Date ►►► October 31, 2011
~ Halloween 2011 ~
Date ►►► October 28, 2011
If You're Worried About the New Time Magazine Poll That Shows Barack H. Obama - and Even Hillary! - Easily Whupping All the Republican Candidates...
Don't. No, really; don't worry.
First, the poll's respondents are actually adults, not likely voters; Time derives the likely-voter percent by using a tried but provably untrue turnout model: asking respondents, "hey, you gonna vote?" Anybody who said "Yes" (838 out of 1,001) is listed as a likely voter. (The poll didn't even ask whether said likely voter bothered to vote in 2008 or 2010.)
In the last election (2010), a whopping 37.8% of adults turned out to vote. In fact, in the banner year of 2008, when turnout was the highest in four decades, when We were all Waiting for the One, turnout hit a record high of 56.8% of adults.
It's gibbering madness to fantasize that next year's turnout will be 84% -- higher than has ever been measured going at least as far back as the Disputed Election of 1824 (turnout 26.9%), a four-way cage match between Andrew Jackson, John Quincy Adams, William Harris Crawford, and Henry Clay -- all in the same Democratic-Republican party, funnily enough -- which ended climactically with the House of Representatives picking Quincy Adams, after he (seemingly) bribed Speaker of the House Henry Clay by offering him the job of Secretary of State.
Assuming turnout for the 2012 election is the same as in 2008 -- which itself is extraordinarily unlikely -- that still means that a third of those who insist they plan to vote... won't. And as usual, most of these "phantom voters" will be Democrats. Conclusion: The actual turnout will be significantly more conservative than the wet-dream turnout that Time envisions.
(The highest recorded turnout was close, however, to Time's fairy-godmother wish; 81.8% of voting-age men voted in the centennial election of 1876, between Republican Rutherford B. Hayes and Democrat Samuel Tilden, considered probably the most corrupt presidential election in American history -- including twenty disputed electoral votes.)
Second point, as easily seen by the complete results, even the pool of respondents itself oversampled liberals and oversampled Democrats.
Party trust and support
Q5. REGARDLESS OF HOW YOU USUALLY VOTE, OVERALL, WHICH PARTY – (THE DEMOCRATS) OR (THE REPUBLICANS) — DO YOU TRUST TO DO A BETTER JOB IN DEALING WITH THE MAIN PROBLEMS THE NATION FACES OVER THE NEXT FEW YEARS?
Democrats: 42% Republicans: 31%
Q6. IN POLITICS AS TODAY, ARE YOUR VIEWS BEST REPRESENTED BY THE (DEMOCRATIC PARTY), (REPUBLICAN PARTY), THE TEA PARTY, ANOTHER PARTY, OR DO NONE OF THE PARTIES REALLY REPRESENT YOUR VIEWS?
Democrats: 30% Republicans: 17% Tea Party: 12% None: 35%
(Note that there are more self-described Democrats, 30%, than self-described Republicans and tea partiers combined, 29%.)
"Tea Party" support and impact
Q8. ON ANOTHER ISSUE, IS YOUR OPINION OF THE TEA PARTY MOVEMENT VERY FAVORABLE, SOMEWHAT FAVORABLE, SOMEWHAT UNFAVORABLE, VERY UNFAVORABLE, OR DON’T YOU KNOW ENOUGH ABOUT THE TEA PARTY TO HAVE AN OPINION?
Very fav: 8% Somewhat fav: 19% Somewhat unfav: 9% Very unfav: 24%
(Combined favorable: 27%; combined unfavorable: 33% -- unfavorable = +6 points.)
Q9. HAS THE THE TEA PARTY MOVEMENT HAD A POSITIVE IMPACT ON AMERICAN POLITICS TODAY, A NEGATIVE IMPACT, OR HAS IT HAD LITTLE IMPACT?
Positive: 34% Negative: 40% Little: 25%
Q10. DO YOU CONSIDER YOURSELF A MEMBER OR FOLLOWER OF THE TEA PARTY, OR NOT?
Yes: 6% [11%] No: 93% [88%]
(Numbers in [brackets] indicate subpool of those who say they are familiar with the "Tea Party.")
Occupy Wall Street support and impact
Q11. IN THE PAST FEW DAYS, A GROUP OF PROTESTORS HAS BEEN GATHERING ON WALL STREET IN NEW YORK CITY AND SOME OTHER CITIES TO PROTEST POLICIES WHICH THEY SAY FAVOR THE RICH, THE GOVERNMENT’S BANK BAILOUT, AND THE INFLUENCE OF MONEY IN OUR POLITICAL SYSTEM. IS YOUR OPINION OF THESE PROTESTS VERY FAVORABLE, SOMEWHAT FAVORABLE, SOMEWHAT UNFAVORABLE, VERY UNFAVORABLE, OR DON’T YOU KNOW ENOUGH ABOUT THE PROTESTS TO HAVE AN OPINION?
Very fav: 25% Somewhat fav: 29% Somewhat unfav: 10% Very unfav: 13%
(Combined favorable: 54%; combined unfavorable: 23% -- favorable = +31 points!)
Q12A. IN YOUR VIEW, WILL THIS PROTEST MOVEMENT HAVE A POSITIVE IMPACT ON AMERICAN POLITICS TODAY, A NEGATIVE IMPACT, OR WILL IT HAVE LITTLE IMPACT ON AMERICAN POLITICS TODAY?
Positive: 30% Negative: 9% Little: 56%
These are the shibboleth questions, those that fairly clearly demarcate respondents as either mostly liberal or mostly conservative. Notice that in each case, the poll shows a decided tilt away from conservativism and towards liberalism, which I believe is very much at odds with the actual voting electorate today, at least based upon the 2010 election results.
I could be wrong; mayhap voters flirted with conservative policies and politicians for one electoral moment but returned to the liberal fold in the past year. However, unless you're willing to buy that idea, you needn't fret about this Time poll: It's more than likely heavily weighted towards the Left, as are most polls commissioned by left-leaning media giants -- especially in the "present emergecy" of a pending Obamic defeat.
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
More Kwick Kicks...
This is the kind of title I use for little blogic squibs, too short to compose an entire blogpost but too long for Twitter. (That is, even if I used Twitter, which I don't, so I ain't.)
Here's a quiz. Assume you are in the bottom quintile of income; which of the follow two scenarios would you prefer?
- The income of the top earners in the country drops markedly, while your own income remains steady, thus dramatically shrinking the "income gap."
- The income of the top earners doubles, while your own income only increases by 25%, thus increasing the income gap between you and the fat cats.
If you answer (a), then I think we've discovered why you're in the bottom quintile in the first place!
Conservatives generally don't believe atheists who say God doesn't exist. So why do so many conservatives turn around and believe those selfsame atheists when they say that accepting evolution requires you to believe God doesn't exist?
