Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Open Thread VI
Hmm--here's a semi-"thought" experiment; see how these links can be "threaded" together:
"Where Are the Great Men (Or Women)?"
"You Are Not Alone" (Part 1)
Eject! Eject! Eject! 5/21/07
"Fifth Generaton Warfare (5GW) Fiction Example: Two Short Stories in the Collection “Study War No More”
"Millennium: Skull and Bones"
Posted by: Jayson | Tuesday, May 29, 2007
This (and a related article by Phillip Carter) was on Slate last week. They discuss the mechanics, relatively, of staying in Iraq for the long haul and of leaving right away.
This quote on the second page was interesting:
" "If you leave quickly, we'll redistribute our units and go back to where we have local support," Lt. Gen. Ali Ghaidan, commander of the Iraqi Ground Forces, told us in a recent interview. "
If this is correct, a complete withdrawal on our part would lead to Iraq's breakup. A complete Shiite or Shiite/Kurd victory over the Sunnis would only come after they won those border disputes, if ever.
Posted by: Michael | Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Posted by: PurpleSlog | Tuesday, May 29, 2007
"Leaders of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services rejected key changes because ending huge immigration backlogs nationwide would rob the agency of application and renewal fees that cover 20 percent of its $1.8 billion budget, according to the plan's author, agency ombudsman Prakash Khatri."
Government at its finest.
Posted by: Adam | Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Dan - I'm posting a review of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, but the part that would most entice you to read it is in the spoilers section. If you haven't already read them, do so, I know you'll be interested.
Posted by: Adam | Thursday, May 31, 2007
Maybe this question will start a good conversation that will lead to a new open thread record. Zenpundit's recent post "Where Are the Great Men (and Women)?", http://zenpundit.blogspot.com/2007/05/where-are-great-men-or-women-when-i-was.html , started me thinking of a simple question. Do we need Great Men (or Women)? I would argue that Great Men or Women, in the political sphere, are largely a myth and they end up causing more suffering than anything else. From my perspective those who seek to be Great (or to be heroes or to be powerful) inevitably do so at the expense of their fellow citizens. In the end, Great Men are typically not great, but have pursued a path to power and embraced an ideology that is later mythologized in order to create a patina of legitimacy. Just a thought.
Posted by: TDL | Thursday, May 31, 2007
It seems that a great man is one with a highly visible impact. Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaopeng were both "great" leaders of China by this standard. One lifted more humans out of poverty than any other head of state in history. The other killed more.
I like your review , and the Eugene Woodbury essay  you link to as well. Sean posted his thoughts as well .
Also, God bless the USCIS. Of all ways to do an end-round around Congressional notice, they found one of the crummiest.
Welcome to the thread!
A complete victory is not in the cards, at least not soon. A Shia Iraq that works as well as Iran (which means, fantastically considering her neighbors) and a Kurdistan which works as well as she does now would be a solid victory -- especially considering the rollback of Sunni Arab power in Iraq that such a future would imply.
The "You are not alone" article talks about the benefits of human cooperativeness -- both altruism and vindictiveness. My research  is in the same field (I even think Axelrod is in my bibliography)!
Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Thursday, May 31, 2007
scanning comments in the sidebar on the home page i saw Adam's comment and came to link my review...
but you'd already done it :-)
Posted by: Sean | Thursday, May 31, 2007
Can't argue a whole lot with your analysis Sean. I read The Name of the Rose for the first when I was about twelve and managed to stay away from adolescent sex, so I wouldn't be too worried.
Pullman wrote a criticism of Narnia similar to your criticism of His Dark Materials:
Also of interest is the discussion between Pullman and the Archbishop of Cantebury:
Posted by: Adam | Thursday, May 31, 2007
Fareed Zakaria melds his love for America and his disappointment in it into a remarkably clear and concise argument:
Posted by: Eddie | Saturday, June 02, 2007
I wasn't impressed by Zakaria's mind dumb. It reads like every random political thought he's had in the past week was written, whether or not it's coherent.
If we won't have a shortage of workers, as he claims, then why bother with massive immigration? (To use just one example.)
PS: Soob has his own thoughts. 
Thanks for the links!
