Saturday, August 27, 2005

CAUTION: Watching Out For Error In the Ruffini Straw Poll


I have said several times that I found the Presidential Candidate poll being run by Patrick Ruffini to be invalid. There are a number of reasons for this, and now that Mr. Ruffini has begun to announce “results” , it’s important to go into the matter in order to avoid mistakes.

People like polls. It’s the combination of hinting at the future, and giving people a say in the call. The media picked up on these points a long time ago, and that’s paid a lot of paychecks for Polling Groups. I have done autopsies on a number of polls since last year’s campaign, showing elements of concern about methodology, weighting, and the ubiquitous bias gremlin. It’s a serious issue for even the most professional pollster. I like Patrick Ruffini and find his thinking generally sound, but he’s allowed his enthusiasm for his own poll to overlook some mistakes, and I must warn the reader that those mistakes can invalidate a lot of the conclusions reached.

The first mistake is the biggest one. Ruffini calls his poll for Giuliani, but Rudy, as much as I like him, only pulls 30.0%. That’s not a win, folks. John Kerry cleared more than 30% last year, and Al Gore cleared over 30% of the Electoral Vote. While certain Aluminati may claim otherwise, neither “Magic Hat” John nor Mr. Internet has signed any bills into law. Giuliani took the most votes in an informal, non-binding, non-scientific poll, with no ramifications beyond providing points for discussion.

The poll itself should not be confused in the slightest with any sort of election or primary contest. The people who took part in the poll, for instance, did not have to register, nor show up at a polling place, and there were fewer security measures taken to prevent repeat votes than in downtown Chicago. Also, the slate of candidates in this poll were selected by a committee of one - Patrick Ruffini. None of the conditions unique to the early primary states was applied to establish a more realistic venue. In that light, Mr. Ruffini’s attempts to project how the slate would do in a real primary seems specious to me. For instance, the early primaries in Iowa and New Hampshire have a much larger slate of candidates than the later ones, but they do not generally serve well as indicators of the eventual winner. As for the later polls, candidates drop out for financial and political reasons, and the winner of these primaries generally has a much more focused message, and voters have a clearer choice among fewer (and distinct) options.

Patrick called his poll “statistically valid", simply because he got a lot of participation. Sorry Patrick, but that just isn’t so. For one thing, as I observed before, you did not consider the likelihood of multiple votes, or the poll’s inabiliy to catch cheaters. As an example, I could have voted from my home computer, or any of several computers at work, and you’d have no way of knowing it, much less correcting for it. And I am hardly unique in that capability.

But more to the point, Ruffini’s poll was not weighted. In polling history, one of the most famous blown calls was the 1936 Presidential Election, in which the Literary Digest, a prominent national magazine, called the race for Alf Landon in a blowout. With more than two million people taking part in the LD poll, it seemed like a strong indicator. In the actual election, however, FDR rolled along with ease. The mistakes made by the editors at LD came from failing to understand the demographic balance and address it. And Ruffini makes the same mistake. His poll made no attempt to compensate, for example, for gender or race. Also, there was no weighting for geographic location, a crucial error given the fact that people in different parts of the country naturally find different candidates and different qualities which appeal to them. Taken as a scientific poll, this doesn’t meet even minimal standards.

I also take issue with a trick played by Ruffini in the poll. Ruffini chose not to include several qualified candidates in the poll as main choices, but threw them up as “fantasy” candidates. This is significantly invalid as a polling practice, as it simultaneously denies those individuals an equal place on the ballot, but also draws a connection between the “serious” candidates and the “fantasy” candidates on no more than the whim of Mr. Ruffini. It shows a basic lack of understanding of poll method, and basely insults the candidates demoted to second-class status. Count them on the SAME ballot, Mr. Ruffini, and let the voters decide.

At best, this poll was meaningless, because of the myriad errors in its development. At worst, it was a cheap shot at qualified candidates. That’s too bad, because the poll could have been run to some good effect. If, for example, Ruffini had paid less attention to meaningless statistics, but asked his voters to detail what made their candidate qualified, he could have helped draw out what voters are looking for in the next President. By asking them to specify what worried them about candidates they didn’t choose, Ruffini could have helped these candidates address those concerns early on. It’s just too bad that Ruffini chose a poll which has no effective meaning for the campaigns ahead, and that a false image was created this early. After all, at one time when people didn’t look too deep, a lot of people thought Howard Dean looked Presidential.

