Build the wall first

Cox & Forkum cartoon

I’ve been keeping quiet on the illegal immigration debate, because I know I’m likely to get hot under the collar and write something I’ll regret later. Both of my parents are naturalized citizens, as are my uncles and aunts, and as were my grandparents. As a child of legal immigrants, I’m quite anti-illegal-alien in my outlook. That’s why I’ve been biting my tongue. However, I’m also a veteran, and national security is my number one priority. Since the Senate has crafted a disastrous “compromise” on illegal immigration today, there’s one thing I simply must put on the record now: America needs to build a wall along the entire Mexican border, and we need to do it as soon as possible.
I approach the problem as a retired Coast Guardsman. The massive influx of illegals is like seawater flooding a ship through a hole in the hull. The top priority is to stop the flooding. Pumping the water out can wait. Drying out the wet spaces belowdecks can wait. Upgrading to a thicker hull can wait. Plug the hole first. Deal with the results afterward.
This is a national security issue, not a race issue or an economic issue. This wouldn’t be a “Berlin Wall”; our wall would keep enemies out, not oppressed citizens in. Our border with Mexico is our giant back door, and it’s hanging wide open. Locking the front door and putting bars on the windows makes no sense if we leave the back door open. Islamists can slip into our Southwest as easily as anybody else can, and they aren’t looking for jobs. No “virtual wall” will do. We need a long, high physical barrier like the one Israel built. Israel’s wall drastically reduced the number of terrorist attacks from the West Bank and Gaza, and ours would make it much harder for terrorists to perpetrate a new Beslan massacre in Arizona.
I understand that making our border into a barrier will upset the Mexican government, but I care more about our national security than I care about keeping the Mexicans happy. I understand that illegal immigrants will try to find other ways into the country. Fine; we’ll plug those gaps when we find them. We might want to build another wall along some or all of our border with Canada, too, and I’m willing to start near Detroit. But our top priority must be to build a long, high wall between us and Mexico. Every other immigration issue can wait.

Cox & Forkum cartoon

There, I said it.
Update: Hugh Hewitt knows what’s most important, too.

Iraq election coverage

Friends of Democracy will be rounding up news of the election in Iraq on Sunday. Click on the banner below to get up to speed.

Iraq election news

This post will stay at the top o’ the blog through early Sunday evening.

UPDATE: Give Live in Baghdad a look, too. It’s a blog run by Ayad Rahim, a Clevelander who happens to be of Iraqi descent. He’s back in Baghdad as of Friday to cover the election.

Is China the threat we assume it to be?

Australian optimist Arthur Chrenkoff looks northward toward China and reads the tea leaves to see if future conflict with America is really a foregone conclusion. Chrenkoff gathers disparate threads from the news that demonstrate China’s ambition to control East and Central Asia (military buildups, diplomatic overtures, business deals), but then throws in an interesting wild card I hadn’t thought much about recently: the rise of Christianity in Chinese culture, especially among that society’s elites.
Fascinating stuff.
But I wonder … whatever happened to China’s secretive Assassin’s Mace program? It sure has dropped from sight in the news, but that doesn’t mean a doggone thing. Anybody have any news about it?
One other wild card comes to mind: capitalism (see Dinocrat’s related post). If free market economics continue to make inroads into Chinese society, can China long remain a communist nation? If it does become some sort of democracy or republic, then it would be much less likely to clash militarily with America. After all, democracies don’t attack each other.
Definitely something to ponder.

UPDATE: More China blogging from Why are all the good names gone …

From Reuters, we have “U.S. Warns Iran Over Missiles, Punishes Chinese Firms.” Since the release of Seymour Hersh’s article on Monday, MSM sources have turned an increasingly sharp eye toward anything involving Iranian friction with the U.S.
Oddly, no official announcement of the sanctions was made, leading me to wonder if this is because the United States has no desire to highlight disagreements with China over Iran. Considering U.S. efforts to highlight Iran’s intransigence, I would have otherwise expected this to receive more play from the administration:

