Thursday, April 29, 2010
I enjoy reading Andrew McCarthy on National Review Online. Today, he offered three pieces on the constitutionality of Arizona's controversial immigration law here, here, and here.
I learned some important points about the law that make me feel better about its constitutionality. First, any communication between a police officer and an individual about immigration status can only come after the police officer lawfully stops the individual. In other words, a police officer cannot stop the individual and demand immigration papers on a hunch. It can only happen after a traffic stop, or if a search warrant is executed for another reason.
Second, the police officer may only question the individual about his immigration status if the police officer has a 'reasonable suspicion' about the individual's immigration status. This means that the officer must provide specific, articulable facts supporting his actions. A hunch will not cut it.
Third, any individual who is wrongly accused or questioned has the right to a civil action against the offending law enforcement agency.
These steps provide for greater protection to an individual that are provided under federal laws. A federal agent doesn't have to go through the steps that Arizona cops have to go through.
And finally, the law expressly prohibits any stop based on race or nationality.
There is a question about whether this law is constitutional under the Supremacy Clause, but I feel convinced that it does not violate Equal Protection laws - so long as police officers follow the mandates of the law.
Saturday, April 24, 2010
Yesterday, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed into law a bill that criminalizes the failure to carry immigration documents. President Obama has come out and spoken strongly against this bill, saying it offends traditional notions of fairness.
I have to admit that I don't like the smell of this bill, for several reasons. First, although generally I am all for states taking action instead of waiting for the federal government to act, immigration may very well be an issue where the federal government has the final say. Per the Supremacy Clause, Article VI, Clause 2:
This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.
In other words, federal laws made in pursuance of the Constitution are the supreme law of the land, and supercede state laws dealing with the same subject. A pretty strong argument can be made that immigration is of federal concern, and thus Arizona's immigration law could be made null and void.
Here is the rub, however - is there not federal immigration legislation on the books to supercede the Arizona law? This law appears to be one to enforce federal immigration laws, when enforcement mechanisms are obviously already present in the federal law. So is this law redundant, and if so, I'd expect lawsuits attacking the Arizona law under the Supremacy Clause.
For an argument to counter this line of thought, see Instapundit.
Second, how is this law to be enforced?
It requires police officers, “when practicable,” to detain people they reasonably suspect are in the country without authorization and to verify their status with federal officials, unless doing so would hinder an investigation or emergency medical treatment.
This is where it gets real sticky. This law empowers a police officer to (1) determine when it is appropriate to question an individual about his residency status, and (2) determine when it is "practicable" to detain someone the officer suspects of being in the country illegally.
Yikes. I have the utmost respect for our police officers, but giving them the power to question and also detain a person based on a reasonable belief about the person's residency status - especially when possibly 99 out of 100 incidents will involve Hispanics - is a risky proposition.
I would be shocked if this law is upheld as constitutional.
From a political standpoint, I think it is risky as well. For one, this law will be used relentlessly by Democrats this summer and fall to attack Republicans. Secondly, it could rally support for federal legislation that seems tame by comparison(amnesty, anyone?).
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Today President Obama hinted that he's be open to the Value-Added Tax.
This will be proposed not as a substitute for federal income taxes (an idea I'm cool with), but as an additional tax. It will affect manufacturers, retailers, wholesalers, and the public at large. It will do massive harm to an already fragile economy. It will destroy job growth and put more people in harm's way (economically-speaking, of course).
And Obama and the Democrat Party wouldn't have it any other way. Impose more taxes, create more economic problems. Create more economic problems, engender dependency. Engender dependency, and you've conjured up a perfect scenario to grab power.
Which is something Obama does as well as any politician since Hitler (and no, I'm not calling Obama a Nazi).
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Today a group of people wearing military uniforms - including fatigues - and protesting President Obama's policies were arrested after handcuffing themselves to the White House fence today.
Those unhinged, fringe, right-wing felons of the Tea Party movement strike again, right?
Park Police arrested several gay rights protestors who had handcuffed themselves to the fence in front of the White House. Capt. P.J. Beck of the Park Police said they were arrested for "failure to obey a lawful order" and that they would be taken to the Anacostia station to be processed.
According to a release from GetEQUAL, the gay rights group that organized the protest, there were six servicemembers arrested.
I wonder if we'll see the media start to slander the gay rights movement as racist...
Monday, April 19, 2010
- Last week, former president Bill Clinton likened the Tea Party movement to the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.
- This weekend, Time Magazine's Joe Klein accused Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck - both of whom speak much the same language as Tea Partiers - of potentially committing SEDITION (that's a crime, folks) against the US government.
- Congressional Democrats believe Tea Partiers are racist
- President Obama believes the "core group" of Tea Partiers are "Birthers"
This, to me, is staggering. Liberals across the country have resorted to vile, baseless attacks on the character of millions of Americans rather than engage in productive, intelligent debate about our nation's course.
If you are concerned about the amount of spending in Washington, and the direction that big-government politicians are taking, you might be a delusional, racist, terrorist felon.
