Archives for: January 2014

An immigration reform proposal I can get behind..

I finally saw an immigration reform proposal I could semi-get behind, and it was one from Roger L. Simon over at P.J Media titled A Modest Proposal for Immigration Reform. Here is his proposal:

So here’s my simple — call it simple-minded, if you want — solution, my modest proposal. Illegal immigrants, assuming they have lived here for a decent period of time and have not committed a felony, can have amnesty, but they can NEVER be allowed to vote. They can do anything else that is legal, but if they want to vote — or run for office or practice law in our country, as just happened in California — they must return home and go through the normal immigrant application process, however long that may take until they have citizenship.

This is a humane solution that does not make a complete mockery of the rule of law (only a partial one). You can live a satisfactory life without voting. Many who have the right to vote don’t bother anyway. (In 2012, only 57.5% of eligible voters voted in the presidential election. Many fewer voted in other contests.) It’s up to the individual illegal immigrant here: He or she can enjoy the privileges of U.S. citizenship without voting or go home and wait in line.

This solves the major problem I have with this attempt to give amnesty to millions by the democratic party. And please, let’s not pretend that it’s about anything else for the democrats. The left wants this amnesty because they see it as a means to jack up the number of people that vote for a living and cement their lock on elections. The right is pushing for it because corporate America somehow has convinced themselves this will allow them to lower labor costs despite the fact that the left is larding up the whole thing in order to buy these people’s votes.

However, I assure you that the left will kill this amnesty proposal if it contains language that makes it so these people never get to vote or run for office, unless they actually take the time to follow the immigration law, and that’s because the fundamental reason they want thise opf what they say, is the votes they believe they will get, and nothing else. They do not care of the burden/cost it will impose on the rest of us. It’s about power and holding on to that. All the other talk is smoke and mirrors.

So yeah, any proposal that has this language denying the vote will never pass muster with the left, or stand a chance to become law. And that in and of itself is just peachy by me. If you want to move here follow the law. Yeah, the immigration law sucks, so reform that to make it more responsive and less of a joke. But don’t let the left pass this amnesty plan of theirs simply so they can cement their already brutal stranglehold on the productive Americans and the abusive and coercive government, even more. And any republcian that goes along wiith the plan the left wants needs to be punished too.

Dogma at any cost

It is not as if we need more proof that liberals are willing to sacrifice anyone else’s things in the name of compliance, but I just couldn’t pass on this story:

A popular gifted-student program at a New York City elementary school is getting the ax after school officials decided it lacked diversity.

PS 139 Principal Mary McDonald told parents in a letter Jan. 24 that Students of Academic Rigor, or SOAR, would no longer accept applications for incoming kindergartners, the New York Daily Newsreported.

At least one parent described SOAR as largely white, while others disagreed, the report said.

One mother conceded the program did have a lot of white students, but worried gifted students now won’t be challenged enough.

Think that through. That’s “Social Justice” in a nutshell. It’s not a bad decision: its’ the only option that’s left for people that are only concerned with making the world a “fair” place. These collectivist systems can’t change reality to make, in this case, ungifted students more gifted, so the only recourse is to take away the opportunity from the gifted. Who cares about the cost. Fairnes uber alles!

In a follow-up letter sent to parents Monday, Miss McDonald wrote: “At PS 193, we believe that all children can learn and achieve high standards. We also know that we want all children at PS 193 to have equal access to high quality, challenging curriculum, and to have ample opportunities to master complex material and build academic and personal self-confidence. We also want our classes to reflect the diversity of our community. We believe we can have both: classrooms characterized by rigor and diversity.”

Hah! Improve things by denying the gifted a chance to really cultivate and grow their gift. mediority for all is now the new high standards. As the old saying goes: shared misery is the natural state of all collectivist systems, because it is the only thing that the powers that be can deliver consistently. At least, statistically speaking, the people most likely negatively impacted by this insane decision, are other collectivists. That’s based on NYC demographics.

