Mexico, as It Is and Wasn’t:: Some Stuff Wroth Knowing

For Americans concerned about  Mexico and Mexicans, and what sort of wights they be, a little history may help. We seem to know almost nothing  about a bordering nation of 130 million. It is not what most of us think it is. It is certainly not what the Loon Right would have us believe.

For many years, until 1910, Mexico was run by Europeans, lastly under Porfirio Diaz, for the benefit of Europeans. Literacy was extremely with economic conditions to match. The country was indeed, to borrow a favorite phrase of those hostile to Latin Americans, a Third-World hellhole. Many nations then were were, to include China.

In 1910 the Revolution broke out. It was godawful, as civil wars usually are. It ended in 1921, followed shortly by the Cristero religious war until 1929. This had the usual hideousness favored by religious wars.

It left the country devastated. It hadn’t been much to start with, but now it was a wreck. Aldous Huxley, writing in 1934, saw no improvement. (Beyond the Mexique Bay) At least until 1940 much of Mexico was barely civilized, unlettered, lawless, and poor. Things were not all that swell in 1970.

Today, seventy-six years later (says the CIA Factbook), literacy is at 95%; the economy at $2.2 trillion, 12th  in the world in PPP; median age, 28; population growth rate, 1.12%; mother’s mean age at first birth, 21.3; total fertility, 2.24 children per woman; life expectancy at birth, 76 years.

Mexico today has a large number of universities (the Technológico of Monterrey, a premier engineering school, has some thirty campuses in as many cities: Is that one university or thirty?) Mexico graduates  well over 100,000 engineers a year, including 13,000 in software, and has a rapidly growing high-tech industry  with centers in Guadalajara and Mexico City. Major American firms, to include IBM, Oracle, and Intel, come here to hire them.

And of course internet, airlines, computerized everything, and teenagers pecking at smartphones.

This is a lot of change in less than a man’s lifetime. Those hostile to Latin Americans do not want to know this, and usually manage not to.

In many ways Mexico remains a mess, mostly because of organized crime and corruption. Distribution of wealth is badly unequal, being now what the US is becoming. Books could be written about what is wrong with the country. Finland it isn’t. But neither is ti remotely a “Third-World hell hole” despite the squalling of such authorities as Ann Coulter, Manhattan’s premier she-ass.

It would be a good idea to retire the phrase, “Third World.”  Any designation that includes both Buenos Aires and Haiti (I have spent time in the slums of Cite Soleil with the US Army) is so broad as to be without meaning. In 1930, China, Mexico, Thailand and so on could reasonably have been called hellholes. None of these even comes close today. The slums of India do, as does much of Africa, yes.

To grasp the degree of educational advance between the Mexico as it was and as  of 1940 and today, look at what is visible on the ground:

Go into an ordinary bank, with which Mexico is littered. The clerks have to understand exchange rates, intermediate banks, SWIFT codes. They sit at computers, which are networked within the bank and with national headquarters, requiring network engineers and software weenies. Multitudinous ATMs require network people and maintainers. Telmex, the quite good telephone monopoly, needs people to program and maintain  switches and associated software. So do TelCel and ATT, cell-phone providers. Airlines need pilots and trainers of pilots, people to run and maintain high-bypass turbofans and avionics, the instrument-landing systems (ILS). The internet needs software people, router techs, help-line techs when someone’s modem fails (the techs are good). Also doctors and dentists, universities to train them, people who understand and maintain MRI gear, the usual elaborate diagnostic instrumentation, mechanics to run the diagnostic computers at car dealerships and understand what lurks under the hoods of today’s cars (which would baffle Stephen Hawking). And so on at great length. Similar observations could be made of many Latin American and Asian countries. Starting from roughly zero a few decades ago.

Anyone who actually lives here can see that the country continues to change at a high rate. The middle class grows. Internet speeds keep going up. Despite the ardent hopes of many web sites of the Loon Right, you do not come down with exotic diseases, or any diseases, by eating in restaurants. Schooling increases. Common is a mother, age forty with ten siblings, who has two children, both in university or tech schools. None of this is universal, but increasingly common. This in not up there with, say, a manned landing on Mars, but it is hardly consistent with stone-age hell-holedom.

What Mexican are not, yet anyway, is driven in the sense that Americans often are. Young Mexican engineers are more so more so, but not the general population. A Mexican girl–to use an example I know–will go to dental school and then stay in her home town, however small, marry, fix teeth, and raise children. Mexicans seem less entrepreneurial than Americans. They tend to regard a job as a way of supporting a family instead of the other way around.

There is considerable social mobility, at least around the cities. Women start businesses here, often restaurants , stores, bars, or maybe assisted-care homes in regions favored by retired Americans (e.g., Lakeside Care, down the street), but seem content with enough. “Enough” means something to them that it often does not to Americans. Whether this is good or bad can be debated, but it makes for contentedness but not commercial empires.

How will the new Mexican -American population adapt to the United States? I don’t know. Neither does anyone else, though many who know nothing about it have firm opinions. Will the government turn them into a sprawling class of welfare dependents? Doubtless if it can. Will furiously hostile anti-immigrant lobbies make them into internal enemies? They want to, and it would be the end of the US.

Or will they clamber, rapidly or otherwise, into the middle class and cease to be of much interest? The latter, I think. An intelligent policy would be to encourage them, but we can do it anyway. They are pretty good people, not given to terrorism or mutilating their daughters or the knockout game,  and they burn a minimum of cities. Everywhere I have been–LA, San Fran, DC, Huston, San Antonio, Pilsen and Berwyn in Chicago–they have seemed to be settling peacefully in. They have the potential to make it. We had better hope they get there.

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Kidporn, and a Suggestion: For Which I Will Probably Be Lynched

The other night we watched a documenatary ,The Dark Net ,on Netflix on child pornography. Dim as I am, I  didn’t realize that there was such a huge amount of it, mostly on the Darknet. This refers to transmission of material by layered encryption and quickly becomes technical: TOR, asymmetric encryption, IP packets, session keys, and so on. The upshot is that a staggering swamp of kid porn is out there, and it is almost impossible to eliminate.

The stuff is nasty. Children of eight or nine, mostly girls, forced to do naked live-cam chat with strange men on other continents, to engage in all the sexual behavior you can think of. No equipment is needed beyond a laptop and a webcam. In interviews, pedophiles say that they know it is wrong, but cannot keep themselves from consuming the stuff. Whether you buy this or not, they obviously will watch  when they know there is no danger of being caught. Which means that children will continue being forced to make it.

It tends to come from poor countries where children are easily exploited. In the bush world, corruption, official inattention, and lack of resources mean that nothing much will be done, no matter the level of Western indignation.

And it becomes morally tricky. What to do if you catch those making child porn? Simply drowning them, despite its appeal, doesn’t always work. Lawyers,  trials, appeals, delays, bribes. According to the documentary, in poor countries like the Philippines, the child’s parents are often the ones putting the kid in front of the camera, and they do it because the family has to eat. However one might regard this, putting mommy and daddy in slam doesn’t do much for the kid and, since in much of the world there are many hungry families, the jailed would just be replaced by others.

So what to do?

A supply-side solution seems impossible in the face of  an untraceable Dark Web containing lots of kid porn from many poor countries that can’t or won’t do much about it. That leaves demand side.

