Thursday, March 16, 2017

Shifting views on immigration

In 1939, the infamous ship St. Louis limped around the Atlantic and Caribbean with over 900 German Jews on board. Arm-twisted by the Nazis, but also shamefully, the United States and Cuba both refused sanctuary to the refugees. Eventually the ship returned to Germany and most of the passengers on board were eventually killed during the Holocaust.

Bard College professor an director of the Hannah Arendt Center, Roger Berkowitz talks about a luckier refugee, Hanna Arendt: In 1943, Arendt wrote a poignant essay 'We Refugees': "The stateless person, without the right to residence and without the right to work, had of course constantly to transgress the law."

Berkowitz expands on Arendt's experience: 

"The word, refugee, flattens a person and a people marked by loss and vulnerability. Having lost their home, their language, their friends, and their families, refugees live in camps, in public; they experience the rupture of their private lives and their public visibility as only a mass.
   "The refugee is transformed from a person with a history and world into a pitiable figure. We can have compassion for an individual, look into their eyes, touch their shoulder, and feel the humanness in their pain. But faced with masses of refugees hands open, seeking refuge, compassion is too often replaced by pity (if not by fear).”

I’ve long accused all sides of hypocrisy regarding immigration!

History shows that Democrats protect the borders and reduce illegal immigration --demonstrably better and more vigorously than Republicans (till Trump) -- for the same reasons that they boosted legal immigration — because legal immigrants can join unions and eventually vote. Yes, this sounds counter to popular impressions because liberals try to be kind to illegals, once they are here. But democratic presidents always boosted the Border Patrol (Obama deported all the illegals who misbehaved, who he could get his hands on).

Think about why, until 9/11, GOP presidents always slashed the BP. It's true!  Why? Because their owner caste loves cheap labor that must live in fear and that undercuts unions.

If cranky, white, male boomers want to blame anyone for the changing look of America, blame the Democrats all right! But for legal immigration.  The landmark Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 eased the path across the nation's borders for people from Asia and Africa by removing old regional quotas. That was moral and right.

That 1965 Democratic Congress also did something that seems also to be right-sounding… easing the way for families to re-unite, if one member is already legally a U.S. resident. And there, well, I disagree

Sure, unite parents and children and spouses. But the sibling and cousin advantage is just immoral and wrong. 

Think.  Anyone in another country who has a U.S. relative is already much luckier than his neighbors in say, Bangladesh. Think, I mean it, actually think about this. Those relatives back home already get remittances and packages and favors, and help with legal paperwork trying to emigrate. They are already lucky! Why should they automatically be luckier than their neighbors, in Dacca?  Don’t those neighbors deserve a chance, too? See my earlier posting: Hidden factors in the rush to immigration reform. Must luck be kept limited to arbitrary family chains?

Does this mean I approve of a Republican bill?  Really? These monsters who have betrayed Adam Smith and Lincoln and who have sent Barry Goldwater spinning in his grave? 

Well, in fact, while it seems old-fashioned, I am capable of fine parsing. And there are portions of this bill that are as loathsome as anything else spewing from Paul Ryan’s Confederate Treason Cabal. But to be honest, there are parts that I can shrug over.

Look, we need to prioritize. Obama himself had no problems with simultaneously creating a citizenship path for "dreamers" - kids who came here as babies, while vigorously deporting slimes who betrayed their adopted land by wreaking crime and harm.  He called for kindness and help for hard-workers who were already here... while spending quite a few millions beefing up the Border Patrol and laying hundreds of miles of new fences, so immigration can channel through the legal processes.

Just in order to shock you all, let me say: "Build your stupid wall." It's about time Republicans were willing to employ lots of semi-skilled workers in infrastructure, creating high velocity money in the economy instead of sucking us dry with tax gifts to the rich.

If this were a negotiation, I'd let em have the wall, in exchange for... for... for not being jerks at war with facts and brains and heart in every way they can possibly find.

== Immigration and Violence ==

From the Los Angeles Times: Californians are 30% less likely to die a violent death today than other Americans. Since 1980, California’s rate of reported crime overall has fallen by 62%. The state’s criminal arrest rates, too, have fallen considerably, by 55% overall, and by 80% among people younger than 18 — a population, it is worth noting, that is now 72% nonwhite. 

Violent crime in California has fallen by an impressive 50% in the same period. This includes drops in robberies (65%), homicide (68%), and rapes and assaults (more than 40%). That last figure is even more remarkable when you consider that the legal definitions of both assault and rape were expanded during these years.