Isn't that akin to PETA's argument that, if you reject the idea that animals have souls, then you must immediately begin torturing animals?
Speaking of lightswitch thinking, either we drop everything and yank all troops out of Iraq immediately, regardless of consequences -- or we remain in Iraq unto the end of days as imperial occupiers!
Good golly, Miss Folly; I can't even imagine a single alternative policy... can you?
Date ►►► October 27, 2011
Shocking everyone, Democrats in the Senate have launched a campaign to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, DOMA; this is the federal law that (section 3) defines marriage for federal purposes as only being between one man and one woman, and (section 2) -- most important -- allows states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriage (SSM), even when the couple is legally married in some other state.
Without section 2, the distinction between states that do and do not recognize SSM would be utterly lost, as any two persons of the same sex could marry in an SSM state, then demand that every other state in the United States recognize the union as the same as traditional marriage. We would lose a huge chunk of Federalism, as states could no longer define marriage as the citizens of that state decide; it would all be decided by Washington D.C.
So you can follow along on your scorecard, here is the complete law; well, the definitional part, that is:
Section 2. Powers reserved to the states
No State, territory, or possession of the United States, or Indian tribe, shall be required to give effect to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any other State, territory, possession, or tribe respecting a relationship between persons of the same sex that is treated as a marriage under the laws of such other State, territory, possession, or tribe, or a right or claim arising from such relationship.
Section 3. Definition of marriage
In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word 'marriage' means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word 'spouse' refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.
By seeking to repeal DOMA, Senate Democrats signal the full and complete capitulation to the most radical of gay-"rights" leaders: They would rather destroy legal marriage itself, the very fabric of Western culture, than tolerate traditional marriage in any of the
57 50 states.
But that's not what I want to talk about. Yes, you read right; the entire post to this point has been nothing but preamble. Here is the part to which I intend to draw your intention... this quotation from the Washington Times story on the hoped-for death of DOMA:
The issue is bound to face strong opposition from Republicans, who would likely have the votes to filibuster the legislation should it reach the Senate floor. And it’s unlikely to make it to the GOP-controlled House at all.
But the measure comes at a time when gay and lesbian advocates are on a roll, having won repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in Congress late last year.
I am appalled that even a somewhat more conservative newspaper has been sucked into the fantasy of a "gay movement," as if sexual orientation is a supercategory the gulps up everything even superficially related to homosexuality. But more properly, a veritable Valles Marineris gapes between, on the one hand, the demand for the end of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) and the overturning (by the Supreme Court decision in Lawrence v. Texas) of laws against "sodomy," however defined; and on the other hand, the shrill insistance upon federal legislation accepting and promoting SSM.
It's vital that America discriminate between the two species of demand:
- Whether you agree or disagree with Lawrence -- which held that anti-sodomy laws violated "privacy rights" -- or with allowing gays to serve openly in the military, these claims are based upon the liberty argument: that people have a fundamental core of individual integrity, which cannot be subdivided, and inside of which governments cannot legislate. Similarly, a law (federal or state) mandating vegetarianism would be an egregious violation of fundamental individual liberty, as would a law forbidding self defense or defense of one's family (or of any innocent person, for that matter).
Lawrence should have been based upon the First Amendment's freedom of assembly, rather than the amorphous and ill-defined (but trendy!) "right of privacy"; and the repeal of DADT should have been based upon the unenumerated but self-evident right of every citizen and legal resident to defend his country, society, and culture; it's a simple extension of the fundamental right of self defense.
- Contrariwise, a demand for legal recognition of SSM (same-sex marriage) cannot be based upon simple liberty; for it entails not simply the right to be let alone, to be allowed to be oneself, but the demand that the rest of society embrace one's actions and declarations.
It's not that gays want the right to live together, to consider themselves married, or even to be declared married in the eyes of God, according to a particular church; for they already have those rights (and I completely support them). Rather, they demand not merely that you allow them to pursue their own happiness, but that you agree with and support their lifestyle... and that you consent to equate an outré sexual relationship with the traditional Western and American relationship called marriage.
(Not merely outré but antithetical to what I consider the main point of traditional, even more axiomatic than the raising of children: the union of the female and male elements of humanity, the yin and yang. Opposite-sex marriage serves to moderate the extremes of both sexes, producing a stable and fruitful (in several senses) society. By contrast, SSM tends to exaggerate the bad tendencies of both sexes, leading to extremism and even fanaticism.)
Enforced SSM sails directly athwart the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of religion, speech, and association: If we're forced to equate same-sex couples with opposite-sex couples for purposes of marriage -- speaking of them as married, suppressing any religious-based criticism, and compelled to let them live together as if married, even in a room I might rent out within my own house -- then dissent from liberal orthodoxy is criminal, upon penalty of prosecution or administrative punishment.
Thus conservatives (I am not one) fall into grave error when they accept the idea that there is a "gay agenda," defined as the collection of all laws or policies that most homosexuals and many libertine liberals want to enact. Discrimination in this case is vital, and the real divide is between liberty interests (allowing the individual to live his life as he sees fit) and social reprogramming -- forcing society to transmogrify from the traditional American Borg culture into a limp, squishy, bowl of moral pablum, where all that matters is feeding the maw of every special-interest group temporarily important to the ruling class.
It's easy to draw the line between freedom of association and the right to defend oneself, one's loved ones, and one's society on the one hand, and the peremptory demand that all of us espouse the absurdity that same-sex relationships are identical to opposite-sex relationships.
It's like legally declaring cows to be vegetables, just so that everyone can be called a vegetarian.
Date ►►► October 21, 2011
The question naturally arises: Given that 37% of Americans currently support the Occupy Wall Street so-called "movement," is such support driven more by ideology or economic circumstance? That is, we know that lefties, liberals, Progressivists, and Democrats are much more likely to cheer on the Occupiers; but are the poor in America also significantly more likely to cheer than the rich?
When I was confronted by that argument by a friendly Republican acquaintance -- hey, if you were unemployed for months, through no fault of your own, you'd support Occupy Wall Street, too! -- I realized that the real divide isn't between Republicans and Democrats, nor even between Right and Left; the divide that really matters (which is a chasm) is between limited and unlimited government. Is the federal government, or even state governments, restricted in any way? Are they restricted only by the rights and limitations explicitly written into the Constitution and the state constitutions? Or is government limited even more severely by unenumerated rights... and if so, what are they?
My inquisitor himself certainly opposes the Occupier lifestyle; but he seems to believe that this is only because he's doing well. Oddly, I think much more highly of him: I believe that he, like me, rejects and abhors the looters' ethic not through selfishness or narcissism, and that he wouldn't flip-flop even if he became poor.