Friday, August 26, 2005



Over on Beliefnet, I was involved in a discussion about evangelizing, and telling about the Gospel. I thought it might be worth posting here, what I wrote there:

There was a time when I was rigid and frankly hostile to challenges, especially from non-Christians. And yes, I will agree that some people do like to ridicule our faith and the people who profess it. However, in the main people are often skeptical of a faith which makes the outrageous claims that Christ did, and what’s more, some of the people who carried the name had none of Christ’s love in their deeds, so that many more people have been hurt by Christians, and so have strong reason to mistrust the claims of someone else telling them they must embrace what for them was a cruel enemy.

Now then, I have been through many things in my life, and one thing which has always struck me as important, is that every person is different. Consider Christ’s example. Did He speak to the temple merchants the same way He did to Matthew? Did He treat Caiaphas the way He did Joseph of Arimathea? This difference is not at all to say that Jesus was unfair or prejudiced, but that He recognized the different natures of different people, and treated them according to their heart. Unfortunately, we cannot use the same perfect discernment as our Lord, but we do well to keep in mind the different characters of the people we meet. In time and with experience, we learn what each person is about, and how they think. For better or worse, most people here have a pretty good idea of what I am about in mind and person.

So, how to tell the Gospel? I won’t pretend that I have all the answers, but it really does seem obvious to me, that the Gospel is Good News, and should be delivered in a way which carries the joy and hope God intends for us to receive. There have been many fine evangelists over the years, but also many who have chased people away by their manner and aggressive tactics. It helps, I think, to remember that we are only instruments, and not the force which makes any difference. If someone chooses Christ, it will be because of the Holy Spirit, not because I ‘sold’ the Gospel well. So, I choose to be a witness by making sure, first, that I am living as well as I can the love of Christ. If I am not loving, then I am an hypocrite, have far more serious things to address than whether I am increasing the church membership. But if I live by love, then I may hope to share what I know with anyone interested in receiving it. It is never right to force my beliefs on others, or to demand they agree that I am right. Jesus Himself did not do so, and I am in no way his equal by right. It may seem to be defeatist to not press on in preaching the Gospel after a rejection, but we cannot know the path another person may walk, or what they may choose later on. In any case, Grace is not a thing which may be compelled, so if it is not accepted, then we receive our peace back to ourselves. Anything else comes of the self and bitterness, and would spoil the fruit.

Further, there are those Christians who treat the Gospel as if it were a product to be merchandised, and conversions a goal to be scored. I have no way of knowing, honestly, whether the people I speak with have truly accepted Christ, nor would I wish to know. I have been told that I have helped some to see Christ in a loving way, and if so that would be good, but it is not right that I should presume that I hold any right to pride or a claim to accomplishment; at my best I am only pointing out to someone a great gift which I myself received freely, and if I take airs of importance to myself, it would lead me to sin and hurt the very people I believed I was helping. One member, made a point earlier that she does not keep track of the good things she does, and I applaud that spirit. If you do not dwell on the good or evil in the past, you are free to do good and receive joy in the future. If you focus on the love and hope granted to us by God, rather than on the petty measures we humans so often fall prey to, you can more easily share that love and hope with other people. Consider the Good Samaritan in Jesus’ parable. By doctrine, the Samaritans do not understand the true LORD, but are mistaken in their beliefs. For all of that however, when the man was robbed and left for dead in the road, it was not the Priest or the Pharisee who was his neighbor, but the Samaritan who stopped and gave the aid he needed. And the Samaritan, though he gave freely of his time, effort, and money, did not speak a word of dogma to the man he helped; his focus was on the love for his neighbor in need. Shall we then, when we see a need, focus on a point of religion and doctrine, or shall we help with no thought beyond doing what is needed?