Trump often points at violence in Chicago. An outlier that is less blue and less immigrant rich, and far smaller than California. 

Oh, and California generates inventions and jobs faster than anyone. Texas keeps sending governors here to try to raid and poach our companies. Um, why? Can't generate your own?

Efficient government, top schools and universities... and sure, filled with problems... that are being handled better than any red state. Why? How? We haven't abandoned the formula of the Greatest Generation. We have unions, universities, infrastructure, tolerance and the rich pay taxes. And business flourishes. 

Oh, one more thing. We like being a little bit funky-crazy. It's cool. It is one of many reasons why we're the sane ones.


Tim H. said...

The .01% always wants cheaper labor, back to the beginnings of the Republic. Something the Democrats might be able to use, if they can do so without drying up campaign funding, is to point out that central to contemporary conservatism, as it was in the old south, is the laborer is not worthy of a fair wage. The strategy worked well for Republicans in the 19th century, before they were infected by "Winner take all".

Paul SB said...

I just recently got email from ICE letting me know that applications for immigrant status for my two brothers-in-law have been rejected. An important point to make here is that I have been married for 22 years, and my wife became a citizen 5 years after that, when we could apply for other relatives. Given how long it took, it should be no surprise that both of them lost interest long ago. I don't think they were really all that interested in the first place, because they had families and careers where they were, so the motivation was hers, not theirs. So the emails just got shrugs.

Perhaps ICE should consider the nation from which a family comes. In my case, the family members are in a fairly stable and economically robust country. If I had married someone from, say, Somalia or Peru, there would be much stronger incentive to get them out of there.

Another factor worth considering is cultural. Americans are accustomed to nuclear families and neolocality (children move out of the homes of their parents), but this is not the norm around the world. People who come from very primitive societies are accustomed to having a social support network. In fact, the lack of such support networks in our nuclear and neolocal tradition is a significant contributing factor to our high clinical depression and suicide rates. For people who come from such societies, rural Sudan or Northern Thailand, for instance, isolating them from their traditional family support networks is hardly ideal. The culture shock is already intense enough. I would hope that factors like this could be considered.

Zepp Jamieson said...

One of the big hypocrisies (and Doctor Brin is right, they are virtually innumerate) is that undocumented immigrants are PROFITABLE. Not just the cheap and easily cheated labour; they pay in on payroll deductions without hope of ever seen a dime back for their Social Security payments, or benefits paid for by their other taxes, let alone unemployment insurance. Lot of crooked employers out there who don't mind gaming the system with people without power or much in the way of rights, but who don't dare mess with the tax people.
I've read claims that California benefits to the tune of some $13,000 a year from each undocumented worker.

Zepp Jamieson said...

I understand that three courts have struck down Travel Ban II now, all on the same grounds: Trump can't disguise the spitting hatred of Moslems that he showed during the entirity of his campaign behind bland legalisms.

Jon Roth said...

Thought our host would find this interesting

Prasanth said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

One need only read Toynbee to know the significance of "Build your stupid wall" (yes, yes! keep up at those insults!) a most promising reversal from the expansionary "trade with us, or die" Commodore "Death Path" Perry or the long mesa propping up Pinochets and that 2009 Honduras thing.

LarryHart said...


Well, if you answer to your name, then it must be plain.

Jumper said...

I would like a special deference for Canadian and Mexican immigrants, perhaps an extra 20%, and similar for green cards.

I also don't like the idea of religious fanatics flooding in, but I am not going to align with bigots. I have few objections with most people who practice and zero objections with many, and the idea of drawing a line makes me very uneasy. I'll trust to evolving sensibilities to defuse the ancient ugly memes that piggyback, historically, on human faith.

I did experience first hand the rending of society by illegal entry of Mexican labor. We were so close to having actual living wages for construction work; the demand was there in the boom - and then wages went down. The perfidy of the industry movers was worse than people even know now. Errors and cheats on materials, non-comprehension of language was a feature not a bug for shoddy schemers. One guy was killing so many Mexicans in trenches collapsing, I researched him. He's shut down his company and re-form another the next day with a different name. I found his name on election cash donation lists: all Republican.

Brother Doug said...

Well written worth sending as a letter to the editor.

Jumper said...

Of course the Wall is bullshit: shipping containers will get them here. As for anonymous, I'm going to continue calling stupidity what it is. The blackmail attempts are becoming more clear every day and soon there will be a reckoning.

locumranch said...