The Right Response to MSNBC

So last night, MSNBC tweeted the following:

Maybe the rightwing will hate it, but everyone else will go awww: the adorable new #Cheerios ad w/ biracial family.— (@msnbc) January 30, 2014

As you can imagine, right wingers were not amused by this. Actually, anyone with two brain cells to rub together — right winger, left winger or upside down pineapple cake winger — was not amused by this. MSNBC quickly withdrew the tweet, apologized and fired the staffer. I think the third part is a bit of an over-reaction. As offensive as the tweet was, I don’t like anyone losing their job over a moment of stupidity. Honestly, that’s probably not going to be in the top ten of mind-boggling things said by MSNBC this week. The difference is that the other stupid things will be said by high-profile media types MSNBC can’t fire, not low-level tweeters they can. I’m pretty sure “Right Wingers are Raaacists!” is MSNBC catchphrase; their equivalent of “This is CNN.”

But I want to step aside from the outrage machine for a moment, since my outrage-o-meter broke back in naught-seven. Instead, I want to link to what I see as the best response to this. Michelle Malkin responded to MSNBC by tweeting a picture of her own biracial family. This resulted in a hashtag of MyRightwingBiracialFamily that was picked up by hundreds of right wingers, who tweeted pictures of their own multi-racial families. Go here for a sample. Trust me, it will bring a big smile to your face to see the reality of so many conservatives who couldn’t give two shits about what color your skin is with their beautiful happy multi-racial families.

This is how you respond to Left Wing idiocy or any other kind of idiocy. Don’t get angry and sign petitions. Don’t demand rote apologies from people haven’t given a sincere one since kindergarten. Show them how wrong and stupid they are, how misinformed they are, how out of date they are.

MSNBC’s tweet made them look like assholes; the twitter response made them look like the misinformed fools that they are. That’s awesome.

No Lying Allowed

One of my top 10 favorite movies of all time is Shattered Glass, about a charismatic gifted writer who worked his way up to the top, writing for one of the most prestigious periodicals in the world, the problem was that he made most of his stories up, they weren’t true, all fiction. At the end credits we learn that Stephen Glass was fired but decided to go to law school. While some movies take creative license and either embellish or edit, looking at his wiki page, it was amazing how the movie absolutely nailed it, how he got away with it so long but then one loose thread unraveled, investigative reporters looked into the inconsistencies, the lengths, the machinations he created to cover his tracks, and the magazine’s ultimate collapse in the end.

Fast forward a few days ago where I read this;

In 1998, Stephen Glass was all but banished from the profession of journalism. On Monday, the California Supreme Court ruled that he was not welcome as a lawyer, either.

More than 15 years after the revelation that Mr. Glass, then an ambitious 25-year-old writer, had partly or wholly fabricated dozens of articles for The New Republic and other magazines, the high court denied his request to practice law in the state.

“The applicant failed to carry his heavy burden of establishing his rehabilitation and current fitness,” the court said in a unanimous decision.

He tried to get a law degree in New York as well, also denied.

A few things struck me as odd. First off, since when do lawyers have to be honest to practice law? Having spent a few decades in probably around 100 trials over the years, many of them felony cases, I know (or knew) my way around a courtroom. It was my experience that many lawyers were not honest, meaning that they would lie regularly in court. They are never under oath and are bound by their profession to do whatever it takes to get their client off (or if they were prosecuting, to get him convicted) but their veracity was never an issue.

The court made a big production out of the fact that Glass “failed to carry his heavy burden of establishing his rehabilitation and current fitness”, that the motivation behind his application appeared to be for his own aggrandizement and that he did not do enough to return something to his community. All this seems crazy odd to me. His writings were fabricated, he got found out and he was fired. He decides to try a new profession and goes in to law, why this hurdle, which only he has to navigate, to prove contrition, to give something back to the community, to prostrate himself before the court with ,”Gosh, I’m really sorry, I’m a changed man and will never lie again”? Many people go to law school, many of those got fired or quit from whatever they were doing and decided to change gears, this phony fitness test is not part of the standard protocols for getting a law degree.

