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May 16, 2006


The Becks

On a not entirely related note (though I agree with you about the forehead-slapping banality of Althouse's post there), have you ever read The Unbearable Lightness of Being? I haven't, but am curious about it because it has such an excellent title.


Yo, Becks--"Unbearable Lightness......"
is a pretty good book, set in the "workers'
paradise" days of [then] Czechoslovakia--lots
of ennui. A decent movie was made of it.


I got sucked into reading it because of the brilliant title. I mostly agree with this amusing review of the book:


Althouse didn't say she had decided not to listen to the immigration debate; instead she said that she hasn't read blog posts on the topic. She says nothing about whether she has been reading articles in newspapers, magazines or (non-blog) websites. She likewise says nothing about whether she has been following the issue on NPR, CNN, Fox, etc. Nothing in the quoted text "indicat[es] that she hadn't read it or listened to" the debate. Concluding that she hasn't given the issue even "five minutes of her time" just because she isn't reading blogs is an unwarranted logical leap.

She likewise didn't say that "both sides on the blogosphere are equally wrongheaded ideologues". Her comment implies that there are ideologues on both sides of the issue posting on various blogs, which is surely true. Ideologues write a much higher percentage of blog content about almost any topic than they do of newspaper, magazine, television or even web content. Why? Because blogs aren't edited and the other formats are.

Althouse does not say that *all*, or even most, people who post on the topic are ideologues or that, among those who are, there is an equal degree of wrongheadedness on either side. (The idea that there are only two sides seems wrongheaded, but it is the way people talk so I won't presume she sees this as a black-or-white topic.)

I'm neither condoning nor condemning Althouse's position. In fact, I don't know what her position is. I'm just noting how careless reading -- perhaps skewed by wishful thinking -- can lead intelligent people to unsupportable conclusions.


She says she hasn't been following the debate on the blogosphere. Why? Because she doesn't listen to ideologues. The straightforward implication is that the blogospheric debate is characterized by ideology and not genuine substance on both sides. And because it is a "complex issue" and it is good that Bush is "fending off the ideologues," this implies that the ideologues are wrong.

Thus, the entire blogospheric debate is characterized, generally, by a debate between two wrongheaded sets of ideologues; those on the right of the President and those on the Left. And she comes to this conclusion DESPITE the fact that she hasn't read what the "ideologues" have posteed.

It is possible, I suppose, that Professor Althouse is seriously engaged with the issue, but decides to ignore any discussion of it on the blogosophere. That the blogosphere shouldn't be listened to on any complex policy issue, but we should listen to...Fox News or CNN, those bastions of impartial wonkery they might be (which strikes me as an odd thing for a blogger to do, but meh). It strikes as just wrong that the mass media does a better job of covering policy issues than the serious wonkish policy blogs out there. Granted, some of it is just knee-jerk venom, but certainly not all.

However, the fact that she didn't even bother to read or here the President's speech (or indicate that she even knew what the specific policy proposals were) doesn't bode well for that interpretation.

The whole post SCREAMS disengagement.


Patrick, given that you think one of the two (!) options under consideration is the deportation of 12 million people, perhaps some engagement on the issue would be a good idea. Maybe 5 minutes of your time?


Do you really want me to go through the various conservatives who have advocated just that idea? Don't be stupid.

How about the guy in a respected online conservative magazine who said that Bush was being disingenous about deporting illegal immigrants because Hitler "got rid of" 6 million Jews in four years so that it should only take 8 years to get rid of our Mexicans?

Or the House bill that would make illegal immigration a felony leading to deportation?

And was Bush just speaking to nobody when he said that deportation simply wouldn't work?

Wake the fuck up.

Rad Geek

Dr. Althouse:

"I haven't been reading PoliPundit or, really, any of the debate about immigration in the blogosphere. If I had been, I probably would only write about 'tone and tenor of the debate.' I consider immigration a complex policy problem, and I steer clear of ideologues spouting on the topic. I hear the President gave a speech on the subject last night and that he sounded moderate. Good. He's fending off the ideologues -- I hope."

