December 22, 2010

Our Lame Duck Congress

For the first 140 or so years after ratification of the Constitution, the the new President and Congress took their offices March 4 after the elections in November. Without going into detail, although the date of March 4 was not explicitly spelled out, that's what the 12th Amendment of 1804, and custom, added up to.

Given travel difficulties of the 18th and 19th centuries, it took a lot of time to assemble a new government, and travel to and from one's home state to Washington DC. By the 20th century travel time had been reduced, and everyone could see that it would only get faster. As such, the 20th Amendment to the Constitution stipulated that the President and new Congress would take office in January. Relevant are sections one and two of the amendment:

Section 1. The terms of the President and Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January, and the terms of Senators and Representatives at noon on the 3d day of January, of the years in which such terms would have ended if this article had not been ratified; and the terms of their successors shall then begin.

Section 2. The Congress shall assemble at least once in every year, and such meeting shall begin at noon on the 3d day of January, unless they shall by law appoint a different day.

The issues, however, go beyond travel. The writer of this Wikipedia article on the 20th Amendment spells it out:

From the early 19th century onward, it also meant that the lame duck Congress and/or Presidential administration could, as in the case of the Congress, convene or fail to convene. In the case of the administration, to act or to fail to act, or to meet significant national crises in a timely manner. Each institution could do this on the theory that at best, a lame duck Congress or administration had neither the time nor the mandate to tackle problems. Where as the incoming administration or Congress would have both the time, and a fresh electoral mandate, to examine and address the problems that the nation faced. These problems very likely would have been at the center of the debate of the just completed election cycle.

Take it for what it's worth. But the issue of mandate is an interesting one, given how active our current lame-duck Congress has been:

Tax Cuts - Passed - Interestingly, both the extreme right and extreme left didn't like the deal Obama worked out with Republican leaders. I'd have held my nose and voted for it as the best of a series of bad choices.

Omnibus Budget - Failed - Fortunately, Republicans were able to stop the Democrats from digging us further into debt by forcing a continuing resolution instead of a full scale budget for next year. You don't have to look far to find the usual tales of woe in the liberal press about how government agencies will be starved of funds for "vital" upgrades. Sure. It was worth it to stop funding for ObamaCare and the usual pork programs.

Gays in the Military - Passed - The debate about gay marriage in the civilian world is about a lot of things, but marriage isn't one of them. Likewise, the issue is not whether gays can serve without disrupting military readiness. Progressives couldn't care less about the military or marriage. What they want is to force the acceptance of the gay lifestyle as equal to hetrosexuals. They want to forbid discussion of these issues, and shut down businesses and churches that refuse to play ball.

New START - Passed - Irrelevant at best, harmful at worst, the main purpose of this treaty is to make it look like Obama has achieved something. We're assured by the striped-pants set that the treaty is good for us, and you little people should just do as your told. They also assure us that the preamble to the treaty does not inhibit U.S. missile defense systems, but the Russians say otherwise.

DREAM Act - Failed - Otherwise known as the "let's create more Democrat voters bill," yet another attempt to pass what amounts to mass amnesty for illegal aliens was thwarted.

Food Safety Modernization Act - Pending - I haven't really followed this one, but it basically gives the FDA power to regulate "all foods sold, distributed, or imported within the US."

Net Neutrality - Pending - The issue is complicated, but the guiding principle of how government regulation should work isn't: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." The Internet works just fine, and giving the FCC additional power is asking for trouble down the road. My general guideline to the FCC would be something like "make sure radio station signals don't overlap, and after that you're done." The FCC has no business telling broadband companies how to handle their traffic.

The Progressive Plan

Progresssives realize that their large majorities in the 111th Congress, coupled with the administration of Barack Obama, present the best chance of getting their agenda enacted into law that they'll ever probably see in their lifetimes. It's now or never.

Further, they realize that an law, once enacted, is hard to completely repeal. They know that once the cat is out of the bag on things such as universal health care, or gays in the military, its hard to stuff it back in. And once an illegal alien has been made a citizen, and thus a Democrat voter, you can't take that citizenship away.

Thus their method of ramming as much legislation through as possible while they're still in office.

The Republican Response

There's not much we can do now. Contrary to the dreams of some Tea Party and conservative extremists, we're never going to have anything but a spectrum of Republicans in Congress that run from moderate-liberal to hard right. We're paying the price for screwing up in the early part of this decade.

Once the new 112th Congress is seated we can get to work. We can't repeal ObamaCare, but we can starve it of funds, and refuse to pass any enabling legislation.

What Can Be Done?

It may well be time to revise the 20th Amendment. This Congress has been rejected by the American people, and they have no business passing anything but emergency legislation. If Republicans did this in the past then shame on them, and two wrongs don't make a right.

But given the herculean task of passing an amendment to the Constitution, the 112th Congress would do well to concentrate on practical matters of reducing government spending and rolling back ObamaCare. If they can simply prevent the progressives from doing any more damage I'll be happy. Let's set ourselves up for a bigger victory in 2012, and then we can really set about the true business of reform.

Update - Additional Research

The Heritage Foundation has a paper on treaty ratification during lame duck sessions of Congress that sheds some additional light on the matter:

While recognizing that such sessions were necessary under extraordinary circumstances, proponents of the (20th) Amendment argued that laws made by lame duck sessions were less democratically legitimate because those laws were promulgated by individuals different from those chosen by a popular election immediately preceding the session. In cases where there were changes in the control of Congress or the presidency, significant binding actions--such as the ratification of treaties--may violate the principle of the consent of the governed
.

