The Republican In Name Only (a.k.a. Rino) currently serving as the President of the United States of America has just increased his ten year estimate of the new Medicare drug benefit by another $140 billion just two months after the benefit was signed into law.
Congressional Republicans say privately President Bush "lied through his teeth" over the cost of his prescription drug program and Medicare overhaul that new budget numbers show will cost one-third more than previously estimated.
The increased cost will drive the projected deficit to more than $500 billion this year, GOP aides confirmed today.
This new estimate puts the cost to be at $54 billion per year. Previous estimate had the annual cost rising to $110 blllion per year by 2030. But with the new estimate for the shorter term going up by a third it seems reasonable to expect at least that level of increase in the longer term. So the Medicare drug benefit should rise to approximately $148 billion by 2030 if not much higher as Congress responds to a series of requests for small extensions of the program as the years pass by.
The Congressional Budget Office said in November and again this week that the cost was about $400 billion for the 10-year period 2004 to 2013, the amount originally proposed by Mr. Bush. But White House officials said Thursday that the president's budget would put the cost at $530 billion to $540 billion.
At the same time, the officials said that the overall budget deficit for the current fiscal year would exceed $500 billion.
But the White House is using information from Medicare actuaries to come up with the higher estimate. My guess is that the Medicare actuaries have better data on which to base their estimates. Though wouldn't it have been a good idea to work with that better data to come up more accurate cost estimates before signing into law the biggest increase in entitlements programs in decades?
Historically the cost estimates of the various previous Medicare extensions of benefits have been off by multiples. So Shadegg's lack of surprise shows he's familiar with the historical record of too low estimates of actual Medicare costs.
"I'm not the least bit surprised," said conservative Rep. John Shadegg, R-Ariz., who voted against the Medicare bill in November and who said he had heard that the cost estimate would rise. "Historically, our estimates of what these programs will cost have been so far off as to be meaningless."
Also see my previous post on the Medicare drug benefit: Medicare Drug Benefit: A Strange Sort Of Republican Victory.
Just when I start to develop considerable sympathy for the French their leaders just have to go doing something to remind me how far American and French interests have diverged. Jaakko Haapasaloof Rye Beer has a link to a report of French efforts to resume European Union arms sales to China.
On Monday French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin urged his EU counterparts meeting in Brussels to lift the embargo that, he said, "dates back more than 15 years and no longer corresponds with the political reality of the contemporary world."
France and Germany are the leading proponents of dropping the arms ban, while the Netherlands, Scandinavian nations, the European Parliament and human rights groups oppose to such a step.
"France's constant position for years now has been to support a single China," said Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin.
"When we said what we did, in no way were we intending to interfere in anyone's affairs. We simply stated again our wish that nothing should divide or complicate relations in the region. That is the wish and interest of all states in the region and indeed the whole international community," he said.
The Brussels bureaucrats would probably be wise at this time to reject this attempt by the French to lift the EU arms sales embargo to China. The friction it would cause in trans-Atlantic relations would be considerable since if Europe started arming a future US enemy (not that the US wants to call China an enemy) it would be hard for the US to think of the European countries as allies. The US response might widen a rift in the EU between the less and more democratic countries. Until an EU constitution is passed that pretty well cements all members states permanently in the Union it would be unwise to make any moves that would threaten that goal.
However, the French are looking down the chess board more moves and correctly recognize the need for the European Union to make common cause with anti-democratic regimes on at least some issues. After all, the EU is not exactly a paragon of democracy and clearly needs to maintain what is widely called its "democracy deficit" because of the very nature of the EU as a combination of very different nations, cultures, and speakers of many different languages brought together by political elites. The more democratic nations such as Sweden serve as democratic obstacles to further European integration. It is no accident that Tony Blair doesn't want the British people to directly vote on the next EU constitution revision since the British people would probably reject it if the decision was left up to them.
In fact, the EU is probably going to need to make its "democracy deficit" even larger because the need to stay anti-democratic at the EU level in Brussels is eventually going to have to be supplemented by a decrease in the democratic character of the various member states as the Muslim portions of the populations of some European states increases and the sense of a set of common shared values and interests declines. There are already warning signs flashing on this demographic trend with the French debate on Muslim headscarves and the widespread importation of Muslim spouses (the same phenomenon happening in Norway as well - see first update in that post).
Immigration is beginning to be recognized as a major obstacle to the continued maintenance of a consensus of shared values and interests in Europe. See this Februrary 2004 essay from Prospect Magazine where David Goodhart examines whether Britain is becoming too diverse. (also find the same article here)
It was the Conservative politician David Willetts who drew my attention to the "progressive dilemma." Speaking at a roundtable on welfare reform (Prospect, March 1998), he said: "The basis on which you can extract large sums of money in tax and pay it out in benefits is that most people think the recipients are people like themselves, facing difficulties which they themselves could face. If values become more diverse, if lifestyles become more differentiated, then it becomes more difficult to sustain the legitimacy of a universal risk-pooling welfare state. People ask, 'Why should I pay for them when they are doing things I wouldn't do?' This is America versus Sweden. You can have a Swedish welfare state provided that you are a homogeneous society with intensely shared values. In the US you have a very diverse, individualistic society where people feel fewer obligations to fellow citizens. Progressives want diversity but they thereby undermine part of the moral consensus on which a large welfare state rests."
Europeans are not going to be able to maintain the EU project or the welfare state or even the liberal character of their societies unless they make their states less democratic. So far the political leaders in Europe have repeatedly shown a willingness to defeat the will of the various European peoples in order to continue to shift power up to the European Union. It should not, therefore, be particularly surprising when the top leaders in France make a bold argument for selling arms to China even though those arms would be used to intimidate and perhaps even attack the much more democratic Taiwan. Democracy clearly can not be as highly valued in Europe as it is in the United States if Europe is to become increasingly governed by a central government even as each European state becomes less homogeneous and less European.
Update: Do you think I'm exaggerating the EU's need for a democracy deficit in order to make the whole European multi-national state project happen? See a related post on the Anti-Idotarian Rottweiler blog about the problem that Danish direct referenda are seen to pose for the expansion of EU power. Watch out for proposals to add a clause to the draft EU constitution to strike out the right of member states to hold binding popular referenda on issues regarding the European Union. That would be the logical next step to deal with popular opposition to the EU in Europe.
Melanie Phillips has an essay in the UK political opinion periodical Prospect Magazine about the need for Israel to impose a unilateral separation between the Israeli Jews and Palestinians.
And now we got down to the heart of Zanieri's argument. For to him - and, he said, this certainly goes for the Palestinian street too - Israel is the aggressor because it exists.
"Israel was the aggressor because Israel was formed in 1948," he said. "The Palestinians think that the start of the Zionist aggression was the start of Jewish immigration in the 19th century. Israel started the war in 1967. That occupation is the source of the violence. What is violence? Two warring sides have their own terminology. For so many Palestinians, terror is occupation itself."
If a moderate is someone who believes that a political settlement agreed by the world is akin to physical violence and who thinks that Jewish immigration into a land inhabited by Jews continuously since Biblical times was an act of aggression - and that this legitimises terrorism - what hope is there?
The beginning of enlightenment about the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians and their Arab supporters is to realize one very basic fact: the conflict is a problem that can not be solved in any way acceptable to the United States, the Arabs, or the Israelis. If all the Jews left that would solve it. But that is not going to happen. If all the Arabs converted to Buddhism that might solve it. But, again, that is not going to happen. If all of one side or the other was killed off that would solve it. But that is not going to happen for some decades yet (what happens once nukes eventually become available to the Arabs is another story we may live to see).
The conflict is intractable. Those on the Israeli left who still believe that a negotiated settlement is possible are dreaming. The Likudniks who think that the will of the terrorists can be broken by a continuation of the roadblocks and operations against the terrorists in the territories are similarly dreaming. Enough of the Palestinians are going to be willing to become terrorists for years to come that the conflict has no foreseeable ending point. The hatred of Israel is very deep and inculcated from an early age. Any regular reader of Little Green Footballs has grown accustomed to posts such as this one showing young Palestinian children being taught that they should want to grow up to become terrorists. It is hard to read about the pervasiveness of this sort of teaching in the Palestinian schools and media and still believe that a negotiated settlement is possible.
Phillips has reached the same conclusion I have held for some time: Israel should pull out of the bulk of West Bank and Gaza Strip and leave the Palestinians to entirely govern themselves.
Israel is trapped between the most treacherous of rocks and the hardest of hard places. But Sher and Olmert are surely right. Given that every strategy has a lethal downside, the question is: what is the worst thing Israel has to fear? Is it war? It has fought and won wars. Is it terror? It is suffering terror now, and for the foreseeable future. What is surely worst of all is to lose its belief in itself and destroy its soul.
It is not that the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza are illegal. Under international law, land seized as a consequence of self-defence in war is legitimately held while the enemy refuses to make peace. But legality is not the point. The bottom line is existential vulnerability. If Israel hangs onto the territories, the Jews will be outnumbered. It cannot and should not rule another people. It cannot wait for 20 years for negotiations to begin. It should unilaterally give up the territories.
The fear that giving them up would hand a victory to terror is a very real one. But it is possible to turn this argument on its head. For withdrawal effectively forces a state on the Palestinians. It therefore does not give terrorists victory if their goal is not a Palestinian state at all but the destruction of Israel. It is rather to frustrate their goals, call their bluff and so defeat them. Victory for terror can therefore only be imposed by people who believe the destruction of Israel to be the real agenda of the Palestinians. Those who believe their goal really is a two-state solution would be giving in to terror if they brought it about at bomb-point. Ironically, therefore, it is only Likud that can unilaterally withdraw without paying this moral price. Are they capable of realising it?
Israel's demographic problem with the more rapid Palestinian population growth makes it essential that both the interim barrier fence/wall and the final barrier should put as many Muslims on the Palestinian side of the barrier as posisble and all Jews on the Israeli side of the barrier. Also, Israel needs to totally end the importation of Palestinian labor. The separation should be total.
Sakaka Saudi Arabia, capital of a province bordering on Iraq, is the scene of a low grade rebellion against the rule of the Saudi royal family.
Residents of al-Jouf province say recent months have seen the assassination of the deputy governor and the execution-style killing of Sakaka's police chief by a group of men who forced their way into his home.
Earlier, the region's top Shariah, or religious law, court judge was shot at point-blank range as he drove to work.
Given that Saudi Arabia is stuck in an internal power struggle between reformists and Islamists which is preventing the Saudi school system and other institutions from substantially reducing their teaching of hostility against non-Muslims does the United States have any stake on the continued stability of the Saudi monarchy? The answer is not clear. It is quite possible that the Saudis could fall and be replaced by some theocrats who would be even worse.