Consider also the thief on the cross. If there was ever a man I’d like to have lunch and a long conversation with, it would be this man. In all His life, Jesus was never at true need but once. For all His poverty, Jesus never complained of want. For all the humiliation of preaching the true Gospel directly to people, as Immanuel and Messiah Himself, only to be rejected by men unwilling to part with their pettiness and self-sold bitterness, Jesus never condemned the towns and cities which laughed at Him. Even Jerusalem, when they cried out for His blood, He did not curse, but mourned for. But there came a time, when (having taken the whole world’s sin throughout all time on Himself), it was required that the perfect Father reject His own Son on the cross, and Jesus cried out in despair. In that instant, Satan had his cruelest opportunity, but this thief simply asked Jesus to remember him ,when Christ came into His kingdom. It was the one moment when God in the flesh had need of something from Man, and this one time a man delivered, speaking in faith words so simple they are often missed, yet in consequence they carried the same faith and hope which Christ Himself had so often offered to all men. A lifetime of hearing only ridicule and rejection was made good in one sentence in faith. If our Lord could bear that, we should be careful to take whatever we receive in good grace.

It falls to each believer to carry his/her burden as it is appointed to them, but it seems to me that sharing the Gospel is a happy thing, not a chore but a pleasurable privilege. It also seems to me that we ought to consider how it delivered. Many years ago in school, I was being taunted by a group of thugs at school, and I told them that I would pray for them. That earned me a nasty beating, as it gave them the accurate impression that I considered myself to be their better, and their reaction was the predictable anger one sees in a person who considers themselves to have been deliberately provoked. On other occasions, I missed opportunities to share the Gospel, instead choosing to talk down to the person I was addressing, conveying contempt for their person instead of truly trying to meet their needs. After all, when Jesus met people, He often began the conversation on surprisingly mundane things. He did not require people to become His disciple in order to help or heal them, but gave His service freely. Remember when Jesus healed ten lepers, and only one came back to thank Him? Jesus did not then curse the other nine, nor did He deny His help wherever He was able. We are charged then, not to fling the Gospel in the face of someone who is not a Christian, but to seek people out and help as we can, and only offer the Gospel if and when the person is open to receiving it. When the person is clearly not interested, it will accomplish no good to press.

Now, here at Beliefnet it is reasonable to believe that people are open to exchanging perspectives and opinions, especially here at the Debate boards. It is normal practice here for opinions to be presented but also challenged, for perspectives to be considered but also sometimes missed. In five years, precious few have changed their beliefs on a major level (though it does happen), but many have re-examined their beliefs because of an experience with someone. I am happy to say that quite a few people have reconsidered old assumptions about what a fundamentalist Christian is, because of some enlightening conversations we have shared with each other. But a large part of that comes from understanding that I also respect other people’s beliefs. I will never be a Pagan or a Muslim, but that does not prevent me from accepting the truths such believers have learned from God, nor from respecting the person for their heart and mind. I have encountered the love of God in many people who do not call themselves Christian, and it reminds me that I do not know all His ways. What does not make sense to me now, I trust to His care and direction. I tell of my faith and why I hold it, and do my best to speak with reason and respect. You will do as you think best, of course, but I hope these thoughts will be of some value.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Harry Potter and the Center for National Threat Response


As you will know from reading the earlier articles, I have been enjoying the Harry Potter stories immensely. One theme that runs through all the stories is one we all should recognize, and many call our own – Harry doesn’t really want to be famous or powerful, he just wants to live his life without someone trying to kill him, or, almost as bad, expecting him to do some heroic deed that will make everything all right. But life being what it is (and poor Harry suffering as the protagonist in the merciless clutches of the novelist), Harry does what he has to do, and it generally works out for the best, though not without cost. There is a parallel in that to the role the United States is continually expected to play. The U.S. is cursed and reviled for its power and resources, yet it is the Americans who are called on first to meet the crises of our time; the bigger the crisis the more absolute it is that the Americans must take it on.

