Free Markets, Free People

Monthly Archives: April 2010

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Democrats – giving “your papers please” a new twist

Sometimes I just love the Democrats.  After fomenting a near meltdown over the Arizona immigration law, with charges of nazism and cries of “show me you papers!” flying hither and yon, the Democrats introduce an immigration framework with what?

Improved papers, of course.

Yes, the Dems screwed the pooch and included a national ID card in their proposed legislation.  And a biometric one at that.   As someone characterized it, it’s a “super Social Security card”.  Remember when you were assured that your SS card/number was not for identification purposes and never would be.  Well Bunky, that was as true as most of the promises politicians make.

Democratic leaders have proposed requiring every worker in the nation to carry a national identification card with biometric information, such as a fingerprint, within the next six years, according to a draft of the measure.

Heh … how do Democrats kill the momentum working in their favor in an issue which might actually help them in November?

Totally misunderstand the point.

For once, I’m in complete agreement with the ACLU who wasted no time in savaging the plan:

“Creating a biometric national ID will not only be astronomically expensive, it will usher government into the very center of our lives. Every worker in America will need a government permission slip in order to work. And all of this will come with a new federal bureaucracy — one that combines the worst elements of the DMV and the TSA,” said Christopher Calabrese, ACLU legislative counsel.

Oh, and the Gestapo.

~McQ


Arizona makes some changes to its controversial immigration law

Byron York reports that the Arizona Legislature and the Governor have made a few “tweaks” to address some of the fears of critics and more specifically define the law.

The first concerns the phrase “lawful contact,” which is contained in this controversial portion of the bill: “For any lawful contact made by a law enforcement official or a law enforcement agency…where reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States, a reasonable attempt shall be made, when practicable, to determine the immigration status of the person…”  Although drafters of the law said the intent of “lawful contact” was to specify situations in which police have stopped someone because he or she was suspected of violating some other law — like a traffic stop — critics said it would allow cops to pick anyone out of a crowd and “demand their papers.”

So now, in response to those critics, lawmakers have removed “lawful contact” from the bill and replaced it with “lawful stop, detention or arrest.” In an explanatory note, lawmakers added that the change “stipulates that a lawful stop, detention or arrest must be in the enforcement of any other law or ordinance of a county, city or town or this state.”

The law now stipulates specifically that unless the officer is first involved in a “lawful stop, detention or arrest” that officer cannot just demand papers based on a suspicion the person is there illegally.

The second change concerns the word “solely.”  In a safeguard against racial profiling, the law contained the phrase, “The attorney general or county attorney shall not investigate complaints that are based solely on race, color or national origin.”  Critics objected to that, too, arguing again that it would not prevent but instead lead to racial profiling.  So lawmakers have taken out the word “solely.”

Whether it will satisfy the critics is, frankly, doubtful.  It has been “politicized” now and that means that those who oppose it will most likely ignore, minimize or mischaracterize the changes in an effort to keep the issue alive.  There’s a whole movement at stake here and the race warlords are most likely unwilling to give it up this easily.  Additionally, those who want to see some sort of immigration reform law pushed through see this as giving the issue renewed visibility.  They’re unlikely to let that go, even if the law is indeed more satisfactory in terms of protecting civil rights than in its previous iteration.

~McQ


Department Of Interior SWAT Teams Dispatched To The Gulf?

A massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has prompted a large coordinated response from the owner of the rig, BP, and the U.S. government. President Obama addressed the issue in a short speech yesterday where he said:

Earlier today, DHS Secretary Napolitano announced that this incident is of national significance and the Department of Interior has announced that they will be sending SWAT teams to the Gulf to inspect all platforms and rigs. And I have ordered the Secretaries of Interior and Homeland Security as well as Administrator Lisa Jackson of the Environmental Protection Agency to visit the site on Friday to ensure that BP and the entire U.S. government is doing everything possible, not just to respond to this incident, but also to determine its cause.

I was immediately puzzled when I first heard this yesterday. Why on Earth would the DOI have SWAT (“S”pecial “W”eapons “A”nd “T”actics) Teams? What exactly would they need them for, and why would they be dispatched to “inspect” oil rigs in the middle of the Gulf? I was not alone in my puzzlement:

In an odd turn, Obama announced he’d be sending SWAT teams out to all oil rigs and platforms in the Gulf to inspect them, as pointed out by RealClearPolitics. We’re not sure what a Special Weapons And Tactics team is going to do on an oil rig but we’re pretty sure it’ll make good fodder for Tom Clancy’s next book.

I have to believe that Obama was being colorful in his language instead of literal. I checked the DOI website and could find no announcement about “SWAT teams” or any mention of such teams whatsoever. So, it must be the case that the man whose speeches cause tingles to run down the legs of newscasters, oceans to recede, and Nobel Prizes to fall from the sky simply misspoke.

One interesting thing to note is that DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano’s declaration of the oil spill as an incident of “national significance” brings the whole mess within her Department’s purview. That of course allows all sorts of resources not otherwise available (i.e. money) to be employed in the cleanup, but it also raises the question as to what exactly the limits of the DHS are. Apparently they are quite willing to spend gobs of money and effort (and possible deploy SWAT teams!) to tackle an invasion of viscous minerals upon our southern shores, but are completely uninterested in doing anything about an invasion of vicious criminals upon our southern border, other than to challenge the right of individual States to defend themselves. Perhaps Arizona should spill a bunch of oil along the border and see what happens.


Obama gives immigration reform a thumbs down

Harry Reid must be thrilled.

Instead of addressing the problem that Arizona’s legislature and governor felt compelled to address, Obama decides he’d rather fling poo and put it off again.

Of course I’m talking about addressing the immigration problem.   Given the fact that the administration has no desire at this time to address the issue, look for other states, such as Texas, to give what Arizona has done a hard look.

So let’s see, jobs aren’t a priority – something the American people have said they’d like to be the priority of government.  The deficit, another people’s priority, is obviously not a priority – and now immigration reform is off the table.

It appears Obama sees a political opportunity in postponing it yet again:

The president noted that lawmakers may lack the “appetite” to take on immigration while many of them are up for re-election and while another big legislative issue — climate change — is already on their plate.

“I don’t want us to do something just for the sake of politics that doesn’t solve the problem,” Obama told reporters Wednesday night aboard Air Force One.

Immigration reform was an issue Obama promised Latino groups that he would take up in his first year in office. But several hard realities — a tanked economy, a crowded agenda, election-year politics and lack of political will — led to so much foot-dragging in Congress that, ultimately, Obama decided to set the issue aside.

With that move, the president calculated that an immigration bill would not prove as costly to his party two years from now, when he seeks re-election, than it would today, even though some immigration reformers warned that a delay could so discourage Democratic-leaning Latino voters that they would stay home from the polls in November.

Consider that last sentence carefully – it tells you a lot about what Obama expects to happen in November, and it’s not good news for Democrats.  However he sees the opportunity, should the Congress go Republican, to use the issue as a wedge to energize the Latino base while blaming inaction on the GOP and enhancing his reelection possibilities.  The only thing transparent about this guy is his politics and that’s only because they’re so obvious.

Meanwhile, Daniel Griswold at CATO makes an excellent point about how immigration reform is best handled.  In fact, his point is good enough to make me reconsider my “secure the border first and then do reform” stance.  First his analogy:

Requiring successful enforcement of the current immigration laws before they can be changed is a non sequitur. It’s like saying, in 1932, that we can’t repeal the nationwide prohibition on alcohol consumption until we’ve drastically reduced the number of moonshine stills and bootleggers. But Prohibition itself created the conditions for the rise of those underground enterprises, and the repeal of Prohibition was necessary before the government could “get control” of its unintended consequences.

His point, of course, is we have to address the reason illegals are here first before we can reasonably expect to secure the border.  In other words, remove the incentive by making it easier to legally enter to do work here:

By essentially barring the legal entry of low-skilled immigrant workers, our own government has created the conditions for an underground labor market, complete with smuggling and day-labor operations. As long as the government maintains this prohibition, illegal immigration will be widespread, and the cost of reducing it, in tax dollars and compromised civil liberties, will be enormous.

We know from experience that expanding opportunities for legal immigration can dramatically reduce incentives for illegal immigration. In the 1950s, the federal government faced widespread illegal immigration across the Mexican border. In response, the government simultaneously beefed up enforcement while greatly expanding the number of workers allowed in the country through the Bracero guest-worker program. The result: Apprehensions at the border dropped by 95 percent. (For documentation, see this excellent 2003 paper by Stuart Anderson, a Cato adjunct scholar and executive director of the National Foundation for American Policy.)

I think he has a point – not that the federal government has any immediate plans to address it or the broader issue.  Instead it will continue to condemn states for acting in the absence of its action and abrogation of its responsibility. 

It is a disturbing, but typical example of how out-of-touch the federal government is with the priorities and needs of the citizenry and how captivated it has become of special interest groups.

~McQ


My rhetorical “Immigration rally” questions

Thinking about the upcoming “immigration rallies” planned for tomorrow, supposedly in 70 cities, I wondered if perhaps we’d see a repeat of how the Tea Parties were covered.  For example:

I wonder if the rallies will be characterized as “all brown” as the Tea Parties were tagged “all white” (and thereby “racist”)?

I wonder if the press will go African-American hunting like they did with the TPs (minus Al Sharpton and his posse, of course)?

I wonder, if they find any, whether they’ll ask them if they feel “uncomfortable” attending the rallies?

I wonder if the left will come up with a clever sexual slang name for those protesting – “brownbaggers” for instance?

And, finally, I wonder if our politicians will characterize those attending as thugs, racists, brownshirts, fascists and astro-turf?

I’m sure you have a few questions of your own.  Feel free to leave them in the comments.

~McQ


Why it is hard to take the UN seriously

I often call it the “third world debating club” because it gives visibility and a platform for such third world “notables” as Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran.  And it often does bizarre and totally absurd things like this:

Without fanfare, the United Nations this week elected Iran to its Commission on the Status of Women, handing a four-year seat on the influential human rights body to a theocratic state in which stoning is enshrined in law and lashings are required for women judged “immodest.”

How do you take seriously a body which elects to its “Commission on the Status of Women” – a commission “dedicated exclusively to gender equality and advancement of women” -  a country which openly and proudly oppresses its women?

Only the UN can answer that question.

~McQ


So who speaks for the Palestinians?

Elliot Abrams asks that question given some news out of the Middle East that has gone virtually undiscussed.  You remember the recent announcement that indirect or “proximity” talks were supposed to begin soon between Israel and Palestine.  Abrams says, “maybe not”.  And the reason is not good news:

Two stories this week in Haaretz, the Israeli daily, make this clear. The first story recounts an interview Abbas gave Israeli TV, and notes that “Abbas said he hopes to get Arab League approval for indirect talks on May 1.” The second story recycles an item from the newspaper Al-Watan in Damascus, and begins this way: “The Arab League is expected to reject the Obama administration’s proposal to begin indirect Middle East peace negotiations in the coming weeks, sources from the 22-state body told Syria’s Al-Watan daily on Tuesday. The League’s Monitoring Committee for the Arab Peace Initiative is scheduled to meet on Saturday to vote on the proposal, and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is unlikely to accept any offer for peace talks that does not meet the panel’s approval.”

Of course that changes the game pretty dramatically.  If Abbas has ceded the power of the Palestinians to speak for themselves to the Arab League, it complicates any possible solution with Israel.  In fact, as Abrams notes, it is a return “to the days when the Palestinians were under the control of Arab states rather than masters of their own future”.   And we all know how well that’s turned out.

Second, putting the Arab League in charge magnifies the influence of bad actors. To get negotiations going, the Obama administration now has to convince not only Abbas, but Bashar al Assad. Perhaps this helps explain why George Mitchell has visited Damascus and why the administration persists in “outreach” to Syria despite its continuing evil conduct (most recently, reports of the shipment of Scud missiles to Hezbollah). Having committed itself to the “peace process,” the administration simply cannot afford to treat Syria as it deserves; Syria has too much clout now.

So now, as Abrams notes, since such countries as Syria have a say in what the Palestinians do, we have to tread more lightly than perhaps we could have prior to this little announcement.  That reigns in, for instance, putting the amount of diplomatic pressure that the report of SCUDs to Hezbollah deserves.

More than anything, though, it introduces a third party to the talks which has no vested interest in seeing the peace process work.  Other than Egypt and Jordan, both of which have peace treaties with Israel, the other 20 nations have demonstrated little care or desire for peace with Israel.  If you thought the peace process was tough before, this little wrinkle makes it almost impossible now.

~McQ


This is the Droid you’re looking for

Well, I no longer have a Motorola Droid. It’s gone.

Verizon gives you this 30 day deal where you’re allowed to swap out your phone. so I decided to take a look at the HTC Incredible. To make a long story short, I walked out with one.

The one sticking point with me was that the HTC didn’t have a physical keyboard. But I’ve noticed over the last few days that I didn’t even use the physical keyboard on the Motorola. The Incredible just seemed like a better device, after playing with it in the Verizon store for a while.

It has a 1GH processor compared to the 533MH processor on the Droid. An 8 megapixel camera compared to the Droid’s 5 megapixel one. And the virtual keyboard is pretty good, too. My only complaint so far is that the predictive text feature on the Droid works better. I’m sure I’ll get used to the way HTC has implemented the feature but the Droid’s was better out of the box.

The camera on the Incredible seems to be a lot better than the Droid, and it works a lot faster.

The HTC also has one thing most newer cell phones completely lack, and the the little lanyard attachment point. I have this little utility pouch from Wingnut that I hang off a belt loop of my pants, or my motorcycle pants. I use it to carry a multitool, a backup knife, a Cross Ion pen, and a small bottle of hand sanitizer. It also has a cell phone pocket with a quick-release lanyard you can attach to the phone.

Anyway, I have the new Incredible, and so far I’m really liking it. It’s what I’m using to write this post, in fact.

Thank you, Verizon, for letting me use a Droid for a week as a trainer phone for Android, and then giving me a free upgrade to a better phone.

At least, I think it’s a better phone. The real test will come on Sunday, when we see if the call quality to BlogTalkRadio is as good on the HTC as the Droid was last week.


Ed Morrissey nails it

Take a look at this little blurb from President Obama’s speech in Quincy IL:

We’re not, we’re not trying to push financial reform because we begrudge success that’s fairly earned. I mean, I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money. But, you know, part of the American way is, you know, you can just keep on making it if you’re providing a good product or providing good service. We don’t want people to stop, ah, fulfilling the core responsibilities of the financial system to help grow our economy.

Ed latches on to those two highlighted lines to deliver a great rebuttal:

He should have stuck with the TelePrompter. The President doesn’t get to decide when people have “made enough money.” In fact, as the radio host notes, that’s a statist point of view. Furthermore, the responsibility of an entrepreneur isn’t to “grow our economy,” core or otherwise. It’s to grow his own economy. In a properly regulated capitalist system, the natural tension of self-interests create economic growth through innovation and efficient use of capital and resources.

Bingo – well said, old friend.

~McQ

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