Some law-enforcement outfit came up with a convincing digital child, a brown little girl  Philippine or Thai. She moved and talked realistically   on a bogus porn site used as bait for pedophiles. If memory serves she got something like 25,000 responses in a day or two. In a big world, there are a lot of pedophiles. Pretty clearly, that many  are not going to be prosecuted, especially since their identities and locations cannot be determined.

Now what?

An interesting question. If the objection to child pornagraphy is that it involves abuse of children, why should it be illegal to look at a digital, nonexistent child? Who is harmed?

If on the other hand the intention is to prevent viewing by the public of things many find abhorrent, would this not also justify banning, say, movies in which nonexistent people are shot, garroted, blown up, and tortured? In which evil-doers engage in terrorism, in the bombing of city streets? 

The argument will be maide that kid porn encourages  the molestation of genuine children. Does it? Or does it allow those with pedophile inclinations to satisfy their urges through fantasy? This is the crucial question.

The answer is not obvious. When a captured molester is found to have pedophilic pornography in his home, a causal link is often assumed.  But of course a pedophile would be likely to own such material. This hardly establishes that he was made a pedophile by its possession. Adolescent boys of my generation once read Playboy. Did the magazine cause our interest in girls, or did we get the magazine because we were already interested?

It may be that legal kid porn would absorb molestational energies and thus protect real children. Might it be worth while to find out?

We swim today in sexually uncharted waters. One may read of virtual-reality goggles that provide increasingly realistic sexual video. On this I am  no authority but clearly this can provide  an intriguing variety of partners of every color, shape, race,  body style, and age (how do you check the age of a digital girl?) as well as personality and kink. Streaming concubines, digital Turkish harems, Asian fleshpots on demand, magically compliant and available to boys of fifteen and oldsters of ninety. This may have a future.

And of course a great many more women that will admit it go to porn sites on the web.  

The complaint is .made that men sometimes become so used to the variety and accessibility of such cyberseraglios that that they lose interest in real women. This is usually presented as symptomatic of some psychic inadequacy, but is it?

Dating is expensive in both time and money, involves serial break-ups and relationship talk. Careerists may not have time for dating. It can lead to marriage that,  in an age of feminism and feminist judges, is not a bright idea. As men ask each other, Do you want to eat at the same restaurant every day?

(Parenthetically, there seems to be a substantial desire among men to circumvent the monopoly economy in sex now held, falteringly, by real women. Brothels report that growing numbers of men pop for sex robots, which improve rapidly. I think this is nuts, but I am just me. You can download different personalities. Realistic sex dolls enjoy brisk sales, or so I read.)

If digiporn causes at least some heterosexual men to avoid the disadvantages of the real thing, might not digital kid porn have an identical effect  on pedophiles?

The question is worth asking. The costs to men of dating real women are relatively minor (unless they marry in which case child support, divorce, and so on can be burdensome). For the pedophile the costs of being caught are serious: many years in prison, loss of job, being put on watch lists. If penalties for possession of porn involving real children were extremely severe, and realistic digiporn both legal and available, the market for the real stuff might dry up considerably up. Perhaps a pedophile cannot control his interests, but he can control how he satisfies them.

And yet whether the approach would work probably doesn’t matter. Legalizing kid porn is not a winning political platform. Sexual exploitation of children is nauseating, and most people would probably see legalization as pandering to people they would rather throw from helicopters. But leaving things as they are will, well, leave things as they are, with wretchedly bad treatment of a lot of children. Anyone have a better idea?

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Diving Days: No vast political importance

The  Atlantic waters off Snead’s Ferry in North Carolina are shallow, maybe 125 feet to the continental shelf. Several  wrecks lie on the bottom, mostly in advanced stages of disintegration, sunk by U-boats in the early years of the war. I know them well as for years I was a member of Capital Divers, out of DC, of which there is now no trace on the web. We often rented boats and dived the remains.

Cap Divers was a cowboy outfit. The members were engineers, bureaucrats from State, employees of Beltway Bandit operations like CACI, maybe a third women, but all were experienced divers and possessed of what might be called strong personalities. They didn’t follow rules, such as never dive in waves over two feet high. Yo  pays yo money and takes yo chances. But it was a hoot.

With five-foot waves many miles out out sea we would find ourselves going back aboard in bright blue water with the dive ladder on the stern of the boat rising high and then slicing back down like a guillotine. The trick was to wait until it was at its low, grab the highest rung you could, put your fins quickly below, and hold on as the stern rose. When it halter at its highest point, you grabbed a higher run and moved up, to hold on for dear life as it came down.

Sometimes we rented a live-aboard for a week–see below–and there would be uproarious merriment in the bar after chow. The women were hardy types, delicate flowers not being much for night diving on deep canyons. There was not a single infuriated sociology major among them airing her grievances. The guys accepted them completely because they were completely good divers. You could kid around with them. After most of Washington, it was a whole different take on the fair sex.

The leader was Dale Fox, a big former Navy diver who liked practical jokes. Such as: About once a year we rented one of those nice specialized dive boats, as for exam the Belize Aggressor, for a week. On one such trip Dale, a NAUI instructor, gave everybody a PADI Basic temporary card, the kind new divers get before the plastic card arrives. It means your total experience is diving in a swimming pool at a dive shop.

Belize Aggressor. A serviceable substitute for heaven. This may be a later version than the one I knew, which I heard sank. The crew filled tanks with the on-board fast compressor, you jumped in, came back ate, geared up….

As the boat put out to sea the crew checked out everyone’s diving credentials, as required by law. Their faces turned pale green. You could hear their thoughts: “Oh God. These loons don’t remotely belong on an open-ocean dive boat. They’ll drown. Law suits. Poverty. Maybe jail time. Oh god, oh God.” Then they noticed that the piled dive gear had the marks of use since the Crimean War. They were so releaved that they didn’t kill us.

It is a curious fact, or was with Cap Divers, that you get bored near the surface. The fish are pretty but after a couple of days the deep walls and dark water below begin to pull. I  forget where we were but it was one of those below-100 walls probably in the Caribbean, dark, the light purple-blue and below, black for maybe thousands of feet. We were buddied up and in a line, two by two, in the funny privacy of a dive. No sound but sssssssss-wubbawubbawubba of air flowing in and out of your reg, maybe that explosive high-pitched clicking of shrimp that you couldn’t localize because sound travels too  fast under water.

The wall was a nightmare of grey twisted cords, branched growths, cups of barrel sponges, ugly. This because deep water filters out everything but blue light. But where our dive lights hit them they burst into wild reds and oranges and greens, lovely, garish, otherworldly.

And then, I will never forget, three big eagle rays, flying in formation, flapped past us and disappeared into the murk. What they thought we wre, I do not know, but they belonged where they were, and we didn’t, and they had more important things in mind than bubbly intruders.

It was aboard the Aggressor that one year we went to the Blue Hole of Belize, famous among divers. The ocean there was land in geologically remote time, a cave system formed, then caved in leaving the hole, and the entire thing sank beneath the waves. When you dive it you go down and down and down along sheer rock walls until at about 130 until the walls open out into the ancient cave system and you see stalactites that it would take five people to encircle

I went a bit further down in the  murk to look but stopped at 140 because below that on air things get iffy and your dive computer squeaks in alarm and you can get bent. It was strange to see maybe twenty people from inside the DC Beltway ssss-wubbling around  in what may have been the last place short of Alpha Centaurs where they–we–had any business being. I think we all felt it.