And lastly, where is that American trait of compassion that we grant people who want a fresh start? Much like a convict who did his time and now is out, he deserves a clean slate, Glass got fired for what he did and was barred for life from ever making a living in journalism, a pretty stiff sentence if you ask me. He earned a law degree, magna cum laude, at Georgetown University Law Center, he passed the bar both in NY and California. He is asking for a fresh start, to be a productive citizen and to earn a living in a profession where honestly is not all that important anyway. I say give the kid a chance.

The State of Inequality

Rumors are that the President’s taxpayer-funded political speech State of the Union Address will focus on rising income and wealth inequality in the United States. As with almost everything this Administration does, I think this is misguided.

First, at least part of the problem of inequality is social. Poor people are much more likely to get divorced, much more likely to have children out of wedlock, much more likely to drop out of high school, much more likely to engage in criminal activity and more likely to have substance abuse problems. Wealthy people are far less likely to have those problems. The divorce problem is especially important because inequality is usually measured per household and having split households means split wealth. Inequality in America is as much a reflection of a social divide as it is an economic one.

Of course, it’s difficult to untangle social and economic problems: growing up in poverty can make it harder to persevere in school, for example. But I still think poverty is, to some extent, a symptom of larger social diseases. Treating those social diseases — through school choice, through ending the drug war, establishing free enterprise zones — would be a much more productive approach than throwing money at it.

But second, I think the idea of “inequality” is a fundamentally flawed way of looking at things. The problem with America is not that Bill Gates is making too much money. The problem is that millions of people are unemployed or marginally employed and that trillions of dollar of their wealth was eradicated by a government-supported real estate bubble (and trillions more will soon vanish in a government-supported education bubble). When people talk about “inequality”, that tends to devolve to the misguided idea of eating the rich. We should instead be focusing more on poverty, on unemployment and on education. Tearing down Bill Gates will help no one. We need to lift everyone else up so that they can aspire to be Bill Gates.

But how do we do that? Well, we can start by not following Democratic prescriptions. As I noted in an earlier post, Democrat-controlled California has the most massive income inequality in the nation, one so bad that pundits are calling it a “liberal apartheid”. Today, there was a report that the District of Columbia, an exclusively Democratic fiefdom, also suffers from catastrophic inequality, mostly because of the extraordinary gains in wealth for the areas in and around DC where government employees and contractors live and work.

And that’s the rub. Liberals think inequality is a result of not having a high enough minimum wage (and Obama, as Rich noted, just raised federal contract minimum wages by fiat). But we’ve had lower inequality with a lower minimum wage. California has a high minimum wage and massive inequality. They also think it’s a result of taxes being too low on the rich. But the rich are paying almost all the income taxes already. The lower classes pay payroll taxes, but almost no income tax. They think it’s because we’re not doing enough. But we’ve poured trillions into the War on Poverty (and, it should be noted, that many measures of inequality and poverty exclude this kind of federal aid. So liberals are ignoring the existing impact of anti-poverty programs in their call for more of the same).

Frankly, if you want to know why inequality is rising, look no further than the solutions Obama will propose tonight. Doubtless, we will get another “jobs bill”. This bill will shovel more money to rich connected friends of politicians while doing almost nothing to create sustainable job growth. He will doubtless push for a hike in the federal minimum wage, which will likely increase unemployment among the people who are the poorest. He will gloss over the federally-fueled housing bubble and bailout that poured billions into Wall Street while bankrupting the rest of us. He will doubtless ignore the regulatory capture that cripples small businesses while pouring wealth into those with armies of lobbyists. I am dubious that we will hear anything about the critical need to reform the tax and regulatory systems that are paralyzing our businesses.

In short, I think that Washington and the policies it has pursued for the last 15 years is the major contributor to inequality. And I think it is likely that we will hear tonight is a clarion call for more of the same. We will continue to push people down while claiming we’re helping them. We’ll continue to give money to special interests while pretending we’re fighting them. We will continue to do everything but the one thing government needs to do if it ever really wants to combat income and wealth inequality:

Stop creating it.

