Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Kagan: We Can Trust the Government Bureaucrats

Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan believes we can place absolute trust in government bureaucrats to protect our lives and our rights. She argued to the Supreme Court that it would be perfectly fine if Congress passed a law banning books, since the government has never yet enforced such a law. I suppose she would also not oppose a law allowing the government to murder anyone it pleases, since the government has never yet attempted to make use of that sort of law, either.

Yes, I know that as Solicitor General, Ms Kagan had the responsibility of arguing her superiors' position in the case being appealed. Even so, supporting that position with this kind of argument marks her as either stupid or opposed to American principles. And whatever else she may be, I don't think she is stupid. And I'm not the only one to think so:

An attorney who would advise her client to be stupid and trust something not to happen, because it has never happened before is not an advocate, or an advisor; she is either incompetent or working for the other side.
Part of what's disturbing about this is Ms Kagan's position that what's in the law doesn't matter — that the government can ignore whatever laws it likes. (What about citizens? Do they have the same right?) But, then, I shouldn't be surprised: The man who nominater Ms Kagan, and his minions, believe they can ignore lots of laws — including the voter intimidation and border security laws.

It would be nice if we could get an Administration that actually believed in the rule of law, and in a government of laws rather than men. But those are American principles, so that may be too much to ask.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Simple Solutions

The Jihadist who tried to set off a car bomb in New York City's Times Square proudly plead guilty to all charges in court. He was eager to tell about his plot — he was proud of his failed attempt — he came to court with a prepared statement.

Faisal Shahzad, a Pakistan-born US citizen, trained with the Taliban and returned to the US to launch attacks on civilians here. He considers himself a "Muslim soldier". He said the attacks will continue until US forces leave Muslim lands.

This suggests a few simple solutions to some of our current problems. Here's a big one that would solve a number of problems:

  • US and other Western forces leave Muslim lands.
  • In return, all Muslims leave or are ejected from Western countries.
  • The Muslim lands we leave are put into isolation — under quarantine. No more Western aid. No more Western contact. They can commune among themselves. This status will continue until those countries' populations change their regimes to governments that no longer attack the West and promote terrorism and Islamist supremacy.
If we don't quite want to go that far, we can at least require reciprocity:
  • No mosque or Islamic study center can be built or opened in a Western land until Christian churches and synagogues are built and opened — without threats or violence — in Muslim lands.
  • No new mosque can be built or opened in a top-level Western city like New York or Washington DC until at least one cathedral and at least one synagogue is built and opened in Mecca.
Reciprocity must be required at other levels, as well.
  • Because of continued demonstrations of Muslim intolerance, including the continued harassment and murder of Christians, Jews, Hindus, Baha'is, and other non-Muslims, any demands (or requests) for tolerance by Muslims must be preceded by demonstrations of Muslim tolerance for non-Muslim religions and groups. (The simplest tolerance demonstration might be acceptance of Muslim converts to other religions, or to none.) Without such demonstrations, no request or demand will be heard.
We must also quit cutting Muslim extremists so much slack. If they are going to continue to seek converts in the West, they cannot object to Christian (and other) missionaries seeking converts in Muslim countries. If they are going to continue to limit their charity to Muslims only, they cannot object if we begin to limit our charity to them.

To smooth acceptance of these solutions and terms, we might accept the demand of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (and other Muslim organizations) for a law banning defamation of religions, making it clear that the first thousand cases will immediately be filed against mosques and imams for their preaching of hatred against Jews, Christians, and other non-Muslims. Large fines and jail time might do more than all the tolerance in the world to reduce the venom and violence being preached routinely to the Muslim faithful.

Just a few ideas for simple solutions to complex problems, with the added benefit of letting some of these folks reap the appropriate consequences of their own actions and their own immature demands.

And that's before we consider the question of whether Islamism (or Islam itself) is actually a religion, or whether it is in reality just another totalitarian political ideology.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Odd Privacy Decisions

The combination of two court decisions on the privacy of personal data struck me as odd.

  1. The United States Supreme Court ruled in a case from Washington State that the names and addresses of people who signed a petition supporting traditional marriage could be made public. The losing side had argued the information was protected under the Privacy Act, and that releasing it would subject the petition signers to harassment by extremist gay marriage supporters.
  2. The New Mexico Court of Appeals ruled the state Motor Vehicle Division was right to refuse to release the names and addresses of illegal aliens who were given drivers licenses. The losing side had argued the information was needed to determine how many of the illegal aliens were registered to vote, and had voted in state and federal elections.
So the courts have ruled illegal aliens have rights that are denied to citizens. I find that very interesting.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

D Day - June 6, 1944

66 years ago today

A long time ago, but important to remember — even as the memories are fading and there are fewer and fewer of the participants left.

See the rest at the Weasel Zippers site, and visit Sense of Events and Blackfive for their commemorations.

Tian An Men Remembered

21 years ago, in China — June 4, 1989

We need to remember this bravery, these events.

And, the way history usually works, it won't be long till one of 1989's demonstrators from Tian An Men Square becomes part of the senior leadership of China.

[I'm posting this a couple of days late. But I still remember.]