The most indepth coverage was provided in the Times. I found the end of the article to be the most informative. China is a high-growth country with ever-expanding energy needs. Considering the fact that U.S. interest in the Middle East stems largely from a desire to meet its own energy needs, our position on the “moral high ground” regarding the spread of WMD is based primarily on the same sort of realistic calculations China has made in seeking to secure its own national interests:

The article suggests that Chinese nonproliferation efforts are taken more as an economic step (to avoid U.S. sanctions) than out of genuine concern for the spread of WMD and delivery system technology:

Talk of China and its expanding role in regions such as the Middle East reminds me of the recently waged debate within the EU regarding an end to the current arms embargo levied on China.
I’ve discussed the idea of political realism outweighing the notion of “shared values” here and here. Steps by some members of the EU (most specifically France) to court China as a strategic balancing point to U.S. influence serve as a reminder that national interests often take precedence over shared values.

Interesting Iranian/French angle. It can be maddening, trying to keep everyone’s hidden agendas straight in one’s mind.
Want to get really complex? Throw into the mix Colin Powell’s recent statements revising America’s stance on the “One China” policy, which appear to leave Taiwan twisting in the wind (presumably in exchange for an as-yet-unmentioned something from China). I wonder what Condi Rice will have to say about this (if anything)?
UPDATE 2: Finally! The shipping lane map I’ve been hoping for! Great find by Little Red Blog, along with more good analysis on the EU-China arms connection.
UPDATE 3: This post has merged at high speed into today’s Beltway Traffic Jam.

Who are you calling stingy?

A mere two days after a tsunami killed nearly 40,000 people in Asia and Africa, the Bush administration has made an initial pledge of $15 million for relief efforts in Asia. But that’s not fast enough for some people:

“The United States, at the president’s direction, will be a leading partner in one of the most significant relief, rescue and recovery challenges that the world has ever known,” said White House deputy press secretary Trent Duffy.
But U.N. Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland suggested that the United States and other Western nations were being “stingy” with relief funds, saying there would be more available if taxes were raised.
“It is beyond me why are we so stingy, really,” the Norwegian-born U.N. official told reporters. “Christmastime should remind many Western countries at least, [of] how rich we have become.”
“There are several donors who are less generous than before in a growing world economy,” he said, adding that politicians in the United States and Europe “believe that they are really burdening the taxpayers too much, and the taxpayers want to give less. It’s not true. They want to give more.”

Where to begin?

  1. In what probably comes as a surprise to Mr. Egeland, tax revenue can’t be instantly increased here in America. We have this messy and inconvenient thing called a republic, where tax increases are debated by the taxpayers’ representatives, followed by something called a “vote.”
  2. An appeal to Christmas spirit coming from a European technocrat makes about as much sense as an appeal to modesty coming from Paris Hilton.
  3. Taxpayers can and do give more. It’s known as “charity”, something Americans are known for worldwide. Forcible taxation isn’t the only source of revenue known to humankind.
  4. If my memory’s correct, American taxpayers already cover something like 1/4 of the UN budget, including Mr. Egeland’s salary. That sounds like a good source of money to tap, in an effort to begin rectifying our “stinginess.” When Mr. Egeland offers to cut his own salary or make a public and “non-stingy” donation, I’ll treat him more seriously.
  5. Three words: Oil For Food.

Somebody give this guy a balled up sock, a roll of tape, and an instruction sheet.

UPDATE: David Limbaugh points out more ingratitude from our betters at the NY Times, who call America … wait for it … “stingy.”
UPDATE 2: Amen to Cliff May.
UPDATE 3: Stingy? Feh.

As knowledge grows, understanding grows

In a survey published on Friday, Cornell University called 715 Americans on the phone and asked them their attitudes toward Muslims. Some of the respondents indicated a willingness to impose certain restrictions on Muslims in America, but even more respondents opposed any restrictions on civil rights at all.

In all, about 44 percent said they believe that some curtailment of civil liberties is necessary for Muslim Americans.
Conversely, 48 percent of respondents nationally said they do not believe that civil liberties for Muslim Americans should be restricted.

When you see headlines in the next few days bemoaning the news that “nearly half” of Americans favor “curtailing the civil rights of Muslims”, try to remember that even more Americans do not favor any restrictions at all. By a 4% margin. In a poll with a margin of error of 3.6%. Got that?

