The Greatest Entitlement

Americans, for the most part, do not like the idea of someone getting something for nothing. You want something, you pay for it. We conservatives especially cringe at the idea of entitlements.

Except for citizenship. For most Americans, the best citizenship is free citizenship. Sure, we are happy to let a few selected customers pay for a second-class version of it, but for the vast majority, it is something that neither has to be earned nor purchased.

Those few who pay for it also have to prove they deserve it. They have to spend a lot of money and go through a complicated process just to prove they should be allowed to even get the chance to earn it. Once that hurdle it overcome, they have to contribute to the economy for a specified period of time during which they can be thrown out of the country at the caprice of a judge or a legislature. They have to pass an exam to show that they know enough to become a real American. They have to pay another considerable amount of money to the Government, in addition to anything they pay to a lawyer to help them find their way through the maze of naturalization.

Wouldn’t it be the real American way to make everyone pay for it? Why not make the right to vote contingent on passing an exam and paying a $680 fee? Why should people get this for nothing just because they happened to be born in the US or have parents who happened to be born American? After all, many of these people have not contributed anything to the economy and for some even their parents have contributed nothing.

If we are going to deny millions of willing, working people the opportunity to even pay their way to citizenship then it only seems right that those who are not assets to the country should not be deciding its future as an entitlement of the accident of birth.

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What the Arizona Court Order Actually Says

There seems to be some confusion about the prelimiary injunction ordered by U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton with regard to Arizona Senate Bill 1070. Reading both the press and the blogs, there are misunderstandings, misconstructions, oversimplifications, and lots of rhetoric, especially wondering how the judge could rule this way when (they presume) the Arizona law mimics federal law. I have read the court order and this is my legal – not political – analysis:

The judge started off by explaning which provisions of the statute are being enjoined from enforcement and which are not. Almost all of the statute stands and is enforceable pending trial on the merits. Four narrow provisions are temporarily enjoined. She concludes this section by stating the legal basis of the injunction, viz., that the moving party is likely to succeed on the merits with regard to those provisions when the case is tried and the moving party would suffer irreparable harm if the court does not provide preliminary relief, as well as the tests of the balance of equities and public interest. This is the same standard used in any case.

In the next section, the judge provides a good overview of federal immigration law that is worthy of reading by a lot of people here and on other blogs who seemed to be confused by it. There is a good overview of the relevant portions of SB 1070.

The judge then gives a good explanation of why she cannot and will not enjoin all of SB 1070 as the Government moved.

Addressing each provision, she starts with Section 2(B), which does not mimic any federal law, but says that if someone who is stopped, detained, or arrested is suspected of being an unauthorized alien they have to have their immigration status determined before they are released. This places a substantial burden on both citizens and lawful aliens (citing Hines v. Davidowitz), as well as a burden on federal resources (citing Buckman Co. v. Plaintiffs’ Legal Comm.) forcing reallocation of resources from higher priorities directly related to national security. The judge then footnoted the possible 4th Amendment issues, but did not use them as the basis of her ruling.

With regard to Section 3, this also does not mimic federal law, but rather creates a separate state offense with state penalties for violating a federal law. This runs contrary to Hines in several ways as clearly set out. Not really a shocker. Preemption is pretty obvious and success at trial very likely.

With regard to their Section 4 challenge, the Government is not likely to succeed, because they are seeking to enjoin a section of the statute that was amended by Section 4 of SB 1070 but not the actual change brought about by Section 4. No injunction.

The injunction with regard to Section 5 involves the portion that criminalizes unauthorized aliens who attempt to get work or actually work. Again, this does not mimic federal law. Congress specifically did not impose criminal or civil penalties on employees when it chose to do so on employers. The judge ruled that because the Arizona statute conflicts with a comprehensive federal scheme, it is preempted.

The Government attempted two further injunctions with regard to Section 5 but did not succeed.

Section 6 of SB 1070 does not mimic federal law and provides that an officer may arrest a person without a warrant if the officer has probable cause to believe that “the person to be arrested has committed any public offense that makes the person removable from the United States.” This would include any offense that might have been committed at any time outside of Arizona. The judge cites Justice Alito in Padilla v. Kentucky:

providing advice on whether a conviction for a particular offense will make an alien removable is often quite complex. “Most crimes affecting immigration status are not specifically mentioned by the [Immigration and Nationality Act (INA)], but instead fall under a broad category of crimes such as crimes involving moral turpitude or aggravated felonies.” M. Garcia & L. Eig, CRS Report for Congress, Immigration Consequences of Criminal Activity (Sept. 20, 2006) (summary) (emphasis in original). As has been widely acknowledged, determining whether a particular crime is an “aggravated felony” or a “crime involving moral turpitude [(CIMT)]” is not an easy task.

As a result or this and the fact that it would also require Arizona officers to make judgments with regard to non-Arizona statutes, Judge Bolton ruled:

Considering the substantial complexity in determining whether a particular public offense makes an alien removable from the United States and the fact that this determination is ultimately made by federal judges, there is a substantial likelihood that officers will wrongfully arrest legal resident aliens under the new A.R.S. § 13-3883(A)(5). By enforcing this statute, Arizona would impose a “distinct, unusual and extraordinary” burden on legal resident aliens that only the federal government has the authority to impose. Hines, 312 U.S. at 65-66.

The judge concluded her order with a detailed explanation of how the provisions she enjoined meet the standards for injunctive relief. This is set out in a clear and reasonable way.

Judge Bolton’s ruling may not be popular, especially in Arizona. That is part of the separation of powers. It is not a judge’s job to do the popular thing. That is why federal judges are not elected. The rule of law and the current will of the people may not be the same thing.  Judge Bolton did not rule in any activist way. She did not bend to the will of the Obama Administration.

If you wish to substantively disagree with my legal analysis, or make other substantive comments, feel free to do so.

Increasing Support for Child Sacrifice

If opinion polls are correct, more and more Americans are in favour of child sacrifice. No, I’m not making some sort of oblique reference to abortion. Some of you may think this is too bizarre, but it is true.

Rep. Duncan Hunter of California has publically called for the deportation of American citizens who are the children of illegal immigrants. In a Fox poll published by the conservative group ResistNet, 56.5% of 1500 repondents supported this idea. So am I just given to hyperbole and tenuous metaphor by calling this child sacrifice? I don’t think so, and here’s why:

Hunter and supporters of this idea are downplaying that citizens who happen to be the children of undocumented immigrants are, in fact and in law, just as much citizens as Duncan Hunter. This is their legal status in US and international law. They got their citizenship the same way he did, even if you consider them second-class citizens – admittedly a way of treating some people that has a long and glorious history.

Duncan Hunter thinks this has to be done for the greater good. He said, “you could look and say, ‘You’re a mean guy. That’s a mean thing to do. That’s not a humanitarian thing to do.’ We simply cannot afford what we’re doing right now. We just can’t afford it. California’s going under.” In other words, “it’s not nice and it’s not a civilised way to treat a human being, but we’ve got to do it anyway. California can’t afford for us not to jettison these citizens.”

Citizenship entitles someone to all civil rights. It is long established in the US (and in international law, but that’s a concept despised by many Americans) that everyone within the boundaries of the US for whatever reason has certain civil rights protection, but it will be easy enough to disregard that. However, depriving a citizen of their civil rights is more serious. To strip a large class of people of the citizenship they have always had – these are not children naturalised by the grace and favor of the US Government – and that they acquired in the same way as all other natural born citizens is a big step.

I am not suggesting that Hunter is not entitled to hold this point of view, but rather that it should be explictly stated. He considers some citizens to be less desirable than others, so those in the majority should exercise their democratic voice to deprive that citizenship. Perhaps it is worth other Americans considering what safeguards are in place to prevent another majority forming (based on however they want to form an association or declare an affinity of common interest) that finds them in the minority and decides to forceably remove them from the country of their citizenship? The new majority may even hold sway long enough and significantly enough to pass a Constitutional amendment to enforce it.

