Some guys can't catch a break. Now that it's over, Ruchir Sharma comes out on the prestigious WSJ Ed Page in fulsome support of Stealthflation, which I vigorously opposed.
While there are many reasons behind the decline in the price of oil, one of them is the end of QE, which has reduced speculation in commodities and strengthened the dollar. The price of oil and the dollar have long been known to move in opposite directions. Now, the sharp decline in the price of oil and other commodities like food is putting more money in the pockets of the middle class.
I think I still put more weight on other "many reasons," but let it not be said that I do not play fair.
I teased my Facebook friends that "nobody blames the eeevil speculators when oil prices go down!" (Don't worry, none of them got it.)
But I might let a salvo loose here. A corollary is "nobody bitches about energy's non-inclusion in the core CPI when oil prices go down!" Am I wrong? When gas is $4, I am assured it's incontrovertible evidence of inflation. At $1.859, nobody's asking Janet Yellen to cry havoc and let slip the dogs of liquidity.
U.S. consumers are seeing prices rise at the slowest annual pace in more than five years, largely thanks to a global plunge in oil prices, presenting a potential complication for the Federal Reserve as it looks to raise interest rates this year.
The consumer-price index, which measures what Americans pay for everything from coffee to airline tickets, rose 0.8% in December from the same month a year earlier, the Labor Department said Friday. December’s 0.8% annual rise was the smallest since October 2009, when prices fell 0.2% on the year.
(Yes, that is $1.859 and yes that is a 10 gallon tank.)
Who better to wed pragmatic politics to smart policy? Wait -- don't answer that. But do give this a spin:
I applaud my blog brother for a well thought out outline of a plan to move forward. Curiously, I would be all in but do not think it will be accepted by my opponents. There is not a great amount of good faith between both sides. Any path to citizenship generally gets called "amnesty;" and the first time I hear "amnesty" I shut down respectful engagement.
But I have a suggestion. I recommended this month's Reason magazine for the Ted Cruz cover story. I also just finished Shikha Dalmia's excellent story on immigration. Dalmia -- and indeed most everybody at Reason and me -- decries the limited number of legal opportunities for immigration. "Get in line!" say opponents of illegal immigration. They skipped the line, make the ones currently here get back in line &c. I -- and Reason -- counter that there is no line.
There is not. There is a lottery and a lottery is not a line. If there are 50 spots and you are #51 -- you are not first next year. Any place there is a semblance of an orderly queue, it is like the Boulder Gun Club which has a 310 year waiting list. Yes Mr. Kranz, sign right there -- we'll call you or use whatever form of communication is common in 2315.
THE NEW GOP IMMIGRATION PLAN: create and enforce orderly queues for H1-B, Farm workers, family reunification, hardship cases, and I'd hope to add a guest worker queue. This will allow Congress to raise or lower quotas as needed. If they are too small as they are now, there is a risk that illegal crossings will continue. But I am willing to think those on the other side of the disagreement are better. Some Union guys and some protectionists will want to shut it down, but most people who see respect for law and sovereignty would not object. And the powerful Chamber of Commerce wing of the party would push the quotas up.
With a legal path, my team would loosen up on allowing enforcement. If a line is indeed extant, you can punish those who jump it.
Still 11 million unresolved issues, but the legislature would need to devise a method to get the current undocumented in line. Make them return to their home country to apply if you must. I disagree strongly but won't have this shot down with the A-word. You would think many would do what it takes to get legal status. Worst case it leaves them hear but at least moves us to an orderly system going forward.
I'm off the Ted Cruz (Presidential Candidate - TX) bandwagon.
To be fair, I was never 100% comfortably seated. He has a compelling biography and I enjoyed his speech at the 2012 GOP convention. But, while he can be a principled voice for liberty, I have always found it mixed in equal parts with self-aggrandizement.
I accept that not a lot of humble people run for President. I laugh that -- when I really pinned them down-- what really bothered my progressive friends about President George W. Bush was "arrogance." And I'll concede there was some frat-boy bravado behind the legendary "smirk." I laugh because the new occupant of 1600 Penn is a messianic megalomaniac, but the same crowd is not so much disturbed.
I relate the partisan nature because I must also admit that my preferred candidate, Rand Paul (Presidential Candidate - KY), shares some of the same faults. Yet I assert that Sen. Paul is "doing what it takes to be elected as a 'pragmatic' libertarian."
But Cruz's last-minute procedural maneuver to demand a vote on immigration scuttled that deal and forced senators to stay in Washington for the weekend. Not only did the immigration vote fail by a wide margin, 74-22, but the maneuver allowed Democrats to advance a slate of two dozen Obama nominees to executive branch positions faster than they otherwise would have proceeded.
The nominations include Tony Blinken as deputy secretary of state, Dr. Vivek Murthy as surgeon general, Sarah Saldana as head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Carolyn Colvin to lead the Social Security Administration. These, in addition to several judicial appointments, are expected to begin processing on Monday.
"It will have the end result of causing nominees who I think are not well qualified to be confirmed, so I don't understand the approach that he is taking," Republican Susan Collins of Maine told The New York Times. "And I think it's very unfortunate and counterproductive."
Bluto: "This calls for a pointless gesture!" Exactly that for which my Facebook Feed cries. Had he done it over overspending, I might have a bit more sympathy. No, it is over the red-meat, base-firing-up issue of "amnesty!"
So screw it -- he can't even be Vice President now.
UPDATE: "fart-boy corrected to "frat-boy;" ThreeSources apologizes...
Jonah -- proudly -- represents Burkean conservatism and I am grounded more in a Lockean, rights-based libertarianism. So we have parted on shading and nuance several times. But my history with, respect for, and appreciation for Goldberg has always provided the benefit of the doubt to his case.
But we have found a cross product of -1 on an important issue. Jonah finds mondo-scientist and hateful shirt-rocker Matt Taylor culpable in shirtgate -- not of misogyny, but of fashion violations and a class 3 abuse of casual Friday.
Many of my friends and colleagues on the anti-PC right have responded with understandable outrage. And it's true: Taylor's confession of wrongdoing did feel forced -- awfully North Korean.
Still, the feminists have a point. Although I like the shirt (which is now selling like hotcakes), I would never wear it to a nice restaurant, never mind on a globally broadcast TV interview. The reason I wouldn't wear it has very little to do with my fear of offending feminists. It's simply unsuitable professional attire. I'd ask critics of the feminist backlash, would you wear it on a job interview? How about to church or synagogue?
So the Burke-Locke split is just a small creek compared to the sartorial ocean that divides me and Mister Goldberg. I always wanted to explore things more deeply with blog friend Perry. He was a Wall-Streeter and his blog linked to the occasional "Ten Must-Do Men's Dressing Tips" of which I would follow . . . zero.
There is a huge split between East Coast and West US, more between urban and rural, and a monstrous divide between technical professions and New York Journalism. I don't know that I'd wear "the shirt" to a job interview but I have interviewed and hired many who were dressed equally casually. Nor would I refrain from hiring a candidate who showed up in that. I would shave points off only if it reinforced some other concerns.
I think a lot of people choose technical professions because they don't like to dress up. And on a higher plane, most want to be accepted for their achievements if not the content of their character -- certainly not the color of their shirt. Law and Investment Banking might be swell occupations, but to the tech worker they appear capricious with the attractive, well dressed and obsequious worker advancing faster than his or her better qualified rivals.
Doctor Taylor probably went into science to avoid being judged by his shirt. Jonah Goldberg makes a mistake to apply his standards outside his profession.
Now that's a provocative headline! Upworthy here we come!
I highlighted a couple of quotes from Sunday's Review Corner of Russ Roberts's How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life: An Unexpected Guide to Human Nature and Happiness. I wanted to separate them from the review, yet use them here to torture my blog brothers with an appeal-to-authority in our ongoing, internecine debate on The War on Drugs.
