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Tourism or Terrorism?

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On January 21, during his weekly radio address, President Barack Hussein Obama said, “We want more visitors coming here. We want them spending money here. It’s good for our economy, and it will help provide the boost more businesses need to grow and hire.” He reiterated the steps he outlined at DisneyWorld on Thursday to make it easier for tourists to travel to the US. His tourism initiative was part of an executive order he signed to increase non-immigrant visa processing capacity in China and Brazil by 40 percent in 2012, and to expand a visa waiver program that lets participating nationals travel to the US for stays of 90 days or less without a visa. Obama says he has taken steps to improve the economy after Congress earlier failed to embrace his initiatives, a euphemism for his “We can’t wait” program to bypass Congress.

Key phrase here: “without a visa”. We certainly all remember how well previous visa programs worked under previous administrations. Why does Obama think his program will be any better? Does he remember what happened on 9/11/2001? Does he really think that allpeople coming to the US will be tourists? Does he think that no terrorists live in or will originate trips from China or Brazil? Is he really willing to risk citizens’ lives in order to, he says, improve the economy? He has failed to improve the economy, but continues to blame anything and anyone, especially George Walker Bush, for his failures. Now we get his latest scheme: tourism. If the US took a larger share of the international travel market, the White House said more than 1 million jobs could be created over the next decade.

But wait! We now have the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Janet Napolitano, and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to keep us safe from terrorists who just might come to the US without a visa. Just like the last group of “students” who told flight instructors that they were not interested in learning how to land a plane, this new group of terrorists will tell the DHS and TSA that they are “tourists.” Sure, DHS and TSA were created during a previous administration, but they now belong to Obama. They are now his and his alone. Any consequences will rest with him. As we used to say in the Army, “You can delegate authority but you cannot delegate responsibility.”

His 2009 stimulus plan did not work (unless you are Debbie Wasserman-Schultz). We now have 1.9 million fewer Americans with jobs since Obama took office, gas prices have more than doubled, and more Americans are now on food stamps than ever before. Bottom line: he is now risking US citizens’ lives in order to promote yet another economic program when all he has to do is replicate (from any administration) what in the past has worked.

But that’s just my opinion.

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  • I’m a little bit tempted by Colombia too but reckon it might just be a little too exciting!

  • I’ve never been to the entire region before so this is all a bit theoretical anyway, but somehow Peru just doesn’t quite float my boat.

  • Oh, and their coffee is terrible.

  • Peru is great too, although for all its beauty I wouldn’t want to retire there. For one reason or another, all of its many and varied climate regions are just that bit too uncomfortable to sustain a gringo like me indefinitely.

  • In terms of the Americas, my shortlist, which I would hope to do before retirement rather than after, is currently Costa Rica and Panama in Central America, with Costa Rica ahead on points, and Ecuador and Chile in South America, which from my perspective are currently too close together to differentiate.

    I would almost certainly choose a coastal location though, even though all four countries have some exceptional inland locations.

  • Clavos

    I would be, zing, (but definitely NOT in a cold place) but there aren’t too many boat buyers there.

    However, when (if?) I retire, it likely will be, like Dan(Miller), to the remote, rural reaches of a Central American country, where people speak my language, and whose culture is friendlier.

  • zingzing

    and if you prefer remote rural living to city living, why do you choose to live in miami? out of self-interest, you ought to be camping next to a river in the cold right now…

  • zingzing

    well, clavos… i’d say that just as there are some very nice crackas in the south (and don’t forget about the other 40-50% of the population…), there are some very nice new yorkers. and just as there are some ignorant motherfuckers in the south, there are some asshole new yorkers. i like the people in both places, often for different reasons, often for the same reasons. but new york has got much more to offer a person like me than does rural montana. i’d go bonkers out there.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos –

    No, the metrics by which I judged quality of life are not ‘subjective’…it’s just that you’re refusing statistical observations based on your own likes and dislikes, on your own opinion. All the metrics that really matter – life expectancy, birth mortality, teenage pregnancy, violent crime, murder, health insurance coverage, education level – all these metrics are generally better than in blue states. What matters, Clavos, is not how you personally feel, but how the people as a whole feel…and the safety and well-being of their families are a prime factor in their happiness.