However, if the Saudi government fell and the Shias who probably make up a majority of Saudi Arabia's oil-producing province were to split off and form their own government then the Wahhabis would be defunded. Those Shias would have a lot of money but my guess is that it is unlikely they'd use it it in as harmful a way as the Wahhabis are currently doing. So that outcome would be a net benefit to the United States. Though during the interim period of revolution the Saudi oil fields might be knocked out of action for months and we'd experience a large rise in oil prices. This would not be as disruptive once the Iraqi fields get ramped up to be able to produce much more than they are currently.
There are other signs that Saudi society is experiencing major problems. Saudi Arabia has long been known as a society which has an incredibly low crime rate. But the low crime era in Saudi Arabia is now long gone.
A report this year by the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency said crime among young jobless Saudis rose 320 percent from 1990 to 1996 and is expected to increase by an additional 136 percent by 2005.
Although official crime and unemployment statistics are not available, the number of jobless Saudis is estimated to be as high as 35 percent, and the al-Riyadh daily newspaper has reported that in 1999, courts dealt with 616 murder cases.
If the courts dealt with 616 murder cases then the total number of murders was problem even higher given that not all murders even result in a suspect being identified. But in 1999 Saudi Arabia probably had less than 22 million people given that it had 22 million in mid 2000 and its population is growing at an astounding rate of 3.28% per year (women who are not allowed to drive have a lot of time to make babies). But at 22 million population and 616 murders that would be a murder rate of 2.8 per 100,000. That is still only half the murder rate of the United States though it is a few times higher than the murder rate of South Dakota.
The continued lack of liberalizing change inside of Saudi Arabia (and in Pakistan for that matter) shows just how little the United States has accomplished post 9/11 in terms of changing the Middle Eastern societies which produce the terrorists who want to attack the United States.
As for what the United States should even seek to do about Saudi Arabia, the answer is by no means clear. James Q. Wilson has an excellent essay in the Winter 2004 issue of City Journal entitled What Makes A Terrorist? in which he covers the types of terrorists and the motives of nationalistic and religious terrorists:
That terrorists themselves are reasonably well-off does not by itself disprove the argument that terrorism springs from poverty and ignorance. Terrorists might simply be a self-selected elite, who hope to serve the needs of an impoverished and despondent populace—in which case, providing money and education to the masses would be the best way to prevent terrorism.
From what we know now, this theory appears to be false. Krueger and Maleckova compared terrorist incidents in the Middle East with changes in the gross domestic product of the region and found that the number of such incidents per year increased as economic conditions improved. On the eve of the intifada that began in 2000, the unemployment rate among Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip was falling, and the Palestinians thought that economic conditions were improving. The same economic conditions existed at the time of the 1988 intifada. Terror did not spread as the economy got worse but as it got better.
This study agrees with the view of Franklin L. Ford, whose book Political Murder covers terrorist acts from ancient times down to the 1980s. Assassinations, he finds, were least common in fifth-century Athens, during the Roman republic, and in eighteenth-century Europe—periods in which “a certain quality of balance, as between authority and forbearance” was reinforced by a commitment to “customary rights.” Terrorism has not corresponded to high levels of repression or social injustice or high rates of ordinary crime. It seems to occur, Ford suggests, in periods of partial reform, popular excitement, high expectations, and impatient demands for still more rapid change.
Will worsening economic conditions in Saudi Arabia as population dilutes the oil money over a larger number of people eventually decrease the motive for committing terrorist acts? Will the terrorists and the populaces that support them eventually become demoralized by a failure to cause large changes in their own and Western societies? Or do they measure their own success by their ability to block change by, for instance, preventing the Saudi government from liberalizing?
In my view the limited ability of the United States to change the internal evolution of Arab and other Muslim societies ought to drive home the need for other approaches. The US ought to mount a very major effort to develop technologies to end the entire world's dependence on Middle Eastern oil (also see here). If we fail to do this our ability to influence the Middle East will likely decline as the increase in energy demand from China and other countries is going to increase the amount of oil revenue flowing to the Wahhabis. The United States also needs to develop a greater amount of language skills among intelligence and law enforcement agents and increased ability to run agents in Muslim societies and in Muslim communities in the West.
WASHINGTON – More than half the people accused of using phony documents to sneak through the San Ysidro port of entry in recent days said they were trying to get into the United States because of President Bush's proposal to give temporary legal status to millions of illegal immigrants.
Of 162 people stopped for using phony documents at San Ysidro since Bush announced his plan on Jan. 7, 94 said they were trying to enter because of the proposed new work program, according to sources present at a Wednesday meeting of a border-security working group in San Diego.
Border Patrol Agent Bud Tuffly, who has patrolled the desert in Arizona for nearly 20 years, recalled the surge of illegal immigrants who crossed the border in advance of Congress' landmark 1986 amnesty.
"We saw the numbers skyrocket and all this naturally encourages them to come across," said Tuffly, a union representative in Tucson, Ariz. "You have to do your job. It's very demoralizing to do your job. We have rocks thrown at us daily. We had a guy from Yuma who died. Why?"
Charles Showalter of the National Immigration and Naturalization Service Council says the Bush Administration proposal would be a huge burden on the already overburdened Border Patrol.
The anticipated deluge of would-be temporary workers and their families would affect legal ports of entry, prompting a need for more inspectors, he added.
"This won't be just a temporary spike in workload," said Showalter, whose group represents 18,000 employees of the former Immigration and Naturalization Service, including 5,600 border inspectors. "It's going to clobber the system."
All those temporary workers whose work permits expired would have to be rounded up for deportation. But the US government is not serious about rounding up existing illegals. So the importation of millions more workers on work permits would just increase the ranks of the illegals as the work permits expired.
Bottom line about this latest proposal: George W. Bush is not proposing to round up and deport all the illegals currently here to make slots available for the workers who would come under a worker permit system. So Bush's proposal is just a legal pipeline to increase the flow of low-skilled foreigners into the United States to drive wages and living conditions of all Americans lower.
The federal government's offer of amnesty to nearly 3 million illegal immigrants in 1986 — almost a third of them in Southern California — was intended largely to reduce immigration. But even by conservative estimates, the number of illegal immigrants has doubled since then, while the overall population of the nation has increased about 20%. Agents say they have no reason to believe the results will be any different this time.
The amnestied workers were able to serve as a support network for new illegals. Plus, each time there is an amnesty the incentive to come to the US to be here for a future amnesty increases as foreigners come to expect additional amnesties.
The Bush administration's proposal to offer amnesty to illegal immigrant workers has prompted federal officials to instruct border patrol agents not to disclose information that might reflect poorly on the idea, a government document shows.
Meanwhile, U.S. border patrol agents have been told to ask a series of questions when they capture illegal immigrants, including whether the immigrants have heard of President George W. Bush's proposal.
The Bush Administration would like very much to be able to shut up Border Patrol agents and take away their use of their right to free speech to criticise their political masters on the issue of immigration (and I can't believe that I'm beginning to sound like the paranoics who rail against John Ashcroft). The National Border Patrol Council of the American Federation of Government Employees which is a part of the AFL-CIO union organization has set up a NoAmnesty.com web site where they describe their opposition to the Bush proposal. But they start out describing how their very right to do so is threatened:
The National Border Patrol Council is the labor organization that represents all 10,000 non-supervisory U.S. Border Patrol employees. Under current civil service law, its representatives are free to speak openly about matters of public concern, including illegal immigration. However, this freedom could be severely restrained or even extinguished under the Homeland Security Act, which granted broad authority to high-level bureaucrats to set up new personnel rules for all employees within the new Department. Should this occur, the public will lose the most authoritative and honest voice on immigration issues – that of the dedicated men and women who enforce our Nation’s immigration laws 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
On January 7, 2004, President George Bush outlined his proposals for immigration law reform. The National Border Patrol Council finds his proposal to be a slap in the face to each and every man and woman who has ever worn the Border Patrol uniform. Border Patrol Agents risk their lives on a daily basis protecting the citizens of the United States, and many have lost their lives doing so. The President has apparently decided that cheap labor and votes outweigh obedience to laws and the sacrifices of dedicated law enforcement officers.
Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies describes how all the elites in Washington are in favor of sabotage of immigration law enforcement.
This lack of political commitment to the work of a particular government agency is nothing new. When Republicans are in power, agencies they would like to get rid of but can't, like the Labor Department, tend to be denied resources and political support in order to inhibit their ability to function. Likewise, Democratic administrations, whether or not they actually "loathe the military," still accord it low priority, leading to erosion in pay and readiness. Hobbling the military is, of course, a much bigger deal than hobbling the Labor Department, but the impulse is the same.
What's unique about the immigration bureaucracy is that no one in the political elite wants it to work properly, so it remains underfunded and unappreciated, regardless of the party in power.
Do not believe the lies that are made that immigration law is unenforceable or that the southern border can not be protected against illegal crossings. The reason so many illegal aliens are in the United States is that a succession of presidents and Congresses have bowed to the will of various interest groups to sabotage immigration law enforcement. There are many ways that immigration law could be enforced if the political will existed to do so. For starters, local police could be authorized to take illegal aliens into custody for rapid deportation. Also, a barrier fence on the border with Mexico is an affordable option. Immigration is creating an ever growing Recipient Class who receive more in benefits than they pay in taxes.
Declaring that no institutions in Pakistan would be above the law, Musharraf's government promised that it would register all madrasas to obtain a clear idea of which groups were running which schools, insist that all madrasas adopt a government curriculum by the end of 2002, and stop madrasas and mosques from being used as centers for the spread of politically and religiously inflammatory statements and publications.
Two years later, no presidential ordinance to regulate madrasas has been promulgated, and the government openly assures the clergy that it will not interfere in madrasas' internal affairs. Most madrasas in Pakistan remain unregistered.
Top officials in the Bush Administration see the madrassa school in Pakistan as a serious problem. See previous posts Rumsfeld Sees Madrassah Schools As A Problem To Work On and US, Pakistani Officials Meet Over Madrassah Schools Issue. But it is obvious that Pervez Musharraf doesn't have either the power or the resources or the motivation to reform curricula in Madrassahs.
Given that Saudi Arabia is stuck in an internal power struggle between reformists and Islamists it is also unlikely Saudi Arabia's school curriculum is improving. So over 2 years post 9/11 there are no signs that one basic contributing factor to Islamic terrorism is changing for the better. Also keep in mind that the Saudis are spending more per year to spread Wahhabism than the Soviets spent per year to spread communism. Some of that money goes to fund Madrassah schools that teach a Wahhabist curriculum.
