May 31, 2006

Crustaceans

Cave crustaceansIsraeli scientists discovered a new cave ecosystem, including several species of crustaceans.

I love this stuff.

But they're almost certainly not kosher.

May 30, 2006

Immigration Politics Shifting

A John Fund column in the intensely pro-immigration Wall Street Journal suggests that the political ground is shifting on the illegal immigration issue. There's a grass-roots revolt, apparently, even in places like Connecticut.

It seems elementary to me that a sovereign nation needs to control its borders, and before any form of amnesty, disguised or not, is passed, we need to do that.
  • Build the fence, and tighten up the Canadian border, too.

  • Build enough detention facilities for apprehension to mean deportation.

  • Enforce employer sanctions (Bush isn't).

  • Restrict or tax remittances.

  • Train local law enforcement in immigration law, so they can enforce it, at least for arrestees.

  • Cut grants to local governmetns that undermine the immigration laws.

  • Improve record-keeping and enforcement to reduce visa overstays.

If such measures work, then we can talk about what to do with those already here.

When the WSJ says the ground is shifting against its pet policy, you can bet it is.

May 29, 2006

Honoring the War Dead

The great battle of Serbian history is the defeat of King Lazar by the Ottomans at Kosovo Polje (Crows’ Field) in 1389. Although a crushing defeat, the battle has become the emblem of Serbian national pride.

When I was young, we Americans boasted that we had never lost a war. Although an exaggeration when it comes to the War of 1812, and patently untrue for the South, whose defeat in the Civil War is as much a regional icon as Kosovo Polje is a national one for the Serbs.

After Vietnam, of course, no one can say we never lost a war. Nor can it be said that all our wars have been just or wise.

It’s Memorial Day, and we acknowledge our war dead, and those of earlier generations. The always-interesting Christopher Hitchens ruminates on how best and worst to remember these dead. The rhetoric of high ideals and victory is fine, to a point. War freed the nation from England’s king, freed the slaves, and destroyed Hitler. In all our wars, brave men lost life and limb for their country, their honor, and their buddies, the latter being the great motivator in the heat of battle.

War, however, is also carnage, and never lacks its atrocities and (gruesome euphemism) “collateral damage.” Many of us--our Vice President and me included--managed to avoid (not evade) service in Vietnam, and some, including me, opposed the war effort, which in retrospect appears to have been botched from the start but in the light of the subsequent horrors of Southeast Asian communism and the outflow of refugees from which we have, ironically, profited, to have been a righteous cause.

Is it then hypocrisy for us to honor the war dead? I think not, if we do so honestly and soberly. We honor the Founders, who were better men than we, even if some were slaveholders, some land speculators, and some philanderers. We honor firefighters, even if most of us have never rushed into an inferno to save a stranger. We honor the discoverers, even if we ourselves get seasick, and the great composers even if we sing flat.

So it is that even those of us who have not served in the military and those who took positions that history now condemns, can and should honor all the war dead.

And whether or not all our wars were victorious, and in spite of the vices which infected all our war efforts, we can honor the stoicism, the heroism, and the obedience with which our compatriots’ lives were cut short in war. We should do so soberly, without rhetorical excess, and with a solemn recognition that war may sometimes be unavoidable or necessary, but always, War is Hell.


For Memorial Day: All the Verses

Pike's PeakPulaski Skyway
The science fiction writer and polymath Isaac Asimov once wrote an appreciation of all four verses of "The Star Spangled Banner."

My favorite patriotic song is "America the Beautiful." I like it because it combines a heartfelt appreciation of the country with an appreciation both of its highest calling and its unfinished business. My mother often led us in singing this song in the car, even if our typical trip took us over the Pulaski Skyway in New Jersey, an interesting piece of engineering that spans a fetid conurbation. The song was written in 1913 by a Wellsley teacher, Katharine Lee Bates, upon completing a tiring trip to Pike's Peak, and seeing the view.

Here it is.
O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern, impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife.
Who more than self the country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain divine!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for halcyon skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the enameled plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till souls wax fair as earth and air
And music-hearted sea!

