From the comments to a RedState article about immigration:
My question is why did the GOP pick up the amnesty flag at all?  This was a priority? 
The GOP "reasoning" seems to be this . . . 
Budget, nah, can't be bothered. 
Exploding Deficit, just doesn't seem important. 
Runaway Government both in size and power grab, not really worth addressing. 
Amnesty, that’s the ticket, it wrecks the budget, explodes the deficit, increases the runaway government and best of all it peeves our base!  One other benefit, it increases the Democrats base.  Wow, why didn't we think of this before!


Elise said...

I just ran across this at Althouse, an excerpt from Rubio's interview with Rush Limbaugh:

Apparently Rubio says that the President, the media, and Congressional Democrats were going to push on this and Republicans had to get out in front of it to avoid letting those groups define them on the issue.

I don't buy it. It's weird. I don't really think President Obama is particularly bright (not dumb, just not exceptionally smart) but watching the Republicans walk into this makes me wonder if maybe Obama really *csn* play 3- (or 7- or 11-) dimensional chess.

Anonymous said...

If we surrender quickly enough, we can dictate the peace treaty terms??? Has the RNC vacationed too long in France?

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I recall from Zell Miller's book years ago that the political rule about lotteries, casinos and gambling was that only one-third of the people would be against you, but that one-third would kill you.

I don't think that would be the case for Republicans on immigration, but they believe it would be the case. They know they have general support for a harder line, but believe the bad press will kill them.

Even closer to the mark, they might believe that a harder line might be good for Republicans generally, but bad for any of the individual politicians who stand out. No one wants to pay the individual cost and take one for the team.

I admit, I'm trying to find rationality in what looks irrational to me.

Grim said...

Zell Miller got a lottery through here in Georgia, though. It was one of the most brilliant pieces of legislation ever passed: it is a voluntary tax on stupidity, with the proceeds donated to educate those who can maintain a B+ average in college.

Texan99 said...

You have to wonder what the purpose of our borders is supposed to be. They're not impermeable, so they're supposed to let someone through. American citizens returning home, check. Foreign visitors who will go home after a while and not run amok while they're here, check.

Now there are a bunch of people who want to come through and stay. Do we get to think about how well it will work out for us if they come through? In the abstract, yes, but only as long as they're standing on the other side and we can't see them up close. Once they're among us, it's practically impossible to look at it that way. Then it becomes about how hard it is to send someone away, especially if they have a job and a family here. What if they're on welfare? Well, then, it's even harder to be mean to someone who can't make a living, right?

Right about then, the brains of voters and politicians turn to soup. A third are saying be nice to the starving babies (and by the way write us another check to feed them). Another third are saying get rid of the brown hordes who are polluting the purity of our culture and starving our own babies by low-balling the bids for unskilled jobs. The third in the middle are hopelessly conflicted, often thinking bits of both at once.

Grim said...

Well, there's a bigger game at issue than domestic politics. Somehow the fact that Mexico is a war zone has escaped the popular discourse. It's not just Juarez, which recently has seen more people killed in the city per year than in the whole of Afghanistan. The war has claimed 55,000 lives in the last few years.

We are having a human trafficking case here in Georgia right now, centered on the Mexican immigrant community. Those arrested were charged with keeping at least eleven women as sexual slaves, and forcing them into prostitution.

So far that's a depressing but not unheard-of story. What makes it interesting is this claim from the indictment: "The indictment accuses Mendez-Hernandez of telling one woman she would be returned to Mexico if she didn't have sex with at least 25 men each day."

That's a charge that cries out for elaboration. How bad must home be, if being sent there is a viable threat vice being forced to accept prostitution on the scale of 25 men a day?

There's also an ongoing story bubbling about the CIA having taken sides in the drug war -- not (or not only) with the government, but by backing the Sinola cartel.

If we are asked to talk about amnesty, we really ought to start by asking about Mexico. Why are people so eager to come here while our own economy has been so slow for so long, and is contracting again? What's going on with the war on our border that is worse than the war in Afghanistan? The US Navy has recently put out sequestration guidance that will entirely eliminate its fleet presence in the Caribbean sea. Why is the priority to guard everything in the world except our own borders?

All of these questions are available to be asked, by Republicans or anyone else. I don't quite understand why we are having the debate we are having at all.