I Gotta Pen And I’m Not Afraid To Use It

Yippy, Obama finally found a use for that loaded pen of his, now his cell phone is crying ,”Hey, what about me?”.

President Obama plans to sign an executive order requiring that janitors, construction workers and others working for federal contractors be paid at least $10.10 an hour, using his own power to enact a more limited version of a policy that he has yet to push through Congress.

The order, which Mr. Obama will highlight in his annual State of the Union address on Tuesday night, is meant to underscore an increasing willingness by the president to bypass Congress if lawmakers continue to resist his agenda, aides said. After a year in which most of his legislative priorities went nowhere, Mr. Obama is seeking ways to make progress despite a lack of cooperation on Capitol Hill.

For those resistant legislators in Congress, keep up the good work, resist we much. Thanks Al, you silver tongued devil.

Republicans have long countered that raising the hourly rate will lead employers to shed jobs.

Jobs? Obama don’t care about no stinkin’ jobs. Has there ever been a more potent force in our history in destroying jobs, destroying the middle classes ability to earn a living, and destroying the welfare and food stamp roles? No, Obama is many things, but a job creator? Hardly.

All this fuss over the earning potential of 4.7% of the work force, probably higher now since Obama has been in office for 5 years. The minimum wage is doing exactly what it was designed to do, get folks into the work force, then instill motivation to better themselves and their earnings ability.

For more creative ideas in using a pen, maybe he can have a little chat with Clinton, who found several unique uses for his cigar, thinking outside the box.

The Exercise of Vital Powers

Marlise Munoz was taken off life support and allowed to die yesterday.

A public battle over the fate of a brain-dead, pregnant Texas woman and her fetus ended quietly and privately as she was taken off life support and her family began preparing for her burial.

John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth complied Sunday with a judge’s order to pull any life-sustaining treatment from Marlise Munoz, who was declared brain-dead in November, but kept on machines for the sake of her fetus.

Munoz was removed from the machines shortly afterward and allowed to die. The fetus, which was at 23 weeks’ gestation, was not delivered.

The hospital’s decision brought an apparent end to a case that inspired debates about abortion and end-of-life decisions, as well as whether a pregnant woman who is considered legally and medically dead should be kept on life support for the sake of a fetus, per Texas law. Anti-abortion activists attended Friday’s court hearing and spoke out in favor of trying to deliver the fetus.

While I think the court made the correct decision — indeed, it’s not clear if the hospital applied the law correctly or used it as a shield against liability — I do want to unpack this debate a bit.

There were two questions tied together in the Munoz case: a moral one and a legal one. The legal question, which I’ll get to in a moment, was whether the Munoz family should be forced to keep Marlise on life support until her baby could be delivered. The moral question was whether she should be kept functioning until her baby could be delivered, regardless of the law. To my mind, the latter question was dismissed far too easily.

In this specific case, the question was largely moot; the medical records indicate that the fetus was suffering from severe deformities and would not have survived (fetuses do not gestate well inside of dead people). But the larger issue remains and will come back again in the future. We’ve long accepted that the right of the mother to live is more important than the right of the fetus to live in rare cases of life-saving abortion. But is there a point where the right of the fetus to live would be more important than the right of the mother to die? Can a person who is legally dead even be said to have rights? Had Munoz been, say, 34 weeks pregnant, the issue would have been a straight forward premature delivery of the fetus. But what happens when you have a case where the brain death of the mother occurs before viability? Do we turn the woman into nothing but a zombie incubator for a fetus? Or do we compound one tragedy with a second? Supposing the fetus is brought to term or prematurely delivered and has a lifetime of health issues. Who is responsible for taking care of him?

