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Saturday, April 02, 2005


green dem

I have nothing in particular to say about the minutemen, except that I'm glad to hear that they managed not to blow a few of each other away by mistake.

About the bigger question - illegal immigration - the only people it seems to me that are wholly consistent on this issue are libertarians and pure populists.

If conservatives are so concerned about the plight of the white working class, and the alleged effect of illegal immigration on the working class, then why do they support economic policies that have over the past few decades done more than a little damage to the economic security of working people? Its rather difficult not to conclude that for conservatives this whole issue comes down to race, and racial purity, more than anything else.

Mark A. York

Certainly. Good post. This sort of thing is an embarassment but a free society has to allow it. The merit however doe not get carte blanche. This is a nativist ruse. The solutions live at a much deeper level than political theatre.

John Moore (Useful Fools)

"Indeed, those drawn to this event (apart from being about 99.9% white) are disproportionaly aged and retired and are no more fit to conduct “civilian patrols” than they are set to run a marathon."

Well, what do you expect. People with jobs don't have the time to go to out-of-the-way Tombstone, AZ.

However, they are probably mostly fit enough to do the patrols, which consist of setting up radio-connected OP's and sitting there waiting for folks to go by. If you don't think so, check out Sheriff Joe's Sun City posse sometime, where you have lots of senior and very senior citizens, firearms trained by the sheriff and well armed, who keep the peace and have never had a negative incident. Getting old does not equate with getting stupid, and ridiculing this group for that component is cheap.

That this is a media event is obvious, and so stated by the organizers. That some local clowns are attached is also to be predicted, and says nothing about the validity or lack thereof of this event.

As to Green's comments about working class jobs or some such nonsense, many are concerned far more about the rampant illegality of the immigration and the implications that has for our society of laws, and for our national security.

Virgil Johnson

The photo's are getting more interesting...hehehe

too many steves

Just one more excellent example of the superficial nature of grassroots rallies and protests. As if this farce will have any demonstrable impact on the issue of illegal immigration - bah! I'm sure they all had a lovely time in the sunshine with their buddies. I especially like the photos showing them striking the super-serious pose - noses scrunched up and brows furrowed in hyper-earnest congfigurations.

What a collosal waste of energy. Marc, you should have gone surf fishing.

richard lo cicero

Ignore the underlying issues raised and don't be suprised that very draconian anti-immigrant measures become very popular. Tom Tancredo is just waiting with harsh measures in his bills to pass Congress. Interesting article in the nation on how Gun laws have driven many westerners, who otherwise agree with dems, to the GOP. The same could happen with immigration. Incidently, I'm not arguing with your figures since you were there but don't authorities almost always low ball the figures of attendees at these shindigs?


Good post Marc.
Looks like you witnessed a good old fashoned Cluster F--K.
Lawn chairs??? Patrol???
Lawn chairs implies sitting. Patrol implies traveling (like a posted stretch of road).
Theres a mismatch here somewhere. None of your pictures show any type of equipment needed for a venture like this.
CNN must have been hardup for a story when they covered this event.

Virgil Johnson

This just gave me a great new marketing idea! Motorized lawn chairs...hehe


Good post, Marc. Looking forward to your article. Susan's piece is very good too. (Terrific woman who's smart, skilled, AND very pretty.)

The following 'graphs are, of course, also representative of what has occurred on California's AM radio airwaves:

"Steve Rendall, a senior analyst with the Washington, D.C.-based Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, said radio talk shows have devoted a substantial amount of airtime to anti-illegal immigration advocates for more than a decade, but the movement is now making it into more mainstream media, driven by conservative cable shows. He said the hosts asked "softball questions" and basically had the project's spokesmen on unopposed.

"'It was basically a frictionless public-relations outing for the Minuteman Project,' he said."

