I won’t belabor you with a full detailing of how the court ruled yesterday on Arizona’s immigration laws except to say most of it was struck down with the Court supporting the “supremacy clause” as its basis for doing so.
However, it did find for AZ in one part of the law – the requirement to produce identification, if asked, proving citizenship if law enforcement is has a reasonable suspicion the person is in the country illegally.
Note the last word.
You see, that’s the word that is often left off when discussing immigration, as in “the right is anti-immigration”. Of course that’s a totally inaccurate assertion. The vast majority of the right is against illegal immigration. Legal immigrants are both wanted and welcome.
That said, we all know that our immigration system is flat out broken. It sucks. It is terrible. And in this day and time, given advances in the speed and efficiency of communications, there is absolutely no reason that should be the case. Upgrading and speeding up the system should be a priority.
But that doesn’t change the fact that people who go around that antiquated system and take it upon themselves to enter the US illegally are lawbreakers.
So, to yesterday’s ruling: Arizona’s law was a result of the federal government’s refusal to enforce existing immigration law. It was a law born of frustration. Arizona is a border state. Non-enforcement was causing strains on the state that for the most part, non-border states didn’t have to deal with. And, after numerous appeals to the federal government to enforce the laws of the land, the state took the drastic step of passing its own laws that mirrored the federal statutes.
Yesterday the Supreme Court struck most of them down. I understand and don’t necessarily disagree with the basis of the ruling. I understand the importance of the “supremacy clause”. But I also understand when it is improperly used – in this case to not enforce existing law. That is not a choice made by an administration dedicated to the rule of law. That’s the choice made by one which is driven by an ideological agenda.
To make the point, yesterday after the ruling, Homeland Security, the executive agency that ICE falls under, made it clear that it would not cooperate on section 2 (b) of the AZ law, the section the Supreme Court upheld, effectively nullifying it:
The Obama administration said Monday it is suspending existing agreements with Arizona police over enforcement of federal immigration laws, and said it has issued a directive telling federal authorities to decline many of the calls reporting illegal immigrants that the Homeland Security Department may get from Arizona police.
Administration officials, speaking on condition they not be named, told reporters they expect to see an increase in the number of calls they get from Arizona police — but that won’t change President Obama’s decision to limit whom the government actually tries to detain and deport…
Federal officials said they’ll still perform the checks as required by law but will respond only when someone has a felony conviction on his or her record. Absent that, ICE will tell the local police to release the person…
On Monday the administration officials also said they are ending the seven 287(g) task force agreements with Arizona law enforcement officials, which proactively had granted some local police the powers to enforce immigration laws.
Or, more simply, the President has directed his agencies not to enforce the law of the land, a clear violation of his oath of office, but in full compliance with his recent enactment of the “DREAM act” by fiat.
By the way, that raging righty, Mickey Kaus updates us on what the real results of Obama’s decision concerning a certain type of illegal really means:
The maddening details of Obama’s DREAM Decree are becoming clearer. As this CIS report notes, 1) The decree doesn’t just apply to illegal immigrants who were “brought to this country by their parents.” It also would give work permits to those who snuck across the border by themselves as teenagers. “Through no fault of their own” is a talking point for DREAM proselytizers, not an actual legal requirement. 2) The same goes for the phrase “and know only this country as home.” That’s a highly imaginative riff on the decree’s actual requirement, which is for 5 years “continuous residence.” It turns out “continuous residence” doesn’t mean what you think it means. “Immigration attorneys have been successful in getting immigration courts to whittle this down to a point where it is almost meaningless,” says CIS’s Jon Feere. As an illegal immigrant you can go back
homeabroad for multiple 6-month stints during those five years–but, if precedent holds, in Janet Napolitano’s eyes you will still “know only this country as home.” …
He has a couple of updates that are worth the read as well that show this for the broad attempt at amnesty it really is.