O beautiful for pilgrims feet,
Whose stern impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America ! America !
God shed his grace on thee
Till paths be wrought through
wilds of thought
By pilgrim foot and knee!

O beautiful for glory-tale
Of liberating strife
When once and twice,
for man's avail
Men lavished precious life !
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till selfish gain no longer stain
The banner of the free!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till nobler men keep once again
Thy whiter jubilee!
Long may it wave. And may God mend our flaws.

Against Campaign Finance "Reform"

I've always thought that "campaign finance reform" was inconsistent with free speech.

Here's a piece by Robin Blumner that goes into a bit of detail on the issue.

Nat Hentoff weighed in a while ago on the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision upholding McCain-Feingold, the latest federal campaign law. Hentoff is one of the more consistently pro-free speech media commentators, and has been for years.

His sponsorship of the "reform" bill is my No. 1 reservation about McCain's candidacy.

In my supervisorial district two millionairesses are going at it hammer and tongs. If I ran, even with lots of support, campaign finance restrictions would prevent me from competing with either, even if I had supporters with money.

May 28, 2006

The Saddest Movie I Ever Saw

Hotaru no HakaSometimes, like yesterday, we go to the video store owned by my daughter's friend's parents. We rent DVDs, and sometimes rent them just for one of us.

I chose a Japanese animated film, Grave of the Fireflies. My daughter, who wasn't with us at the video store, likes anime, and I thought we might watch it together. Turns out she and her cousin had seen it, along with the rest of Miyazaki's work. She warned me, "It's very depressing." Later, however, she told me to watch it.

Warning: SPOILER follows.Hotaru no Haka

I did, and like Miyazaki's other work, it is beautifully done. Meticulous animation, careful character development, good music, and so on. But it is the saddest movie I ever saw.

Based on a true story, it takes place in the port city of Kobe, more recently famous for its earthquake, at the end of World War II, when Japanese cities are firebombed. The two protagonists, Seita, a teenaged boy and Setsuko, his toddler sister, are left orphaned and homeless, do not get on with the aunt whose home they flee to. Food becomes scarce, and they flee to a shelter in the side of a hillside, a hauntingly beautiful location, where there are, among other things, many fireflies, which fascinate Setsuko. Seita loyally struggles to find food for both. Setsuko never loses her sweetness through all horror. Seita remains determined and loyal, though headstrong and inept, even as he is prepared to steal to save his sister and himself. Unlike a Disney character, he fails.

The story is an uncompromising account of the effects of war on two blameless children, and symbolizes the completeness of Japan's defeat in the Second World War. It contains many of Miyazaki's themes, including girl heroes, aviation, the beauty of nature and threats to it--but there is no magic, and no villains, except perhaps the faceless bombers.

As an American, one feels more than a twinge at watching the film. Our war, just though it was overall, included more air raids on civilians than just Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Necessary or not--and I am not entering that debate here--the consequences for those under the bombs were ghastly.

Nor are the effects of the war on children a thing of the past. From the conscripted child soldiers of Uganda to the victims of terror and counter-terror in the Middle East, to the day-care children killed in the Oklahoma City bombing, children bear in their bodies and souls the consequences of the wickedness of adults, a fact worth remembering, whatever one's views of a particular conflict, or of the morality of war in general.

Meanwhile, the film, whose title in Japanese is Hotaru no Haka is worth watching. And profoundly sad.

UPDATE: Corrected spelling error, added a sentence about the ending (5/29/06).

May 27, 2006

Derb Goes Postal On the Immigration Bill

John Brown
John Derbyshire has gone postal here on the Senate immigration bill. Here's an excerpt:
The stupidity and rottenness of CIRA is really beyond the ability of a single human mind to encompass it.

And for Republicans, the most shocking, most shameful thing of all, is that this act to vastly swell the number of future Democratic voters, to bring about "the greatest expansion of the welfare state in 35 years" (Robert Rector), to kick working-class Americans in the teeth, to render meaningless the very concepts of our nation and our citizenship — in fact, to shove U.S. citizens off the sidewalk so that foreigners can be awarded special privilieges not available to us — this appalling monstrosity was cheered through by a Republican Senate at the urging of a Republican president. For shame, for shame, for shame.