I have been reading through some old papers on the Soviet threat during the 1980s (the Reagan years), and with those dark days in mind, I find it ludicrous in the extreme that the MainPain Media and the Paranoid cry out in such cowardice when a few thuggish brutes are able to kill a number of others as they snuff out their own existence. That does not mean that I am insensitive to the pain of the victims; we must end terrorism as a common practice in the world. This does not mean that I am cavalier about the dead soldiers in Iraq; a soldier to me is a higher form of personage, and the loss of such men is grievous. But the plain fact is, these monsters cannot win by their method. A coward may flee them, and the morally weak may give in to them, but our losses in Iraq and Afghanistan combined, are nothing like the losses we accepted while winning World War 2, nor are we propping up a corrupt government as we did in Vietnam. So long as men of steadfast heart and mind make the decisions, we will prevail, in Afghanistan and Iraq, and we have already seen the spread of excitement for Democracy sweep through the region, chasing Syrian occupiers from Lebanon, and forcing Libya to renounce the WMD it was building (funny, how those people who would love to taunt W on the claim that there were no WMD in Iraq, not only ignore the evidence of those programs, but turn their backs on real anti-proliferation progress made in Libya, Syria, and even Iran, specifically because of the American presence). The American presence is having a good effect in everything it touches, and this not only degrades the threats to U.S. National Security on a number of levels, but also builds the foundation for positive relationships with many nations.

We are winning, and that is good news, not only for many millions now, but for their children to come.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

China: The Present Threat


China will not use nuclear weapons on the United States. That, by itself, displays a major difference between the Cold War conflict between the USA and the USSR, and the present rivalry between the U.S. and the P.R.C. As I observed in yesterday’s article, Communist China walked a different road to get here than the one involving Lenin, Stalin, and the KGB. That’s hardly to say that the Ministry of State Security (MSS) is a kind and understanding establishment, but the threat is of a different order.

First, the military plane. If the Soviet Union was a Rottweiler, the Red Army of China is a bad-tempered Shih Tzu. The Chinese defense forces are formidable, so it’s not a case of insulting their structure and planning, but there is, by modern American standards, essentially no offensive capability. The PRC can invade a second-tier country, which gives them ambitions towards Taiwan if the U.S. could be persuaded to ignore the rape of that island, but in a major conflict against U.S. forces, China has no hope of mounting a successful offensive. They have no long-range bombers, no deep-water navy beyond a few missile cruisers, certainly no operational aircraft carriers (though China has been trying to acquire some of the old Russian STOL carriers, and even contracted to refit a conventional-wing carrier). They have relatively few nuclear missiles, certainly not enough for a functional first-strike. But most of all, China has never been in a multi-theater conflict, as an all-out war with the United States would be (because the Russians and other Pacific nations would join in, if for no reason beyond their self-interest to prevent a Chinese hegemony). Fortunately, the Chinese Politburo understand this basic fact very well.

This, among other things, is a factor in the Politburo’s concern about dissidence. While many people are aware of the 1989 uprising which led to the brutal response at Tienamen Square, most do not reaize that it was preceded by uprisings to various degrees in 1976, 1979, and 1986. In each case, Chinese citizens simply demanded rights and reforms; there was no demand to overthrow the government, but to improve it. The repression came from the simple need by the Politburo to assert control. That Chairman Deng pursued many of the requested reforms later, in the guise of his own initiative, is a move which should not be misunderstood. The Politburo will do things on its own terms, no matter what.

The Chinese do not understand the United States. This is hardly surprising, given the fluid nature of American culture, but the Chinese also make the mistake that many nations do, of assuming that what makes sense to them will be what we do. As a result, the American rebuilding of Japan was originally seen as a military strategy by China, and the NATO/SEATO alliances were seen as posturing for a future conquest. The Gulf War in 1990-1991 and the present War in Afghanistan and Iraq, are generally considered by China to be reasonable attempts to secure control of the distribution of oil from the Middle East; the notion that we are there for moral reasons is laughed at by the Chinese, and so the success enjoyed in most of the ventures has stunned the Chinese. The Chinese Politburo for the most part believes that George W. Bush has concealed his motives and intentions well. The Chinese have no idea at all, what Dubya plans next.

The United States has had considerable difficulty penetrating the Chinese structure for intelligence purposes, but the Chinese are in a worse position. This is, in large part, due to the fact that not only are far more Chinese coming to the United States as immigrants than there are Americans going to China, the Chinese often assimilate, to such degree that Chinese Intelligence agents are deliberately misled by Chinese living in the United States.