Think about that.
Monday, April 12, 2010
Saturday, April 10, 2010
Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
We've all heard those words before. Personally, I think there is a lot of truth to them. Granted, no two instances in history are identical. However, taking into account historical similarities is a vital component of smart foreign policy. Professor Obama seems to have forgotten his history.
Earlier this week, Obama announced that the US will pledge not to use or even threaten to use nuclear weapons against any state that has attacked us with chemical or biological weapons - so long as it is in compliance with the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Apparently, this is some sort of effort to convince the world with a good example that nuclear weapons are not necessary in the 21st century.
Here's the problem, as Charles Krauthammer points out - for the last quarter century, the United States and Soviet Union/Russia have been reducing their nuclear arsenals. The result? Pakistan. North Korea. Iran. All have completed or are developing nuclear weapons. Saddam Hussein also sought after a nuclear arsenal.
History would suggest that President Obama's efforts to change history will in fact be thwarted by history. As Krauthammer argues:
This administration seems to believe that by restricting retaliatory threats and by downplaying our reliance on nuclear weapons, it is discouraging proliferation.
But the opposite is true. Since World War II, smaller countries have agreed to forgo the acquisition of deterrent forces — nuclear, biological, and chemical — precisely because they placed their trust in the firmness, power, and reliability of the American deterrent.
Obama is no realist when it comes to foreign policy. While we should all applaud his hope for a world without nuclear weapons, history would tell us that this hope may in fact lead to a far more dangerous world.
Here is an important article from National Review's Rich Lowry about what we can expect from ObamaCare.
In 2006, Massachusetts enacted health-care legisation that has become known as RomneyCare, after then-governor and champion of the bill, Mitt Romney. President Obama has touted ObamaCare as an associate of RomneyCare. But what is happening in Massachusetts is a clear warning of what a mess ObamaCare can become.
There are some key similiarities between the two laws:
1. Mandates that individuals buy insurance
2. Fines on businesses that do not offer coverage
3. Heavy regulation of insurance exchanges
4. Large insurance subsidies
5. Medicaid expansion
6. Higher taxes and fees to pay for the legislation
7. Individuals can wait to purchase insurance until they are sick or want medical procedures.
Here's the problem: RomneyCare is imploding. And ObamaCare could likely do the same thing.
The Boston Globe reports, “Thousands of consumers are gaming Massachusetts’ 2006 health insurance law by buying insurance when they need to cover pricey medical care, such as fertility treatments and knee surgery, and then swiftly dropping coverage, a practice that insurance executives say is driving up costs for other people and small businesses.”
This activity, plus the other 'virtues' of RomneyCare, has lead to higher costs and premiums. Massachusetts now has the highest insurance premiums in the country. This has led Deval Patrick, the current governor, to order price controls. As a result, three of the four largest insurers in the state have stopped selling new health insurance policies. Because they cannot raise the price of premiums to cover higher costs associated with RomneyCare, these non-profit insurers may actually go out of business.
Is there any reason to believe this could not happen on a national scale with ObamaCare? I was listening to Rush Limbaugh yesterday morning, and he believes the President would be happy if insurance companies were driven out of the market by higher costs and premiums and price controls. It would leave one option: SINGLE PAYER, with Barack Obama and the feds as your lone provider of health insurance.
First Massachusetts, tomorrow the United States of America.
Thursday, April 8, 2010
I don't know Barack Obama. He seems like a devoted father and husband, and that counts for quite a bit in my book. I of course cannot stand his politics and am terrified of his vision for our country.
But, for some reason, I've never liked Obama. Watching him speak, listening to what he says and how he says it, and what criticism he responds to - I question the character of the man.
I didn't always agree with George W. Bush, but I admired him for the fact he rarely responded to his critics, and never with the vindictiveness of Obama. Case in point:
Palin, the former vice presidential candidate, has not been shy about criticizing Obama's policies and this week weighed in on his revamped nuclear strategy, saying it was like a child in a playground who says 'punch me in the face, I'm not going to retaliate.'
"I really have no response to that. The last I checked, Sarah Palin is not much of an expert on nuclear issues," Obama said in an interview with ABC News.
"What I would say to [Republicans] is, is that if the secretary of defense and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff are comfortable with it, I'm probably going to take my advice from them and not from Sarah Palin."
It would be nice if our president actually walked the walk, and acted like the post-partisan that he claimed to be during the campaign. Instead, he usually comes off like a petulant child used to getting his way, who finally is told "No!"
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
How America might get a VAT of its own:
First, Washington would have to demonstrate it could manage the public purse by reforming entitlements [...]. A tall order, but a necessary prerequisite or else voters would fear that entire six-point budget gap would be closed by tax hikes via a VAT. So, in the end, government spending needs to be dramatically cut. (Preferably, we would never need to get past this step.;)
Second, a VAT would have to completely overwrite the current complex and inefficient tax code. If not, voters would fear getting hit by both VAT and income tax hikes. A VAT can’t be an add on.
