sun....I wonder
how many illegals Halliburton will hire for the job.

#25 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2006, 10:25 PM:

"I wonder how many illegals Halliburton will hire for the job."

Elsewhere I've seen the equally snarky suggestion that we just recruit illegal immigrants into the Border Patrol to monitor the area. What the heck, they know the region better than some NG kid from Wisconsin, right?

#26 ::: Chris Clarke ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2006, 10:48 PM:

Reading loonunit's post, I come from a long line of hikers and sometime desert rats, and I feel for him/her. I'm pretty sure the reason why immigration in that area have gotten dramatically worse in the last five years is that fences were built and patrols stepped up elsewhere, at what used to be the safe easy crossings

This is exactly right. The ramping up of traffic through the Cabeza Prieta and other Arizona borderlands followed on the heels of the sealing of the border near the city of San Diego, and then in the rest of San Diego County.

I was at Quitobaquito Oasis in the early 1990s: it's a large perennial pond pretty much right on the border at the west end of Organ Pipe National Monument. The border fence - three strands of barbed wire - was within a hundred feet of the water. Mexico Route 2 was a sixteenth of a mile past the fence. The top two strands of barbed wire was cut in one section under a tree, with a sheet of cardboard over the lower strand, so the oasis was probably used as an immigrant route.

That sheet of cardboard was all the trash we saw.

And now that the border is sealed along the obvious entry point, namely Interstate Five, that's all changed — though the post-NAFTA dumping in Mexico of surplus subsidized maize from US agribusiness corporations, which resulted in hundreds of thousands of Mexican farmers losing their land, played a role in the uptick of Arizona crossings as well.

Anyway. This book should be required reading for anyone that wants to have an opinion on the issue of immigration from Mexico. It's devastating. I'm a desert rat, I hike 15-16 miles and climb 4,000 feet on a typical weekend, and I could never make the trek these people make so that we can buy lettuce at a dollar a head.

#27 ::: plover ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2006, 10:52 PM:

And the use of Reconquista? It was more than half a joke. How come all of a sudden nobody knows that?

When I read this it brought to mind David Neiwert's analysis of the coded language adopted by the white supremacist right in order for their ideas to be heard in a mainstream setting, and also the discussions of how nobody took movements like the Dominionists seriously as nobody believed they really could mean what they said. If the Panic Now! wing of U.S. racism has become accustomed to viewing the political rhetoric of their allies as a kind of code, isn't it possible that they assume other political groups are operating the same way? In other words, if the leaders of those scary brown people who are invading talk about the necessity of amnesty or the impracticality of deportation in their public speeches, but yet seem to have this reconquista concept that they discuss among themselves, mightn't the public rhetoric be just a screen for concepts that they know the American public isn't ready to swallow yet? And the fact that all those deluded, pathetic leftists regard the whole thing as joke just shows how truly insidious the whole scheme is.

This is just speculation on my part, but it seems to make at least some sense. (Or is it just obvious?)

David Neiwert had a great post on Minuteman leader Chris Simcox and his rhetorical ploys a couple of weeks back.

#28 ::: loonunit ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2006, 10:59 PM:

Yes, what Chris and TomB said about the slow funneling into the Arizona wilderness by stricter enforcement in other areas. Very true. But I also suspect that the take-over of the immigration operation by organized crime and drug cartels might still have been an inevitability.

I haven't seen that book. Have you read this one yet? I've been seeing it in airports and on display cases in a lot of nowhere-near-Tucson bookstores the last few months. Devastating, indeed.

#29 ::: Tom S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2006, 10:59 PM:

Where and when the National Guard will be trained for their new mission hasn't been revealed

Jim, the Washington Post reported that the Guardsmen will deploy to the border for a three-week rotation in lieu of their normal two-week annual refresher training. So they will be both untrained in their new border security jobs and unpracticed in their real wartime missions, assuming the two are not the same.

#30 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2006, 11:45 PM:

Who controls the National Guard? As long as they are in the US, aren't they still under the command of their respective state commanders? This does not make for efficiency. Why am I suddenly getting Katrina-type scenes playing through my head?

We're being distracted from the NSA story, from the Shrub's plummeting poll numbers, from the dropping stock market, from the civil war in Iraq, from (the planning for) Iran -- and it isn't working.

#31 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2006, 11:49 PM:

Maybe we're being distracted from THIS:

Lawmaker: Marines killed Iraqis ‘in cold blood’

Navy conducting war crimes probe into November violence in Haditha

'WASHINGTON - A Pentagon probe into the death of Iraqi civilians last November in the Iraqi city of Haditha will show that U.S. Marines "killed innocent civilians in cold blood," a U.S. lawmaker said Wednesday.

From the beginning, Iraqis in the town of Haditha said U.S. Marines deliberately killed 15 unarmed Iraqi civilians, including seven women and three children.

One young Iraqi girl said the Marines killed six members of her family, including her parents. “The Americans came into the room where my father was praying,” she said, “and shot him.”

On Wednesday, Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., said the accounts are true.

Military officials told NBC News that the Marine Corps' own evidence appears to show Murtha is right.'

#32 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2006, 11:55 PM:

Oh dear God.

#33 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2006, 12:02 AM:

I was really hoping that that story was one of those atrocity stories that inevitably get cooked up during a war. Like the stories about Iraqis dumping Kuwati preemies out of incubators.

Damn. All true.

For what it is worth, you have to give the military credit for actually investigating it.

#34 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2006, 12:13 AM:

Fidelio, the guy they shot was a goat herder, just going about his business. The Latino community has plenty of reasons to feel disturbed about this whole illegal immigrant thing, but one of the biggest reasons is that trigger-happy enforcers tend to not distinguish between nasty coyotes, helpless pollos, and U.S. citizens whose families have lived here since before the Gadsden Purchase.

P J Evans, Bush's failure to fund La Migra as promised is one of the sources of my paranoia.

Edward Oleander, you could make an argument for the proposition that Bush has been systematically breaking the National Guard. Of course, you'd then have to come up with a reason why he might be doing it ...

Samantha Joy, here's my take on interpreting BushSpeak.

Loonunit, I'm sorry to hear that about the Huachuca Trail. My understanding is that tighter border controls near urban areas has forced border crossers into wilder and more dangerous areas.

Want to see something interesting? Check out this Wikipedia article and its discussion area. There are some remarkably ugly comments. There's also a stark denial of reality: you always get immigrants dying in the desert.

TomB, no disagreement whatsoever. If we keep making things harder on the border crossers, I expect the coyotes will become more like the ones who smuggle SE Asians into the country: an ugly thought. And even then, we won't shut down illegal immigration, because a lot of those illegals' families are living in dire poverty. The paltry wages illegal immigrants make here are a godsend back home.

Carl Dershem, I grew up within striking distance of the border. There was plenty of ambient racism, but I don't remember ever hearing that illegal immigrants were a threat to our national sovereignty. MEChA was always going on about Aztlan, but nobody worried about it. Now I'm relatively suddenly hearing oddly uniform rhetoric from many sources about sovereignty, immigrants, Aztlan, La Reconquista, etc. The fact that I'm seeing it from Michelle Malkin only makes me more suspicious. She doesn't pick stuff up from the grassroots. She is, first last and always, a media whore for the right-wing disinformation machine.

TomB, do you want to expand your bit about 9/11? It sounds interesting, but I can't quite make out your point.

Haditha: That's been a developing story. It's ugly, all right. Remember how Rumsfeld sent in far too few troops at the beginning of the war, so that (among other things) huge quantities of military explosives weren't secured, and quickly disappeared? Roadside bombs have been plaguing our troops ever since. We lose a lot of guys that way.