An area where China has enjoyed far greater success, is in espionage. This is partly due to poor decisions regarding sensitive metals and technology during the Clinton Administration, allowing China to make gains their own research would have taken decades to claim. But also, China has been able to take advantage of cover companies, to glean knowledge from American companies, especially communications and aeronautic firms. As a result, while Chinese fighter jets are no match for American fighter jets, Chinese industry is rapidly closing in cellular technology, automotive and commercial aircraft production. The Chinese are even learning 3rd-Wave inventory tactics, allowing start-up firms to compete immediately in international commerce.

Fortunately, the best efforts of China to compete as a peer in business and technology also work to make Communism less appealing than market forces. The special conditions allowed to the Autonomous regions in Hong Kong and Macau demonstrate the need China has discovered, to copy Western practices where there is no Communist equivalent. However, in the end the contrast between Communism and Success will force the modern Chinese citizen to think about the course of his nation, and the force of History suggests that while the new world in Asia will not be American in flavor, it may well be American in character.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Focus on China


A lot of people look at Communist China, and see the Soviet Union, only with worse clothes and better cuisine. In actual fact, there are substantial differences between the two flavors of Communism, and as the 21st Century unfolds, it is vital to understand the character and ambitions of America’s chief rival for the Pacific.

Communism, as we know, began as the ill-considered musings of Karl Marx, a self-possessed man far greater in pretension than ability. The bastard child of Utopian fantasy and bloody-handed revolution found a father in Vladimir Lenin, who used his organizational and propagandist talents to usurp a new republic with the totalitarian Communists. The series of skirmishes and counter-revolution during the next decade insured that the Soviet Union’s foundation would be based on fear. The rise of Josef Stalin was to be expected, as was the evolution of the cruel but disorganized Cheka into the much more lethal NKVD, and the largest and cruelest secret police agency known to history, the KGB.

In contrast, the road of China to Communism, though it also led from Empire through a brief republic into Communism, did so with a good deal more popular support. By the end of the Second World War, the Communists had made a name for themselves by attacking the Japanese through rebellion, while the Kuomintang was often accused of collaborating with the Occupying forces in China. Like Lenin, Mao was crafty with propaganda, as there is now significant evidence that the Communists were cooperating with the same Triads and gangs that the Kuomintang was, but without any appearance of collaboration with Japan. Also, Mao correctly surmised that following the long war, most Chinese were disinclined to pursue a long fight, and since the Communists appeared stronger and better-organized by the Kuomintang by 1948, Mao was able to suggest that a Communist victory would be a shorter conflict. Worse for the Kuomintang, their connection to the American and European governments made them appear to be dealing with outsiders, which played into an extant xenophobia in China.

After Nixon’s breakthrough trip to China in 1972, a counterforce was put into play in China, as Politburo members who wished to cultivate a relationship with the U.S. saw their stock rise, especially as the Soviet Union became less willing to treat with China as an equal partner.

The terrible atrocities committed during the “Great Leap Forward”, the brutal invasion of Tibet, and the Tienamen Square massacre may appear, at first glance, to match the brutality of the Soviet regime, but they were actually reactions, almost in panic, to demands for reform. In some respects the Chinese regime is more stable than the Soviet one, since it is based on a more responsive structure to public demand, but in other ways the Chinese Politburo is less durable than the Kremlin; if a significant movement to replace the Communists takes hold, it may well overthrow the regime. This is not necessarily a good thing; CIA assessments since 2000 have observed that the replacement regime is likely to be weaker against criminal and reactionary elements.

All of this is not meant as an apology for the Communist government of China, but to note the distinctions which may well affect their decisions politically, militarily, and in economic decisions. The acquisition of Macau and Hong Kong were primarily economic measures, and the decisions made regarding those new territories has been with a clear interest in financial stability and gain. The cooperation between the United States and China since the 2001 incident where a Chinese fighter jet collided with an American P-3 reconnaissance aircraft over International waters, is subtle but distinct, as is the character of Chinese maneuvers regarding Taiwan. One would be a fool to believe the mainland has given up the chase for Taiwan, but the nature and tone of the relationship has certainly evolved; not enough to be naïve but enough to encourage China to take further steps towards regional leadership.