Much of the debate simply assumed that pulling the plug was the morally right thing to do. But what if Munoz’s had expressed that she would have wanted to be kept alive? This case came up with a friend who is pregnant and said that she would want to stay on life support until her fetus could be delivered. As medical technology improves and the window of viability continues to move backward, this issue will come up again and in other contexts. No matter what happened in this particular case, we can’t wish the moral issue away. Nor can we pretend that everyone is going to see the moral case the same way.

I think people are far too eager to throw the Munoz case into the abortion rubric. The debate gets a lot easier when you can just bash Republicans (even though the Republicans have been mostly silent on this and the law that was used to keep Munoz alive was not really intended for that purpose). Much of the rhetoric I’m reading is borrowed from past abortion debates. But I suspect the debate would have changed had the Munoz family made a different decision. If they had decided on their own to prolong her death long enough for the fetus to be delivered, would some of those supporting them now have turned on them for turning Marlise into a little more than a womb?

In the end, the moral and legal issues have to come down to the wishes of the family whatever those wishes are. Moral, medical and bioethical issues like this one are far too complex, emotional and personal for the state or anyone else to come stomping in. I feel the same way about the Jahi McMath case — where a family has made the opposite decision to keep alive a brain-dead 13-year-old girl. In both cases, I have moral qualms about the decision that has been made. But in both cases, I believe the deciding factor should be either the pre-expressed wishes of the patient or the wishes of the family. That’s the only way to handle this without drowning in moral and legal quicksand. It’s the only way to handle this without politicians and pundits speculating about medical and moral issues they aren’t remotely qualified to decide.

That should have been the course followed in this case two months ago. And I hope it will be going forward so that the next family is spared this kind of drawn-out pain. Or vilification for whatever decision they make.

He’s been saying this since the late 70s!

I was flabbergasted to read an International Weekly Journal of Science article, titled There are no black holes where they make the ludicrous claim that Stephen Hawkins suddenly has devastated the idea of what a black hole really is.

Most physicists foolhardy enough to write a paper claiming that “there are no black holes” — at least not in the sense we usually imagine — would probably be dismissed as cranks. But when the call to redefine these cosmic crunchers comes from Stephen Hawking, it’s worth taking notice. In a paper posted online, the physicist, based at the University of Cambridge, UK, and one of the creators of modern black-hole theory, does away with the notion of an event horizon, the invisible boundary thought to shroud every black hole, beyond which nothing, not even light, can escape.

In its stead, Hawking’s radical proposal is a much more benign “apparent horizon”, which only temporarily holds matter and energy prisoner before eventually releasing them, albeit in a more garbled form.

“There is no escape from a black hole in classical theory,” Hawking told Nature. Quantum theory, however, “enables energy and information to escape from a black hole”. A full explanation of the process, the physicist admits, would require a theory that successfully merges gravity with the other fundamental forces of nature. But that is a goal that has eluded physicists for nearly a century. “The correct treatment,” Hawking says, “remains a mystery.”

WTF? This is not new. Was this reporter a “Womyn Studies” or some other such non science degree major? Because she seems dumber than a stump claiming this is somehow new. Hawkins even made it clear, the belief nothing escapes a black hole – and we are not talking about what rappers would refer to as black hos – is rooted in classical or Newtonian mechanics. Quantum mechanics had postulated since the late 70s that the whole phenomenon of an event horizon where matter just disappears from existence, is very likely to be totally wrong, since it would violate/contradict several laws, and create a paradox. Now they act like Hawking’s not been saying that the event horizon of a black hole is far more complicated and undefined is something new.

Must be a slow news week or something.

D’Souza in the Gunsights

Dinesh D’Souza, who has written a book and made a movie heavily critical of Obama was indicted last week on charges of breaking federal campaign finance laws. The allegation is that he made strawman donations — reimbursing employees and friends for donating to the failed senate campaign of Wendy Long so he could exceed the $5000 campaign contribution limit. D’Souza has responded that he broke the law accidentally due to a “misunderstanding”.