Look … this may indeed be how it all ends up, but this isn’t how it should be done. There’s a clear, legal and Constitutional path for changing laws we don’t like or think need to be changed … that is if we are a nation of laws.
Barack Obama seemed to think that was important once:
I believe that we can be a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants.
Now? Not so much.
So here we have the nation’s chief law enforcement officer refusing to enforce the law.
His excuse is he’s frustrated with the lack of movement in Congress (of course he’s exerted no leadership or effort to resolve the issue)?
Hey, wait, wasn’t that the same sort frustration Arizona expressed about the administration’s refusal to enforce the law of the land?
So why is Obama’s refusal to enforce the law rewarded while Arizona’s attempt to enforce it isn’t?
Because George Orwell is alive and well and renaming his book “2012”.
That, at least to me, is the pregnant question. He had a number of other options but 4 months from a critical election, chose the most controversial and potentially damaging one.
Let’s begin with a quote from a former White House counsel from a Powerline post:
Even with his fawning press, [President Obama] will pay a price for this one. He knows this, meaning that the documents now to be withheld must be dynamite. They have to show either that Holder knew what was going on with Fast and Furious and approved it, or that he directly committed perjury in his Congressional testimony, or both. I just can’t see any other explanation for such a risky move.
Wasn’t the Washington Post just covering big time the 40th anniversary of Watergate? I wonder how much coverage this one will get.
That’s the result of the move – speculation that the documents being withheld point to perjury by Holder or the President, or both.
So let’s break this down a bit. If it was all about Holder, why would the president risk this sort of a controversial move this close to an election. It’s not like he’s never thrown anyone under the bus. In fact James Carville is on record advising Obama to dump Holder.
Obama had the option, then, of letting Holder face contempt charges (not much happens as we’ve seen in the past, to those who are served with contempt of Congress charges) and drag out the document release until after the election.
With the election season gearing up, it is likely that while the controversy would have been an issue, it wouldn’t have been a major issue. Now it certainly is.
He could have asked Holder to resign. He could have then used the opportunity to appear as a statesman, a leader and bi-partisan all in one fell swoop. Depending on how he handled that it could actually have been a positive for him heading into an election. In the meantime, an acting AG could continue to delay on providing documents.
But he did neither of those things. For some unknown reason (at least to this point) he chose to do the least likely and most politically damaging thing – invoke executive privilege. As the lawyer quoted has said, those documents must be “dynamite” to have the president make this move.
And, unsaid by the lawyer is the speculation that the documents show the involvement of the White House to a degree that is damaging – apparently more damaging than the speculation and attention this move by the President has brought.
David Kopel at Volokh Conspiracy gives you a great history of the controversy. As for the documents Kopel notes:
According to Attorney General Holder, the DOJ has 140,000 documents related to Fast & Furious. Fewer than 8,000 have been provided to Congress pursuant to subpoenas. The contempt vote has been narrowed to 1,300 documents. In refusing to comply with the House subpoenas, the DOJ has refused to create a privilege log–which would identify withheld documents, and the legal reason for their being withheld.
Matthew Boyle at the DC caller points out that Holder has retracted two previous statements he made to Congress where he gave them inaccurate information in an attempt to blame previous AGs or administrations. It seems that’s a standard operating procedure with all parts of this administration. So Holder is left holding the bag all by himself on this one, or so it seemed, at least, to the point that executive privilege was invoked.
That brings us to these 4 point by Todd Gaziano at the Heritage Foundation about the use of executive privilege:
First, the Supreme Court in United States v. Nixon (1974) held that executive privilege cannot be invoked at all if the purpose is to shield wrongdoing. The courts held that Nixon’s purported invocation of executive privilege was illegitimate, in part, for that reason. There is reason to suspect that this might be the case in the Fast and Furious cover-up and stonewalling effort. Congress needs to get to the bottom of that question to prevent an illegal invocation of executive privilege and further abuses of power. That will require an index of the withheld documents and an explanation of why each of them is covered by executive privilege—and more.