I will not vote for any politician who helped pass this bill; I will not vote for any politician who says so much as a word in its favor — make that a syllable — and I will not even vote for any politician who agrees to go into conference on this horror. How big are Capitol Hill garbage bins? That's the only place this heap of dreck belongs.
John, tell us how you really feel.

RTWT (read the whole thing). I can't say I disagree.

Indispensable

This Memorial Day essay by van der Leun.

I don't often say, "I wish I'd written that." I often say it about vdL's work. I'll say it about this piece.

May 24, 2006

Go Figure--Literally?

Last night at the family table I observed that I was grateful for having been able to "make an appearance" at a distant courthouse by telephone, thus avoiding Southern California's notorious freeway traffic.

The ever-vigilant Nancy asked if I had transmitted a video image.

When I allowed as how I hadn't, she said "Then you didn't appear." I pondered this animadversion and concurred that I had an audience, but hadn't made an appearance.

The conversation went on from there. It brought to mind my children, told, at age four or so to "Get in the car," informing me "It's not a car, it's a van."

At my chorus rehearsal, by some strange coincidence, this allergy to metaphor continued. When asked to move "down" the row, I replied, "I can't, but I'll move left."

What was in the water yesterday, I can't say, but these vignettes call to mind the linguist George Lakoff, lately faddishly popular in Dem circles for his idea of "reframing" issues to make them evoke more favorable associations (substitute, say, "economic refugee" for "illegal alien" to focus on need instead of transgression). If you "comprehend" (grasp) this, go to the "head" of the class. If you don't "get" what I'm saying, you are probably "dumb" or a "dimwit." Und so weiter ("and so further").

Whatever one thinks of George's politics (not much, in my case), Lakoff's work on metaphor in daily life makes a lot more sense. The concepts that permeate our speech are mostly metaphors, often about the body. From the "rise and fall" of empires to the "firm footing" upon which our economic (from Greek oikos) policy rests, to my "recalling" last night's conversation, our speech is rife with bodily metaphor.

As my father used to point out, "literally" means "figuratively": "She was so angry, she literally exploded." "Literally" means to the letter. "Figuratively" doesn't mean "to the number," but "in the manner of an image."

Although we use the metaphors in our vocabulary automatically, they are not completely "dead." Even used unthinkingly, they retain a certain strange force. In a certain way, we do think of a political campaign as a "race" and a lawsuit as a war in which can end in "victory" or "defeat." We do think of marriage as bondage ("tying the knot," "ball and chain") or a merger of identities ("one flesh"), our lifetimes as a day ("in the late afternoon of my life," "rage, rage against the dying of the light"), and our experiences as journeys ("Yea, though I walk through the valley of death," "wandering away from the subject").

This derivation of our speech and thought from bodily experience, and its expansion beyond the body to intellectual life in general, once we notice it, illustrates how deeply we are both carnal and spiritual creatures. We can't really speak or think without reference to our bodily experience, but we constantly go beyond the merely corporeal to a wider world of concepts loosed from their bodily moorings.

This ubiquity of metaphor is important in the interpretation of texts. Their literal meaning is often only the start of the analysis. Is the story of Job a true one, or the setting for a dialogue on good, evil and theodicy, climaxing in a poetic evocation of the power and incomprehensibility of God? When Jesus says he brings not peace but a sword, he does not physically hand a sword to his followers, nor can we be certain that he is advocating killing or warfare in the literal sense. Rather than physical bloodletting, more likely He is referring to some kind of radical separation between those who choose one path and another.

The ease of some kind of interpretation, and the difficulty of choosing one, is no doubt one reason for the multiplicity of Protestant sects. One alternative to free interpretation is reliance upon a tradition of interpretation, which then takes on an importance equal to that of the text itself. That is the view of Eastern Orthodoxy in the Christian world, and of rabbinic Judaism. The rabbis, indeed, tell the story that there was an oral revelation at Sinai that was not commited to writing, passed on by generations of its custodians, that explains how the written text is to be interpreted and applied.

Even supposed constitutional originalists like Justice Scalia pay close attention to over 200 years of constitutional interpretation. Although, for example, it is not at all obvious that one should derive constitutional doctrines, like the application of parts of the Bill of Rights to the states, from the literal text of the Fourteenth Amendment, it's equally unlikely that even nine originalists on the Supreme Court would return to the pure text and start the analysis over.