There have only been 18 lame duck sessions since 1933, out of a possible 38. That is, there have been 38 elections since 1933, and Congress has only met after the election and before the new Congress was seated 18 times. Six of those took place from 1940 to 1954, mostly to pass emergency World War II and Cold War legislation. There were only four lame duck sessions from 1956 to 1994, but eight since then, including the current one.

Several observations flow from this.

One, Lame duck sessions during World War II and the early days of the Cold War could be justified by military necessity. That rationale has mostly not existed since then.

Two, lame duck Congresses are somewhat of a bipartisan phenomenon. Two wrongs never make a right.

Three, this current lame duck Congress has been unusual in the number and type of bills it has passed. There has been nothing like it since the 1940s. The conclusion of the Heritage paper:

The Senate date of treaty ratification cross-checked with the dates of each lame duck session of Congress confirms the general assertion that no major treaty has ever been ratified by the Senate during a lame duck session of Congress. ...

The recent midterm elections created significant ramifications for passing New START during the lame duck session. The ratification of New START by a lame duck Senate would not only ignore the message sent by voters in November but also break a significant precedent, consistent with the principle of consent, maintained by Presidents and Congresses since the passage of the Twentieth Amendment in 1933.

Posted by Tom at 8:00 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 6, 2010

Obama's Screwed Up Priorities

Unemployment is at a whopping 9.6%, the oil spill in the gulf continues unabated, and Iran merrily continues to build an atomic bomb. And what our our president's priorities?

Rather than enforce our immigration laws, Obama is suing those who do:

Justice Dept. expected to sue Ariz. on immigration, citing 'preemption' grounds
By Jerry Markon
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, July 6, 2010; A02

The Justice Department has decided to file suit against Arizona on the grounds that the state's new immigration law illegally intrudes on federal prerogatives, law enforcement sources said Monday.

The lawsuit, which three sources said could be filed as early as Tuesday, will invoke for its main argument the legal doctrine of "preemption," which is based on the Constitution's supremacy clause and says that federal law trumps state statutes. Justice Department officials believe that enforcing immigration laws is a federal responsibility, the sources said.

A federal lawsuit will dramatically escalate the legal and political battle over the Arizona law, which gives police the power to question anyone if they have a "reasonable suspicion" that the person is an illegal immigrant. The measure has drawn words of condemnation from President Obama and Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and opposition from civil rights groups. It also has prompted at least five other lawsuits.

The truth is that Obama and those who oppose Arizona's S.B. 1070 are in favor of illegal immigration and just don't want to admit it.

This is easily proven by asking anyone who is against S.B. 1070 on "civil rights" grounds to write a law themselves which achieve the same thing while preserving the civil liberties they so claim to cherish.

Of course, they never do.

This next one is just bizarre:

NASA Chief: Next Frontier Better Relations With Muslim World
July 05, 2010
FoxNews.com

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said in a recent interview that his "foremost" mission as the head of America's space exploration agency is to improve relations with the Muslim world.

Though international diplomacy would seem well outside NASA's orbit, Bolden said in an interview with Al Jazeera that strengthening those ties was among the top tasks President Obama assigned him. He said better interaction with the Muslim world would ultimately advance space travel.

Madness.

Charles Krauthammer says it's "a new height in fatuousness" and I couldn't agree more.

Posted by Tom at 10:00 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

July 1, 2010

The Fraud of "Immigration Reform"

Our president is absolutely full of it:

Washington (CNN) -- President Obama renewed his push for comprehensive immigration reform Thursday, calling for bipartisan cooperation on an issue that has repeatedly led to deep social and political division.

The president tried to find what has often proven to be an elusive middle ground on the subject, highlighting the importance of immigrants to American history and progress while also acknowledging the fear and frustration many people now feel with a system that he said seems "fundamentally broken."

He asserted the majority of Americans are ready to embrace reform legislation that would help resolve the status of an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants.

"I believe we can put politics aside and finally have an immigration system that's accountable," Obama told an audience at Washington's American University. "I believe we can appeal not to people's fears, but to their hopes, to their highest ideals. Because that's who we are as Americans."

The president targeted Arizona's controversial new immigration law, which requires immigrants to carry alien registration documents at all times and requires police to question people if there's reason to suspect they're in the United States illegally. It also targets businesses that hire illegal immigrant laborers or knowingly transport them.

No, no, no.

Obama is being disingenuous on many levels, and is an outright liar on several

The bit about "putting politics aside" is outright ridiculous. "Politics" as properly defined is simply the art and science of governing and of putting one's philosophy into governance. Setting this aside makes absolutely no sense.

He claims the system is "broken." Our enforcement is what's broken, you idiot. As president you are supposed to be the chief law enforcement officer, and like your predecessors you refuse to enforce the law.

Illegal immigration is pretty simple:


  1. Seal the border as best you can. Yes yes some will always get through but we could cut the number dramatically if we'd only try
  2. Illegals in this country must go home and apply the through the normal methods. No way no how do we grant any sort of "amnesty" or "path to citizenship period.

So the Arizona law is perfectly good and should be a model for other states. That Obama's Justice Dept is going to sue is a disgrace.

There are several reasons why the left is pushing for amnesty and is in fact outright in favor of illegal immigration. Among them are middle-class white guilt, open borders ideologues, racial solidarity groups, and Democrat party strategists looking for votes.

Be that as it may, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has the best response to Obama (via American Power)

Posted by Tom at 10:00 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

May 21, 2010

Calderon Go Home!