Friday, June 4, 2010

Deliberate Stupidity About the Arizona Immigration Law

There are a lot of people out there saying a lot of things about the new Arizona law on illegal aliens. The milder statements have been that it's clearly invalid (statements by Eric Holder and Janet Napolitano, and earlier statements by Barack Obama), and that it was "poorly conceived" (later Obama statement). Many have said it is obviously unconstitutional, requires racial profiling, and violates U.S. treaty obligations. Others have been calling it racist and immoral, and have accused Arizona of being filled with Nazis for having passed it.

Southern Arizona's Congressman Raúl Grijalva has called on President Obama to void the law, and has called for a boycott of his own state for having passed it. It looks like Los Angeles may join that boycott — which Arizona power plants may accommodate by sending to other states the large amount of electricity they currently supply to that city. Congresswoman Linda Sanchez, from southern California, has said white supremacist groups are behind the passage of this law.

Statements calling the Arizona law racist and xenophobic, and a brutal violation of human rights, have come from dictators Fidel Castro of Cuba and Hugo Chavez of Venezuela.

And on a visit to Washington, D.C., Mexican President Felipe Calderón attacked Arizona and its new law — both in a speech to the Congress (drawing a standing ovation from Congressional Democrats) and in a joint press conference with President Obama at the White House.

There is one common thread among all these views and statements: As best I can determine, not a single one of the people making these statements have actually read the Arizona law.

Here's part of why that's interesting: The Arizona law mirrors the corresponding federal law, though with prohibitions against racial profiling the federal law lacks. By that means, it makes violations of the federal immigration law also violations of state law, enabling the state and local authorities to enforce them.

All of which would be known to all these folks if they would just read the bill. It's not like the Arizona law is a 2700 page monstrosity — the law is just ten pages long. Is it really too much to ask that our most senior officials read the bill before pontificating about it? It might actually keep them from making incredibly ignorant public statements. (On the other hand, maybe they simply don't want to know what's actually in the new law.)

This whole situation has caused me three particular lines of thought:

  — Consider why Arizona has been pushed into passing a law like this. Phoenix has become the kidnapping capital of the world as the drug cartels have been pushing across our far-too-open border. Ranchers have been dealing with increasing amounds of theft and destruction, both of their property and of the region's Sonoran Desert. Attempts to stop the vandals and human traffickers have gotten area ranchers hauled into court or murdered by illegal aliens. Conditions have become intolerable. Something had to be done — has to be done — and the Obama Administration, like its predecessors for at least two decades, has completely abdicated its responsibility for border security.

  — Everything we hear from the press and media, and nearly everything we hear from our nation's political leadership, opposes this new Arizona law. To restate this, everything we hear from the elites opposes this law. Despite this, 70% of Arizonans and a significant majority of all Americans support this law. In fact, even a major portion of American politicians support it. That's why at least 18 other states are now considering passage of similar laws. And that's not counting the states like California who already have laws on the books with similar provisions.

  — Thinking about the people demonstrating against this law (for example here, I keep wondering where they were before. If this law is so onerous, so obviously racist, and so obviously unconstitutional, why weren't they protesting when the U.S. Congress passed (and the president signed) the same provisions? Where were they when California passed their similar law? My conclusion is that the selective outrage of the politicians and media and demonstrators isn't about this law or any of its provisions — it's really about the fact that, unlike other jurisdictions in the past, Arizona will probably actually enforce this law.

Under these circumstances, I guess I should revise my initial statement: There are a lot of people out there spouting really stupid stuff about the new Arizona law on illegal aliens. Their statements reflect either complete ignorance or deliberate stupidity about the law. The only alternative is that they (at least some of them) know what's actually in the law and are being deliberately dishonest about it for political purposes.

All that said, it may still be open for discussion whether this particular law is the best approach to the illegal aliens problems. After all, it doesn't secure the border to stop the illegal entries. (No city or state can accomplish that.) But as an absolute baseline, I like the policy now established in Albuquerque under which every individual processed into the detention center — every individual placed under arrest — is interviewed by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) to determine his/her citizenship and residency status. And I don't see any problem with similar immigration inquiries under circumstances when the law enforcement officer has the discretion as to whether to detain the individual or not.

The Department of Justice is reviewing the Arizona law, and considering what action (if any) to recommend to Attorney General Eric Holder. ABC News has reported the draft DOJ conclusion to be that "the Arizona legislature exceeded its authority in crafting a law that could impede federal responsibility for enforcing immigration laws." This conclusion, draft or otherwise, is ludicrous — it is not logically possible to impede the federal government in performance of responsibilities it has conclusively demonstrated it has no intention of performing. This does, however, suggest an approach that might be taken either instead of, or in addition to, passage of a law like Arizona's: The border states, individually and/or collectively, could sue the Administration and the federal government (I would think both for specific performance and a trillion dollars or so in damages) over its dereliction of duty in abrogating its responsibilities in securing the borders and enforcing the immigration statutes. Maybe that would actually get their attention.

In the meantime, we'll all have to keep pressing this issue. Fortunately, we seem to have some good, strong voices with us.