Meanwhile, when the Mother Superior sings "Climb every mountain, ford every stream, follow every rainbow, till you find your dream," I won't be responding by asking her for a set of pitons and a topographic map.

NOTE: Sorry guys, no hyperlinks today. Maybe I'll add some later. Remember, you can Google anything!

UPDATE: The reference to Greek oikos as the origin of "economy" would be sheer pedantic preening, but for the omitted fact that "oikos" means "house." "Economics" is then something like "the laws of maintaining a [farm]house."

May 23, 2006

My Two DaVinci Cents

2 cents(Interruption to deal with impudent terrier). My 14-year-old and I went to see The DaVinci Code on Sunday.
The film was entertaining, to be sure, but slow in spots and hardly brilliant.

The story is rich in cryptographic arcana, which do not translate well to the screen. Explanations are required, both of the various codes and mindgames, and of the rather implausible twists and turns of the plot. Tom Hanks is rather wooden, and Ian McKellar, as many have said, chews the scenery, albeit with aplomb.

The quality of the film is not the center of the controversy, of course. This turns on the book's conceit--that the Vatican has hidden for centuries the truth that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalen and has descendants, protected by a secret society, the Priory of Sion, to which Leonardo and Sir Isaac Newton, for starters, belonged.

Orthodox Christians have reacted strongly to these accusations, some with horror, and some seeing it as an opportunity to preach the orthodox gospel to a backsliding civilization. The Catholic order, Opus Dei, accused of fascism and unfairly depicted as conspiring zealots and perverts, has probably the most legitimate grievance.

On the historical front, the orthodox Christians win. The plot is contrived and full of historical howlers, such as the false claim that the Council of Nicaea, under the aegis of Constantine, established the canon of the New Testament, which was largely fixed centuries before. Or that Gnosticism, which in fact disdained the material creation and the body, was somehow a proto-feminist version of Christianity that the patriarchy suppressed.

The hooey in the plot is unlikely to shake any Christian's faith. There are so many easier ways to do that--20 minutes watching Pat Robertson, a review of the sexual abuse rampant in the Catholic clergy (as well as others), a look at scientific inaccuracies in the Bible (my favorite is Jacob's trick with the herd, based on the discredited notion of prenatal influence). It's interesting that Christians seem more concerned over a novel and a movie than over so much else in our society on the level of conduct rather than a novel and a flick, such as, for example, the widespread acceptance of gambling, the decline of family life, the sexualization of childhood, and the loss of nerve by those who should be defending the culture.

The DaVinci Code is a sideshow, a symptom of the decline of Christianity, confirming the aphorism that people who lose their faith do not believe in nothing, but will believe in anything. That, my friends, not this particular trifle from Ron Howard, is the problem.

May 21, 2006

Infectious Homosexuality?

A comment I made over at Dr. Serani's blog has given rise to quite a few responses.

Dr. Serani was reporting on research that suggested possible genetic factors in human homosexual orientation. I questioned the genetic hypothesis on natural selection grounds--a gene that promoted homosexual behavior would tend to be eliminated from the population because such behavior doesn't favor reproductive success.

(An exception would be a case where the positive effect of a partial expression of a gene balanced the negative effect of the complete expression, a condition known as "adaptive polymorphism.")

It's much more plausible that a strong homosexual orientation is the result of some kind of infectious agent, such as a virus. The idea is not original with me, but was presented in a paper by Paul Ewald and Gregory Cochran, which Steve Sailer reproduced on his blog. Here's an excerpt:
Phenomena that strongly reduce the evolutionary fitness of their bearers cannot be maintained by strictly genetic causation at frequencies far above the rates at which they could be generated by mutation. The fitness costs of male homosexuality place it in this category. Perhaps more importantly, each of the hypotheses that have been put forward to explain male homosexuality have critical flaws that, if not sufficient to cause their outright rejection, are sufficient to severely weaken them. A full consideration of these issues is beyond the scope of this essay, but we briefly summarize the most salient points below.