Roberts finds that Smith had suspicions about anti-Hayekians centuries before there was a Hayek to oppose. Smith was a man of government and he saw -- up close and personal -- those who would run our lives to improve us:
He seems to imagine that he can arrange the different members of a great society with as much ease as the hand arranges the different pieces upon a chess-board. He does not consider that the pieces upon the chess-board have no other principle of motion besides that which the hand impresses upon them; but that, in the great chess-board of human society, every single piece has a principle of motion of its own, altogether different from that which the legislature might chuse to impress upon it.
Roberts, Russ (2014-10-09). How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life: An Unexpected Guide to Human Nature and Happiness (p. 207). Penguin Group US. Kindle Edition.
Roberts "chuses" the Drug War to illustrate:
I have met kind, empathetic, earnest people who see recreational drugs as a great scourge. And certainly some drug users destroy themselves and their families through their inability to control their desires. Yet the war on drugs has failed despite the desires of those kind, empathetic, earnest people and despite the harm that comes to drug users. The war on drugs has failed because too many chess pieces have their own movements; too many people like to use drugs. And too many people see those desires as a potential for profit, which it surely is.
OK, The Refugee admits that he stole the headline wholesale from the actual article by Heather Wilhelm. This is red meat to Three Sourcers.
The Refugee is not going to pull quotes because the article speaks very well for itself. Wilhelm addresses what should be a rather natural alignment between these three groups, but is rather a prickly association at best. Worth the read if you have five minutes.
Here's a clip from Stossel's immigration show last night. I mentioned in a coment a better section on Sen. Sessions and Mark Zuckerburg. The show will be replayed on FOX News Sunday at 10 Eastern / 8 Mountain.
Around 4:10 there is a good Hayekian argument about central-planning, government and democracy.
And when Kentucky voters get to know her, they may make Kentucky Republicans wish they had nominated "TEA Party favorite" Matt Bevin instead of... ol' Mitch.
Doggone, I really hope the GOP swings enough seats to control the senate without McConnell because, like this CNN commentator says, I'm one of those who sees him as part of the problem.
I'm watching this race real closely because to me it could be the biggest indictment of politics as usual. If Republicans win the senate because Barack Obama hasn't led, but McConnell doesn't return to the senate to lead it because he's part of, a big part of the dysfunction in Washington, this could be a race that really shows how the public is just tired of the way both parties are running this place.
I'm placing this under "internecine" because some of my blog brothers have yet to find enlightenment on the glories and intrinsic liberty of self-driving cars. That said, we'll likely all agree on the wisdom of keeping a watchful philosophical eye on key members of the President's campaign staff.
The WSJ Ed Page saluted David Plouffe for his vocationally inspired epiphany on the evils of overregulation, both in a column last week and on their weekend FOXNews show. Today, Gordon Crovitz adds "[...] who ran Barack Obama's campaign in 2008 and served as a senior presidential adviser. Too bad Mr. Plouffe didn't discover the virtues of deregulation before leaving government."
Crovitz's column is about regulation of self-driving cars. We will pay -- in tens of thousands of needless deaths -- for every year this technology is delayed by a Federal apparatus that defaults to "no."
The Obama administration's standard reaction to technological innovation has been to block change via regulation: The Federal Aviation Administration bans commercial use of drones, the Food and Drug Administration restricts gene-testing suppliers such as 23andMe, and the Federal Communications Commission is considering massive regulation of the Internet in the name of "net neutrality."
Federal regulators are also putting the brakes on self-driving cars, which are closely related to the Uber innovation--enabling riders to order a car service using their smartphone app. If fast-moving technology hadn't collided with slow-moving regulators, this might have been the last summer you'd have to drive your own car.
In fairness, the bias toward impeding innovation preceded President Obama's election by several decades. I had been concerned that the tort bar and excessive litigation would stop this technology. Perhaps I can rest easy knowing that the government would never allow it anyway.
Crovitz closes with a historical-fiction-counterfactual that Mister Plouffe returns to Washington as an advocate against over-regulation. I think it more likely he will lobby for additional impediments to self-driving cars. Why, they could affect the bottom line of his new employer...
I'm quite pleased that there is intellectual and philosophical competition in the GOP. I of course choose to leverage that in the primaries and then hope for a certain amount of nose-holding-loyalty in the general. We were discussing below whether CO Gubernatorial nominee, Rep. Bob Beauprez, was irredeemably establishment -- jg and I say no.
But that's not important now. For those who do not attend Liberty on the Rocks -- Flatirons, you are missing great speakers, very good food, spotty but friendly service . . . and questions from my friend, Dave Walden. His questions generally feature an opinion or two, a story, and a perceptive inquiry.
A mutual friend pointed out this video and Dave graciously allowed my to post. I have been trying to recruit him to blog here, but here is a taste of his genial wit and charm -- with a message at the end.
Second: I have read some pretty good (and some bad) commentary. Peter Suderman at Reason provides a balanced look at four reasons VA-7 may have given its favored son the heave-ho.
But it is hard to contradict Jim Geraghty's terse summary:
Take a victory lap, Mickey Kaus, Mark Levin, Laura Ingraham.
Kaus, at least, is tuirnung donuts it the parking lot. Insty has linked to him about 147 times since the exit polls trickled out last night.
Perhaps I am too pragmatic to be a 'bagger. I read that Professor Brat is a sharp, eloquent, and principled defender of small government. So. Yay.
But the advertisements linked Rep. Cantor to President Obama and "Amnesty." If there is one word I'd love to never hear again, it is of course "Obama." (See what I did there?) But if I get two, the second is certainly "Amnesty." Amnesty is the "bloody shirt" of the immigration debate. I can take immigration opponents seriously until they use that word. Then, they've lost me.
Meanwhile, Sen. Lindsey Graham (TeeVeeStar - SC) cruises to victory in the Palmetto State. I would love to see a principled lover of liberty prevail there. Against Cantor? Not so much.
A sports metaphor, scarecrow? We've just traded a really good Left Tackle because he couldn't throw 60 yard spirals. But try and throw one with JJ Watt standing on your head.
Tea Partiers are happy, I guess I am not one after all.
FWIW, losing Eric Cantor means GOP loses someone with a deep and thoughtful understanding of the econ challenges facing modern USA
We've heard many opinions on the multi-lingual Coca Cola Superbowl ad "America the Beautiful" including here, here and here. I'd like to share one more viewpoint. This from a son of Chinese immigrants who also happens to be a Republican candidate for congress in the Colorado district that encompasses Boulder (CO-2).
The part of jg will be played by former Federal Reserve trader Andrew Huszar, jk will be represented by Jeapordy! champion and AEI Scholar, James Pethokoukis.
I found it enjoyable and was glad to find video online. As far as our local discussion, I am squishier than JimiP. Q-E-One-and-done is somewhat compelling, yet so is Pethokoukis's reference to the contractionary policies of an overly-tight ECB.
Senator McCain's "Democratic Response" to Cruz's Filibuster
Did anyone else hear John McCain's weak-kneed floor speech after Ted Cruz finished his filibuster? I was dubstruck by the praise he gave to Obamacare and the Democrats, juxtaposed with his derision of Cruz et al and the principles and ideas of which they spoke for 21 hours. Investors' editorial page shared my disgust.
Cruz wasn't long off the floor before Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a war hero, raised a white flag in one of the most disgraceful Senate speeches ever delivered.
Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., aptly called it "the Democratic response" to Cruz. It can be summed up in two of McCain's own defeatist words: "We lost."
There's more on McCain's fecklessness but the editorial closes with a look at the GOPs future:
Aged elephants like McCain make a Tea Party-based third party likely. That would cinch long-term Democratic dominance in D.C. McCain's 2008 running mate, Sarah Palin, told Fox's Neil Cavuto there already are three parties: the liberal Democrats, the GOP establishment, and Republican "good guys" like Cruz.
But this week, Ted Cruz gave America a look at the GOP future, in all its boldness and common sense. We hear Arizona has many fine retirement homes, Sen. McCain. Time to pass the torch.
At the Republican Governors Association gathering in Aspen, CO this week, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie sounded the alarm against the danger of too many people having too much freedom.