What happened in Haditha was that one of these bombs went off, killing a Marine and (I assume) leaving his companions in a disturbed condition. The survivors of the attack promptly piled out, went into the nearest houses, and started shooting. They succeeded in killing a bunch of innocent civilians who'd had nothing to do with the bombing. There was an attempt to cover it up by claiming that the civilians had been killed by the bomb, but apparently the forensic evidence is clear enough that a blind man could read it.

#35 ::: tavella ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2006, 12:25 AM:

And of course, if they actually wanted to stop illegal immigration, they'd do it the sensible way: fine employers real fines. About twice the estimated value of the excess profit made by not paying the workers should do it. If you really want to stop things, combine it with a green card to any illegal who turns in a company.

Problem would drop to near-zero DAMN quick. But corporatists that own the Republican party don't want that; they want a terrified and helpless pool of illegals to puff up their bottom line.

#36 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2006, 12:47 AM:

Where are they going to live? Unlike with Border Patrol agents, the federal government will be responsibility for providing temporary housing for members of the National Guard deployed at the border.

Ah Ha! I know that answer! Bush is planning to quarter them in houses without the consent of the owners. I think that he's planning on a grand slam: violating every single one of the articles in the Bill of Rights (that one's Article Three).

The above is from Open Thread 64, courtesy of Mr. Macdonald. I have no trouble at all seeing Bush make the solemn argument that appropriating housing without the consent of the owners can be justified by appealing to national security. In fact, I almost expect it. It will leave the wingnuts with one hell of a problem, though.

#37 ::: loonunit ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2006, 01:19 AM:

TNH: Well, I do miss the Huachucas. But I think the real immediate human impact of the border situation is better summarized by the rancher article I linked to. That and the staggering death toll of the migrants, of course.

That's an interesting wikipedia discussion. Though I'm not sure I understand the controversy: the commenters are complaining that there's too much emphasis placed on intentional killings? It's certainly true that the majority of deaths are due to exposure and such... but looking down the list of victims, I certainly do see a lot of bodies with "blunt force trauma" "stabbing" and "gunshot wounds" listed as the cause of death. So the question is whether the article implies that Americans were the killers, rather than Mexicans?

The article certainly does need more references.

And I'm not sure I understand your "stark denial of reality": immigrants always die in the desert, sure. But there has been a marked increase in the deaths over the last 10-15 years.

#38 ::: Jonathan Shaw ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2006, 02:09 AM:

The "securing our borders" rhetoric is eerily familiar to Australian ears. Our current federal government came to power in a recent election using much the same kind of language. The potential terrorists we were keeping out at that time were (mostly) Iraqi asylum seekers who had been rescued from a sinking vessel in the Indian Ocean by the Norwegian vessel Tampa. ALmost all of them have since been given refugee status, but at the time they were clearly a threat to Australia's sovereignty. And recently there's been another threat, from people fleeing political repression in Irian Jaya: so great is the threat in this case that our government has declared the whole mainland of Australia not part of Australia for the purposes of people seeking asylum. (Someone who understands these things better may put me right, but I don't think that absurdity is far from what's actually being enacted, in the name of national sovereignty!) No wonder George W Bush proclaims how much he loves our Prime Minister John W Howard.

#39 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2006, 03:35 AM:

In the Bay Area the racists sometimes try to cloak themselves in left-wing rhetoric. There's a group I know of in Oakland (that, yes, uses the word "Reconquista") called "Diversity Alliance for a Sustainable America". Bright gods.

(...And whose head, by the by, is herself an immigrant from China.)

#40 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2006, 05:16 AM:

Over the years, I've seen a few reports on how the US milityary trains soldiers so they don't hesitate about killing in combat. Some of it is the language they use, something soldiers have always done. I suppose the roots go back to the WW2 reports on how few soldiers in combat actually fired their guns. The US Army tried full-auto weapons, with mixed results. Now they try to train out the hesitations.

Anyway, if shooting somebody has become a process that's partly programmed at a sub-conscious level, events such as Haditha could be a sign that the training is too potent. If something switches on the kill-mode, like almost being blown apart by a bomb, and fellow soldiers dead and dying, has killing become too easy?

And, following from that, when will we get another Kent State, with so many National Guard having served in Iraq?

#41 ::: amysue ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2006, 07:38 AM:

Here's what Bush,his cohorts and his cronies have done for me: Typically, like so many other neurotic Jewish women before me I will suddenly awake in the dead of the night with a full blown anxiety attack about stuff like our finances, the kids,my health, my spouses health, whether or not I turned off the oven, you know, the usual. Not any more. Now, I alternately sleep like a baby knowing that we're headed to hell in a handbucket and no one is listening so I may as well get some rest or I am awake and shaking because we're heading to hell in a handbucket and no one is listening. Either way, my petty little personal problems fade. That is until I look at my own sleeping children and wonder what sort of world they will be inheriting and hoping they forgive us.

#42 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2006, 08:14 AM:

Amysue, I have something similar from time to time.

I think to myself, okay, now no president can control what people elsewhere in the world do, nor the stupid and evil things that some of my countrymen can get up to. But when I think that this is the state of the world as my father leaves it, that this is in what those in power see as a fitting reward for the labor and sacrifices he and people like him have made over the decades...I get mean. I'm really having to practice everything I know about avoiding the pitfalls of zealotry myself.

But then a false temperance doesn't do me any good either. The fact is that I do hate these bastards in power for what they've done to my country. I wish misfortune and misery on them. I don't expect it to happen, but I wish that somehow the powers beyond them could open their eyes even for an instant to the truth of what they've done; I don't think this'll happen either, but I would settle for the failure of all their plans in terms that make it hard for them to blame anyone else for it. They're bad people, bad Americans, bad on any terms.

I just need to remember to keep channeling as much of that feeling as I can toward productive efforts.

#43 ::: Steve Buchheit ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2006, 08:26 AM:

A few people are asking what this proposal is meant to distract us from. Well, that's easy enough to answer. Approaching five years after 9-11, our government has done nothing to really protect us. Many pundits talk about how our government has protected us because we haven't had another attack in our country. Absence of evidence doesn't mean evidence of absence. It's very expensive to project power. Operations in the US have a very high risk factor (even before 9-11, maybe more so) and are very expensive to mount, low ROI potential. This is why you don't see many terrorist attacks here, not because of the window dressing we've done for our National Security. And this is what the Right is trying to distract us from. That this solidifies their xenophobic base (as exemplified by a Fox News Talking Head saying "we" read white people - have to start having more babies because 65% of those under 10 aren't white) and leads us to discussion of Real ID (everybody is missing the Presidents statements about a "secure Green Card with biometric data," and how we'll "make sure" businesses don't hire illegals) is icing on the cake. It also obscures the Rights failure to deliver on their promised ant-abortion and anti-gay legislative priorities from the 2004 election. Look for quick legislation that fails because of those damn radical left-wingers to be introduced soon (say, right before the August recess).

#44 ::: Steve Buchheit ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2006, 08:34 AM:

Sorry, forgot the quotes around "damn left-wingers" and to mention I really am damn glad the Right hasn't moved on their full agenda. I just hope with the coming elections we can move this country back to sanity. If not, well, I've been revisiting my early life oath to "protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic," and pondering just what that means to me over two decades later.

#45 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2006, 08:41 AM:

Teresa, I was so hoping I was misremembering that incident, or that it had not, in fact, actually happened.

I'm all for some sensible immigration reform. Great Big Walls, Guardsmen lost in the desert, and indentured servitude to Tyson Foods and the like isn't it.