Dr. King:

"I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to 'order' than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says 'I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can't agree with your methods of direct action;' who paternalistically feels he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by the myth of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a 'more convenient season.' Shallow understanding from people of goodwill is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

"... You spoke of our activity in Birmingham as extreme. At first I was rather disappointed that fellow clergymen would see my nonviolent efforts as those of the extremist. ... But as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a bit of satisfaction from being considered an extremist. Was not Jesus an extremist for love -- 'Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, pray for them that despitefully use you.' Was not Amos an extremist for justice -- 'Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.' Was not Paul an extremist for the gospel of Jesus Christ -- 'I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.' Was not Martin Luther an extremist -- 'Here I stand; I can do none other so help me God.' Was not John Bunyan an extremist -- 'I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience.' Was not Abraham Lincoln an extremist -- 'This nation cannot survive half slave and half free.' Was not Thomas Jefferson an extremist -- 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.' So the question is not whether we will be extremist but what kind of extremist will we be. Will we be extremists for hate or will we be extremists for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice--or will we be extremists for the cause of justice? We must not forget that all three were crucified for the same crime--the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thusly fell below their environment. The other, Jesus Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment. So, after all, maybe the South, the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists."

--"Letter from Birmingham Jail"

Dr. King wins.


Althouse aka middle of the road fence-sitter.

"The only thing I've ever seen in the middle of the road are yellow lines and dead armadillos."


Well, Patrick, I guess you've found a bizarre and offensive proposal at some extremist website, and you've found a strawman suggestion from President Bush. Is that the best you can do? Did you take the full 5 minutes before spouting that crap, or was that too much to ask?

For the record, there are more than two options available, as anyone who is actually paying attention (and not busy criticizing others for not paying attention) would know, and there is no real movement for the deportation of 12 million people. There's no reason to change the law to make illegal immigration to the US a felony if the goal is deportation; deportation is a civil remedy, and it already the consequence for illegal immigration. So the House bill isn't any support for your position. Keep looking, though--I'm sure you've got a couple minutes left before you've given this 5.


Of course there are more than two options.

It wasn't an extremist website; it was a fairly prominent web magazine in the conservative blogosophere, but let's not let the facts get in the way of a good story.

I was merely pointing out that opposition to one of the positions in the immigration debate isn't particularly complicated.

RE: The house Bill

Here's a key section:

"Under the House bill, employers would have to confirm the authenticity of employees' Social Security numbers against a national database of legitimate numbers or face stiff new fines of as much as $25,000 per violation. The measure would end the "catch and release" policy for immigrants other than Mexicans who are caught entering the country illegally and then released with a court date. All illegal immigrants apprehended at the border would have to be detained, and deportation processes would be streamlined.

Criminal penalties for smuggling immigrants would be stiffened, with new mandatory minimum sentences. Immigrant gang members would be rendered inadmissible under any circumstance. Mandatory minimum sentences would be established for immigrants who reenter illegally after deportation, and local sheriffs in the 29 counties along the Mexican border would be reimbursed for detaining illegal immigrants and turning them over to federal custody."

So under the ideal conditions, any illegal immigrant who worked in the US would be caught, placed in streamlined deportation procedures, and then arrested and jailed if they attempted reentry. The goal of the bill is to a)ensure that those caught at the border would be deported more or less immediately and b) those attempting to work would be turned over to authorities and themselves deported or arrested. If this doesn't amount to a massive police action against illegal immigrants, then I don't know what does.

But hell, if you need about Newt Gingrich and Tom Tancredo as major Republicans who have advocated deportation?

And take a look at this poll at the Free Republic:;results=1

All this information is easily available if you had spent your five minutes searching for it. And you reply to the House bill is either deceitful or ignorant.

Once again, I was NOT saying that there are two sides to the issue only, but that it isn't a hard call to see why one of extreme but not uncmmonly held positions in the conservative world is wrong. It is less obvious what the "extreme" left position even is, much less why its wrong.

The real point of the post was to show Professor Althouse refusing to really take sides on the issue, or to present us with any information or ability to determine what the right position is. She simply throws up her hands and advocates a "moderate" position that is not given any content. My point is that the conservative extreme is SO extreme that the moderate position that is moderate in virtue of being between the two extremes might not be all that much of a bargain.

The Good Son

Thomas did anyone ever tell you you look like a penis with a little hat on?

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