Mr. Interlocutor suggested that my reaction to the Occupiers would be driven by whether I was "in the unemployment line or riding the gravy train." My first thought was to reject that heuristic out of hand:
I think you'd be wrong [wrote I]. Call me naive, but I really believe that most Americans aren't so self-centered as to support the Occupy [Fill in the blank] "movement" if they're unemployed, but oppose it if they're doing well. I believe that a huge percentage of Americans support our (relatively) free market, even when others do better than they themselves.
I know that even when I was pretty much down and out -- so much so that I actually applied for, and was accepted for, welfare and food stamps -- I disovered that I simply could not take it. They gave me a package of food stamps to tide me over and approved me for welfare; but a couple of days later, I returned to the welfare office (this was in Santa Cruz, California) and withdrew my application for welfare and even returned the booklet of food stamps... completely unused.
I do not believe I have uniquely strong character; I believe that most Americans simply cannot bring themselves to take handouts.
The "Have" and "Have Not" nomenclature was picked up and used by Saul Alinsky in his book Rules for Radicals; I believe he specifically disavowed any moral claim on the money of the Haves in favor of raw power. His slogan was something along the lines of, "We want it, they have it, let's go get it!" To me, that crosses over the line of criminality by a country mile.
Neither can I accept it even when the big, bad government offers it. I know where it comes from.
I describe myself as a "cynical optimist;" but I just cannot bring myself to the level of cynicism of thinking people's support for liberty is contingent on being one of the Haves.
That was yesterday; today, via the poll linked above, I appear to have some support. Let's first consider ideology as a factor in whether one supports the Occupiers:
Of the Americans who support the Wall Street protests, 64 percent in the poll are Democrats, while 22 percent are independents and just 14 percent are Republicans. The protest backers are more likely to approve of President Barack Obama and more likely to disapprove of Congress than are people who don't support the demonstrations....
The poll found that most protest supporters do not blame Obama for the economic crisis. Sixty-eight percent say former President George W. Bush deserves "almost all" or "a lot but not all" of the blame. Just 15 percent say Obama deserves that much blame. Nearly six in 10 protest supporters blame Republicans in Congress for the nation's economic problems, and 21 percent blame congressional Democrats.
Six in 10 protest supporters trust Democrats more than Republicans to create jobs.
Yup; unsurprisingly, if you're on the Left, you're tremendously more likely to support the Occupiers. That may well be because right now, the Left is far more enamored of Big Goverment than is the Right. But that hasn't always been the case, of course; we need peer over our shoulders only a scant few years to see an out-of-control Republican Senate and House, burning cash like it was a potlatch (except they were spending other people's money, not their own). So ideology is a good indicator of support for or rejection of Occupism.
But what about the poverty aspect? Does that likewise drive support for, not merely socialism, but the most radical and childish free-money demands since the 1960s?
Most people who support the protests -- like most people who don't -- actually report good financial situations in their own households.
The poll doesn't appear to find any significant difference in family finances between those who support the Occupiers and those who reject them. Reaction to the Occupiers is simply not driven by wealth or poverty.
My worthy correspondent responded to my first, offhand answer by suggesting that if my financial situation was bad enough, if I'd been unemployed for a long time due to circumstances outside my control, I might change my tune. This time, I really mulled his suggestion but still arrived at the same conclusion; this is the more complete answer:
No, and that's my whole point: Even if we were doing badly financially, I would not think the solution is to loot -- or even envy -- somebody else who's doing well. I would instead think, gee I wish we could figure out how to do as good a job of earning money as he does!
I might be sad and depressed, but I wouldn't blame bankers, or Wall Street "speculators," or political consultants who publish cyberzines, or even "the system," unless we lived in a country whose official policies actually stifled economic activity (oh, wait...) Nver in my entire life -- and I'm not as young as you may think; I turn 51 tomorrow -- have I thought that the solution to economic woes, macro or micro, was more redistribution of wealth, more "leveling the playing field," more "fairness," or more government.
Charity has a role to play in a just society; but by definition, it must be voluntary, not compulsory. (I'm not a Randroid, but I note that even Ayn Rand admitted that charity was a virtue -- a "minor virtue," she called it
So it's worse than absurd for the Occupiers and their brethren on the Left to demand to be supported by everybody else; it's unseemly. And unAmerican, too; but judging by the musical tastes of the Occupiers, as they sang "F--- the USA!", I suspect they would wear the label "unAmerican" as a badge of pride.
I realize my judgment of the Occupiers sounds harsh, but I really believe they're a bunch of spoiled adult children, lost boys (and lost girls) who never grew up and think their every whim is an urgent demand upon society.
Suppose Sachi and I were in such dire straits that we had to take welfare; I would probably swallow hard and take it -- as author Steve Barnes says, it may be noble to suffer for your ideology, but it's chickens--t to make your family suffer for your ideology. But I would feel guilty about it, and I wouldn't think that the world owed me a living just because I'm sucking air.
By contrast, the Occupiers proudly demand a "living wage" ($20/hour!) paid to them and everybody else for the magnificence of their beingness; and on top of that, they demand everything they want for free -- necessities, luxuries, even their vices should be subsidized! I'm convinced these are the same people who download all their music, videos, and books -- well, maybe not books, since that would require literacy -- from Napster or Kazaa, for free; and of course, they get enraged at artists who have the crazy idea that customers should pay for what they steal.
So again no; even were Sachi and I destitute, we still would not be cheering for the filthy and bloody-minded rioters in Zucchini-Bikini Park. Friedrich Hayek already warned us where that road leads.
I'll stand on this one, and I believe statistics more or less bear me out. Reaction to the Occupy Wall Street (etc) astroturf "movement" is thus analogous to crime; for decades, lefties argued that crime was caused, or at least driven, by poverty. That was the basis on which Lyndon Johnson's "Great Society" was sold to the upper and middle income voters: If only we launched a war on poverty (and won), crime would be virtually eliminated!
But the reality is that bad finances do not drive crime -- bad moral and civic character does. And by the same reasoning, poverty doesn't drive support for socialism, Communism, Obamunism, leftism, or statism; bad thinking does.
Date ►►► October 20, 2011
The Cosmic Insignificance of Dead Dictators in American Electoral Politics, Tra La
A friend of mine frets that today's capture and execution of Muammar Qaddafi will change the dynamic of the 2012 presidential election, starting a cascade of support for the embattled incumbent that will allow him to eke out a narrow victory. Many readers may likewise worry that this putative "victory" for Barack H. Obama will "turn the tide," undoing everything conservatives, tea partiers, and even Republicans have done to try to restore fiscal and regulatory sanity to the country, along with the blessing of liberty that are now so imperiled.