Second, even the “deliberative process” species of executive privilege, which is reasonably broad, does not shield the ultimate decisions from congressional inquiry. Congress is entitled to at least some documents and other information that indicate who the ultimate decision maker was for this disastrous program and why these decisions were made. That information is among the most important documents that are being withheld.
Third, the Supreme Court in the Nixon case also held that even a proper invocation must yield to other branches’ need for information in some cases. So even a proper invocation of executive privilege regarding particular documents is not final.
And lastly, the President is required when invoking executive privilege to try to accommodate the other branches’ legitimate information needs in some other way. For example, it does not harm executive power for the President to selectively waive executive privilege in most instances, even if it hurts him politically by exposing a terrible policy failure or wrongdoing among his staff. The history of executive–congressional relations is filled with accommodations and waivers of privilege. In contrast to voluntary waivers of privilege, Watergate demonstrates that wrongful invocations of privilege can seriously damage the office of the presidency when Congress and the courts impose new constraints on the President’s discretion or power (some rightful and some not).
The key point, of course, is executive privilege cannot be used to “shield wrongdoing”. While it is speculative, it appears highly likely – given the other options available – that executive privilege is being used for precisely that reason in this case.
Additionally, given the choices available to the President, it is not at all out of bounds to speculate that the most transparent administration in history is trying desperately to hide something even more terrible than the political fallout from this choice.
The White House cites internal discussions and ongoing investigations are the reason for its denial and claims the investigations would be jeopardized with the release of the documents. But, as Gaziano points out, accommodations can be made in that regard. The total number of documents requested is 1,300. The White House is simply refusing to cooperate or accommodate.
We’re still left with that question.
And the answer, given the actions to date, lead to some logical speculation – what is contained in those documents is much more damaging politically than the damage done by the decision. Additionally, Obama can’t afford to let Holder go because if he does there’s the potential that Holder will then spill the beans.
Oh, and finally, this move has suddenly brought Fast and Furious to page one and the top of the newscast like nothing else could. The majority of the country, which was mostly ignorant of this scandal are now in the loop.
As the cited former White House counsel said, “the documents now to be withheld must be dynamite.” In fact, they must be so explosive that the White House is desperate enough to try to weather this self-inflicted political storm in lieu of exposing them.
That says a lot.
I’m sure no one is surprised that the most transparent administration in history has chosen to invoke executive privilege in the Fast and Furious investigation being conducted by Congress and deny that institution it’s ability to conduct its oversight responsibility.
Here’s President Obama as candidate Obama in 2007 talking about the use of executive privilege (btw, irony alert – note the CNN banner – the answer? No.):
That was then when it was the GOP’s fat in the fire. However, now that it is his and Eric Holder’s that’s being roasted, well that’s different.
Sen. Charles Grassley (R., Iowa) criticized the White House. "How can the president exert executive privilege over documents he’s supposedly never seen?" Mr. Grassley said.
At issue are Justice Department documents that Messrs. Issa and Grassley have sought and that the department resisted turning over in the congressional investigation into a botched gun-trafficking probe called Fast and Furious. The department said the documents reflected internal deliberation or were related to continuing criminal investigations and therefore weren’t subject to congressional subpoena.
Of course no one knows if any of that is true (or true of all the documents requested) since no one outside the Justice Department is able to inspect them. And this was an operation that AG Holder characterized as a “low-level operation”. Now, suddenly it needs executive protection? Seems like a heck of a sudden escalation in “levels” doesn’t it?
Apparently the decision to invoke executive privilege came after a meeting between AG Holder and Rep. Issa:
Messrs. Issa and Holder met Tuesday for 20 minutes. From their accounts, it has become a game of chicken, with each side insisting the other act first to resolve the standoff.
Mr. Holder said Mr. Issa rejected his offer to provide documents because the lawmaker wouldn’t agree that they would fulfill a subpoena, effectively ending the contempt threat. Mr. Issa said the attorney general didn’t come prepared to provide documents and that the contempt threat can’t be removed until the documents are produced.