If you don't want to like Arizona's law SB1070, ok don't like it. If you think it violates civil rights, then design your own law that gets rid of illegal aliens.

But don't cheer the President of Mexico while he denounces it on the floor of the U.S. Congress!

It was the Democrats who disgraced themselves by standing and clapping, although a few lefties say some (unnamed) Republicans stood too. More likely though those were student pages standing on the GOP side filling in empty seats since many Republicans didn't attend the speech

Utah Senator Orrin Hatch has it right

"It's inappropriate for a head of state to question our laws, especially when the state of Arizona only acted in the best interest of its citizens and with the support of seventy percent of its people," said Hatch in a statement.

Hatch said Arizona was forced to pass the immigration law -- which compels state law enforcement officials to require proper legal residency papers from people they suspect may be in the U.S. illegally -- because of the federal government's failure to stop drug and human smugglers, as well as illegal immigrants, from coming across the U.S.-Mexico border.

Rasmussen says that 71 percent of Arizonans support the law, and a Fox News poll shows that

...65 percent of American voters think states should have right to make their own immigration laws and protect their borders "if they believe the federal government has failed to act," while 32 percent disagree. Moreover, a 52 percent majority favors their own state passing a bill similar to Arizona's new immigration law. Some 31 percent would oppose it and another 18 percent is unsure...

The key provisions of Arizona's immigration law receive significant support. Over two-thirds (65 percent) favor allowing local authorities to question anyone who they think may be in the country illegally, while 76 percent favor allowing local officials to detain anyone who cannot prove their immigration status.

The Democrats are on the wrong side of this issue.

On the right side of the issue, Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA04) blasted Calderon and the Democrats who cheered (via Sister Toldjah)

Transcript:

M. Speaker:

I rise to take strong exception to the speech of the President of Mexico while in this chamber today.

The Mexican government has made it very clear for many years that it holds American sovereignty in contempt and President Calderons behavior as a guest of the Congress confirms and underscores this attitude.

It is highly inappropriate for the President of Mexico to lecture Americans on American immigration policy, just as it would be for Americans to lecture Mexico on its laws.

It is obvious that President Calderon does not understand the nature of America or the purpose of our immigration law.

Unlike Mexicos immigration law -- which is brutally exclusionary -- the purpose of Americas law is not to keep people out. It is to assure that as people come to the United States, they do so with the intention of becoming Americans and of raising their children as Americans.

Unlike Mexico, our nation embraces immigration and what makes that possible is assimilation.

A century ago President Teddy Roosevelt put it this way. He said:

"In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the person's becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an American...There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag... We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language ... and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people."

That is how we have built one great nation from the people of all the nations of the world.

The largest group of immigrants now comes from Mexico. A recent RAND discovered that during most of the 20th Century, while our immigration laws were actually enforced, assimilation worked and made possible the swift attainment of the American dream for millions of immigrants seeking to escape conditions in Mexico.

That is the broader meaning of our nations motto, e pluribus unum from many people, one people, the American people.

But there is now an element in our political structure that seeks to undermine that concept of E Pluribus Unum. It seeks to hyphenate Americans, to develop linguistic divisions, to assign rights and preferences based on race and ethnicity, and to elevate devotion to foreign ideologies and traditions, while at the same time denigrating American culture, American values and American founding principles.

In order to do so, they know that they have to stop the process of assimilation. In order to do that, they must undermine our immigration laws.

It is an outrage that a foreign head of state would appear in this chamber and actively seek to do so. And it is a disgrace that he would be cheered on from the left wing of the White House and by many Democrats in this Congress.

Arizona has not adopted a new immigration law. All it has done is to enforce existing law that President Obama refuses to enforce. It is hardly a radical policy to suggest that if an officer on a routine traffic stop encounters a driver with no drivers license, no passport, and who doesnt speak English, that maybe that individual might be here illegally.

And to those who say we must reform our immigration laws I reply that we dont need to reform them we need to enforce them. Just as every other government does. Just as Mexico does.

Above all, this is a debate of, by and for the American people. If President Calderon wishes to participate in that debate, I invite him to obey our immigration laws, apply for citizenship, do what 600,000 LEGAL immigrants to our nation are doing right now, learn our history and our customs, and become an American. And then he will have every right to participate in that debate.

Until then, I would politely invite him to have the courtesy while a guest of this Congress to abide by the fundamental rules of diplomacy between civilized nations not to meddle in each others domestic debates.


Posted by Tom at 9:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 20, 2010

05/20/10 News and Headlines Update

Sorry, sorry, not much blogging as I've been so involved in local projects I haven't had time. When I do get to this thing I've been spending my time working on a book review of Kimberley Kagan's The Surge: A Military History. Unfortunately it's going to take another week or so to finish it but if you are interested in that sort of thing make sure to check back.

In the meantime, there are quite a few stories of diverse nature below the fold, so comment away!

Second Amendment

First up is this

Mexican President Felipe Calderon called on Congress Thursday to reinstate a federal ban on assault weapons that he said are ending up in the hands of violent drug cartels south of the border, using a highly contentious estimate of U.S. guns seized in Mexico when addressing Capitol Hill lawmakers.

Mr. Calderon said he respects the Second Amendment but argued that violence south of the border spiked in 2004 after the expiration of a U.S. ban on semiautomatic weapons. Echoing statements made by President Obama Wednesday, Mr. Calderon said the U.S. bears some responsibility in propping up the drug trade with its demand for narcotics and supply of guns.