Elise said...

I'm not in any of T99's thirds. I do feel sad about being sending people back to a miserable home country but I don't think we can take in all the people whose home country is miserable - 1 billion? 2 billion? - and I don't think living within walking or coyote-transport distance should convey a special status on people in Mexico and Central America that isn't available to people in Mali or Darfur.

I don't want to get rid of the "brown" hordes - I would react exactly the same way to 11 million Norwegians who were here illegally. (Are there even 11 million Norwegians in all of Norway?) I do find it puzzling that people who scream about "sending jobs overseas" can't figure out that whether we export the jobs to low-wage countries or import the low-wage workers to this country, it has the same effect on "current" Americans who could do those jobs. As for culture, yeah, I think a country gets to decide how and to what extent it's willing to have its culture changed and allowing massive immigration - whether legal or illegal - especially from one country is going to change the culture.

I do think it's easy to think both at once but for me the bottom line is two things: rule of law and been there, done that. I think laws are important. I understand there are too many of them and some of them are ridiculous or bad or cruel but to me the correct response is to change them, not break them or reward others for breaking them. As for "been there, done that", the 1986 amnesty was going to be it: we'd "normalize" a situation we had helped let get out of hand and at the same time announce this was the end of the line - no more illegal immigration and, if it did occur, no more Mr. Nice Guy. It didn't work last time and won't work this time - and the supply of miserable people who need jobs is endless.

Elise said...

As for Grim's questions about what in the Sam Hill is going on in Mexico, I think they're valid. But I don't think letting Mexico use the United States as a pressure valve for its own inability or unwillingness to give its citizens a decent life is a good idea for that country's future or for our own.

I've also realized that the Leftist view of things doesn't have a problem with questions like the ones Grim poses. If questioned about why things are so bad in Mexico, I'm pretty sure the Leftist response would be that it's the fault of the United States: our imperialism condemned Mexico (and much of the rest of the world) to Third World conditions in the first place (hence poverty, hunger, no work) and our drug habit is the root of the cartel wars. I would be tempted to reply "oil and corruption" and "if it's our drug habit why are they your cartels" but that would cut no ice with those who are sure everything bad in the world is the fault of the US. Which makes the Leftist view nicely integrated since when it's our fault, it's our responsibility to help those affected - by letting them all come here when and how they want. Who says those on the Left don't have a coherent view of the world?

Miss Ladybug said...

WRT what Grim said about Mexico: I read an interesting piece today explaining Mexico's current silence on the issue. The current government there is at least giving lip service to trying to solve some of the issues that cause so many of their citizens to leave...

Cass said...

All of these questions are available to be asked, by Republicans or anyone else. I don't quite understand why we are having the debate we are having at all.

I think it's because most people don't think critically about any of this. They just react emotionally.

You are asking questions, but most people really don't do that, Grim.

When I was listening to the Hagel confirmation hearing today, I thought about how I would answer some of the questions and concluded that I'd never heard a politician answer them that way (honestly, IOW). We blame them for that, but I suspect they're right: the public doesn't react well to being told there's no free lunch.

A small minority long to be dealt with straight, but the majority doesn't feel that way at all. And we're living under a majority-run system.

It's kind of depressing.

Grim said...

As often, you have given me a good reason to reconsider my support for democracy. It comes in a good hour. But if I am to swing away from democracy, it must not be in favor of an elite like this one. William Buckley's wager was well given if Hagel and John Kerry are to be pitted against the top few names in any given phonebook.

There must be some system that encourages, if not perfect virtue from leadership, at least more than this. If there is nothing better from democracy nor elitism than this, then maybe we should reconsider anarchy.

Tom said...

Well, I think the reason we're not hearing these questions about Mexico is that the media is invested in not asking them for some reason.

I suspect that the media realize that asking these questions would lead to a rejection of amnesty, and they are for amnesty. So, Mexico's problems are not part of the debate specifically because of the immigration issue here.

In this case, I don't think the problem is democracy; it's that we've allowed one viewpoint to dominate the media.

Tom said...

... and not just the media, of course, but much of the popular culture and academia as well.

Texan99 said...

Democracies all contain the seeds of tyranny. We've know that since Ancient Greece. I'm always up for applying a little liberty to break up the steady creep of tyranny.

