Old Patriot's Pen

Personal pontifications of an old geezer born 200 years too late.

NOTE The views I express on this site are mine and mine alone. Nothing I say should be construed as being "official" or the views of any group, whether I've been a member of that group or not. The advertisings on this page are from Google, and do not constitute an endorsement on my part.

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Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States

I've been everywhere That was the title of a hit country-and-western song from the late 1950's, originally sung by Hank Snow, and made famous by Johnny Cash. I resemble that! My 26-year career in the Air Force took me to more than sixty nations on five continents - sometimes only for a few minutes, other times for as long as four years at a time. In all that travel, I also managed to find the perfect partner, help rear three children, earn more than 200 hours of college credit, write more than 3000 reports, papers, documents, pamphlets, and even a handful of novels, take about 10,000 photographs, and met a huge crowd of interesting people. I use this weblog and my personal website here to document my life, and discuss my views on subjects I find interesting.

Monday, May 29, 2006


I just posted a new article, and as I was reviewing what I've written in the last few weeks, I noticed I had visitor 11,111 to my site earlier today. Thank you, one and all, for stopping by!

Books, Books, and More Books!

Power Line is running a poll on their Power Line News to determine which is the best American Novel among 21 books they've chosen. I've only read eight of the books (starred) on the list, but there are several dozen books I've read that I wonder why they haven't been selected. For instance, I consider Tom Sawyer a better book than Huckleberry Finn from Mark Twain. I personally prefer The Old Man and the Sea over A Farewell to Arms. Where is Jack London's Call of the Wild, or James Fenimore Cooper's The Last of the Mohicans? Where are the works of Leon Uris, or James Michener, or Arthur Hailey? There's Halran Ellison's Invisible Man and Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, but where are the works of Robert Heinlein, Jerry Pournelle, or a raft of equally as good (or better) AMERICAN science-fiction writers? I don't see anything from Zane Grey, nor any of the works of any of the mystery writers, nor Gone With the Wind, nor any of the dozens of other great novels I've read over the last 50 years or so (I started early, and haven't stopped).

While it's great to celebrate the best of the US, it's not exactly the best way to create a summer reading list. I love quite a few foreign authors, including Rumer Godden, Arthur C. Clarke, Mary Stewart, and dozens of others in many different categories.

I live in a house where everyone reads - me, my wife, my youngest daughter, my granddaughter. We expect the dogs or cats to pick up a book any day now. We have a library of some 4000 books, including more than a hundred Readers' Digest condensed books - not always the best way to read a good novel, but an excellent way to be introduced to new writers. I read books for one of two reasons: to learn something new, or to be entertained. Some of these books do both, but so do a hundred other books. I think a much better poll for summer reading, but one that would require considerably more time, is to have all of Power Line's thousands of readers to submit their five most favorite books, one submission per email address. Power Line could then catalogue the top 25 books, along with a more substantial list of all books that got more than x-number of submissions. I'd do it, but I don't have enough readers to make it worthwhile. What few readers I do have are quite welcome to send me their submissions. If anyone does send me a submission, please put a category (historical fiction, mystery, science fiction, western, biography, etc.) next to the name. I'll publish the results (if I get any) by the 20th of June.

Here's their list of books:

Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

*Melville, Moby-Dick

Stowe, Uncle Tom's Cabin

James, Portrait of a Lady

*Twain, Huckleberry Finn

Cather, My Antonia

Wharton, The Age of Innocence

Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

*Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms

*Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury

Warren, All the King's Men

Bellow, The Adventures of Augie March

*Ellison, Invisible Man

Chandler, The Long Goodbye

*Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

Updike, Rabbit, Run

Barth, The Sot-Weed Factor

*Heller, Catch-22

*Lee, To Kill A Mockingbird

Nabokov, Pale Fire

Roth, The Great American Novel

Monday, May 22, 2006

Why Unregulated Immigration is a Problem

I just finished reading an article by Jon Henke, where he totally fails to understand why so many people are up in arms about unregulated immigration along our southern border with Mexico, and why it's so important "now".

Jon, you need to get out more.

Immigration isn't a "new" issue, but one many people have been harping on for more than five years - some even BEFORE 9/11. The reason it's such a hot-button item now is that for five years, it's been ignored, shoved into a closet, shoved under the rug, given lip service, and stonewalled. A large majority of the citizens of the United States have finally reached the point where they've yelled "enough!". They're tired of waiting, of being given promises the government had no intention of keeping, and of being ignored, lied to, and told "it's not a serious issue". They demand change, and if Congress and the President don't respond to their demands, there are going to be a lot of new faces in Washington.

