Sunday, July 25, 2010

Arizona fulfills the federal government’s abandoned duty

Now that the federal government has formally filed suit to block Arizona’s efforts to identify illegal aliens the emotional rhetoric that has controlled the debate should take a back seat to reality. The Justice Department claims that Arizona has usurped the federal government’s authority over immigration and naturalization (U.S. Const., Art. I, Sect. 8) and the Constitution’s supremacy clause (Art. VI).

Odd how Washington becomes concerned with the constitutional delegation of authority only when federal power is challenged. There was little interest in the Constitution’s assigned powers when Congress passed the healthcare bill. Constitutional authority isn’t mentioned when card check is debated, or when Social Security and Medicare are discussed. However, despite its disdain for the document by which it is supposed to abide, the federal government seems to be on solid constitutional footing this time.

Congress has the authority to “establish an uniform rule of naturalization.” The reason the Founders granted this power to Congress was to avoid conflicts and wars with neighboring nations. John Jay argued in
Federalist No. 3 that border states, the ones most likely to be affected by immigration and border disputes, were inclined to act “under the impulse of sudden irritation.” Therefore national control of the international borders provided a greater opportunity for sustained peace.

Alexander Hamilton affirms Jay’s testimony in
Federalist No. 32. Hamilton contends, quite logically, that if each state enacts individual naturalization laws then the “uniform rule” demanded in Article I, Section 8 would be impossible. Thus legislative authority over the borders, immigration and naturalization belongs to the United States government. This power being granted to the national government is naturally denied to the states.

The United States is apparently correct in claiming authority over immigration law. Yet there are a few flies in the ointment that lend credence to Arizona’s position. Foremost, Arizona hasn’t enacted a law that regulates immigration or the naturalization process. What Arizona’s legislature has done is authorize state and local agents to address federal crimes. This isn’t unprecedented.

Sixty-three state and local jurisdictions, seven in Arizona alone, currently deal with illegal immigrants via Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s
287g program. State and local authorities are instrumental in identifying illegal aliens for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is proximity. Local police are likely to be the first officers at the scene of any violation. However, 287g is based upon ICE, a federal agency, authorizing local departments to enforce federal law. If 287g were the sole example of local authorities addressing federal crimes the case might be closed. It’s not.

Rhode Island state police have been enforcing immigration law on the weight of Gov. Donald Carcieri’s executive order since 2008. The Kentucky State Patrol and a local fire chief were first to investigate a possible arson at a Williamsburg, KY apartment building. Police in Amherst, NY are investigating a rape that occurred early on the morning of July 5, 2010. The New Castle County (DE) police are actively seeking leads in the June 9, 2010 abduction and rape of a young girl. Also in Delaware, the state police are investing two unrelated kidnappings and rapes.

According to Sumpter and Gonzalez website—a law firm in Austin, Texas—federal crimes include arson, rape and child abduction. This being the case, it’s apparent that local police units are investigating federal crimes and have a strong interest in apprehending the offenders. Why not immigration violators, too?

For a national government to refuse to exercise an authority--in this case, enforcing the borders--amounts to abandonment. Nature abhors such a vacuum, so the United States’ abdication of naturalization enforcement must be filled. Enter Arizona’s immigration enforcement law. In fact, Arizona’s action is in keeping with our nation’s founding principles.

Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence that when a government no longer meets the needs of the governed it is open to alteration. Arizona’s reaction is therefore mild. Instead of abolishing federal authority, or supplanting federal statutes, the state has upheld both in enforcing the existing national law.

States aren’t obligated to tie their hands or turn their heads when Washington ignores its assignments. If that were the case, what would happen if Washington ignored its duties in other areas? Reconsider Article I, Section 8, which not only establishes the federal government’s naturalization powers but also compels Congress to “provide for the common defense . . . of the United States.”

If a foreign power were to invade one of the several states the national government would be constitutionally responsible for repelling the invaders. Suppose Washington simply refused to deploy the armed forces to the sieged state? Would that state be constitutionally bound to accept the occupying force, since its defense is an established federal duty? Only the most naïve pacifist would accept such a proposition.

A state so occupied would be well within its right, and obligated to its citizens, to act against the occupiers. The same holds true when the invading force is comprised not of military personal, but of illegal aliens.

Washington’s wink-and-a-nod approach to immigration is a losing position whether or not Arizona successfully defends its immigration enforcement statute. A federal victory will create a tsunami of resentment towards the national government. Congress will then be compelled--this being an election year--to reluctantly consider the best interests of the people and the states in regard to action on illegal aliens. An Arizona victory affirms a state’s right to act in its own interest in areas not delegated to Congress, or in areas where Congress has neglected its constitutional charge.

