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June 15, 2007

Comments

The whole fence business is to fool the rubes. The real immigration control is workplace enforcement.

Hand it to the plutocrats, however. They've managed to capture a lot of voters with this distraction.

And how will the border on the Great Lakes be enforced? With nets and minefields like the Dover Straits in WW1?

Hey, I've got an idea...Why don't we use cheap illegal alien labor to build the Mexican border fence ! Then we can keep the costs down !

here's another story (AP) about the same tree, but with a funny little ending.

and, about that fence... are there going to be gates for migratory animals?

Migratory animals have to go in line and be orderly quaranteened same as pets, so they don't introduce foreign diseases like leprosy or liberalism.

And how will the border on the Great Lakes be enforced?

I'm putting together my proposal for Kraken enforcement as we speak.

Wouldn't it be nice if Tom Tancredo were just one of those entertaining loons who calls into radio talk shows at 2:00 am and starts talking about conspiracies and warring against reality until the sun rises?

Unfortunately, he's an elected official, something that his Colorado constituents really need to answer for -- and he isn't even representing the Colorado Springs area.

Hartmut, if Tancredo thinks he can enforce the Great Lakes border, maybe he should start with things that are actually dangerous, the invasive species that have been destroying the traditional ecology of the lakes.

Why can't some higher power erect a CO2 barrier around the US?

If needed, I am sure we still have a few "border experts" from GDR times (although they would have to be retrained shooting outwards not inwards).

The invasive species are probably best kept out by putting multilanguage "Keep Out or Meet Tancredo" signs on the lakefloor ;-). Ah, and really deregulating pollution will deal with the rest.

To turn serious again: Even, if there was a 100% impenetrable border security system, this would
a) not work on temps that stay beyond their visa
b) not stop the claims that still leprosy carrying brownies flood the country by the millions (because, why discard a good wedge issue?).

Xenophobia doesn't need actual foreigners at hand (in Germany xenophobia and antisemitism are most rabid where there is not a single object of hatred available for miles and miles around).

Sounds like a lot of money... until you compare it to a $400 billion a year defense budget. There are a lot of serious arguments against a border fence, but that we can't afford it isn't one of them. We're a big, wealthy country, with a relatively low ratio of border to GNP.

You want to argue against a border fence, try arguments which aren't so easy to shoot full of holes.

I thought that hilzoy's argument was that a taxcutter who whines continuously about irresponisble spennding shouldn't be advocating such an irresponisble expediture, especially while advocating tax cuts.

Sure, we can afford the fence. What we can't afford is the continued influence of cut-taxes-and-keep-on-spending-while-lyinng-about-it Republicans like Tancredo.

You want to argue against a border fence, try arguments which aren't so easy to shoot full of holes.

you can shoot a fence full of holes... or cut holes in it with a wire cutter. or scale it. or climb over it. or tunnel under it. or knock it over with a bulldozer. or... well, use your own imagination.

unless you're suggesting we're also going to have people monitoring all 5000+ miles of fence (and all the land 100m inside of it, checking for tunnels) 24/7 to make sure nobody does any of those things. and have teams of LEOs ready to be deployed to the location within minutes of anything happening to the fence... ?

what a waste of money. just fncking crazy. all you paranoid xenophobes need psychiatric help.

Re: Brett Bellmore

Sounds like a lot of money... until you compare it to a $400 billion a year defense budget. There are a lot of serious arguments against a border fence bridge to nowhere, but that we can't afford it isn't one of them. We're a big, wealthy country, with a relatively low ratio of border tiny Alaskan towns to GNP.

Dan, it's so pathetic that you think you actually made a point with that substitution.

I specifically said that there are real arguments against a border fence. It won't more than mildly inconvenience terrorists, a lot of illegals came here legally and overstayed visas, migrating animals, other means of border enforcement being more cost effective, and so on and so forth.

My point was simply that, "We can't afford it" is NOT a serious argument. When you argue against a border fence on the basis that it can't be afforded, and some advocate points out that it is in fact perfectly affordable, you'll look like an ass.

There are also plenty of arguments against the feds building "bridges to nowhere", which have nothing to do with our not being able to afford them.

Did Hilzoy say we couldn't afford it under any circumstance? She said it would cost a lot of money, yes, and she suggested that taxes might need to be raised to pay for it, unless we mean to take on even more debt. But that's hardly the same thing.

Also, are any of the major proponents of a fence willing 1) to be realistic about the cost, and 2) to offset the cost with defense budget cuts? Is such a thing even on the table?

I think Hilzoy's point wasn't that we can't afford to build a fence along the border with Mexico.

Just that building a fence along the border with Mexico is a stupid idea.

The fact that it would cost billions of dollars simply makes it an even stupider idea.

Which is all to say that Dan's comparison is more apt than Brett suggests. The point is that the fence is a ridiculous, expensive boondoggle, not that we couldn't come up with the funds if we were so motivated.

Not so fast...I wouldn't underestimate the Canadian menace. My wife grew up a couple of blocks away from the border and as a child rode her bike across it to buy coveted American candy without once reporting her crossing to the proper authorities.