#46 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2006, 09:13 AM:

Why I'm alarmed by proposals to militarize our borders:

Because given these guys' track record we can be sure that whatever they do will be based on wishful thinking, badly planned, incompetently excuted, and mendaciously reported.

#47 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2006, 10:13 AM:

Stefan Jones: Two words: My Lai.

#48 ::: beth meacham ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2006, 10:26 AM:

loonunit, I live near the border too, and have hiked a lot of those areas. Also walked quite a lot of the Camino del Diablo in Cabeza Prieta. There's no way that the border can be "sealed". Right now, the interdiction efforts are all focused on the "safe" routes, forcing the drug smugglers and coyotes into the truly dangerous country, and concentrating the problems.

The rez also runs along part of the border, and the tribes are cross-border. I somehow doubt they're going to acquiesce to a fence going up on their land.

And there's plenty of legal cross border traffic -- I see dozens of cars with Sonoran license plates every time I go to Costco.

#49 ::: Sean Bosker ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2006, 10:44 AM:

My opinion is that it is impossible to have a war and not have horrible things like murder of civilians take place. Discipline is extremely important, and everything should be done to prevent abuses and punish offenders, but unwanted carnage is one of the many costs of war. The likelihood of these types of things occurring should be considered before the decision to make war is made. It's a cost of using tremendous violence, and it was yet another piece of evidence that the decision to invade was made by delusionary ideologues. They thought that our war would be different, it would be clean and fun and everyone would love us.

#50 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2006, 10:45 AM:

immigrants always die in the desert, sure. But there has been a marked increase in the deaths over the last 10-15 years.

Probably because they're having to use more remote (and dangerous) areas for crossings. Not that Shrub will ever come out and say that that's the result of his actions: that would requre admitting error and taking responsibility.

#51 ::: theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2006, 11:34 AM:

How about neither "evil planning" nor "hard-core stupid", but "major Military-Industrial boondoggle" instead?

#52 ::: Scorpio ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2006, 11:47 AM:

Ah yes, I wore my legible nutbar shirt to lunch Tuesday. It entertained the surrounding folks.

#53 ::: A.R.Yngve ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2006, 12:00 PM:

Mexican illegal immigrants can enter the United States in large numbers not only because it is physically possible...

It is also because Americans profit from having a convenient cheap Mexican labor force.

And don't forget: many of these immigrants (and their offspring) will likely become future U.S. citizens and voters. Mexican immigrants may, in a sense, be regarded as a political investment that will pay off for the party which does NOT alienate these future voters.

It is not yet written which party this will be.

#54 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2006, 12:24 PM:

Sean Bosker: My opinion is that it is impossible to have a war and not have horrible things like murder of civilians take place

Falklands War, 1982. Three islander civilians were killed accidentally, by a stray British artillery round which hit their house during the fighting for the hills overlooking Port Stanley.

As far as I know, no prisoners of war (on either side) were abused, tortured or murdered.

#55 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2006, 12:28 PM:

NYT:"The quick fix may involve sending in the National Guard. But to really patch up the broken border, President Bush is preparing to turn to a familiar administration partner: the nation's giant military contractors. Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman, three of the largest, are among the companies that said they would submit bids within two weeks for a multibillion-dollar federal contract to build what the administration calls a "virtual fence" along the nation's land borders."

Even on the downward side of the mountain, all the cronies get a taste.

I guess Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and Northrup Grumman bid so it can seem like a competitive process when Halliburton gets the contract?

From Josh Marshall, Talking Points Memo.

#56 ::: Steve Buchheit ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2006, 01:00 PM:

Sean Bosker: My opinion is that it is impossible to have a war and not have horrible things like murder of civilians take place.

True enough, but there is a big difference between dying because of affects of war (war is hell), the general screwups of the battlefield mixed with civilians (fog of war), civilians living or placed around military targets that get hit in the blast radius or errant targeting (collateral damage), and young kids forgetting they're professionals because they're so pissed they got hit/lost a friend/have to be at war that they now striking out at the closest living thing without provocation or authorization (war crime). This is about who we are, it has nothing to due with who they are. I'm not condeming the soldiers, but they will have to pay the penalty. I blame the command structure that has forgotten the "lessons learned" from previous combat and place our kids in situations, forgetting that they are human and expect them to continue to behave normally when there is no reference point for them to hold onto (in other words, the rotation schemes and lack of real support instead of yellow magnetic stickers on cars).

#57 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2006, 01:12 PM:

TomB, do you want to expand your bit about 9/11? It sounds interesting, but I can't quite make out your point.

Steve Buchheit's post gets at some of what I was trying to say. I think the Bush administration actions are somewhat driven by anxiety they and their supporters feel about 9/11. This anxiety was exploited in the attack on Iraq, even though Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11 and Saddam was if anything an enemy of Al Qaeda. I don't think quite as many people are going to die because of this border fence, or as much money will be wasted, but it seems equally pointless.

#58 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2006, 01:44 PM:

Teresa: the sudden upwelling of loony-right hysteria around immigration to which you refer is curious, but I think it is a place to channel the rage which certain folks would otherwise be directing at Bush for his incompetence and his refusal to completely meld his policies to the far right agenda. I think that rage was born of fear on 9/11, and is now being fed by facts: the fact that the war in Iraq is such a travesty, the fact that we have not caught Osama bin Laden, the fact that the world is still (as it always was) an uncertain, dangerous place, instead of the nice warm nurturing cocoon with SUVs that some people seem to want it to be.

Anger, as all spiritual traditions know, has the potential to dull the intellect and close the open heart. If you can keep people fearful and/or angry, they become easy to manipulate. (Multi-billion dollar contract? What multi-billion dollar contract? Nothing to see here, folks. Pick up your sticks and stones and move along...)

#59 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2006, 02:20 PM:

Fear? Now that you mention it, Lizzy L...

Ximinez: NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition! Our chief weapon is surprise...surprise and fear...fear and surprise.... Our two weapons are fear and surprise...and ruthless efficiency.... Our *three* weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency...and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope.... Our *four* *Amongst* our weapons.... Amongst our weaponry...are such elements as fear, surprise.... I'll come in again.

[The Inquisition exits]

Chapman: I didn't expect a kind of Spanish Inquisition.


[The cardinals burst in]

Ximinez: NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition! Amongst our weaponry are such diverse elements as: fear, surprise, ruthless efficiency, an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope, and nice red uniforms - Oh damn!

#60 ::: Kelley Shimmin ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2006, 02:20 PM:

James McDonald asked the same question I've been asking: What is Bush trying to distract us from this time?

I'm afraid that I have too many answers to that one instead of too few. Rove, Cheney and the CIA are one set of answers. I can name a few countries too - Iran, North Korea, and maybe (although for altogether different reasons and with a different strategy) Libya. What about Israel, Hamas, and Palestine? How about the money his family is getting from these record oil industry profits? On today's we've got Egypt and Afghanistan. And even (this one's a little unexpected) Jimmy Hoffa.

So I can't think of any one thing that could do it. Maybe the conglomeration of all of the above, maybe there are yet unthought of problems brewing. Anyone have anything to add?

#61 ::: Kelley Shimmin ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2006, 02:25 PM:

Oops, that's MacDonald. And it appears Stefan Jones may have hit on something more succinct than I did.

#62 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2006, 02:32 PM:

Kelley: Jimmy Hoffa?

#63 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2006, 03:16 PM:

Lizzy, the FBI has been searching a horse farm near Detroit the past day or so for Hoffa's body.

I always had a sentimental attachment to the end zone at Giants Stadium.