Part of the US response to this state of affairs should be to make visas much harder to get for people from countries with large numbers of students attending schools that teach Islamic fundamental school curricula which teach hostility toward non-believers.
While some details of the Bush guest worker program remain murky, and any actual legislation would have to be hammered out with Congress, the statements issued so far by the White House imply an open-ended, strikingly libertarian approach to globalizing the U.S. job market.
A fact sheet issued by the White House to accompany the president's speech on Wednesday made clear that the administration envisions bringing into the country a substantial increase in the supply of labor above that provided by current U.S. residents, both legal and presently illegal. The White House complained: "Current immigration law can also hinder companies from finding willing workers. The visas now available do not allow employers to fill jobs in many key sectors of our economy."
Bush announced: "I propose a new temporary worker program that will match willing foreign workers with willing American employers, when no Americans can be found to fill the jobs. This program will offer legal status, as temporary workers, to the millions of undocumented men and women now employed in the United States, and to those in foreign countries who seek to participate in the program and have been offered employment here. ... All who participate in the temporary worker program must have a job, or, if not living in the United States, a job offer."
The White House list of common questions and answers about the Bush proposal argues for an inability of American employers to find willing American workers which is the fallacy at the base of the Bush Administration immigration proposal.
Question: Will the federal government be able to implement such a large-scale immigration program and also enforce the immigration laws?
While the details of the program will be worked out during discussions with Congress, we envision that the temporary worker program will simplify employers' hiring of foreign workers and contain sufficient protections to protect the American workforce. We anticipate that the program would include: a web site that would list available jobs and authorized workers; a simple process for employers to establish that they have been unable to find American workers; the requirement that the employer report when foreign workers enter and leave their employ; and strong audit and penalty provisions to ensure that both employers and workers are following the rules.
How would employers show that they have been unable to find local workers? That seems easy to do: figure out what the local market price is for workers to do a particular job and then advertise for workers to do that job at an amount that is less than the local market price but which is an amount high enough to be appealing to, say, someone living in a poor part of Mexico or Ecuador or India. Then when no applicants are forthcoming an employer can claim a need to hire foreign workers to fill open positions at that low wage.
An accomplished Republican Party activist offers comments on the very radical and unconservative Bush immigration proposal:
Under the proposal, any American employer with an unfilled job opening may post that opening on the Internet and immediately import an at-will foreign worker to "temporarily" fill that job, since the "magic of the marketplace" proves that all open jobs are axiomatically unattractive to American workers. Thus, if Walmart currently pays its "associates" $8.25 an hour with some benefits, it could immediately lower its compensation scheme to $5.25 an hour with no benefits, tut-tut in disappointment when 90% of its workforce quickly quit, then utilize the chartered freight-trains and buses it had thoughtfully prepared to immediately import a million Mexicans to replace them. This really does appear to be the intent of the Bush Proposal.
Furthermore, given the Administration's noted humanitarian bent and its desire to foster Latino entrepreneurship, we should not be surprised at some of the subtler aspects of the Bush Plan. For example, under the heightened border patrol regime put in place during the 1990s, the cost paid by illegal immigrants to smugglers has steadily risen into the thousands of dollars each and significant numbers of border crossers die each year in the scorching Arizona desert. As proposed by the Bushies, current smugglers have merely to rebrand themselves American "employers," post their "job" openings on the Internet, then quietly charge their Third World "applicants" a hefty but hidden fee covering travel, overhead, a healthy profit, and a week's minimum wage's, afterward telling their erstwhile employees to "get lost"---which they will eagerly do, in Los Angeles or New York.
Presumably, the goal of the politics-uber-alles Bush White House is to appeal to Latino and immigrant voters. I suspect this media strategy will be quite successful---for the first two seconds until Democratic organizers inform heavily-immigrant SEIU or hotel workers that Bush has proposed allowing their employers to immediately import unlimited numbers of minimum-wage foreign strike-breakers from everywhere in the world. After those two seconds, El Busho will be lucky to get 1% of the (overwhelmingly) working-class Latino vote.
And given all the current grim facts about our jobless "recovery," we shouldn't expect El W's share of the Anglo working-class vote to end up much higher.
Even if Bush's proposed foreign temporary worker hiring law was enforced well enough to prevent importation of workers for non-existent jobs the smugglers could still use the law to bring in large numbers of workers. The smugglers could essentially turn themselves into contract worker supply agencies and develop large numbers of contacts with both small and large businesses that want cheaper labor. Any factory, home builder, painting contractor, trash collection company, janitorial services company, or a company in countless other industries could make deals with Mexican entrepreneurs to bring in an endless supply of minimum wage workers who can replace workers who are currently making $8 or $10 or $12 or $15 per hour.
Of course the Mexican workers would have to compete with the Bangladeshis, Indians, Pakistanis, Vietnamese, Ecuadorians, and literally billions of others. A program that allowed employers to recruit unlimited numbers of foreign temporary workers would make the current rate of influx of illegal aliens seem meager by comparison. The United States could become like Saudi Arabia with more foreigners working in the economy than natives.
Most of the temporary workers would disappear from their legal jobs if the time for their work permit came to an end and they were facing deportation. So millions of temporary workers would eventually become permanent illegal aliens. Worse, many of them would have kids and those kids would be born American citizens. This would all be paid for by taxpayer subsidies for the births as the foreign women presented themselves at emergency wards in labor. Then their kids would become eligible for Medicaid and other benefits, again paid for by the taxpayers. This will continue the growth of the Recipient Class. The growth of the less skilled portions of the populace inevitably leads to the growth of big government. Said growth in government is something that real conservatives oppose.
For many previous supporters of George W. Bush this latest proposal is serving as a last straw. Georgia GOP Bush fund raiser Phil Kent reports Republican donors are angry about Bush's proposal. (same article here)
Phil Kent, a member of the host committee for a Bush fund-raiser in Atlanta yesterday, said he was told by several would-be donors that they would not attend the $2,000-per-person event because of the president's announcement last week on immigration reform.
"They're not going to vote Democratic," said Karlyn H. Bowman, a polling specialist at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank in Washington, D.C. "Staying home in a close election is what the Republicans would be worried about."
Right now, polls indicate that more than 90 percent of people who identify themselves as conservative back Bush. The president's conservative base has been firmed up by patriotic identification with the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, the cuts in income-tax rates, and Bush's embrace of some key aspects of the evangelical Christian social agenda, including enacting a ban on the procedure conservatives call "partial-birth" abortion.
Famed Republican Party activist Paul Weyrich says Bush has stepped on a political landmine.
At any rate, Bush clearly has stepped on a land mine with his immigration initiative. This is not like other issues. Emotions run so deep on immigration that once voters are lost over this issue it will be next to impossible to get them back.
And while I said there was not enough of a revolt on the spending issues to cause a revolt, it could be that immigration in addition to spending may push some voters over the cliff.
Rep. LaMar Smith, an expert on immigration, says he can't imagine something this controversial passing the Congress in an election year. I can. Unless Democrats just want to vote no to embarrass the President, most of them favor the Bush plan and there will be enough Republicans loyal to Bush to garner the votes needed to pass the measure.
Even if the proposal does not pass in 2004 it seems reasonable to expect that Bush will promote it in 2005. If he wins reelection by a substantial margin he will be in a stronger position to promote its passage.
A conservative activist who has worked to help the Bush-Cheney campaign but asked not to be identified said many people with whom he talks are beginning to justify in their minds a one-term Bush presidency.
"As long as Republicans and conservatives keep the Congress, we can lose the White House," the activist said. "Let Karl Rove put that in his pipe and smoke it, because we can use the Congress to block a Democratic president's judges and initiatives."
Count me in the ranks of those who think the United States of America would be better off if George W. Bush is not reelected.
Update: Work permits would tie the foreign workers to specific employers who would manage to be approved to hire foreigners. Therefore work permits would tie foreign workers to their employers and give the employers a dangerous amount of power over them.
Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas, state Sen. Barack Obama and state Comptroller Dan Hynes fear employer abuses as immigrants likely would do anything to keep their permits and avoid illegal status.
Pappas said the policy creates a "second-class citizenry living within our borders."
I'd rather not live in a feudal society.
The Iranian undertaking, given three months ago, was hailed at the time as marking a new approach to the disarmament of rogue states through diplomacy rather than war but western officials said Teheran was still buying and assembling machines to enrich uranium. "The Iranians are definitely still out procuring equipment," said one senior western source.
Now, diplomats told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity, even key European nations who negotiated the deal with Tehran have started to question Iran's commitment because it appears to be using semantics -- the meaning of the word suspend -- to keep some of its nuclear enrichment program operational.
One of the diplomats suggested an oversight on the part of France, Germany and Britain when they made their deal with Iran.
"Right from the beginning, everybody asked, 'what is suspension,' but the Europeans and Iranians never defined it," he said.
To get a sense of the word games and negotiating strategies used by the Iranian government see Amir Taheri's recent article on an Egyptian-Iranian diplomatic row.
Although Iran has shut down its nuclear facility in Natanz and has stopped installing new centrifuges to enrich uranium, the officials said Wednesday, Iran has indicated it will continue to honor existing contracts with local companies who produce the equipment.
But International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei said Thursday the U.N. agency had seen no indications Iran had reneged on its promise. He spoke on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum.
Whether a binding deal is achieved depends in large part on whether the United States is perceived as a credible threat to the continued existence of the Mullahocracy in Teheran. The Mullahs might be willing to gamble that they can get away with developing nuclear weapons. The US has most of its troops tied down in Iraq and other countries. Domestically the Bush Administration is facing sustained criticism for not finding more WMD technology and weapons in Iraq. Can the US credibly threaten Iran with a preemptive attack? If not then why should Khamenei and his associates hold back from developing nuclear weapons? Are the economic carrots being offered by Europe big enough to persuade the Iranians? Can the US and EU get a sanctions regime thru the UN Security Council? At this point the Iranians are not yet convinced that they have all that much to lose by continuing to develop nuclear weapons.
The Iranians got so far along on their nuclear weapons program with various forms of intentional help from Pakistan, Russia, and other countries. But leakage of technology from Western countries has been important as well. Iran acquired a gas centrifuge design from a willing Pakistan but Pakistan acquired that design from Europe surreptitiously. Pakistani nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan probably acquired gas centrifuge designs while working for a German-Dutch-British consortium Urenco in the Netherlands in the 1970s. There is a lesson here about the dangers of letting foreigners in to work in a country's civilian nuclear power program.