$21 billion is paltry if it thwarts Canadian preteen girls from buying Hershey bars.

it's funny, really. Krauthammer is all agog for the fence today in the Post, talks about how it worked for Hadrian and the Chinese (well, not really for either one of them, but that's ok) doesn't mention how poorly it worked out for East Germany though. strange.

it's funny, really. Krauthammer is all agog for the fence today in the Post, talks about how it worked for Hadrian and the Chinese (well, not really for either one of them, but that's ok) doesn't mention how poorly it worked out for East Germany though. strange.

“all you paranoid xenophobes need psychiatric help”

Maybe it’s all the pie-in-the-sky latte-liberals who want as many illegal’s as possible to cross into the US so they can have cheap labor to mow their lawns and subservient nannies to watch their kids while they advance their theories on political correctness and take culinary lessons on how to prepare sushi hors’dourves for Saturday afternoon noshes where they practice the proper way to curl their pinky fingers while pontificating on the racist propensities of those who object to the swarming migration of mostly-Mexican non-English speaking undereducated well-meaning but hourly-wage reducing unending and unstoppable usurpers of jobs and wages from our own hard-working native population of citizens whose earning power and quality of life have been curtailed as a result who need help.

Holbo replies: "Actually, I think it needs a roof, too.

Fuller domes would be ideal for this purpose. As Bellmore so astutely points out, we're a rich country.

sushi hors’dourves for Saturday afternoon noshes

Well. Don't look for any invitations, Mr. You-can-call-me-Jay.

What Jay Jerome said, the fact that I happened to pop out of my mother's uterus in the good ole' U S of A obviously makes me, well, special.

I think to REALLY keep out those flesh-eating aliens, we're going to have to build a double Dyson sphere, and use the harnessed power of the sun to vaporize everything that comes within (or is predicted to come within) 100AU.

For the US/Mexico border, all you'd really need is a single wall, topped by autotracking, autoacquiring gatling guns, placed every 150 meters or so. Cheap, in comparison to the Dyson sphere thing.

Jay Jerome, maybe you'd persuade liberals more if you didn't talk like some kind of automated "say it like a talk radio host" text-generator? I mean, references to latte, sushi, political correctness, and our effetely curled pinky fingers in the same sentence? It reminds me a bit of the Swedish chef translator, or the Daily Mail-O-Matic.

If I like lattes and pie, but not sushi, am I really a liberal?

If I only like one of them (pie), am I liberal?

Of course, if you knew sushi like I knew sushi...

Not knowing anyone who comments here, I am in no position to say who needs psychiatric help.

I am, however, in a position to say that I was not arguing that we couldn't afford to build a fence on the Canadian border, period. I was arguing that in addition to being a fundamentally stupid idea, it was an idea that was flatly at odds with Tancredo's stated position on budgets and taxes. The subtext, insofar as there was one other than "tee hee hee", was: Apparently, Tancredo isn't bothering to even go through the motions of pretending that his ideas are actual policy proposals with, you know, implications and consequences, as opposed to airy gestures.

Surely a free-market type like the esteemed Mr. Bellmore understands that spending 21 billion on a fence means 21 billion less spent on the War We Can't Afford To Lose (by which I mean the war on terror, not the 2008 general election, though you'll excuse my confusion, I hope.) So in that sense we can't afford it, without, as Dr. House would say, "risking the patient's life."

And don't think we won't remember this argument next time you agitate for cutting various programs on the basis of cost. We're a rich country, so we should be able to afford such things as health care...

Let's compromise: we build the fence, but with Tancredo on the other side of it.

I can live with that.

Maybe it’s all the pie-in-the-sky latte-liberals who want as many illegal’s as possible to cross into the US so they can have cheap labor to mow their lawns...

prove to that me you don't buy produce picked by illegals, or eat any food processed or packaged by illegals, or visit homes built by illegals, or buy things from businesses whose landscaping is done by illegals and then you can lecture me on the evils of enjoying the fruits of their cheap labor. until then... not so much.

im 0n ur [email protected], mowin' 'da hierba

with, you know, implications and consequences, as opposed to airy gestures.

Airy nothings given a local habitation and a name, no less.

A commenter at Crooked Timber came up with the cheapest solution: just build a wall around Tancredo and everyone will be happy.

I am, however, in a position to say that I was not arguing that we couldn't afford to build a fence on the Canadian border, period.

Fine, I'll argue it. The northern border is not some deserted area. You couldn't even buy the required right of way for $21 billion.

"Jay Jerome, maybe you'd persuade liberals more if you didn't talk like some kind of automated "say it like a talk radio host" text-generator?"

Katherine – I’m not interested in ‘persuading’ liberals to do or think anything… liberals are as blockheaded as conservatives, maybe more so. I can authoritatively say that because I ‘had’ a liberal pedigree as distinguished as anyone who posts here; before, that it, I suddenly came to my senses - like when Cher slapped Nickolas Cage in 'Moonstruck' and told him to ‘snap out of it.’

"I think to REALLY keep out those flesh-eating aliens, we're going to have to build a double Dyson sphere, and use the harnessed power of the sun to vaporize everything that comes within (or is predicted to come within) 100AU."

