Is the Radical Right Corrupting the English language?

Thursday, April 06, 2006
Am I the only one am getting fed up with radical right-wingers, the clones of Pat Buchanan, apparent casualness in throwing around the term “amnesty?” This is how the Yahoo on-line dictionary defines the word:

“am·nes·ty    (mn-st) KEY  


pl. am·nes·ties

A general pardon granted by a government, especially for political offenses.”

What am I missing? How are illegal immigrants getting a free ride if they are compelled to pay a $2,000 fine, pay all their back taxes, and comply with other demands? Have some ultraconservatives unwittingly become disciples of Jacques Derrida and Paul DeMan?


PDS said...

David: every day our news headlines confirm that we live a postmodern world. The more precise question is: haven't we all become unwitting disciples of Derrida and DeMan?

Knucklehead said...

I'm with you, DT. I find this relentless rhetorical focus on the "criminality" of the illegal aliens
This is standard practice for anyone with an axe to grind. They must control the terms and defintions of the debate and can never allow the axe to be labeled an axe nor the grindstone a grindstone.

The anti-amnesty folks seek to frame the debate as if any program to convert illegal alien status the legal alien status as "spitting in the face of the law law abiding."

What a freakin' crock of manure!

The "law abiding" need to wake up and weight the federal and state codes they live under. Few, if any of us, are getting out of this life with our "law abiding" status intact - an incredible portion of we law-abiding folks are misdemeanor criminals or one sort or another anymore whether we know it or not. You can't gob a hocker off your front porch anymore, Bubba, without violating some regulation somewhere.

The standard response to this is, of course, that illegal immigrants knew full well they were violating a law - the rest of us citizen-criminals are just the victims of overzealous legislators and bureaucratic regulators. Well, OK, so what? Why on earth is that so all fired important?

And, for those who haven't paid much attention over the years, amnesties are a pretty ordinary part of life when it comes to large numbers of people coagulating into illegal status over some common violation. We have tax-cheat amnesties and parking-violation scofflaw amnesties every few years.

Why don't we insist on slapping every tax-cheat in jail? Isn't that "spitting in the face" of all the people who don't cheat on their taxes? Yeah, it is. Get over it. The point of taxes is to get money from people. Prosecuting every tax cheat and tossing them in jail would create a taxpayer burden that is unacceptable so we seek to recover the taxes they didn't pay and assess a fine for the crime.

We have quiet little amnesties going on all the time. Union workers who go on strike and wind up destroying private property have long been the benficiaries of amnesty. Miscreant little teenage hoodlums who go on vandalism sprees are frequently the beneficiaries of quiet little amnesties. Amnesties are a standard part of life in these United States.

If a portion of the solution to the problem of millions of illegal aliens in this country - and I believe it is - is to devise an amnesty program for some reasonably well defined portion of them, then so be it. Those of us who have our faces spat in are just going to have to live with it. Grab some soap and a towel and let's get on with solving the problem without blathering about turning our nation into something any Nazi would admire.

Knucklehead said...

Anyone know a good proof reader who will work for dog biscuits?

madawaskan said...

Gawd they've gone nuts and there is no stopping them.

I hate to bring this up but the cotton picking fence.

Hugh Hewitt is saying "spare him the virtual fence talk-Israel isn't building a virtual fence." Well how about the rest of that correlation- Mexicans are not coming over to bomb us.

Honestly the hyperbole is deep. Then you have Freidman saying that the fence should be built so people can sleep at night, and therefore think clearly. Yes, the fence will go up-and then people with their false sense of security can sleep at night and not fear the slowest "invasion" {their term} on earth. Yep-Freidman we can build a fence in two seconds.

Then back to Hugh Hewitt-"build the fence in high traffic areas" -well faster then you can build the fence your low traffic areas will become your high traffic areas. You know the Maginot Line failed because the French built it half arsed and they were trying to keep out tanks. So how tight do you have to build a fence to keep out skinny people?

{Seriously I'll give you a list of buffets in Las Vegas that you can sneak into if your skinny enough.}

So you will of neccessity have to man the fence -militarize it so to speak.

How many are going to want that job?