Of course, they don't have a Second Amendment in Mexico, and although the Mexican Constitution allegedly guarantees the right to own firearms, legislation has made it nearly impossible to do so. So it's all a lot of nonsense for him to say he respects it.

But there are a few larger points.

One, liberals are always telling us that we can't sacrifice our civil liberties for the sake of reducing crime. In this case they are mostly right. Once those gun-control freaks an inch and they'll take a mile.

More, the problem has little to do with guns per se. The problems are demand for drugs in the U.S. and the fact that Mexico is just about a failed state. It's run by an oligarchy that has rigged the system to keep the rich people rich and give no one else a chance. They callously boot their poor over the border and then complain when we object.

The simple fact is that any gun ban won't make the slightest dent in the drug trade. Calderon is using it to cover up the corruption of his own government, and liberals in the U.S. will use it as cover for their anti-Second Amendment agenda.

Illegal Immigration

You just can't talk about Mexico without talking about illegal immigration and the story of CNN's Wolf Blitzer's interview with Mexican President Felipe Calderon has just about gone viral

Ouch!

Here's a summary of some of the interview:

Citing a Washington Times article explaining Mexican immigration laws that incriminated those who willfully participated in illegal immigration or helped illegal immigrants, Blitzer asked President Calderón to contrast those laws with Arizona's. Calderón replied that, while the Times assessment used to be true, it is no longer, and immigration cannot be illegal in Mexico. "Of course, on the border, we are asking people 'Who are you?'" explained Calderón, and "Once they are inside the country, what the Mexican police do is, of course, enforce the law, but any means immigration is a crime anymore in Mexico... if someone does that, we find them and sending [sic] them back."

In response to that, Blitzer noted that many in the US do not know that Mexico does not criminalize illegal immigration, and reference the older, harsher laws to argue that border states are only trying to do what Mexico does in its lower half, as well.

Blitzer later asks if Mexico checks papers at the border, and Calderon says yes, but when then asked if Mexican police do not go around asking for papers to prove residency, Calderon of course answers no. The coup de grace is when Blitzer follows up by asking him if a Guatemalan who is illegally in Mexico can just go and get a job, and Calderon is forced to answer no.

Yet he demands that we allow Mexicans to come illegally into the U.S. and get jobs.

Illegal Immigration II

Here's a headline good for a laugh Obama urges passage of immigration law
Fears racial profiling by states

Who are all these people kidding who claim that they object to Arizona's law because it allegedly profiles? We all know they're just in favor of illegal immigration.

Here, I'll prove it. My challenge to anyone who claims that they object to Arizona's SB1070 over civil rights issues is this; write your own law that enforces our immigration laws and gets reduces the number of illegals in the country. They never do it.

Leftist Intolerance

Here's a story that struck me today, Scientist booted off oil panel over writing

The Energy Department removed a St. Louis scientist from a select group picked by the Obama administration to pursue a solution to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico because of writings on his website about homosexuality and race relations.

Washington University physics professor Jonathan Katz was one of five top scientists chosen by the Department of Energy and attended meetings in Houston last week.

Mr. Katz is a leading scientist, but his website postings often touch on social issues. Some of those writings include defenses of "homophobia" and doubts about the value of racial preferences and similar diversity efforts.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu was not aware of Mr. Katz's writings before selecting him for the panel, spokeswoman Stephanie Mueller told the Associated Press. It was not immediately clear how the department became aware of the writings.

"Dr. Chu has spoken with dozens of scientists and engineers as part of his work to help find solutions to stop the oil spill," a statement from the Energy Department said. "Some of Professor Katz's controversial writings have become a distraction from the critical work of addressing the oil spill. Professor Katz will no longer be involved in the Department's efforts."

Mr. Katz, reached by phone by The Washington Times, said he had no comment and referred a reporter to official statements.

"There's enough mud being thrown around. I think it would be better if I just referred you to the public record," he said.

The extent of work he performed on the oil-spill recovery effort was not immediately known.

In a website posting titled "In Defense of Homophobia," Mr. Katz wrote that "the human body was not designed to share hypodermic needles, it was not designed to be promiscuous, and it was not designed to engage in homosexual acts."

"Engaging in such behavior is like riding a motorcycle on an icy road without a helmet. It may be possible to get away with it for a while, and a few misguided souls may get a thrill out of doing so, but sooner or later (probably sooner) the consequences will be catastrophic. Lethal diseases spread rapidly among people who do such things," he said.

In another posting, Mr. Katz questioned the value of universities' diversity efforts, saying they show no intellectual diversity and merely ingrain race-based thinking.

"The diversity movement is racist at its core," he writes. "When dealing with people, we should be concerned with intellect, talent, character and accomplishment. People aren't dogs or cattle; race matters only to racists."

When I read the things that Mr Katz wrote I thought "yeah, I believe most of that too."

Just remember, the left loves diversity! And don't you dare say otherwise.

Elena Kagan

We're supposed to believe that Elena Kagan is a moderate, that she's oh-so-smart, yada yada. Well, I don't know about the second part but anyone who believes the former needs to let me know because I've got a nice bridge to sell you.

She'll turn into another proponent of the "living constitution" theory which basically says make it up as you go along to fit your political agenda. Yep, it's Queen of Hearts time, folks, conclusion first, Constitution second. Want to take bets on how may penumbras she'll find over the course of her time on the bench?

Don't believe me? From her masters thesis: "Judges will often try to mold and steer the law in order to promote certain ethical values and achieve certain social ends.... Such activity is not necessarily wrong or invalid."