The U352, a German submarine, early Forties. These men, or parts of them, are probably still aboard.

The U352 made the mistake in 1942 of being caught by the Coast Guard cutter Icarus, not a good plan if you are a U-boat. She went down with over thirty of her crew aboard. They could have made an easy ascent with scuba gear, but it hadn’t been invented, so they drowned in darkness and lay undisturbed for decades.

The U-352. She crumbles now.

On my first dive on her it was a sunny day and your eyes adjust on the way down so it isn’t as dark as the photos make it seem. The water was clear and blue and the hull was visible from considerably above. The water is  cool at depth and there was no sound but one’s breathing. It was eerey to float slowly down onto the conning tower and sit, three-foot amberjacks circling curiously.

I floated off and exhaled to drift down and lie on my back in the sand and watch my bubbles rising, wobbling, breaking into new bubbles as they expanded in decreasing pressure. If memory serves, my depth gauge said 115 feet. The last time I saw her she was considerably more decayed. Soon she will be gone. Sic transit….

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Anti-togetherness: The Virtues of Disunity

A Truth Not Welcome: People do not like being with those different from themselves . Sometimes, briefly, we find it interesting, as in traveling, but for extended periods, no. This distaste pervades society, often unnoticed, with consequences. 

Instances of untogetherness:

People cluster by intelligence. With high consistency, we choose mates of intelligence close to our own. Likewise with friends: If you have an IQ of 100, or 150, you are unlikely to have friends of 150, or 100. Bright people join Mensa not from snobbery but because they want to be around people like themselves. On the internet this takes the form of distributed cognitive stratification in which people from around the globe congregate by intelligence.

A woman I knew while living in the Heart of Darkness once said, “In Washington, you assume that everyone is in the ninety-ninth percentile.” She herself was, and her friends were chemists, high-end journalists, authors, and so on.  She meant her remark as shorthand for a common sort of clustering.

People associate by age. We rarely have close friends who differ from us by more than ten years. People of fifty shrink in horror at the thought of being trapped in a bar full of screaming twenty-year-olds–and vice versa. Teenagers suffer their parents because they have to, and escape at every opportunity–to the relief of the parents. It isn’t  dislike, just a lack of much in common.

Men and women would rather not be with each other too much. In social and domestic settings, yes. Men would prefer to work with other men had they the choice. Men do not want to go fishing with women, or drink beer and argue politics, and when it comes to talking about their feelings, most men would rather die. Women presumably prefer their own.

Male and female homosexuals choose to associate with each other, thus gay bars.

We prefer to spend time with people of our own level of education. If you  have a doctorate, you probably have no friends who are graduates only of high school–and vice versa. The same goes for white-collar  and blue-collar people. Few bus drivers socialize with lawyers.

We prefer to be with our own race. Look at what people do, not what they say. Blacks do not find the company of white people compelling, and the most liberal of whites spend ninety-five percent of discretionary time with other whites. If whites do spend time with blacks, those will be of their own age, educational level, accent and, except in couples, sex. They will probably feel self-conscious anyway.

The cultures of blacks and whites differ starkly and any association occurs only to the extent that the blacks simulate the culture of whites. Distance is proportional to difference. Whites and Asians socialize more easily than blacks and whites because they have more in common:

We spend our time with people of our own culture. Jews flock together. We have Chinatown, Little Saigon, Little Italy. Good ol’ boys and Boston Brahmins do not party  together.

We tend to spend our time with others of our own level of wealth. If you drive a Lexus, you likely do not have friends with second-hand clunkers.

There is worse than lack of socializing. Diversity is not a strength but, when separation is not possible,  perhaps the planet’s chief cause of butchery and hatred. Think for example Sunnis and Shias, Tamils and Sinhalese, Jews and Moslems in Palestine, Kurds and Turks, Turks and Armenians, blacks and whites in America, Catalans and Spaniards, Basques and Spaniards, Tutsis and Hutus in Burundi, Francophones and Anglophones in Canada, Moslems and Hindus in Kashmir, Russians and Chechens, Mexicans and Anglos in Arizona, Protestants and Catholics in Ireland, and so on.

For that matter, Trump’s supporters and haters cannot stand each other’s company. In general, liberals and conservatives coexist at best uneasily in social situations.

Clearly the domestic tranquility would better be served by letting people and peoples associate as they chose, and in some cases taking measure to ensure separation.

Instead we have elevated almost to the status of religion the idea that people are indistinguishable, or should be, and must be forced into association. This is said to be the natural or at least desirable state of humanity, even though it clearly is not what we really want. On ideological grounds we imagine a world that  cannot exist, and try to move  into it. When it doesn’t work, we try to force it. This causes endless resentment and unhappiness and sometimes hatred. Yet any who openly do not want to be with those unlike themselves are called racists, sexists, Islamophobes, homophobes, snobs, and so on.

If a group of men are sitting around shooting the breeze and a woman shows up, the conversational dynamics change. The men will speak differently, talk of different things, be wary. Yet heaven help them if they say  that sometimes they don’t want female company.

In the military the consequences of forced togetherness are grave, and not just in that women can’t do many of the things required of soldiers. Thirteen men in a squad will work easily together to get a job done. Add a woman and all the men will compete for her sexual favors, even if she isn’t using them, which is possible. 

If we permitted freedom of association, we would have bars and clubs for men only, and for women only, as well as for both as people chose. Men would not care if women had segregated bars for themselves, but, what with feminism,  women feel compelled to force themselves on men.

In universities we equally see natural human resistance to mandated association. In particular blacks increasingly demand their own fraternities, student centers, graduation ceremonies, and departments of Black Studies. Thus we have the silly spectacle of universities struggling to recruit diversity which, once recruited, struggles to segregate itself.

As noted, ease of association is inversely proportional to difference, and difference is a sort of vector sum of many things: social and economic status, skin  color, native fluency in English, sex and sexual orientation, and so on. 

Our current policy of compulsory amalgamation is fueled both by resentment and ideology. Women and blacks think they endure discrimination by men and whites and so insist on inclusion they really do not much want. The result is lawsuits, and sometimes far worse. Cities burn because we insist on employing white policemen in black regions.

Much of today’s anger would diminish if we allowed people to live in neighborhoods of their own kind, and study in schools of their own kind, and be policed by their own kind, and to establish clubs as they like. We could call this something like, oh, say, “freedom.”

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The Military instinct: The Human Race as Feral Dogs

As Washington bombs Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, Iraq, and Syria, militarily threatens Russia, Venezuela, North Korea, and China, sanctions Cuba, North Korea, Russia, Ukraine, Iran..one may wonder: Why?

Are wars about anything, or just wars? In modern times, a reason of sorts is thought decorous,  yes: Ruritania is threatening us, or  might, or does something wrong, or Ruritanians don’t think rightly about the gods. We must kill them. And yet everywhere in all times, almost miraculously, some reason for a war is found. It would seem that wars are not about anything, but just what we do.

Recently the collapse of the Soviet Union appeared to offer a prospect of extended peace. There seemed nothing left to fight about, at least on any scale.  Yet the United States quickly launched a half dozen wars of no necessity and threatened others. Why?