This post of David's is both factual & well-written, the only problematic part of it being what is left unsaid, that foreign nationals who enter both the EU & the USA without due process are lawbreakers. Felons, actually.

They violate immigration statute with impunity; they engage in economic fraud; they nullify labour law; they commit class 4 felonies by assuming fake identities; and they self-identify as criminals by all-of-the-above. The foreign-born children that they bring along, although initially guiltless, become accomplices after the fact upon reaching the age of majority.

Such laws are inhumane, unfair & unjust, some argue, and I do not disagree with this perspective. However, we risk moral hazard by only enforcing the laws that we like when we like them. We are either a nation of laws or we are not a nation of laws. The law either applies to all or it does not apply to all. And, despite personal preference, we cannot simply enforce these laws selectively without becoming lawless.

Yet, we do enforce our laws selectively. We hold only law-abiding males to the highest standard; we apply an inconsistent legal standard to women & children because of their assumed lack of agency; we indemnify the powerful, rich & celebrated from legal consequence; we give 'special deference' to discrete identity groups; we strip the convicted of their 'inalienable rights' while we coddle the repeat offender who 'can't help it'; and we hold the undocumented alien to no legal standard whatsoever.

These, then, are the sad facts:

(1) We are a nation of laws no longer; and,
(2) The consequence of selective legal consequence is Trump Nation.


Jumper said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jumper said...

Your general thoughts are not wrong nor seldom said, but your conclusions are hyperbolic and extreme, and not justified as absolutes (nor are anywhere close to justifiable.) Your motive seems to be to ensure everyone you meet falls into hopeless rage. Thanks.

matthew said...

Jon-good one. For those that didn't click, Jon posted a link about the business of protecting the transfer of wealth from one generation to another in the ultra-rich. Detail, that if true, gives a little detail to my mental picture of what we face.

Jon - please give a little more detail instead of just posting a blind link. You have a good point to bring up. Channel your inner salesman.

matthew said...

"Detail[..] gives detail." Gak. Forgive my abuse to grammatical nicety. Have we all mentioned how much this interface sucks?

Susan Watson said...

Canada used to have large scale unwanted illegal Asian immigration; The would-be immigrants paid large amounts of money to dangerous people who dropped them in the wilderness to die. This all stopped when the government opened consulates throughout the source regions providing a more accessible legal pathway to come here.

Now the US is doing the opposite... Hobbling the U.S. State Department will limit vetted, legal immigration and very likely increase uncontrolled illegal immigration, if the Canadian experience is any guide.

David Brin said...

Locum agrees with me that illegal immigration should be minimized in favor of the legal kind. Which makes him… a democrat. Hypocrite confeds refuse to notice that pre-Trump goppers OPENED the illegals floodgates while DP’s always bolstered the Border Patrol.

But he dips into flagrantly evil betrayal of all compassion with “The foreign-born children that they bring along, although initially guiltless, become accomplices after the fact upon reaching the age of majority.” Which is just plain assholery of the first order. The Dreamers are American-raised and culturally “us” in every way that matters.

(1) We are a nation of laws no longer; and,
(2) The consequence of selective legal consequence is Trump Nation.

Both are true. But the gigantor perp[etrators, for an entire generation, have been confederate traitors, serving an oligarchic putsch that wants selective consequences all to favor feudalism.

David Brin said...

Har Anonymous liar! You never read Toynbee! Feudalist iombeciles are always attributing to him things he never said. Like “cyclical” bull or Tytler crap.

Oh one more for the ratio. GOP legislators and officials are caught on morals charges FAR more often than democrats, they have a far higher divorce rate, and the dems are usually caught in consensual kinky emails or with prostitute. For Republicans? Mostly it’s Congressional pages and other boys.

Jumper, the biggest argument in favor of globalization and border friendliness is that we are building a new Canada, south of the US. (As well as uplifting both China and India at the same time!) But many US citizens don’t like abstractions like that, which hurt our bottom line, superficially.

Catfish N. Cod said...

DACA is virtually a necessity for consistency of the law. To wit:

(1) In all countries, parents are responsible for the actions of children under the age of majority. They cannot therefore be considered criminals for entering the country illegally; they had no legal choice.

(2) Yet automatically upon reaching majority, all their actions are supposedly now illegal by virtue of existing in a place they had no choice but to be.

This is "corruption of blood": punishing children for an action of the parents. The Constitution forbade corruption of blood in treason punishments, but I would guess the Founders did not dream that "corruption of blood" could be applied to lesser crimes.