"Anti-Incumbent? Try Anti-Obama"

Fred Barnes says it's nonsense to think that the mood in this country is anti-incumbent:

The idea that anti-incumbent fever, striking equally at Democrats and Republicans, is the defining feature of the 2010 election is as misguided as last year's notion that President Obama's oratory would tilt the nation in favor of his ambitious agenda. Yet the media, echoing the Obama White House, has adopted anti-incumbency as the all-purpose explanation of this year's political developments...

What demolishes the notion of anti-incumbency as a scourge on both parties are the calculations of credible political analysts--Democrats and Republicans from Charles Cook to Jay Cost to Nathan Silver to James Carville--about the outcome of November's general election. They believe dozens of congressional Democrats either trail Republican challengers or face toss-up races, while fewer than a handful of Republicans are in serious re-election trouble...

If there's a Republican wave in November, Republicans will capture the Senate seats in Kentucky and Arkansas and probably in Pennsylvania as well. The most important political event of the week may have been the revelation that the Democratic Senate candidate in Connecticut, the state's Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, had falsely claimed to be a Vietnam veteran. That gives a Republican a chance to win in Connecticut, too--and maybe even a Senate majority.

We'll see. I'm not taking anything for granted. We've got a very good Republican congressman where I live in Frank Wolf (VA-10) , but he did vote for TARP which won't play well. I'm going all out to support him this year.

A Bomb South of the Border

Not in Mexico, thank heavens. But Brazil? Who do they have to worry about?

Turns out they've "extending over $1 billion in credit to Iran, in order to boost Brazilian exports to the country" . There goes the sanctions regime.

Above all, there is reason for doubt because of numerous signs that Brazil is working on its own secret nuclear program. The evidence is discussed in a recent paper by German nuclear security expert Hans Rühle. The paper is available in English from the German Council on Foreign Relations here. One point in Rühle's paper is of particular interest in connection with the policies of the current American administration. Rühle notes that in its December 2008 National Defense Strategy, Brazil confirmed its status as a member of the NPT, but also stated that "Brazil will not agree to any additional NPT restrictions until the nuclear weapons states make more progress toward nuclear disarmament." Concretely, Rühle points out, this meant that Brazil would not sign on to the 1997 additional protocol to the NPT allowing for expanded IAEA inspections and, in particular, would refuse to be more forthcoming about its suspect nuclear submarine program.

Brazil's conditioning of NPT cooperation upon the progress made by the existing nuclear powers toward nuclear disarmament reveals how the global "nuclear zero" campaign, of which Barack Obama has made himself the spokesperson, plays into the hands of would-be proliferators. After all, Iran itself has used similar arguments. Moreover, the stated condition for cooperation is entirely vague and flexible. How much "progress" is enough progress?

Another story with additional details here.

Lamest Mascots Ever

We end on a lighter note. Recently unveiled are Wenlock and Mandeville, the mascots for the 2012 Olympics in London

Wenlock and Mandeville

Video and story at The Guardian:

In the end they were neither animal, vegetable nor mineral. Nor, as some cynics had predicted, did they resemble white elephants.

Instead, Wenlock and Mandeville, the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic mascots, elicited mostly baffled reactions as to just what they were at their unveiling today.

With a metallic finish, a single large eye made out of a camera lens, a London taxi light on their heads and the Olympic rings represented as friendship bracelets on their wrists, they resemble characters dreamed up for a Pixar animation.

Perfectly androgynous, they represent what the UK has become. No wonder the British Empire fell.

Posted by Tom at 9:00 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 2, 2010

How about this: Your state can legalize "breathing while undocumented" if my state can legalize "breathing while uninsured."

Jonah Goldberg nails it regarding Arizona's S.B. 1070 and liberal hypocrisy

States' Rights (and Wrongs)
How about this: Your state can legalize "breathing while undocumented" if my state can legalize "breathing while uninsured."
National Review
by Jonah Goldberg
April 30, 2010 12:00 A.M.

I've got a proposal for you. I'd call it a "modest proposal" but, thanks to Jonathan Swift, when writers say that, it means they're about to propose something absolutely bonkers to make a satirical point along the lines of "Let's eat Irish babies!" or "Joe Biden should be president!"

My proposal might still be crazy, but it's not satire.

Okay, okay, I can tell you're keen to hear it.

But wait. First, a peeve.

The president and his party jammed through health-care legislation that was objectively unpopular with the American people. It remains unpopular. It stipulates that it is essentially illegal not to have health insurance. A dozen or so states are suing on the grounds that the federal government doesn't have the right to force people to buy health insurance.

The response from backers of Obamacare has been one of sanctimonious outrage and derision. To pick just one example, the current issue of The New Republic features an essay claiming this legal effrontery marks a return of the Confederacy's hated and racist doctrine of nullification. The "new nullifiers," exclaims the preening liberal historian Sean Wilentz, "would have us repudiate the sacrifices of American history -- and subvert the constitutional pillars of American nationhood."

Forget that when George W. Bush was in office, standing athwart the government was all the rage without conjuring any Confederate demons. Liberals talked about Blue State secession from "Jesusland" with condescending glee. The New York Times ran a love letter to the "states' rights left" by contributor Jim Holt arguing that "states' rights has not always been the intellectual property of reactionaries."

But forget all that. Consider that even now there are more than 30 so-called "sanctuary cities" that formally ban their own police from enforcing federal immigration laws or even cooperating with federal officers trying to enforce them. But not a peep about "nullification" from the Wilentzers.