    And NYC is a safer city to live in than Miami.

    Just because you personally like it better elsewhere means little, for you are placing your opinion above scientific observation. Which, btw, is the same reason you deny anthropomorphic global warming.

    One more thing – remember the article I wrote on the possibility of a biological basis for the difference between conservatives and liberals? Here’s an interesting article.

  • BTW, the word “scheme” does not carry a negative connotation in England. Am I correct, Dr. Dreadful?

    It depends on the context, Warren, just as it does in America – which, by the way, is the subject of your article… so why are you arguing about what the word “scheme” may or may not mean on the other side of the Pond?

    By the way, your “yes, I know the 9/11 terrorists all had visas, but why make it easier for them?” argument is truly moronic.

    Are you seriously suggesting that retaining existing visa policies with regard to China and Brazil on the one-in-many-millions chance that Mr Adbul Wong or Mr Muhammad de Sousa might take advantage of a visa waiver to commit an act of terrorism, versus the considerably shorter odds on a business boost resulting from a relaxation of the rules, is a wiser investment?

    I don’t think you really believe that. I think that, in this instance, Glenn has you pegged and that it is a case of taking any opportunity, no matter how spurious, to knock Obama.

    Obviously we don’t have an alternate universe in which to verify, but I strongly suspect that if a Republican president had proposed a visa waiver policy change of this type (and I can almost guarantee that they eventually would have), you’d have been utterly silent.

  • Clavos

    By mine, of course, Glenn. My own criteria of what constitutes quality of life is all that counts for me — in case you didn’t realize it, that’s a totally subjective measurement; the red state/blue state data you mind numbingly repeat over and over are meaningless to me. I consider NY to have a poor quality of life because of overcrowding, things like having to live in a multifamily (i.e. apartment) building, having to use public trans, the dirtiness of the public spaces, etc., etc.

    One more thing, Glenn: your constant shouting in your comments is very tiresome and rude.

    And zing: I know NY well; until I was born, everyone in my family, going back several generations on both my mother’s and my father’s sides was born, lived and died in NYC. Virtually all my ancestors in America are buried in Calvary cemetery out on L.I., except for my parents, whom I buried down here. New Yorkers all: my mother went to her grave insisting that NY is the center of the universe and referring to all the rest of the country (usually with a sneer) as “the provinces,” especially the South, and most especially your home state, where she and my Dad had a summer home in Blowing Rock. She thought Southerners to be uncouth, uneducated rubes. I used to delight in telling her I liked Crackers better than her beloved New Yorkers.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos –

    New York City has a worse quality of life than the remote reaches of Montana? You sure about that? By what measure?

    Last I recall, I pointed out to you and everyone else here (with good references) that generally speaking, blue states have a better standard of living, a better quality of life than red states – and what were my metrics? Level of education, level of income, life expectancy, teenage pregnancy, violent crime, murder rate, percentage of population with health care coverage, birth mortality rate…ALL of these were generally worse in red states than in blue states. And why the difference? You remember very well – it’s the level of urbanization which supports the industry and the higher education…and tends to vote blue.

    So…maybe YOU like it better in the remote reaches of Montana. Maybe YOU would have a better life there. But in the BIG picture, life is BETTER in the more urbanized – blue – states.

    AND ONE MORE THING – Care to guess the SAFEST big city in America according to the FBI?

    Wait for it…

    NEW YORK CITY!!!!!

    Not Miami or Dallas or Tampa or Atlanta or Memphis or Little Rock or anywhere Down South…nope! New York City.