#64 ::: Sean Bosker ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2006, 04:04 PM:

I'm not letting anyone off the hook, and despite the impeccable record of the Falklands war, I think that the horror that those Marines committed is part of what our leadership should have considered before making decision to go into Iraq.

I agree that it's not about them, it's about us. And the question is, do WE want to become what people become when they go to war, which is often times, killers. Except in the Falklands war, of course.

#65 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2006, 04:10 PM:

Tom: Glen Greenwald observed last week that the new Republican noises may not be about a significant portion of the country still having 9-11 fears. They're about feeding the media fuel to create a better strawman enemy. Rallying the Republican base to support "defeating terrorists in Iraq" is becoming too obviously a failed and uncertain proposition. Better for the next election to promote a new movie: the horror of Caucasians becoming a minority demographic in the United States.

#66 ::: Sean Bosker ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2006, 04:12 PM:

More fun as we turn into a police state. I read that Hayden said this in his confirmation hearing:

"I am a strong supporter of civil liberties, but you have no civil liberties if you are dead," he added.

I'm sure he intended that to mean that security is more important than civil liberties, something with which Patrick Henry might have disagreed. Or he is issuing a death threat to anyone who might want civil liberties. Either seems plausible at this point.

#67 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2006, 04:29 PM:

Sean, that line is the one that Pat Roberts keeps using. Someone needs to tell him that when the government does whatever it wants, without regard for laws, civil liberties are dead.

#68 ::: Joe J ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2006, 05:02 PM:

"We are the dead."

#69 ::: Robert Glaub ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2006, 05:03 PM:

If the Marines did commit that atrocity in Iraq, and it looks as if they did, then the very least they should get is life at hard labor. Actually, I think this is a case where the death penalty should be invoked. They deliberately and in cold blood went in and killed woman and children. That is definitely a war crime. It is a violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the Laws and Customs of War, the Law of Armed Conflict, and several Geneva Conventions.

I saw far too much of this crap when I was in the Balkans.

At least I can be consoled by the fact that the military started investigating as soon as this came to light.

It shows that there has been a several breakdown in good order and discipline, which seriously needs to be restored. Three officers have already been relieved.

One of the questions is: Where were the NCOs? They are veterans that are supposed to stop this sort of thing.

The scum in the Abu Ghraib affair got off far too lightly. They should have gotten twenty-five to thiry years at hard labor; and the officers and civlians who were invovled, clear up the chain-of-command into the Pentagon should have been held accountable.

Every Marine found guilty of participation in this affair should be executed, and every member of the US military should be compelled to watch the video. "These scum brought disgrace and dishonor on the United States Marine Corps and on our country." Bet that if that was done, there wouldn't be any more massacres...

#70 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2006, 05:25 PM:

Linkmeister: [a military coup d'état led by a white officer corps] will take place.

Wha? This guy is smoking some scary shit. There may be a coup someday, but this yahoo has zero-clue about the make-up of the officer corps, much less the politics.

What I find disturbing in the half-baked plans I see is that what he has suggested is making half the guard take two-weeks on the border every year. To do what? Drive trucks and deliver water.

There's a good use of training dollars and time.

And some of it is really stupid. I can't drive an LMTV, and certainly I can't drive a Hemet, so what I am going to do? Keep my thumb warm.

Teresa: Murtha's comments say Corps has decided there wasn't a bomb. What set the Marines off I don't know, but if there wasn't a bomb...

Dave: Present training is designed not to make killing easy, per se, but to make reaction to hostile fire automatic. Also the Marines don't use that system of training. They still use fixed targets at known ranges. The US Army uses pop up targets at known, but varied ranges.

One has forty rounds with which to hit forty targets (and a hit, anywhere, counts). We have a Marine who just joined us. He didn't qualify the first time out (which means he shot fewer than 23 targets). The second time out he hit somewhere around 30.

The idea is to train the soldier, in stress situations, that a snap shot is automatic. There are other controls which are meant to keep the soldier from shooting people when it's not appropriate.

#71 ::: Doug K ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2006, 05:28 PM:

agree it's not in fact possible to secure a physical border: even the Great Wall didn't work.

Loonunit: I remember hiking in Zimbabwe, in the mountains bordering Mozambique, after the bush wars in Zim were over but the Renamo mess was still going on. The park ranger gave us a map, said the trails on the map had been swept for mines, but anywhere else in the park was probably full of AP mines. Adds a little adrenaline to the route-finding, for sure. I just hope no-one gets any bright ideas about mining the Mexico border.. only the US and Israel have not banned anti-personnel landmines. Hm.

The South African border with Mozambique is secured by the Kruger National Park, a couple hundred miles of game reserve full of lions, rhinos, elephants, cape buffalo, etc - seriously dangerous animals. I took a tracking class in the park, found all the usual animal spoor around the waterhole, then the ranger pointed out: "this one here's a female refugee, probably carrying a child"..

#72 ::: A.R.Yngve ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2006, 05:54 PM:

Hold it! Hold it! I've got the solution to the immigration crisis. It's so simple!

People flock to America because it has such a globally visible profile: all the time, the United States is shown in media, through its products, through its exported culture.

So: Make America invisible! You can't desire to be in a nation you won't notice.

Stop exporting media.
Ban all images of major U.S. cities. Stop showing the flag.
Pay your artists, moviestars and pop singers to stay home.
Turn Americans into Web-surfing hermits.
Shut down cultural powerhouses like New York.
Stop building conspicuous skyscrapers, and start building bunkers.

And then, when barely even Americans think America exists anymore, immigration will cease.

#73 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2006, 06:03 PM:

Linkmeister: [a military coup d'état led by a white officer corps] will take place.

Wha? This guy is smoking some scary shit. There may be a coup someday, but this yahoo has zero-clue about the make-up of the officer corps, much less the politics.

I shared this coup idea with a friend, who is an old artillery officer. After she managed to stand up again, recovered somewhat from the convulsive laughing, and stopped cursing long enough to form complete sentences, she asked (to paraphrase a long rant about the folly and general worthlessness of people who imagine such things will happen, complete with arm-waving and hand gestures I won't describe here) "With what troops? Because I know the people I had to work with, and not one would have bought in to this one. I can see my old first sergeant's face now. Oh, and, officers without troops do not pull off coups." She went into further detail about the delusional features of such a concept, touching the high points of the training in basic constitutional law officer candidates get, and was about to head into the "Why Oliver North sucks" diatribe, but I managed to sidetrack her with a knitting question for the sake of her blood pressure. Eventually, her pulse slowed to a safer rate and she was able to speak in a normal tone of voice without frantic gesticulation. At that point, she described this plan of Shrub's in language I suspect she learned in gunnery school--it certainly sounded like the sort of thing old gunners would use to describe unsatisfactory equines who could not be trusted to pull a limber safely.

#74 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2006, 06:21 PM:

Fidelio: Thanks, I needed that sort of hooting laughter goodness.

I recommend cooking questions to get me off the subject of Ollie North.

My Dad was in the Corps, all you can do it ride it out.


#75 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2006, 06:21 PM:

To repeat what I & others have remarked before & elsewhere, The First War Crime is starting the war, because all atrocities of war stem from the fact that a war was started. "To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole." (Nuremberg judgement - The Common Plan) This doesn't excuse the 'hands' that did the atrocities, but follows the causes back.

#76 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2006, 06:35 PM:
and was about to head into the "Why Oliver North sucks" diatribe

That's a great example of how the general culture of the U.S. military, and the officer corps in particular, is often misunderstood. I grew up in the military (USAF) and ended up living and working as a reporter in a military town, so I retained pretty good contacts with a lot of officers during the Reagan years, and a few to this day. I do that, as a group, officers and enlisted are probably a bit more to the red state side than the general population. But the culture of civilian control, particularly around nukes, is very strong indeed.