Holder then proceeded to take the documents off the table via the President and executive privilege.
Mr. Grassley said Tuesday night: "The attorney general wants to trade a briefing and the promise of delivering some small, unspecified set of documents tomorrow for a free pass today. He wants to turn over only what he wants to turn over and not give us any information about what he’s not turning over. That’s unacceptable. I’m not going to buy a pig in a poke. Chairman Issa is right to move forward to seek answers about a disastrous government operation."
Contempt of Congress should now move forward. Frankly, Holder has been contemptuous of the law since the first day he took the office of the Attorney General.
And, for most folks, human nature says that those who have something they don’t want known have a tendency to try to hide it. Whether true or not, that’s how it appears … just as it did in the example in the video when Obama spoke out against the use of what he invoked today.
Matt Burden came up with my favorite bit of irony today as concerns this burgeoning fiasco:
Okay, I want to know what freaking idiot leaks all kinds of classified operations putting military, civilian agents, and allies at risk but pulls EXECUTIVE PRIVILEGE on Fast and Furious documents (that AG Holder said was a low level op)?!
The NY Times has an article out saying that extended unemployment benefits are beginning to wind down. Of course that’s in the face of at least 5 million still unemployed. And while it obviously has to happen, i.e. the cut-off of extended unemployment benefits, my guess is that Democrats are less likely to want it to happen than Republicans.
In case you haven’t heard there’s an election soon.
But, that said, it does take us to a number that should concern everyone:
49.1%: Percent of the population that lives in a household where at least one member received some type of government benefit in the first quarter of 2011.
Cutting government spending is no easy task, and it’s made more complicated by recent Census Bureau data showing that nearly half of the people in the U.S. live in a household that receives at least one government benefit, and many likely received more than one.
Yes, that number. 49.1%. Why should we be concerned about it? Well if I have to explain, you most likely won’t get it anyway. Make this comparison:
The 49.1% of the population in a household that gets benefits is up from 30% in the early 1980s and 44.4% as recently as the third quarter of 2008.
That’s a very large increase from 1984. It speaks, at least to me, of dependence. Now I know the recession has somewhat skewed the numbers. Got it. And, as the unemployment benefits wind down, the number will probably drop.
But in reality it points to a trend in which more and more people depend on less and less working people to help pay their way (CBO says food stamp rolls will continue to grow through 2014). What this points too is increased government spending (no matter how you slice it – those drawing money from the government is up and that means government is spending more) in an era we can’t afford it.
With increased government spending comes the need to pay for it, and if taxes aren’t going to increase that means deficits. Nearly three-quarters of Americans blame the U.S. budget deficit on spending too much money on federal programs, according to a Gallup poll last year, but when the conversation turns to which programs to cut, the majorities are harder to find. For example, 56% of respondents oppose making significant changes to Social Security or Medicare.
Why do you suppose that is? Why would 56% oppose making significant changes to Social Security or Medicare?
Because they have a vested financial interest in the two programs. Government has, for decades, taken money out of their pay check, spent it on other things and over promised the benefits. Or to simplify it for you, they’ve grossly mismanaged the two programs to the point that anyone in the private sector would be in jail.
And yet, the number of Americans getting benefits from government continues to trend upward.
Can you not spot the big red kangaroo here?
Why is it obvious to everyone but our politicians (yeah, that’s a rhetorical question for those wondering)?
If you were a group pushing legislation called the “Paycheck Fairness Act” that demanded gender equity in pay and benefits for working women (i.e. women being paid the same as men) and were beating up the other side and accusing them of making “war on women”, do you suppose before you did either you’d ensure your skirts were clean (no pun intended)?
Would you ensure you were paying women in your employ equally before trotting out your bombastic accusations?