But I reject the very premise that this happy death will affect Obama's electoral chances whatsoever. Here's why.
President B.O. has long since proven himself a fool as far as actual governance goes; but if he tries to grab credit for the death of Qaddafi, killed by as yet unknown rebels within the anti-Qaddafi alliance very loosely controlled by the so-called National Transitional Council, Obama will prove himself a fool even as a politician.
(As of this moment, AP is trying to push the meme that Qaddafi's death is part of "a string of foreign policy victories this year for the Obama administration" for Obama; but the President himself is disclaiming personal credit. For a man as conceited as he, that can only mean even he thinks it will not be helpful to his campaign. Consider: The killing of Osama bin Laden was clearly of tremendously greater significance to Americans than the killing of Qaddafi; yet the former assassination yielded only a two-week blip in Obama's approval polling, before it resumed its slide towards Obamic irrelevancy.)
So why doesn't this "victory" translate into a big boost to Obama's faltering reelection campaign, even on the foreign-policy front?
- The death of Qaddafi does not signify the end of hostilities; it signals only the transition from rebellion against tyranny to full civil war. The NTC controls nothing; there are countless armed militias and armies based in many different regions throughout what used to be called Libya (I say that because I expect the country to fracture into several countries -- de facto if not de jure!) These armed groups will never peacefully surrender their arms (hence their power) to any one of the many factions; they will fight their way to a seat at the big table. Does Obama really want to claim "credit" for a massive civil war with tens or hundreds of thousands of dead in a failed nation of only six and a half million?
Because Obama tried to do this on the cheap, without sending any serious contingent of the American military, we shall have next to nothing to say about the ultimate configuration (if any) that X-Libya takes. It could easily end up more like Afghanistan than like Turkey or Iraq, and might even be more like Iran. Does Obama really want to claim credit for Libya going from a brutal fascist dictatorship under Qaddafi to a brutal, radical-Islamist dictatorship under a Muslim Brotherhood-based terrorist coalition?
Oh yeah; that'll boost his reelection chances.
- Any putative political benefit the administration might hope to gain due from the Libyan situation already happened when Qaddafi was driven from power months ago; the dénouement of Qaddafi's bodily death is actually an anticlimax. It will likely produce nothing but a shrug from voters before they return to worrying about the economy and Obamacare.
Finally, the entire country knows that Obama tried to "lead from behind" in the Libya adventure; he refused even to take the lead role in the NATO involvement, let alone the lead role in the fighting.
We mostly fought with drone planes armed with Hellfire missiles. While this reticence may have been justified, given the uncertainty of outcome, the One cannot then turn around and believably claim to be Dwight David Eisenhower, or even David Petraeus. We did little, and the whole world knows it.
Maybe it was a good we did little; frankly, I wish we had done even less. But passive acquiescence isn't the "right stuff" on which a jubilant reelection is founded. I believe that Obama has maybe a 30% chance of being reelected; weirder things have happened in presidential years. But the chance that the death of Qaddafi will in any way influence the American presidential election is nil, as near as makes no difference.
The 2012 election -- like every presidential election -- will turn on three cosmic issues, none of which lines up in Obama's favor:
The voters' assessment of Obama's character and tenure, which at the moment is hovering just slightly above the similar assessment of George W. Bush in 2008.
But of course, Bush wasn't running for reelection then; sorry, B.O.
This assessment alone is the strongest force pushing towards Obama's defeat: As president, he comes across as weak, vain, vacillating, pompous, incompetent, cowardly, bullying, and peevish; and his policies have almost uniformly enraged the electorate ever since the passage of Obamacare (without a single Republican vote).
- The continuing and deteriorating economic situation, exacerbated by policies such as the trillion-dollar stimulus; the failed attempt at a second, half-trillion-dollar bride of stimulus; the tax increases; continual threats of more punitive actions against "the rich" and more redistributionist policies; the staggering number of major, new regulations inhibiting business from recovering; the terrible economic uncertainties stemming from Obamacare; Obama's war on fossil fuels and nuclear power, which has crippled our ability to develop sufficient energy to run a rich country of 300 million souls; and the economic "epistemic closure" of the minds of his advisors and cabinet members, the pandemic of ignorance about Capitalism actually works, which has ripped through the organs of government like fast-moving financial neurovirus, leaving every public civic agency and institution in a state of anti-market madness.
The utter folly of Obama's foreign policy, notwithstanding AP's "string of foreign policy victories." This election, foreign policy is of lesser impact than the other two elements of reelection; but it's still significant, both for the disrespect and mockery which other countries now turn upon America (where once was respect and even fear), and also for the forced kow-towing to Red China (we're so desperate for their investment, which keeps us from total collapse), and our inexplicable, fatalist acquiescence to the provocations of Iran.
Iran's obvious contempt for us as adversary rose to a crescendo with the massive terrorist bombings Iran tried to perpetrate on American soil, attacks thwarted only because the FBI and DEA took time out from their busy schedule of funneling automatic weapons to Mexican drug lords to befool the Iranian agent at the core of the terrorist attacks.
Those three questions -- assessment of the first term, of the economic state of the Union, and of foreign policy -- are the three legs of the reelection stool for any president. They vary in respective importance from election to election, depending on the situation; but taken together, they nearly always determine the outcome. And the voters' assessments of President B.O. are in freefall on all three fronts.
Can Obama turn it all around in the remaining twelvemonth? It would take divine (or diabolical) intervention to reverse the trendline and pull off what would be the greatest electoral comeback in American history.
But even the possibility of such intervention is stifled by Obama himself, who appears, astonishingly, to believe that he's been a spectacularly good president, that he still enjoys the 70% approval he had right after being elected, and that the people simply love his policies; he thus sees no reason to change even jot or tittle of policy or demeanor. The President thinks that all he must do to be swept into a second term by general acclamation -- possibly without even the fuss and feathers of an election -- is just explain himself better, so the rabble understand his transcendent brilliance and how lucky America is that he has deigned to become our philosopher king. He thinks that he needs only give another speech or two, or fifty, and all will be well.
But for most Americans and for some time now, his speeches have had the opposite effect: They solidify dissent and convince voters that Obama is even more clueless today than in 2008. When charged with being all hat and no cattle, the very worst defense the accused can offer is -- another speech!
For these and many other reasons sufficient to my mind, I cannot see Barack H. Obama managing to pull yet another rabbit out of his sleeve. He had a phenomenal run of luck in 2008, both in world events and in picking the perfect opponent; but such "perfect storms" happen only once in a century. To slightly paraphrase George Orwell, the liberal-fascist octopus has sung its swan song.
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
Date ►►► October 15, 2011
Nein, Nein, Nein!
So why do I so adamantly oppose Herman Cain's "9, 9, 9" tax plan -- 9% income tax, 9% corporate tax, 9% national sales tax -- even though I like him personally as a candidate?