Thanks for the would-be link. ;-)
Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Monday, June 04, 2007
Obviously I disagree. He trots out what's happening in the real world as opposed to the fantasies of largely discredited wonks and politicians eager to out-do one another in the primaries. The danger of simplification is not a remote one but a very probable and ongoing affair, as anyone who tends to watch Lou Dobbs, John Gibson and others of their ilk or listen to the average politician these days can attest.
Further this insatiable appetite among the masses and the politicians to just do something, anything, in responding to our problems is self-defeating and harms America in the long run. Look at the lunacy of this immigration reform being touted or the raving madmen who seem to believe America would not be seriously damaged by deporting 12 million "illegals."
Americans blame the government for this, but they voted for the politicians who gutted the immigration system in this country, they marched on to war in Iraq in the name of "doing something" and look where this kind of "just act" mentality has gotten us. We need sober, patient leadership and responsibility. This form of leadership inevitably comes from those who are confident and willing to see opportunities, not from those who are weak-willed and fearful.
Posted by: Eddie | Monday, June 04, 2007
Thanks for the comment.
Zakaria's attack on Lou Dobbs has all the moral courage of Bill O'Reilly's attack on NAMBLA. (I don't watch John Gibson, so I can't comment on him.)
How is the current immigration reform proposal "lunacy"? From what I've read, it appears to be a complex proposal that does more good than bad. I'm not much for it, because I don't understand it and it has some very real trade-offs. But lunacy? Please explain. (I'd appreciate it, as I need informed opinions on it.)
Non-enforcement of the immigration system has been going on for at least a generation, and is an informal part of America's long-term "cheap labor" economic strategy (as opposed to Japan's "cheap capital" strategy and Europe's blend of socialism and social welfare). Considering relative economic growth over the past generation, it seems to be working.
"they marched on to war in Iraq in the name of "doing something" and look where this kind of "just act" mentality has gotten us."
Is this a serious comment? Or heated rhetoric?
Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Tuesday, June 05, 2007
(Can't respond on the Great Navy Firewall so I'm e-mailing it to you)
I see little support for NAMBLA and not much support for the ACLU, yet I see Lou Dobbs with a wide daily audience throughout the media and a serious role to play in misinforming Americans about globalization, immigration and governance. Zakaria going after him is important, because the man cannot just be ignored or slighted, he must be addressed and refuted point by point by intelligent commentators such as yourself, Zakaria and others.
Problems with immigration reform as currently touted in the Senate:
1) The replacement of the EB-1 Visa system disturbs me. We should continue to as a nation entice, enjoy and assimilate the finest minds in the world who want to come here. Gutting this in favor of a perhaps misguided points system is going to make our continuing recent problem of attracting great students and thinkers from abroad (post-9/11 security taken too far in making it more difficult already for people to get visas to study here) exceptionally more problematic.
(Charles Krauthammer presents a good argument about all this in a recent column: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/05/31/AR2007053101849.html)
2) The entirely too weak attitude within the bill towards employers who knowingly hire illegals. These people need to be punished because next to the vastly underfunded immigration system, they are the next biggest problem. Serious, tough sanctions including mid to long-term incarceration needs to be the order of the day for these employers.
3) The Z visa for "illegals" is too cumbersome a process for an already underfunded, understaffed system and will be difficult to enforce and track. I'd rather have a generalized temporary work visa that must be strictly updated and extended as required for continued or new employment. The "Return home" requirement for family heads (they must return home to their native country to file a green card application?) is outrageous and something that could have only been cooked up in the zero-common sense atmosphere of Congress and the White House.
4) Lastly, the bill does not allow for significant requirements for workers rights and protections. Forgive me for letting personal experience trump what the politicians say, but I've seen far too many terrible cases of abuse of workers by employers paying them small amounts under the table. Again, the main problem here is that Congress fails to understand that businesses/employers are the key problems, they want cheap, voiceless labor. They should not enjoy that undeserved gift, and in the first place there should be an extensive punitive tax on the personal profits all employers that are known to utilize and hire illegals. They've been screwing over Americans and illegal immigrants for far too long and enjoying a free ride.
Posted by: Eddie | Thursday, June 07, 2007
I suspect that NAMBLA is as popular among O'Reilly's audience as Dobbs is among Zakaria's. Not to say that I disagree with O'Reilly on NAMBLA or with Zakaria on Dobbs, just that neither of those stands are heroic or particularly useful.