Almost every officer I knew in the 80's despised North, including some who believed the proper way to handle foreign affairs was "nuke'em till they glow." (Yes, I lived near a SAC base -- why do you ask?) North was seen by them as a politician, not a warrior. There are a number of politicians in uniform, some with integrity, some without. (Consider the kind of senior commanders Rumsfeld likes to fire.) If you wear stars, you have excellent political skills, and considerable ambition -- that's understood. But you need more than that.

There may be some officer out there who has a hankering to become a "man on a horse." I would advise him or her to carefully watch their six -- the greatest opposition they face would be from their fellow officers.

#77 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2006, 06:38 PM:

I want the new telepathic blogging interface.

The third sentence above should read "I do think that. . ."

#78 ::: Stefanie Murray ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2006, 07:17 PM:

Bitch, Ph.D. has some relevant commentary on the "guest worker" part of this debacle. Best bit:

"Immigration, legal or not, is going to happen. Because if you are faced with a choice between feeding your child, teaching it to read, or breaking the law, you're going to break the law. Any decent parent would. The Abramoffs and the DeLays and the Bushes know this perfectly well. They bank on it to put money in their own pockets. That's what this "guest worker" program is all about, what the Marianas sweatshops are all about: figuring out ways to make desperately poor people into profitable commodities--which means keeping them desperately poor. The Abramaoff lobbying scandals, the bribery and corruption scandals that connect Abramoff to DeLay, the Texas redistricting bullshit, the forced abortions in the Marianas, and the National Guard being sent to guard the Texas/Mexico border aren't actually particularly complicated. You don't need to be an expert on fairness to immigrants, or global free trade, or protecting life, or protecting U.S. borders, or any of that high political rhetoric and its popular jingoistic simplification.

"All you need to do is pay attention to what women and kids all over the world actually need, and to who, or what, is keeping them from getting it."

#79 ::: loonunit ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2006, 08:34 PM:

Doug K.: Did I mention the guys with machine guns? But wow, landmines would be a bad, bad thing. Wow. (Why is there always somebody who thinks landmines are a good idea? But they never can remember where they put the damn things, can they...?)

From today's AZ Daily Star.

#80 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2006, 08:46 PM:

Other than my suggestion that Father Coughlin lived up there when I quoted that bit of insanity about a military coup, I didn't editorialize. I'm not as up on the current officer corps as I am on what it was in the 60s and 70s, when I was growing up as a military kid in a Navy family (CEC). But I do agree with Terry Karney and Claude Muncey that the idea is ludicrous. I can only think the author of that crap has A) never been in the military and B) read "Seven Days in May" a few times too many.

That said, the continual stories about Christian evangelism infesting the Air Force Academy and the elevation of General Boykin do give me a little pause.

#81 ::: Jacob Davies ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2006, 09:31 PM:

One thing, at least, that seems to have died away in the last few weeks is the "Legal immigrants want illegals to leave" line. Maybe the May 1st rallies helped there, with plenty of interviewable legal immigrants in support.

I think most (almost all?) legal immigrants think that there is no great shame in skipping all of the pointless paperwork & expense they went through in order to come here. I have filled out mountains of forms, paid lawyers many thousands of dollars, submitted documents to the Department of Labor, the INS, the DHS, and none of them - none - served any useful purpose to me or them. You might as well have had me copy out the Bible in longhand for all the good it did anyone.

Legal immigrants also know another thing; most people don't want to move to the US. In fact most people don't want to move at all. It's all I can do to get my family to even visit me, and my mother has never really understood why I came.

That's not just because I come from a rich Western country, although I'm sure that's part of it. Inside Europe, where income disparaties as large as those between the US & Mexico exist in combination with open borders, the overwhelming majority of people stay in their native country.

So anyway, I could go on about this all day... actually, I think I will. I find the proponents of a "secure border", so-called, rarely have an answer when you ask them why we don't need secure borders between states inside the US. They often specify that "other countries" can control their borders without giving examples. (This is what the GDR border was like, the closest thing you'll find to a secure land border.) Countries surrounded by ocean sometimes have secure(ish) borders. Countries with long land borders never do. The best you can do is make crossing at a road with a border post less hassle than striking out on your own through the mountains - at least then you can keep track of comings & goings, if you feel the slightly anal-retentive need to do so.

Any form of enforcement at this point, whether on employers or immigrants, has to include some kind of amnesty. People won't just up & leave because they got fired, or if they did, original-brand American Citizens (tm) would be harshly inconvenienced and they'd probably sue the government for a gazillion dollars a couple of decades down the line. Those American citizens are the children & dependents of undocumented immigrants. By imprisoning, deporting, or disemploying their parents, who have in most cases lived here peacefully for a long time, you are depriving them of their right to live & be educated in the US. And mass deportations or disemployment would amount to expropriation of the property of undocumented immigrants, as they have to leave their belongings behind or pay through the nose to have them shipped, and sell their houses at a time not their choosing.

Well, and that's not to mention all the sorta-useful things immigrants do that would suddenly stop getting done.

The idea that you can make enforcement work by targeting the employers rather than the workers has a couple of small problems: one, there is no party (employers or workers) with any great interest in enforcing that, and laws where nobody has any particular interest in enforcement rarely get enforced. Unions might have an interest, but I don't think that's really on their agenda. Offering green cards might work a few times, but I dunno, bribing people to turn in their fellow-downtrodden has an unpleasant ring to it.

And two, the cards that are currently used to prove employment eligibility are extremely easy to forge. Any replacement would have to allow people in possession only of the existing, forgeable cards to bootstrap a replacement ID. In fact it's apparently pretty easy to bootstrap a whole US citizen identity if the urge strikes you. An attempt to make a better worker ID after 9/11 has bogged down because of, you guessed it, cronyism with the contractor.

Guest-worker programs suck except for people who genuinely want to be seasonal migratory workers (actually a decent-sized group from Mexico). They are one tiny step better than being undocumented, but no Democrat should be supporting them as a general solution. They're good for business (indentured servants, hooray!) and bad for labour. As someone said elsewhere about Indians & Chinese on H1B visas: those are the guys in the office all weekend on the largely unspoken threat of having their employment (and green card application) taken away. That is what guest-worker visas do to people.

Guest-worker visas also have no way to make people leave if they don't want to. So if your idea is that they'll keep people from staying, well, they won't. They will make for lots of lovely extra work for immigration lawyers though, I guess that's something to be said for them.

On "illegals", lots of people's status cannot be so easily determined. For one thing, US citizens are not required to have proof of citizenship except to work. Even if they're brown & speak Spanish. (This appears to be news to some wingnuts.) And lots of people have a claim to US residency that cannot be easily determined without going through the whole process. So it's not as simple as rounding people up and kicking them out - unless they literally just walked across the border, determining whether their presence is allowed is not something you can determine on the spot.

People often cite environmental grounds or overpopulation as a concern. The US is not overpopulated by any measure and indeed could use a boost at the lower end of the age range to pay for Social Security for all you old buggers when your time comes. The US does have a significant problem with housing development often being overly energy-, land- & water-intensive, and in building over suburbs over good farmland. It needs more Manhattans and San Franciscos, not more Phoenixes or Las Vegases (sp?). However, California, often cited as a state that "has no more water", pours about half its allocation from the Colorado river onto Imperial County, where 150,000 people live & farm in what really ought to be a desert. We can fix that.