Ditto when it comes to the countless, constitutionally dubious, hippy-dippy "Nuclear Free Zones" that dot the American landscape in defiance of the federal government's fundamental rights to provide for the common defense and ensure interstate commerce.

But -- and you know where this is going -- when the state of Arizona opts to pass a popular law requiring Arizonan officials to comply with and enforce federal law, suddenly all of the usual suspects come completely unglued. Police will be allowed to ask people for their "papers"! Gird your loins for Götterdämmerung!

Forget being a throwback to the Confederacy; the sanctimony choir cries out that Arizona has rematerialized as 1940 Berlin, albeit with a drier climate. Ironic, since the requirement that legal immigrants carry their "papers" at all times was signed into law by FDR that very year.

Linda Greenhouse, longtime Supreme Court reporter for the New York Times and currently a Yale law professor, penned an op-ed for the Times in which she emoted that Arizona has become a Nazi-esque "police state" where it is a crime to be "breathing while undocumented."

Now, I don't want to dwell on Greenhouse's gas, since she not only misread the law, she literally read the wrong law (an earlier draft that was changed before passage, actually).

But that bit about "breathing while undocumented" strikes a chord. Because, you see, under Obamacare, it is now something of a crime to "breath while uninsured," too. In fact, if you really want to hear the government say "Deine papieren, bitte!" just wait until that law is fully implemented, assuming the "new nullifiers" fail.

So here's where that wacky proposal I mentioned earlier comes in. Let's throw it all back to the states. Arizona can be an illegal-immigrant-free zone and New York can hold an open house for everyone. The same goes for health care. States that want universal health care can provide it, including to illegal immigrants (or should I just say "immigrants"?). Other states can let the market rule. The feds would save piles of money that can go to paying off our credit cards (or to antiterrorism, to deal with undocumented New Yorkers/terrorists).

If it were up to me, the feds would still enforce basic civil rights, provide for the common defense and protect interstate commerce (sorry, nuke-free zones!), but beyond that, let freedom reign.

Unfortunately, for progressives who must always have their way, that's crazier than a "Biden 2016" bumper sticker.

Whether "states rights" is important depends on whose ox is being gored.

Posted by Tom at 9:53 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 30, 2010

Neo-neocon: Obama and Congress vs. the citizens of the United States

If you're not reading Neo-neocon, you should be. She's a lot more reflective and in ways intellectual than I am. Her essays on her journey from left to right (see sidebar) are worth the entire blog. I like her piece on immigration so I'm reprinting it in it's entirety:

Used to be that when the leaders of Congress said they would move on a certain bill (or not move on a certain bill), you could kinda sorta believe them. Now trying to figure out what's really happening is like being a Kremlinologist back in the USSR's heyday.

And so we get, simultaneously, articles at Memeorandum that say that Democrats are going ahead on an immigration bill and that it is doubtful that an immigration bill will be passed this year.

Reading between the lines, it appears that, with the defection of the lone Republican previously on board, Lindsay Graham, the Democrats have lost their already-shaky claim to bipartisan cover. This leaves them with the problem of placating their Hispanic supporters and trying to make Republicans look bad, which points to their adopting a strategy of pushing a bill they know is unlikely to pass, just so they can say they tried and the Republicans didn't. This might be especially helpful to Harry Reid, who needs to appeal to Hispanic voters in his home state of Nevada.

The issue is complicated by the fact that Arizona forced Congress's hand somewhat by passing its own attempt at handling the problems of illegal immigrants, and that the Arizona law is very popular nationwide. Despite this popularity (or perhaps because of it; who knows any more?) the Justice Department is contemplating challenging it, extending the Obama administration's continuing war against the opinions and wishes of its own citizens:

Although it was the federal government which ignored Arizona's repeated pleas to help patrol the border and thus caused the state to feel the need to pass the bill in the first place, Obama and Holder would dearly love to stop the state from implementing its solution. Such an action by the administration would be shocking and unprecedented--words that keep coming up in describing the actions of Obama et al:

"It's relatively rare for the federal government to directly challenge a state law," said Jonathan Turley, a constitutional law expert at George Washington University Law School, who could not cite a comparable example. "It's even more rare when there is no shortage of people challenging the law." A coalition of civil rights groups announced Wednesday that it is preparing its own suit against Arizona, and officials in Phoenix, Tucson and Flagstaff said they are considering suing the state...

"It would absolutely inflame people," said Rosemary Jenks, director of government relations for NumbersUSA, an Arlington group that calls for tougher immigration enforcement.

"Arizona passed this law because the federal government abdicated its enforcement responsibilities on immigration," said Jenks, a lawyer who says the new law is constitutional. "To now have the federal government come in and say 'You can't do that' is going to outrage a whole lot of people."

"A whole lot of people," indeed. For example, there are reports that seven other states are considering legislation similar to that passed by Arizona. The majority of the people of the United States want this, and their own government wants to stand in their way. And remember, what the Arizona law does is to empower state officers to enforce federal laws already on the books, because the federal government refuses to do so--not to go beyond the law or to violate it.

Posted by Tom at 7:30 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 28, 2010

Arizona Law S.B 1070 and Illegal Immigration

Here are the types supporting or excusing illegal immigration:

  1. Certain business interests. They want to exploit cheap labor so as to increase profits. Some of these are traditionally Republican, and some are Democrat. It's a myth that "business owners/leaders" all vote Republican.
  2. Liberal suburban yuppies consumed with White Guilt. They'd never help a poor person themselves, but they've always lived the good life, make lots of money, and feel guilty about it. They relieve their feelings of guilt by voting for big government handouts. Because they make good incomes higher taxes don't really affect them much.
  3. Open borders ideologues. These folks think we stole land from Mexico (we didn't, Mexico never really owned it). These are the transnationalists who don't like traditional concepts of American power. They want to dilute our sovereignty and increase the power of international institutions.
  4. The racial solidarity crowd. Groups like La Raza typify this type.
  5. Democrat strategists who are looking to increase their voting base. They correctly think that the vast majority of illegals will vote Democrat if they could only get an amnesty bill through Congress.