This has given rise to accusations that Obama is targeting D’Souza. In particular, there has been focus on the case of Tab Turner, who organized strawman donations to the John Edwards campaign and paid a $50,000 fine. The problem is that this case is a bit cherry-picked. As noted by Reuters, these kind of prosecutions are very common although the punishment tends to be a bit inconsistent.

But if so, the politics are inscrutably Byzantine. Take Whittemore, for example. The Nevada lobbyist was accused and ultimately convicted of illegally funneling $150,000 to the re-election campaign of Senate majority leader Harry Reid. In addition to the mystery of why the Obama Justice Department would find it politically expedient to prosecute a Harry Reid supporter, there’s the twist that a Nevada developer who allegedly broke the same campaign finance laws as Whittemore by facilitating conduit payments to Reid’s campaign was never indicted and settled with the FEC. Why was one Reid supporter let off with a civil fine and the other prosecuted? Only the Justice Department knows for sure.

That very disparity, however, suggests that simple party-line retaliation doesn’t drive campaign finance enforcement decisions. In fact, if you look at the Whittemore sentencing memo, you’ll see that supporters of both Democratic and Republican candidates have been prosecuted over the last several years. And it’s not as though the Bush administration went after only Democratic boosters and the Obama Justice Department targets only Republicans. Former FEC chairman David Mason, who served on the commission from 1998 to 2008 and is now senior vice-president of compliance services at the political consulting firm Aristotle, tracks campaign finance cases closely. He told me they’re just not generally motivated by politics.

The decision to prosecute, according to Justin Shur of MoloLamken, who handled campaign finance cases in the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section from 2008 to 2012, is usually a matter of the defendant’s intent and the magnitude of the supposed wrongdoing. “I brought cases against Democrats and Republicans alike,” Shur said.

Steven Taylor points out that if Obama were going after his enemies, D’Souza would be an odd place to start.

The conspiracy theories are amazing, as they have to assume that D’Souza is some sort of huge thorn in Obama’s side. That is, even if we stipulate for the sake of argument that Obama is willing to use the DOJ as a political tool of this type, why on earth would he be targeting D’Souza? It is a bizarre notion. If Obama was willing to sic Holder on enemies, why not Rush Limbaugh? Roger Ailes? You know, people who actually influence the discourse. Or, for that matter, Paul Ryan, Ted Cruz, etc?

D’Souza is a big figure on the Right, but he doesn’t have a lot of mainstream cache. And his career took a big hit when had to resign from King’s college after carrying on with a married woman while he was still married to his first wife. I was a big fan of D’Souza a while back — his Reagan biography is very good. But he’s sort of drifted to the margin.

But then again, a guy making $20,000 in straw man contributions to a failed Senate campaign seems an odd place to enforce federal finance law as well.

You can also check out Ken White on the difficulty D’Souza will have proving a selective prosecution.

In short, a mere suspicious appearance — like the indictment of a vigorous critic of the administration — is not enough to show unconstitutionally selective prosecution. D’Souza’s attorneys should certainly explore the issue, but it will not be an easy motion to win. The system only nominally protects rights; for the most part the system protects the system.

To sum up: the prosecution is a bit suspicious and D’Souza’s attorneys will have a chance to look into it. But I am dubious that anything will come out of this.

Regardless of what comes out in D’Souza’s discovery, I do think we should revisit campaign contribution limits. While D’Souza appears to have broken the law and should punished for breaking the law — preferably with a civil not a criminal case — the law is kind of stupid. If D’Souza had donated that money to a single-minded PAC that supported his preferred candidate, it would have been perfectly legal. What he’s being punished for is more stupidity than corruption. I’d actually prefer that we remove the facade of campaign finance laws and just let people bankroll the campaign they want to. If George Soros wants to give a $1 billion campaign contribution to Hillary Clinton, let him … as long as it’s all out in the open where we know about it. I’d much rather see politicians bought and sold honestly than through strawman PACs called things like “Americans for America”. As far as I can tell, all our campaign finance laws have accomplished nothing when it comes to cleaning up Washington. All they do is allow the occasional prosecution of someone like Dinesh D’Souza.