"As a former prosecutor who was appointed by President George W. Bush on Sept. 10, 2001, I just want us to be really cautious, because this strain of libertarianism that's going through both parties right now and making big headlines, I think, is a very dangerous thought," Christie said.
Christie's statement was in the context of the narrowly defeated bill that would have reduced funding for NSA collection of Americans' phone records, a subject that Christie dismissed as "esoteric."
Rand Paul tweeted a response:
Christie worries about the dangers of freedom. I worry about the danger of losing that freedom. Spying without warrants is unconstitutional.
But what I really want to know is, where the hell is the libertarian streak that's going through the Democrat party right now?
In 2001, my wife, Shawnna, and I moved to Arizona. I love nearly everything about my adopted state, but the one thing that troubles me greatly is Arizona’s widespread hostility toward Mexican immigration, not just illegal but legal as well. Among many Arizona conservatives, opposition to immigration dwarfs all other political issues, even in the face of economic recession. The vehemence on this issue initially puzzled me, given that Arizona still is the land of Barry Goldwater and largely reflects his libertarian, live-and-let-live philosophy.
Indeed, I have often joked that if Arizonans are really serious about protecting our traditional values against assault from hostile newcomers, we should wall off our western border to California rather than our southern border.
Governor Jeb Bush and Clint Bolick provide a solid blueprint for moving forward in Immigration Wars. I don't agree with every word of it, and I'm rather certain it would not be any ThreeSourcer's idea of perfection. It is a contentious debate, and apart from the bitter clingers on both extremes, I think the authors understand it is about compromise and understand it is about moving forward. While imperfect, if Congress were to pass it exactly as written, there is nothing in this book that I could not live with.
The best part is its two foundational premises:
We believe comprehensive reform should be constructed upon two core, essential values: first, that immigration is essential to our nation, and second, that immigration policy must be governed by the rule of law. Those who expound only one of those values to the exclusion of the other do violence to both, because the two values are inseparable.
Many of our circular, circuitous, and cicumlocutious immigration debates have danced around this, because I was unable to state my premises so clearly.
The authors are as pro-immigration as I am and the book celebrates many reasons for increasing and legalizing/normalizing additional immigration. The talk shows and political reviews have focused on their solution to current undocumented aliens. Those who came here as adults are offered a pathway to permanent legal status but not a head start toward citizenship. This is not the plan I'd write, but I can sign on if this is un-am-nasty enough for a plurality.
This is the most contentious issue, and the position of a prominent Republican is newsworthy. Some of the more subtle points are more interesting. Bush and Bolick call for refocusing preferences on skills and economic need in favor of "family reunification."
Reuniting someone with their long lost third cousin twice removed is sweet. But it sets up a chain migration that can grow without bounds. Plus, it is biased toward less productive new citizens. Spouses and children can follow an immigrant but no further. We're sending home doctors and entrepreneurs and physics geniuses to bring more grandmothers in. Sweet, but not in our best economic interests.
One hopes that this might get resolved. We cherish rule of law, yet look the other way for startling abuses to people and equal enforcement.
It is in no one's interest for illegal immigrants and their families to live in the shadows. We need everyone to participate in the mainstream economy, to pay taxes, to participate openly in their communities, to be willing to report crimes-- that is to say, to be accountable, responsible members of society. That cannot occur when people fear they will be arrested if their immigration status is known.
It is an enjoyable and quick read touching economics, education and politics. If the debate were moved forward in this direction, that would be a huge net positive.
UPDATE: That other fella named Bush has a very good guest editorial in the WSJ today.
Nothing like an argument over legalizing drugs to start an imbroglio at Three Sources. It's probably been more than a year since the last internecine brouhaha and The Refugee is not really interested in starting another one (there are so many other interesting polical issues at the moment.) Nevertheless, he's pretty sure this post violates the terms of the armistice.
The Denver Post is currently running a series that follows "Angel," a heroin addict living on the streets of Denver. She survives by panhandling $90+ dollars per day to get the needed "fixes" and sometimes a room. She will live on the goodness of strangers, (i.e., in their homes), until they learn that her stories are mostly hustles. Her signs asking for help are mostly lies. Life is getting from one fix to another, but according to the story, there is no evidence that she commits any crimes more serious than misdemeanor trespassing and the like. The Denver cops know her, but never arrest her for simple use or possession of drug paraphenalia. (From The Refugee's perspective, this is de facto legalization.) So far so good. No crimes against others. Should Angel not have the right to inject her body with whatever substance she chooses?
The Refugee argues that drug use is rarely a victimless crime and the case of Angel bears that out. It turns out that Angel was pregnant while using heroin, knowingly continued to inject herself and gave birth to a daughter with a rare form of dwarfism. Angel left the child with another junkie, who passed out from drug use while the child was in her care. Social services removed the child from Angel and the child is now in the care of a foster parent who specializes in children with special needs. (The Refugee could probably open a second front in this battle with the appropriateness of the State taking a child from its parent.)
The situation here is that Angel knowingly injected another human being, albeit In Vitro, with heroin. Should that be a crime? In The Refugee's opinion, yes - child endangerment, child abuse, assault and anything else a creative prosecutor can dream up. Angel's narcissistic negligence has condemned another human being to a life of difficulty, struggle and likely early death. The cost of the child's care will be borne by the Colorado taxpayer. The Refugee does not begrudge his tax dollars going to help this child, but it illustrates how Angel's personal choice impacts others.
Angel is not a victim, she is a perpetrator and should be serving time.
I should never award before the G-File comes out [subscribe].
After all, if Romney loses this thing there will only be a vicious civil war on the right that will make the fight scene from Anchorman seem like one of the slower moments in My Dinner with Andre. -- Jonah Goldberg
For about a decade before the autumn of 2008, when the U.S. economy tanked, the multiplier stood steady at the 8-to-9 range. That means every new dollar in the monetary base resulted in an $8 to $9 increase in the money supply. After the financial meltdown, bank lending dried up and the multiplier fell roughly to the 3.5-to-4 level.
At the same time, the Fed made a decision to ensure liquidity for transactions in order to encourage the recovery. To do so, it boosted the monetary base through the expansion of bank reserves and currency, at whichever rate was required to keep M2 expanding at around the same rate it had been. Between October 2008 and December 2011, the Fed expanded the base by $1.45 trillion, more than doubling the base to nearly $2.6 trillion.
The problem is that as the recovery progresses, the multiplier will move back toward normal levels, and the money supply will expand. Because of this, inflation could increase significantly beyond the 7.2% projected from 2011 data.
Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke says the Fed is working on methods to drain the excess reserves from the system and lessen the risks of high inflation. But there are reasons to doubt the Fed's ability to do so.
Maybe if some huge national emergency were to materialize, prompting the spending of those reserves "in the national interest." A war, perhaps.
Cunningham's conclusion is less ambiguous:
Despite the many uncertainties, one fact remains: An enormous wall of money has built up in the banking system. If it finds its way into the general economy at pre-recession rates, the United States is in for quite a ride.
Blog Brother JK has made numerous impassioned cases for Gov. Huntsman to be the GOP standard bearer versus the current Duffer-in-Chief. The basic argument, as The Refugee understands it, is that the former governor from the state geographically to the left of Colorado would be better at promoting Liberty. The Refugee is not so sure. The Good Gov seems to have taken a page from the Newt Gingrich playbook of attacking capitalism in an effort to get at Romney.
In an "exclusive interview with the Huffington Post," Huntsman characterized Romney as an "agent for Wall Street." ["Why would any self-respecting Republican give an exclusive interview to HuffPo," pondered The Refugee. But that was just him being snarky.]
Hoping to establish a competitive position once the Republican presidential primary contest shifts its focus from Iowa to New Hampshire, Jon Huntsman sharply criticized Mitt Romney on Tuesday, saying the frontrunner would be an agent for Wall Street and protector of the status quo if elected.
Huntsman goes on:
"It is the fact that he has raised so much money from the large banks, the banks that need to be right-sized. If you are the largest recipient of funds from Wall Street, and in particular the large banks, you are not going to be inclined to want to change that model. Because those who run those banks want no change, they profit off the status quo and clearly they are not going to be inclined to want to bring about any change."