Meanwhile, the Dutch government yesterday said there are indications that North Korea and Libya may also have acquired centrifuges that were developed in Europe and which both Pakistan and Iran are known to possess.
The official said the scientist who had led the effort to build an atomic bomb, Abdul Qadeer Khan, had told investigators that any sharing of nuclear technology with Iran had the approval of Gen. Mirza Aslam Beg, the commander of Pakistan's army from 1988 to 1991.
The availability of designs of equipment that is useful for making nuclear weapons is going to steadily rise. The ever rising density of computer data storage media and rising speeds of computer networks makes it ever easier to transfer large amounts of design data. At the same time, advances in design software make it much easier to develop complex designs with smaller engineering teams. Plus, advances in machining tools and other methods of fabrication are making it steadily easier for even less sophisticated operators of manufacturing equipment to produce complex designs. A country like Iran that intends to develop nuclear weapons will find the task of doing so to get continually easier in future decades. Given that the will of Western countries to stop countries with nuclear weapons ambitions is not going to always be strong it seems inevitable that more countries will succeed in becoming nuclear powers. Still, efforts to delay the spread of nuclear weapons are worth pursuing.
But the most recent statistics--1,200 cases of veiled girls in state schools, with four expulsions--would seem to indicate little more than a dress-code problem of limited extent. Yet the French are debating it as Americans would debate a declaration of war.
Which is what the French man on the street perceives it to be. At issue is the assimilability of France's Arab immigrants and their children. France is now about 10 percent Muslim. Some set the Muslim population (almost all of it Arab) at 5 million, others at 8 million. But all agree that the Muslims are disproportionately (even unconscionably) poor, clustered in housing projects surrounding France's biggest cities, victimized by discrimination, and ravaged by unemployment and increasingly crime. Young men of Arab descent (beurs, as they're called) have been responsible for a lot of that crime, including the vast majority of the hundreds of attacks on Jews and Jewish institutions in France over the last three years, and for much of an epidemic unruliness in France's schools. In "The Lost Territories of the Republic," the sociologist Emmanuel Brenner made an inventory of such classroom incidents--kids guffawing through lectures on the Holocaust, teachers subjected to ethnic taunts, humiliation of girls--that is reported to have shocked Jacques Chirac profoundly. So the veil is to the French imagination what graffiti were to the American imagination in the late 1970s: harmless per se, yet a marking of territory, sparking fear that those willing to do harm are in the neighborhood.
Many American libertarians, liberals, and neoconservatives view the French attempt to ban the wearing the veil in many public institutions simply as a violation of individual religious rights. But in my view that analysis is hopelessly naive. What is going on is something more akin to a "Broken Windows" interpretation of the causes of crime but with an interesting twist: instead of trying to discourage criminals and criminal gangs that hold themselves apart from society the French (and increasingly other Europeans - see below) are viewing the religious symbols of the Muslims as something akin to tribal identifying signs which are an implicit challenge to secular authority. This is not an unreasonable interpretation. Islam's founder never said "Render unto Ceaser that which is Caesar's". In fact, Mohammed's attitude was quite the opposite: that governments should rule as Muslim governments. The idea of separation of mosque and state does not enjoy the legitimacy in Muslim-majority countries that it enjoys in the West and the reason is that Islam at its core rejects this separation. To the extent that Muslims are walkng around wearing apparel that signals that they are Muslims they are making a political statement to each other and to the non-Muslims who exist in the same country.
To a teacher in a French school who can't get her Muslim students to stop hissing when she tries to teach the history of the Holocaust there is a great deal of value in being able to prevent an even more Islamic atmosphere and the bonding between Muslim students against everyone else. The same holds in the larger society. To the extent that Muslims see themselves as separate from the larger society because they are Muslims the larger society really is threatened. Should the Muslims some day become a majority in France, Belgium, or the Netherlands their religious belief in their superiority and in their values will place the non-Muslims in a condition far worse in terms of violated rights than whatever the Muslims in Europe can complain about today.
With Belgium now also considering a headscarf ban, there appears to be a growing trend towards assimilation. It's a process that's already caused a storm among Islamic communities in Europe and abroad, and may be fraught with as many problems as the "opposite" policy of multiculturalism.
The latest twist in France's controversial plan to ban religious symbols from classrooms came Tuesday, when Education Minister Luc Ferry said the planned ban on religious symbols could also cover facial hair and bandannas, sometimes worn as a discreet alternative to the traditional Muslim head scarf.
"If we had chosen the word `visible,' we could have seen the appearance of other signs,' " Mr. Ferry said.
For that reason, he explained, "The bandanna, if it is presented by young girls as a religious sign, will be forbidden."
He also contended that hairstyles or the wearing of certain colors could be a source of manipulation. "Signs could be invented using simple hairiness or a color," he said. "Creativity is infinite in this regard."
Fourteen-year-old Vikramjit Singh, who lives in suburban Paris, says giving up his studies would perhaps ruin his material life.
"But if I have to give up my turban, I am sacrificing my spiritual life. And that is totally unacceptable to me," he told BBC News Online.
The Sikhs are caught up in this even though they are so few in number that they couldn't possibly pose a threat to the secular state. But my guess is that the French can't be seen to be making exceptions for other less-threatening religions.
Also see my previous post Headscarf Bans In Schools Coming To France, German States.
Update: In support of my argument about tribalism and "Broken Windows" above see my recent post Imported Spouses Preventing Assimilation Of Dutch Muslims and also a post by Razib of the Gene Expression blog where he reports on the incredibly low rate of intermarriage of Muslim immigrants with native Norwegians even in the third generation.
Human Rights Service figures for henteekteskap, or "fetching marriages" - in which one spouse is "fetched" from the other's ancestral country - are staggering. From 1996 to 2001, 82 percent of the men marrying the Norwegian granddaughters of Moroccan immigrants were themselves Moroccans; another 14 percent were of Moroccan origin. For Norwegian granddaughters of Pakistani immigrants, the corresponding rates were 76 percent and 22 percent. In that five-year period, only three granddaughters of Moroccan immigrants married ethnic Norwegians; only one granddaughter of a Pakistani immigrant did so.
Also, cousin marriage may be a big factor in keeping the Muslim immigrants marrying people brought in from their country of origin. Start here to go thru my posts on consanguineous marriage, society, Islam, and politics in the Middle East.
Update While 70 percent of the French public supports the headscarf ban opposition to the ban is growing among some French politicians.
Francois Bayrou, who heads the UMP's coalition partner the Union for French Democracy (UDF), said he "feared from the start that such a law, which of course goes down well in the polls, would quickly heighten tensions and offer the fundamentalists an opening which they could only have dreamed of."
The French are between a rock and a hard place. Their problem with Islamic fundamentalists is going to grow no matter what they do. Muslims are going to be an increasing percentage of the French population. At the very least they should aggressively deport illegal aliens in order to limit the Muslim population growth.
Holland's 30-year experiment in trying to create a tolerant, multicultural society has failed and led to ethnic ghettos and sink schools, according to an official parliamentary report.
If multiculturalism can't succeed in the Netherlands it seems doubtful it can succeed anywhere else.
Between 70 and 80 per cent of Dutch-born members of immigrant families import their spouse from their "home" country, mostly Turkey or Morocco, perpetuating a fast-growing Muslim subculture in large cities.
This calls out for an obvious response: ban the importation of Muslim spouses.
The children of immigrants have been encouraged to learn Arabic, Berber, or Turkish in elementary schools rather than Dutch. The mind reels at the possible rationalization for this policy. Were all these immigrants being trained to be able to speak their parent's language so that they could all return home some day? Probably not. Maybe, in decadent modern Western fashion, Dutch was seen as the language of white European oppressors and not sufficiently natively authentic? Sound like an absurd explanation? What explanation wouldn't be absurd?
The report recommends government housing subsidies for Muslims to move out into the white Dutch suburbs. If the government goes through with this proposal then the costs of immigration are about to go up even higher for the Dutch. They'll have to pay more for immigrant housing and put themselves at greater risk of being victimized by groups that commit crime at higher rates.
But city leaders estimate that Rotterdam receives 60 percent of all new immigrants to the Netherlands, and that it simply cannot cope with the housing expenses and other social-welfare costs of absorbing more. Meanwhile, city leaders say middle-class Dutch residents are leaving the city because of rising crime rates and deteriorating neighborhoods. While crime records are not kept according to ethnicity, Dutch police and government officials have publicly linked a rise in crime to immigrants, particularly youth gangs.
Recent surveys show that 62 percent of Rotterdam residents support limiting immigration. The city's non-European population has risen over the past decade, in part because of the arrival of spouses from the old country - and robust birth rates. A recent government study in Rotterdam showed that the average birth rate for Moroccan women is nearly four times that of the Dutch rate of just over one child.
The Dutch are not going to be able to escape from their immigration problems. The immigrants are breeding more rapidly and the Dutch government may bring the crime problem to the suburbs.
Most high schools in the Valley offer dual enrollment, but the kinds of classes offered differ at each campus. More than 11,500 high school students in Maricopa County are dual-enrolled through one of the 10 community colleges, with most earning 12 to 15 college credits.
Lucia Rodriquez, a senior at Carl Hayden High School in Phoenix, said she will have a full year of college credit when she attends the University of Arizona next fall.
Last year, dual enrollment was one of the programs Gov. Janet Napolitano suggested eliminating in the early rounds of budget talks. Despite an estimated savings for the state of $4 million, the program survived.
These courses are offered in the high schools. The kids don't have to have cars to get to the community colleges.
I think this is a great idea that more states should copy. Governor Napolitano's attempt to cut the program is short-sighted. The kids in the program will spend fewer years enrolled at state colleges and universities once they graduate and so this will save the taxpayers that way. Plus, the sooner the kids get out of college the sooner they will start working and start paying taxes. See my previous post Accelerate Education To Increase Tax Revenue, Reduce Costs for more on this idea.
Another idea I'd like to see implemented is for college lectures to be filmed and offered for viewing by high school students. Then the students should be offered the ability to sit for tests to pass college courses and get credit toward college degrees.
Thanks to Mike Trier for sending the reference to this article.
BAGHDAD, Jan. 15 -- For the past four decades, Iraqi women have enjoyed some of the most modern legal protections in the Muslim world, under a civil code that prohibits marriage below the age of 18, arbitrary divorce and male favoritism in child custody and property inheritance disputes.
Saddam Hussein's dictatorship did not touch those rights. But the U.S.-backed Iraqi Governing Council has voted to wipe them out, ordering in late December that family laws shall be "canceled" and such issues placed under the jurisdiction of strict Islamic legal doctrine known as sharia.