This column originally appeared on American Thinker.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Leftists are neither progressive nor liberal

The left changes monikers whenever their chosen title becomes too easily identified with their collectivist political intentions. They seized the title “Progressives” in the early 20th Century and adopted “Liberal” when the progressive image became tarnished. Today, with liberalism inextricably linked to collectivism, the left has returned to the progressive label. But one problem remains. Words have meanings that defy distortion, and neither progressive nor liberal accurately reflects the left’s governing philosophy.

The case has been made, on the pages of
American Thinker itself, that identifying the leftist as a Progressive or Liberal is erroneous. It has been stated that policies declared to be progressive or liberal are actually backward and authoritarian. Thus the leftist has been aptly identified, based on policy and result, as regressive.

To state the case further, not even the definition of “progressive” or “liberal” identifies with the leftist ideology. It’s just that the left has manipulated those words until the distortion has become accepted. It is a common practice, for they routinely ignore reality and wear their title du jour like camouflage.

Progressive is
defined as advocating, attaining, or being characterized by improvement and forward thinking. It dates to the early 17th Century, becoming politicized in the late 1800s. The modern left isn’t progressive in the practical or classical sense of the word. In fact, much of what constituted progressivism during the early 20th Century is the antithesis of contemporary leftist beliefs.

Early Progressives certainly desired social change, but they regularly utilized private organizations--such as churches and charities--for effecting their transformations. Not even the Progressive Era’s trust-busting government regulators were kin to today’s leftists. Those reformers sought to protect the future of market competition from monopolistic mergers and thwart the fledgling communist movements. Creating a labyrinth of bureaucratic red tape wasn’t their primary objective.

Nothing in the word “progressive” and little in early progressivism describes today’s leftist. The left has no desire to defend capitalism, foster competition, or accomplish their vision of social justice via private channels. They have only an insatiable lust for control.

Leftists promote nothing new; their goals are those of an archaic doctrine. Forward thinking isn’t featured in their agenda, the purpose of which is to repackage policies that are proven failures. Bolshevik is more descriptive than progressive, for the left shares the Bolshevik’s socialistic dreams. They are mired in the past, rendering progressive an inappropriate description.

Socialist ideals quickly co-opted the early Progressive movement, giving the title a black eye. Leftists then adopted Liberal, a more inviting identifier but one that also defies their agenda.

Liberal spawns from the Latin “liberalis” and “liber” meaning noble, generous and free. A genuine liberal bristles at authoritarian attitudes and fulfills the nature of the word liberal. America’s leftists, conversely, are adamant in their support for a domineering central government and generous only when distributing their neighbor’s property.

Leftist liberalism defines not freedom but the welfare state. Their concept of liberalism frees one segment of society to live at another segment’s expense. Leftists then pat each other on the back for their thoughtfulness and generosity. It is indeed a warped vision.

Leftists have moved from Progressives to Liberals and back to Progressives, but in name only, never in definition. Their quasi-metamorphosis results from their ever-present collectivist mentality. Once the public realizes the agenda behind the name, the name is changed to obfuscate the agenda.

The left is an immutable lie; let’s call it that. Their social desires reflect a statism worthy of Marx, Lenin, or Mao. They’re trapped in the past, antiquated testaments to a flawed and failed philosophy where liberty is defined as the ability to avoid responsibility. Ignored is the unassailable truth that liberty without responsibility is nonexistent. Leftists demand allegiance to a backward dependency. To call them progressives or liberals is patently false.

The left cannot be allowed the privilege of defining their nature. Today’s “Progressive Liberal” desires to rob us of our autonomy and render us wards of a collectivist state. Their label should reflect their innate desire to move society backward. Leftists are regressive in every sense of the word. The Regressive label has been proposed for them before. Let it become their perpetual identifier.

This column first appeared on American Thinker.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Thoughts and questions on various matters

Wisdom is measured in the depth of one’s questions and knowledge in one’s consciousness of facts. This collection of questions and thoughts is my latest attempt to improve in both areas and shine a little light into some dark corners.

Environmentalists demand that we pursue renewable energy sources and use recyclable materials. Why, then, are environmentalists so opposed to the timber industry? It utilizes and replenishes forests, one of nature’s most available, renewable and recyclable assets.

Can a person claim to be free while refusing to be accountable for their actions or responsible for their livelihood? Sadly, this view of liberty has become the rule rather than the exception.

What happens if every pet owner follows the animal rights crusader’s demand and has their pet spayed or neutered? Where will the next generation of pets come from?

When conservatives criticize a political opponent’s positions they are accused of partisanship, mean-spiritedness, or reckless attacks. But when a liberal does the same thing--or worse--to conservatives they are praised for “speaking truth to power.” Talk about your double standards.

I find it inexplicable that government can trace salmonella to a single jalapeño pepper and mad cow disease to a barn stall on a remote ranch, but can’t find millions of illegal aliens living right under our noses.