Because wars are what we do.

It may surprise many people to learn of evidence for a genetic foundation of human behavior. This should not be surprising. Dogs form packs, mark territory, and bark furiously at strange dogs. So, it seems, do people. An empire is just the result of these canine instincts..

Consider conservatives, as they are more relevant to the fighting of wars. (Liberals appear as genetically determined,)

Conservatives tend to be tribal, intensely loyal to their group–race, country, ethnicity, religious faith–which in national terms becomes patriotism.  They lack empathy. They see the world in terms of threats, conflict, and dominance. They favor capitalism and the Second Amendment, revere the military, speak of blood and soil, oppose taxation of themselves to give to the less fortunate.

An important point here is that these traits clump together, although there is no logical connection. For example, one might rationally favor ownership of guns as necessary to self-defense yet oppose having a large military as unnecessary. One might favor a large military in what appeared a dangerous world, yet favor extensive governmental charity as what one might see as common decency.

Yet this almost never happens. If you tell me that you oppose abortion, with confidence I can predict that you fit the description above of a conservative. If you tell me that you oppose the Second Amendment, I can be pretty sure that you favor abortion, acceptance of immigrants, marriage of homosexuals, and so on.

We all have access to the same information about the world, to the internet, the same books and newspapers, and we all live in very much the same society. Yet liberals and conservatives arrive at sharply differing conclusions from identical evidence. This suggests an innate predisposition.  

Soldiers invariably fit the conservative pattern, prizing loyalty to their units and to their country, seeing threats everywhere, and becoming alarmed easily. For example, if an ancient Russian prop-driven recon plane, technically a bomber in the Fifties, flies near England, fighters will leap into the air to intercept it, grrr, woof, though the idea that the Russians would send one ancient bird to bomb Britain is lunatic. It is very like dogs barking frantically at a passing pedestrian.

People in general seem designed to think about small groups, not countries of millions of people. It is impossible to think of, say, Russia as millions of individuals, especially when we have never seen even a single Russian. The almost invariable response is to compress a whole nation mentally into a sort of aggregate person. As I write, America is barking at North Korea, said to be a rogue state threatening several other countries. Countless men from the President through Congress to growling patriots in bars are saying angrily that “We can wipe North Korea of the face of the earth.” We’ll  show the bastards.

North Korea consists of twenty-five million people of whom perhaps fifty might want to attack anybody at all. The let’s-nukem men–almost always men, who are genetically more truculent than women, which is also true of dogs–think of the whole country as one pudgy man with a bad haircut. “We must punish North Korea” makes sense to them in these terms. Exactly why several million children in kindergarten need to be burned to death does not enter their minds.

A great deal of international behavior makes sense, or at least makes no sense but does it in a consistent manner, if you look at the history of empire. This too appears to be instinctive, and therefore presumably genetic. Throughout history men–again, always men–have formed armies and set out to conquer, usually at the price of unspeakable bloodshed, lands they didn’t need. Sometimes the plunder brought a degree of benefit, seldom commensurate with the cost, but often not.

Over and over and over,  one country conquers its neighbors, sometimes forming large empires but often small ones almost lost to history. Then a new one arises and bursts the bubble of the first. This is instinctual as a dog peeing on a hydrant. 

We see this now. The United States has no need for an empire of perhaps eight hundred military bases around the globe or to fight constant and exhausting wars for places it doesn’t need or even like. America has no need of Afghanistan, for example, and is there only to keep China out–that is, from the instinct for empire. Again, peeing on hydrants.

The lack of empathy usual in conservatives, in soldiers, appears all through military history, from the practice of putting cities to the sword to today’s indiscriminate bombing. It results from the tribal instinct. A fighter pilot will in time of peace be a good citizen, perhaps a good father, obey the laws and, should an earthquake occur, work tirelessly to save the trapped. Yet order him to bomb a crowded city in a country that has done nothing to deserve it–Baghdad, for example–and he will do it and pride himself on having done it.

The behavior is innate and immutable, unchanged over the millennia, but today we seem to need to pretend to decency. Militaries and “intelligence” agencies, the chief vessels of brutal behavior, have become very sensitive to revelations of what we now call “atrocities.” Actually atrocities are what militaries normally do. The norm now is to employ euphemistms–collateral damage-and to insist that atrocities are “isolated incidents.” Today governments, to maintain public support for the wars, or as least to discourage attention, carefully censors photos of disemboweled children or the CIA’s torture chambers. But the butchery continues as it did among stone-age savages. Pilots still bomb cities. The CIA tortures and probably enjoys it. Plus ca change, plus ca doesn’t.

There is a slight difference.  Militaries now know they are doing wrong, This is why soldiers become furious when persistently asked about atrocities. They would rather you not know. Yet the bombing continues and from the less politically careful conservatives come cries of, “Untie the hands of our soldiers,” and “Let the military do its job.”

It is innate. We do what we do because it is how we are.

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From Tex Mex to Mex Tech: A Study of Northern Inattention

In America two narratives about Mexico dominate. First, chiefly emanating from anti-immigrant ideologues who usually have never been here, holds that Mexicans have low IQs and cannot function at other than a primitive level. Breitbart News and something called Vdare are chief among these. They don’t quite expect to find all Mexicans either robbing banks or sleeping at the foot of cactuses win big hats and a burro, but they come close.

A Mexican software-engineering firm as conceived by Breitbart News The donkey is the brains of the operation as Mexicans do not have brains. Sigh. Some people need to get out more.

In stark contrast is what one hears from companies involved in high-tech fields. They speak of a large pool of Mexican engineers of high quality in everything from software to robotics. They hire them in droves. These are not assembly-line workers or even manufacturing engineers in traditional industries, such as cars. They are either in tech start-ups like Wizeline,below, or in software-development for big outfits like IBM, Intel, and Oracle, which have a large presence in Guadalajara. More on these in a later column.

The other day I want to Guadalajara to talk to Matt Pasarienski of Wizeline, a software-services outfit based in San Francisco but with large and growing presence in Mexico. (Wizeline: “Intelligent Solutions, PPM Software, Services, and Chatbots”)

Pasarienski is a wiry, high-energy guy. One can imagine him as a kid in a garage in Silicon Valley, living on Cheetos and Jolt Cola and writing code for days without sleep. Undergrad at Berkeley, PhD in physics, University of Illinois.

Wizeline has two big buildings in the old Kodak facility on Mariana Otero, vast open rooms with rows of desks with screens, lots of young techy-looking people, cafeterias. The atmosphere reminded me of the SpaceX assembly floor in Hawthorne  but without the rockets.

Some Wizeliners. The formal dress is characteristic of techies everywhere.

Pasarienski speaks fast and cogently. “We have 200 (software) engineers and want to hire 1000 more. We now hire about 15-20 a month. They are good, speak English, and learn fast. Definitely good for a world-class enterprise.”

He mentions that Mexico graduates 13,000 software engineers a year, and sees the country as fertile ground for IT start-ups, for which Guadalajara is becoming a hub.

(Interstitial tidbit: Tesla recruiting Mexican robotics engineers.)

Among many other things, Wizeline builds chatbots, roughly software that can intelligently answer questions, either by classic keyboard chat or voice, about products and services. These might, for example, replace the customer-service operators in Mumbai whose accent you cannot understand. This is definitely artificial intelligence, which means that you need real intelligence to figure out how to do it.  