How is the points system for immigration reform misguided? Criticizing the reform for replacement merit-based special cases for a merit-based general system seems off, to me, unless one is against merit-based immigration.
Vindictiveness (this or that person "needs to be punished") is a form of altruism  and can be useful, but I think your critique confuses the political process (which is to determine aims & goals) from the judicial process (which is to enforce them).
Do you think the "returm home" requirement is outrageous because it is too hard or too easy? I have heard both critiques.
On workers requires on protections -- it seems the easiest way to turn a conservative into a Marxist is to tell him the proleteriat speaks Spanish and lives in America!
Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Thursday, June 07, 2007
Given the liberal slant of most of Newsweek's coverage (though Zakaria is certainly a conservative) and the fact that a significant number of liberals watch Dobbs and like his take on economics and other populist fluff, perhaps Zakaria's broader argument will be challenging to them.... maybe.
I think we should simply take the best we can, not through a point system that was set up by politicians (now if a group of scientists, deans, CEO's, etc. were to come up with this list based on what they need to stay cutting edge I would go along with it) but by a well-thought out or well-informed process like that described above.
Perhaps the key concern here is like that with other crisis areas (gun control especially), the laws are on the books but are not properly enforced. Admittedly, I am not familiar enough with the employer sanctions already on the books to identify the maximums for them, but its quite evident they are not being utilized in the judicial system.
I think the "return home" is another amateur hour concession the politicians made to try to win support for the bill. In other words, its a totally needless step fraught with potential difficulties.
Have a conversation with law enforcement officials in the South and some of the Western states and you'll hear some very Marxist sounding talk about the kinds of abuses they've uncovered at some of these farms, factories and other centers of illegal immigrant work. Not to mention the potential for sexual & economic abuse when employers have most of the power and say-so in the immigrants' legal situation and status.
Posted by: Eddie | Thursday, June 07, 2007
My take is the main audience for a liberal internationalist naturalized citizen is different from an old white guy who rails against the asians and the latins.
"I think we should simply take the best we can, not through a point system that was set up by politicians (now if a group of scientists, deans, CEO's, etc. were to come up with this list based on what they need to stay cutting edge I would go along with it) but by a well-thought out or well-informed process like that described above."
(Un)Fortunately we do not live in a technocracy but a democracy. Two houses of politicians are given the power "to establish a uniform rule of naturalization" and "to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers." Every immigration system is going to be set-up by politicians.
It's easy to make the perfect the enemy of the good. It's harder to support responsible policies.
"Perhaps the key concern here is like that with other crisis areas (gun control especially), the laws are on the books but are not properly enforced. Admittedly, I am not familiar enough with the employer sanctions already on the books to identify the maximums for them, but its quite evident they are not being utilized in the judicial system."
Laws that are more popular on the campaign trail than in practice are often this way. The anti-contraception law in Griswold v. Connecticut was rarely (ever?) enforced. The low-labor-cost-contraception laws are the same way.
"think the "return home" is another amateur hour concession the politicians made to try to win support for the bill. In other words, its a totally needless step fraught with potential difficulties."
It's needed because of two political realities: America's long-time low-labor-cost strategy and Americans' desire to punish illegals.
"Have a conversation with law enforcement officials in the South and some of the Western states and you'll hear some very Marxist sounding talk about the kinds of abuses they've uncovered at some of these farms, factories and other centers of illegal immigrant work."
As most agree the border is pourous, the proper way to measure exploitation is the democracy of feet: do illegals prefer to work for these "exploitive" firms or earn their traditional livelihoods south of the border?
" Not to mention the potential for sexual & economic abuse when employers have most of the power and say-so in the immigrants' legal situation and status.""
I'm confused by how you jump from a rightwing criticism (enforce the laws!) to a leftwing criticism (an enforcement regime harms workers!) so easily.
Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Saturday, June 09, 2007
We've gone rather far with the other arguments and I see your points for what they are and can see their merits. Although the quality of our politicians as impacted by special interest groups and extraordinarily amplified voices prevents quality legislation from occuring that often these days....