Third, every sales receipt in America would have to indicate the VAT penalty. But politicians love the hidden aspect of a VAT as way of duping voters. To them opaqueness is a feature, not a bug.
Fourth, the intended tax burden should be kept level at first. A pro-growth VAT — one that does away with corporate and investment taxes — might produce more revenue merely by expanding the economic pie.
My thoughts as a layperson? None of those four steps ever come about. No Democrat-controlled Congress will cut spending. It just isn't going to happen. I think, with the Tea Party movement, there is more popular sentiment to cut spending than in two decades, but it will take a strong GOP majority - kind of like the one Democrats now enjoy - to push through meaningful spending cuts. Plus, we have to elect the right kind of Republicans.
I'm hopeful that the tax code is reformed or eliminated. In fact, I woudln't necessarily be against a VAT if it replaced the income tax. Then it would basically act as a national sales tax. Of all the steps, this I believe is the easiest sell. Lots of Americans would love to see the tax structure revamped.
As for transparency of the VAT on receipts - well, I'm not holding my breath. Our fearless leader Mr. Obama isn't very trustworthy when it comes to transparency.
As for the level impact of the VAT - this again depends largely on who controls Congress and the White House. I suspect President Obama would work hard to keep taxes higher on business and high-income groups.
In short, I still suspect that a VAT would be added to the current tax structure, turning us into Europe West.
White House advisor Paul Volcker today admitted we are in store for higher taxes to pay for the Left's pet projects, including a Value-Added Tax, which is akin to a sales tax added at every level of production, manufacture, distribution, and sale. And it likely would be imposed in addition to higher income tax levels.
Notice that there is never any discussion whatsoever from the Left calling for a cut in spending. Spending must go up, and the bloodsuckers in D.C. have to find more streams of revenue to satisfy their thirst.
And we thought it was hard to get a good job now. Just wait...
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Monday, April 5, 2010
For the first time, the United States is explicitly committing not to use nuclear weapons against nonnuclear states that are in compliance with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, even if they attacked the United States with biological or chemical weapons or launched a crippling cyberattack.
Now, the official pronouncement isn't out until tomorrow, so perhaps there is more to this. But this sure sounds like a policy where an unfriendly state need not worry about nuclear reprisal if it employs certain weapons of mass destruction against America - so long as it was previously in compliance with the Nonproliferation Treaty.
Sure, Obama reserves the right to reconsider this strategy if the hostile state has developed weapons to a level that makes the U.S. "vulnerable to a devastating attack." That's just fine and all, but what if we don't find out about the extent of an enemy's weapons development until it is too late? This was the whole point of the Bush Doctrine - we can't wait until it is too late. Yet this new strategy seems like an invitation to our enemies to strike while the iron is hot.
Yes, the Obama administration may be ready and willing to use nuclear weapons whenever necessary, even in direct violation of this strategy. But in the meantime, the message is otherwise. Will our enemies take it at face value?
Sunday, April 4, 2010
Remember what I said earlier about the President refusing to listen to the American People?
Toward the end of a question-and-answer session with workers at an advanced battery technology manufacturer, a woman named Doris stood to ask the president whether it was a "wise decision to add more taxes to us with the health care" package.
"We are over-taxed as it is," Doris said bluntly.
Obama started out feisty. "Well, let's talk about that, because this is an area where there's been just a whole lot of misinformation..."
He then spent the next 17 minutes and 12 seconds lulling the crowd into a daze.
Show some respect for your constituents, sir. Answer the question.
I would like to thank President Barack Obama for inspiring me to become a more aware and involved citizen.
When the Tea Party movement really started to catch fire in early 2009, its critics scoffed, claiming this moniker was senseless, because the impetus for the original Boston Tea Party was "Taxation without Representation." Each of us is represented by two Senators and a US Representative at the federal level, so how could anyone in our day use the Boston Tea Party as inspiration for a popular movement against the government?
Well, aside from the fact that the Tea Party movement represents a broad spectrum of grievances against our federal government, there really is an issue of "Taxation without Representation" at work here.
In the wake of Scott Brown's Senate victory in Massachusetts, President Obama interpreted the historic event, as well as strong public disapproval of his health care plan by saying:
"If there's one thing that I regret this year is that we were so busy just getting stuff done and dealing with the immediate crises that were in front of us that I think we lost some of that sense of speaking directly to the American people about what their core values are and why we have to make sure those institutions are matching up with those values."(emphasis mine)
The President just doesn't get it. His response should have centered on the fact that he and his fellow Democrats had lost "some of that sense" of LISTENING to, not SPEAKING to, the American people. But my observation of this President has led me to one conclusion, that President Obama and Democrats in Congress will not consider the voice of the American people. Will we ever forget Speaker Pelosi's famous words:
“But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of the controversy."
So we are suffering from a lack of representation. President Obama and Democrats in Congress have ignored the will of the people. I cannot stand for this. I will not stand for it.
Thanks again, Mr. President. You've got me fired up.