Since a DACA over the age of majority is free of their parents, there is no need for the government to act in loco parentis. They are a brand new resident, and should be treated as if they entered the country the day of their majority. In terms of legal autonomy, they did. The only other possible legal answer would be that a DACA should self-deport on the day of their majority to a country they were not raised in and only hold allegiance to by legal technicality. If you want them to "earn citizenship" by whatever means, I have no problem with that; but don't turn down someone who we've already effectively trained as an American.

As for the rest, one Republican suggested adopting Canada's point-merit based system. Such sanity! Such common sense! The mind reels. Why have we waited a decade to discuss this?

raito said...

Dr. Brin,

Say what you want about California, but I'm not moving to Visalia.

Catfish N. Cod said...

"Jumper, the biggest argument in favor of globalization and border friendliness is that we are building a new Canada, south of the US. (As well as uplifting both China and India at the same time!) But many US citizens don’t like abstractions like that, which hurt our bottom line, superficially."

Many US citizens don't like paying for things they can't see. As far as they know -- not that they bother to look -- money and jobs disappear, and Mexico is still the same. Or worse; don't you know about those horrible drug cartels and all the murder and mayhem they cause? The same applies to the rest of the world, too.

Because of those short horizons, these citizens don't care about the nation's bottom line either, really. They only care about their local bottom line. Is their town or region doing well? (It's usually a town, not a city. Cities have immigrants and/or direct connections to the rest of the nation and the world, where the benefits are more visible. They're more likely to have good economies, too.) If not -- must be because money is being taken somewhere else. To the coasts, or else overseas.

Now the coasts -- they have a real point there!! There used to be regional major businesses, anchors in places like Boston, St. Louis, Minneapolis, Kansas City, Salt Lake City, and others. All have been "consolidated" away to the coasts. But that is the result of lax antitrust and deregulation, letting finance snatch up supports of the community in favor of "efficiency" that mainly favors the very same capital. Trust-busting would do a damned lot of good there. As someone who has had loved ones forced to flee beautiful California by the steepness of rent and cost of living... it would really be good to return some business to the "hinterlands".

Might I note that a mass migration to the center of the country would also help sort out the nationwide electoral imbalances? You don't have to give up clustering with other liberals, you know. Austin, Texas is just as blue as Portland, Oregon. Or Atlanta, Georgia; Birmingham, Alabama; Boulder, Colorado; Charlotte, North Carolina... I think you're getting the picture.

Brother Doug said...

The unpleasant fact of immigration is that American citizens in the southwest USA are here illegally. In the 1820s we traded all rights to the southwest in exchange for Florida. The treaty in 1848 was also illegal for a variety of reasons. So under international law the undocumented Mexican citizens are in fact legal residents. So the moral arguments for deportation have no real truth.

Catfish N. Cod said...

raito: Me either; that's where tularemia was first isolated!

LarryHart said...

Brother Doug:

So under international law the undocumented Mexican citizens are in fact legal residents.

Well, not if they live in Chicago.

So the moral arguments for deportation have no real truth.

We could deport them back to Texas or Arizona or California.

LarryHart said...

Catfish N. Cod:

Now the coasts -- they have a real point there!! There used to be regional major businesses, anchors in places like Boston, St. Louis, Minneapolis, Kansas City, Salt Lake City, and others. All have been "consolidated" away to the coasts.


And at least one major business consolidates to Arkansas.

But now I'm just pickin' on ya.

A.F. Rey said...

Say what you want about California, but I'm not moving to Visalia.

Have you considered Oxnard?

A town as beautiful as it's name...

Brother Doug said...

And Mexico deports millions of Americans out out of the southwest but even then it's still illegal because we have failed to honor the treaty's with Native American tribes. It's never going to be free of moral ambiguity.

Alfred Differ said...

I don’t even want a stupid wall. Someone will latch on to the idea that it should be enforceable and when it proves not to stop the flow completely, they will use the symbol of the wall to turn the ratchet. How long before we mine the border? Sounds silly right now, but while the drug war proceeds, it isn’t a ridiculous proposal someday. Basically, to make the wall work will take more than a wall. It is the follow on behaviors I wish to avoid.

The stupid wall is stupid in another way too. In about 15-20 years, we will be paying the Mexicans to come up here to work. Maybe sooner. It’s a demographic thing. We need them AND their trade and too many Americans aren’t clued in to this yet.