Well most smart folks would, but we’re talking about Democratic Senators here. Five female Democratic Senators held a press conference yesterday in which they did exactly that – demanded equal pay for women and beat up Republicans. But:
Of the five senators who participated in Wednesday’s press conference—Barbara Mikulski (D., Md.), Patty Murray (D., Wash.), Debbie Stabenow (D., Mich.), Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) and Barbara Boxer (D., Calif.)—three pay their female staff members significantly less than male staffers.
Murray, who has repeatedly accused Republicans of waging a “war a women,” is one of the worst offenders. Female members of Murray’s staff made about $21,000 less per year than male staffers in 2011, a difference of 35.2 percent.
That is well above the 23 percent gap that Democrats claim exists between male and female workers nationwide.
Its not just the Democratic women in the Senate though:
The pay differential is quite striking in some cases, especially among leading Democrats. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.), who runs the Senate Democratic messaging operation, paid men $19,454 more on average, a 36 percent difference.
Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D., Ill.) paid men $13,063 more, a difference of 23 percent.
Other notable Senators whose “gender pay gap” was larger than 23 percent:
- Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.)—47.6 percent
- Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D., N.M.)—40 percent
- Sen. Jon Tester (D., Mont.)—34.2 percent
- Sen. Ben Cardin (D., Md.)—31.5 percent
- Sen. Tom Carper (D., Del.)—30.4 percent
- Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.)–29.7 percent
- Sen. Kent Conrad (D., N.D.)–29.2 percent
- Sen. Bill Nelson (D., Fla.)—26.5 percent
- Sen. Ron Wyden (D., Ore)—26.4 percent
- Sen. Tom Harkin (D., Iowa)—23.2 percent
By the way, you do recall that one of the first pieces of legislation passed in the Obama administration was something called the “Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act” which supposedly “solved” the gender pay disparity issue? Hey, it’s in all of Obama’s campaign literature.
“We passed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act—the first bill I signed—so that equal pay for equal work is a reality all across this country,” he said in June 2009.
And you can see how well it “solved” the disparities that exist among Democratic Senatorial staffs, can’t you?
I’m sure you have seen the chart that’s been circulating by Rex Nutting of Marketwatch in which he claims that Obama has overseen the least growth in federal spending. In fact what Nutting reproves is the old “lies, damn lies and statistics” cliché. James Pethokoukis takes his argument apart here.
Then there is this story today. It too pokes huge holes in the attempt downplay spending for the past few years during the Obama administration. In this case the story points out the accounting practices, or lack thereof, that Congress uses that would likely find any business using them accused of keeping double books:
The typical American household would have paid nearly all of its income in taxes last year to balance the budget if the government used standard accounting rules to compute the deficit, a USA TODAY analysis finds.
Under those accounting practices, the government ran red ink last year equal to $42,054 per household — nearly four times the official number reported under unique rules set by Congress.
A U.S. household’s median income is $49,445, the Census reports.
The big difference between the official deficit and standard accounting: Congress exempts itself from including the cost of promised retirement benefits. Yet companies, states and local governments must include retirement commitments in financial statements, as required by federal law and private boards that set accounting rules.
The deficit was $5 trillion last year under those rules. The official number was $1.3 trillion. Liabilities for Social Security, Medicare and other retirement programs rose by $3.7 trillion in 2011, according to government actuaries, but the amount was not registered on the government’s books.
If you think unemployment is under reported, when it comes to the deficit, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet, brother.
$5 trillion dollars. Let that sink in a bit. If this were any business out there using standard accounting rules, that’s what they would, by law, have to report.
Congress? Well, they’re special. They get to make up the rules as they go along and then follow them only if they wish too (with the option then of again changing the rules to fit what they’ve decided to do). In fact, since today seems to be irony day, the irony is:
"By law, the federal government can’t tell the truth," says accountant Sheila Weinberg of the Chicago-based Institute for Truth in Accounting.
Amazing but not shocking. In fact, not even surprising. We didn’t get here by being told the truth.