Several reasons, each of them as simple and non-technical as the plan itself.
First of all, I shudder at the thought of any kind of national sales tax (NST) at all. I have long opposed the tendentiously named "Fair Tax" pushed by so many so-called conservatives; if you want a glimpse of tax hell, look what's happened to all the nasty NSTs and VATs throughout Europe and in Japan: They start low but almost immediately begin quietly creeping upward.
(A value-added tax, VAT, is a sales tax on every incremental step of creating a product; it's even more insidious than an NST, because you can't even tell how much you're being taxed... it's a little bit here, a little bit there, so opaque that even the feds often have no clue.)
If an out-of-control government raises your income or property taxes, you feel it good and hard the next time you write a whopping big check to the government. You can even compare today's tax bill to yesteryear's. But when the feds slyly raise the NST, you can't immediately tell: You only know prices are higher; you can't distinguish the effects of the NST from inflation. Therefore, raising taxes is infinitely easier when tax victims aren't sending a check to the feds every year.
Second, if we ever instituted an NST, I believe that all those states that have sales taxes would begin raising them, secure in the knowledge that shellshocked taxpayers wouldn't be able to distinguish how much of the increased sales tax on a purchase was due to the federal sales tax and how much due to the state sales tax: When voters start screaming, each side can point a finger at the other; in the confusion, voters never know whom to punish.
Third, Cain's 9, 9, 9 proposal shoots at the wrong target. We do have a minor tax problem; income and corporate taxes should be lower, simpler, and less riddled with social engineering loopholes. But the real problem we face, the existential problem, is not taxing but spending: under both Democratic and Republican Congresses, we are spending ourselves into oblivion. (Worse under the Left, of course, but unconscionable even from the GOP.)
Cain has said virtually nothing about how he would reduce spending; he seems to believe that shifting the revenue source -- he himself says that 9, 9, 9 would be "revenue neutral," meaning we get no tax reduction at all -- will automatically make Congress more fiscally responsible.
But why? What would cause politicians to stop spending money we don't have? We have a transcendental deficit right now; that means that congressmen and senators (and presidents) care nothing that we spend multiples of all revenues collected. What about 9, 9, 9 would change that fundamentally unbalanced equation?
And even if it did, we're right back to problem number one: With so much pressure to "balance the budget," what could be easier than turning 9, 9, 9 into 9, 9, 11, then 9, 9, 15, then eventually 9, 9, 22?
Then with all that bright, shiny new tax money, isn't the most likely congressional response to be... more spending? As "Che" sings in Evita:
When the money keeps rolling in, you don't ask how
Think of all the people guaranteed a good time now!
Herman Cain's biggest problem is that, so far at least, he's a one-note pony; and that single note, his 9, 9, 9 plan, crumbles to dust under scrutiny.
His other problem is that he has no experience running any kind of a government bureaucracy, none, nada. Government agencies simply do not function like corporations, even very large corporations. I'm sure we'd be better off if they did; but it's a mug's game trying to transmogrify the former into the latter. (Cain's only quasi-governmental experience was serving on and chairing the board of directors of the Federal Reserve Banks of Omaha and of Kansas City, which are not government agencies.)
With not one day spent running such a beast, he'll be punked by the permanent administrative state, guaranteed. Kind of like what happened to Merv Griffin when he got involved in a big hotel real-estate deal with Donald Trump: the Donald drank Merv's milkshake and ate him alive.
Herman Cain is a great guy, so far as I can tell; and he can do a great service by focusing debate on what really matters right now: the existential threat posed to the United States by Barack H. Obama and the demented Democrats. He might make a good vice president; one hopes he can learn to handle a bureaucracy in time to run for the big chair again in eight years. But right now, his only trick -- 9, 9, 9 -- is just a catchy and clever red herring.
Date ►►► October 14, 2011
Panic On Infowars
Be not afraid; be very not afraid!
The website Infowars.com has once again gone off the rails on the hysteria train. They sent out an alert today (picked up by Drudge) which was headlined:
House Bill Would Criminalize Satire of TSA!!1!
(I added the prank punctuation at the end, but it's clearly implied by the header.)
Infowars plucks a single, one-paragraph section from the bowels of a bill wending its way through the House of Representatives. The bill appears to be a resolution funding the Transportation Security Agency -- those kind folks responsible for treating us all like dog dirt whenever we make the mistake of moving about the country by means of any public transportation whatsoever; but section 295 of that bill, which elicited the squeal from Infowars, deals with a somewhat different topic:
SEC. 295. PROTECTION OF THE NAMES FEDERAL AIR MARSHAL AND ADMINISTRATION.
Section 709 of title 18, United States Code, is amended--
(1) by inserting ‘or’ after the semicolon at the end of the fourteenth undesignated paragraph; and
(2) by inserting after such paragraph the following new paragraph:
‘Whoever, except with the written permission of the Assistant Secretary for Transportation Security (or the Director of the Federal Air Marshal Service for issues involving the Federal Air Marshal Service), knowingly uses the words ‘Transportation Security Administration’, ‘United States Transportation Security Administration’, ‘Federal Air Marshal Service’, ‘United States Federal Air Marshal Service’, ‘Federal Air Marshals’, the initials ‘T.S.A.’, ‘F.A.M.S.’, ‘F.A.M.’, or any colorable imitation of such words or initials, or the likeness of a Transportation Security Administration or Federal Air Marshal Service badge, logo, or insignia on any item of apparel, in connection with any advertisement, circular, book, pamphlet, software, or other publication, or with any play, motion picture, broadcast, telecast, or other production, in a matter that is reasonably calculated to convey the impression that the wearer of the item of apparel is acting pursuant to the legal authority of the Transportation Security Administration or Federal Air Marshal Service, or to convey the impression that such advertisement, circular, book, pamphlet, software, or other publication, or such play, motion picture, broadcast, telecast, or other production, is approved, endorsed, or authorized by the Transportation Security Administration or Federal Air Marshal Service;’.
(The curious emphasis in the paragraph above is courtesy Infowars; I have no idea why they chose those particular words to boldface. Why not also boldface reverences to the "Federal Air Marshal Service badge, logo, or insignia," which is covered by the same section? Could it be because federal marshals, unlike the TSA, actually test positive in public-opinion polling?)
Here's Infowars' "analysis" of that section:
In the past, satire was protected under the First Amendment, but it may soon be illegal to poke fun at the TSA or use its logo or even utter its name. Notice there is no exception in the above language for parody.
Political satire is as old as the Greeks and the Bible. But it may now become a punishable crime if this legislation is enacted.