Unregulated immigration has many negative features, including the facts that as much as 25% of the US prison population is made up of people who have entered this country illegally. Several states are in severe financial difficulty, caused by trying to cope with an influx of people in this nation illegally, demanding services ranging from education to welfare to free medical care. There are a large number of cases where people-smugglers, referred to as "coyotes", have been responsible for abandoning their "clients" to die a slow death of dehydration and heat prostration. There have been many documented cases of trafficing in human beings for unlawful purposes. Then there's the ubiquitous drug smuggling, some of which finances drug lords, street gangs, and other unlawful enterprises. I'm sure I've missed a few.

Unregulated illegal immigration creates an underclass that is easily manipulated by employers, criminals, and others. These immigrants drive down wages and perform jobs that other, more experienced people need. The three areas where illegals are most predominant are the service industry (especially food service), construction, and day labor. Illegal immigration supports a large criminal element, especially those supplying false identification papers. This plays havoc with social security, credit maintenance, and accounting in a dozen different places. The MS-13
gang, whose members are almost all illegal aliens, is strong in a dozen US cities or more. They've been convicted of crimes ranging from dealing drugs to armed robbery to murder. One of the least mentioned, but most deadly problems with unregulated immigration is the potential of spreading a dangerous, communicable disease, including AIDS, the new, highly-resistant strain of tuberculosis, antibiotic-resistant viruses, and who can guess what else. A large percentage of those entering this nation illegally live in crowded conditions, are afraid to go to any "public" place, and are equally afraid of being "fired" if they become ill.

There's also the problem with the loss in tax revenue from illegal workers who get paid in unaccounted-for cash.

There's also the problem of people on our highways who don't have valid US drivers' licences, drive unregistered and uninsured vehicles, and frequently drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Most Americans who have a strong opinion about immigration have other concerns, as well. The number of people who die each year trying to enter the US illegally is pretty large - more than 20, and possibly as many as 2000. Illegal immigrants also damage or destroy tens of thousands of dollars worth of property along the US/Mexico border every year, and create environmental problems for people, animals, and plants.

There's the final matter of security. If we don't control the borders, there's no way for us to know exactly WHO comes into our country. That leaves us vulnerable to terrorists, criminals, and frauds who can cost us anywhere from a few thousand dollars to one of our very large cities and a million casualties. That's not something we can ignore.

The greatest number of people cross our southern border, but all US borders (US/Mexico, US/Canada, US-Alaska/Canada) are vulnerable, and need to be secured.

Once we secure our borders and control who enters and leaves the United States, then we can take our time determining what to do with those already here.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

The old saying that good fences make good neighbors seem to be forgotten by Washington and a certain President from Texas, who undoubtedly fences his grazing land. Fences have two uses - to keep things inside from wandering off, and to keep things outside from coming in.

Any rancher will assure you that they use fences to keep their livestock from wandering off, getting lost, or getting into situations that may lead to losses few ranchers can afford. Farmers use fences to keep certain creatures - including two-legged ones - from getting to their crops and causing damage.

This nation needs a fence. We need to keep out those that don't want to obey our laws, who don't want to listen to reason, and who don't care what damage they do to the nation as long as their personal well-being is taken care of. We need to control who enters this country, and we need to know who those are that are here to stay.

Mexico has huge problems, mostly self-inflicted. They have huge mineral reserves, large tracts of forest land, long coastlines with numerous beaches and high-rise hotels. Yet the average standard of living is worse than many US street people. Poor educational opportunities, little technical training, few job opportunities, multiple roadblocks to entrepreneurship, and a bloated, inefficient bureaucracy make life in Mexico difficult for most of its people. That doesn't give them carte blanche to come to the US, however.

The United States has existing immigration laws - laws that are poorly enforced, with underfunded agencies and poor leadership. There are somewhere between 10 million and 20 million people in the United States unlawfully. They depress wages, cost a bloody fortune for school districts, run up huge medical bills, and are often a major part of crime in our cities and counties. These are problems that need to be solved. None of these problems can be solved, however, until the flow of illegals is curtailed, if not stopped. If your basement is flooding, you don't grab a bucket and bail until AFTER you've shut off the influx of water. The same problem requires that we shut off the flow of illegals across our borders before we can deal with the ones already here.