It turns out that Romney has received 24% of his contributions from financial interests. Ouch. But wait - Huntsman has receive 21% from financial interests - is 3% really the magical difference between an agent for Wall Street and an agent for change?
The really disturbing thing, however, is that Huntsman - the alleged purveyor of Liberty - believes that his administration could judge what the proper size of a bank should be and what products it should offer:
Huntsman, by contrast, has argued for banks to be reduced in size, and for stricter limits to be placed on the type of financial activities they can undertake.
Romney's take is somewhat different:
"I believe that institutions have the capacity to go through bankruptcy if necessary to reorganize their obligations," Romney said. "I think what happened in 2008 was not a matter of one bank, Lehman Brothers, having caused the entire collapse. I think the matter was that we had a massive problem in our economy, which was precipitated by the subprime mortgage crisis, that threatened not just one or two banks but threatened the entire banking sector, our entire financial services sector. And that was a setting very different than that that would be caused by one institution getting in trouble."
Is The Refugee cherry-picking quotes and issues? Perhaps, but he continues to be troubled by a candidate who often sounds and behaves more like a Democrat than a Republican.
The "TEA Movement" is More Popular Than a "Big-Tent"
Comity? Who needs comity?
Jared Rhoads of The Lucidicus Project (Helping medical students understand free markets) agrees with me (and Robert Tracinski) that limited government is not merely a practical issue, but a moral one.
I used to think that Republicans did stand for individual rights on principle, but that they shied away from moral arguments because they deemed it better public relations to be "big-tent," inclusive, neutral. Well, over the past two years, the Tea movement has demonstrated that pro-individualist moral sentiments are popular and effective. We are still waiting for the Republicans to catch up.
What is holding them back? As writer Craig Biddle explains in a recent article in The Objective Standard, Republicans face a self-imposed obstacle in their effort to limit government to its proper functions: they still believe that being moral consists of sacrificing oneself for the needs of others.
Imagine approaching your moderate Republican Congressperson and making the case for cutting government based on the morality of individual rights. He may smile and nod in agreement, but as Biddle indicates, there is conflict churning in his head:
•Repeal Obamacare? How can we do that if the right thing to do is to sacrifice for others? People need medical care, and Obamacare will provide it by forcing everyone to sacrifice as he should.
•Phase out Medicare? How can we do that if we are morally obliged to provide for the needy? The elderly need medical care, and Medicare provides it by forcing everyone to pony up.
•Phase out Social Security? How can we do that if, as the bible tells us, we are our brother's keeper? The elderly need money for retirement, and Social Security provides it by forcing everyone to do the right thing.
The only proper purpose of government is to protect individual rights. It is not to oversee our healthcare, help us be charitable, or assist with our retirement planning. There is no way to roll back Obamacare or other government encroachments without recognizing this fact and stating it openly on the floors of the House and Senate.
The next time we circulate a petition, let's tell the supporters of Obamacare that what they have done is not simply impractical, unfair, or too expensive. Let's tell them it is wrong.
Over the New Year's holiday spent here in Seattle with Mr. and Mrs. Macho Duck I re-read an article in a 2008 issue of The Intellectual Activist (Vol. 20, No. 1.) The article's title is 'Fusionism Comes Unfused.' It reopened some internecine disputes in a clearly stated way so I wanted to share. Checking first for posts containing the word "Tracinski" (the author) I found a drought from 2007 until 2010. Shame on me!
The piece reviews the 2008 GOP primary season, where Rudy Giuliani and Mike Huckabee's early leads evaporated, for no apparent reason, to leave the field wide open. Tracinski attributes the cause to a "desperate desire" on the part of GOP voters to avoid the stark choice between a pro-defense, pro-markets and "not particularly religious" Giuliani and a "strongly religious, anti-abortion candidate who has nothing particular to offer on the war and denounces the pro-free-market Club for Growth as the 'Club for Greed."
"But in avoiding the choice between a religious agenda and a secular agenda, Republicans were forced to evade the substantive issues at stake in th election and focus instead on the personal qualities of the candidates. (...)
In short, faced with a big ideological question on the role of religion, Republicans dodged the issue and instead chose a candidate on non-ideological grounds. [McCain, the flip-flip-flopper]
Yet the conflict between the religious and secular wings of the conservative agenda cannot be avoided, even if Republicans declined to resolve it this year.
Republican fusionism is unstable because its basic premise -- that the moral foundation of free markets and Americanism can be left to the religious traditionalists -- is false. For five decades, under the influence of fusionism, conservatives have largely ceded to the religious right the job of providing the moral fire to sustain their movement. But they are discovering that the religionists do not have a strong moral commitment to free markets. In fact, the religious right seems to be working on its own version of 'fusion' -- with the religious left.
The reason for this shift toward the religious left is that religion ultimately cannot support the real basis for capitalism and a strong American national defense: a morality of rational self-interest. Christianity is too deeply committed to a philosophy of self-abnegation, a destructive morality that urges men to renounce any interest in worldly goods and to turn the other cheek in the face of aggression. (...)
Tricked by William F. Buckley and his fusionists into outsourcing moral questions to the guardians of religious tradition, the right has never been able to develop the moral case for rational self-interest -- which means that it never developed the moral case for the profit motive, property rights, and the free market. Many on the right are implicitly sympathetic to capitalism; they sense its virtues, but thanks to "fusionism," they are unable to articulate them. And this means that they have never been able to turn the defense of free markets into a moral crusade."
To my religious brothers and sisters I urge you not to read this as an indictment of your faith. Religious morality has much to offer in the realm of personal values. But as a universal guide for the conduct of civilizations it is too easily co-opted by the forces of World Socialism.
A defense of capitalism as the means for men to deal with one another is not only not an abandonment of moral values, it is the only moral crusade that can hope to ever have a peaceful end.
Another question I didn't know I needed the answer to is, "Who is Ricky Gervais?" But the internet dropped it in my lap so I read it. There are some funny lines. Like this:
So what does the question "Why don’t you believe in God?" really mean. I think when someone asks that they are really questioning their own belief. In a way they are asking "what makes you so special?" "How come you weren’t brainwashed with the rest of us?" "How dare you say I’m a fool and I’m not going to heaven, f--- you!"
Not necessarily as deep as Christopher Hitchens but more fun.
Joshua Gans alerts me to a minor brouhaha over Neil Gaiman (a fantasy and science fiction writer) charging a library $45,000 to give a talk. Mr Gaiman apparently understands the concept of opportunity cost (principles number 2 in my favorite textbook). Here is how he explains his fees at his website.
Contact Lisa Bransdorf at the Greater Talent Network. Tell her you want Neil to appear somewhere. Have her tell you how much it costs. Have her say it again in case you misheard it the first time. Tell her you could get Bill Clinton for that money. Have her tell you that you couldn't even get ten minutes of Bill Clinton for that money but it's true, he's not cheap.
A Poll: Neil Gaiman is:
a) a douchebag.
b) an artist.
c) a rational participant in economic reality.
Althouse does not show her cards. But Mankiw seems to be doing well; as of this writing 86% of the poll respondents chose "c."
And unfortunately, Buckley´s insecure rants against Rand retarded the intellectual progress of the right for decades.
The important point here involves Buckley, but it involves a lot more. The issue with Buckley is that he truly had nothing to contribute intellectually. And when faced with a true intellectual like Rand, all he could do was guttersnipe. Yet the wider point pertains to conservatism today.
Until it begins to intellectually justify itself in a logical way, conservatism will remain lost, and statism will continue its march. Rand provided the intellectual justification for capitalism and liberty and she did so by reference to the fundamental metaphysical facts of reality and human existence. She did not appeal to tradition or the supernatural. She appealed to the rational. And the public has been responding to her ever since.
Buckley and his cohorts brag about their electoral successes-"we elected Reagan" they chime. But what permanent changes have been made? The procession of the welfare state goes on. And who can stop it, people who say God went "poof" and then there were rights?