John Moore (Useful Fools)

richard lo cicero

Right on all counts. The so-called "assault weapons ban" and other foolish gun control nonsense drove lots of folks into the Republican fold, and was considered responsible for the loss of a number of Democratic seats in 1994. That's why you will not see many Democrats pushing gun laws any more, except from safe districts.

The "assault weapons" ban could have been a gift to those of us who support our 2nd amendment rights. What was banned was merely the superficial characteristics of the weapons, not the weapons themselves. Furthermore, the ban was sold to the public as prohibiting submachine guns (some of which are true assault weapons) but in fact it did not, as submachine guns were already tightly controlled and perfectly legal for citizen ownership (still true).

Ironically, it also banned large magazines for pistols. The result was the development of a number of small but deadly 10 round weapons (.40 cal Glock, for example). These turned out to be very popular among women, since they fit nicely into a purse. The ban actually created a market and its solution, reducing rapes (and the population of rapists).

The ban achieved none of its advertised goals, but rather resulted in political points against the anti-gunners. I chortled all the way to the ballot box.

Immigration, IMHO, is a more complex issue. But the fact that laws are not being enforced is beyond dispute, and that they should be enforced is a valid political argument - and the core of the Minuteman demonstration.

BTW... Marc, at one point you said this was nothing more than a media event. Now you criticize the members for not being ready for all out war, or whatever. Which is it - a media event, which does not require a bunch of SEALS, or a para-military operation, which *might* require more fit individuals?

Have you read the event media and participant material? One couldn't tell from the reporting (and you are better than what I see on TV, btw)... Check out http://www.minutemanproject.com/ for what the organizers are telling prospective members. It cuts through a bunch of bull and stereotyping.

Mark A. York

I think the seals would be beached in that dried up country.

Mark A. York

Yet the Border Patrol doesn't want or need them. certainly a stubborn fact for the so-called helpers to digest I would think.

Jim Rockford

By all accounts, the Minutemen circus was a success. It got Media attention, where before there was none. The assignment of 500 border patrol agents to Arizona was a direct result of the Media attention.

Yes there are kooks and weirdos in this event, but the bottom line is that the border is not enforced, people of all political persuasions are sick and tired of it; and much like Prop 13, it waits in the wings to remake the political landscape.

This is what happens when both parties duck the issue.

Mark A. York

"The assignment of 500 border patrol agents to Arizona was a direct result of the Media attention."

What's the source of this claim? Are you suggesting before this the Border Patrol wasn't aware of the border in Arizona? Or is it because of the need to cover the kooks on this side temporarily? I don't know, the more I read of those differing opinions the more I think of Strother Martin in Butch and Sundance. "Morons. I've got morons on my team."

John Moore (Useful Fools)

Only an idiot would fail to understand that the border patrol in AZ is being boosted due to this event.

Media Attention has been been badly attenuated (for MAY, that means reduced) by the end-to-end Schiavo and Pope deaths.

Personally, like many in the group, I favor legal immigration and welcome Mexican workers among others. But I wish Mexico would get its own economic act together and stop using us as a safety valve.

Jim R

Common sense is rarely written Mark. What are your solutions?

Mark A. York

I didn't detect an answer to my question. 500 permanant staff have been assigned in that stretch of border? I'll await a factual answer. I realize that will be tough in the innuendo-land of poz but provide a link to the source from a government agency. Since I work for the feds I'll recognize it.

John Moore (Useful Fools)

Mark, since you're a budding journalist (or so you told us on PressThink if I remember correctly), why don't you go dig out the information. After all, you work for the feds, so you'll know a genuine source before any of the rest of us mere peasants.

Jim Rockford

Mark --


"The border buildup was to be announced Wednesday -- two days before civilian volunteers with the so-called Minuteman Project begin a monthlong Arizona patrol against immigrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico line.

About 155 agents will be immediately sent to Arizona, according to department officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because the buildup was not yet announced. More than 370 additional agents -- all new trainees -- will be permanently assigned to the Arizona border throughout the year.