My plan is more sophisticated: we build an Alderson disk, and lay down grooves to play back only all-American tunes. At the resulting scale of volume, only true Americans will be able to stay, and all aliens will be driven off.

Future generations can invent "scratching" on a solar scale.

Alternatively, we build a Klemperer rosette, and use it to hypnotize all the illegal aliens and lead them away, like the Pied Piper.

Katherine – I’m not interested in ‘persuading’ liberals to do or think anything… liberals are as blockheaded as conservatives, maybe more so. I can authoritatively say that because I ‘had’ a liberal pedigree as distinguished as anyone who posts here; before, that it, I suddenly came to my senses - like when Cher slapped Nickolas Cage in 'Moonstruck' and told him to ‘snap out of it.’
Might one inquire approximately when it was that you suddenly realized that you had been a blockhead?

Have you considered the hypotheses that possibly the fact that you had been a blockhead doesn't lead inexorably to the only possible conclusion being that all other people who fall in categories as wide-ranging as "liberal" and "conservative" are exactly like you?

"[H]ypothesis," that is.

God dammit, where is Thullen when you need him?

Fence Schmence!! We need to enact into law the following
1. It is a felony to be illegall status in this country, whether you climb a fence, come in in the trunk of a Cheby, or any port of entry, or enter legally but outstay the time limit on a visa, work permit, or whatever. The penalty illegal status is no less than 1 year in jail and a $25,000 fine.
2. Legal immigrants shall be registered in a Homeland Security Department database and be issued a secure identification card for the purpose of getting a job and other perks legal immigrants may qualify.
3. It is a felony to hire an illegal alien by a business or by an individual (to mow your lawn). The penalty for doing so is no less than 1 year in jail and a $100,000 fine for each illegal alien hired. If an immigrant is legal, the HSD card can be check by the business or individual via the HSD web site or a via a phone call to HSD.
4. For illegals already in the country, an erollment period will be setup for all to come forward and register with the HSD to validate personal information (name, nationality, address, etc.), and such information is entered into the HSD database. For these illegals, the penalty will be denial forever of a path to citizenship, denial of Social Security benefits even if the SS tax is paid, denial of Medicare/Medicaid for a period of 3 years, deny U.S. citizenship to offspring born to illegals while in U.S. (offspring would be registered as citizens of the nationality of one or both parents). Illegal not registered after the registration period will be prosecuted as in (1.) above.
5. Legal immigrants and registered illegals who commit a felony while in the U.S. would be deported to their native country after serving their sentence and forever denied reentry.
6. Prosecute individuals, groups, or any entities that harbor and give sanctuary to illegal aliens. Prosecute mayors, police chiefs, sheriffs, and other law enforcement agencies that refuse to enforce U.S. immigration laws (Directive 40 in L.A.). The official would be subject to a $250,000 fine and 5 years in jail on each occurence of failure to enforce. The convicted felon would forever be ineligible to hold an elected office or a position in law enforcement.
6. Build the fence... then take it from there.

Might one inquire approximately when it was that you suddenly realized that you had been a blockhead?

And, I would add, have you entertained the possibility of a similar epiphany in the future?

Another question: if a commenter posts as "Call Me Crazy," and I say that his or her comment is crazy, have I violated the posting rules, or am I just being polite?

Maybe it’s all the pie-in-the-sky latte-liberals who want as many illegal’s as possible to cross into the US so they can have cheap labor to mow their lawns and subservient nannies to watch their kids while they advance their theories on political correctness and take culinary lessons on how to prepare sushi hors’dourves for Saturday afternoon noshes where they practice the proper way to curl their pinky fingers while pontificating on the racist propensities of those who object to the swarming migration of mostly-Mexican non-English speaking undereducated well-meaning but hourly-wage reducing unending and unstoppable usurpers of jobs and wages from our own hard-working native population of citizens whose earning power and quality of life have been curtailed as a result who need help.

Coming from a family with illegal immigration in its background (not to mention sushi eating before it was so shi-shi), I find this more than a bit...knee-jerk. Family experience with immigration law leaves me with more than a jaundiced eye with the usual conservative positions on immigration.

I just crossed the Canadian border this week and failed to know beforehand that if you are randomly chosen for vehicle inspection and have a condom in luggage: you might be a sexual predator. No, seriously.

In spirit of the joke U.S.-Canadian border, I support a fence only if the lake portion is 1) floating and 2) constructed out of pool noodles.

Talking xenophobia, the Obama campaign's oppo memo labelling Clinton (D-Punjab) is pretty unfortunate.

Anerson--I don't think calling a posting crazy actually violates the posting rules, but I prefer more detail myself.

Proposal 1 apparently calls for making felons of young children and legitimate refugees.

