Rolling my eyes at emotional arguments since 1978…

Here’s the thing: I’m not an overtly emotional guy. I’ve been known to be sentimental at times, but I’m not going to be the one who cries with you over pretty much anything. If you’re trying to convince me of the right-ness of your argument, coming at me with an sales pitch full of emotional tugs upon my heart is 100% the wrong way to win me over to your cause.

Like Captain Renault with Rick’s gun pointed at his chest in the dramatic final scene of Casablanca, I’ll take this opportunity to remind you “that is my least vulnerable spot.” It’s not so much that I don’t have a heart, I simply try to minimize its use as the basis for sound decision making. Long life experience tells me doing so doesn’t generally end well. I’ve had significantly more success by letting my head take the lead in making the hard decisions.

Since so many of my countrymen seem determined to be lead about by the heartstrings, though, I’ve taken the liberty of noggining through a modest proposal that would at first blush defuse both the border security hawks and those shrieking “won’t somebody please think of the children.”

What I’ve come up with, in broad strokes, is that Homeland Security should lease space on the Mexican side of the southern border in which to conduct investigations and process those seeking entry into the United States. Those seeking lawful entry wouldn’t risk being detained or separated from family members as they hadn’t crossed into the United States or broken any federal law. Their location in Mexico relieves the US Government from the need for housing, feeding, and providing medical care on site – although we could always throw some money at Mexico to help offset their increased costs. As those seeking entry are vetted and processed, they could be admitted through the designated port of entry or denied entry for cause – all nice an neat without the troubles associated with letting them first set foot on US soil and then starting the process.

This system could be put in effect at every designated port of entry from the Pacific straight across to the Gulf of Mexico. Effectively, the carrot is that families can stay together while their case is heard and disposition made. The stick, because there always has to be a stick, is that anyone found crossing illegally and opting not to avail themselves of the designated processes, would be ejected forthwith from the United States to their country of origin or the nearest country that will grant them asylum and be barred from seeking further admittance to the United States.

Sure, it’s just a quick thought exercise on what right might look like, but that feels more productive than sitting around wringing my hands, gnashing my teeth, and crying bitter, bitter tears.

Open door policy…

The news channels are abuzz this weekend with the decision to allow as many as 10,000 Syrian nationals into the United States. Aside from the logistical issues of bring them a third of the away around the world. Aside from the national security implications of allowing 10,000 lightly vetted people into the country from a part of the world who still seems to think we’re the great Satan. Aside from the issues of international law, common sense, and domestic politics. Aside from all those things I think the whole idea stinks to high heaven.

For the last thirty years, the world has loved to take a swing at America the Punching Bag. We’re everyone’s favorite bad neighbor. We’re the country they absolutely love to hate. And they do hate us… right up to the point where the shit hits the fan and they need someone big enough and strong enough to save the world one more time. We’ll do everything they ask and more and when the crisis has passed we’ll be collectively criticized for not doing enough or not doing it right or not doing it faster. There’s never a nod of thanks or a word of appreciation. With the turning of the news cycle everyone will be right back to cheering “death to America.”

Before we announce an open door policy for tens or hundreds of thousands of people, I think ought to ask a simple question: How many of the countries demanding that America do “something” would let a hundred thousand American citizens just show up in their country with the expectation that they would then be responsible for these people’s health and welfare? How many of these wanna-be great powers would lift a hand to help if our house were on fire? I can think of one or maybe two, but even their offer would certainly have strings attached. I shudder to think what price countries who aren’t our closest allies would demand if suddenly America were on her knees.

I’ll never win humanitarian prizes for my foreign policy. That’s ok. Want to bring in 10,000 people? That’s fine too, but can someone please promise me that these people won’t be free to roam about the country until we’re sure someone over there isn’t smart enough to use a humanitarian crisis as an convenient cover for getting as many terrorists into the country as possible. There are potentially millions of people on the move. If you think our enemies aren’t pondering on ways to use that to their advantage you’ve clearly underestimated them. If we’re bringing people here, we owe it to ourselves to get it 100% right, because the bad guys only have to get it right one time to exact a terribly price for our hospitality.

An embarrassment of riches…

If you checked in tonight hoping to find something witty or controversial, boy did you come to the wrong place. As much as I enjoy a good rant, I just don’t feel like I have one in me this evening. I wonder if that’s because there seems to be an embarrassment of riches lately when it comes to the vast number of issues loitering around that need a good calling out.

Just from my handy dandy notepad app, I’ve listed the following contenders in no particular order:

1. The southern border of the United States is being overrun while we’re busy watching the world cup.

2. The world medical community is racing to contain the largest-in-history ebola outbreak in Africa but is being chased out of “hot spots” by the local indigenous population who apparently aren’t keen on modern medicine.

3. The approval ratings for all three branches of the federal government are at or near all time lows again… and again… and again.

4. The media are acting surprised that there’s a hurricane forming in the Atlantic during hurricane season.

5. The great state of Maryland has a number of new laws that went into effect this week, among them an increase in the gas tax and grain alcohol prohibition… Because higher gas prices and banning one version of an otherwise widely available substance are clearly two of the most important things Annapolis needs to focus on.

These are just a couple of the notes I jotted down so far this week – not the items that have been specifically reserved for What Annoys Jeff this Week. Maybe my brain is too addled by the recent heat, but I don’t even know where to start ranting about this mess.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Using your outdoor voice. There’s a time and a place for the outdoor voice. When you’re sitting at your desk, in an office, with 8 other people in earshot is not the time to decide to communicate with one another by having a 20 minute conversation from one side of the room to the others. Life in cubicle hell is bad enough without trying to block out three simultaneous cross-room conversations. I realize it’s terribly inconvenient, but maybe get up, walk the dozen or so steps, and have your chat face to face instead of favoring us all with every detail at 103 decibels. As a rule, your colleagues shouldn’t be able to hear your conversation when they’ve got their ear buds turned up to ten with Van Halen’s classic guitar riffs beaming directly into their brain.

2. Illegal immigration. I’m all for having some kind of sensible immigration reform in this country. However, while Congress flails around with that issue, I’m more interested in seeing if we can stem the flow of people illegally crossing the border from Mexico into the US. Call me crazy, but I think the first step to reforming the immigration process in this country is to make it a hell of a lot harder to just wander across the border and a hell of a lot easier to send people back from whence they came if they do show up here illegally. I have no earthly idea why we’ve collectively decided that enforcing the laws on the books falls into the too hard to do category, but until we figure out a way to actually enforce the laws on the books, I have no idea why we’d bother passing any new ones that are just as likely to be ignored.

3. Iraq. The allies poured out a decade of blood and treasure to liberate, defend, equip, train, and support a government that looks like it will collapse at any moment. I dearly wish I could wake up in the morning to find a Patton or a MacArthur or a LeMay had risen from the dead to take command of CENTCOM. Instead, I fear I’ll wake up in the morning to find the mission failed while we were all busy wringing our hands.