Now that we've cleared that up, lets' get on with the controversial new law in Arizona, S.B. 1070. The link in the previous sentence goes to the text of the bill. In addition, the Arizona State Legislature has a fact sheet on the bill which you can read.

More interestingly, Kris W. Kobach, professor of law at the University of Missouri at Kansas City, has an editorial about S.B.1070 in today's Washington Times. Kobach was Attorney General John Ashcroft's chief adviser on immigration law and border security and was one of the principal drafters of Arizona S.B. 1070:

On April 23, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law S.B. 1070, sponsored by state Sen. Russell Pearce. The law makes it a state crime for an alien to commit certain federal immigration violations while in Arizona. However, based on the hyperventilating reaction of the open-borders left, one would think Arizona had constructed a police state.

Protesters took to the streets in Arizona displaying Mexican flags, chanting "Si se puede" and carrying signs saying, "Legalize Arizona." Media hound Al Sharpton declared that he would organize "freedom walkers" to challenge the law. Not wanting to miss a chance to play to his liberal base, even President Obama got into the action. He called the Arizona law "misguided" and said that it threatens to "undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans."

Mr. Obama's reaction was true to form. Just as with the Cambridge, Mass., arrest fiasco last year, he rushed to the microphone without knowing the facts in order to stir up and capitalize on accusations of racial profiling.

However, far from inviting racial profiling, the Arizona law actually makes racial profiling less likely. But that doesn't fit the story the left would like to tell. There are numerous inaccuracies in what critics of the law are saying, the most prominent of which are the following.

Myth No. 1: The law requires aliens to carry identification that they weren't already required to carry. On the contrary, the law simply penalizes aliens who fail to carry the registration documents that federal law already requires them to keep on their person. These federal crimes (8 United States Code Section 1304(a) or 1306(e)) have been around since 1940. The Arizona law simply adds a layer of state penalty to what already was a crime under federal law.

Ironically, the open-borders crowd has for years insisted that we use the term "undocumented" when referring to illegal aliens. Now, when a state takes seriously the documentation requirements of federal law, that crowd becomes apoplectic.

As for U.S. citizens, the law does not require them to carry any identification whatsoever. Indeed, the law cannot possibly be applied against U.S. citizens; only an alien can be found guilty under the Arizona statute.

Myth No. 2: The law will encourage racial profiling. The terms of the act make clear that such profiling cannot occur. Section 2 provides that a law enforcement official "may not solely consider race, color, or national origin" in making any stops or determining an alien's immigration status. In addition, all of the normal Fourth Amendment protections against racial profiling still apply.

Moreover, the law actually reduces the likelihood of racial profiling by forcing police officers to contact the federal government to verify a person's immigration status when they suspect a person is an illegal alien. It already was permissible for police officers across the country to make arrests for violations of federal immigration law where reasonable suspicion existed that a violation had occurred. Now, in Arizona, officers will have to make a phone call to Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) 24/7 hot line to confirm that any aliens in their custody really are present unlawfully. Officers can no longer proceed based solely on their own assessment of a person's immigration status. In this way, the Arizona law takes any consideration of race out of the equation - strengthening the protections against racial profiling.

Myth No. 3: The law will require Arizona police officers to stop and question people. Here again, critics of the law are failing to read it carefully. The law only kicks in when a police officer already has made a "lawful contact" with a person, such as stopping him for breaking another law. The most likely contact is during the issuance of a speeding ticket. The law does not require the officer to begin questioning a person about his immigration status or to do anything the officer would not otherwise do.

Only after a stop is made, and subsequently the officer develops reasonable suspicion on his own that an immigration law has been violated, is any obligation imposed. At that point, the officer is required to call ICE to confirm whether the person is an illegal alien. Are critics seriously suggesting that local law enforcement officers should ignore the violations of federal law that they see at that point?

In sum, the law doesn't make any radical changes. Rather, it is a reasonable step that gives Arizona police officers another tool in their toolbox when they come into contact with illegal aliens during their normal law enforcement duties. It also prohibits Arizona cities from implementing sanctuary policies that prevent their officers from contacting ICE.

Arizona police officers need the tool that S.B. 1070 provides. Arizona is at ground zero with respect to illegal immigration and its criminal consequences. Arizona has witnessed hundreds of violent crimes committed by illegal aliens. Most recently, the brutal murder of rancher Robert Krentz on his own property by a suspected illegal alien shocked all Americans. Phoenix is now the kidnapping capital of North America and the hub of human smuggling into the United States. Three Phoenix police officers have been shot by illegal aliens since 1999.

Arizona is in a state of crisis. No wonder 70 percent of Arizonans support S.B. 1070, with rank-and-file police associations voicing their approval as well. Meanwhile, Mr. Obama accuses Arizonans of having racist motivations and declares his intention to push for an amnesty - which would only trigger an even larger flood of illegal immigration.

Will Mr. Obama recognize his mistake and hold a beer summit this time to atone for his rash accusations? I'm not holding my breath.