And of course, if global overpopulation is your concern, bringing families here where they will be better-off and have fewer children is surely better than leaving them in Mexico where they will have more.

Okay, I think I'm done preaching to the choir now. It's so much easier arguing with people who mostly agree with you, isn't it? Sorry for the length.

Oh, done except that they ought to teach about the Mexican Cession in every school in this country, or if they already do, people have very short memories.

#82 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2006, 09:56 PM:

They did, in the 30s, 'round them all up and send them back to Mexico' regardless of nationality/birthplace. They sent a large number of people born in the US 'back' because they had no documentation, in an era where a large number of our population had no documentation to start with. A lot of them were children who by birth were Americans.

Aha, my google-fu comes through.

It sucked. And no one wants to even make a window-dressing apology effort, like they did for the Japanese internment camps.

#83 ::: Carl Dershem ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2006, 10:31 PM:

The hysteria being created (artificially, IMO) over this whole thing is absurdist nonsense at best. Save for my navy years, I've always lived within 50 miles of the border, and have schooled with the children of ... 'casual' immigrants, and have never had much trouble, save for the one girl in high school whose mother really didn't like me.

But, growing up in southern California, I've had numerous nasty run-ins with the KKK, the Birchers and similar militant organizations.

And I'd much rather deal with her mother (long since gone) than those white-power nitwits.

#84 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2006, 11:09 PM:

Inside Europe, where income disparaties as large as those between the US & Mexico exist in combination with open borders, the overwhelming majority of people stay in their native country.

IIRC, southern Italians won't even move to the north of Italy to find work.

#85 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2006, 11:22 PM:

Today's LA Times had a story about a landscaping company near San Bernardino/Riverside that can't find workers for a job (moderately skilled) that pays $34/hour. They mostly do work for government of various levels. This is good pay, even for LA! 'Jobs Americans won't take' doesn't necessarily mean low paying, it can also mean not working in an air-conditioned office.

#86 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2006, 11:42 PM:

There's always taking a boat out for a day ride and accidently ending up in another country. Be sure to be on dry land before anyone sees you.

More seriously, the 360 mile fence is for the part of the country that gets the most illegal immigrants. WashPost article and illo.

#87 ::: Keir ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 02:17 AM:

NZ has pretty secure borders. We still get have problems with illegal immigrants, and very few pwople actually want to come here.

#88 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 04:17 AM:

New Zealand is separated by very large amounts of salt water from any possible source of substantial numbers of illegal immigrants. This is a fine thing for New Zealand, and, for a single sovereign first-world country, almost unique. The only other one I can think of is Japan, which also doesn't have much of a problem.

Even we don't have that much, again because we are, to use the expression, girt by sea, though in our case not such wide ones.

The US is not in so fortunate a position. I am told that 11 million illegals live in the USA, which is close to 4% of the population. If we had that proportion, we'd have about 750 000. We only have about 50 000, and most of those are overstayers.

#89 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 11:54 AM:

On SFGate, Don Asmussen's Bad Reporter tackles the subject via the absurd today, and Jon Carroll did this reality check yesterday.

#90 ::: Tom S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 01:01 PM:

Terry Karney: Murtha's comments say Corps has decided there wasn't a bomb.

I think the Marine killed by IED incident that was the apparent trigger is real. What Murtha said is "there wasn't a bomb that killed these [civilian] people," which is what the Marines initially reported before someone pointed out that the bodies had bullet holes in them, and "there wasn't a crossfire that killed them," which is what was claimed until someone produced pictures showing execution style wounds.
They need to take these Marines, have a very visible court martial (preferably in Iraq), and if convicted, execute the instigator(s) and lock up the rest of the shooters for life. Alas, I'm willing to bet that they are never charged with murder. It will get talked down to assault, at most.

#91 ::: tavella ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 01:45 PM:

Alas, I'm willing to bet that they are never charged with murder. It will get talked down to assault, at most.

I doubt they would even be charged with that, if they hadn't lied about the bomb killing them.

#92 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 02:12 PM:

Tom S: Yeah, I misread part of the Murtha comment.

Being against capital punishment, I can't agree with all of your desires (it isn't that I'm against killing people, per se, it's just that I don't think the State can do it fairly).

On the rest of it, you bet. I want to see more courts martial, in general, and I want to see them for abuses of prisoners. I want them to be fair, and I expect fairness to lead to convictions. I want such convictions to lead to heavy-handed punishment, as a disuasion to others.

I know people who got off the hook. Who not only didn't do time, but were allowed to stay in the service, and keep their MOS.

That's the wrong message.

I also know there's no way on God's green earth I can sit on such a jury. About the only way I could be involved in a case like that is expert witness for the prosecution.

#93 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 04:23 PM:

Dave Luckett

Beause it's (intentionaly) not talked about much, you may ahve missed much of what Japan has done to Korean immigrants, not to mention Philipino and Chinese workers.

Japan does have immigration problems. You're just not hearing about them.

#94 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 05:32 PM:

Loonunit, my remark about "stark denial of reality" was a response to the commenters who wanted to the article deleted in its entirety. I would never argue that death rates haven't gone up. They have. That was guaranteed the minute the easier routes got closed off. I'll also agree that more of them are violent deaths, as opposed to death by misadventure.

A lot of the Loud People there were arguing as though violent deaths were the only relevant issue. The way I see it, if we know we can't seal the border, but we do take steps to make border crossing more difficult and dangerous, we're pursuing a policy that's guaranteed to kill more people. That doesn't automatically rule it out; but if we're considering it, we need to be honest about its consequences.

Beth: Are they coming in through the Cabeza Prieta? If so, I'm shocked.

"The rez also runs along part of the border, and the tribes are cross-border. I somehow doubt they're going to acquiesce to a fence going up on their land."
Here's a map for the rest of you. Click on this map for photos of some of its geological highlights. The Tohono O'odham Nation's southernmost reservation is sparsely populated and topologically challenging. You can't seal it off. If you did manage to run a serious fence along the border, nobody would want to be assigned the duty of patrolling it. And as Beth points out, the Tohono O'odham are casual border-crossers. A heavy fence would cut them off from their relatives.

If coyotes are supposedly making all this money bringing in illegal immigrants, I have to wonder whether the Tohono O'odham have been eyeing that lucrative business. I doubt they like having outsiders lead expeditions through their territory.

I wonder how good National Guard personnel from Wisconsin or Kentucky are at telling the difference between immigrant Latinos and Cocopahs, Yaqui, and Tohono O'odham. Only a matter of time before we get a news story with the line, "I yelled at him to stop in English and in Spanish."

"And there's plenty of legal cross border traffic -- I see dozens of cars with Sonoran license plates every time I go to Costco."
That's the thing that gets me. We have no desire to actually seal the border. Bordertowns trade constantly in both directions, and always have. Do we really want to set up a two-thousand-mile-long Berlin Wall? And if we do, are we going to free the guards currently on trial for shooting people who were trying to cross the Berlin Wall?

Fidelio, I think I've heard something very like that rant six or seven times, including the "Why Oliver North sucks" diatribe, from a gunnery officer of my acquaintance.

Stefanie: Of course. The Republicans are, above all else, the party of cheap labor.

Carl Dershem, are you getting the same feeling that I am, that this stuff is new? Not the racism or the stupidity; I mean this sudden belief that immigrants threaten our national sovreignty, and that whites are going to be outbred over the next few decades.

#95 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 05:51 PM:

Teresa, the thing I don't understand is how anyone can say "Uh-oh, whites aren't going to be the majority soon" and not realize they're being a stinking racist. Who CARES?