The survey also examined the relation of religiosity to perceptions of Islam and Islamic countries among Christian respondents. Sixty-five percent of self-described highly religious people queried said they view Islam as encouraging violence more than other religions do; in comparison, 42 percent of the respondents who said they were not highly religious saw Islam as encouraging violence. In addition, highly religious respondents also were more likely to describe Islamic countries as violent (64 percent), fanatical (61 percent) and dangerous (64 percent). Fewer of the respondents who said they were not highly religious described Islamic countries as violent (49 percent), fanatical (46 percent) and dangerous (44 percent). But 80 percent of all respondents said they see Islamic countries as being oppressive toward women.

This isn’t surprising. I’d bet a pile of cash that if you do a survey of people who seriously practice Religion A, and ask them about their perceptions of serious believers in Religion B, there’s going to be a marked difference in perception as compared to the general non-religious population. By definition, serious believers think that they’ve found the truth. It’s no shock that they’d have misgivings about serious believers in a different religion, especially if the two groups make mutually exclusive claims about topics essential to one or both belief systems.

[James Shanahan, Cornell associate professor of communication and a principal investigator in the study] notes: “Most Americans understand that balancing political freedoms with security can sometimes be difficult. Nevertheless, while a majority of Americans support civil liberties even in these difficult times, and while more discussion about civil liberties is always warranted, our findings highlight that personal religiosity as well as exposure to news media are two important correlates of support for restrictions. We need to explore why these two very important channels of discourse may nurture fear rather than understanding.”

Duh.
If you’re convinced that Jesus is the unique Son of God, if you think Muhammad was no prophet, and if you pay attention to news reports of beheadings and suicide bombings carried out by self-professed followers of Muhammad, you’re probably going to feel some trepidation about Islam. Plus there’s that whole 9/11 thing, which probably matters to an American or two.
Next week, Cornell will report on the inexplicable correlation between committed belief in Judaism, knowledge of 20th Century history, and fear of fascism.

More coverage:
Jihad Watch
Little Green Footballs

What does your contribution do?

So what exactly is it that your contribution to the Spirit of America fundraiser will buy? Here are but a few examples of their ongoing projects:

Visit The Cool Blue Blog for more, including tongue-in-cheek reasons to donate through anybody but the Northern Alliance team.
Or you could always just donate now.

Well said

There’s a reason why the name “Sherman” still raises hackles in the South. Eric at Straight White Guy offers some perspective on the hellishness of war, and suggests a concrete way for you to do more than put a yellow magnet on the trunk of your car.
As a side note, if Sherman’s march through the South interests you, read Victor Davis Hanson’s The Soul of Battle. You won’t regret it.

In praise of Roger L. Simon

Gina GershonThere’s a blogger named Roger L. Simon whose site you should visit often. Why? Because his writing makes your brain cells multiply, your wrinkles smooth out, and your gray hair dark.
Roger L. Simon may soon be recognized as the blogosphere’s Best Essayist of 2004, an award he clearly deserves. After all, Roger L. Simon honed his craft by writing screenplays and several best-selling books. Roger L. Simon is even a director. How many bloggers can claim that, eh?
I have it on good authority from well-informed but unnamed sources that Gina Gershon is hopelessly in love with Roger L. Simon … but you didn’t hear that from me. I wish I were Roger L. Simon, come to think of it.
So remember, faithful readers, visit Roger L. Simon every day, and twice on Sundays.
I want to assure everyone that my admiration for Roger L. Simon is as pure as the wind-driven snow, and not motivated by his Spirit of America Blogger Challenge fundraising efforts … which, if combined with ours, would handily spank the Northern Alliance like the gaggle of redheaded stepchildren they are.
I’m sure that if the great Roger L. Simon were to join the Fighting Fusileers, it would be due entirely to his finely-developed sense for doing the right thing, and not due to any shameless brown-nosing by a third-rate blogger.
Roger, how do you like the sound of “Roger L. Simon‘s Fighting Fusileers for Freedom”? It sounds catchy to me.
Oh, and while you’re here click the button and help a wonderful cause.

FOI Blogger Challenge