Proposal 2 seems to based on the mistaken idea that you can do this by just issuing a national ID card to immigrants (apparently, you can tell who the immigrants are by looking at them); it would be necessary to do the same to U.S. citizens to actually be effective. Proposal 3 is probably unconstitutional w/o technology that does not exist & national ID cards for everyone. Proposal 4 requires partial repeal of the 14th Amendment. Proposal 5 is not actually that far off from current law but I think it's grossly immoral to deport someone who came here as a 2 year old & didn't naturalize for, e.g., a nonviolent drug offense, & prevent him from seeing his family again. Proposal 6 is ill-defined & probably grossly unconstitutional as well as incredibly stupid, mean, but it's hard to know for sure without knowing what counts as "harboring" & "giving sanctuary to" illegal aliens & "an occurrence" of failure to enforce immigration laws. It's a recipe for epidemics, crime waves, hunger, and homelessness.

I don't know exactly what the fence proposal entails.

The whole thing doesn't appear to have any rational justification. What motivates this? What harm are they doing to you? We should enforce our immigration laws better, but my God, you see why I don't trust people like this. And the idea that it's motivated by concern for the American worker is, frankly, ludicrous.

if you are randomly chosen for vehicle inspection and have a condom in luggage: you might be a sexual predator. No, seriously.

But obviously, a *responsible* one.

I'm trying to imagine an organization of similarly responsible sexual predators ... sort of like Ducks Unlimited ... we could play off that name somehow ... [falls asleep at desk]

Protecting our shorelines is easy. We just need to open negotiations* with R'lyeh. With Cthulhu still lying around dreaming, there are a lot of fish-men with little to do. I imagine if we give them a retainer paid in illegal immigrants, they will be happy to watch the shores for us, devouring anyone who tries to land illegally.

Talking xenophobia, the Obama campaign's oppo memo labelling Clinton (D-Punjab) is pretty unfortunate.

Yes it is. Apparently Clinton once made a joking reference to Punjab; Obama's people are using the old Limbaugh/Imus trick of saying "it's not racist to use a word if other people used it first!"

I agree, Katherine. Are you a lawyer, also?

Does anyone else have the Marvin Gaye song 'Ain't no mountain high enough' go thru their head when they read this? I keep imagining Tancredo singing something like this, but 'ain't no border fence long enough' doesn't seem to scan very well.

We just need to open negotiations* with R'lyeh. With Cthulhu still lying around dreaming, there are a lot of fish-men with little to do.

This is especially funny given Lovecraft's obsession with degenerate immigrants ruinin' this country with their Old One-worshippin' ways. "The Shadow over Innsmouth," passim.

A novel in which Cheney et al. are actually servants of the Old Ones might be the only way to make sense of the past 6 years. What *is* that mysterious book that Osama bin Laden won't let out of his presence? What unholy rites does Cheney practice at that "undisclosed location"? What secret relics were the *real* motive for our invasion of Iraq (and the "looting" of the Baghdad museum)?

Soon, soon, the stars will be right, and it will be time to attack Iran ....

I don't think this has been thought through by the leftist opponents of building fences around the borders. What a job works program! $21 Billion? Of course as a condition of leftist support, those need to be union jobs--otherwise they will go to illegal Mexican immigrants with fake papers. And what better family values policy could we have than sending union workers to the Montana-Canadian border for years at a time! Its a brilliant recovery plan for the rust belt.

I think I'm going to make one last attempt to explain my point, and then drop it.

Assume for a moment that you think securing the border is important. (There are many such people.) Assume that you, perhaps naively, think that a fence would assist in this effort. Are you going to blink at spending 1-2% of one year's defense budget on building a fence? Of course you're not: It's national defense, that's what the defense budget is for.

Now, if you don't think it's important to secure the border, or don't think a fence would contribute to this effort, obviously you're going to look at a $2 billion price tag and freak. Things you don't want to do in the first place always look too expensive.

But then, you're not one of the people who need to be persuaded, are you?

What we've got here is the sort of argument that only persuades the already converted. Amuse yourselves with it, but don't think it's a tool to change minds.

Brett, not only would this fence be ridiculously expensive, it would also be a colossal failure - it would be impossible to maintain and monitor. it would run afoul of dozens of wildlife regulations. it would be a huge boondoggle for the contractors hired to build it. it would run many times over-budget and would probably never be really completed before the country got sick of spending money on overpriced, overcharged, overrun, under-spec'd, low-quality chain-link fence (which would probably have to be shipped-in from China anyway).

why not just enforce the friggin employment laws ? ooooh... here's an idea: hire as many inspectors as you can buy with $21,000,000,000 and have them monitor the types of employers who use illegal labor? that's 175,000 inspectors at $60K/yr for 20 years, not counting all the cash they'd bring in from fines!

yes, that wouldn't be as manly as a big dumb fence, but it would be a lot more practical.

Brett, I think this is a reductio ad absurdum argument that is being employed here. I admit, it won't change very many minds, but the fact that it is such a small step to the absurdum might.

There is a much simpler solution to dealing with our Canadian border, our own Schengen Agreement. I don't expect anything close to a majority in the US Congress willing to include countries other than Canada, but there's no real reason for two countries of similar economic status with many close economic ties to worry about border crossings. For the free marketers, our border crossing controls with Canada are just an example of wasteful regulation with no benefit.

why not just enforce the friggin employment laws ?

Got to go with cleek on this one. I did watch a History channel episode on the building of the Alaskan pipeline last night, so I know we could do it if we wanted to, and the pipeline was privately funded. But it would not be permanent, or easily maintained, or even much of a deterrent (short of land mines, dogs, armed guards who shoot to kill, etc.).