We need to find a way to stop the flow of illegals NOW. One of the easiest ways to reduce the numbers is by building a difficult to get through fence. I've seen several suggestions, and approve of many of them. Here's my recommendation:

As someone else mentioned, the fence needs to be bordered on the outside by a trench, to prevent vehicles from just ramming through it. Great idea, except that many border areas are not conducive to digging, with rock just below the surface. An even better way to stop vehicles from ramming through the fence is to brace it at four-foot intervals with railroad rails as fenceposts, buried ten feet deep, even in solid rock. Leave another 12 feet above the ground to attach the fence to. Weld cross-members at ground level, and at the four- and 8-foot level above the ground. Attach the fence to the rails in a way that would make it virtually impossible to remove the attachments without losing a finger or two.

Build a second fence fifteen feet from the first, using the same construction methods. Put a graded road 20 feet behind the second fence, with a clear area between the two fences, and between the fences and the road. Patrol the road day and night, using a combination of Border Patrol, Border Security forces on loan from the National Guard or other organizations (more on that later), Predator surveillance drones, and other aircraft. Attack IMMEDIATELY anyone caught between the two fences that shouldn't be there.

Back up the fence with new laws, new rules, and new attitudes.

Re-organize the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security into a single Department of National Security, with multiple branches. The Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force would belong to the Department of External Security (move the VA under the Department of Homeland Security also, and give it the responsibility of providing services to all Department personnel). The Department of Internal Security would include a national militia, a reactivated and updated civil defense corps, and emergency response forces such as the National Guard, FEMA, etc. Other units involved in Internal Security would include the US Coast Guard, Customs, the FBI, and TSA, among others. Create, within the Internal Security arena, a Border Security Corps, modelled on the US Military, that includes Border Patrol elements and armed military personnel whose sole duty is to secure the borders. Give these people the authority to deal with problems in a fast but friendly manner that includes returning illegal border crossers to their home country within 24 hours.

How much would this cost? I have no idea, but it can't be more expensive than the costs of dealing with millions of illegals currently in this country. Once the influx of additional illegals is cut down or cut off, then the nation can expend its energy to go after the ones already here, and deal with them as I've mentioned in a previous article.

Monday, May 08, 2006

What Congress Has to Do.

The next few months are critical for both political parties. Either they do some major work, or the entire lot - both parties - may face grim times from constituents. Here are eight things that need to be done if those currently in office are to keep their jobs:

  1. Pass legislative limits to spending, and kill the stupidity known as "earmarks". Create legislative control of other unessential pork-barrel spending. Either give the President a line-item veto, or establish rules that there can only one subject per budget bill.

  2. Pass Immigration reform that includes strong border control and a very limited guest-worker/amnesty program based on past performance, not blanket acceptance. I discussed how to weigh immigrants and accept/reject their petitions for continued residency/citizenship here.

  3. Acknowledge that the United States is at war, and put the nation on more of a war footing. Loosen up some of the environmental rules impacting recruiting, training, and daily operations. Expand the size of the Armed Forces by ten active (7 Army, 3 Marine), three reserve, and three National Guard Brigade Combat Teams over five years, and provide necessary equipment and training. Especially increase the intelligence-collecting capabilities of all branches of the Armed Forces

  4. Pass a meaningful energy bill - one that allows more drilling, more exploration, expanded refinery capacity, and a single-blend formula for gasoline in all 50 states. Limit funding for alternative energy sources to research and development, and put the pressure on for results. Quit playing games with trying to force the country to use ethanol or other non-petroleum products - let the market decide if these are worthwhile to pursue.

  5. Expedite review of existing federal regulations in all areas, and reduce, consolidate, or eliminate those that are ineffective, counterproductive, or just plain silly (they exist).

  6. Reduce the size and expense of government by consolidating, downsizing, or eliminating non-functioning, marginal, or redundant operations.

  7. Establish a minimum voter identification requirement of a photo identification document with the voter's current address. This will do more to reduce voter fraud than any other single action, and can be done at modest expense. Citizens may have stopped screaming about voter fraud, but it hasn't left their memory. They expect Congress to correct the problem.

  8. Rescind McCain-Feingold. It's a worthless restriction on free speech, and has done nothing but change the way the money is funneled and made the average citizen's life miserable.

The choice is up to the politicians. The one thing they cannot do is nothing. The people are upset over the games being played by both parties in Washington, the constant excessive spending, and the failure to truly address the needs of our nation. If they don't get their act together and do what's necessary, the American people may decide the entire lot needs to find new employment.