As for lucky families having a member here in the US able to send remittances, I think that argument is mistaken. It assumes the immigration opportunities are things that should be scarce by law. That is a protectionist attitude and quite beneath us. I don’t mind the opportunities being scarce, but I’d rather it wasn’t a political decision. One option to consider is to have family members sponsor their relatives and be on the hook for costs. For example, if Paul SB’s wife really wanted her brothers here, we could let them in on the condition that they pay in taxes what the state and nation will need to cover them… or she does. If the brothers need medical coverage and they work enough to pay for it, the state and nation will not have to kick in much. The taxes they pay should cover things much like we citizens do. If the costs they impose on us aren’t covered, their sponsor is on the hook. She would think carefully about each of them as a result. So would Paul SB. Anyone brought over this way should not be counted against other kinds of quotas involving unsponsored immigrants where we might reasonably focus upon people we want to invite to meet our moral obligations to the world or simply because we want the best and the brightest.

If I can’t have an open approach regarding family sponsorships, I’d at least like to have it for Mexico and Canada. Pulling larger numbers of family members from Mexico will not lead to entire families moving. What it will likely do is create stronger ties between both nations and a larger middle class south of our border. Remittances are just part of the picture. Cultural exchange is more important. Families that know how business works on both sides of a border can do things individuals cannot and this will result in useful innovations.

Alfred Differ said...

Oxnard? Someone has a beef with Oxnard? 8)

Heh. I live in Oxnard. Been here 7 years. Beauty isn't the point. Strawberries are.

A.F. Rey said...

Wow, you guys still have strawberry fields?

I grew up in Pomona, with orange groves right behind the high school. Now there are apartment buildings. :(

Still, if you have a town with a name like Commerce or Industry, you gotta take a little ribbing once in a while. ;)

(BTW, how is the beef there? :))

Zepp Jamieson said...

I just drove through Buellton for the first time in 40 years. I see I haven't missed a thing.

A.F. Rey said...

FYI, FiveThirtyEight has a breakdown of the cuts Trump is proposing by agency:

Nice graphic of an ugly budget.

locumranch said...

Fresno is full of raisin-eaters. So what?

By justifying his disregard for those laws which he believes to be immoral on the grounds that (his) morality supercedes law, BrotherD offers up a textbook example of recursive moral relativism that allows him to violate any law he so chooses. Stalin made much the same claim.

Jumper & PaulSB are no better as they both argue that their opinion(s) should trump collective law.

I call BS on the lot as 'rule obedience equals morality'.

A border wall made of drones, Alfred. Armed Predator drones.

Zepp Jamieson said...

locumranch wrote: "I call BS on the lot as 'rule obedience equals morality'."

Morality, in my opinion, is a societal construct. Despite what the god-botherers tell us, there is no such thing as absolute morality, and the morals of a society are fluid and ever-shifting. And no sensible person can say social mores are perfect and demand obedience.
I suspect most here would agree that purblind obedience is immoral.
Next silly construct!

Alfred Differ said...

The strawberries are still being grown. I’ve seen some of the lemon orchards demolished lately, but it appears they decided to grow strawberries. Apparently those things are worth more that new houses and apartments. Heh. I suspect it is more about how the growth plan for the county protects the farmers/limits housing development. We just had proposed changes on the last ballot trying to push protections out 30 to 50 years. I’m not convinced such things protect farmers, though. They do more to limit housing supply and protect prices of existing properties.

I forgot to mention our deep water port too. If you live anywhere nearby, your bananas pass through our port. Technically, the city of Port Hueneme wraps around the port, but you won’t find any gaps between them and Oxnard. Maybe a few brick walls, though. 8)

One neat way to know how the pickers are doing is to look at the cars they drive when they show up in the fields to work. They work hard, but it isn’t minimum wage drudgery.

We can’t all be lovely cities with million dollar trailer homes, though. Malibu is right nearby, but I prefer to visit Santa Barbara when I want pretty. I can only take so many manufactured blondes in one day.

[The beef gets used in decent Mexican food along with chicken, shrimp, fish, and pork. Vegetarians can manage okay too.]

Alfred Differ said...

@locumranch; Rule obedience as morality IS garbage, but not entirely. It depends on what you mean by ‘rule.’ One of the neat distinctions I learned from reading Hayek is the one he drew between law and legislation. In the US, we mix the terms and Hayek argued this leads to a great deal of social confusion. To Hayek, the ‘law’ is what emerges from social rules. Thou shalt not commit Murder. We don’t really have to write that one down to know there is a general consensus opposing murder and anyone guilty of it will be punished somehow. Yet we write it down as legislation to determine the details regarding what counts, what doesn’t count, and what punishments attach to which behaviors. By turning law into legislation, we manage to avoid arbitrary application of law much of the time. The ‘Rule of Law’, therefore, translates into living by the emergent laws AND avoiding arbitrariness as best we can.