Wizeline is not close to unique in hiring local engineers. Bloomberg:As global automakers pour billions of dollars into their Mexican factories, Marcos Perez is trying to make sure the nation’s future goes beyond assembly lines. The head of product development at Ford Motor’s Mexico unit, Perez has helped the company almost triple its local engineering staff, to nearly 1,000, since 2010. “

Says Pasarienski, “There is a fundamental difference between tech–what we are doing–and traditional manufacturing. To manufacture cars you need a billion-dollar factory, and engineers with a lot of experience. The factory belongs to a company outside of Mexico, which repatriates the profits.

“In what we are doing, AI, nobody has twenty years of experience because the field hasn’t existed that long. We can jump to the head of the line.”

Many tech-oriented people see things this way.  I talked to Andreas Kraemer  of MItaventures, a venture-capital firm looking to fund start-ups in Mexico.  He too wants to tap into local talent. From the website: “Cross-border tech innovation: We see Mexico as the innovation bridge between Latin America and Silicon Valley. We believe there are emerging opportunities for tech startup successes between these regions”

The foregoing is corporate-speak, yes, but bear in mind that these men and countless others are hard-headed, very savvy tech-and-finance guys. They don’t do racial ideology. They do can-we-do-it and will-it-work. And what’s the bottom line.

Pasarienski gives an interesting rationale for Mexico as start-up territory. “It used to be that kids doing a startup lived in a house and built the start-up in the garage. Today things are so expensive in California that they would have to live in the garage. The cost of living eats up more capital than most people have. Mexico is much cheaper, both for rent and paying engineers,”

Actually, technical talent is visible to anyone who lives here in all manner of things. But the ideologues saying how stupid Mexicans are don’t live here. The leaders tend to be talking heads of the Manhattan-DC corridor and, to my certain knowledge, many have written for years of this country’s hopeless primitivism without bothering to visit. I think we call this “fake news.”

The Chiapas, Mexican Navy

Jane’s: “While designated as Oaxaca-class vessels, a type designed by the Mexican Navy, the new OPVs are actually improved derivatives of this class, featuring several modifications, including a bulbous bow and a BAE Systems Bofors Mk.3 57 mm main gun.”  Jane is not a girl. Jane’s is probably the world’s leading military magazine.

Further saith Jane’s: “Constructed at the Naval Shipyard (ASTIMAR) N°20 in Salina Cruz, Oaxaca, Chiapas is the first of four OPVs that were ordered as part of the SEMAR 2013-2018 plan. The second, ARM Hidalgo (PO 166), has already been launched and is expected to be commissioned in 2017, while construction of the third ship has already started in Salina Cruz.”

Finally–this has nothing to do with startups in Mexico, but I find it irresistible:

Wired.  HOW 4 MEXICAN IMMIGRANT KIDS AND THEIR CHEAP ROBOT BEAT MIT

The robot. a tethered underwater manipulator. Built  on a very low budget and a lot of spare parts. Ugly as refried sin. Worked.

Interesting story, this, from 2004with here a gee-whizzy slightly lengthy video. Interpret it as you will.  In short, four illegals in a lousy high school in Phoenix entered a university-level contest to build an underwater robot. They won. I won’t recap it lengthily here, but follow the links if interested. This was not a softball contest.  The judges were heavyweights in submersible design from the US Navy and the petroleum industry.

The team. I am often told buy the racialists that anything intelligent done by Mexicans is done only by the white ones. Well, I concede. These kids do look positively Nordic. Swedes is my guess. When they won, the MIT team had the grace to give them a standing ovation. (The book on the contest, Spare Parts, is a good read.)

 The Mastretta MXT, designed and built entirely in Mexico. 0-60 mph, 4.9 sec, tops out at 150, sort of $60K.  The company then died in some corporate dispute.

The British automotive show Top Gear, having made snotty remarks about the very idea of the Mexicans making a sports car, received a great deal of flack,  and so a staffer to test drive it in Mexico. He noted that first cars in a country were usually cheap family boxes and that it was unusual to go straight to a sports car. He concluded that it was  a decent enough car despite some fixable teething problems.

Aaagh. Enough. The point here for anyone interested in the United States and its neighbor is that a lot of growth in tech ffelds is going on here which businessmen have most assuredly noticed. This has not gotten through to the recorded messages who write for Breitbart and its metastases.

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A Vet Remembers: A Bad Mood, a Six-Pack, and a Typewriter

This column is on lactation and isn’t going to write a damned word until half-October. People are talking about some Vietnam series by Ken Burns, I think it is .I saw the original, so I’ll pass. But if we want opinions, I’ll contribute from long ago.

Harper’s, December, 1980

I begin to weary of the stories about veterans that are now in vogue with the newspapers, the stories that dissect the veteran’s psyche as if prying apart a laboratory frog — patronizing stories written by style-section reporters who know all there is to know about chocolate mousse, ladies’ fashions, and the wonderful desserts that can be made with simple jello. I weary of seeing veterans analyzed and diagnosed and explained by people who share nothing with veterans, by people who, one feels intuitively, would regard it as a harrowing experience to be alone in a backyard. Week after week the mousse authorities tell us what is wrong with the veteran. The veteran is badly in need of adjustment, they say — lacks balance, needs fine tuning to whatever it is in society that one should be attuned to. What we have here, all agree, with omniscience and veiled condescension, is a victim: The press loves a victim. The veteran has bad dreams, say the jello writers, is alienated, may be hostile, doesn’t socialize well — isn’t, to be frank, quite right in the head.

But perhaps it is the veteran’s head to be right or wrong in, and maybe it makes a difference what memories are in the head. For the jello writers the war was a moral fable on Channel Four, a struggle hinging on Nixon and Joan Baez and the inequities of this or that. I can’t be sure. The veterans seem to have missed the war by having been away in Vietnam at the time and do not understand the combat as it raged in the internecine cocktail parties of Georgetown.

Still, to me Vietnam was not what it was to the jello writers, not a ventilation of pious simplisms, not the latest literary interpretation of the domino theory. It left me memories the fashion writers can’t imagine. It was the slums of Truong Minh Ky, where dogs’ heads floated in pools of green water and three-inch roaches droned in sweltering back-alley rooms and I was happy. Washington knows nothing of hot, whore-rich, beery Truong Minh Ky. I remember riding the bomb boats up the Mekong to Phnom Penh, with the devilish brown river closing in like a vise and rockets shrieking from the dim jungle to burst against the sandbagged wheelhouse, and crouching below the waterline between the diesel tanks. The mousse authorities do not remember this. I remember the villa on Monivong in Phnom Penh, with Sedlacek, the balding Australian hippie, and Naoki, the crazy freelance combat photographer, and Zoco, the Frenchman, when the night jumped and flickered with the boom of artillery and we listened to Mancini on shortwave and watched Nara dance. Washington’s elite do not know Nara. They know much of politicians and of furniture.

If I try to explain what Vietnam meant to me — I haven’t for years, and never will again — they grow uneasy at my intensity. “My God,” their eyes say, “he sounds as though he liked it over there. Something in the experience clearly snapped an anchoring ligament in his mind and left him with odd cravings, a perverse view of life — nothing dangerous, of course, but… The war did that to them,” they say. “War is hell.”