Rand made the case against the welfare state root and branch. She was the first to make a secular case against Communism and Socialism, and the first to make a fully secular defense of American values. The fact that her ideas were shut out by Buckley hurt the entire cause of Americanism.
Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's comments at an Indiana right-to-life event yesterday are making a lot of news. And naturally most of it is slanted to portray her as an extreme pro-lifer who wants the government to eventually outlaw all abortions. But the comment I found most interesting isn't even being reported. While plenty of left-stream outlets are covering her candid admission that she considered aborting her son Trig when she learned he would likely be a Down's baby, I have yet to find an account that includes her conclusion that she was "happy with the choice she made." [When I find a video clip of this I'll link it here.]
UPDATE: Embedded below are parts 5 and 6 of the seven part account on YouTube, and I must admit that I misinterpreted her remarks. I think the part I paraphrased was this, from 2:47 into part 6-
"So I prayed that my heart would be filled up - what else did I have - I had to call upon my faith and ask that my heart be filled up, and I'll tell ya the moment that he was born I knew for sure that my prayer was answered, and my heart overflowed with joy."
But in making her own case for every pregnant woman to choose life for her unborn child, she did talk about how she enjoyed the freedoms of privacy and choice in the matter of her own pregnancy. Freedoms that some in the pro-life cause would take away.
Part 5, (2:50) On why she didn't tell anyone she was pregnant -
"It was just really though too, at the sweet sacred time, a secret between Todd and God and me. I figured that's all who needs to know."
Later Palin said she considered abortion when she first learned she was pregnant, while out of town "at an oil and gas conference" and again at 13 weeks when she learned that Trig had an extra chromosome and would likely be a Downs baby. She knew this because of the results of amniocentesis, an elective procedure, of which "only my doctor knew the results. Todd didn't even know."
Part 6 (0:28) -
"And friends here tonight, that faith was built on what I hear from you, Vandenburg Right to Life. The seeds that you plant in a heart with your kind and your adamant efforts that can grow into a good decision to choose life."
The significance of this is not what her choice was, but that SHE made the choice.
I expounded on this in a comment [or click on "continue reading"] to a Bonnie Erbe blog on the opportunity that Palin's remarks present to the Republican Party.
And as long as the GOP continues to let itself be dominated by atavist religious conservatives, it will keep its title as minority party for a long, long time.
In a specific way I agreed with this remark, and ended with an exhortation to the Alaska governor- I would like to see Sarah Palin campaign for President on the platform that "abortion is abominable, but government prohibition of it is worse."
My concern is that if she in particular doesn't stake out this position then nobody will be able to defend her as a viable presidential candidate. Any other Republican would do well to take the same approach, but for Palin I view it as essential.
- 3SourcesJG's complete Bonnie Erbe blog comment:
While listening to Governor Palin's live remarks I heard her say that after considering abortion briefly she, and I'm paraphrasing, "is happy with the choice that she made." But if Roe v. Wade is ever reversed and a single state outlaws abortion then women in that state won't have the right to MAKE that choice. Even Governor Palin, who I greatly admire and respect, might feel differently about her child if the state had forced her to give birth under force of law.
Abortion is the thorniest moral issue in contemporary politics, with the grayest of gray areas in dispute. Human life does not mean merely the physical act of breathing - it includes the rational thought process of self-determination. A human being who is not free to make his own choices in life is nothing more than an animal.
The choice to abort DOES result in the death of a human being but the right to life belongs first and foremost to the pregnant woman because she is an independent, self-sufficient individual. An unborn child with a parasitic relationship to that individual has no moral claim upon its host. It is a brutal fact of nature (whether you believe that nature was created by God or not) but without it we are not citizens, but subjects. The line to draw is not between when life begins and when it has not, but between whose rights take precedence.
And to this extent I believe Bonnie Erbe is right: To be a genuine majority party the GOP needs to "get out of people's bedrooms." Advocate for morality, yes, but do not attempt to use the power of government to enforce it. I would like to see Sarah Palin campaign for President on the platform that "abortion is abominable, but government prohibition of it is worse."
We hereby challenge the Journal’s editors to debate the immigration bill in a neutral venue with a moderator of their choosing — two or three of us versus any two or three of them. We propose to do it in Washington next week so it will have the maximum impact on the Senate’s consideration of the most sweeping immigration reform in decades (time and place to be worked out in a mutually satisfactory fashion).
Officially, tax day isn't until Tuesday (due to the 15th being on a Sunday and the 16th being an official holiday in D.C.) but the well known and lamented date of April 15th mustn't go by without some discussion of the state of taxation in America.
"Work hard. Be faithful. You'll get your just reward."
Those words appear on a statuette my father was given on the occasion of the closing of the College of Engineering at the University of Denver, where he had tenure. (The statuette was of a conscientious gentleman with a giant blue screw through his torso.) They can just as well be applied to American taxpayers who have earned a high school diploma or better in their educational career.
Chart 7 compares households headed by persons without a high school diploma to households headed by persons with a high school diploma or better. Whereas the dropout-headed household paid only $9,689 in taxes in FY 2004, the higher-skill households paid $34,629— more than three times as much. While dropout-headed households received from $32,138 to $43,084 in benefits, high-skill households received less: $21,520 to $30,819. The difference in government benefits was due largely to the greater amount of means-tested aid received by low-skill households.
Households headed by dropouts received $22,449 more in immediate benefits (i.e., direct and means-tested aid, education, and population-based services) than they paid in taxes. Higher-skill households paid $13,109 more in taxes than they received in immediate benefits.
OK, so you're probably wondering, what's new? What's new is the trend in dropout households in the U.S. According to the World Net Daily article that cites the study:
About two-thirds of illegal alien households are headed by someone without a high school degree. Only 10 percent of native-born Americans fit into that category.
I have advocated on these pages (and stand by it today) that immigration should be free and unlimited to non-criminal aliens, provided that citizenship (and voting rights) must still be earned and that entitlement programs that make immigrants a burden on the taxpayer are first reduced or eliminated.
The Rector report explains the realities we face.
Politically feasible changes in government policy will have little effect on the level of fiscal deficit generated by most low-skill households for decades. For example, to make the average low-skill household fiscally neutral (taxes paid equaling immediate benefits received plus interest on government debt), it would be necessary to eliminate Social Security, Medicare, all 60 means-tested aid programs and cut the cost of public education in half. It seems certain that, on average, low-skill households will generate deep fiscal deficits for the foreseeable future.
Click continue reading to see the report's conclusion in its entirety.
Households headed by persons without a high school diploma are roughly 15 percent of all U.S. households. Overall, these households impose a significant fiscal burden on other taxpayers: The cost of the government benefits they consume greatly exceeds the taxes they pay to government. Before government undertakes to transfer even more economic resources to these households, it should have a very clear account of the magnitude of the economic transfers that already occur.
The substantial net tax burden imposed by low-skill U.S. households also suggests lessons for immigration policy. Recently proposed immigration legislation would greatly increase the number of poorly educated immigrants entering and living in the United States. Before this policy is adopted, Congress should examine carefully the potential negative fiscal effects of low-skill immigrant households receiving services.
Politically feasible changes in government policy will have little effect on the level of fiscal deficit generated by most low-skill households for decades. For example, to make the average low-skill household fiscally neutral (taxes paid equaling immediate benefits received plus interest on government debt), it would be necessary to eliminate Social Security, Medicare, all 60 means-tested aid programs and cut the cost of public education in half. It seems certain that, on average, low-skill households will generate deep fiscal deficits for the foreseeable future. Policies that reduce the future number of high school dropouts and other policies affecting future generations could reduce long-term costs.
Future government policies that would expand entitlement programs such as Medicaid would increase future deficits at the margin. Policies that reduced the out-of-wedlock childbearing rate or which increased the real educational attainments and wages of future low-skill workers could reduce deficits somewhat in the long run.
Changes to immigration policy could have a much larger effect on the fiscal deficits generated by low-skill families. Policies which would substantially increase the inflow of low-skill immigrant workers receiving services would dramatically increase the fiscal deficits described in this paper and impose substantial costs on U.S. taxpayers.