We don’t turn all of law into legislation, but lately we seem to be trying. There is a trap in this attempt, though. Not all of our laws have huge support. Some are supported by a majority, but maybe not a super-majority. Even a 10% opposition to a law can make it essentially unenforceable as legislation, so this isn’t a simple problem.

Armed drones on the border are exactly the things I want to avoid. If we go that far, I’m going to feel obligated to get out there and shoot them down.

Paul SB said...


As a public servant (teacher) I do not make anywhere near enough money to sponsor relatives, especially with the crappy health care plans available where I work, which was an issue long before the ACA. Therein lies the problem with sponsorship: it becomes yet another perk of wealth. Wealthy businesspeople (in Republican weaselspeak the "job creators") from other nations can immigrate here, then sponsor their relatives (real or on paper) so they can reproduce their support networks here, employing them in their businesses so they can create lots of jobs for newly-minted Americans. Meanwhile, mere mortals like us will have no such opportunities. How do you say "Good Old Boys" in Urdu? Mandarin?

LarryHart said...


I call BS on the lot as 'rule obedience equals morality'.

I don't get what you're trying to say. Are you ascribing "rule obedience equals morality" to what those guys are saying? Or is that phrase a statement of your own position in opposition to those guys? Either way, something seems off.

Paul SB said...


It's not just your opinion that moral codes are arbitrary and exhibit diachronic variation. Even when you have a purported holy book to tell you what your morals are supposed to be, every generation reinterprets their sacred injunctions in their own way. One example is that the Bible has absolutely nothing to say about either abortion of female homosexuality, but a large subset of American Christianity think it does.

Anyway, locum is back to reinterpreting other people's words in his own, not really unique but certainly delusional, way. We all know what he is full of - projection. Dr. Brin said earlier: "But he dips into flagrantly evil betrayal of all compassion with..."
But compassion is a moral value, one shared by the vast majority of the human race, but perhaps not whatever branch of the species he thinks he is part of. But there's a bell curve for everything. How many deviations from the compassion mean is he? And is this amygdala hypertrophy, as he suggested a couple threads back, or just the height of arrogance? Either way, moral arguments from him are a bit like tears from genus Crocodylus.

At least he hasn't threatened you (or the rest of us) with bullets. Now it's drones, new horsemen for a new Apocalypse.

Paul SB said...


While your Canadian model sounds eminently sensible, it's unlikely to be followed in the U.S. any time soon. Illegal immigration is way too profitable for agribusiness. This is why Republican administrations make a lot of noise about it (to win votes) but never actually do anything about it. They don't really want immigration reform beyond shouting about border security because people who come here legally have to be paid the Federal Minimum Wage, and that would cut into the number of Mercedes they can buy each month.

Zepp Jamieson said...

"At least he hasn't threatened you (or the rest of us) with bullets. Now it's drones, new horsemen for a new Apocalypse."
Is it just me, or does anyone else thing arraying drones along the DMZ along with open talk of "decapitating the leadership" of North Korea is going to do nothing other than provoke a suicidal nuclear strike on South Korea?

Paul SB said...

It's not just you. I wish these fools who think "talking tough" will always get what they want would get tough on their own stupidity.

Brother Doug said...

Locumranch reminds me of the caracter of the architect in the second matrix movie. a few posts back he used unessary terms like ergo and concurrently that made me laugh. Trying to put on a big show of intellect when a few simple words could say the same thing. I try not to feed the trolls but sometimes this heartless selective morality that he is parroting is just too tempting of a target.

Kal Kallevig said...


"For example, if Paul SB’s wife really wanted her brothers here, we could let them in on the condition that they pay in taxes what the state and nation will need to cover them… or she does."

While it is not the primary determinate of who gets in, the present law does require the sponsor to take responsibility for a period of time, or at least it did in 2006 when last I did it for my wife and step children. You also have to demonstrate income of poverty level plus x for the past 3 years so there is some chance you can perform the guarantees you make. I am sure that rule would apply to more distant relatives as well, but the more distant the less likely success.

Jumper said...

My opinions on immigration are tempered by knowing American friends who lived in Spain and overstayed their visas there. It was apparently seen as a mild crime; no officials actively ever intervened. For a lot more than a few Americans this is a common story.