Until they are in place, another 200 agents will be temporarily stationed in Arizona during the high immigration season this spring and summer, officials said."

Read the whole story. The thing speaks for itself. Note that people in the border area have been complaining for YEARS about this, I recall LAT coverage of this going back to at least 2003 and perhaps longer. Ever since increased pressure along the California border, the Coyotes and Illegal immigrants shifted to the Arizona desert.

The current (and previous Administrations going back to Nixon, btw) Administration does not intend to enforce the laws of the land. Illegal aliens make excellent low cost labor and help big business. It also allows this Administration to court Latino voters, GWB has said he wants increased immigration from Mexico (legal) and has floated various pandering trial balloons on amnesty issues. If the Administration were REALLY interested in a secure border that vastly reduced the amount of illegal immigration by orders of magnitude, they would spend the money for walls, sensors, and agents along the border. Their budget reveals that they have ZERO intention of having a secure border:


Only 210 new border agents? That is truly pathetic, and THAT is what people in the Minutemen and folks who dreamed up this media stunt are ticked off about.

The LAT had essentially the same coverage as what Marc has posted, what's revealing is the anger towards GWB that the overwhelmingly Republican crowd displayed. A savvy Democrat who picked up on this issue and got right with National Security could clean the Republican's clock; potentially drawing away a TON of voters in a "realignment" election. Unfortunately the adherence to Politically Correct orthodoxy makes this about as likely as my winning the lottery.

Virgil Johnson

Why should George Bush secure the boarders? He has made it amply clear that his concern is to not only bolster big business, but to give massive tax cuts to richest people in the nation. Plus, he has to keep Iraq going, and we must be the police men of the world - this is supposed to be our position in the new globalism after 9/11. Where is he going to get the money? Remember, no new taxes! Of course, all of this is quite absurd, but than again I did not vote the idiot into office.

Michael Turner

John Moore writes: "But I wish Mexico would get its own economic act together and stop using us as a safety valve."

Can Mexico do it without help, though? Increasingly, I look at the panaceas recommended for states suffering from endemic corruption(market liberalization, more representative democracy) and they just don't look like they would be enough even if they did get some traction.

After all, Russia has become something like a capitalist democracy, but where's the momentum? Russians view the results with great skepticism, corruption is rampant, and FDI is a fraction of what it should be for a country with such a large, well-educated workforce and huge natural resources. (Russia signed the Kyoto Protocol recently mainly because it can expect to easily meet its 2012 targets -- which require reducing CO2 emissions to 1990 levels. Their economy STILL hasn't recovered to the point where they will exceed 1990 CO2 emissions levels by 2012!)

Googling on the name of one of the authorities in the field of government corruption, Susan Rose-Ackerman, should be enough to give you an idea of how complex the picture is.

A truly effective unilateral U.S. policy to help clean up some of these states might seem bizarre on the face of it. For example: how about trade sanctions against countries that don't pay a decent wage to their government officials and that don't collect taxes efficiently, while offering outright grants to those who promise improve in this respect? "Gack!" you cry, recoiling in disgust. "Why should we reward corrupt government officials to further oppress their subject populations with higher taxes? And why give them money for collecting more money? And why, for heaven's sake, should we believe the promises of kleptocrats?!"

Well, the fact is, most of these countries are caught in "trust traps", where most people won't pay much in taxes to governments they regard as illegitimate, so there's not much revenue from which to pay government officials, many of whom went into government anyway because they knew that their bribe income would be rather handsome compared to their salaries. That same corruption reduces investment (in both public good services like education and by private companies), which keeps people so poor that they don't have much income to pay out in taxes anyway. You can see how a system like this would self-reinforce. It's your classic vicious cycle.

Giving corrupt governments more money (carrot) to pay their officials "primes the pump" -- they can start paying officials more, in advance of better tax collection. That money is best spent by those officials in the local economy, enriching the locals enough for them to afford to pay taxes. Paying taxes instead of bribes increases the motivation for citizens to rat on officials who insist on bribes (and on other citizens who offer them), and paying officials higher salaries out of tax revenue reduces the incentives for officials to require bribes to expedite government services.