All we have to do is enforce the laws on the books, possibly increase some fines and add some jail time for employers in violation.

I just spent some lovely time on GoogleMaps reacquainting myself with the Alaska-Yukon and Alaska-British Columbia borders. Kluane Park is really very wild, folks, but you can cross into Alaska through it: I did it in a canoe one summer, and my great-granddad did it on a bicycle one winter. It wasn't easy; still, where there's a will, there's a way.

Building a fence is a band-aid, and a band-aid on the wrong problem, at that.

Humans are a nomadic species. We always have been; it might be hardwired into us. Whether the cause is climate change, overcrowding, economics, or just plain curiosity, humans have always packed up themselves and their families to settle elsewhere. Putting a fence up to stop it is like using chastity belts to enforce marital fidelity: it might work in a few cases, for a short while, but it's just not going to stop the mass of people from acting on a deep, primeval urge.

I'll go further and say that climate change is going to make a lot more people "go nomadic" in this century. We're going to see more of it within our own borders as coastlines get swamped and inland regions become chronically drought-stricken. (It doesn't matter what causes climate change - hardly anyone still thinks it's not happening at all - and people will be on the move while we're still debating the matter.)

Stop thinking of border crossings as an ephemeral phenomenon driven wholely by job seekers, and start thinking of it as a generations-long shift in populations. That might mean having to see illegal aliens as a bellwether, and thinking now of ways to accommodate the coming migrations in ways to ameliorate the strain on jobs, civic infrastructure, and so on. And that means looking at the long term, not making policies that keep pushing the problem forward another couple decades.

"All we have to do is enforce the laws on the books, possibly increase some fines and add some jail time for employers in violation."

We don't do it for one reason. It's the exact same reason the "guest worker" program is in the current immigration bill.

That reason is the money of the lobbyists for the industries that are dependent on cheap illegal alien labor (farm corporations, hotel & service industries, factories, etc.) which pays off the Republican Party in Congress and their machine.

This isn't to say that there aren't corrupt Democrats (I hope William Jefferson spends many years in jail), or that Democrats don't have their own huge financial interests to deal with (labor unions, teacher's unions, various lobbies, etc.), but that this is the reason regarding this particular issue of lax enforcement of employment laws, and the maintenance of the the incentive for illegal aliens to come make a better life for their families.

Trying to cut off supply, while demand remains high, is almost always madness, and sets you against the "laws" of economics that drive human incentives as much as they do. Doesn't matter if it's drugs, jobs, alcohol, or what, if the supply isn't too hard to come up with.

"Brett, not only would this fence be ridiculously expensive, it would also be a colossal failure"

Nah, that's my point: It's not ridiculously expensive if it would work. Securing the borders is almost self-evidently an aspect of national defense, and we're talking a tiny fraction of the defense budget. You're never going to convince anybody that this is too expensive if they think it would work. Contrarywise, if they don't think it would work, the cost becomes irrelevant.

The entire work of the argument is being carried by your assumption that the fence would be a collossal failure. I think you're not noticing this because you DO assume that's the case.

Brett:

You are of course right that if we had a problem that we were really, really worried about, and X would fix it, then we would regard quite high prices as worth paying for X. This is true for any value of X: fences across the Canadian border, issuing cloves of garlic to every household to deal with the vampire menace, paying every citizen to chant for hours each day to the anti-alien gods, buying an enormous number of milk-white heifers to make a burnt offering that will be pleasing to God, what have you. All worth it IF they would actually solve a problem that we rightly regarded as a matter of the first urgency. Not so much otherwise.

In the case at hand, I do not think we have a serious problem with our Canadian border; and if we did, I think a fence would be a ludicrously bad way to deal with it. Long before we should start worrying about whatever traffic does cross our Canadian border, we should deal with port security and other more urgent matters.

Whether or not I should have spelled this out in my original post is an exercise left to the reader.

"Securing the borders is almost self-evidently an aspect of national defense"

Self-evidently? We've never done it in the history of the country: an attempt to physically seal the border, whatever its merits or demerits, would be a radical change in American policy. It may be a good idea, passing a cost-benefit analysis (I doubt it, but it's a perfectly valid notion to test), but it's hardly self-evident. We've gotten along all these hundreds of years without any such thing, after all.

"I think you're not noticing this because you DO assume that's the case."

What do you propose to do to seal our sea borders?

issuing cloves of garlic to every household to deal with the vampire menace, paying every citizen to chant for hours each day to the anti-alien gods, buying an enormous number of milk-white heifers to make a burnt offering that will be pleasing to God

Damn, why aren't our politicians proposing these things? Now I'm worried.

"I am, however, in a position to say that I was not arguing that we couldn't afford to build a fence on the Canadian border, period. I was arguing that in addition to being a fundamentally stupid idea, it was an idea that was flatly at odds with Tancredo's stated position on budgets and taxes."


