Saturday, May 20, 2006

Plato's All-American, Mexican-Free Republic

Having been deprived of DSL for a week, I was shocked to discover that during my absence from the internets apparently 12 million illegal Mexican immigrants had snuck into the country to do the kind of work I (as an American) don’t want to do.
This is no time play the blame game; though if it were, the giant green foam hand of guilt should surely be pointed at my DSL non-provider. After all, how can I as a concerned US citizen monitor the Mexican border using Google Earth without an internet connection?! But never mind that.

I’m looking at the border right now with Google Earth and I’m not seeing any activity, but that’s probably because Mexicans prefer to travel at night (like Orcs). Besides, remotely surveilling the border is one of those jobs that I as an American just don’t want to do ( not because I'm in anyway unpatriotic, it's just that it's under funded and frankly, it's hard work!)

It just so happens that there are lots of jobs Americans don’t want to do and there are plenty of Americans who don’t want to do them; like for example Porter Goss, Michael Brown, Tom Ridge, Michael Chertoff (yeah I know he hasn’t officially quit but mentally he’s golfing in the Bahamas) and George Bush (if you were him right now, wouldn’t you rather be fishing?). So I think the solution to the “Jabanero Peril” is pretty clear.
As protecting our border seems to be a job hardly any Americans want to do, and as Mexicans like doing the jobs we Americans don’t, it stands to reason that the Mexicans should protect our border! Simple!

Ah, but were we living in Plato’s Republic instead of the American Republic then I (being Plato of course) would expect one of my erudite and gluttonous guests to offer up some contrarian argument, thusly:

Skeptiades: “But my dear Plato, the excellence of these honey-dipped badger nostrils notwithstanding, surely the Mexican guards you propose would not be guards at all but doormen, actually inviting their fellow countrymen in, most likely in exchange for nothing more than a limp chimi-changa? And by the way, do you intend to eat that last bat testicle?"

Plato (being me, of course!) : “A fine point, Skeptiades, which I shall address with such superior logic as to induce flatulence in your corpulent frame. Be so good as to follow my argument carefully, though at a safe distance--and you are welcome to the bat testicle, I'm quite filled-up with them….but allow me to continue upon my discourse: After a period of time of turning away their Mexican brethren, the border guards will begin to resent their jobs.
At that point they may then be regarded as being more American than Mexican because now they will have found the job that they do not want to do and will begin to look for another job that Americans still don’t want to do--such as serving multiple back to back tours of duty in the Middle East. The formerly refused Mexicans will then take over guarding the border in a logical cycle”

Skeptiades: “But—“

Plato (me) : “Shut up! I’m not done yet! In the meantime, tax incentives will be passed to encourage American businesses to move more and more jobs to Mexico and (elsewhere) where wages are lower and health and safety are not an issue. Americans won’t want to do those jobs either, making them naturally attractive to Mexicans. Illegal immigration will then trickle to a halt as all the jobs American s don't want to do will now be in Mexico! Problem solved!

Skeptiades:“Very clever, my dear Plato, you seem to have solved the Mexican problem... but not the overall immigration problem, nor that of national border security! What of the border to the north? What of Canada?”

Plato: “Again, my dear but increasingly annoying Skeptiades, the answer is as simple as you are. With the Mexican issue solved, Americans will be free to build a giant wall on the Canadian border.”

Skeptiades:“Ah hah! I have you, Plato! By your logic the Americans would have the Canadians secure the border, and fight our wars; yet they are not Mexicans, they have no wish to do the work Americans will not do, nor even to cross the border! Thus your logic does not apply to all threatening neighbours! Whilst I wait for you to squirm your way out of my challenge, would someone pass me a buttered gerbil?

Plato: “Buttered gerbil?! Surely Skeptiades you don’t plan on putting that vermin in your mouth?”

Skeptiades:“Not my mouth, no...I have... errm....other plans for it. But I think you are avoiding my superior challenge, Plato. Complete your thesis or admit your argument leads to a dark, dead end!”

Plato: “I think it is your buttered gerbil and not my argument that will find itself in a dark dead end, my sybaritic colleague, for you fail to understand the fullness of my logic and the nature of Mexicans!
Though even the gods such as Bill O’Reilly, John Cavuto and Sean Hannity see no distinction between Mexicans, Canadians, Terrorists and Liberal Democrats (not to mention Saddamists, Hitlerites, Stalinists and Herbalists) such differences do exist and in that I believe both you and I agree…”

Skeptiades:“Finally! A point of equality between us, Plato! But differences remain that I deem you and your reason will find insurmountable...I await your sysiphean task with glee. But please, do not let the stifled squeals of a buttered gerbil distract you from your most fascinating continue..."