It's bordering on schizophrenia with Instapundit,- "Porkbusters, Wall, Porkbusters, Wall..."

As soon as you go to the cost of building the damn thing and the cost of manning it they'll go right back to complaining about how their fiscal Conservative values are being ignored. They'll be whining- "balance the budget", and "my stars and stripes look at that defecit!"

Why can't we be capitalists for a couple of months and discuss other perhaps more efficient options. No-they need to sleep at night now damn it. {What is the prescription for OCD or depression because that is what these pikers really need.}

A big part of the problem is Frist's ego. After appeasing senate Democrats for most of his career as Majority Leader when it could have helped Bush for him to be tough he never could muster the will power. Now when it's his own future on the line he is willing to look tough.

Cripes all he really needed to do was use less hairspray.

David Thomson said...

Most of our troubles can probably be resolved with modern technology. We need to make it easier for employers to verify someone’s legal right to work. At this very moment, it can be a hellish experience. This is particularly true regarding the Social Security Administration. And what is wrong with a national ID card? Will the United States really become a totalitarian society if this becomes mandatory?

Speaking of Hugh Hewitt, I posted a customer review on concerning his new book:

madawaskan said...


And what is wrong with a national ID card? Will the United States really become a totalitarian society if this becomes mandatory?

Good question. There was a time when Republican fans of Orwell would reflexively answer yes, but then that is a bit of the slippery slope argument and I don't think ID cards lead to totalitarianism. Changing times demand new and different answers. Besides the military community has had ID cards, and Rumsfeld can't even tell generals in the Pentagon to zip it.

How about military technology-the UPV?

A few of those wouldn't cost the longterm investment and continuing escalation of a fence, and they would have the practical matter of being used in different conditons- they give you greater flexibility. If say economics solves the influx problem then you have the ability to use the capital investment of UPV's, and you can move them to whatever theater we are still engaged in-like Korea. {a slight joke}

Well off to go look at your review of Hewitt.

madawaskan said...


Read it. Love it.

Particularly this-

But what about the Republican crybabies who threaten to severely damage the party if it fails to cater to their excessive demands? These folks may be our greatest threat in the elections of 2006. Many of them possess a suicidal Nietzschean streak. In their heart of hearts, they idiotically believe we should let the Democrats win so that the Republican Party can be "purified."

Man brace yourself for "Hillary-in-Chief"- four years of that might sober these nuts up but then again maybe not.

Pastorius said...

I haven't been following this debate, but, it seems that you make a good point.

However, given our governments history on the illegal immigration issue, do you think maybe the illegal immigrants might all be given suspended sentences?

In California we elected Prop 187 into law, only to have the entire thing thrown out by the State Supreme Court.

Reagan's Amnesty did not included such stringent fines.

I think the people have good reason to doubt the good will of our government on this issue.

Rick Ballard said...


Doesn't an optimal situation have to be envisioned prior to a determination of good or ill will? I'm waiting to see if the sausage has any money for an additional 5,000 Border Patrol agents. If it does then I would grant some slack to the law makers. If it doesn't then I will slide more closely to your opinion.

Btw - I agree with you wrt 187. California no longer holds much appeal to me.

terrye said...

Well what exactly is the alternative? Line them up against a wall and shoot them? Hell just trying to give millions of people 60 days in jail at the same time would be impossible.

I can not even get a straight answer to that simple question. If a fine is not good enough, then what? Oh no, it is a matter of principle. whatever.

Jeb Bush pointed out that his wife is a Mexican American and some of the rhetoric he is hearing is disturbing and people treat him like he's being soft. Christ, it is his wife.

I don't think some of these people realize how completely unreasonable and hysterical and offensive they sound.

It has been building for months and now it is as if they are on a roll.

For instance, I was looking at biglizards blog, he has done a good job on this issue... and he points out that Reid's issue with felons was not about letting rapists etc become citizens it was about making illegal entry a felony and then using that as an excuse to deprive people of the right to become citizens. That is the kind of sneaky stuff I have been listening to Republicans complain about Democrats doing for years.

It does seem that certain members of the right are trying to alienate not only hispanics but moderates. And it could be a great help to Hillary.