At the height of his messianic popularity Barack Obama visited the Middle East. I wondered at the time if he traversed the Atlantic by air or simply walked across on the water. If he takes a similar trip now he may have to fly coach and pay for his checked baggage.

When activists organize “gay pride” parades, are they trying to convince themselves or the rest of us?

If prostitution is illegal why are pornographic movies legal? The actors and actresses in those movies are selling sex, too. The only difference is their forum and their price.

The academics and pointy-headed intellectuals who influence public policy routinely praise the communist and socialist leaders who have starved millions of people in the name of social equality. They will also condemn capitalist farmers and grocery store owners, who have fed millions for a profit. Is there any wonder the economic world has capsized?

Driving 101: The Interstate Axiom. The driver in front of you will slow to a crawl a half-mile before reaching their exit ramp. The driver behind you will pass you like it’s the white flag lap of the Daytona 500, and then suddenly swerve across three lanes of traffic to exit at the same ramp.

I doubt the people who’ve continually praised the historic nature of Obama’s presidency would have similar feelings if J.C. Watts--the former Oklahoma congressman--had become the nation’s first black president.

What became of Monica Lewinsky? Which item should she donate to the Smithsonian Institution: her blue dress, or her lipstick?

Here is a prime example of hypocrisy. The same people who decry the influence of money in politics totally ignored the $600 million Obama raised during the 2008 campaign.

We will trust our health, retirement and livelihood to people who spend $100 million to win an elected office that pays between $200,000 and $400,000 annually. However, we’re skeptical of someone who spends $100,000 on an education to land a position that pays several million dollars per year. Will someone explain why this makes sense?

South Carolina Democrats are correct in claiming that Alvin M. Greene shouldn’t be their party’s candidate for U.S. Senate. Greene washed out of the army under unusual circumstances. He has no job, lives with his parents and is charged with a sexual offence. Actually, Greene should be either the Democrat’s presidential nominee or their climate change expert.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Next stop, The Robert C. Byrd pearly gates

Robert C. Byrd has received a much friendlier valediction than conservative Senators of like stature. When Sen. Jesse Helms died he was treated like Satan’s baby brother. Likewise for Sen. Strom Thurmond. Sen. Byrd, conversely, has received praise for his work and absolution for his faults.

Friend and foe alike have hailed Byrd as the conscience of the Senate. Quasi-worshippers glorified his knowledge and use of Senate rules and his staunch defense of the chamber. His understanding of historical literature has garnered admiration, as has his perceived devotion to the U.S. Constitution.

Robert Byrd the family man should receive the kindness and sympathy due to the dead, if only for his family’s sake. But frankly, even in death, Robert C. Byrd the Senator is open to satire. He was, after all, a public figure. Never shanghaied, he doggedly defended his Senate seat for half a century.

Byrd made quite a name for himself in the U.S. Senate. But he made an even greater name for himself in West Virginia. Bluntly, he should be remembered not for the qualities previously mentioned but for the notorious manner in which he manipulated the federal budget to fortify a voting base in the nation’s poorest state. To accentuate the point let’s examine what the Senator’s funeral procession might’ve resembled.

Sen. Byrd’s remains arrive at the Robert C. Byrd Aerodrome in West Virginia. The plane lands on runway 32-RCB, approaches Senator Byrd Terminal on the R. Byrd taxiway and stops at the Byrd Passenger Access Gate. Sen. Byrd will be then be transferred to the R. C. B. Public Railway, which will carry him to Grand C. Byrd Station in his hometown of Sophia, crossing the Robert Byrd Trestle along the way. There the motorcade waits in the Senator Robert Byrd Public Parking Lot.

The motorcade exits the parking area via the R. Byrd Ticket Booth and creeps onto Robert C. Byrd Drive to begin the journey to the burial site, Robert C. Byrd Memorial Gardens, in Charleston (he’ll be buried in Virginia, but please play along). The hearse passes the Robert C. Byrd Elementary School, the Robert C. Byrd Middle School, the Robert C. Byrd High School, and BIT (the Byrd Institute of Technology). At the Robert C. Byrd State-Federal Liaison Building (a.k.a. the Robert C. Byrd Pork Processing Center) the motorcade turns onto Byrd Boulevard.

Byrd Boulevard guides the procession past the Robert Byrd Wastewater Treatment Plant, the Robert C. Byrd Water Works and the main offices of the Byrd Public Utility, predictably located in the Robert C. Byrd Business Complex. The caravan turns between the Robert C. Byrd Courthouse and the Robert C. Byrd Hospital and Blood Pressure Research Center and continues toward Interstate 64. After passing the Robert C. Byrd Honorary City Limit Sign the Senator leaves Sophia behind.