If you don't like S.B.1070 that is fine, but tell me how you would end illegal immigration into this country another way. If you think we should do nothing about illegal immigration because you think that we should just let unlimited numbers of poor people into this country that's ok too, but please just say so. Don't hide behind various quibbles over the law, or "profiling," or whatever.

One of the main reasons Arizona went to the extent it did was that people are frustrated by the inaction of the federal government. This issue has been ignored for too long, and the problems have built up to crisis level. People along the border are tired of the crime brought by illegals and the expense of having to deal with them. If the federal government had done something about it the Arizona law would not have been necessary.

A country can have illegal immigration or a large welfare state, but not both. We are spending ourselves into oblivion as it is. Bringing massive numbers of poor people into the system will hasten the fall.

Yes yes, some Republicans are guilty of ignoring the problem or even promoting amnesty. President Bush and Senator McCain famously pushed such a bill in 2007. But it will be recalled that it was the conservative base that screamed bloody murder and stopped it. The bill would have sailed through if the Democrats had their way. While some Republicans are in favor of doing nothing or granting mass amnesty, almost all Democrats are for it.

I want to help the poor of this world. I put my money where my mouth is less than two weeks ago. The way to help the poor is to improve conditions in their home countries. Even if we really did just open the floodgates and didn't worry about the financials, only a tiny fraction of the world's poor would make it. So you're not really solving the problem. Let's have your ideas, then, on how to improve the lot of people in the Third World.

So lets be honest; all of the hyperventilating about how S.B.1070 will lead to civil rights violations, or that those supporting the bill are racists, nazis, fascists, etc, is all a big smokescreen. Some people just like illegal immigration for the reasons I outlined above. Others want to enforce the law because, well, it's the law, and because we're going broke as it is and letting lots of poor people into the country will only hasten our downfall.

Soon Obama and his Democrats will tell us we need "comprehensive immigration reform." They'll tell us that they promise to seal the border but we have no choice but to grant mass amnesty to illegals already here. If it passes, they'll deliver on the latter but not the former.

I think all of the "racists, nazis, fascist" talk from the left is a sign they think they're losing this debate. Many politicians and business leaders want amnesty, but the majority of Americans do not. The left is scared silly that other states will adopt laws based on S.B. 1070.

Posted by Tom at 9:00 PM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

May 30, 2006

Immigration and Culture

Speaking of immigration, let's step across the pond to Europe and see what's going on there.

So I surf around to MSNBC and this headline jumps out:


Integration questions stir passions in Germany
Experiment seems to have failed; government scrambles to find solutions

One could simply file this in the "where have you been?" category of catch-up journalism. Michael over at DowneastBlog has been talking about this since about forever, and scaring the bejesuts out of anyone who hangs around his site for long.

But that won't do, for the piece in MSNBC is about Germany, and so let's just see what's going on there.

Here are some excerpts

Germany, like the Netherlands, France and Belgium, has a large Muslim population which, by and large, clings to the language and traditions of their home countries.

Unemployment is rampant both among immigrants and native-born Germans, and violence in schools with large immigrant student bodies has caused many teachers to be worried for their safety

The Muslims came as "guest workers", and it was all supposed to be temporary, the article explains. But the companies who employed them got used to the cheap labor, and...well, you know the story. First the worker stays, then his immediate family comes, then grandpa and grandma, the cousins....

The immigrants settled together and neighborhoods slowly began to reflect their new inhabitants. Signs were hung in Turkish, supermarkets sold Turkish products and stands selling kebabs — a traditional meal in a sandwich similar to a gyro — popped up in nearly every German city.

“They came in the sexual revolution and they saw the communes — men, women and children living together. It was a shock for these people, so of course, they put up borders,” said Seyran Ates, a lawyer who works with immigrant women. “It was automatic. They felt, they don’t want us here, and on the other side, we don’t want to be like them; they are immoral,” Ates said.

Predictably, there has been no assimilation. Most of these immigrants don't speak German, and their children do poorly in school. Actually, no, that's not right. The children have proven to be a royal pain in the %$#, the article is just too polite to spell it out in such terms.

But if language were all there was too it, there wouldn't be a problem.

“Being integrated means more than speaking German,” said Angenendt, who says that Germany needs to recruit more skilled workers to survive in the future. “There’s no discussion of how to bring people into the labor market.”

Perhaps provoking the already tense relationship between the government and its immigrants, the German parliament is now debating the implementation of citizenship tests. Germany has one of the lowest citizenship application rates in Western Europe and its laws to become a citizen are much stricter than in the United States, for example.

Yet Germany has no choice but to find a solution to better integrate immigrants and their families. Falling birthrates, along with steady immigration mean that in several decades the country will come to rely more and more on immigrant labor.

Hmmm. So "integration" is all there is to it? That sounds simple enough.

History and Culture

But of course that's not all there is to it. For all the problems we're having here in the states with Hispanic immigration (legal and illegal), our newcomers are from a Western culture. Their forefathers experienced the Renaissance, the Reformation and Enlightenment. The scientific method is not an alien concept to them. And as corrupt as Mexico is, they don't run around cutting people's heads off and planting bombs on airliners.

As if this wasn't enough, Germany, like much of the rest of Western Europe, doesn't have as much experience at absorbing newcomers as we do over here.

Complicating all this furter, we're all infected with unholy trio of multiculturalism, diversity and tolerance, which makes the job much more difficult.

The article passes all this by, which is to be expected. But this is why we have the blogosphere, so that we can discuss the issues that might offend the sensibilities of the MSNBC editor.

Posted by Tom at 9:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack