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Our Man at Slate?
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July 10, 2002, 05:00 AM
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Mickey Kaus might be the best of the bloggers … and he`s increasingly outspoken on the side of immigration realism.

In case you aren`t up on the latest neologisms, "blog" is short for "web-log," which is a sort of polemical diary published on the Web. They`ve been around in one form or another for several years, but took off in 2001. A combination of new technology and the recession, which left a lot of guys with time on their hands, has made do-it-yourself opinionating into a national fad.

Unfortunately, many bloggers suffer from two contradictory idée fixes. As libertarians, they want a big tax cut to shrink the size of the inherently evil U.S. government. And, as imperialists, they want a vast increase in military spending so the inherently moral U.S. government can conquer and subjugate various scoundrels such as the Palestinians, the Iraqis, the Saudis, the Pakistanis, the Egyptians, the French, the Swedes, the Environmentalists, and the Democrats. (See James Taranto`s so-called "Best of the Web" blog at OpinionJournal.com, the free web mouthpiece of the Wall Street Journal`s Editorial Page.)

In contrast, Mickey, a veteran professional journalist who started his KausFiles blog a couple of years ago, is eminently non-hysterical and non-hate-filled. He`s even non-partisan. In October of 2000, he wrote 10 consecutive columns trying to reason out whether to vote Bush or Gore. But this doesn`t mean he`s non-fun. He`s witty, surprising, entertaining, and logical.

A few weeks back, the Microsoft-financed neo-liberal Slate.com made a wise decision by taking KausFiles in-house. So Kaus now appears daily in Slate.

This is important because Mickey`s become quite an immigration realist recently. Previously, Slate almost never mentioned the topic. Former editor Michael Kinsley`s only 2002 contribution to the national debate was to label concern over immigration an example of "social hypochondria."

Here are some of Mickey`s best:

August 19, 2001:

"Dana Milbank`s WaPo story on immigration liberalization — like many on the topic — has a bizarre, shadow-boxing quality. We`re told that President Bush is pulling back from pushing dramatic changes, including broad amnesty, due to "legislative reality" and "`a system with a lot of resistance.`" There`s "not a consensus for rapid action in Congress," Milbank reports. ... Who, or what, exactly, is putting up this powerful, hidden resistance? Finally, in the 22d paragraph, we learn that a "large number of Republicans oppose any immigration liberalization." OK. But why? Couldn`t Milbank have found one liberalization opponent willing to speak, for attribution or not, about what`s bad about the idea? Or even about the politics of the idea? ... Perhaps liberalization opponents are lying low. (Even Phil Gramm?) But then Milbank should tell us that they`re lying low. The impression he leaves is that reform is opposed by some sullen, unreasoning troglodyte bloc, possibly nativist or racist, whose thinking, like that of segregationists in the 1960s, is not worth exploring — when in fact there are sound policy reasons to oppose at least some sweeping liberalizations (see items below). ... Meanwhile, Milbank`s piece is filled entirely with quotes from members of the mysteriously-embattled pro-liberalization forces. In order of appearance: Rep. Chris Cannon, Rich Bond, Charles Kamaski (an official of Council of La Raza), Gabriela Lemus (an official of the League of United Latin American Citizens), Rep. Howard Berman, Rep. John Conyers, Sen. Ted Kennedy. ... Milbank seems to believe that because he quotes pro-liberalization conservatives and pro-liberalization liberals he`s achieved some sort of balance. ... I`m allergic to pieces like this because (like so much else) they remind me of the welfare debate, in which opponents of expanded benefits were for decades routinely portrayed as a reactionary, possibly racist, majority — a majority that turns out to have been largely correct in its judgment. ... (8/19)"

August 22, 2001:

"More on amnesty and dual citizenship: John Fonte makes some good points about dual citizenship. Whether or not dual citizenship is a dangerous trend (there`s a debate here [this is a link to a VDARE.com article]) it`s clearly something new. The old model of assimilation doesn`t quite apply. ... For instance, Frank del Olmo of the LAT doesn`t like Bush`s amnesty idea, or at any rate abandons the idea in the face of the don`t-reward-lawbreakers arguments of its opponents. Del Olmo thinks the citizenship issue isn`t that important anyway — before the 1990s, many Mexicans preferred a "circular migration" in which they worked here, kept up contacts in Mexico and eventually returned there after "building a nest egg." Del Olmo argues this circular pattern "might well resume" under an expanded guest worker program. But why wouldn`t Mexicans want to become U.S. citizens since they can now retain their Mexican citizenship as well? What do they have to lose? ... (8/22)"

March 21, 2002:

"But on immigration, the [Wall Street] Journal`s editorialists … must know that their open-border positions are wildly unpopular, especially with heartland Reaganites. ..."

"If there were 20 million people living in the Southwest who also were Mexican citizens and who voted in both Mexico and the U.S., would they ever consider voting to rejoin their mother country? Gee, would Quebec be secessionist if France were next door? ... Fonte quotes a Mexican cabinet minister, Juan Hernandez, seemingly committing a Kinsleyan gaffe by saying what he really means — that he`s "betting" Mexican-Americans will "think Mexico first." ... (3/21)"

June 3,2002:

"The Curse of Federalism: Isn`t there something odd about complaints from conservatives Grover Norquist and David Keene that a DOJ proposal allowing "state and local law enforcement agencies to track down illegal immigrants  ... would set a dangerous precedent by empowering local jurisdictions to enforce many federal laws." Isn`t federal law, like, the law? Aren`t state and local officials obligated to enforce it, just as they`re obligated to enforce the Constitution? ... Local police apparently complain that requiring them to actually enforce these laws "would jeopardize their relations with immigrants" — and, say Norquist and Keene, "mechanisms already exist to foster federal-local cooperation in this area." But if they were effective mechanisms (e.g. state officials calling in the feds) then they would already have jeopardized relations with immigrants, no? The reason relations aren`t jeopardized is that the "mechanisms" are ineffective. .. More damningly, the NYT account makes it clear that even at this late date the "White House aides" (read, presumably, Karl Rove) are still worried "that the proposal could lead to racial profiling and lawsuits ... and alienate Hispanic voters." ... Note to unnamed White House aides: If you don`t pay attention to Ann Coulter and Peggy Noonan, maybe Nicholas Kristof is more to your liking ... Even Maureen Dowd is (somewhat inconsistently) arguing that the FBI is too "timid about racial profiling." ... P.S.: We`ll know President Bush really thinks there`s a "war" on not when he gives a stern speech at West Point but when he`s willing to risk Rove`s Great Hispanic Suck-up."

June  5, 2002:

"[Josh Marshall] also notes another way in which the Bush administration`s Hispanic Suck-Up derailed a promising anti-terror strategy — by blocking an effective computer program for tracking foreign students within the U.S. (The program was originally blocked during the Clinton administration but Bush kept it blocked — and is still blocking it, while his INS rushes out a new program that`s inferior, and thus more acceptable to the "immigration lobby.""

Kaus doesn`t subscribe to Kinsley`s notion that the only clever response to immigration is elegant ennui. Of course, Kaus is not our man at Slate – we don`t want to get him fired – but this could get interesting.

[Steve Sailer [email him] is founder of the Human Biodiversity Institute and movie critic for The American Conservative. His website www.iSteve.blogspot.com features his daily blog.]

July 10, 2002