Oh, and remember real unemployment is at 8.1%. (*cough, cough*)
Can’t pass a budget in three years, is pretty sure the biggest reason to keep the financially insolvent USPS open is senior citizens like getting junk mail and wants the government paying your tax dollars to keep cowboy poetry alive, Harry Reid is a poster boy for the arguments against seniority as a means of picking leaders.
But when it comes to screwing over the best interests of the United State, well, you can definitely count on Harry to be on the side of those doing the screwing.
Senate Democrats will hold firm and reject House Republican demands to include approval of the Keystone oil pipeline in transportation funding legislation, their leader said Tuesday.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he would not in any way help Republicans move Keystone approval across the finish line.
“Personally, I’m not — I’m not one of the conferees — but personally I think Keystone is a program that we’re not going, that I am not going to help in any way I can,” Reid told reporters. “The president feels that way. I do, too.”
I’m sure the president does indeed feel the way Reid does.
Which should tell you all you need to know about where the President’s priorities are as well.
Sen. Democrats can’t produce a budget, but they can still find ways to raise taxes and redistribute income
The latest vote buying scheme? If you’re a small business man who owns an S-chapter corporation (that would be me), read it and weep:
Congressional Democrats and the White House have agreed to pay for a bill to freeze student loan interest rates for a year by raising taxes on so-called S Corporations, according to a top Senate Democrat and senior House and Senate aides, but Republicans said the tax increase may ensure the bill’s defeat in the Senate.
“We’ve got it worked out,” Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, said on Tuesday of the formula for paying for the legislation. Harkin spoke after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he will introduce within the next day a bill to prevent interest rates from doubling to 6.8 percent on July 1. That sets up Senate action on the bill next month after senators return May 7 from a one-week recess. A spokesman for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said she and House Education and Workforce ranking member George Miller, D-Calif., also signed off on the proposal.
The bill will require S Corporations with three or fewer shareholders who declare income of at least $250,000 a year to pay employment taxes, according to Harkin and Democratic staffers involved in the talks. An S Corporation is a specially structured entity that pays taxes under rules that allow earnings or losses to be passed through shareholders, reducing federal tax payments.
That’s right, S corps would be taxed to help keep interest rates on student loans down. Remember, the government now owns student loans.
And what have we looming right after the July 1st interest rate increase that might be hurt if that happens?
Why the November presidential election, of course.
Any wonder why the White House and Democrats are all for screwing small business to buy off a critical constituency?
It is no different in the category of desired political result than the $8 billion in spending HHS would do at the behest of the White House to slide the Medicare supplemental cost increase seniors will undergo from before the election to after.
This is outrageous. This is blatant vote buying and income redistribution to “pay” for Obama’s re-election. This is the essence of the Democratic ideology laid bare and the deviousness and immorality of their methods exposed for all to see – if they’ll see it.
No one makes anyone take out a student loan. And although it may be expensive, decades worth of those who’ve gone before have acted like adults and paid off the obligations they agreed too.
Now, if the Democrats get their way, it will be the job of those who’ve risked all to open a small business and built it with sweat equity and delayed gratification to pay to keep government controlled interest rates down?
“I don’t think anybody believes this interest rate ought to be allowed to rise,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Tuesday. “The question is, how do you pay for it? How long do you do the extension?”
Republicans are “in the process of discussing it among ourselves,” McConnell said.
Don’t even think about it Mr. McConnell! If, as Obama has said, it is wrong to raise taxes in an economic downturn, it is ALWAYS wrong. And if you think we’ve turned the corner economically, you’re not paying attention.
Government decided to take over the student loan business and now government can suffer the consequences of its actions. I have no desire or intent to bail it out.
If this doesn’t make you angry as hell then I’m fairly certain which lever you’re pulling in November.
She’s dangerously thick but in a position of power. This is the woman who attempted to redefine what it means to be Catholic (because actual Catholicism didn’t support her views on abortion). She passed a piece of legislation called ObamaCare without even knowing what was in it.