The Bush Administration, whose obvious official view is that religion is, by its very nature, inherently good, is probably going to gloss over the mounting problems posed by Islam to the reformation of Iraq into a semi-liberal democracy. Many conditions in Iraq are not encouraging for the development of a society where individual rights (especially for women) are respected. Iraq will most likely end up with the outward form of democracy. But the resulting government will not operate at all according to ideals that many Westerners assume are the natural outcome of democracy. That democracy will produce illiberal results in Arab societies is predictable in advance. As Stanley Kurtz has argued Germany and Japan were possessed of essential qualities at the end of WWII that Iraq does not now possess. Successful efforts at societal transformation take a long time and it seems very unlikely that the US is going to stay in Iraq all that long, let alone actually start making the kinds of deep changes to Iraqi society that will require decades to become permanent. The neoconservatives are instead ready to launch new wars since wars are quicker and more fun than the tedious work of trying to develop roots for liberalism in illiberal societies.
Cousin marriage such a huge obstacle and the Sunni distrust of democracy as assuring Shia dominance is such another large obstacle that I question whether Iraq should even be maintained as a single country. Partition may produce the best results given the limit on the depth of the kinds of changes that the Bush Administration is trying to make to Iraqi society.
Lebanese citizen Mahmoud Youssef Kourani has been charged by federal prosecutors in Michigan of fund-raising for the Hezbollah terrorist group of Lebanon. Kourani used a corrupt Mexican official and Mexican smugglers as a path into the United States illegally.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Kourani bribed a Mexican consular official in Beirut to get a visa to travel to Mexico. Kourani and a traveling companion then paid another man in Mexico to be smuggled across the southern U.S. border on Feb. 4, 2001, the government said.
he continued his "substantial" fund-raising for Hezbollah after taking up residence in Dearborn, Michigan, which is home to a large Arab community.
Kourani took steps to conceal his beliefs — not attending mosque or observing religious rituals and shaving his beard — while he was in the United States, the government said.
In order to raise funds note that you have to find people who are willing to donate. Note that Kourani didn't have to go to Arab oil sheikdoms to raise funds. He was able to do so in Michigan.
Federal prosecutors said Kourani conspired with his brother, who they said is Hezbollah's chief of military security for southern Lebanon.
Another Dearborn man with reported ties to Hezbollah was sentenced last week to five years, 10 months in prison without the possibility of parole.
Elias Mohamad Akhdar, 31, pleaded guilty in July to a charge of conspiring to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.
Rising anti-Jewish sentiments in Europe are being fed by Muslim immigration which is working directly by bringing in people who have a great deal of animosity, resentment, and even outright hatred of Jews. But that immigration has another pernicious effect by causing politicians to attempt to cater to the rising Mulsim population groups by muting any views that these groups may find offensive. This gives a green light to natives with anti-Jewish sentiments to be more open about them. The trends in Europe are being mirrored to a lesser degree in the US due to Hispanic immigration. But substantial Muslim immigration into the US would make anti-Jewish sentiments in the US far less tractable to rational persuasion. The United States would become much more dangerous for Jews with a greater risk of being attacked and murdered if the number of devout Muslims increased substantially.
The same phenomenom is at work in the United States even though the numbers of Muslims here are far less. Neoconservative David Frum, severe (and I think unfair) critic of paleoconservatives and paleolibertarians (see Ilana Mercer on Frum here as well), admits that Bush took positions on immigration in 2000 designed to appeal to the Muslim swing voters in Florida with rather unfortunate results.
Here now is where the story gets painful for us Bush Republicans. Not only were the al-Arians not avoided by the Bush White House - they were actively courted. Candidate Bush allowed himself to be photographed with the al-Arian family while campaigning in Florida. Candidate Bush denounced the immigration laws that detained - and ultimately deported - Mazen al-Najjar. In May 2001, Sami al-Arian was invited into the White House complex for a political briefing for Muslim-American leaders. The next month his son, Abdullah, who was then an intern in the office of Congressman David Bonior, joined a delegation of Muslim leaders at a meeting with John DiIulio, head of the Office of Faith-Based Initiatives. After the group entered the complex, a red flag belatedly popped up over the al-Arian name, and the Secret Service ordered him out of the complex. The entire delegation marched out with young al-Arian - and soon afterward, President Bush personally apologized to the young man and ordered the deputy director of the Secret Service to apologize as well.
This happened in the larger context of influential Republican operative Grover Norquist's much criticised outreach and connections to radical Muslim groups in the United States. What is astounding about this folly is that as Steve Sailer has shown Norquist and Bush are attempting to appeal to a mere 0.1 to 0.2 percentage of the electorate. It is easy to sit in judgement of Jacques Chirac and other French politicans faced with the presence of 5 or 6 million Muslims in France. But imagine what trouble would be caused if the number of Muslims grew in America to the point where both Democratic and Republican politicians and their foolish advisors were pursuing them for a whole percentage point of the vote. The enormous resulting harm to the national interest would be hard to calculate. Bush faces a problem with the Arab-American voters in 2004 that may well be influencing his immigration policy choices even today. See this article from the Jewish publication Forward: Arab-American Anger Over War in Iraq Could Weaken Bush in 2004. Bush has to be wondering what trade-offs he should make on the larger national interest in order to appeal to that 0.1 or 0.2 percent of the electorate. The rest of us should be worried.
Aside: while digging for information to make this post I came across the debates between various factions on the right about immigration that touch on whether paleoconservatives are all racists (I think this is an unfair smear) and whether criticism of neoconservatives has anti-Jewish motivations. The best take-down of the latter argument I came across is a recent post by Joshua Micha Marshall on neoconservatives as an ideological group.
Let’s be clear on what’s going on here.
Pressure groups exist in politics. The loose association of people generally termed 'neoconservative' use the term to describe themselves. And while no group is monolithic in its thinking, they generally think of themselves as a group and act in that fashion. We can get into a discussion at some other point about the fine points of intellectual history and note that intellectual or ideological movements are as much social constructs tethered to specific institutions as they are coherent and consistent textbook philosophies which remain the same over time. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
The point is that this is an ideological group in American politics. The people who are a part of it see it as such, as do its critics and opponents. And yet many now want to use blanket criticisms of anti-Semitism to stigmatize and ward off any and all criticism.
It’s almost like a thuggishly rhetorical assertion of intellectual property rights. Neoconservatives can use the term and talk about their movement as a movement. But it’s off-limits for opponents --- sort of like how trademark holder Nike can use the phrase “Just Do It” but if Reebok tried, Nike would sue.
Not only is this dishonest. It's a conscious cheapening of the charge of anti-Semitism that should be roundly and vociferously criticized.
See also my previous post Irving Kristol Is An Ideologue.
The National Review Online blog The Corner has a raging debate about immgration in response to Bush's terrible immigration proposal ("Oh come on", I hear you all saying, "stop holding back on what you think of that lazy irresponsible guy currently occupying the Oval Office") with most NR writers opposing it. However, Jonah Goldberg is firmly in the ranks of those who like large scale immigration and for all sorts of interesting reasons. Among the reasons is that Jonah has a higher opinion of the political preferences of recently naturalized citizens than of white 18-22 year olds.
Indeed, I would be more comfortable having newly naturlized immigrants decide the future of this country at the ballot box than leaving it up to, say, typical white 18-22 year-olds. I know that the immigrants can pass a civics test. I have no such confidence in the kids at my local malls.
His statement comes very close to being character assassination against the whole block of people who are American white 18 to 22 year olds. This is curious because people who want a large reduction in immigration are often accused of racism in some quarters and this sort of character assassination is a lot easier than debating the facts. But being a very empirical guy I'm interested in facts. What I find interesting about the accusations of racism is that at their base there appears to be a desire to delegitimize the view that existing citizens should be able to put their own interests ahead of those who are not citizens. If we look at the effects of at least some kinds of immigration (especially of the lesser skilled and lesser educated) it is clear that these kinds of immigration are harmful to the interests of the majority. This is hardly a fringe viewpoint (except perhaps in Washington DC). In poll after poll clear majorities of Americans state opinions about immigration that makes it clear they see their interests are harmed by the current level and types of immigrants the US is receiving.
Jonah writes for a supposedly conservative publication. Therefore one expects him to be in favor of conservative ideas like a smaller government that provides less in the way of services and opposition to affirmative action. But our Hispanic immigrants favor very unconservative policies.
They were twice as likely to call themselves Democrats as Republicans, viewed the Democratic Party more favorably than the Republican Party and, by a margin of 49 percent to 21 percent, said the Democratic Party was more likely to care about the needs of Hispanics.
A majority said they supported a bigger government providing more services, backed affirmative action and questioned whether the war in Iraq was worth the cost.
I have doubts about the efficacy of any sort civic test that the US government would require newly naturalized citizens to pass. It seems to me that the US is sustained by beliefs in common values and that these beliefs are hard to test for in people who have an incentive to give you the answer you want to hear. One can know the rules or facts and still not embrace those values. But out of curiosity I went looking for information on the citizenship test and found a long list of typical questions that prospective citizens get asked. Here are some sample US citizenship test questions.
1. What are the colors of the flag?
2. How many stars are there in our flag?
3. What color are the stars on our flag?
4. What do the stars on the flag mean?
5. How many stripes are there in the flag?
6. What color are the stripes?
7. What do the stripes on the flag mean?
8. How many states are there in the union (United States)?
9. What is the 4th of July?
10. What is the date of Independence Day?
These questions are suitable for a low level trivial pursuit game for an 8th grade American civics class. But they are hardly a good measure of a prospective citizen's sentiments, beliefs, and values. Some of the later questions on the list are a little more difficult but not by much and are not much better as a measure of support for American values and institutions.
Then there is the not-so-small problem about our immigrants that Jonah ignores when he states such a dim view of white 18 to 22 year olds: the young white kids are a whole lot better educated than the average immigrant. Mexico is the biggest source of immigrants to this country. While the average level of education in Mexico is only the fifth grade we are getting moderately better educated Mexican immigrants because those Mexican who come to the US have an average 8th grade education! Does Jonah want these people as voters?
Overall, recent immigrants from Mexico and Central America face greater socioeconomic challenges than their counterparts from other major sending regions, such as Southeast and East Asia. Nearly one-third live below the poverty line, compared to only 16 percent of Southeast Asians and 21 percent of East Asians. More than 70 percent have less than a high school diploma (Southeast Asians: 26%, East Asians: 14%). And nearly 80 percent live in crowded housing conditions (Southeast Asians: 57%, East Asians: 36%).