I hope nobody gets the mistaken impression that I like the TSA; alas, I'm on their side on this one, teensy, special occasion. Section 295 amends a previous law (USC Title 18, § 709 False advertising or misuse of names to indicate Federal agency) by adding the new TSA/Federal Air Marshal Service paragraph that's got Infowars' twickers in such a knist.
All right, that bumps understanding to the next train station; what does that section say? Section 709 of title 18 comprises, funnily enough, a series of protected names and titles of federal agencies or corporations, making it illegal for other folks or corporations to falsely use those names or titles in order actually to deceive, under penalty of a fine or imprisonment. For example, it makes it a federal crime for someone not authorized by, say, the FBI to send a letter falsely purporting to be from the FBI, or to flash a fake FBI badge, in order to induce the mark to buy some product -- supposed access to the FBI's fingerprint file, for example.
And lo! Check out the shocking coincidence of this earlier paragraph, which has long been found in section 709:
Whoever, except with the written permission of the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, knowingly uses the words “Federal Bureau of Investigation” or the initials “F.B.I.”, or any colorable imitation of such words or initials, in connection with any advertisement, circular, book, pamphlet or other publication, play, motion picture, broadcast, telecast, or other production, in a manner reasonably calculated to convey the impression that such advertisement, circular, book, pamphlet or other publication, play, motion picture, broadcast, telecast, or other production, is approved, endorsed, or authorized by the Federal Bureau of Investigation; or
Or the very next paragraph:
Whoever, except with written permission of the Director of the United States Secret Service, knowingly uses the words “Secret Service”, “Secret Service Uniformed Division”, the initials “U.S.S.S.”, “U.D.”, or any colorable imitation of such words or initials, in connection with, or as a part of any advertisement, circular, book, pamphlet or other publication, play, motion picture, broadcast, telecast, other production, product, or item, in a manner reasonably calculated to convey the impression that such advertisement, circular, book, pamphlet or other publication, product, or item, is approved, endorsed, or authorized by or associated in any manner with, the United States Secret Service, or the United States Secret Service Uniformed Division; or
Sound familiar? The new paragraph from the TSA funding bill simply mimics the previous language, appending the TSA and the Air Marshals to the end of the list of protected agency names (and adding t-shirts to the prohibited media).
In fact, the first fourteen paragraphs of section 709 (soon, perhaps, to be fifteen paragraphs) comprise nothing but the same wording above (or words to like effect), protecting the names of a number of different federal agencies, such as the FDIC, or the Federal Home Loan Bank, HUD, DEA, etc, from actual criminal misuse -- not from satire or parody, or other dramatic depictions. After all the "whoevers," the statute of section 709 ends thus:
Shall be punished as follows: a corporation, partnership, business trust, association, or other business entity, by a fine under this title; an officer or member thereof participating or knowingly acquiescing in such violation or any individual violating this section, by a fine under this title or imprisonment for not more than one year, or both.
In other words, the law punishes people who falsely represent themselves as agents of some federal agency with the actual attempt to mislead. How do we know that? Just read the U.S. Code and pay particular attention to the following language, included (with slight variations) in every parargraph that defines the crime:
...in a manner reasonably calculated to convey the impression that such advertisement, circular, book, pamphlet or other publication, play, motion picture, broadcast, telecast, or other production, is approved, endorsed, or authorized by the [agency]. [My own emphasis -- DaH]
As I read the history of the act, section 709 appears to have been first enacted in 1948; the language quoted above protecting the name of the FBI was added in 1954. So the same language that Infowars is freaking out about today has been in federal law for more than sixty years.
In all that time, I'm sure a case or two must have come to court and been adjudicated. Yet writers appear to have written many movies, tv shows, books, and even pointed satires or parodies about the FBI, et al, with nobody going to jail or paying a fine for the crime of lèse-majesté.
I certainly wouldn't demand an apology or retraction from Infowars; the First Amendment gives us all the right to exercise freedom of speech by making utter fools of ourselves -- a sacred right I've wallowed in myself on many occasions!
But at the very least, Infowars (and anyone taken in by them) should turn crimson with embarassment.
Date ►►► October 13, 2011
Top Ten Reasons Why Mad Tea Partiers Aren't Even the Least Little Bit Like "Occupy" Fill-In-the-Blankers
- Tea partiers want the poor to emulate the rich; Occupiers want the poor to eat the rich.
- Tea partiers want limited government to create a limitless future; Occupiers: "Strike that, reverse it!"
- Tea partiers get exhilarated by the unsullied wilderness of the United States; Occupiers get a tingle from the unsanitary wilderness of Zucchini Park.
- Tea partiers look at the federal government and are sore as hell; Occupiers look at the federal government and hail Soros.
- Occupiers chant "Solidarity forever!" Tea partiers chant "solvency forever!"
- Tea partiers want to free the American economy; Occupiers want the American economy -- for free.
- Tea partiers believe in great American exceptionalism; Occupiers take great exception to America.
- Tea partiers' favorite book is the Federalist Papers; Occupiers' favorite book is Where the Wild Things Are... which they think is a guide to spring-break in Daytona Beach.
- Occupiers think "grass roots" can be rolled and smoked.
- The dirty, smelly, hippies "occupying" Zamboni Park are adored by the Teamsters. (Who knew?)
- Tea partiers demand an end to insane, trillion-dollar deficits; Occupiers have a trillion insane demands.
- Tea partiers know what the word "job" means without having to look it up in the Devil's Dictonary.
And the number-one reason why mad tea partiers aren't even the least little bit like "Occupy" fill-in-the-blankers...
- Say what you will about tea partiers, their personal hygeine is impeccable.
(Do I exceed my parameters? Very well then, I exceed my parameters, I am large, I contain multitudes.)
Date ►►► October 11, 2011
Barack H. Obama: the Whine We Have Been Waiting For
The president is grim; the moan-scream media is in full offensive-tackle mode (I think they're all left offensive tackles); the media's puppetmasters at the DNC are already pondering substitutions -- Hillary for Slow Joe, maybe even Hillary for B.O. himself, and anybody at all for Eric Holder.
But the Senate isn't playing ball; at the moment, they seem to be enaged in a complicated set of war games:
United against Barack Obama, Senate Republicans voted Tuesday night to kill the jobs package the president had spent weeks campaigning for across the country, a stinging loss at the hands of lawmakers opposed to stimulus-style spending and a tax increase on the very wealthy.
Forty-six Republicans joined with two Democrats to filibuster the $447 billion plan. Fifty Democrats had voted for it, but the vote was not final. The roll call was kept open to allow Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H. to vote. The likely 51-48 eventual tally would be far short of the 60 votes needed to keep the bill alive in the 100-member Senate.