Tancredo's stated position on budgets and taxes is a strawman to the core argument, which really isn't about the ancillary Canadian fence, but the fence at the Mexican border. And though it's amusing fun to see politicians of every stripe satirically skewered for their policies and/or pomposities by commentators and columnists and cartoonists, facetious examples of undersea border fences and pool-cleaning mantra-rays aside, Tancredo's statements on fences make more sense then the corollary, which is no fences.

To sharpen your perspective on what Tancredo actually has to say about it, you may want to listen to this PBS-Canadian radio broadcast.

On the broadcast Tancredo states that we don't immediately need border fences there now, but eventually will need them down the road-- and he's not talking about a single fence; he realizes there are places along the Canadian border where geography wouldn't allow fences to be built - just as there are places along the Mexican border where the geography would prevent them from being built, and at those places he says other resources would be used - possibly more border patrol agents, or other surveillance devices.

So what's 'fundamentally stupid' about fencing those stretches of our borders where fences would work, and using other means to monitor the rest? The other extreme - not fencing any of the borders - would be negligently stupid in my opinion. I don't know anybody who's suggesting the border crossing stations now in place in Canada and Mexico be shut down, or that the point-of-entry barriers and fences at those places be removed - because it's obvious they're necessary. So what inconsistency of logic would there be in extending the barriers - high tech and low tech -- to try to prevent as much of the continuing promiscuous influx of illegals across both borders as possible, especially if, as you stated above, affording them is not the issue?

"So what inconsistency of logic would there be in extending the barriers - high tech and low tech -- to try to prevent as much of the continuing promiscuous influx of illegals across both borders as possible, especially if, as you stated above, affording them is not the issue?"

Where's your acknowledgement that "as much... as possible" can't be the goal, but "as much as makes sense according to a cost-benefit analysis," which first requires that said analysis be made?

Might one inquire approximately when it was that you suddenly realized that you had been a blockhead?

Yes, it was about a decade ago when I was making one of my periodic pilgramages back to New York City, and ended up at the Lion's Head Tavern (a couple of months before it closed down) with one of my buddies, a former Village Voice reporter, who pointed at a dumpy-looking man wearing horn-rimmed glasses. "There," he said, "is the most-popular most-read columnist on the Voice, New York's most liberal newspaper."

It was Michael Musto, the gossip columnest.

At that moment the room got very bright; the ceiling seemed to grow transparent and two giant angeles with diaphanous wings appeared, tooting heavenly trumpets as a prelude to a rumbling voice that informed me to "re-examine your liberal assumptions!" Whereupon I blacked out and awoke some days later, my mind a clean slate voided of many of the nonsensical beliefs I had tucked away for decades.

OK, so I exaggerated about the heavenly trumpets.

I guess we can cross Jay Jerome off the Nafta fan club mailing list.

"Where's your acknowledgement that "as much... as possible" can't be the goal, but "as much as makes sense according to a cost-benefit analysis," which first requires that said analysis be made?"

I was responding to this part of hilzoy's response:

"I am, however, in a position to say that I was not arguing that we couldn't afford to build a fence on the Canadian border, period."

And if it's too expensive or unfeasible for other reasons to completely fence/monitor the borders, I'm in favor of securing as much of it as possible...

Wow, one faggot was enough to turn you conservative. You should consider writing a full autobiography.

who pointed at a dumpy-looking man wearing horn-rimmed glasses.

Gee, maybe that's why liberal type blogs have done so well, we are all so dumpy that we have to resort to CMC. Thank god we now get to have our ideas judged by their content, rather than how hot we look...

the ceiling seemed to grow transparent and two giant angeles with diaphanous wings appeared

Let this be a lesson kids--bad drugs will make you fear teh Mexicans.

GOP 08: Don't Enforce, Fence !

GOP '08: Please, fence me in.

"Wow, one faggot was enough to turn you conservative."

I'm disappointed that you would come to that conclusion, Steve. I was thinking of other 'F' words to define Mr. Musto -- like foolish, fopish, and fatuous -- but of course that's one of the liberal knee-jerks of perception I stepped back from: you know, reading homophobic or racist intent in any criticism directed at gays or dark skinned minorities; and part of the reason why so many other Democrats have distanced themselves from the latte-liberal fringe of the party, because they’re just as narrow-mindedly obtuse as fringe conservatives, and don’t understand what the middle-ground is.That’s the reason why Giuliani was elected mayor of NYC twice, even though Democrats outnumbered Republicans by 5 to 1 in the city; and the reason the Grope-anator won the governors race in California, where Democrats are significantly more numerous than Republicans...

And it didn't turn me conservative -- it put me back in balance. I’m a registered Independent now, and we’re the ones who are going to decide who the next president is – and that’s a good thing..

The entire work of the argument is being carried by your assumption that the fence would be a collossal failure.

Brett:

In addition to Hilzoy's skillfully crafted philosophical arguments against your position, consider the physical and logistical constraints.

I think we agree that a three-string barbed wire fence wouldn't be much of a border defense. I'm wondering what you would consider both adequate and acceptable in the name of preserving our borders. Electrified 12-foot chain-link fencing topped with razor ribbon? A 12-foot concrete wall, flanked on each side with six-foot "dead man zones," with armed guards posted each 50 feet? Which is, pretty much, the Berlin Wall.