Also living on the Mexican border was instructive to me. We Americans think nothing of driving over, shopping and having a meal and a few drinks, and returning. Feels like freedom. The "problem" is Mexicans would like the same freedom. Oh oh!

Paul SB said...

Brother Doug,

It's fortunate that we only have one such regular here (though Treebeard spouts a lot of the same hate rhetoric, he approaches it from through a low-class "Joe the Plumber" display system rather than Locum's faux intellectualism). Beyond these electronic walls the nation - and probably the world - is filled with these solipsists. Human logic is almost infinitely twistable. It sounds really bad, but it also means logic can be twisted back with practice. Our host has made the point more than once, when locum spews outrageous crap and proclaims himself to have divine intelligence that makes his every thought immaculate, that he is a perfect subject to practice honing our logic on. You can look at engaging with the sicko as feeding the trolls, or you can take it as an exercise. At least here it is relatively safe, being on the Internet. He is unlikely to find any of us in the real world and send his right-wing death squad after us (and believe me, those exist, and not just the in KKK - when I was growing up homosexuals or people who were simply accused of it had a way of disappearing, or being found dead in their driveways). So go ahead and give in to that temptation. Sometimes it's a huge distraction from the productive conversations we can have here, and I suspect some of the regulars who we haven't heard from in a very long time may have simply gotten fed up with seeing the list go into a tizzy whenever he hurls his outrageous claims. In other fora the moderators would simply delete his posts, but that would only feed the right wing's trumped up PC argument (as if they don't have their own version of PC).

Paul SB said...

One thing I really like about this blog is that I can hear different people talk about different things, and if I have time I can look them up and learn something. Our anonymous cow mentioned Toynbee, to which our host replied that he had never read Toynbee. Well, I hadn't either, but the exchange encouraged me to look him up. In spite of the 19th Century prose, it was worthwhile. He was a much more complex and subtle thinker than almost anyone who makes the news these days. It's sad that he died so young. Like losing Mozart at 35, the world can never know what it missed.

Here's a sample, for anyone who has the time and the inclination to wade through 19th C. prose.

locumranch said...

By claiming that Morality "is a societal construct" that is "fluid and ever-shifting", Zepp asserts that "there is no such thing as absolute morality", confirms his allegiance to the (definition of) Moral Relativism and validates the historically brutal actions of every Hitler, Stalin & Khan (as in 'No God means everything is permitted'). This is the same garbage logic, btw, that allows many to conclude that XX/XY genetic fact is also somehow a "social construct".

PaulSB then goes on to claim rightly that "compassion is a moral value", wrongly that it (compassion) "is shared by the vast majority of the human race" and wrongly that its application allows violating every other aspect of his moral code, his error here being the assumption that his rather geographically-limited Classical/Judeo-Christian 'god-botherer' universal standard is somehow "shared by the vast majority of the human race" when this is not so.

Mistaking 'compassion' as a call for remediation, he appears to known little or nothing about de facto compassion, literally defined as "deep awareness, sympathy, pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others". Among the sick & dying, this is something I exercise every day, doing what little compassionate things I can in the attempt to relieve the suffering of others, yet knowing that these attempts are subject to uncaring universal laws that mean that everyone's sufferings are ultimately & irreparably their own.

As a traditionalist, I put it to you in no uncertain terms that "Morality is a LEGAL construct, maintained only by circumscribed rule obedience", even though I grant you that the foundation of Society is a moral one, insomuch as society cannot stand once it's legally-dependent moral underpinnings are removed.

Q: Why is it that leftist apologists like BrotherD always condemn the millions killed by the fascist right but ignore (or celebrate) the HUNDREDS of millions slaughtered by political left?

A: They are Moral Relativists all who argue that mass murder is made justifiable by Good Intentions.

Jumper said...

Is anyone else reading The Iron Heel? It's got some interesting history in it that provides for Wikipedia searching. Such as:

The book itself is hard going; not for conceptual difficulties but for purple prose. One sees how Ayn Rand used it as a template for her flip-side stuff, which is kind of informative.

Jumper said...

You are likely the chief moral relativist here, locumranch. Or at least when it suits you. When it doesn't, apparently you aren't.

locumranch said...

But I MEAN well & have the very best of INTENTIONS !!! ha ha ha

Engaging in moral relativism sucks when you have to deal with other moral relativists, don't it?

But, seriously, I will abide by the Letter of the Law when (1) we all agree on what letter & what law and (2) you & everyone else abides by the same. Until then, expect to give & receive ill for ill, good for ill, ill for good, good for good, or none-of-the-above.