Human homosexuality can be traced back at least several thousand years. A substantially genetic cause could not be maintained over this time because of the great fitness costs that homosexuality imposes, unless there is some compensating benefit. But no evidence for a compensating benefit exists. Inclusive fitness benefits, for example, seem insufficient to overcome the reduction in reproduction, because male homosexuals do not channel their resources into the well-being of kin at an increased level. One could try to rescue the genetic causation hypothesis by arguing that reproductive effects of homosexuality have changed substantially in recent generations, with homosexual men having had just as many offspring as heterosexual men in previous centuries. This possibility seems unlikely from what is known about modern homosexual behavior, but it could be investigated empirically from historical records. A primarily genetic basis, however, is negated by the low monozygotic twin concordance, which is about 20 percent. Accordingly, the allele that purportedly conferred homosexual orientation has not stood up to independent testing .

Another hypothesis is that male homosexuality results from novel sociocultural influences, but the attraction to reproductive partners of a reproductively feasible sex seems so critical to evolutionary fitness that one would expect these attractions to be strongly buffered against social effects that could generate a preference for exclusive sexual relations with members of the same sex. The occurrence of exclusive male/male sexual preferences in sheep shows that cultural "powers of suggestion" are not necessary to generate the phenomenon. (Sheep do not watch television, read newspapers, or discuss alternatives lifestyles.) A brief consideration of ungulate and human infections should be sufficient to counter the natural inclination to dismiss the phenomena in sheep as irrelevant to humans; many important human infectious agents, such as HIV, herpes viruses, the measles virus, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, borna disease virus, and prions, have related pathogens in sheep or other ungulates that have similar effects.

In contrast with difficulties of noninfectious explanations of homosexuality, the hypothesis of infectious causation does not incorporate critical logical flaws or contradictions of fundamental biological principles. Indeed, anecdotal reports indicate that changes in human sexual orientation have occurred following changes in the limbic area due to trauma or infection One possible route would be sexual, whereby homosexual behavior could facilitate spread because of the larger numbers of
partners homosexual males may have on average, relative to heterosexual males. Alternatively, transmission could be partly or entirely by one or more nonsexual routes, and homosexual orientation be a side effect of the infection that is unrelated to transmission.

Although this hypothesis of infectious causation may generate a negative knee-jerk response, such responses are not reliable indicators of the validity of scientific hypotheses. The critical weaknesses of the alternative hypotheses draw attention to the need for rigorous testing of any hypothesis that has a sound theoretical basis, even if we find the hypothesis disturbing and disorienting. The presence of the phenomenon in sheep allows for experimental tests.
Although the Ewald/Cochran hypothesis remains unproven, it certainly seems plausible on the surface.

In making this point, I am neither adopting nor rejecting any moral or policy view of homosexual conduct or orientation. That's a different subject for a different day, although the issue of causation is not entirely irrelevant to debate on these questions. Many homosexual advocates emphasize what they claim is the fixed nature of the orientation, no doubt hoping that a genetic cause would make homosexuality more like race, an inherent characteristic for which people should not be penalized.

Nor am I trying to bring the negative connotations of "infection" to bear on the question.

Other commenters have tried to be clever by asking about the causes of heterosexuality. From the point of natural selection, of course, that's a non-question. Heterosexuals breed, homosexuals much less so.

Investigation will tend to confirm or negate this hypothesis, regardless of its policy consequences. Nor should such investigations be discouraged because some people might not like the results.

As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly.

(Proverbs 26: 11)

Roy Nagin has been reelected Mayor of New Orleans.

Look at
this picture. No further comment necessary.

Mold In the Fridge of History

Lefty fauna
A lot of conservative bloggers make a habit of attending and reporting on left-wing rallies and parades.

Here, The Age of Hooper posts video of a "Hands Off Cuba and Venezuela" affair in DC. The folks at this particular rally are particularly creepy and stereotypical: harridans with bullhorns, senile hippies, black race hustlers without followers.

The march was sponsored by International ANSWER, a creature of the Workers' World Party, which was creepy in the Sixties, when they had a front group called YAWF. No, not "Yet Another Weirdo Fanclub," but "Youth Against War and Fascism."