Policies like these cannot work without close monitoring. That's critical if you want the "stick" part to be used to whack the right targets. Pouring money in at the top of a corrupt government is asking for much of it to end up in Swiss bank accounts. Any such carrot-stick policy is vulnerable to carrot-hoarding without very effective sticks. As scholars like Rose-Ackerman suggest, NGOs may be far more useful in a monitoring role than in any direct "civil society" support role. You need to closely instrument the target economy and its government, to make sure that the right things are happening. You need to reward situations where the right things are happening, and pull back sharply when and where they aren't. And you probably need to do it at the level of localities, not just nations -- you shouldn't pretend that Monterrey is just like Oaxaca.

If Wolfowitz were to start implementing policies like these at the World Bank, starting with Mexico, under the banner not only of compassion but sane U.S.-Mexico immigration policy as well, I'd take back all the bad things I've ever said about him (and that would take some doing, believe me.)

John Moore (Useful Fools)


That's just plain silly. He doesn't secure the borders because he cannot secure the borders without using up divisions worth of military. His amnesty would create a guest worker program which has advantages for both sides. Of course, the potential for an amnesty only makes things worse in the mean time as it incresaes the incentive for immigrants.

The border problem is due to the illegality of alien and drug smuggling. Making the worker flow legal gets rid of a big part of the problem, if it is done right.

As far as tax cuts, the only way to cut taxes is to give "massive tax cuts" to the richest, because *they pay most of the taxes." Hence demogoguery like yours is common - any fair lowering of taxes will disproportionately hit "the richest." As an unemployed engineer who will pay, for last year, taxes as if I am "the richest," I find such reassoning, well, rich with silliness.

Nobody likes the border situation, but the ultimate problem is the US is too prosperous relative to Latin America, and the poor in Latin America are trying to take advantage of that. If I were they, I would too.

It is the corruption and greed of the governments and ruling classes of those countries with cultures of corruption. Mexico has vast natural resources, and a culture of hard work, but its people come here because endemic and persistent corruption, and a rigid class structure interfere with the investment Mexico so badly needs to become self sufficient and economically prosperous. Ditto for many of the rest of the Latin countries.

I guess if we turned the economy over to the left, the problem would indeed go away after awhile, as we also became much less prosperous. It's the sort of thinking behind your tax rhetoric that indicates just how the left would screw it up.

Virgil Johnson

I've come up with another brilliant idea! How about this - if they get caught coming over the boarder they are instantly drafted! This way we could get enough soldiers to not only answer the Iraq issue, but we could beef up home security. What do you think? hehehe


No, making the worker flow legal hardly solves a problem you keep ignoring, John: that increasing the size of the labor pool drives down wages. And if you're a member of the working class, like I am, that ain't so good. Jim Rockford's points about strenghtening the border are well-taken, but one of the biggest problems is the "wink-wink" policy of U.S. employers who break the law in hiring undocumented workers. As a former job trainer for a Hispanic organization I constantly observed this firsthand, talking with employers who were elated to hire docile, exploitable workers, no questions asked. The ugly truth of the matter is that illegal immigration benefits MANY business sectors of all sizes, which is frankly one major reason why illegal immigration isn't slowing down anytime soon. I don't care how tightly you seal the border, if there are jobs easily available to immmigrants then they will come, hell or high water. What's despicable to me about the Bush Administration's immigration policy (or lack thereof) is that it couldn't give a rat's ass for how immigration affects American workers. And I find that insulting on both a political and personal level.


"notoriously little support from the locals"

That would be bad. So this is just a publicity stunt, then. Well, it seems to have drawn attention to a problem even if it is incapable of doing anything about that problem itself.

Gotta look on the bright side.

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