    To be sure, the inner cities have the highest crime rates – no argument there – but the prosperity that big cities drive enable the best universities, the best industries…and the better standard of living for the state as a whole.

  • zingzing

    clavos: “…New York in many instances — a city that is overcrowded, expensive and with singularly worse quality of life than the remote reaches of Montana…”

    it’s crowded and expensive, for sure… but that’s a “singularly” negative take on things. the quality of life here is what you make of it. if you don’t want to live in a cosmopolitan city with an overflowing wealth of culture and opportunity, live in fucking remote montana…

    new york city is an amazing place. if that’s what you got out of it (assuming you’ve been here…), i’m sorry you had such a bad time. but that’s not anywhere near the whole truth. it’s as if one reduced flyover country to just a good place to do meth and beat up faggots.

  • Clavos

    America still has plenty of room!

    Yes it does, you’re quite right; vast stretches of America are nearly devoid of people.

    Which of course means no one wants to live there; which is because with no one living there, there are no jobs, no housing — no reason to live there, so everyone who arrives moves to an existing city — New York in many instances — a city that is overcrowded, expensive and with singularly worse quality of life than the remote reaches of Montana, yet immigrants choose to live in NY, Chicago, LA, Miami, etc.

    Empty spaces mean nothing without infrastructure and the cities keep getting more and more crowded.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos –

    The USA is crowded???? Oh, come on! Do you really get out so little? America still has plenty of room!

    This is a wonderful example of somebody opposing something for a ludicrous reason…but will stick by that ludicrous reason just so he can preserve his opposition to that something…

    …which also explains your ‘cynicism’ of anthropomorphic global warming, come to think of it….

  • zingzing

    clavos: “And I for one would not care at all to live with as much congestion as in Europe.”

    in order for the us to be as congested as say, belgium (one of the more densely populated european countries), there would have to be about 3.5 billion people living in america. so… i don’t think you have to worry about it.

  • Igor

    The stimulus increased jobs 3.3 million:Employment

    By JOSH BOAK | 11/22/11 4:12 PM EST

    The economy would have been in much worse shape without the 2009 stimulus which increased employment in the third quarter of this year by as many as 3.3 million full-time jobs, according to a report by the Congressional Budget Office.

  • Clavos

    Clavos, the USA is crowded? Maybe here and there but not on a national scale. It’s mostly empty.

    True, but immigrants rarely, if ever, settle in the empty parts, Chris.

    And I for one would not care at all to live with as much congestion as in Europe.

  • Clavos, the USA is crowded? Maybe here and there but not on a national scale. It’s mostly empty.

    The EU has twice the population in half the land area so has four times the population density and doesn’t seem that crowded.

    Luckily it is so difficult to get in legally now that there is little risk of it ever approaching European population density levels. And you could always seize Canada, which is practically empty!

  • Clavos

    My bad, zing.

  • zingzing

    why are you talking about immigration? i know that some people who come here on a tourist visa are looking to immigrate, but that’s not really the question here…

  • Clavos

    You want a population as big as China’s, zing?

    It’s already getting crowded here; Miami is already majority foreign-born residents (51%, including me), and VERY overcrowded for the limited room we have. The overcrowding breeds suspicion, distrust, crime, and plays hell on quality of life by seriously overtaxing the infrastructure, from schools to roads, hospitals, city and county courts, etc.

    Unfettered immigration will inevitably result in our resources being overtaxed, which in turn, will result in shortages — particularly of water, e.g.

    And limiting immigration (i.e. quotas) is neither unprecedented nor xenophobic; we cannot afford unlimited immigration forever, that’s just common sense.

  • zingzing

    clavos: “No, but some narrowing of it is certainly in order (and, justifiably, has been used in the past)…”


  • zingzing

    warren: “Why INVITE trouble?”

    it’s not america’s visa policy that creates terrorists. it’s people who want to blow shit up. trouble doesn’t need an invitation.