Okay, let's build the regrettable/ expensive/ necessary/ totalitarian fencing only at certain pressure points, e.g., Juarez and Tijuana, and then scale back elsewhere.

Define "elsewhere." Could "elsewhere" shift on the margins? If so -- then what?

Brett, fences are notional. Any higher-order mammal who desperately wants something on the other side of a fence will spend all its time, its ingenuity, its energy getting past the fence. That "something" could be a better life, a squirrel, some inchoate sense of freedom!

Forget the expense. (GWB certainly has!) In pragmatic terms, a fence that effectively seals off our borders would require a massive, totalitarian effort far beyond what any American would be willing to tolerate.

Right, Brett?

from the latte-liberal fringe

You need help, Jay. Only a frivolous, drug-addled crank feels that threatened by lattes. We're here to help you, Jay. Why do you hate lattes so much?

but of course that's one of the liberal knee-jerks of perception I stepped back from

and yet your entire 12:22 post (your first on this thread) is one long collection of knee-jerk cardboard stereotypes, snipped from the back issues of Limbaugh Monthly. so you traded what you saw as "liberal knee-jerks of perception" for a basket full or right wing stereotypes.

my god, what a hypocrite you are.

For the US/Mexico border, all you'd really need is a single wall, topped by autotracking, autoacquiring gatling guns, placed every 150 meters or so.

Frickin' laser beams. If the Star Wars technology is going to pick off multiple warheads coming in at 17,000 MPH, it ought to be good enough to pick off people (or dogs, or butterflies) crossing the border. In either case, why bother with a wall? Just a tower or pedestal every couple hundred meters on which to mount the weapon.

a bit pile on ish, methinks. Can you guys ratchet it back a bit, so I can enjoy my latte in peace?

Can you guys ratchet it back a bit, so I can enjoy my latte in peace?

this is ObWi After Hours ™ ... when the knives come out.

Darn -- just as I was kicking off my Birkenstocks and rolling up my sleeves...

Gary: That reason is the money of the lobbyists for the industries that are dependent on cheap illegal alien labor (farm corporations, hotel & service industries, factories, etc.) which pays off the Republican Party in Congress and their machine.

Are these guys members of the Republican Party, or are they part of their machine? I can’t tell which…

Kennedy
Feinstein
Leahy
Schumer

All eight Democrats on the Judiciary Committee [2006] supported both guest worker provisions on Monday...

I’m sure Dianne Feinstein doesn’t get a nickel from agricultural lobbyists. [/snark]

I’m actually in total agreement with you Gary, but it’s not quite fair to make this a Republican only problem.

I think, if the US government wanted to "really" secure the border, it would mean shifting the same in "critical" regions and enforcing a no-go zone on at least one side (similar to the late GDR).

A US-Canadian Schengen equivalent would not go past the pharma lobby because it would mean those cheap and dangerous (e.g. poisoned by bin Laden) Canadian prescription drugs (re)entering the country freely.

Far better than a wall against mexico, we could invite mexico to join the union.

Mexico would have far more influence on us if they had senators and representatives in our congress than they do as a foreign power. Issues with mexico would become internal matters, which would make them far easier to deal with.

Mexico would get far more foreign (and american) investment with US law to regulate expropriation etc. Economicly it would benefit both countries, after the turbulence settled down from resolving the mexican immigrant problem settled down.

We would have a far far shorter border with Belize and Guatemala.

Should mexico become a state with 2 senators, or should the mexican federal government be dissolved and mexico gets 62 or 63 senators? We should propose both ways to mexico and see which they prefer.

This whole border issue disappears with forward thinking.

I’m actually in total agreement with you Gary, but it’s not quite fair to make this a Republican only problem.

OCSteve, in terms of coming up with solutions to the problem that we can then try to get through congress, it doesn't makes sense to think of this as a Republican-only problem. Democrats and independents have contributed to it.

In terms of politics, it makes complete and perfect sense to call this a Republican-only problem. Republicans are claiming the problem. They are proposing solutions that will worsen the problem. They are blaming Democrats for not doing enough to create the problem.

When Republicans do their best to claim the issue, nonRepublicans have a choice between fighting them for the blame or letting them have it. My preference is to let them have it with both barrels.

Securing the borders is almost self-evidently an aspect of national defense, and we're talking a tiny fraction of the defense budget. You're never going to convince anybody that this is too expensive if they think it would work.

Remember the other day when Brett mocked Jesurgislac for implying that abortion was, incredibly enough, the one thing in the universe that was perfectly inelastic? Yeah. Apparently he doesn't.

So what's 'fundamentally stupid' about fencing those stretches of our borders where fences would work, and using other means to monitor the rest?

Because we don't live in East Berlin?

Speaking of fences, this article, taken from a just published book, talks about a fence made by the Australian forces in Vietnam and how it came back to bite them.

Ok, "never" is hyperbole. "Rarely" would be more accurate.

"Frickin' laser beams."

All we need is a clear stretch free of cover, to prevent people from hiding from the sensors, and on either side a modest physical barrier, capable of slowing intruders enough that they'd still be visible when a helicopter arrived from the nearest border post.