Last week, in JK's latest installment of "border security is a political loser" he appears to remain convinced that campaigning on border control hurt the GOP candidates who did so. Or perhaps he's only suggesting that it didn't help them. Either way, it appears the same is also true for the new Democrat majority.
But when it comes to immigration, things are never easy. In the days after the election, Democratic leaders surprised pro-immigration groups by not including the issue on their list of immediate priorities. Experts said the issue is so complicated, so sensitive and so explosive that it could easily blow up in the Democrats' faces and give control of Congress back to Republicans in the next election two years from now. And a number of Democrats who took a hard line on illegal immigration were also elected to Congress.
The WSJ editorial page and a beloved blog brother are deriding the efforts of republicans in the House of Representatives to "do something about this immigration problem about which they've whipped everybody up." FNC's Major Garrett gave a detailed report on events in the legislative body during Thursday's 'Special Report with Brit Hume.'
Here are the highlights -
Republicans "steamrolled" three bills through the House: Bill 1- Imposes a 20-year prison sentence for anyone constructing or financing the construction of a cross-border smuggling tunnel. Bill 2- Allows for longer detention and swifter deportation of illegal alien felons or illegals who belong to criminal gangs. Bill 3- Encourages local and state police to find and apprehend illegal immigrants.
"Democrats say the bills have little chance of becoming law."
Republicans Hastert and Boener presented a chart entitled, "House Republicans' Border Security Now September Agenda" which listed the following bullet points: - More Border Fencing and Improved Surveillance Technology
- "Catch & Return," not "Catch & Release"
- Detention and Deportation of Alien Gang Members
- Expedited Removal of Alien Criminals
- Increase in Prosecution of Alien Smugglers
- Criminalization of Construction and Financing of Border Tunnels
- Detention of Dangerous Aliens Unable to be Deported
- Reaffirm Authority of State and Local Law Enforcement to Enforce Immigration Laws
- Funding for Secure Border Initiative
- Funding for More Border Patrol Agents
Personally, I fail to see how any of these individual measures are "bad politics, bad economics" or "bad imagery." Better yet, taken as a whole they give the appearance of a "comprehensive" approach.
While detractors share common cause with representatives John Conyers and Sheila Jackson Lee who decry the failure to pass "comprehensive immigration reform," the three house bills passed today with large bipartisan margins, as Democrats hasten to put themselves on the politically popular side of these obvious steps.
Bill 1- Passed unanimously. Bill 2- Passed with 100 democrat "yea" votes. Bill 3- Passed with 62 democrats piling on.
The three bills have no companions in the Senate, but House leadership hopes to roll them into the "must pass" Homeland Security spending bill scheduled for hill action next week.
This is shaping up to be quite a mighty "gasp."
And don't forget the 700-mile border fence the house already approved, which is also scheduled for a Senate vote next week.
Here's a cartoon for JK. The Allen Forkum analysis that accompanies it on the coxandforkum.com site is also excellent. He cites the same WSJ editorial that JK did two days ago, and singles out the arbitrary legal immigrant quota as largely responsible for the ongoing crisis. Forkum also challenges the WSJ assertion that "the conservative silent majority is pro-immigration" by referencing a blog poll of right leaning bloggers who favored the House bill to the Senate's 44 to 6. I can't see the connection between "conservative silent majority" and bloggers, but the result is strikingly similar to the tone on right leaning talk radio.
Personally I suspect that many conservatives would temper their opposition if given the conditions on legal immigrants that I offered in my comments yesterday:
1) That they learn English, some basic US history, and show personal initiative to assimilate themselves into "The American Way." [...] 2) Reverse America's drift toward democracy, i.e. "mob rule" and the "tyranny of the majority." America is a "Republic madam, if you can keep it."
Forkum speculates that many of these right leaning bloggers are primarily concerned with American security in a post-9/11 world, but I suspect a general fear of negative unintended consequences of more and more immigration, legal and otherwise. Conservatives rightly distrust the government to prevent these consequences, given the track record of the last 20 or more years. The most threatening of these consequences is the one addressed by my condition number 2: As things stand today, there is a genuine risk that one day a majority of Americans will vote to make Spanish our official language, not to mention scores of other initiatives that would effectively make the US more like Mexico than the land of liberty we grew up in.
The opposition is not, therefore, to immigration per se, but to the threat of statism that illegal immigrants are a visible component of. The less visible elements include John Dewey's postmodern educational system, the widespread acceptance of altruism as a moral code, and the mythical belief that America is governed by democracy. All of these elements are promoted to varying degrees by one or both of the two dominant political parties, so they have become mainstream beliefs. (Worse yet, one party promotes ALL of them, all by itself!)
Unless Americans defend the ideas that American exceptionalism is real, that every man is entitled to his own property, and that the Constitution limits the powers of the government to infringe the rights of individuals, the forces of statism will destroy the beloved institutions that empower those ideas. The Americans who make up the so-called "conservative silent majority" understand this threat, though perhaps not its causes or champions. The simple fact that they're willing to fight against it in whatever way they can is encouraging.
It seems the Republicans at ThreeSources have found something else to disagree on. (Though we all feel it is wrong to end a sentence with a preposition.)
I have been rather strongly opposed to the flag burning amendment. Simply put, I think it wrong to put a symbol -- no matter how sacred -- above freedom.
I suggested in a comment that Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was deserving of two profiles in Courage awards. First, he opposed McCain-Feingold all the way to the Supreme Court as all the media were leading Kumbuyas with supporters from both parties. He should wear McConnell v FEC as a badge of honor.
I suggested a second for him for opposing the flag amendment. This time standing apart from his GOP Caucus, but both times choosing freedom of speech and a defense of the First Amendment as protecting political speech.
JohnGalt disagreed and provided this link to a press releases explaining his vote. JG found it unconvincing but jk finds it a perfect description of my beliefs. I provide a link to encourage everybody to read it in full.
I don’t share the slightest shred of sympathy with any who would dare desecrate the flag. They demean the service of millions of Americans, including my father and the brave men and women currently fighting the War on Terror. They deserve rebuke and condemnation—if not a punch in the nose.
I revere the American flag as a symbol of freedom. But behind it is something larger—the Constitution. The First Amendment, which protects our freedom of speech, is the most precious part of the Bill of Rights. As disgusting as the ideas expressed by those who would burn the flag are, they remain protected by the First Amendment.
Our Founding Fathers wrote the First Amendment because they believed that, even with all the excesses and offenses that freedom of speech would undoubtedly allow, truth and reason would triumph in the end. And they believed the answer to offensive speech was not to regulate it, but to counter it with more speech.
JG finds the comparison to the Second Amendment tenuous but I do not. These rights are granted absolutely in the Bill of Rights and I am tired of our officials picking and choosing the ones they feel should be honored.
Our country is sacred and exceptional for its ideas. I cannot put a symbol -- even one I cherish -- above those ideas.
Not at ThreeSources! But the WSJ Ed Page credits a consensus among economists. Here's the editorial.stolen posted in full:
Finally a consensus has been reached on immigration. No, not among politicians, who can't agree on a rational immigration reform. The agreement is among professional economists.
In an open letter to President Bush and Congress last week, more than 500 prominent economists, including five Nobel laureates, proclaim that "immigration has been a net gain for American citizens." The letter adds that "while a small percentage of native-born Americans may be harmed by immigration, vastly more Americans benefit from the contributions that immigrants make to the economy, including lower consumer prices. As with trade in goods and services, gains from immigration outweigh the losses." Alan Greenspan often made this same point about the benefits of immigration while he was Federal Reserve Chairman.
What is striking about this immigration letter is that it is signed by economists from different fields of research, political affiliations and ideologies. It is possible that no other issue in the economic field, with the exception of the benefits of free trade, inspires such unanimity of professional opinion as immigration does.
Several years ago the Cato Institute surveyed the past presidents of the American Economic Association and the past chairmen of the President's Council of Economic Advisers. Eighty percent agreed that immigration has had "a very favorable impact on the nation's economic growth," and 70% said that even illegal immigrant workers "have a positive economic impact." These experts agree that on balance immigrants don't displace native workers, depress wages or abuse welfare. If only these economic facts could break through an immigration debate that is dominated by emotion and political fear.