Well, yes, they may have something there. When you have seen a peasant mother screaming over several pounds of bright red mush that, thanks to God and a Chicom 107, is no longer precisely herchild, you see that Sherman may have been on to something. When you have eaten fish with Khmer troops in charred Cambodian battlefields, where the heat beats down like a soft rubber truncheon and a wretched stink comes from shallow graves, no particular leap of imagination is necessary to notice that war is no paradise. I cannot say that the jello writers are wrong in their understanding of war. But somehow I don’t like hearing pieties about the war from these sleek, wise people who never saw it.

There were, of course, veterans and veterans. Some hated the war, some didn’t. Some went around the bend down in IV Corps, where leeches dropped softly down collars like green sausages and death erupted unexpected from the ungodly foliage. To men in the elite groups — the Seals, Special Forces, Recondos, and Lurps who spent years in the Khmer bush, low to the ground where the ants bit hard — the war was a game with stakes high enough to engage their attention. They liked to play.

To many of us there, the war was the best time of our lives, almost the only time. We loved it because in those days we were alive, life was intense, the pungent hours passed fast over the central event of the age and the howling jets appeased the terrible boredom of existence. Psychologists, high priests of the mean, say that boredom is a symptom of maladjustment; maybe, but boredom has been around longer than psychologists have.

The jello writers would say we are mad to remember fondly anything about Nixon’s war that Kennedy started. They do not remember the shuddering flight of a helicopter high over glowing green jungle that spread beneath us like a frozen sea. They never made the low runs a foot above treetops along paths that led like rivers through branches clawing at the skids, never peered down into murky clearings and bubbling swamps of sucking snake-ridden muck. They do not remember monsoon mornings in the highlands where dragons of mist twisted in the valleys, coiling lazily on themselves, puffing up and swallowing whole villages in their dank breath. The mousse men do not remember driving before dawn to Red Beach, when the headlights in the blackness caught ghostly shapes, maybe VC, thin yellow men mushroom-headed in the night, bicycling along the alien roads. As nearly as I can tell, jello writers do not remember anything.

Then it was over. The veterans came home. Suddenly the world seemed to stop dead in the water. Suddenly the slant-eyed hookers were gone, and the gunships and the wild drunken nights in places that the jello writers can’t imagine. Suddenly the veterans were among soft, proper people who knew nothing of what they had done and what they had seen, and who, truth be told, didn’t much like them.

Nor did some of us much like the people at home — though it was not at first a conscious distaste. Men came home with wounds and terrible memories and dead friends to be greeted by that squalling she-ass of Tom Hayden’s, to find a country that, having sent them to Viet Nam, now viewed them as criminals for having been there. Slowly, to more men than will admit to it, the thought came: “These are the people I fought for?” And so we lost a country.

We looked around us with new eyes and saw that, in a sense the mousse people could never understand, we had lost even our dignity. I remember a marine corporal at Bethesda Naval Hospital who, while his wounds healed, had to run errands for the nurses, last year’s co-eds. “A hell of a bust,” he said with the military’s sardonic economy of language. “Machine gunner to messenger boy.”

It wasn’t exactly that we didn’t fit. Rather, we saw what there was to fit with — and recoiled. We sought jobs, but found offices where countless bureaucrats shuffled papers at long rows of desks, like battery hens awaiting the laying urge, their bellies billowing over their belts. Some of us joined them but some, in different ways, fled. A gunship pilot of my acquaintance took to the law, and to drink, and spent five years discovering that he really wanted to be in Rhodesia. Others went back into the death-in-the-bushes outfits, where the hard old rules still held. I drifted across Asia, Mexico, Wyoming, hitchhiking and sleeping in ditches until I learned that aberrant behavior, when written about, is literature.

The jello writers were quickly upon us. We were morose, they said, sullen. We acted strangely at parties, sat silently in corners and watched with noncommittal stares. Mentally, said the fashion experts, we hadn’t made the trip home.

It didn’t occur to them that we just had nothing to say about jello. Desserts mean little to men who have lain in dark rifle pits over Happy Valley in rainy season, watching mortar flares tremble in low-lying clouds that flickered like the face of God, while in the nervous evening safeties clicked off along the wire and amtracs rumbled into alert idles, coughing and waiting.

Once, after the GIs had left Saigon, I came out of a bar on Cach Mang and saw a veteran with a sign on his jacket: VIET NAM: IF YOU HAVEN’T BEEN THERE, SHUT THE FUCK UP. Maybe, just maybe, he had something.

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Fred Takes Month Off: Earth Wobbles in Orbit, Kingdoms Fall

This sublime column will be on vacation until about October 15 from sheer exhaustion. The wells of libel and sedition are not without limits and, having run dry, must replenish themselves from the slow flow of bile’s aquifers. At the end of this respite, FOE will take Weighty Decisions, but for the moment there are books I have not red and red wine I have not drunk, the accumulation of which could shift the gravitational balance of the cosmos. I must attend to these matters. Fred, out.

I apologize for the gibberish that afflicted this week’s effort. A software failure.

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DACA Dies, Sort Of: Right Wing Flaps Wildly: Our Precious Bodily Fluids Safe

OK,immigration, the ongoing soap opera. Let’s start with week’s logical disaster: The Dreamers, 800,000 artfully named Latinos who were brought over as children, sometimes as children of thirty-five. Under something called DACA, a sort of almost amnesty, they had work permits. They were working. Yes, doing their part as Americans: paying taxes to buy bombs to kill children in Syria. Now, says Trump, at least to the extent that it is possible to know what Trump says, they are illegal. Breitbart News Vdare and suchlike are orgasmic.  No amnesty for these criminals! Now they can be deported.  This of course embodies the fascinating notion that a child of two can commit a federal crime, but never mind.

See the brilliance? Now the Dreamers don’t pay taxes. This puts a heavier  burden on ordinary patriotic Americans, who wouldn’t pay taxes either if they could figure out how not to, to buy bombs to kill the Syrian children. So 800,000 Dreamers fall into the unemployable underclass. Many have never been to Mexico.

Which brings up an interesting point.  An American and an American citizen ar not the same thing at all. An American is someone raised in America, who has absorbed our language, ways of thought, our culture. who has lived the streets of Brooklyn or bare feet and BB guns in Alabama or the wackiness of coastal California, who has hitchhiked the big roads and watched Superman jump out the window and been to high school dances and watched the cheerleaders at  basketball games twirling and chanting, “Ricky, Ricky, he’s our man, if he ca’t do it nobody can!” There are many Americas, but that is what they all are: Amrica.

By contrast, an American citizen is someone who has a certain piece of paper. You can get it by being born in the US but if (improbably) you were adopted by a Mongolian couple and raised in Ulan Bator, you would be an American citizen but not an American. If you are born and raised in Britain, you can become an American citizen, but not an American. It can’t be done.  Nor just the accent but the body language, the slight lordliness, the lack of cultural reference, would be an dead giveaway.

I could easily get Mexican citizenship, but would anyone at all think me a Mexican?

This morning (September 21) here in Mexico my wife and I as usual listened to the news (Notisistema) over coffee.  It seems the country is gearing up to receive such Dreamers as are deported, specifically to provide scholarships to universities, find jobs for them as English teachers, and provide them with lessons in Spanish–a language many do not speak.