Rick Ballard said...


A nativist blowoff at seven months from the election is not a bad thing. The sausage makers are going sign the sow of a bill they are passing up for a MaryKay remake, peddle it as the prettiest girl you ever saw for two weeks and then put it in a closet and lock the door.

Have you read Caro's series on Johnson? I know you like biography and that series is the best (IMO) of a recent president. Is the Truman bio that you're reading recent or is it a vintage biography? I know I have a Truman bio somewhere but it's been a very long time since I read it.

I wounder what 'Give'em hell' would have to say about todays Senate. I know LBJ would be unsurprised at how little things have changed.

terrye said...


I do like biographies. I have not read the one you spoke of, but I will check it out.

This bio is by David McCullough and it is long, it was written in the early 90's.

The amount of crap Truman had to take from his own party reminds me of is very good, but then again I am partial to McCullogh.

Truman went to Mexico in 1947 and was greeted by hundreds of thousands of cheering people. He was the first American president to visit Mexico since the Mexican War. There is a monument down there to the Child Heroes, teenagers who died defending a fort. Truman paid his respects to them and it was said that Mexicans wept. You know, it is strange but when I read that I was surprised that Americans had actually entered Mexico. I guess I thought all the fighting took place in the southwestern territories.

Truman once said that one of the things that made America unique was that there were no forts, or tanks or soldiers or barriers at our borders.

I don't think he would have gone for the wall. But who knows?

Knucklehead said...

It is pretty amazing what people think is achievable, isn't it.

A giant fence (and I'd be a supporter of such a thing if it could be built) will not get built in my lifetime - probably never. It isn't going to get through the court challenges.

A general roundup (which I would never support and would probably actively stand against - and I ain't inclined to activism) is not only a logistical, political, and economic nightmare that would never happen just due to those reasons, but it will never get through the courts.

Demanding the fence and the roundup requires an intense level of denial of reality. It is demagogery at its worst. Is this really the thing we want our second civil war over? I guss some people do.

terrye said...

It seems there has been a compromise:

¶Those who have lived in the country at least five years would be put on a path toward guaranteed citizenship, provided that they remained employed, paid fines and back taxes, and learned English, a senior Republican aide said. The aide said this group accounted for about 7 million of the roughly 11 million illegal immigrants believed to be living here.

¶Those who have lived here for two to five years, said to number about three million, would have to leave the country briefly before reporting to an American port of entry, where they would be classified as temporary workers. They would be allowed to apply for citizenship but would have no guarantee of obtaining it. Those who did not would have to leave after participating in the temporary worker program for six years.

¶The remaining one million or so, those who have lived in the country less than two years, would be required to leave. They could apply for temporary worker status but would not be guaranteed it.

David Frum and his ilk are already decrying it so maybe it is not so bad.

Rick Ballard said...

I don't think that will be the final shade of lipstick used on this Poland China.

There are some wee documentation problems involved and that 7M number would be 100% of the illegals said to be here by the INS report in '01. The INS says they have deported 6M in the past five years. Anyone else see a small problem?

Skookumchuk said...

No tengo problema con un cerco.

Not as such. Let's put it another way. If there were no massive movement of Latin Americans across the border, and if we simply wanted to keep Al Quaeda from walking into downtown Tucson, would there be such opposition to a wall, even if it were a massive and costly feat of civil engineering? Probably not.

Control of one's borders is just one of the attributes of a sovereign nation.

Amnesty - yeah, probably inevitable. And since the laws of economics are pretty inexorable, we should realize that large-scale immigration, in some form, can't easily be stopped.

Assimilation - crucial, if we aren't to turn into Kosovo. But in order to do it, we need to circumvent all the institutions that preach PC exclusivist, zero-sum thinking. How do we do that? We turn the Latins into Republicanos. Give them school vouchers up to the eyeballs and steer them away, in so far as possible, from the leftoid crazies who want to use immigration and ethnic identity to destroy America. Sobre mi cuerpo muerto.

And a wall. En cuanto más alto, mejor.

terrye said...