Based on what I've been hearing, I'm quite certain that the Republican filibuster actually gave cover to Senate Democrats -- of which there are 53, counting socialist Bernie Sanders (S-VT, 100%) and "independent Democrat" Joe Lieberman (iD-CT, 79%); had the GOP allowed a vote, I am confident that at least two more Democrats would have voted against Bride of Stimulus, defeating the bill by 51 to 49.
Earlier, Obama signalled that he would be willing to drop his call for a special surtax on Americans earning more than $200,000 per year (or $250,000 per family), so long as he could get a "millionaire's tax" in trade; anything, just so long as he can sock some rich person somewhere with a totally unfair and unAmerican tax penalty for being too successful. But it doesn't seem to have been enough to overcome senators worried more about the fate of the economy (and their own upcoming elections) than about punishing wealth.
Senate Democrats themselves seem to agree:
Democrats were not wholly united behind the measure. In addition to Nelson and Tester, Sens. Jim Webb, D-Va., Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Joe Lieberman, a Connecticut independent who aligns with Democrats, said they oppose the underlying measure despite voting to choke off the filibuster.
If they all voted their consciences, the bill would have gone down by 52 to 48!
B.O. seems incredulous, in his typically mean-spirited, peevish, whiney way; in fact, he can summon up only one possible reason (personal animosity, probably driven by racism) why his plan crashed and burned:
"Any senator who votes no should have to look you in the eye and tell you what exactly they're opposed to," Obama said to a union audience in Pittsburgh. "I think they'll have a hard time explaining why they voted no on this bill -- other than the fact that I proposed it."
It passeth understanding (at least it passeth mine) that, what with...
- Mad tea partiers hyperventilating about federal deficits over a trillion dollars as far as Man can measure,
- Independents transmogrifying en masse into Republican voters,
- And with even many Democrats starting to wonder whether their kids will grow up in a democratic republic or a liberal-fascist, totalitarian, nanny-state
...that the man up top can't understand why we recoil from another unstimulating stimulus.
But perhaps he does understand; and what really passeth Obama's understanding is how "We the People" caught on to the scam so darned quickly. After all, he was assured that the peons were all nincompoops by the MSM, the union bosses, the Hollywood Party, the masses "Occupying" fill-in-the-blank, the enviro-mentals, the rump end of the Old Left... by just everybody!
Yeesh. Sometimes you just don't know who to trust.
Date ►►► October 4, 2011
The Big Lizards Immigration Reform
In the previous post, I mentioned reforming our legal immigration system to change it from its current state of being capricious, arbitrary, vindictive, unpredictable, and unjust to being rational, reasonable, predictable, and just.
As you can probably guess, I've been thinking about this for a very long time -- years, in fact. Here is a fairly specific outline of what I would like to see.
The primary goal of reform is henceforth to select immigrants solely on the basis of two criteria: assimilability (A) and benefit to the United States (B), not by any other criteria (such as race, country of origin, class within the country of origin, having relatives already living legally in the United States, or any other criteria currently used.
Of course, some of these other criteria will indirectly help the applicant or immigrant; for example, if he comes from an English-speaking country or a civilized country that has a reasonably good education system. But such criteria are not directly relevant: Two people who pass a Level-5 English language test get the same benefit, even if one grew up speaking English while the other just learned it from ESL software; two people who achieve the same score on an SAT-type exam receive an equal number of points, even if one graduated from a hoity-toity, private high school in Paris, while the other stayed up late in his log cabin, studying books by candlelight.
Applicants seeking to immigrate to the U.S. accumulate points in these two categories, Assimilability (A) and Benefit (B), by various means (see below). When A + B exceeds a certain threshhold (with each of A and B exceeding a certain minimum), the applicant receives a renewable immigration visa.
Immigrants must earn a base level of points throughout the year to renew their visas. At a particular A + B level (with minimums), immigrants are granted permanent residency. At an even higher level, they are allowed to take the oath of citizenship. (You can toss in some time-in-country requirements, too.)
How to earn positive points
Applicants and immigrants earn positive points by improving themselves in ways that increase their assimilability or their benefit to the nation. For example, by passing periodic and increasingly stringent background checks; becoming more proficient at oral and written English; passing courses on American civics and history; serving honorably in the United States military; serving honorably in the federal, state, or local government; running a successful business; working (legally); academic study; participating in civic affairs, joining service organizations, becoming Boy or Girl Scout leaders; participating in religious activity, so long as the religious institution is not a front for terrorism, criminality, or anti-American activity; actively participating in neighborhood watch programs, neighborhood cleanup programs, and suchlike; accumulating wealth, buying a house, and so forth; getting legally married; having children, especially American citizens (but see below about not being able to care for one's own children); and by having family members living in the same household who accumulate positive points.
Applicants and immigrants can also be hit by negative points for doing bad things, from committing petty crimes, to having to go on government assistance (including being unable to properly care for minor children), joining criminal or subversive organizations, dropping out of school, defaulting on debts or accumulating debts without a serious possibility of repayment, being discharged dishonorably or OTH by the military, and so on. (Of course, some negative behavior is serious enough to get them deported right away, with or without the privilege of return.)
Positive points earned by any member of a family residing together accrue to all members of that family; negative points for all adults in the family apply only to that member. Negative points given to minor children apply somewhat but not completely to the adult family members.
If the parents appear to be doing everything they can to resolve the problem, but nothing is working, there probably should be some mechanism for getting help. If the child is deemed truly incorrigible, the family should be allowed to "divorce" the child from the family for purposes of immigration: That is, his negative points will no longer drag the entire family down. (This should be rare and difficult to justify; can't divorce your kid for trivial, understandable, solvable, or temporary problems. But it should not be impossible to justify, given a child who is sufficiently vicious and parents who really have tried everything.)
Transparency and predictability
The law should also set up a public website that fully describes all of these positive and negative point-accumulating activities and accomplishments, as well as the tiers of residency and citizenship. Additionally, if an applicant or immigrant logs in with a password, he can see the current A and B point levels for all members of his family who reside in the same household.
Most important, these reforms make the system completely predictable and transparent: Every wannabe immigrant knows exactly what he must do to gain residency, permanent residency, and citizenship. Once he (or his family) achieves the required number of points, he (it) is promoted to the next tier by hard and fast rule with no subjectivity, except perhaps in the more stringent background checks. But even there, the law should specify that the purpose is not to exclude people on arbitrary or irrelevant criteria but to ensure the person is not a criminal, a terrorist, a subversive, a bum, or other obvious undesirable.
Minimum-wage laws and indentured servitude
All immigrants who have not yet obtained permanent residency, and all persons in the United States on a student visa, should be exempted from all federal and state minimum-wage laws; they can accept a job for as low a salary as they choose.