Monday, August 22, 2005

South Border Thoughts


A couple days ago, I opened a discussion on the question of Border Security in the United States. I actually should have put up a different title, as the discussion, even with my own thoughts, reflected only the issues dealing with the border along Mexico’s frontier, and with the problems concerning illegal residency by Latins in the United States. The fact there have been verified attempts by terrorists to enter by Canada over the past few years is worth noting, indeed deserves its own post in the general question of border security apart from illegal residency.

There have been, as of noon Monday, 129 responses to the thread, but not much in the way of direct answers to my specific questions. To continue this important discussion then, I am presenting the questions again, along with the specific answers received, some comments on the issue worth considering and my own thoughts on these questions:

Question 1: Employers have faced increasingly strict measures for knowingly hiring illegals. However, the Congress has refused to pass some laws which would have put real teeth into the prevention of hiring illegal aliens. Why, do you think, has this been the case?

Knightowl77 said “I think it is because Business interests actually run the country. Not we the voters. Politicians of both parties including the president are more interested in what is good for business instead of what is good for the country”

Terrye suggests “I would say do a better job at the border and require ID here so that it will be harder to pass. And try to force them to become legal, so that if they come here they do it the right way”

Oak Leaf suggests “I would propose that every employer, right down to the family that wants a nanny, should be required to pay an annual “undocumented worker tax” in the amount of $10,000.00. For every worker that is “documented” this tax would not apply”

FreeKeys suggests: “Guest worker permits for 2 years; 3 years max. Every permit says: no welfare, no non-emergency health care, no food stamps, no schooling, no tuition, NO VOTING. At the end of the term: escort to the border.”

JINX suggested “Why shouldn’t the law enforcement agency that finds an illegal alien in the employ of someone not be entitled to the proceeds, a bit like the parking fine system. That would provide the most compelling public sector motivation known to man - easily earned and assesed public fines. Maybe this idea could even be pepped up, like in saying, that any asset used in the activity of employing undocumented workers could be seized/confiscated by the law enforcement agency that apprends the undocumented worker in question, where said asset would become the property of the apprehending agency, not unlike the procedure already in place for assets used in the commission of drug related crime. agency That would certainy sharpen the appetite of our without any doubt most idealistic officers of the law, and induce a vertiable frency of enforcement activity in this field of endeavour.”

Dtlc had a 3-part response: “(A) free markets : (i)
— Mexicans or (others) can travel to the USA and perform work (agricultural, construction, babysitting, etc);
—- Some Americans will lose their jobs. However, overall, this will cut down the costs of business and increase the standard of living for the majority.
(ii) abolishing the welfare state, OR
(iii) The illegal immigrants cannot get
— free education, whether elementary, secondary, college, etc. (i.e. taxpayer funded)
— free health care (i.e. taxpayer funded);
— free subsidies (through mortgages, which are insured through FDIC and our taxes)
(B) open, but regulated, borders :
— there is no need to sneak into the USA. Anyone can enter through checkpoints. However, anyone crossing the border illegally gets shot (or arrested and next time they can’t enter the country anymore);
—- the immigrants must pass a thorough background checks. For example, anyone who has criminal history or mental illness or some contagious disease does not come in. Anyone who is even suspected of having a terrorist link is turned away or is arrested. Anyone who does not cooperate, is sent back. Yes, yes, this creates logistical difficulties, but it could be worked out.
—- a security wall is build across the border (just like Israel is doing)
© Citizenship Must Be Earned
—– there is no automatic citizenship for illegal immigrants just because you were lucky enough to be born on this side of the border.
—- you live in the USA for 15 years and if say 5 or 10 neighbors and co-workers vouch for you, then you (and your family) become US resident (Green card) and after another 5 years you become a citizens
(I believe Switzerland does that)."