Why wouldn't a virtual wall using technology workd as well in some areas? It seems that there are walls down there now and people just find a way over them in the remote maybe a combination would work?

Skookumchuk said...


Why wouldn't a virtual wall using technology work as well in some areas?

Oh, I'm sure a virtual wall would work just as well.

That was just my overly emotional Latin side coming out. :-)

Rick Ballard said...


The Border Patrol is the wall. We have 9,000 agents on the southern border now, another five thousand would probably drop the two hundred thousand per year to one hundred thousand (9K catch and return around 1M per annum). Getting the last 100K would be a bit problematic.

It will be fun to watch the numbers once the new law is passed. The lack of a rush to become citizens is going to be a surprise to a lot of people but the real rush will be for a permanent resident status allowing people to cross easily back into Mexico. Work very hard for eight months, live very well for four. Esta muy bueno, no?

Skookumchuk said...

The lack of a rush to become citizens is going to be a surprise to a lot of people . . .

Hmmm. Don't know. For every sentimental nationalist there are probably more who can't get out of their countries fast enough.

As a cab driver in Chihuahua once told me: "We sure screwed up our own place. Let's hope we don't screw up your place just as bad." I think most are very conscious of their societal failings.

terrye said...


I think you are right. A lot of these folks just want a job, they may not want to stay here fact I think that more and more Americans might end up retiring in Mexico... so closing down the border might not work for us either. I have wondered if there is such a thing as duel citizenship with Mexico? I have known a few people from Britain, Canada and Australia who had duel citizenship..but never anyone from Mexico.

But Frum and Hewitt and Malkin and the rest are absolutely fixated on a wall and even Paul at Powerline thinks this bill is too soft. I still do not understand what they want. I know they are pissed, but I don't understand their solutions. Hyperbole is right.

terrye said...


I heard a guy from ElSalvador say very much the same thing.

Skookumchuk said...

..but never anyone from Mexico.

Ah, that is because Article 37, Part A, Number 1 of their imbecile Constitution doesn't allow it except - apparently - if they sneak over the US border.

A quick perusal of that document will establish that the ghosts of Thomas Jefferson and John Witherspoon were not present at the time of its drafting . . .

Rick Ballard said...


I'm just going by what happened after the last regularization. There was no swarm for citizenship at the level that was anticipated. That five year deal is kind of tough to prove to begin with.

It would be nice if some of the wailers and weepers would propose a conservative effort to provide citizenship training but I don't think they are that bright.

terrye said...


It might solve some problems for all of us if some of those folks could become citizens of both countries. Or not. What the hell do I know? I just hope everyone accepts the deal and the pundits cut short the hair pulling and screaming and setting themselves on fire.

One thing Truman said was that we should have a Department of Columnists for all the folks who think they know best how to run the country.

Skookumchuk said...


It would be nice if some of the wailers and weepers would propose a conservative effort to provide citizenship training but I don't think they are that bright.

Well, they better be, because that is precisely what we need. If 44% of Hispanics voted Republican in the last election, it means that there is already some predisposition to do so, which conservatives should be cultivating.

Assuming they can stop frothing at the mouth long enough to put together something cogent. Then again, these are people living largely between Du Pont Circle and Georgetown, my mistake.

Knucklehead said...

Re: dual-citizenship.

The US, despite any laws that suggest otherwise, makes no enforceable (or enforced) demands upon those who are naturalizing to renounce their previous citizenship. While there are no doubt restrictions or exceptions for some list of particularly nefarious nations, the US for all intents and purposes accepts dual-citizenship. I know plenty of people who hold dual citizenship (passports issued by the US and another entity such as the EU).

The short explanation for this is that the US has, for quite a few years now, recognized that maintaining a passport - in effect, citizenship for mere plebes - for whatever the original nation was is necessary for people to visit or otherwise attend to business in those countries. Forcing people to surrender their previous citizenship was just not a workable thing to do.

This has actually been true for quite a long time. Naturalizing requires swearing allegiance to the US but does not require any formalized renunciation of allegiance to the prior nation (as I said, there may be some list such as the terrorist sponsor nations for which this doesn't hold).

There are plenty of Americans who hold dual citizenship.