»  National Review Online Diary

  April 2006

Fool me thrice     You know the thing we tell our kids: "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." I have never heard this little jingle extended to a third fooling, and I can't come up with any memorably admonitory way to describe the consequences. Perhaps we should give this some thought, because pretty soon the ruling elites in this country — the media, intellectual, and professorial classes, the big party machines and the business/labor/litigational interests who fund them, and the liars, mountebanks, and rogues who infest the legislative branch of our national government — are going to fool the American public a third time, just the way they fooled us twice before.

•  Fool me once: 1965 

On October 3, 1965, in a ceremony at the foot of the Statue of Liberty, President Lyndon Johnson signed into law one of the most far-reaching legislative enactments in our nation's history, the Immigration Reform Act of 1965.

Thus begins Larry Auster's account of the relevant events in his landmark 1990 pamphlet The Path to National Suicide. (Still essential reading for anyone who wants to talk intelligently about immigration. You can download a free PDF of it from here.) Lyndon Johnson's floor manager for the bill in the Senate was Edward Kennedy, who had these words to say to critics of the bill (a few Southern Democrats like the great Sam Ervin, and some scattered, ineffectual conservative groups):

What the bill will not do: First, our cities will not be flooded with a million immigrants annually. Under the proposed bill, the present level of immigration remains substantially the same … Secondly, the ethnic mix of this country will not be upset … Contrary to the charges in some quarters, [the bill] will not inundate America with immigrants from any one country or area, or the most populated and economically deprived nations of Africa and Asia … In the final analysis, the ethnic pattern of immigration under the proposed measure is not expected to change as sharply as the critics seem to think.

As Peter Brimelow pointed out (and documented in detail) in his book Alien Nation, every one, every blessed one, of Kennedy's assurances has proven false. Fooled us once.

•  Fool me twice: 1986  The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 was advertised as the first real attempt to cope with illegal immigration, which had not been a major problem for the first 200 years or so of the Republic's existence. Known as IRCA (pronounced by immigration wonks to rhyme with "burqah"), the Act tackled the issue of illegal immigrants already present by giving amnesty to those who'd been here two years or more, and the issue of future immigration by imposing penalties on employers who hired illegals. President Ronald Reagan signed the bill into law on November 6, 1986.

Steve Britt, who was a veteran immigration officer at the time, describes here how enforcement of the Act fell apart before Reagan's signature on it was dry.

The few feeble attempts to apply employer sanctions were quickly scotched by calls from business interests to their congressmen. The amnesty provisions were soon overrun by rampant fraud, people flying in with their families on tourist visas, then claiming to have been resident for years. Administrators of the amnesty program were anyway swamped by the unexpected numbers of applicants, and fell back on a "wave-through" approach, rubber-stamping counterfeit documents after a couple of seconds' scrutiny.

Seeing what was happening (there is nobody, nobody, in the U.S. who watches the consequences of U.S. immigration law as keenly as would-be immigrants in foreign lands), foreigners began immigrating illegally — by overstaying visas, or walking over the borders — to be in place for the next amnesty.

Employers who still didn't get the message that Congress didn't really mean for them to guard against hiring illegals (the fact that the fine for doing so was set at a seriously non-staggering fifty dollars ought to have given them a clue) were brought to heel by lawyers from the "discrimination" rackets.  Let's see, which should I be more fearful of: a $50 fine from one of the nation's 950 immigration cops — twenty per state — for hiring an illegal, or a $10,000,000 judgment against me for having the impertinence to "discriminate" against a job applicant by asking about his immigration status? Hmmm, gonna have to think about this one — for a femtosecond or two.

•  Fool me three times: 2006  Well, you see how it goes. Much sound and fury in Congress. Some firm-sounding pronouncements from the President, dressed up in much gassy verbiage about "human rights" and "family values" and "nation of immigrants." Sonorous declarations from the congresscritters about how this time they really mean it, sanctions really will be enforced — No kidding! Honest injun! — only the deserving will be amnestied, etc. etc.

It's going to happen. The stage is being set up for another performance of the immigration-reform opera buffa as I write, in fact: the old backdrops are being repainted, the props are being dusted off, the orchestra is tuning up, and the dimwitted old gent — read "American public" — who is going to be made a fool of by the clever young tenor and soprano — that's the immigration lobbies and their enablers in the press and foreign chancelleries — is gluing on his false whiskers.

Gentle reader, don't be fooled a third time. Consult the historic evidence. (Auster and Brimelow are good starting points. George Borjas wrote the bible on the economics of the issue. And our own Mark Krikorian's Center for Immigration Studies has a terrific database of research articles on all aspects of immigration.) Then disagree, if you dare, with the following statement:

In the matter of immigration, every word, every single damn wretched word, from the mouths of the legislative and executive branches should, in the absence of overwhelming and irrefutable evidence to the contrary, be assumed to be a lie — including "and" and "the."

Godot is the new Beowulf     After I posted some ruminations on the writer Samuel Beckett, whose centenary fell this month, I got one of the most literate and thoughtful email-bags ever. There are half a dozen of those emails I'd like to post, but this one, my favorite, will have to stand for them all. It's from a frequent correspondent, an academic Eng. Lit. professional. She told me that my attitude to Beckett was "very, very Anglo-Saxon," and elaborated thus:

I mean Beowulf-style Anglo-Saxon, the land without happy endings:
  1. Wealtheow doesn't want Beowulf to be her sons' guardian in case he turns out to be a usurper. So they appoint someone else, who kills them both in a blood feud.
  2. Beowulf is appointed ward of Hygelac's heir. He does a good job, but the young prince gets killed by somebody else in a blood feud.
  3. Beowulf fights the dragon to save his people. He is mortally wounded in the fight, so he he wants his burial mound to be a lighthouse so their sailors won't get shipwrecked and he can still protect his people after he dies. The Vikings invade and kill almost everybody and turn the rest into slaves. There is no one to keep the burial mound light lit and no local sailors to benefit from it.
  4. Beowulf seems to be a higher sort of pagan (he's a monotheist who refers to 'God' as opposed to 'the gods'). But he's from a pre-Christian society, and at his funeral pyre, 'the smoke rose up to heaven.' There is no mention of his soul going with it. This is before either purgatory or limbo, and according to the theology of the scribes on the Beowulf story (probably 8th-9th-century monks), no pre-Christian, even a virtuous one, can go to heaven.
The moral:  Life's a bitch, and then you die, and your virtuous acts not only won't get you to heaven, they don't do your people any good.