All interesting answers. I would suggest this for my own answer:

The Congress of the United States is more fragmented than the public mood, which is one large reason the Congress doesn’t often do what the public demands. Besides the divide between Republicans and Democrats, there is also the fact that the Senate continues to demand it be treated differently (which is to say, with greater deference) than the House of Representatives. Then there is the regional nature of the body, with each of the five major coasts (Gulf, South, Northeast, Northwest and West) and the three heartlands (Bread Belt, Rust Belt, and the ‘Midwest’) all voting by a regional consensus more than anything else. Add to that the unfortunate fact that Job One for anyone in Congress is to get re-elected, and it becomes apparent that unless and until Illegal Residency is a national priority, Congress is not going to do anything at all except vaguely promise some action in the future. You may recall that the top questions in the poll I sent to every member of Congress in January/February included the following:

1. Should photo ID cards be required in order to vote?
2. What will you do to secure our borders from illegal immigrants and/or terrorists

I would suggest we turn the heat up and keep it up, especially whenever a related event shows the danger.

Question 2: Mexico is not cooperating with the United States. Instead, they have taken such actions as to provide Consular Identification Cards for Mexican nationals in the U.S., without verifying that they are here legally. Also, there are indications that Mexico’s own borders are very porous, especially to anyone heading North into the U.S. What actions could the United States take to change this condition, bearing in mind that Mexico is a sovereign state, and in some years past hostility between the U.S. and Mexican governments over the border issue has led to additional conflict?

Gs suggested “One solution is a high level of legal immigration. Bring ‘em in, assimilate them as Americans (not as grievance-nursing multicultural victims), encourage their upward mobility, and let the future unfold”

Russ noticed “Yet there is something called, sanctuary cities which I’m guessing is most run by liberals”

I would suggest, for my answer, that the United States tie specific and significant incentives and penalties to border enforcement. I would further create a series of consular conferences between the United States and Mexico to discuss the welfare of Mexican nationals in the United States, as well as planned joint initiatives to curb border-running. This should include joint law enforcement exercises and missions of high visibility and value to the Mexican government. And the United States must have statements given by State Department employees in Spanish; the value of this action cannot be over-estimated.

Question 3: The greatest danger of illegal entry into the United States, is that someone practiced in border-running, often known as a “coyote”, will bring in terrorists. The law at present is relatively light against border-runners. What definition, legally, should be established to create a legal class for professional border-runners, and what legal actions should be taken against repeated border-runners to discourage the profession?

Repeated border-running must be made a felony, with mandatory sentences of 10+ years. The offense must be classed as a national security risk, which will allow for prisons to be created specifically for this class of offender. The cases must be highly publicized, and the practice made unappealing as a money-making scheme. Individuals might be pardoned as a means to improve diplomatic relations, but especially severe sentences must be handed down to anyone who transports a wanted felon or fugitive across a border.

The seizure of a business which has more than 5% undocumented workers would be a good start for improving attention to the simple need for valid I-9 forms, which any business manager can fill out and maintain. As for national ID’s, I would say we are not at that point, for the reason that the public still reacts poorly to the notion, but a national minimum standard for Driver’s Licenses and/or State Identification cards is long overdue. Also, there can be no question but that the Green Card system must be overhauled to class people into various categories, with a computerized warning for the last known location of anyone about to expire, and a Federal Law prohibiting anyone remaining at large whose residency has expired or been revoked.

That would be a good starting point for the needed reforms. That, and a lot of noise to let Congress know this is not going away, or a small issue.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Spooks on Demand


In his latest novel, author Michael Crichton has a major character who flashes a badge whenever he needs legal authority. The office he works for? The "National Security Intelligence Agency".

So far as I know, the NSIA does not exist as a government entity; Crichton appears to have created the agency purely for his story. But that does not mean there are not more than a dozen agencies, which are largely unknown to the population.

There are fifteen official government agencies which are classed as intelligence agencies. Many more perform intelligence-gathering tasks or analysis, but are not considered intelligence agencies by nature. Then there are the "black" agencies, which are never publically recognized. And that does not go into the private groups, created to perform tasks for foundations and corporations, and also for those tasks the government does not wish to have connections revealed.

Sometime in the next week, I will examine this phenomenon in greater detail.