A US state is to enlist web users in its fight against illegal immigration by offering live surveillance footage of the Mexican border on the internet.
The plan will allow web users worldwide to watch Texas' border with Mexico and phone the authorities if they spot any apparently illegal crossings.
Texas Governor Rick Perry said the cameras would focus on "hot-spots and common routes" used to enter the US.
This is a clever idea, except for the one tragic downfall.
The toll-free call in number. How long before it's rendered useless by crank calls?
Many Americans - perhaps out of understandable and well-meant empathy for the dispossessed who toil so hard for so little - support this present open system of non-borders. But I find nothing liberal about it.
Zealots may chant ÁSi, se puede! all they want. And the libertarian right may dress up the need for cheap labor as a desire to remain globally competitive. But neither can disguise a cynicism about illegal immigration, one that serves to prop up a venal Mexican government, undercut the wages of our own poor and create a new apartheid of millions of aliens in our shadows.
We have the entered a new world of immigration without precedent. This current crisis is unlike the great waves of 19th-century immigration that brought thousands of Irish, Eastern Europeans and Asians to the United States. Most immigrants in the past came legally. Few could return easily across an ocean to home. Arrivals from, say, Ireland or China could not embrace the myth that our borders had crossed them rather than vice versa.
Today, almost a third of all foreign-born persons in the United States are here illegally, making up 3 to 4 percent of the American population. It is estimated that the U.S. is home to 11 or 12 million illegal aliens, whose constantly refreshed numbers ensure there is always a perpetual class of unassimilated recent illegal arrivals. Indeed almost one-tenth of Mexico's population currently lives here illegally!
The President's 'Balanced' Plan for Immigration Reform
Days after the Presidential Address to announce 6000 National Guard troops sent to "back up" the border patrol for 1 year, JK asked if I would call myself "supportive of the president's outline [of a "balanced plan" describing a "rational middle ground" on immigration.] My answer at the time was that it seemed more like the Reagan amnesty than a sustainable solution to an on-going problem. You see, I hadn't actually listened to the entirety of the 16 minute address... until last night.
One factoid I learned was the one about the National Guard. Irrespective of their assigned duties, they will be there for only a year before being "reduced as new Border Patrol agents and new technologies come online." Then there was this stunner:
"Second, to secure our border, we must create a temporary worker program. The reality is that there are many people on the other side of our border who will do anything to come to America to work and build a better life. They walk across miles of desert in the summer heat, or hide in the back of 18-wheelers to reach our country. This creates enormous pressure on our border that walls and patrols alone will not stop. To secure the border effectively, we must reduce the numbers of people trying to sneak across."
Memo to President Bush: We already have a temporary worker program. It's called the H1B Visa. But there aren't enough of them and they aren't temporary. And, if I'm not mistaken, the latest version of the Senate bill actually reduces the number of visas available. [Actually, this may have referred to a reduction from the prior proposal to treble them.]
Look, if "the reality is there are many people (...) who will do anything to come to America and work" and if you want to "reduce the numbers of people trying to sneak across" then just give legal work visas to all of them. And for NED's sake, don't make seeking a job a felony, criminalize the failure to seek a job! (Not really, but you get my point.)
But this is the one that really pisses me off:
"Fourth, we must face the reality that millions of illegal immigrants are here already. They should not be given an automatic path to citizenship. This is amnesty, and I oppose it. Amnesty would be unfair to those who are here lawfully, and it would invite further waves of illegal immigration."
No, Mr. President, this is not amnesty. Amnesty is giving people a pass for breaking a law without repealing said law at the same time. What you've described is lunacy.
You say, "There is a rational middle ground between granting an automatic path to citizenship for every illegal immigrant, and a program of mass deportation." That is true, but this is also a false dichotomy. Since when has citizenship been required for permanent resident status? Just let legal immigrants live here and work here, and be subject to each and every one of our laws, but without the voter franchise.
1) Secure the goram border, using armed guardsmen if necessary;
2) Revise H1B visas to include assignment of Social Security numbers, allow unlimited renewals, and make far more available each year;
3) Issue these new visas (with all your biometric whiz-bangery) to every illegal alien in the country. (And make damn sure no visa holders remain on the voter rolls.)
4) Eliminate citizenship as a birthright unless one or more parent is a citizen but other than this, make little if any change to the citizenship process.
5) Start drafting wholesale entitlement reforms now, in secret, to be put forth after the GOP holds congress in '06.
I'm not the only one. The Editorial Page of the Wall Street Journal is with me on the President's speech.
President Bush laid out a "rational middle ground" on immigration Monday night amid an irrational election year. The question in the next few weeks is whether his own political party is smart enough to seize the moment and follow, or would rather run off on the anti-immigration rails.
Everybody I talk to says "rails!" I was speaking with a Bush-supporting but Tancredo-friendly relative yesterday. He's of the "wall first" flavor and I respect him immensely. But he said that the government isn't ready to create ID cards. I asked if we were more ready to build a 2000 mile wall. "Is the environmental impact study complete?"
An accompanying graph shows a nice linear rise in border patrol agents from 4,000 in 1994 to under 12,000 today. I think this belies the concept that enforcement has been ignored or gravely under funded Yes, it could be improved (and I think the President laid out exactly how) but enforcement-only will not work. The President's plan of fence, technology, more agents, guard troops, ID cards, and employer enforcement would combine to provide effective enforcement, while legal paths to work and citizenship would relieve the pressure on the border.
The reason has less to do with policy -- Mr. Blunt is not a policy man -- than with this year's elections. The President's approval ratings are down, Congress's are even lower thanks to its poor record of achievement, and so the Members have grabbed immigration enforcement as the issue to turn out the GOP base. We'll find out in November if it worked, though for now all it seems to have done is divide the party and drive Mr. Bush's ratings even lower.
The President is offering Congress a way out of this box canyon. His proposal for a guest-worker program is a serious attempt to reduce the incentives that immigrants have to enter the U.S. illegally. He also realizes that, for the illegals already here, mass deportations are impractical and would spell political suicide for the GOP. Hence, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is trying this week to garner more support for a bipartisan plan that would put these illegal workers on a path to citizenship if they pass a background check, pay fines, learn English and satisfy other requirements.
We realize we're pushing uphill by mentioning these realities amid what has become a full-fledged political panic. Mr. Bush probably also erred in not objecting more vigorously last year when the House GOP rolled out its punitive legislation that makes working here illegally a felony. That bill has both inflamed Hispanics and made immigration control a larger and more polarizing issue than it needed to be this year. If Republicans want to emerge with their majority intact, they'll take Mr. Bush's advice and support reform that does more about immigration than pretending that more border police will solve the problem.
Mayor Gavin Newsom said Thursday that The City will not comply with any federal legislation that criminalizes efforts to help illegal immigrants.
The mayor also denounced a bipartisan congressional proposal that would beef up border security and allow as many as 12 million illegal immigrants to gain legal status.
Newsom, who has not been afraid to wade into controversial national issues such as gay marriage, appeared with a group of elected officials on the steps of City Hall to support immigrants, “documented as well as undocumented.”Newsom also signed a resolution sponsored by Supervisor Gerardo Sandoval, and passed unanimously by the Board of Supervisors, urging San Francisco law enforcement not to comply with criminal provisions of any new immigration bill.
“San Francisco stands foursquare in strong opposition to the rhetoric coming out of Washington, D.C.,” Newsom said. “If people think we were defiant on the gay marriage issue, they haven’t seen defiance.”
What are the state's rights / federalism issues involved in something like this? I have no idea where to even begin.
Forget employer sanctions. Build a barrier. It is simply ridiculous to say it cannot be done. If one fence won't do it, then build a second 100 yards behind it. And then build a road for patrols in between. Put cameras. Put sensors. Put out lots of patrols.