Total Open Borders would amount to an abolition of America as a nation. High levels of sustained immigration will accomplish the same outcome, albeit more slowly.
Update: An article entitled The Recipient Class summarizes one demographic problem of mass unskilled immigration: its cost will rise very dramatically in the future. Scary article.
Police commanders may not want to discuss, much less respond to, the illegal-alien crisis, but its magnitude for law enforcement is startling. Some examples:
- In Los Angeles, 95 percent of all outstanding warrants for homicide (which total 1,200 to 1,500) target illegal aliens. Up to two-thirds of all fugitive felony warrants (17,000) are for illegal aliens.
- A confidential California Department of Justice study reported in 1995 that 60 percent of the 20,000-strong 18th Street Gang in southern California is illegal; police officers say the proportion is actually much greater. The bloody gang collaborates with the Mexican Mafia, the dominant force in California prisons, on complex drug-distribution schemes, extortion, and drive-by assassinations, and commits an assault or robbery every day in L.A. County. The gang has grown dramatically over the last two decades by recruiting recently arrived youngsters, most of them illegal, from Central America and Mexico.
- The leadership of the Columbia Lil' Cycos gang, which uses murder and racketeering to control the drug market around L.A.'s MacArthur Park, was about 60 percent illegal in 2002, says former assistant U.S. attorney Luis Li. Francisco Martinez, a Mexican Mafia member and an illegal alien, controlled the gang from prison, while serving time for felonious reentry following deportation.
Mac Donald has quotes from police captains and commanders speaking off-the-record about the problems that illegal aliens cause for law enforcement and says that these same officers are afraid to repeat those statements on-the-record. So members of the general public are left unaware of the conspiracy of silence that is keeping them ignorant of the scale of the law enforcement problems being caused by illegal aliens.
The police can not just arrest and deport an illegal who is a gang member or suspected of being involved in organized crime. Even illegals with previous convictions who have been deported whose return to the United States is therefore a felony (first illegal entry is a misdemeanor but all later illegal entries are felonies) can not just be picked up off the street by local police for deportation. Many local police forces are under orders to do absolutely no enforcement of immigration laws. Also, the US Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS, formerly the INS) doesn't have enough staff and funding for deportation even if the local officials were willing to turn them over. Enforcement of US federal court deportation orders has become a farce.
But even when immigration officials actually arrest someone, and even if a judge issues a final deportation order (usually after years of litigation and appeals), they rarely have the manpower to put the alien on a bus or plane and take him across the border. Second alternative: detain him pending removal. Again, inadequate space and staff. In the early 1990s, for example, 15 INS officers were in charge of the deportation of approximately 85,000 aliens (not all of them criminals) in New York City. The agency's actual response to final orders of removal was what is known as a "run letter"-a notice asking the deportable alien kindly to show up in a month or two to be deported, when the agency might be able to process him. Results: in 2001, 87 percent of deportable aliens who received run letters disappeared, a number that was even higher-94 percent-if they were from terror-sponsoring countries.
Criminal aliens also interpret the triage as indifference. John Mullaly a former NYPD homicide detective, estimates that 70 percent of the drug dealers and other criminals in Manhattan's Washington Heights were illegal. Were Mullaly to threaten an illegal-alien thug in custody that his next stop would be El Salvador unless he cooperated, the criminal would just laugh, knowing that the INS would never show up. The message could not be clearer: this is a culture that can't enforce its most basic law of entry. If policing's broken-windows theory is correct, the failure to enforce one set of rules breeds overall contempt for the law.
The sheer number of criminal aliens overwhelmed an innovative program that would allow immigration officials to complete deportation hearings while a criminal was still in state or federal prison, so that upon his release he could be immediately ejected without taking up precious INS detention space. But the process, begun in 1988, immediately bogged down due to the numbers-in 2000, for example, nearly 30 percent of federal prisoners were foreign-born.
Think about this. The US government does not provide enough money to deport illegal alien prisoners when their sentences are completed and yet it costs approximately $20,000 per year to incarcerate an inmate in US federal prisons. If the federal government has already kept an illegal alien locked up for years for murder, rape, assault, robbery, or a long list of other crimes and spent tens or hundreds of thousands protecting US citizens from a vicious criminal then surely it can afford to spend a small fraction of that amount of money to bus or fly released criminals out of the country. But do not expect George W. Bush to stand for protecting American citizens from illegal alien crimnals. Bush is too busy pursuing the Hispanic vote by any means necessary.
Federal immigration laws are so bad that even illegal aliens who are suspected to be terrorists plotting attacks are able to delay their deportation for years.
Another powerful political force, the immigration bar association, has won from Congress an elaborate set of due-process rights for criminal aliens that can keep them in the country indefinitely. Federal probation officers in Brooklyn are supervising two illegals-a Jordanian and an Egyptian with Saudi citizenship-who look "ready to blow up the Statue of Liberty," according to a probation official, but the officers can't get rid of them. The Jordanian had been caught fencing stolen Social Security and tax-refund checks; now he sells phone cards, which he uses himself to make untraceable calls. The Saudi's offense: using a fraudulent Social Security number to get employment-a puzzlingly unnecessary scam, since he receives large sums from the Middle East, including from millionaire relatives. But intelligence links him to terrorism, so presumably he worked in order not to draw attention to himself. Currently, he changes his cell phone every month. Ordinarily such a minor offense would not be prosecuted, but the government, fearing that he had terrorist intentions, used whatever it had to put him in prison.
Now, probation officers desperately want to see the duo out of the country, but the two ex-cons have hired lawyers, who are relentlessly fighting their deportation. "Due process allows you to stay for years without an adjudication," says a probation officer in frustration. "A regular immigration attorney can keep you in the country for three years, a high-priced one for ten." In the meantime, Brooklyn probation officials are watching the bridges.
The deportation process needs to be streamlined to make deportation a lot faster.
Those of my regular readers who do not share my hardline attitudes in support of radical immigration reform ought to take the time to read Heather's article in full. Even I am shocked by some of her revelations.
Those who think that it would be possible to put a stop to illegal immigration only by enforcing labor laws against the hiring of illegal aliens need to take note of the criminal illegals who do not work at legal jobs. Certainly labor law enforcement needs to improve by several orders of magnitude. But unless the police are ordered and encouraged to round up illegals and unless the BCIS and Border Patrol are staffed up and funded to conduct large scale deportations this problem is only going to get even worse than it already is.
Once you have read Heather's article linked above you may be interested to go check out a page of links to the collected articles written by Heather Mac Donald over the last few years on an assortment of policy topics including whether the police unfairly use racial profiling, homeland security, and other subjects.
Update: Heather's mention that 30% of federal prison inmates are foreign born allows the calculation of a yearly cost of incarcerating foreign born criminals. This US DOJ PDF file tells us that there are about 166,000 in prisons and the cost is about $20,000 (I'm rounding slightly). So 0.3 times 166,000 times $20,000 gives us a yearly cost of $996 million or almost $1 billion dollars per year (and it probably will be over a billion in 2004 since the number of illegals continues to grow). Throw in the cost for police to catch these people and the court costs of trying them and then throw in the costs at the state and local level for arrest, trial, incarceration, and probation and it is clear that illegal alien criminals are costing billions of dollars per year in criminal justice system costs alone (it would be a worthwhile exercise to try to calculate the total but I don't know where to get all the needed data). On top of that there are the many costs to the populace. What is the cost to a woman who is gang-raped? What is the cost to an innocent maimed or killed in a drive-by gang shooting? What is the cost for people afraid to leave their homes because their streets are controlled by gangs?
In 2002 total federal spending (except interest on the debt) was 17.8 percent of GDP. Under one CBO projection, that increases almost two-fifths, to 24.5 percent of GDP, by 2030. Another projection shows an increase of only a sixth, to 20.8 percent of GDP. The main difference between the two projections involves assumptions about higher health costs, but unfortunately both projections may be optimistic. Why? Well, the CBO offsets some of the higher spending for the elderly by assuming modest reductions in other federal spending as a share of GDP from 2002 levels.
Under both projections, defense spending declines to its lowest share of GDP since 1940. And then there's the rest of government: homeland security, national parks, health research, school aid, highways, food stamps, meat inspections -- and much more. This spending also drops as a share of GDP.
In the face of this worsening economic picture for the federal budget the Rino (Republican In Name Only) Republicans passed a Medicare drug benefit bill (see Medicare Drug Benefit: A Strange Sort Of Republican Victory) that will cost $110 billion per year by 2030 and probably even more since Congress will likely increase the size of the benefit in future years.
If the government takes a larger percentage of the GDP then of course the economy will not grow as rapidly and therefore the government will not collect an amount of money that will scale up as tax rates increase. This will further increase the burden that falls on workers because their gross incomes will be lower than would have been the case had the economy grown faster. At the same time they will face higher taxes and hence less take-home pay. But as the taxes rise the opposition to tax increases will rise as well. This will translate into increasing support for raising the minimum age for eligibility for Social Security and Medicare.
Research aimed at developing techniques to slow the rate of aging could help to deal with the economic problem of an aging population. If people could stay youthful enough to work for more years then they could spend more years as taxpayers rather than living of the taxes of those still working.
Another idea for trying to increase the ratio of workers to retirees would be to accelerate the education of the young in order to get them into the labor market sooner to start paying taxes sooner. For more on this proposal see my previous post: Accelerate Education To Increase Tax Revenue, Reduce Costs.
Another policy area that ought to be changed to make the burden of the elderly more bearable would be to reduce the influx of immigrants who are so low skilled that they earn low salaries, pay little in taxes, and use far more in government services than they pay in taxes. Reduce that burden on government and there will be more money available to pay for the elderly. But instead of moving to raise the average skill level requirement for immigrants our very lousy President George W. Bush is trying to grant work amnesties in his quest to get more Hispanic voters for his own personal reelection and to win support from rich people who want cheap domestic servants and gardeners. America has some serious problems and would benefit from wise leadership from a serious President. It is really a shame that we have a Bush instead.
US Major John Nagl, who has studied counterinsurgency at Oxford, is now in Iraq serving as operations officer for a batallion of the First Infantry Division in the Sunni Triangle. The always excellent Peter Maass followed Nagl around for two weeks on patrols and wrote a very insightful report on how US military counterinsurgency efforts are faring in Iraq.