Plato (don't forget, it's really me all-along, though frankly I have no idea who this asshole Skeptiades is, he sounds like a gay ACLU intern! I really ought to call security, but they’re all Mexicans and don’t speak a word of Greek, or English for that matter):
“With the Mexican border secured as I previously described those Mexicans formerly assigned to border patrol and now in the U.S. Army may then be redeployed to build a massive wall at the Canadian border which again is the type of job that Americans simply will not do, Americans preferring marketing and consulting and such.
Now, at the border one need only point out to the Mexicans which is North and which is South, and being used to traveling North in search of jobs the Mexicans will then build the wall from the North side, thus sealing themselves off from the South.
In this way the wall will be built and the Mexicans will be left in Canada. And thus with both borders secured, America will be restored to its original and more perfect population of white-skinned non-immigrant citizenry, leaving them to concentrate on protecting the West coast from Asians and the East from Europeans, until the entire country is securely contained within mighty walls of freedom! What say you now, Skeptiades?”

Skeptiades:“I confess I am discomfited and defeated, Plato. Not just by your superior arguments, but also by this seemingly insufficiently-buttered gerbil!”

Plato: “In that case Skeptiades, I suggest you seek out a Mexican to help you, for surely you are offering up a job than no American wants to do.”

And thus was yet another meal, another evening of weighty discourse and another buttered gerbil passed, to the great content of all.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


Just about the last place I’d expect to see any signs of political discontent would be in a mall.
Malls are after all common symbols of materialistic America, of homogeneity masquerading as choice and future poverty posing as present wealth courtesy of a piece of plastic. And yet behind the fa├žade of prosperity and commercial content, something stirred.

I wandered into Borden’s Books to see if anything interesting might catch my eye. A couple of months ago I had bought Cobra II and the woman in front of me was buying The Assassin’s Gate.
At the front of the store on the “bargain” shelves one book had stood out. The jacket was a large photo portrait of Bush squinting at some imagined horizon and though I forget the exact title now it was about “How President Bush Restored Faith to the White House and America”. There were about twenty pristine copies and the price was $6 (down from $14).
Now the book was no longer there. I asked the salesperson about its fate. I was told that the ones I had seen had all been returned.

Right at the entrance to the store sat the newest arrivals. Mary Cheney’s “Now It’s My Turn” was prominent. I’d seen and heard her on the Sunday show being interviewed specifically about her new book claiming that John Kerry had used her sexuality for “sleazy” political advantage during a presidential debate.

My opinion of Cheney's book’s worth was already fixed, but what value did retail giant and “free market” entity Borden’s place on her work? Still warm from the printing presses and with the allotted space still undisturbed the cover boldly displayed a 25%-off sticker.
Still browsing I wandered over to the Humor section. The most obvious books there were Al Franken’s “The Truth with Jokes” and John Stewart’s “America” both published around 7 months ago. There was clearly some room to re-stock their respective shelf spaces. Neither of the books had discount stickers.

Borden’s had just been a distraction from my real objectives, so I left empty handed but encouraged. My primary objective was a “good” birthday card for my niece—she’ll be getting a present later when I go down to Washington to see her.
This was really an impossible mission; mall card shops are usually crap. My niece still thinks I’m cool (because I’m well-versed in Star Wars lore and she can run faster than me) so whenever I shop for her it’s always with fear. One of these days I just know I’m going to blow it.

Anyway so I’m trying to find a decent card, something that’s fun.
Ah! What’s this? “My friend Tom Delay and I were going to give you some money for your birthday” (flip to inside) “but he hasn’t finished laundering it yet”.
Huh? Hmmm! Not what I expected.
Then there was another card with a picture of an adorable kitten wearing a party hat. On top of the picture and classically askew was a “rubber stamp” that read; “NOTICE: THIS MAIL HAS BEEN RANDONLY SCREENED AND APPROVED BY THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY.” On the inside, half of the typical saccharine birthday wishes were crudely redacted.
I took that one for my brother and found a non-political one for my niece—she’s already capable of discussing reasonably with adults why Bush is a tool and I just don’t feel right about politicizing an 11-year-old’s birthday.

Duty done and pondering these subtle signs of sedition I went to get my eyes examined and buy some appropriate spectacles (inappropriate specs were completely out of the question).
The young woman handed me a notice explaining concerning disclosure of medical information. “I could read it all for you, but it basically says your medical information is private. You just need to sign that you understand that will make it official”. I signed it.
And then she said “Of course if President Bush or anyone from the Government wanted to see your records I’d have to hand them over and I wouldn’t be able to tell you, so it’s quite meaningless”.

Three different forms of dissent and disapproval hiding in plain sight in a mall. Maybe it’s not much, but then again maybe it means something. I certainly hope so.