Byrd Boulevard now becomes Byrd Parkway, which carries the cavalcade to Interstate 64. The procession accesses the interstate via the Robert C. Byrd On-ramp and gains speed across the Sen. R.C. Byrd Overpass. The trip through West Virginia’s mountains is scenic. There’s Byrd Mountain, Robert’s Hollow, Byrd’s Valley, Robert Byrd Creek and the Byrd Rainwater Deluge Conduit (know locally as Byrd’s Ditch). To the right is the Robert C. Byrd Dam, which houses the R. C. Byrd Hydroelectric Station and retains the Robert’s Lake Reservoir.

Recent improvements to the Senator Robert C. Byrd Intermountain Expressway (I-64 until shovel-ready stimulus came to them there hills) hastens arrival at Byrd Memorial Gardens. The Byrd Off-ramp guides the procession from the expressway to the Senior Senator Scenic Highway, which the hearse follows to Byrd Gardens. Entrance is via the R.C. Byrd Access Gate.

Pallbearers escort the late Senator’s remains up the Byrd Pathway to his final resting place at the crest of Robert C. Byrd Knoll, which overlooks the Byrd Bike and Fitness Trail as it winds through a majestic corner of the Robert Byrd State Forest and Habitat Preserve. Senator Robert C. Byrd is there eulogized and remanded to the custody of his Creator, interned in a pork barrel.

Rest in peace, Senator.

Friday, July 2, 2010

The perfect society: A land without wealth?

Utopia! It’s the holy grail of egalitarian busybodies far and wide. If only outcomes were equal, as defined by the egalitarians themselves, the world would become a place of balanced chi and seamless harmony. These societal engineers have long believed in their unique intellects and superlative abilities, which qualify them to distribute wealth and contentment to a longing world. Sadly, there’s no shortage of these do-gooders.

A New York State Assemblyman envisions an increased millionaire tax. If passed, high income earners--who already bear a disproportionate share of New York’s tax burden--will pitch in an additional 11-percent. The broken record known as Hillary Clinton still laments how “the rich” don’t pay their “fair share” of taxes. Oregon, too, has joined the chorus.

Earlier this year Oregon voters passed Measures 66 and 67, raising taxes on individuals and businesses that wealth redistributors, in their profundity, have deemed excessive winners in life’s lottery. Typical class envy tactics preceded that electoral outcome. Proponents argued that education, public safety and health would suffer if the initiatives failed. The poor, naturally, would take it on the chin.

The entire premise of a perceived “fair share” is ambiguous at best. Would the egalitarian consider taxation equitable if the “rich” surrender, say, 75-percent of their income to government? Hillary Clinton, Oregon voters and New York assemblymen might think so. But anyone with a toehold on reality understands that productive people shoulder the tax burden now. The top one-percent of earners pays 28-percent of federal income taxes. Additionally, over the last 30 years the taxation on incomes above $75,000 has steadily increased while declining on incomes below that threshold.

Arguing that wealthier Americans pay little or no taxes is misleading. No, make that an outright lie. And that’s not the only mischaracterization offered by the “soak the rich” crowd.

In promoting Measures 66 and 67 the Oregon Center for Public Policy claimed that “asking” Oregonians to “contribute” more in taxes would improve the state’s fiscal structure. Certainly some taxation is necessary for governments to execute legitimate functions. But referring to tax increases as “asking” people to “contribute” is unadulterated spin, sufficient to strain even the strongest gastronomical constitution. And it’s so typical of the egalitarian social engineer.

Charitable organizations solicit contributions, and contributors alone determine their level of participation. No such choice exists with taxation. Tax levies aren’t a request on government’s part, and taxes aren’t contributed sans duress. Taxes are compulsory and their collection is ultimately a matter of force.

Sadly, there’s little to be achieved in arguing taxation with egalitarians. Redistributionists are so devoted to equalizing all incomes and imposing their Marxist vision on society that debate has become futile. Equally futile are the protests of the productive, whose incomes are sacrificed upon the perverse altar of egalitarianism. The producer’s right to their production will never match the needs of the oppressed when it comes to conjuring empathy. Therefore the “rich” are safely marginalized, demonized and dismissed.

What would happen if busybodies like Hillary Clinton, New York legislators and Oregon voters fulfill their collectivist dreams? If there were no private wealth the economy would become void of capital investment. Innovation and production would decelerate, with a corresponding decline in employment and living standards. The resulting misery would create greater demand on government, which puts the do-gooders in position to distribute the remaining wealth as they so determine. They will achieve their socialist dreams, but only for a season.

Such idealism has no foundation upon which to build. Since government produces little, and that which is produced is a case study in inefficiency, the egalitarian society is doomed to failure. Only the most influential busybodies will benefit from their societal and economic transformation. The rank and file do-gooder will be destined to impoverished servitude alongside their once-wealthy neighbors, whose property they helped confiscate.

So goes the nation without private wealth. Utopia? I think not.

This column originally appeared at American Thinker.