"Youth" is a word once found in the poems of A.E.Housman, but nowadays is only used by communists and prison bureaus.

In his memoirs, Victor Serge, a Russian revolutionary and later an anti-Stalinist of sorts, describes the milieu of pre-1914 Paris--the same mix of vegetarians, spriritualists, socialists and what-not filled the salons. This food has been sitting in the same refigerator for a century or more--and man, is it moldy!

Exactly

Mark Helprin
Mark Helprin is a novelist who also writes about politics, and takes a hard line on Islamism and national security.

In this piece, he gets it almost exactly right about the immigration debate.

It's about the basics of sovereignty, and the dangers of a binational state.

May 11, 2006

Abe Rosenthal, Olav Ha-Shalom

I see where Abe Rosenthal, once a macher at the New York Times, has died.

He was an opinionated s.o.b., and couldn't write for s**t, but he stood up for what he believed, rather than swarming with the Hive.

In these days when the Gray Lady has become a crack whore, he is missed.

May 5, 2006

The Rapture Has Been Postponed

The rapture: artist's conception
This might be an urban legend. Even if I were a Saturday Night Live writer, I'd never have thought this one up:
" A Little Rock woman was killed yesterday after leaping through her moving car's sunroof during an incident best described as a 'mistaken rapture' by dozens of eye-witnesses. Thirteen other people were injured after a twenty car pile-up resulted from people trying to avoid hitting the woman, who was apparently convinced the rapture was occuring when she thought she saw twelve people floating into the air, and then passed a man on the side of the road who she believed was Jesus. "She started screaming 'He's back! He's back!' and climbed out through the sun roof and jumped off the roof of the car." said Everet Williams, husband of 28 year-old Georgeann Williams who was pronounced dead at the scene. I was slowing down but she wouldn't wait until I stopped," Williams said. "She thought the rapture was happening and was convinced that Jesus was gonna lift her up into the sky," he went on to say.

"This is the strangest thing I've seen since I have been on the force," said Paul Mason, first officer on the scene. Madison questioned the man who looked like Jesus and discovered that he was on the way to a costume party, when the tarp covering the bed of his pickup truck came loose and released twelve blow-up sex dolls filled with helium, which then floated into the sky. Ernie Jenkins, 32, of Fort Smith, who has been told several times by his friends he looks like Jesus, pulled over and lifted his arms into the air in frustration saying 'Come back, come back,' just as the Williams car passed him. Mrs. Williams was sure it was Jesus lifting people up into heaven as they drove by Jenkins. When asked for comments about the twelve sex dolls, Jenkins replied 'This is all just too weird for me. I never expected anything like this to happen.'"
From Ben Witherington.

UPDATE: Snopes says it's an urban legend. Someone had time on his hands and a wicked imagination.

May 2, 2006

The Arithmetic of Mass Deportation

Many who have commented on the immigration issue, including me, have assumed that it's logistically and politically impossible to deport the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in the country.

I'm not saying that it's a good idea, but for the sake of argument, I did the math. Assuming there are 12 million illegal immigrants and one wanted to deport them over a 3-year period, that would be four million deportations a year, or 333,333 per month. Rounding to 300,000, tht's 10,000 a day. At fifty passengers per bus, that would be 200 busloads per day. Dividing these over 10 border crossings (2 in San Diego, Tecate, Mexicali, Yuma, Douglas, 2 in El Paso, Nuevo Laredo and Brownsville), we average only 20 buses per crossing, or less than one per hour.

If we were to replace some of the buses with airplanes, the burden would be even less.

The cost of people to round up all the deportees, to process them (setting aside the question of legal process and attendant costs and delays), and hold them so they would not melt away once apprehended is another matter, as is the question of whether the media and the political system would be obstacles to such a process.

The physical process of deportation, however, is not impossible.

Obviously, there's no point to it, unless we fence the border and stop releasing arrested illegal aliens on bail, which means new holding facilities. Requiring identification for, or taxing remissions of funds, might also be an effective step.

This hypothetical has assumed that all illegals came through Mexico. Not so. Many are Asian and European and stay by overstaying legal visas. These folks have to be repatriated by plane.

The problem of mass repatriation is not logistical. It's political.