Now she wants to redefine free speech. Said Ms. Pelosi, while discussing Citizens United v. FEC (via The Rightscoop):
We have a clear agenda in this regard: Disclose, reform the system reducing the roll of money in campaigns, and amend the Constitution to rid it of this ability for special interests to use secret, unlimited, huge amounts of money flowing to campaigns.
I think one of the presenters [at a Democratic forum on amending the Constitution] yesterday said that the Supreme Court had unleashed a predator that was oozing slime into the political system, and that, indeed, is not an exaggeration. Our Founders had an idea. It was called democracy. It said elections are determined by the people, the voice and the vote of the people, not by the bankrolls of the privileged few. This Supreme Court decision flies in the face of our Founders’ vision and we want to reverse it.
Obviously she’s about as much a Constitutional Scholar as our President.
The First Amendment pertains to freedom of political speech and requires Congress to “make no law …” that would suppress it.
Ed Morrissey said it best:
The best campaign finance reform is still transparency. If burning a flag in the street is free speech, then so are political contributions, especially when made in the open. If the reformers in Congress want to clean up elections, then force immediate reporting on the Internet of all contributions to all presidential, Senate, and Congressional races, and full weekly financial reports on expenditures. That will do more than all of the speech-restricting, unconstitutional efforts made since Watergate, and make the entire system a lot more honest.
That’s where she and the left should be headed with this (after this campaign season of course – they want all that slime to flow into their coffers for at least the rest of this year).
Bottom line, Ms. Pelosi – “Congress shall make no law …”.
What part of that don’t you understand?
Yesterday I pointed to a piece of legislation that is in the House right now (after being passed by the Senate) which would give the IRS the power to confiscate your passport without judicial review and merely on the suspicion you owe a certain amount of back taxes.
Given the Orwellian name Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act or MAP-21, the legislation also mandates that all new cars have a “event data recorder” installed starting in 2015.
Now other than for government use, there are very few reasons why an owner of a vehicle would want such a device installed in his or her car.
The only reason an owner might want one was in case of an accident, it may provide some proof of their innocence in terms of fault. But we’ve become quite sophisticated in accident investigation already and seem quite capable of determining that now without the aid of an onboard “event data recorder”.
Section 31406 of Senate Bill 1813 (known as MAP-21), calls for “Mandatory Event Data Recorders” to be installed in all new automobiles and legislates for civil penalties to be imposed against individuals for failing to do so.
“Not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall revise part 563 of title 49, Code of Federal Regulations, to require, beginning with model year 2015, that new passenger motor vehicles sold in the United States be equipped with an event data recorder that meets the requirements under that part,” states the bill.
Although the text of legislation states that such data would remain the property of the owner of the vehicle, the government would have the power to access it in a number of circumstances, including by court order, if the owner consents to make it available, and pursuant to an investigation or inspection conducted by the Secretary of Transportation.
And, one would assume, government access to such data would be expanded as government found additional reasons to want it. Not to mention the addition of new “recording” devices or the like which might be even more intrusive in the future (if they manage to get away with this). Like imposing a road use tax. How handy would such a device be to government then?
This sort of government intrusion bothers the heck out of me. Never mind that this mandate (along with new CAFÉ standards) will increase the cost of a new car, the real point is this is being done as something government desires, not the individual. There’s no hew and cry or demand for such a device now. This serves one constituency and one constituency only – government.
Additionally, it isn’t optional. You have no choice but to pay for one if you buy a new car. And you will most likely be prosecuted if you disable it.
These are the sorts of intrusions citizens ought to be fighting tooth and nail. It isn’t the job of government to mandate recording devices on private vehicles. If they want to have them installed on their vehicle fleets, that’s fine.
But not mine. Not without my consent and damn sure not as a mandate with legal consequences for non-compliance.
There are now two reasons MAP-21 should be shot down in the House.