A Dreamer raised in the US is an American, though not a citizen. If I met him in a bar in Bangkok, after two words I would say, “Ah! A Yank!”

“Yeah. Bakersfield.”

OK, we will now think about immigration in general. The level of debate is embarrassingly stupid  even by the elevated standards of Washington–not to mention fraudulent, disguisedly self-serving, hypocritical, and nuttier than Aunt Samantha’s prize fruitcake that she used to pour rum on.

We will start with fraud.

From the anti-immigrant sites, as for example Breitbart News, I learn that immigration is a plot of malignant Lefties, foul commie-homo-hippy-prevert-Jews, who hate America, who want to import millions and millions of Mexicans, who are stupid, filthy, shiftless, and criminal, to destroy the United States. Yes. No man can doubt it. 

Except…except…why are the Republicans, siege howitzers of  patriotism, presumably conservative, tap dancing away from the issue like anthrax while supporting immigration with their left hands? All sorts of anti-immigrant things could be done, but Republicans do none of them. So why is it the so why is it the hippy-homo-prevert etceteras? Why no Republican action?

Easy. Because the  immigration business is a Day-glo con, a galactic-size black hole  of hypocrisy so thick you could lube a diesel with it. Everybody is lying, swindling,  and pulling rings.

 

Breitbart thinks–this sentence is already doubtful, but we will forge ahead with it–that de-legalizing Dreamers is great because now thy can be deported. Except they probably won’t be. Most will stay in the US and work off the books until somebody re-legalizes therm. Which seems likely. Anyway, if the 800,000 Dreamers were deported, they would come to 1.4% of America’s 57,000,000 Latinos. Oorah. That will  save our precious bodily fluids.

Yeesh. The Right won’t let Dreamers work, and the Left makes sure they don’t get deported. Bipartisan idiocy. Don’t say that Americans can’t work together. Meanwhile Trump, the first President to elevate Brownian motion to a policy position, says he will give Congress six months to come up with legislation that does the same thing DACA did. This is nuts

Consider conservatives, if any. A cynic–I don’t know any of those–might notice two kinds of conservative, money conservatives, and arm-waving conservatives. The money conservatives want cheap Mexicans, and wars so they can sell bombs, and overseas factories, and price-fixing and no taxes. They are no more patriotic than Rachel Maddow is female.

The arm-waning conservatives hoot and squall about the surging brown tide and its genetic effects on apple pie and the Boy Scouts and we–eeeeek–have to  Do Something urgently. But:

They aren’t against immigration either!

Nor is Trump.

Don’t think so?  Ponder: There is a current federal freaking law against hiring illegal aliens, which Trump could enforce since he controls DOJ, and it carries heavy penalties.

So why doesn’t the National Cockatoo enforce this law? Think of CEOs led from offices in handcuffs, stuffed into Leavenworth to get in touch with their feminine side. Human-resources mugwumps too. The owner of the corner gas station. They are all hiring illegals, and they know they are. The first arrest would result in a lot of CEOs looking deeply into extradition law. Why doesn’t it happen? Easy.

Because our bottle-blonde Metternich has no intention of doing anything about immigration. You think he’s crazy or something?

See, the Donald knows, anyone enjoying neural parity with possums knows: Threaten major rice bowls–e.g., big businesses–and they will hand you your head on a platter.  Don’t even think about shutting down ConAgra. On the other hand, arresting Pedro when he tries to renew his driver’s license is safe.

If the grrr-woofs really wanted to deport illegals, which they apparently do not, they could sweep up loads of them easily.  Everyone knows where they are. Try California’s agricultural sector. Check out the construction industry in Washington DC, the heart of all darkness. See if you can find a white guy nailing up siding, or a white construction worker. Or black. If you can, put him in a glass case. The Smithsonian will probably be interested.

Yeah, yeah, I know. The employers with their hundreds of illegals say, “We, poor things that we are, just have no way of knowing who is illegal.” OK, let  me get this. You are running a meat-packing plant, and seventy-five men show up looking for work. They are brown, sure, but lots of people are, especially in summer. Nothing suspicious there.

You hire them, because you see no reason to think they might be Mexicans, or illegal, right? No tell-tale signs, no hints. They don’t have papers but, hey, maybe they forgot them somewhere. Anyway you wouldn’t want to stereotype. You can’t just ask them if they are illegal because they speak only Spanish.

Can anyone take this seriously?

Not all is lost, though. The anti-immigration folk holler and jump up and down about something called eVerify. It’s an electronic  way to keep from determining whether an applicant is legal. The idea is that the employer, who has a strong incentive not to detect illegals because he wants cheap labor, will check on illegals who have a strong incentive not to be detected because they want to work. I’m sure you sense the practicality in this. 

It gets balmier. Nothing in this morass makes sense. Except in terms of money. America builds factories in Mexico, then discovers with horror that these factories are…in Mexico. Characteristically when you put something somewhere, that’s where it is.

In the US, while money conservatives hire Meskins with wild abandon, the arm-waving ones shriek that them Meskins is taking American jobs. How the hell does a Meskin takes an American job? Hold a gun to his head and say, “Geeve me zee shoffel or I blow your brines out”?

The obvious solution: Gun control.

You see the high moral principle in action here. It is safe to blame Paco for trying to destroy America. He can’t fight back. He answered an ad from an American auto factory in Durango, thus displaying malign intent. Paco has a pretty wife, two nice kids, hopes to pay off the mortgage one day, likes barbecue and a couple of beers on the weekend. A venomous enemy. 

Ah, but attack Ford or Chevy or whoever put the factory in Mexico? Oh no. These can hire more lawyers than Trump has brain cells–this would be at least three lawyers–and, again, he isn’t crazy.

Here we come to a standout, glowing, gorgeous lunacy in a field groaning under lunacy: the notion that America will, or can, deport huge numbers of people. Glance at the numbers. Call eight years a hundred months for arithmetical convenience. A President would have to deport 8,000 Dreamers a month, and Donald is already way behind. Getting rid of 12,000,000 illegals in two years as promised by Donald would mean 500,000 a month for 24 months, or 125,000 a month for 96 months. Do you seriously think  this is going to happen? Can we make a large bet? 

If you have fifty million or so Latinos who are not going to go away, might it not be a good idea to think about how to assimilate them, get along with them, get them to pay taxes to blow up Syrian children? Breitbart and related sites never say a word about assimilation but just try to stir up antagonism between white and Latino. They think this is patriotism. I have my doubts.

Why won’t much deportation happen? Because the Democrats are against it, the Republicans are against it when nobody is looking, Chicago, California, and New York are against it, a dozen large businesses are very against it, the media are against it, the Loon Left is against it, academia is against it, the Latinos are not behaving badly enough, and the Millennials don’t give a damn.

Finally,  we have The Wall. More accurately, we seem not to have it. This phantasm shows no inclination to spring into being. It is a useful gnaw-toy to keep various fringes out of mischief. Almost everybody seems, surreptitiously or otherwise, to be avoiding building it. Yes, we have Ann Coulter the Manhattan Steam Whistle howling like a  lonely train through the mountains. “The Waaalllll…We need the Waaalllll….” Yeah well. But the Republicans just can’t seem to get there somehow, and they control Congress. When they don’t, I guess the Dems will build the rascal. Don’t you?