And comparisons to East Germany are tiresome: What was offensive about the East German wall was that it was built to keep people IN, making that country a prison. Coupled with no legal way out.

Here we're talking about a barrier to prevent people from entering, illegally, a country which has legal modes of entry. It's about as monsterous as the fact that I lock my front door at night.

It's about as monsterous as the fact that I lock my front door at night.

That's an interesting point, and it seems to underline that you think of the country as something _you_ possess and therefore you and the people you deem as possessing the right have to protect what they own from the incursions of others. This is not a dig, but I think that this suggests that we are already starting from different places. While I have an expectation of privacy for my personal space, I have a hard time extending what I 'possess' out to an entire country. In fact, it seems to me that in permitting more people to partake of the opportunities that the country offers is more important than protecting that property from people I deem as being unworthy of the opportunity. In fact, I think the act of walling off those opportunities actually hurts me, because every place needs new blood and a new flow of people and ideas.

Of course, this is affected by the fact that I am living as an outsider in a country that is having a huge problem trying to figure out how to incorporate newcomers, yet is probably going to have to.

lj, Thanks for that interesting link. Bears out what I've maintained for decades about the inherent contradictions of counterinsurgency:

This tragedy of strategic self-destruction stemmed from the willful blindness of a regime that institutionalized ignorance of Vietnamese nationalism and inflated the threat of communism. Strategic myth-making was the essential underpinning of Australia’s involvement in the war. But such mystification made it impossible to observe the first rule of war: know your enemy.

"Are these guys members of the Republican Party, or are they part of their machine?"

No, they've supporting the the entire immigration bill. I'm pretty sure you know this, so I don't follow why you ask.

OCSteve, are you actually contesting that there's some other reason why the guest worker program exists, and why enforcement provisions against employers aren't harsh?

That the overall bill was crafted by a bipartisan set of Senators is well-known and necessary, but I don't understand its relevance to the point.

"While I have an expectation of privacy for my personal space, I have a hard time extending what I 'possess' out to an entire country. In fact, it seems to me that in permitting more people to partake of the opportunities that the country offers is more important than protecting that property from people I deem as being unworthy of the opportunity."

I rest my case.

So, in attempting to try and set up why we differ, you think you've been proved right? I am reminded of the PowerPuff Girls character who often runs around screaming 'Git yer hands off my propertee!'

"So, in attempting to try and set up why we differ, you think you've been proved right?"

Yes, but aside from that, and the prolix valley-guy hair-fluffing persiflage sounding liberal rhetoric aside, you have become redeemed as a shining star in my orbit of respect -- that in lieu of the YouTube "Introducing The Book" video you posted --

Gary: No, they've supporting the the entire immigration bill. I'm pretty sure you know this, so I don't follow why you ask.

In response to:
All we have to do is enforce the laws on the books, possibly increase some fines and add some jail time for employers in violation

You said:
We don't do it for one reason. It's the exact same reason the "guest worker" program is in the current immigration bill.

That reason is the money of the lobbyists for the industries that are dependent on cheap illegal alien labor (farm corporations, hotel & service industries, factories, etc.) which pays off the Republican Party in Congress and their machine.

You went on to mention yeah there are also corrupt Democrats, but for different reasons. I read that to mean that the guest worker provisions are in there strictly due to Republicans and the lobbyists that pay them off. I pointed out that there are Democrats who also specifically support guest worker programs… Did I misread you?

Again I agree with your assessment – I just don’t think it is only Republicans getting that sweet lobbyist payola.

If republicans were really serious about all this they would just propose to mine the border - cheaper and likely more effective.

"I pointed out that there are Democrats who also specifically support guest worker programs… Did I misread you?"

No. I thought it was clear that voting for a provision you oppose because you've agreed to an overall deal isn't "specifically support[ing]" that provision, but I appear to have been wrong.

"Again I agree with your assessment – I just don’t think it is only Republicans getting that sweet lobbyist payola."

In general? No. In the organized way the Republicans have perfected over the last 13 years, with the K Street Project, and all the other constructs set up by DeLay and Abramoff and Reed and their friends, yes. As regards not passing severe sanctions on employers who hire illegal aliens: that's pretty much a Republican thing, though not 100%.

But, of course, voting for the provision as part of the overall deal is irrelevant; I assumed you are perfectly aware of that, since it's kinda basic to our entire legislative system. But you seem to be saying that the only reason people vote on any amendment or motion is because they support a specific underlying universal cause -- or something -- I'm really not following how you get from "voting aye on motion B" to "that means the legislator wants to accomplish a specific given task I'm identifying here with no further information or cause."

To recap, you write: "I read that to mean that the guest worker provisions are in there strictly due to Republicans and the lobbyists that pay them off. I pointed out that there are Democrats who also specifically support guest worker programs…"

You seem to be saying that you believe that a vote for a provision means you favor the underlying purpose of that provison. This is, of course, not at all how our legislative process works.

A vote for a given provision, or a procedural motion, means absolutely nothing whatever as to how the legislator feels about the underlying issue, and says nothing specifically about their overall intent. It just doesn't.

I mean, you know that, right?

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