Maj. John Nagl approaches war pragmatically and philosophically, as a soldier and a scholar. He graduated close to the top of his West Point class in 1988 and was selected as a Rhodes scholar. He studied international relations at Oxford for two years, then returned to military duty just in time to take command of a tank platoon during the 1991 Persian Gulf war, earning a Bronze Star for his efforts. After the war, he went back to England and earned his Ph.D. from St. Antony's College, the leading school of foreign affairs at Oxford. While many military scholars were focusing on peacekeeping or the impact of high-tech weaponry, Nagl was drawn to a topic much less discussed in the 1990's: counterinsurgency.
The US civilian presence in Iraq is so meager and incapable that the US military is effectively the ruling government and carries almost all the counterinsurgency burden.
Ignoring the civic side of counterinsurgency has been likened to playing chess while your enemy is playing poker. Though this truism is now well known in the military, Nagl acknowledges that it is not being applied in Iraq as well as it could be.
The civic chores are supposed to be shouldered by the American-dominated Coalition Provisional Authority, led by L. Paul Bremer III, but the C.P.A. remains isolated and rather inept at implementation. Its presence is minimal outside Baghdad, and even in the capital the C.P.A.'s thousands-strong staff spends much of its time in the so-called Green Zone, in and around Saddam Hussein's Republican Palace, behind elaborate rings of security and far removed from Iraqi civilian life. Some of the staff are on 90-day tours: they arrive; they learn a little; they leave. On the few occasions when C.P.A. officials venture outside the compound, they are usually escorted by G.I.'s or private guards.
The single year of service in-country for each soldier sent to Vietnam combined with the ticket-punching mentality of so many officers who treated Vietnam experience as essential for their resumes resulted in a serving force that was not committed to victory and which suffered from a continual lack of experience in a way that lasted many years. The US civilian officials in Baghdad are essentially repeating this mistake with their way of staffing and operating.
One morning, during breakfast at the battalion canteen, I asked Nagl about the Coalition Provisional Authority. He has yet to see a C.P.A. official at the base, he said. He pointed to an empty plastic chair at the table and asked: ''Where's the guy from C.P.A.? He should be sitting right there.''
Given the weakness of the C.P.A., Nagl and other soldiers are effectively in charge not only of the military aspects of the counterinsurgency but also of reconstruction work and political development. Trained to kill tanks, the officers at Camp Manhattan spend much of their time meeting local sheiks and apportioning the thin funds at their disposal for rebuilding; the battalion maintains a list of school-improvement projects known as ''the Romper Room list.'' It is not unusual for Nagl and Colonel Swisher to go out in the morning on a ''cordon and search'' raid and return in the afternoon to their tactical operations center for a meeting with the second in command, Maj. David Indermuehle, about dispersing small grants to local health clinics.
But how can the US forces win over hearts and minds when few of the US soldiers can speak Arabic?
After a half-hour, the crowd filtered away, leaving Nagl with a metaphor for his hearts-and-minds effort: ''Across this divide they're looking at us, we're looking at them from behind barbed wire, and they're trying to understand why we're here, what we want from them. Almost inconceivable to a lot of them, I think, that what we want for them is the right to make their own decisions, to live free lives. It's probably hard to understand that if you have lived your entire life under Saddam Hussein's rule. And it's hard for us to convey that message, particularly given the fact that few of us speak Arabic.''
To the extent that US troops in Iraq can not speak Arabic and can not accurately identify who is an enemy and who is a neutral or a friend to that extent the US will use the wrong kinds of force against the wrong targets and will create resentment and build up support for the enemy. Well, US forces have not been trained well enough for counterinsurgency and do not know Arabic or Arab culture in sufficient numbers to be able to function down at the batallion, company, and platoon levels with the finesse and insight that the counterinsurgency campaign in Iraq requires.
''I didn't realize how right Lawrence of Arabia was,'' Nagl said to me once. ''My first experience of war was the gulf war, which was very clean. We shot the tanks that didn't look like ours, we shot the enemy wearing a uniform that didn't look like ours, we destroyed the enemy in 100 hours. That's kind of what I thought war was. Even when I was writing that insurgency was messy and slow, the full enormity of that did not sink in on me. I am seeing appreciable progress, but I am starting to understand in the pit of my stomach how hard, how long, how slow counterinsurgency really is. There is no prospect it's going to end anytime soon.''
Maass recounts a visit to a training camp where US soldiers are teaching Iraqi recruits for the new Iraqi Civil Defense Corps (ICDC). What does it say about US capabilities to train Arabs that the Arabs are being taught to say in English ''Raise your hands!'' and ''Drop your weapon!''? The Americans are giving the Iraqis English language nicknames because the Americans can't remember the Iraqi names. This is ineptitude.
More of the aid money being sent to Iraq ought to be passed down to the batallion level for dispersal by officers on the front line of the counterinsurgency. They ought to have that money to pass out in order to give them more carrots to use along with their sticks. Also, thousands of officers and regular soldiers ought to be getting intensive courses in Arabic in advance of their deployment to Iraq.
New security measures required by the United States including armed marshals on some international air flights and fingerprints on visas of all entering the United States have led to sniffing condescension from the European Union and outrage from Brazil over the fingerprinting requirement. (NY Times, free reg. req'd)
Michel Ayral, an air transport director for the European Union in Brussels, described the carrying out of the new security measures in a telephone interview as "unilateralist and impetuous."
..."I consider the act absolutely brutal, threatening human rights, violating human dignity, xenophobic and worthy of the worst horrors committed by the Nazis," the judge, Julier Sebastiao da Silva, said last week in a court order subjecting all Americans entering Brazil to the same practice.
The Brazilians are getting back at us, that is for sure. Any American going to Brazil will be fingerprinted. Talk about tough. Talk about hardball. Those Brazilians are not to be trifled with. We understand that now. The US State Department, demonstrating its infinite capacity for losing sight of what is important versus what is funny, decided to complain to the Brazilian government about the ruling rather than laugh in their faces. What a waste of an opportunity.
So by this point you might be expecting the French to be haughtily sniffing at the Nazi, xenophobic, unilateralist, and impetuous American security measures. But the French interior minister complains the United States has not gone far enough.
On the other end of the spectrum are countries like France, which has long fought its own battle against terrorism. For Nicolas Sarkozy, the French interior minister, who owes much of his popularity to a tough approach to crime and terrorism, the American measures do not go far enough. "We share the analysis of the American services that we live in a very tense period and what is required is increased vigilance," Mr. Sarkozy said last Friday. "I prefer that we are reproached for having too many security measures than too few."
The article reports that Sarkozy's request for fingerprints to be included in not just visas but passports as well was turned down by the US State Department. The US government just won't face up to the tough job of fighting terrorism whereas France is ready to do whatever is necessary. Did some immigrant lobby or the Saudi Ambassador complain about the passport fingerprinting requirement? Did the State Department hold back out of fear of further outraging the Mandarins in Brussels? Can the French find the means to bring Colin Powell and George W. Bush to their senses?
French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy on Friday supported that assessment, saying during a visit to Charles de Gaulle airport outside Paris: "I much prefer to act too soon rather than too late."
France's Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy also defended the US measures. "When a friendly nation asks us to step up security on our side, no one can reproach it for that. I prefer that we be criticized for having too many (security) checks than for not having enough," he said in Paris.
Friday, a spokesman for Mexico's President Vicente Fox questioned decisions by the United States on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day to scrap AeroMexico's Flight 490 from Mexico City to Los Angeles. The New York Times reported that one unnamed U.S. official said the British Airways flights were canceled Friday not out of safety concerns, but because the pilots refused to fly with armed marshals on board. The French interior minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, however, called U.S. requests "legitimate."
We can count on our tough French allies to stand by us even as Washington wavers in the face of Mexican and Brazilian pressure. But with Karl Rove busy attempting to placate immigrant groups and Muslim groups in an election year and with the Bush Administration still unwilling to take many prudent measures what we need is for Jacques Chirac to call up President Bush and tell him those immortal words: "Look George, this is no time to go wobbly".
The barrier being constructed between the West Bank and Israel is a wall in some sections and a fence in other sections depending on the perceived security needs in each area. A barrier to keep out trouble is affordable.
Bronfman blamed many of the problems in and around villages like Mas'ha on the security fence. However, a security source intimate with details about the construction of the fence said Monday that the fence will annex only 6 percent of the West Bank on the Israeli side, including the spur that surrounds Ariel. At this stage of construction, said the source, 1.7% of West Bank land is on the Israeli side of the fence.
The source added that so far 200 km. out of the total of 730 km. of the fence has been completed.
Ahmad Maher of Islam Online claims the fence may be as long as 900 km.
The wall will snake some 900 kilometers along the West Bank and leave even larger swathes of its territory on the Israeli side and could cost up to $2.2 million a kilometer.
The $2.2 million per kilometer estimate translates into 3.54 million per mile which agrees with the $3.5 million per mile estimate in an American newspaper.
So far, Israel has built 93 miles of the barrier in the north. When finished, the barrier will cost an estimated $3.5 million per mile.
At $3.5 million per mile the construction of an equivalent barrier on the almost 2000 mile US border with Mexico in order to keep out illegal aliens would cost $7 billion. This also is quite affordable. The potential savings in medical costs alone would pay for the barrier in the first year. Cost reductions in Medicaid expenditures alone would be substantial.
The IDF is considering the purchase of a pair of corvettes from a US naval yard equipped with AEGIS technology to allow the Israeli navy to provide strategic depth. The most curious thing about this story is that naval artillery has so much range that a ship in the Mediterranean could hit Damascus.
"If we develop a navy that will be able not only to achieve superiority at sea in the eastern Mediterranean, but also to supply concentrated, accurate and relatively inexpensive firepower from the sea - not to the coast but into the depths of hundreds of kilometers - then the navy could take on missions like the air force such as striking troop concentrations, headquarters, air bases, missile bases, radar and infrastructures like bridges and power stations."
In the previous Knesset, Steinitz headed a sub-committee which examined the future of the Navy. In a paper released later, Steinitz sees the Navy acquiring frigates, (4,000 tons) destroyers (9,200 tons) and cruisers (12,000 tons) equipped with cruise missiles with a range of some 2,000 kilometers, assault drones and marine artillery, including one being developed now which is capable of firing satellite-guided 155mm rounds between 75 and 120 kilometers, putting the Golan and Damascus well within reach. The idea is to relieve the air force of some of its classic missions based, somewhat, on the American model.
The point about relatively inexpensive firepower is important. While these proposed corvettes would each cost $500 million a ship can carry a lot more ordnance than a whole squadron of fighters and such a ship could carry out sustained shelling of a target area. A UAV could provide live images of where shells are falling and where enemy are positioned. So a ship could help defend Israel against attacks being launched from Lebanon, Syria, and the Sinai.