Zepp Jamieson said...

Locumranch wrote: "By claiming that Morality "is a societal construct" that is "fluid and ever-shifting", Zepp asserts that "there is no such thing as absolute morality", confirms his allegiance to the (definition of) Moral Relativism and validates the historically brutal actions of every Hitler, Stalin & Khan (as in 'No God means everything is permitted'). This is the same garbage logic, btw, that allows many to conclude that XX/XY genetic fact is also somehow a "social construct"."

Hitler regarded himself as a devout Christian. The official slogan of the German Army, emblazoned on their belt buckles, was "Got Mitt Uns". In the thirties, he cultivated--and got--strong support from the Vatican and the Lutheran Churches. Stalin got his formal training in morals and ethics from divinity school.

I can't speak to Khan. Wikipedia states, "Genghis Khan was a tengrist, but was religiously tolerant and interested in learning philosophical and moral lessons from other religions. He consulted Buddhist monks, Muslims, Christian missionaries, and the Taoist monk Qiu Chuji."

So what you fondly imagine to be moral absolutes produced the people you hold up as examples of moral relativism.

As others have noted, moral relativism is an ongoing factor in even the most strident of religions. To cite an example, the Roman Catholic Church have finally admitted that Galileo was right, and are grappling with the notion that perhaps, despite Eve, women are not necessarily impure and imperfect vessels. Moral relativism at work.

Islam is often cited as being implacably rigid in its rectitude, but the reality is that moral and social mores amongst the worlds 1.5 billion Moslems varies at least as much as it does amongst Christians. There's one full-fledged branch, the Sufis, that believe singing and dancing are the best form of worship of Allah.

A lot of the things people hate and fear the most when they think of Moslems, such as Sharia Law, are actually Mosaic, and come, not from Mohammed, but what Christians call the Old Testament. Moses has some 760 commandments from God, many of which are punishable by death, such as heating your house on the Sabbath. Isn't possession of a thermostat a form of moral relativism?

David Brin said...

Guys, guys. Please be encouraging at times like this, when Locumranch engages in weird and tendentious but nevertheless interesting and somewhat courteous argument.

He raises interesting points, this time, about moral relativism. Indeed, you have hear me state that our values of freedom and diversity and flattened hierarchies must be defended with the same passion that societies have always given to their own central axioms, because without that passion we'll fail...

... but I admit that declaring your axioms to be absolutes is a trap! Because our foes can simply declare "I have different axioms!" Marxist ones, collectivist ones, religious ones or - often lately and seen in locum and the ent -- nostalgic-romantic-feudalist-confederate ones.

A stronger argument, overall, is pragmatic, based on outcomes. No other set of axioms every delivered on its promises for increased human productivity, insight, knowledge, power, health and happiness. No *combination* of others delivered as much as ours, by orders of magnitude.

Two other outcomes that are related. None other made as thorough use of the prefrontal lobes, the organs that make us human, to peer at horizons of time, threat, opportunity or inclusion, finding errors in advance and better paths to tread. Feudal societies suppressed the prefrontal lobes' functioning, as does FEAR, the principal emotional system that has been found to operate in conservatives. Fear isn't just the mind-killer, it brings horizons so close that foresight becomes useless.

Implicit in foresight is the output of freedom that I value most. Above diversity and transparency and even accountability. When a maximum number of people can see what is going on and argue freely, then it is possible to *back out of mistakes.*

Feudal societies and those ruled by rigid, prescriptive systems may have cohesiveness and other bronze age advantages, but they cannot change course, when traditions set them on track toward a cliff. An argumentative society can. Hence. The argumentative and foresight centered Union wants to adapt to an environmental threat that our confederate neighbors refuse to look at, to acknowledge or even allow the Union to avoid in our own ways.

David Brin said...


Please help promote the next blog widely...


Orval said...

I always like to remember that Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad were all refugees in their time.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Locumranch, what makes you think law and morality have much of anything in common?

mk045 said...

Sure, unite parents and children and spouses. But the sibling and cousin advantage is just immoral and wrong.

I agree with just about everything else in the whole article, but that is just strident hyperbole. You're not going to sway any opinions with vague but loaded appeals to "morality", whatever that means in terms of a bureaucratic process.

Unknown said...

I do payrolls in California, and I doubt very much that any undocumented worker pays $13,000 a year in taxes to the state of CA. SDI is .03 of wages, hardly a fortune.