Conclusion: Latinos in America are a done deal. Good idea, bad idea, disaster, or doesn’t much matter–it’s still done. No epic population shifts impend. Breitbart can bark from under the sofa, but the Latinos are in America to stay. If this isn’t so, tell me why it isn’t so. Get used to it. There is no other choice.

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Thoughts from Below the Rio Bravo: A Preliminary to Going into Hiding

To understand of many Mexican attitudes toward the United States and immigration, you have to go back to the Mexican-American War of 1846-48, of which most Americans have never heard. The United States attacked Mexico in a war of  territorial acquisition, occupied Texas, California, New Mexico, and Arizona, and drove south to conquer Mexico City. It did it because it could.

The attitude of Americans who have heard of the war is usually, “Get over it.” Mexicans have not gotten over it. People get over things they have done to others more easily than they get over things others have done to them.  Tell Americans to “get over” Nine-Eleven, or Jews to get over Germany.

There is in Guadalajara a large and prominent monument to Los Niños Heroes, the adolescent cadets who marched out to defend Chapultepec as the Americans conquered Mexico City, much as the VMI cadets tried to defend Virginia in the Civil War. Countless Mexican towns have a street called Niños Heroes. They remember.

The base of the monument to Los Niñoes Heroes in Guadalajara. It reads, “Died for their country.” You know, like Iwo Jima and all.

This does not make for a keen appreciation of the Exceptional Nation. Nor does memory of the conquest arouse sympathy about immigration–or, as Mexicans see it, emigration. It explains the occasionally heard phrase, “La Reconquista.”

Throw in the drumbeat from racialist sites to the effect that Mexicans are stupid, filthy, criminal, and parasitic, and Trump’s asserting that they are rapists and what all, which resonates in Mexico as Hillary’s Deplorables speech did in Middle America. And of course there was the bombardment of Veracruz, of which Americans have never heard, and  Pershing’s Incursion, and Washington’s history of attacks, invasion, installation of dictators in Latin America and support for others.

For Mexico, as for most of the world, the US is not the shining city on a hill that it thinks it is. Over and over it attacks other countries and invariably is surprised when they don’t like it. Note that America and its vassals in Europe kill huge numbers of people in Muslim cities,  yet express outrage when Muslims kill people in their countries.

In America, conservatives will erupt in fury on reading the foregoing. Well, bully for them. The behavior of Mexicans  is determined by their history and what they think, not by what others think they ought to think.

These days, people often want a philosophical framework to justify their aggression. Among the better educated of Mexico, emigration is sometimes intellectualized by saying that flows of population have occurred all through history, Rome and such. These flows, they say, are inevitable and perhaps favored by Divine Providence. They don’t quite say, “Get over it.”

This reasoning is self-serving. If twenty million Haitians swam ashore in Veracruz, Mexicans would not regard it as a natural and inevitable flow. Note, though, that the Mexican inevitable-flow  theory precisely parallels the doctrine of Manifest Destiny, which held that that America’s expansion across the continent was inevitable.  It was an early form of American Exceptionalism, the idea that America is special and need not follow norms of decent behavior. Now it seems that Manifest Destiny is reversible. This notion too will anger many Americans, but then, the invasion of Mexico angered many Mexicans.

American attitudes toward Latinos, chiefly contempt, do not get a rousing welcome here. Americans both north and south of the border tend to see Mexicans only as gardeners, waiters, maids and, here, a few English-speaking doctors. Typically they have no idea of the lands between the Rio Bravo and Tierra del Fuego. They have not been there, do not speak or read Spanish. Americans, increasingly losing their own intellectual tradition,  are unaware that Latin America has its own rich intellectual history going back for centuries. Fortifying this blankness is the charming view that Latinos are stupid and so, obviously, cannot have an intellectual anything. This annoys Mexicans.

Latin America has in fact produced a great many writers of the first rank, not ot mention philosophy, architecture, and music. Pick a few: Vargas Llosa, Garcia Marquez, Juan Rulfo, Pablo Neruda, Borges, Ortega y Gasset, Octavio Paz, Carlos Monsivais, Mario Benedetti, on and on. I didn’t know most of them either, but my wife Violeta, a Mexicana, does.  All of this ties in with the literature and art of Spain, the mother country, just as ours does with that of England. There is a major civilization down here, despite the views of internet louts.

While there is much discussion of immigrants in the US, it consists mostly of ideology, of impractical hostility on the Right and moral preening on the Left. Neither seems to have much interest in knowing what it is talking about.

For example, the illegals, a source of horror, are mostly not diseased, drug-dealing rapists with drooping IQs and psychopathic murderousness.  This will come as a disappointment to many. Actually, come in flavors. They are not one thing.

At the negative end are the MS 13 types, tattooed killers. These could profitably be taken up in a helicopter and allowed to come down independently.  Then you have the kid brought over at age two and who now, at nineteen, speaks perfect California English and horrible Spanish and thinks he is an American, never having been to Mexico. You have the guys who come for two, three, four years, save money, and return to Mexico to buy a house for their families.

You have our friend Rosa, I will call her, who came over illegally after high school, worked dirt jobs, found free English lessons, went briefly on welfare, and finally worked her way up to be head of food-services at a high school. (Incidentally, it annoys her that her kids do not speak Spanish, but, she says in flawless English, this is America, what do you expect. Many immigrants favor bilingual schooling so that their children can learn Spanish.) Anyway, after a few years she went to whoever you go to, said she wanted legal residence, was told she had to pay back the welfare, did, and is now a permanent resident in in line for citizenship if Trump doesn’t stop her.

Finally you have those illegals who live permanently on welfare and never learn English. When Rosa speaks of them, she sounds like Breitbart News: “I work. I pay taxes. Who do these damned….”

Now permit me once more to infuriate conservatives. It is a service. It will keep their blood flowing briskly: Consider Eduardo and Maria, Salvadorans living in San Salvador in a dirt-floored cinderblock hut. They have little money, not because they are stupid or lazy but because there are no jobs. Their two kids cry at night because they are hungry. Their only hope, they decide, is for Eduardo to try to get to the US, a ballsy and dangerous idea, send money back, and try to figure out how to get Maria and the kids into the US.

So he and Maria scrimp and do without–more without–and lean on relatives to get the money for a pollero to get him across the US border should he get that far. Eduardo sets off hitchhiking, which he has never done, up Central America to the Mexican border where the police or los maras are likely to beat and rob him. Mexico enforces its immigration laws more vigorously than does the US.  He rides the Train of Death, well named, to the US frontier, where he doesn’t know anybody or anything and, if he is not robbed, finds himself in a country whose language he does not speak. Somehow he gets to Kentucky, picks tobacco, and sends money back.

It is not an undertaking for someone who has feathers for balls.

Yes, it is illegal. No, it is not good for the United States. Yes, immigration should be stopped. But–if you were Eduardo, which would matter more to you, your wife and children, or some law in a remote country where, in any event, a lot of people want you to come and work? What would you do? Would it not be irresponsible not to do it?

I will now go into hiding.

 

Request to readers: I would appreciate being in touch with someone familiar with industry in Mexico, especially robotics, engineering, and aerospace. I do not need to quote anyone by name, but would like the information, and do not now have press credentials, so cannot just call and ask. jetpossum-readers@yahoo.com  Please put the letters pdq anywhere in the subject line to avoid autodeletion. Thanks.

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