Can't be done? Israel's border fence has been extraordinarily successful in keeping out potential infiltrators who are far more determined than mere immigrants. Nor have very many North Koreans crossed into South Korea in the last 50 years.
Of course it will be ugly. So are the concrete barriers to keep truck bombs from driving into the White House. But sometimes necessity trumps aesthetics. And don't tell me that this is our Berlin Wall. When you build a wall to keep people in, that's a prison. When you build a wall to keep people out, that's an expression of sovereignty. The fence around your house is a perfectly legitimate expression of your desire to control who comes into your house to eat, sleep and use the facilities. It imprisons no one.
Of course, no barrier will be foolproof. But it doesn't have to be. It simply has to reduce the river of illegals to a manageable trickle. Once we can do that, everything becomes possible -- most especially, humanizing the situation of our 11 million existing illegals.
"The Republican Party is Split on Immigration" scream the headlines. We certainly have some disagreement around here. I don't see Democrats providing real leadership here, and I question that a united front is doing them much good.
I have had to face opposition to my views from Thomas Sowell and Victor Davis Hanson. A friend emailed this article with the Subject "Hanson." I thought it was the band. Of course, VDH has written a whole book about adverse effects of rampant illegal immigration and unassimilated Mexican people in has native California.
I have repeatedly made the case for a guest worker program, and said early that it could be packaged as a compromise with stricter security, resulting in a GOP win. I have faced the squeamish task of defending those who broke the law, those who refuse to assimilate, and even the ridiculous marchers who flaunted their ignorance and opposition to this country's ideals.
That's tough work for a law-and-order guy but I think that the economic advantages far outweigh the disadvantages, and that a guest worker program is a step toward a legal, controlled process that recognizes the exigencies of 11 million folks who are, well, here.
A very good point made by the other side was poll numbers showing overwhelming support for enforcement. As blog pragmatist, I have to look toward victory but feel that the support is "a mile wide and an inch thick," and that leadership could show people the benefits and overcome the demagoguery that has plagued this issue.
Bill Kristol seems to back me up in this week's Weekly Standard." In Y is for Yahoo, Kristol indulges in some name calling to a Representative from my state. But he also repeats the truth that the electorate has not been that kind to those who espouse policies that can be thought anti-immigrant.
The leaders of what he calls "THE HOUSE CAUCUS TO RETURN THE REPUBLICAN PARTY TO MINORITY STATUS--also known as the House Immigration Reform Caucus" all happen to be from safe seats. Statewide office holders have to be more moderate.
Dana Rohrabacher has represented a safe GOP seat in Orange County for almost two decades. He's chosen never to run statewide. In California, Republican governor Pete Wilson exploited the immigration issue to help get reelected in 1994, and the voters passed a Republican-backed anti-immigration measure, proposition 187. No Republican candidate except the idiosyncratic Arnold Schwarzenegger has won statewide since.
Virgil Goode has a safe GOP seat in Southside Virginia. He's never run statewide. Last fall, the Republican gubernatorial candidate, Jerry Kilgore, tried to exploit illegal immigration by denouncing a local community that wanted to build a shelter that might accommodate some illegals. He lost, in a red state, a race he had been favored to win.
Anti-immigration yahoo Tom Tancredo carried the sixth district of Colorado comfortably in 2004 (though running slightly behind pro-immigration George W. Bush). But in Tancredo's state, the GOP did miserably in 2004, with Democrat Ken Salazar winning the Senate seat and Democrats gaining control of both houses of the legislature. Meanwhile, in the safe fifth district of Iowa, Steve King did run two points ahead of George W. Bush in 2004. King was able to outspend his challenger 10-1, while Bush faced a huge Kerry effort in that swing state.
Four GOP senators voted in the Senate Judiciary Committee for the comprehensive immigration bill these blustering House members believe is electoral suicide: Arlen Specter, elected and reelected in blue state Pennsylvania; Mike DeWine, elected and reelected in swing state Ohio; and Lindsey Graham from South Carolina, and Sam Brownback from Kansas--both very popular in their red states. John McCain, lead sponsor of a bill that resembles the Senate Judiciary Committee bill, has a pretty impressive electoral record in Arizona, a competitive state. George W. Bush, a pro-immigration Republican, has won two presidential elections--as did another pro-immigration Republican, Ronald Reagan.
Adding these examples to Pete Wilson's temporary gains but long term GOP minority in California, I do not see this as an election winner.
The American people are worried about immigration. In a Pew Survey released last week, 52 percent of Americans saw immigration as a burden, while 41 percent said it strengthened the country; 53 percent support sending illegals home, while 40 percent endorsed a path to citizenship. Given the hoopla about illegal immigration, this division is in fact surprisingly close. In any case, it means GOP senators and congressmen--and presidents--have plenty of room to show leadership and to resist demagoguery. Most Republican officeholders know that the political--and moral--cost of turning the GOP into an anti-immigration, Know Nothing party would be very great. It could easily dash Republican hopes of becoming a long-term governing party. How many Republicans will have the courage to stand up and prevent the yahoos from driving the party off a cliff?
UPDATE: An AP/Ipsos poll shows support for guest worker programs.
The survey found 62 percent of Democrats and 52 percent of Republicans favored temporary worker status.
"If I were in the White House, I would be pretty pleased about this," said Charles Franklin, a University of Wisconsin political science professor who studies public opinion. "It does suggest pretty strongly that the president has the opportunity to drive public opinion on this."
Our signs helped to counter the American flags. Our people expressed their agreement with our message.
Racist Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R of California 4th district) of red-neck Orange County said that he didn't care how long people had been in "this country" illegally, if they were here illegally for 5 or 50 years that they should be deported. Fine! Europeans have been here illegally since 1492, START THE DEPORTATIONS NOW! First one to go should be this Nazi Rohrabacher!
Sensenbrenner, Schwarzenegger, Rohrabacher, funny how they all have Germanic names! .....No, it's not funny at all!
If many thousands of illegal aliens marched in their zeal, many more millions of Americans of all different races and backgrounds watched--and seethed. They were struck by the Orwellian incongruities--Mexican flags, chants of "Mexico, Mexico," and the spectacle of illegal alien residents lecturing citizen hosts on what was permissible in their own country.
If the demonstrators thought that they were bringing attention to their legitimate grievances--the sheer impossibility of deporting 11 million residents across the border or the hypocrisy of Americans de facto profiting from "illegals" who cook their food, make their beds, and cut their lawns--they seemed oblivious to the embarrassing contradictions of their own symbolism and rhetoric. Most Americans I talked to in California summed up their reactions to the marches as something like, 'Why would anyone wave the flag of the country that they would never return to--and yet scream in anger at those with whom they wish to stay?' Depending on the particular questions asked, polls reveal that somewhere around 60-80% of the public is vehemently opposed to illegal immigration.
The argument that conservatives should support Chafee rests entirely on the assumption that he's the only Republican who can win in Rhode Island. This logic may be what has led the National Republican Senatorial Committee to continue throwing resources behind him. The assumption may or may not be true, but, whatever the case, it is far from clear that the GOP â€” to say nothing of conservatives â€” gains anything from Chafee's continued presence in the Senate. When votes really matter, he can't be counted on. Positions such as the one he took on Alito allow Democrats and the media to speak of "bipartisan opposition" to the Bush administration. And if the GOP's majority ever depended on Chafee alone, there's every reason to believe he'd bolt the party, just as James Jeffords of Vermont did in 2001.
There is an alternative. Steven Laffey, the Republican mayor of Cranston, is running against Chafee in the September primary. His underdog campaign has shown both pluck and promise. Laffey has a track record of winning Democratic votes: That's the only way he could have been elected two times as mayor of Cranston, a city of about 80,000 residents, most of them Democrats. But on key issues, Laffey is a conservative: He supports tax cuts and the war in Iraq, opposes corporate welfare and other forms of wasteful spending, and is pro-life. The Club for Growth has decided to back him. His campaign has unfortunately chosen to bash "Big Oil" in some of its early advertising â€” but, as we said, it's difficult to be a Republican in Rhode Island.
Nothing quite like picking at a scab. Read their whole editorial.