But then, I'm a Race Traitor. I really want the "White Race" to be completely "destroyed" through "race mixing." In fact, death to all so-called "races"! I want to be reborn into a world where no one can easily put a race label on anyone else, because everyone is so mixed that none of the labels really apply.

All my ancestors were on the same continent 5000 years ago. I really envy people whose ancestors were on more than that.

Mixed-race people are prettier anyhow. Or maybe that's just the attraction of novelty; I know my last boyfriend (African American/Pacific Islander) was absolutely breathtaking.

#96 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 06:03 PM:

TNH observed: Carl Dershem, are you getting the same feeling that I am, that this stuff is new? Not the racism or the stupidity; I mean this sudden belief that immigrants threaten our national sovreignty, and that whites are going to be outbred over the next few decades.

I'm plainly Not Carl, but I think this is an old favorite that gets pulled out of the Footlocker of Useful Goads whenever some base or other needs gingering up--it's probably been pulled out for every immigrant group that was threatening to someone or other. I'm sure my German ancestors were on the receiving end when they fell for the advertising for Pennsylvania, and so were the Scotch-Irish ones a bit later on. And so on, with the Germans and Irish of the mid-19th century, the southern and eastern Europeans, Jews, various Asian immigrant groups, and so on, and so on, and so on, to say nothing of the African immigrants, either the involuntary ones, or the recent voluntary ones. For the wealthy who benefit from pulling the chains on the attack dogs, as well as the attack dogs whose fully-justified fears that they can't handle competition in an open playing field can be aired without shame or blame, this is a profitable and comforting issue to stir up an outcry over. The former find it another useful tool to divide and conquer with, the latter gain sympathy and validation from others who fear they'd not be able to count on being on top if they weren't allowed to use a stacked deck.

The threat to Our Way of Life, the Fear of Being Outbred (see circa-American Civil War plaints about African-American and Irish fecundity, and repeats in the first quarter or so of the 20th century, aimed at Italians and Eastern Europeans, the Burden to Society--all these are old clothes back in style, and have been worn in plenty of other places--see Jean-Marie Le Pen, frex. We just haven't heard them as loudly lately.
Count on hearing this for a while, because the people stirring this sht up are getting desperate, and they will go through Footlocker of Useful Goads for anything and everything that will work so they can hang on a little longer.

On reviewing this, I realize I have dragged out so many clanking metaphors that it's plain I need to go eat dinner. Is it worth driving to the south side of town to eat Ethiopian tonight, or should I go over near White Bridge Road and hit up the Vietnamese place for pho?

#97 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 06:04 PM:

Xopher, I envy you the 5000 years ago part — mine were all on the same continent (if you count England as part of Europe) only 400 years ago.

Apart from the aesthetic issues, I have a suspicion that mixed-race folks are hardier than us flowers of monoculture. My husband (Filipino-Irish ancestry) is far more robust and resilient than I am (English-German-Swiss ancestry). And in my admittedly-biased opinion, both he and his sister are far prettier than either side of their family and prettier than my whole family put together. Harrumph.

#98 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 06:10 PM:

Lexica, the "where were your ancestors 5000 years ago" thing is just a conventional definition of race. All mine were in Europe 400 years ago, and all were in America 100 years ago. All sides appear to have arrived after the Civil War but before WWI.

And mutts are the best dogs.

#99 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 07:12 PM:

Teresa --

About the new element; my take is that racist keep-them-out motivations are traditionally ways to affirm a social order and world view. Since everybody lives in their head, this doesn't have to have anything to do with facts; common-or-garden racist heads derive some of their self worth from being the good kind of person in the arbitrary scale adopted. They might be deriving material benefit, too, from restricting access to the good parts of the economy to them, and so on.

This stuff doesn't look like that; it looks like ritualized fear-displacement. (Same as a kid who has a ritual to keep the monster under the bed from getting them; kidlet is usually just starting to realize how much they don't understand, and shoves at least some of the fear off on to a construct that has knowable rules, because they've made up those rules.)

I'm not sure that's new, precisely, but it is recently new; not part of the immigration debate for a long time.

One of the considerable drawbacks to the neocon world view is that it's insufficiently capable; in a world with at least three billion people plugged into the industrial and post-industrial economy, figuring out what's really going on and planning effectively in response is difficult, and requires a willingness to value facts and the ability to manipulate facts.

It would be presently very difficult for a neocon to avoid an awareness that something isn't right; that there is a whole lot to be afraid of that they don't entirely have the cognitive tools to understand, or to expand their cognitive toolkit to become able to understand, and things certainly aren't going the way they're supposed to be going. (In a whole lot of world views.)

So I think a big part of what we're seeing -- beyond the usual common-or-garden rascist gormlessness -- is an attempt to redirect panic into what amounts to religious ritual, presumably on the grounds that if you have power and can't not have a mob, you want the mob to be pointed the other way.

It is exactly the kind of thing can become very deeply embedded and impervious to facts, rather like the idea that cities receive more in tax revenues than they pay.

#100 ::: Carl Dershem ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 09:34 PM:

Teresa -

It's not new, but the sudden fervor is certainly a recent symptom of the inmates being put in charge of the asylum. I've known people for almost 50 years (my whole life) who felt the 'meskins are out to ruin this country' but until recently they were laughed off as fringe wack-jobs. Now that they and their buddies are in charge, they're finally getting the hearing they've always wanted, and as they are too close to those who control the media, there is little, if any, actual dialogue on the subject, much less considered debate.

#101 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 09:39 PM:

fidelio: I'm sure my German ancestors were on the receiving end when they fell for the advertising for Pennsylvania

coincidence: one of the comments on immigration in today's Boston Globe noted that Ben Franklin complained about German immigrants; I hadn't realized they went that far back. (My mother's maiden name was Singley, which was Anglicized from Zwingli a few generations back; there are ancestral graveyards in PA where all the tombstones are in German.)

#102 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2006, 10:58 PM:

You know, if I wanted to be a racist sshl I've so got the qualifications: Mayflower, Speedwell, assorted eminent New Englanders both before and after the Revolution. About the time non-Anglophone European immigration really hit its stride, my people picked up and moved to the Intermountain West, where for generations they married each other plus the occasional immigrant convert from Great Britain or Scandinavia. The only German I know of in my ancestry was a Hessian deserter. I've got no Czechs, Irish, Italians, or Portuguese. My father's the big exception: third-generation Dane. Which is not exactly a big departure. Oh, and we've got one tiny dab of First Nations blood in the family, but not enough that I could make any claims on its behalf without sounding like a complete pseud.

Anyway, when I look at these spluttering "true American" types, the ones with names like Tancredo and O'Reilly, I can feel my right eyebrow start to rise. If they can claim the right to dictate what shall become of immigrant Villaverdes and Salazars and Castillos, I should unquestionably be able to dictate what becomes of them.

Bet you a bright shiny quarter they don't agree.

#103 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 03:21 AM:

"the ones with names like Tancredo and O'Reilly"

Oh, ain't it the truth. When I first heard Tancredo going on about this my first thought was "you miserable so-and-so, where did your family come from? Dollars to donuts you're not of the Ute tribe or any of the other tribes who were in Colorado when European western expansion began."

These guys are all of the "I got mine, now pull up the drawbridge" variety.

#104 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 10:08 AM:

Yesterday, AP got hold of a memo:

By Aaron C. Davis, Associated Press Writer | May 19, 2006
SACRAMENTO, Calif. --President Bush's planned deployment of National Guard troops to the Mexican border would last at least two years with no clear end date, according to a Pentagon memo obtained Friday by The Associated Press.