Enjoy your weekend.

I suppose there might be something to it. My ancestors for as far back as I know are all English, and I grew up quite close to the geometric center of England.

And yes, the old pagan strain is still strong in the English character, centuries of Christianity notwithstanding. Oddly for a Christian country, the name of Christ hardly appears in English poetry. If you subtract Chesterton, Hopkins, and perhaps Christina Rossetti, I don't think it appears at all after Milton.

The humanistic and worldly Pelagian heresy had a strong appeal to the early-medieval English (though Pelagius himself was a Welshman named Morgan). George Orwell's remark that he liked the Church of England better than Our Lord is "very English." English people don't much care for Christ — I have never been able to feel the slightest warmth towards Him myself, though I've tried my best — and the English in general much prefer the Old Testament to the New.

Perhaps we really are one of the Lost Tribes, as Kipling seems to have believed. For more on this, read Anthony Burgess's novel The Wanting Seed.

O'Reilly implodes     Is Bill O'Reilly finally imploding? I am still a regular viewer of the Factor, but I find that more and more often I turn it off after ten minutes or so to do something more rewarding.

For one thing, there's his bullying and grandstanding about child molestors. Now, I am not a big fan of child molestors, having two kids of my own. The real monsters, though, are only a minuscule minority of those who would be swept up by the kinds of laws O'Reilly is agitating for. The majority would be harmless, clueless, sad types who had yielded to, or been led on to, the momentary temptation of some petty fumbling, then been ready to commit suicide when they realised what they had done. People like that need to be chastised and set straight, but they don't need the magnum jail sentences they'd get under Sandra's Law, or whatever the hell thing it is O'Reilly's bellowing for.

Even weirder is O'Reilly's conviction that the seduction of 14-year-old boys by pretty 25-year-old teachers is just as bad — precisely the same! deserves the identical sentence! — as the contrary thing with a 14-year-old girl and a 25-year-old male teacher. This is sex equality dogma taken to lunatic extremes, as I've argued in a previous diary. I'd expect this kind of junk jurisprudence form some glaring feminist, but why am I getting it from O'Reilly?

On immigration, Bill's line is: Put the National Guard on the southern border**  and establish a "guest worker" program. Both ideas are dumb. Manpower is expensive, Bill. A 20-foot wall is expensive only as a one-time capital outlay. Compared with the presence of the National Guard presumablyfor ever, its expense is … let's see: some number divided by infinity is … zero! As for the "guest worker" turkey poop, I refer you to the aforementioned Center for Immigration Studies' devastating documentation on those programs. The starter link is here. Don't you have researchers, Bill?

Now there is the Big Mick's jihad (am I allowed to say "jihad"? am I allowed to say "Big Mick"?) against the oil companies. I can't see much going on with the price of gas but good old supply and demand, and in any case am inclined to the view that high gas prices will be a jolly good thing for America, where, as President Bush has rightly said, the love of gas-powered appliances rises to the level of addiction. The right to cheap gasoline is a bogus right — there aren't any rights like that, whatever O'Reilly tells you. For sure we never had any such right back in the Mother Country, where gas prices went through the $3 per gallon mark around twenty years ago, and are currently around $6.60 per gallon.

If you want to bring down your gas expenses, get a more efficient car, and junk your gas-powered leaf blower, gas-powered hedge trimmer, gas-powered toothbrush, and the rest of your gas-powered gadgets. And if you object to high profits for oil companies, weed through your 401K and IRA funds to make sure you yourself aren't benefiting from those profits. When you've done all that, come to me and moan about high gas prices and "gouging."

I still like O'Reilly, and he still has his moments, but he's losing me on too many issues. Yo, Bill, can't we get back to the craziness of liberals, the stupidity of the IRS, the incompetence of all federal government departments, and the wickedness of race hustlers? I was totally with you when you used to do that stuff.

** "Why not the northern border, too?" whine the "anti-racist" nitwits. Because, my friends, one-fifth of the population of Mexico is currently in the U.S.A., and one-fifth of the population of Canada … isn't. Any other questions?

Math Corner     I have a dim memory along the following lines, and after some fruitless googling am hoping that some reader can supply the missing number.

Sigmund Freud, in one of his writings, needed to come up with an arbitrary number in order to express some idea. (As when readers email in diffidently to say: "I know I'm probably the 179th person to bring this to your attention, but …" Such readers are, by the way, usually the first to bring the thing to my attention.) Well, old Siggy wrote down some number at random. Later, looking at the number, and reflecting that, according to his own theories, nothing comes out of the brain that is truly random, he concocted a long and (as I recall) implausible explanation for why he had chosen that particular number. The thing I can't remember is: What was the number?

I do the same thing myself all the time, of course. Kidding around on The Corner the other day, I posted this:

Emails to which I am utterly unable to think of an intelligent response (Series #19,766): … [Followed by a more than ordinarily weird reader email]

Would anyone like to attempt a Freudian-style explanation as to why the number 19,766 floated into my mind? Er, nothing too Freudian, please.