    “Yes, it’s fear, fear that his new “no visa needed” policy will admit terrorists who will claim to be only tourists.”

    it’s not new in any way. just what countries will all these terrorists be flying from?

    “Do you really think/believe that terrorists will not pose as tourists?”

    of course they will. that’s how it’s done. but i don’t see how slightly opening an already wide hole, which we aren’t going to close, makes any difference at all. many european and asian nations and some canadians have been able to come here without a visa for years. if we closed down all other options, and a terrorist wanted to come to the us, then they’d just get in that way. if a terrorist wants to come, they’ll come.

    “What I said was that Obama’s latest idea is a scheme.”

    what’s the difference?

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Keep spreading the fear, Clavos – it’s far better to spread fear than it is to kept the lamp lifted beside the golden door, I guess….

  • Clavos

    Every year we get tens of millions of tourists just in Manhattan alone…

    USA total Arrivals:

    2009 — 55M

    2010 — 59.7M

    2011 (est) — 63.2

    Are you now wanting to shut that door?

    No, but some narrowing of it is certainly in order (and, justifiably, has been used in the past)…

  • Clavos

    He’s brought new jobs up to about 140,000/month…

    We only have his word and that of government agencies under his command for that…

  • Re: comments #4 and #7, zingzing, did you even BOTHER to read the article? Did you comprehend the questions I raised? Why INVITE trouble?

    In comment #4 you say, “Warren, since when is tourism a “scheme”? Tourism is a major part of the american economy.” I agree, tourism is a major part of the American (capital “A”) eonomy. I never said tourism was a scheme. What I said was that Obama’s latest idea is a scheme. BTW, the word “scheme” does not carry a negative connotation in England. Am I correct, Dr. Dreadful?

    In comment #7 you say, ” it’s just lazy, fearful, xenophobic thinking. it appeals to fear and nothing else.” Yes, it’s fear, fear that his new “no visa needed” policy will admit terrorists who will claim to be only tourists. Do you really think/believe that terrorists will not pose as tourists?

    Re: comment #6, Christopher, I agree that the previous administration overreactede to 9/11. But I reiterate: Why invite trouble? Actually, you make a very good argument for a strong military, backed by politicians who will make attacking this country (as 9/11 was) so painful that attacks will cease. But, what about all the people who did not attack this country? I can ask the same question about the over 3,000 people who died on 9/11. War is a dirty business, and innocent people (on both sides) die. Freedom isn’t free, but talk is!

  • Walt

    I am sorry but this article is just wrong, intentionally misleading, and pure fear mongering rhetoric. The United States has had a Visa waiver program for decades. Expanding the wavier processing capacity to states like China and Brazil that by the way adopted the same practices as DHS/TSA over the last decade. You have never needed a visa to come to the US from Canada but yet two terrorist has come through there. There are 36 countries already on the visa waiver program and they don’t present a significant risk to our country.
    I think Obama or the next administration should expand the program even further. This is called deregulation for the purpose of increasing commerce. As a conservative this is something I stand for. The true concept of a free market encompasses the free movement of people. Without freedom of movement, wages become sticky, and that violates the concept of free markets. You cannot have truly free markets unless people have the freedom to move about to conduct business unhampered by intrusive government regulation

  • zingzing

    god, this article pisses me off. it’s just lazy, fearful, xenophobic thinking. it appeals to fear and nothing else.

    maybe this won’t make a huge dent in our economic difficulties, but it’s a targeted step in the right direction. the chinese and brazilian economies are creating lots of people with a sudden ability to travel and spend money. obviously, there are tourists, but also business people who will be traveling here. if obama wants to speed up visa applications to the us from those countries, i’m sure there is a backlog of applications.

    as for the visa waiver program, they aren’t going to suddenly invite iranian citizens or anything. poland is probably the next one to come on. israel isn’t currently in the program. israel!

    warren, you need to know when to pick your fights, and this is a stupid, stupid fight. it’s pathetic. i’m sure you could find something better to fight about. there’s no downside to this, unless you’re a paranoid freak.