Now an astounding 94 years old and still as lucid as ever, in a wide-ranging interview with Fortune magazine management guru Peter Drucker says our current blend of immigrants are only qualified for the jobs of yesterday's economy.
What do you make of the recent so-called recession?
What we have been going through these past three years is most definitely not a recession. It's a transition a transition with a lot of incongruities. Let me tell you a simple incongruity. We are going to have both fewer young people because of our own birth rate, and yet more young people because of immigration. For educated American young people there is no recession. But the immigrants have a mismatch of skills: They are qualified for yesterday's jobs, which are the kinds of jobs that are going away.
This also is especially hard on uneducated urban American blacks. Their great ladder of opportunity since World War II is going away.
Bringing in a lower class to compete with our existing lower class is a bad idea. It drives down the wages of our least skilled citizens and makes their lives much harder. It puts burdens on taxpayers to pay for services for the immigants. Mexican immigrants on average have an 8th grade education. Low skill jobs are being sent abroad or automated out of existence. The wages of lower education people have been declining for decades. That's the market's way of saying that demand for low skilled workers is declining. Low skilled immigration generates more costs than benefits. It should be brought to an end.
In an excellent (ParaPundit usage of "excellent" means: Go read it!) and lengthy essay in Foreign Affairs Princeton University Assistant Professor in the Department of Near Eastern Studies Michael Scott Doran lays out the competing camps and forces in Saudi Arabia.
The two camps divide over a single question: whether the state should reduce the power of the religious establishment. On the right side of the political spectrum, the clerics and Nayef take their stand on the principle of Tawhid, or "monotheism," as defined by Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, the eponymous founder of Wahhabism. In their view, many people who claim to be monotheists are actually polytheists and idolaters. For the most radical Saudi clerics, these enemies include Christians, Jews, Shi`ites, and even insufficiently devout Sunni Muslims. From the perspective of Tawhid, these groups constitute a grand conspiracy to destroy true Islam. The United States, the "Idol of the Age," leads the cabal. It attacked Sunni Muslims in Afghanistan and Iraq, both times making common cause with Shi`ites; it supports the Jews against the Sunni Muslim Palestinians; it promotes Shi`ite interests in Iraq; and it presses the Saudi government to de-Wahhabize its educational curriculum. Cable television and the Internet, meanwhile, have released a torrent of idolatry. With its permissive attitude toward sex, its pervasive Christian undertones, and its support for unfettered female freedom, U.S. culture corrodes Saudi society from within.
Tawhid is closely connected to jihad, the struggle -- sometimes by force of arms, sometimes by stern persuasion -- against idolatry. In the minds of the clerics, stomping out pagan cultural and political practices at home and supporting war against Americans in Afghanistan and Iraq are two sides of the same coin. Jihad against idolatry, the clerics never tire of repeating, is eternal, "lasting until Judgment Day," when true monotheism will destroy polytheism once and for all.
The doctrine of Tawhid ensures a unique political status for the clerics in Saudi Arabia. After all, they alone have the necessary training to detect and root out idolatry so as to safeguard the purity of the realm. Tawhid is thus not just an intolerant religious doctrine but also a political principle that legitimizes the repressiveness of the Saudi state. It is no wonder, therefore, that Nayef, head of the secret security apparatus, is a strong supporter of Tawhid. Not known personally as a pious man, Nayef zealously defends Wahhabi puritanism because he knows on which side his bread is buttered -- as do others with a stake in the repressive status quo.
Doran describes the Wahhabi world view and its considerable overlap with the Al Qaeda world view.
According to al-Ayyiri, the United States and Israel are the leaders of a global anti-Islamic movement -- "Zio-Crusaderism" -- that seeks the destruction of true Islam and dominion over the Middle East. Zio-Crusaderism's most effective weapon is democracy, because popular sovereignty separates religion from the state and thereby disembowels Islam, a holistic religion that has a strong political dimension. In its plot to denature Islam, al-Ayyiri claims, Zio-Crusaderism embraces three local allies: secularists, Shi`ites, and lax Sunnis (that is, those who sympathize with the idea of separating religion from state). Al Qaeda's "near enemy," in other words, is the cluster of forces supporting Taqarub.The chief difference between the ways al Qaeda and the Saudi religious establishment define their primary foes is that the former includes the Saudi royal family as part of the problem whereas the latter does not. This divergence is not insignificant, but it does not preclude limited or tacit cooperation on some issues. Although some in the Saudi regime are indeed bin Laden's enemies, others are his de facto allies. Al Qaeda activists sense, moreover, that U.S. plans to separate mosque and state constitute the greatest immediate threat to their designs and know that the time is not yet ripe for a broad revolution. So al Qaeda's short-term goal is not to topple the regime but to shift Saudi Arabia's domestic balance of power to the right and punish supporters of Taqarub.
Doran's article is full of all sorts of insightful gems. The threats by Sunni clerics to commit genocide against the Shi'ite minority illustrate the depth of the hostility the Wahhabi clerics have for the Shi'ites. This hostility also lends credibility to the argument that the prospect of the Iranians developing nuclear weapons is causing the Saudis to use their considerable financial resources to ensure that the Saudis will gain some degree of control of nuclear weapons, perhaps through the stationing of Pakistani nukes on Saudi soil. On this topic also see my post Without US As Ally Saudi Arabia Could Go Nuclear.
It is worth noting in this context that the Shi'ites most likely form a majority in the Eastern oil-producing province in Saudi Arabia. One option batted about in some quarters is to support a Shi'ite secessionist uprising to break the Shi'ite province off from Saudi Arabia as a way to deny the Wahhabis the funds they need to wage jihad. The betting in this line of argument is that the Shi'ites will not be as great a threat to the West as Wahhabis are. Doran reports that many Wahhabi clerics are already claiming that there is a America-Jewish-Shi'ite conspiracy arrayed against them. By making such claims combined with the most severe threats the Wahhabis signal to the Shi'ites that they had better not offer the slightist bit of resistance to their Sunni Wahhabi dominators.
The United States is in a difficult position vis a vis Saudi Arabia. The Wahhabi hard-liners are continuing to block the sorts of Internal reforms that would lead to a reduction of the teachings of an interpretation of Islam that causes so many Saudis to be supportive of Al Qaeda. We are now over two years past the 9/11 attacks and the internal conditions of Saudi society have changed little in ways that would reduce the willingness of Saudis to participate in future attacks. It is not clear what the United States could do in the short to medium term to encourage reform within Saudi Arabia. Any moves the US might make would be pointed to by the Wahhabis as proof of their belief of a US directed conspiracy against Islam.
In my view a crucial element for a longer term strategy to deal with the threat of radical Islam is to develop technologies that would reduce the entire world's demand for Middle Eastern energy. See my previous posts Energy Policy, Islamic Terrorism, And Grand Strategy, Intervention In Liberia Linked To Oil Dependency (and note especially the excerpt from Nobel Laureate Richard Smalley's call for a massive effort to make huge advances in energy technologies), and China Energy Consumption Growth Complicates Anti-Terrorist Efforts.
On Doran's website he notes that he has a book forthcoming that has a very intriguing sounding title: The Trump Card: Israel in the Arab Civil War. The portrayal of the Arabs as being engaged in a big civil war among themselves finds support in the thinking of some of the best historical thinkers. Civil war is another way of describing what might be called intra-civilizational war. Read my previous post William H. McNeill on Samuel P. Huntington.
Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook of the Palestinian Media Watch have an essay in the Jerusalem Post about the political indoctrination that Palestinian youth go through in Palestinian schools.
Consequently, when we view children on PA TV who say they want to destroy Israel, to liberate Tel Aviv, Jaffa, Haifa, Acre, and Ramle, and to expel the Jews, we are seeing children who are accurately regurgitating the sentiments inculcated and reinforced throughout PA society.
Indeed, years of anti-Israel indoctrination have been alarmingly effective in teaching Palestinian youth that the Jews have no link to Israel, that Israel has no right to exist and that the overriding goal of the next generation – even at the cost of their lives – should be to eliminate Israel.
The essence of the conflict is Israel's very right to exist – not the question of borders or refugees. Peace negotiations that do not address the PA's system of indoctrination will be short-term paper agreements doomed to failure.
The Palestinian Authority is either never going to sign a peace agreement that requires the PA to stop indoctrinating Palestinian children or it will sign an agreement and then not abide by it. The Israelis can not stop the Palestinian hatred of Israel. Israel's challenge is to choose how best to live alongside a couple of territories that are full of people who want Israel to be destroyed.
Since large numbers of Palestinians do not want to make peace with Israel the main question the Israelis and Americans ought to be debating is what sort of de facto boundary and settlement should be imposed. It seems unwise for the Israelis to run fences many miles into the West Bank to include remote settlements on the Israeli side of the barrier fence. Such a path for the barrier can be used by the Palestinians as a propaganda tool both within their society, in the Arab countries, in non-Arab Muslim countries, and in the world as a whole to justify their continued attempts to attack Israel. A barrier that reaches far into the West Bank unnecessarily angers Palestinians who are losing access to land or who have to suffer long delays when trying to get to their farm land or houses. Also, the current path of the barrier puts far too many Palestinians on the Israeli side.
The Israelis need to stop using Palestinian labor and to effect a deeper separation between Israel and the Palestinians. The Palestinians are not going to accept the legitimacy of the Israeli state for generations. So-called "peace talks" are not entered into with any sincerity. Some conflicts can not be settled with peaceful mutually accepted agreeements. The conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians and the larger Arab world is a conflict which can not be solved by peace treaties.
Israel suffers from a demographic problem. The Jews in Israel are not having enough babies. There will be more Palestinians and Israeli Arabs on the West side of the Jordan River within a generation. The Israelis need to start realizing that they are overreaching. The Israelis also need to start having a lot more babies or else Jews may even some day become a minority in Israel proper.
Over the past three years, five contractors in Florida have been convicted of enslaving farm workers.
Phillip Martin, a professor of agricultural economics at the University of California at Davis, said using contractors gives employers the ability to deny knowledge that people working for them were illegal immigrants or were not paid overtime. "Increasingly the purpose of contractors is to be risk absorbers," he said.
A contractor working for a Manhattan grocery chain was accused of using this rationale to try to justify paying just $2 an hour to African immigrants who delivered groceries. The federal minimum is $5.15.
If US borders were open to all immigrants then supply of labor would drive the price down so far that the federal minimum wage would be too high and the result would be massive unemployment. Increase the supply of something and its price will drop. Labor is not immune to this effect. The African immigrants were still making far more than most Africans can make in Africa and so their willingness to work for such a low wage should not be too surprising.