The purpose of this reform is to end the dangerous and abhorrent practice of allowing putative "guest workers" -- who have no loyalty to the United States, no intention of staying, and who do not even feel connected to the American community -- into the U.S. to do menial work; and to replace them with immigrants who have at least shown assimilability, benefit to America, and the willingness to go through the rigamarole of becoming Americans. As Mark Steyn, et al, have demonstrated, "guest workers" are an invitation to riot, violence, and creeping conquest by aggressive, anti-American ideologies, such as radical Islamism.
Applicants and immigrants who have not yet obtained permanent residency should legally be allowed to undertake temporary indentured servitude, if necessary, to immigrate to the United States or live here while accumulating points; the terms must be transparent, and the system should probably be regulated and subject to oversight at the federal and state levels. Permanent residents should not be allowed to undertake indentured servitude for immigration purposes, but can still complete their indenture if necessary.
A bit off-topic: I'm a great believer in temporary indentured servitude and would like to see it make a comeback. I think it would work well for both immigrants and American citizens, and for several purposes: for punishment and restitution for committing a crime, for people who default on their debts -- including people who need medical care but have no insurance and no other means to pay, and maybe even for purchasing a first house or condo.
That one is iffy; it depends on how important it is to promote home ownership. But I think it would be a darn sight better way to get more Americans owning homes than forcing lenders to offer people mortgages that they have no reasonable means of ever paying back.
In any event, I tried to phrase it carefully in the last section of the reform so as not to preclude temporary indentured servitude for reasons other than immigration.
And that's my immigration reform, on a nutshell.
Date ►►► October 2, 2011
What the Immigration Debate Needs Is -- More Discrimination
No, I am not being sarcastic; I mean that quite literally: We need to discriminate between different classes of illegal alien.
Patterico has for some time pushed -- desultorily, to be sure -- a welcome policy suggestion; he calls on the feds to "deport the criminals first."
No, he's not saying that, since all illegal aliens are by definition "criminal," we should deport them all immediately; by contrast, Patterico says that there already is a subgroup, within the larger group of illegal aliens, comprising those illegals who commit crimes apart from the crime of being here illegally (and its associated crimes of document fraud and such)... and that we should focus first on deporting those who come to this country in order to live a criminal livestyle.
We should target for deportation (after they serve their sentences here) all those illegals convicted of committing burglaries, arsons, rapes, assaults, and homicides; who are found guilty of joining criminal gangs, trafficking in narcotics, and defrauding people; who are proven check kiters or pick pockets; or who commit other high crimes and misdemeanors demonstrating criminality beyond simply wanting to live and work peacefully in America.
It makes a lot of sense, and it's a perfect example of discrimination: Patterico discriminates between illegals who want to try to fit into and contribute to American society, and illegals who see America as a vast piggy bank to be looted, abused, and despoiled.
But now, after reading a pair of posts that set me fuming, I believe such discrimination must go much further. In those posts, the first by an unnamed "long-time reader" of my favorite blog and the second by my favorite blogger at that same site, I came away with the very strong impression that the two posters, who stand representative of a very influential strain of conservatism, see very little difference at all between those who come here illegally out of desperation and want only to work and raise a family -- and those who come here illegally to vandalize, thieve, and murder.
That lack of discrimination begins to shock my conscience.
Thus I hereby initiate my own program that I believe complements Patterico's pontification noted above. He says, "deport the criminals first;" I say, legalize the most innocent first.
Who are the most innocent of all illegal aliens? Those who were brought here as little children, too young even to understand what a national border is or what it means to cross without permission, let alone mature enough to consent in an informed way to illegal entry. Such innocents need a name, so let us call them "unwitting aliens," UA -- they illegally entered the U.S. without their own consent or even knowledge.
(Do you want to call it amnesty? I don't mind; I don't even care. Does anybody deserve amnesty more than a person who never even committed the crime of which he stands convicted, since he was a little kid when it happened?)
There are a great many such UAs, in raw numbers; and for nearly all of them, the United States is literally the only country they have ever known. They grew up here, went to school here, made friends and enemies here; they are completely assimilated into American society; they think of themselves as Americans; they have no recollection of having lived in Mexico or Argentina or El Salvador; and likely in quite a lot of cases, they don't even speak Spanish or Portuguese. Their parents may have falsely told them all their lives that they were born in the United States; they may even have shown the UAs a false American birth certificate.
Should we really tell these kids that they don't deserve in-state tuition, even if they have lived in one American state all their conscious life, because they're criminals? Do we want these young men and women to be forever barred from living legally in the only home they remember, the only country to which they feel loyalty, unable to establish residency anywhere in that country because of something their parents did when the UAs were still infants? Do we for God's sake want to deport these very American "illegals?" Deport them to where -- a country they cannot even remember, whose citizens speak a language the unwitting aliens might not even know?
Most American family courts, in the case of divorce, will take the ages of the children into consideration when determining custody; when a child is deemed old enough to make an informed decision, he can decide whether to live with the father, the mother, or under some joint custody plan. Certainly any adult child (over the age of eighteen) can freely decide whether to live with one of his parents or move into his own place.
I call for the same sort of program for unwitting aliens as we have for the children of divorce: If a UA's parents are discovered and ordered deported, and if the UA is deemed old enough to give informed consent, he should be allowed to freely choose which country he will live in; and we should grant him permanent residency in the United States, if that's what he chooses.
That doesn't mean his parents get to stay as well; if they're subject to deportation, they're still subject to deportation. The UA can be raised by a legally resident relative, or in the extreme case, can be made a ward of the court and sent either to a foster home or adopted out. But any good parent should want the best for his child, correct?
If a UA comes to the authorities' attention by some other means -- say by applying for university and claiming, in all innocence, the in-state tuition of the local state university -- then the same applies: He is told that he is an unwitting alien and that he must choose.
In either case, once obtaining permanent residency, he is eligible to work towards citizenship, just as would be any other legal permanent resident.
(If such a law is passed, and a reasonable period of time elapses -- time for people to understand the system -- then UAs who don't apply for residency but instead take criminal steps to conceal their alien nationality should lose their UA status; they are no longer "unwitting;" they have become co-conspirators with their parents.)
This policy suggestion is not a solution to the problem of illegal immigration; as I have argued many times (just click the category link "Immigration Immolitions" at the top of this post), the only solution is complete reform of the legal immigration system to make it predictable, rational, and just; coupled with building a physical fence or wall entirely across both our southern and northern borders, and other vigorous security procedures -- directed against those who persist in trying to climb through the window when we have already made it realistically doable for any decent, assimilable immigrant to enter openly through the door.
But legalizing the most innocent first would certainly resolve a great potential injustice in a fair and equitable way, and one that will do no harm to United States border security. We have no more to fear from an unwitting alien than we have from a legal immigrant, or even a natural-born American citizen.
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