The one-page "initial guidance" memo to National Guard leaders in border states does not address the estimated cost of the mission or when soldiers would be deployed. But high-ranking officials in the California National Guard said they were told Friday that deployments would not begin before early June.

At least two years. No idea of the total cost. Using the National Guard in a role that it wasn't designed, trained, or equipped for. Wow, this sounds familiar.

But this next bit should sound really, really familiar:

The document described an "end date" for the mission when the U.S. Border Patrol operation "gains independent operational control of the (southwest border) and National Guard forces are no longer required for this mission."

As they stand up, we'll stand down. I wonder: what does Bush's exit strategy from the Mexican border look like?

No, it seems clear: the troops will be there forever.

#105 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 10:52 AM:

These guys are all of the "I got mine, now pull up the drawbridge" variety.

In the New York area, we call that the "last house in Staten Island" syndrome. Everyone who moves to Staten Island loves the development that lets them have a house, and deplores any further development. "There are too many houses here already!" Well, why don't you tear yours down, get your neighbors to tear theirs down, and SI can have a park?

It was interesting a few years ago to hear a city councilman here in Hoboken saying we really didn't need more restaurants on the main drag, what we needed was more funky little furniture shops and so on. My thought was "when are you closing one of the two restaurants YOU own?"

That guy is now our mayor. And he's about what you'd expect.

It's all the same sentiment.

#106 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 11:57 AM:

George W. Bush, World Menace, paranoid schizophrenic, catamite, stool pigeon, war criminal, meglomaniac, religious fanatic....

#107 ::: A.R.Yngve ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 06:44 PM:

Did you notice that Gov. Schwarzenegger criticized the idea of sending the National Guard to the border?

#108 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 07:45 PM:

Paula: catamite?

#109 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2006, 09:31 PM:

A.R.Yngve: yeah, he's trying to put some distance between himself and the !@#$%^ in DC. Although from here in LA, there isn't as much difference as he might want...

#110 ::: Simon ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 12:56 AM:

6,000 National Guard aren't going to do it.

The Berlin Wall had 12 watchtowers every ten miles. Assume two guards to a shift, four shifts (a laughably small number) per tower, the same number of watchtowers over the 1950-mile length of the border (because if the wall isn't shorter people will just go around, as they do now), and double the whole number for support personnel, that's over 37,000 troops just to protect us against evial Mexicans.

That's not even counting all the other reasons this is ludicrous.

#111 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 01:07 AM:

Yes, I suspect this is as genuine a commitment on Bush's part as his Mars initiative.

#112 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 01:10 AM:

6000 National Guard troops are going to do diddly squat. This whole damn thing is about keeping the Republicans in Congress and getting Bush's poll numbers out of the toilet. As Mr. Macdonald pointed out, the planning here is consistent with the planning for all the other projects this administration has taken on, i.e. grossly arrogant and stupid as a headless turkey.

#113 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 01:40 AM:

Metaphorically, Xopher, the spoils system in Schmuck's misadministration makes the Jackson and Grant and Harding administration's level of corruption look like honest government. James Dobson runs loose in the White House, Jeff Guckert visited there time after time... Schmuck's been a figurehead for politically aggressive greedy and/or fanatic special interests his entire political career it looks like... for that matter, it goes back further than that, what with his skipping out on Guard drills to work on a political campaign in Alabama. He was set up with the deals involving the Texas Rangers--can one say "being prepped as front body" and having deals done for lining his pockets--in other words, he's a political whore and has been one for decades, with conspiracies involved for placing him where he would be a will tool for those whom he owes his good fortunes to and is beholden to...

#114 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 01:46 AM:

Consider the appointments made to FEMA, the courts, the Mine Safey Agency {snarl.. and there's been ANOTHER mine disaster, this past week}, the quack he put in as Surgeon General ["pray to God for relief from menstrual cramps"!!!, nominated a male veterinarian to the position of authority in the US Government regarding women's health, appointing John Bolton, hiring Poindexter back into federal position, putting environment-destroyers into positions presiding over federal policies on the environment, etc. etc. etc.

#115 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 01:58 AM:

Domestic turkeys don't need guillotining to be stupid, bred to be Dinner, see e.g. regarding young turkeys too stupid to get out of the rain that die from exposure, turkeys that die of starvation because they're too stupid to learn to eat...

#116 ::: r snts ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 02:32 AM:

" stll rsnt th wy ths dmnstrtn mks m fl lk ntbr cnsprcy thrst. Bt dmmt, tht's hw fl."

Nbdy cn MK y fl nythng. Pls tk rspnsblty fr yr wn flngs. Y R ntbr cnsprcy thrst - THT'S why y fl tht wy!

#117 ::: Keir ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 03:03 AM:

And you, Mr Santos, must be a brilliant imitation of a right-wing drive by poster. However, I must fault your style somewhat.

If I may, the following changes would add to your performance:

Nobody can MAKE you people feel anything. Please take responsibility for your own feelings, instead of relying on Islamo-Fascists to do your feeling for you. You Islamo-Fascist people ARE nutbar conspiracy theorists - THAT'S why you feel that way!

The odd change from the external Islamo-Fascists of the second sentence to the internal I-Fs of the final sentence further heighten the piquancy of the work.

My changes notwithstanding, I must congratulate you on your fine peice of cyber performance art.

#118 ::: beth meacham ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 10:52 AM:

Sorry for not getting back here sooner!

T., yes, they're coming through the Cabeza Prieta and Organ Pipe. The drug trade has been doing it for at least 15 years, but now they're bringing the poor suckers through that way, too. We've always left the cars locked and a water container clearly available when we camp in the Cabeza. Someone on foot out there at any time of year is going to need water. There is no knowing how many people have died in that desert; if you get off the marked trails, you will probably never be found.

And if the cross-border traffic is coming through Organ Pipe and the Cabeza Prieta Wildlife Refuge, then for sure it's coming through the Tohono O'Odham Nation. That's not going to be stopped by the Border Patrol or the National Guard.

Meanwhile, my neighbor gets stopped and searched on a regular basis. Eddie's family has lived and ranched in this territory for hundreds of years. Yes, hundreds -- they became American citizens with the Gadsden Purchase.

It's a mess. It's going to get messier.

#119 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 11:17 AM:

I think the real nutbar conspiracy theorists are the ones who thought -- and still think -- that Saddam had WMDs that he was planning to give to al Qaeda.

#120 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 12:28 PM:

Oh -- let's play Jeopardy!

The category is None!

"I'll take None for two hundred dollars, Alex."

"The answer is, 'Zero.'"


"How much yellowcake uranium did Iraq buy from Niger?"

"That's right."

"'None' for four hundred dollars."

"The answer is 'Zero.'"


"How many of the 9-11 hijackers were Iraqi?"


"'None' for six hundred dollars."

Bing bing bing!

"That's a daily double! You have 20,100 to wager."

"I'll bet all of it, Alex."

"Very well, for $20,100 and a chance at the championship, the answer is: 'Zero.'"

"How many of the 9-11 hijackers came through the Mexican or Canadian border illegally?"

"Correct! You have $40,200, and the lead. We'll return to Double Jeopardy after these words from our sponsors ."

#121 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 12:53 PM:

Oops. Sorry about that, Keir. Your comment still works, honest.

#122 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2006, 01:39 PM:

Cartoon: George Bush is standing at a podium. The wallpaper at his back says "Mission Accomplished" all over it. He is holding up a large red fish on which is written the words Illegal Immigration. He is wearing a cowboy hat and a shit-eating grin.

Smaller type (our default)
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Even larger type, with serifs

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Making Light copyright 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 by Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden. All rights reserved.