Also, you rightly note the workers will still come here, in spite of the abuses of some of the employers. This is not a take it or leave it issue though, we CAN ensure they have some basic rights while prosecuting (or exposing via blogs and NGO's) those employers who choose to treat their illegals/"Z" visa holders under far less than fair circumstances. All without too terribly impacting the profit bottom line.
I'll go with your last note then, I easily find things I agree with from the left, center and the right. I don't subscribe to a particular sense of ideology, I find it to be the very center of many problems in this country and elsewhere.
In this case, my evangelical beliefs (concern for the rights of Mexicans and others, especially their long-term health and freedom) meld well with my citizen's comprehension of illegal immigration, having worked with such people before in Miami and going to school with them in NC, as well as my love of country, which leads me now to share my appreciation of and devotion to our history and founding ideals (especially the more realistic ones) with the immigrants in my church during their long, ardorous process of trying to make it through their path to citizenship.
Posted by: Eddie | Saturday, June 09, 2007
I agree the situation is not take-it-or-leave-it, but ultimately the question is about a proposed reform v. the current system. Which of these two options do you support? Obviously both sides can be flawed, but I think it is too easy to criticize both without comparatively juding them.
As a Catholic, I recognize that providing everyone with the ability to live in frugal comfort is important. And as an American, I recognize the strength than immigration gives us. Increased immigration from Latin America enables both goals, allowing more people to live in comfort while helping our country. The setback that so many Republicans are now celebrating  prolongs poverty and weakens our country.
Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Sunday, June 10, 2007
Well I think the reform that WAS proposed and is now shelved was weak because it was cobbled together not out of consensus but out of fear. They wanted to do something, just enough to win enough votes to pass and avoid as much anger as they could from partisans. That's why a lot of "supporters" kept their comments to themselves and only gave lukewarm support to it.
You need a strong, clear bill, almost like welfare reform, to achieve what must be done. Then people can stand up to their constituents and look them in the eye and tell them with truth it is a good bill with good reforms, not a Frankenstein-esque bill with some redeeming qualities. There is certainly enough common ground out there for 60-70 Senators and 250-270 congressmen to agree upon.
I'm glad you recognize this could be a win-win for us via both goals :-).
Just wait till we try to end the drug war to de-power the cartels and contract our domestic Gap....
Posted by: Eddie | Sunday, June 10, 2007
I think I'm one of the lukewarm supporters -- nativist sentiment seems too high to do more now.
If a "strong, clear bill" is needed -- does that mean the current situation is bad but an incremental improvement is worse?
Agreed on the prospect over the debate to end the war on drugs, if it ever happens...
Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Sunday, June 10, 2007
Yes, an incremental improvement would be worse because it would stall momentum to actually get something constructive done in the near future. NCLB is another example of lukewarm, incremental improvement that sated public perceptions of education reform requirements for the past five years or so, much to the detriment of real reform that must happen (i.e. recognizing the high school system is outdated [along the arguments of Bill Gates and other business leaders], mandatory pre-school, mandatory changes in school funding based on local property values, mandatory school choice/vouchers, year-round school).
The only "incremental" step that would do a lot of good right now on immigration would be to greatly expand funding specifically for the immigration process, allowing expansion of staff handling visa and citizenship requests, etc. etc. Right now in Seattle, WA the average immigrant is forced to wait days in line (time lost from work and family), sometimes even weeks, just to fulfill their minimum requirements for paperwork processing, interviews and evaluations. Many types of visas now take months to process, whereas in the 1990's and 80's they took weeks or even days.
Posted by: Eddie | Sunday, June 10, 2007
If the only option was incremental improvement now or possibly major improvement later, you would have a better point. But if our opponents are seen to defeat us, they gain the momentum. We could get an immigration "reform" which is even harder on immigrants and the economy than the current regime. The correlation of forces could turn against us.
Long-term success is achieved by taking successes when they are possible and avoiding losses when they are possible. A Marxistic "all or nothing" strategy risks forfeiting possible successes and setting us up for future losses.
The current political reality is that USCIS wants to be self-funding to maintain independence from Congress, and Congress (which would rather spend taxpayer dollars and other things) is happy to oblige. 'Greatly increased funding' for about everything would be nice. It doesn't mean that its possible or worth spending political capital that could otherwise be used to create systematic changes.
Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Sunday, June 10, 2007