But why assume that increased liberty is the same thing as anarchy? There are a multitude of forms of order other than government. Government never should have been allowed to overshadow them as much as we see today. It's past time to shrink the government and return to the private and voluntary forms of order. Otherwise, if an out-of-control government provokes a revolt, we really will see anarchy.

Grim said...

Anarchy is not necessarily a pejorative term. It's just a division of kinds of social organization: it is characterized by a lack of force to require obedience.

The question is whether such a system is genuinely practical. I've always argued that it was not: that a system of people sorting out their problems via negotiation was unlikely to work due to human nature, yes, but more that no such system could survive in a world in which other kinds of systems compete with it. It would be overrun by those who didn't mind to use violence.

Now it is theoretically possible that you could have an 'outward-looking-only' capacity for violence: soldiers but not police, fleets but not courts. Members of the society could resolve any disputes via negotiation and mutual advantage, but the society would use all necessary force to defend itself from the outside world.

I still think that even an inward-looking anarchy is a very high bar, due to the human nature issues. But the complaint with the system isn't that it would be a nasty place to live -- it's that it's too good to be true. If you don't have mechanisms to force people to behave, lots of good-hearted people will do their part anyway. But enough people exist who won't, who will free-ride or outright violate custom or agreements that you're going to end up with them in the driver's seat. They're going to be effectively setting the rules by living according to their own lowest standards.

Grim said...

That's not to say that I don't find it theoretically attractive, though. Anarchy is for me what Marxism was for many intellectuals in the early to mid-20th century: a dream I'd love to believe in, but that almost certainly couldn't really work (and that would probably lead to negative unintended consequences if tried). Marxism isn't that, for me -- I never even felt inclined to want to believe in it. But I would love to believe in Anarchy. I just don't.

Elise said...

Here's my theory. In a tyranny only a relatively few people have to pay attention to what the government is doing: the tyrant, his army (although really only the upper levels), his propaganda arm (religion, Communist Party, whatever - again only the upper levels). The rest of the residents can be pretty much uninterested and, in fact, the government would prefer they be so. Furthermore, since the government controls education, media, etc., they can control what people know and can at least try to control what and how they think.

In a democracy, a lot of the people have to pay attention. Nobody has to pay a lot of attention but almost everyone has to pay a little attention regularly. Say, watching or reading the news every day and writing or calling government representatives when things look hinky.

The former is more natural for most people: we'd really like to just live our lives in peace and reasonable health and prosperity. We're not interested in government or governing and would prefer to be left alone. The more secure and prosperous a country gets, the greater this tendency becomes.

In a tyranny this works to preserve the form of government. In a democracy, this works to undermine it since the mass of the citizenry stops paying attention and only those who are interested in government and, especially, governing stay engaged.

I think this tendency is worse in a straight democracy than in a Constitutionally limited republic and perhaps part of our problem is that we are moving more toward the former.

It is easier to praise a republican form of government than to establish one; and when it is established, it cannot be of long duration (Tacitus)

douglas said...

"As for Grim's questions about what in the Sam Hill is going on in Mexico, I think they're valid. But I don't think letting Mexico use the United States as a pressure valve for its own inability or unwillingness to give its citizens a decent life is a good idea for that country's future or for our own."

I've been trying to make this argument when the issue pops up for a while now- I think it's exactly right, and a similar argument against increasing legal immigration too much is that we'll skim too much of the cream off of too many other places, and that will have repercussions there.

"I think this tendency is worse in a straight democracy than in a Constitutionally limited republic and perhaps part of our problem is that we are moving more toward the former.

It is easier to praise a republican form of government than to establish one; and when it is established, it cannot be of long duration (Tacitus)"

Yes, yes, yes. This circles back to Jefferson and his view that revolts ought to happen with some frequency. It's been a long time...

Tom said...

I haven't seen anything that makes me think political systems is the right conversation here. Information is more important, which is why tyrants and would-be overwhelmingly want control over all of it.

The big problem we have now is a lack of well-recognized, trustworthy sources of information. It is not democracy that has caused our problems; it is an information economy that has produced so much conflicting (and even fraudulent) information that the common person no longer trusts it, nor knows what to trust.

If you don't know what sources to believe, why pay attention?