  • I completely agree with Glenn and others above.

    The excessive security measures introduced in the USA post 9/11 are not only self-defeating but also a defeat of everything the USA stands for.

    I would like to see the closing of the ineffective and oppressive DHS and TSA along with many other arms of state security.

  • Igor

    Actually Warren, Obama has had much success with projects he’s been able to get thru an antagonistic congress. He’s brought new jobs up to about 140,000/month, provided medical care for 10s of millions, etc. Pretty good for a guy who was handed such a bad deal in Jan ’09, after GWBs predations on the US economy.

  • Zingzing

    Warren, since when is tourism a “scheme”? Tourism is a major part of the american economy. Relaxing the visa requirements to a couple countries with booming economies and no history of terrorism against the us seems like a pretty good way to get more tourism from those countries. We want their money.

    your argument against this seems to be “I’m scared and if it comes from Obama, I can’t support it as he wants to destroy america.”

    and your big new innovation is to “replicate the past”? what part of the past?

  • Igor

    Good comment, Glenn!

    Many Americans don’t realize that New York is considered a WORLD city by people around the globe. Foreigners consider New York to be THEIR city! New York is the Capitol of the planet. You can’t keep world citizens out of their capitol. Even if you could it would be stupid.

  • Re: comment #1, Glenn, only you could totally ignore on purpose (or miss entirely) the point of my post!

    I agree, the US borders are, indeed, large, and there is no way to stop someone if he/she really wants to get in.

    But why INVITE trouble in the name of jobs?

    Does Obama really think this scheme will work when nothing else he has tried has worked? Or is this one more of his “Destroy America” ideas?

  • Glenn Contrarian


    Warren, I’m not sure if you noticed, but the visa laws did not prevent 9/11. America’s borders are large enough that if someone really wants to get into America, they will – wich is why we have millions of illegal aliens right now.

    Every year we get tens of millions of tourists just in Manhattan alone, and millions of those are from overseas spending their money HERE. We were there for this past New Year’s Day. Times Square (where the last bombing attempt was stopped by a MUSLIM) was too crowded, so we were right outside Central Park with another crowd. We socialized with a girl from Nepal, and swapped photo-taking with families from India and from Lebanon. Fully half of all the languages I heard in our five days of walking around in Manhattan were languages I couldn’t understand…and most of them were moneyed foreigners spending money HERE. On one tour bus we were the ONLY ones from stateside! All the rest were foreigners spending money here.

    Will there be terrorist attacks? Sure…and some of them will be homegrown (remember Oklahoma City?). We will NEVER be able to stop all terrorist attacks. We can minimize them, but what price are you willing to pay to do so? Yet MORE ‘Homeland Security’? Yet MORE TSA groping? Yet MORE attacks on our freedom on the internet?

    There’s a poem that goes “Send me your tired, your poor, your tempest-tossed…I lift my lamp beside the golden door.” If you’re half the patriot you purport to be, you know very well that’s on Ellis Island at the Statue of Liberty. Are you now wanting to shut that door? Are you afraid that the Brown People are going to come take your guns away and shoot you with a ‘gay ray’ and force you to enjoy listening to Barbara Streisand?

    A wise man once said something along the lines of “Those who sacrifice liberty for the sake of safety deserve neither.” IIRC, that was Benjamin Franklin. If you’re the patriot you purport to be, then you would KNOW that terrorist attacks can NEVER – repeat, NEVER – threaten the sovereignty of America, and you would KNOW that the more immigrants come here, the more learn to love the freedoms here that they can’t have where they came from. Will we get some bad apples? Sure – but how many bushels of good apples are you going to throw out just to find one or two bad apples?

    Another wise man once said, “The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.” Which will you do? Have the COURAGE to stand up to your fear? Or will you continue to spread it?