This is child sacrifice in more than just a metaphorical sense. Once these children are stripped of their citizenship, they not longer have a right to be in the country of their birth and they can then be deported. That is the stated ultimate objective. It’s just a matter of opening up one of the gates in the big wall, shoving them through and quickly locking it behind them. On the other side of that wall is a drug war that has claimed the lives of over 20,000 mostly innocent people in the last half-decade. In that environment, a lot of those children thrown over the wall will probably not survive for long. But their deaths are necessary to keep Duncan Hunter’s California and the US from going under. It’s a price that has to be paid. Most Americans won’t think it a heavy price, because they didn’t want that class of citizen in this country anyway.

One of the things the US needs to do to stop the flow of immigrants is to make it a less attractive destination. If we can show the world that the US is a place where some citizens have more rights than others and that any undesireable group can lose their civil rights at the caprice of any given majority of sufficient size, maybe they will start to look elsewhere. A lot will still come because life on the margins is still outweighed by the economic opportunity, but the new apartheid will discourage a few.

Times are tough and everyone has to make sacrifices. Every citizen needs to be willing to make sacrifices for the common good. You know, ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country. That includes all these Latino kids. Their country needs them to give up their citizenship, their opportunities for the future, and in some cases their lives, so that everyone else can continue to enjoy the American way of life.

I would say that Hunter and his supporters do need to act fast. At this time a significant number of these citizens are below the age of majority. They are children subject to the whims of the enfranchised adults. If they are allowed to grow up, they will have a say in their own affairs and enjoy the full rights to exert their citizenship (that they admittedly acquired they same way Hunter and most Americans did) and try to oppose being thrown out of their country. It is much easier to deprive a child of their civil rights than someone who can speak up for themselves.

Some of these undesirable citizens are already adults. If legislation enabling certain people to be stripped of their citizenship and deported is proposed, there will not doubt be protest rallies. If they were good citizens they would be doing this willingly, not engaging in some sort of protest. If they are participating in rallies against giving up their citizenship, it just shows how unAmerican they are, doesn’t it?

Why the Arizona Law Will Not Affect the Drug Wars

I will get back to the fine print of the Arizona law (I know you just can’t wait) but I have been informed by a friend living on the Mexican border that I can’t make any argument at all about illegal immigrants without including the drug cartel wars. I alluded to it in the previous post, but I will be more explicit about it here.

The drug war is one of the reasons the Arizona law is wrong. There I’ve said it. Those of you who don’t want to hear why (and you know who you are) can change the channel now. For those who have asked for an explanation and those who want one, stay tuned because here we go.

There is nothing in SB1070 that will do anything to stop the violence on either side of the border. At best, a drug runner or cartel operative might get pulled over for a broken tail light or coasting through a stop sign and get put through the Arizona system. If he has a gun or drugs with him, ICE might even deport him. For the drug cartels this is merely a cost of doing business and not a very expensive one. SB1070 is not going to build that much dreamed of impenetrable wall along the 1969-mile length of the border. It will not even build one across the 350-mile length between Arizona and Mexico.

In terms of stopping traffic between Arizona and Sonora, SB1070 will do nothing. The border is still the jurisdiction of the federal government. All Arizona is doing is trying to make them not want to come to Arizona. The drug traffickers and people traffickers don’t care whether Arizona allows illegal immigrants to get welfare benefits. The kind of work they are doing is not going to be affected by the new law making it explicitly illegal for an illegal to work in Arizona. SP1070 is not going to increase their visibility to Arizona law enforcement officials, who are supposedly going to be doing what they claim the federal government and federal law enforcement authories won’t do. The people traffickers are not going to lose any business, because the people they are trafficking are not trying to get to Arizona. They are trying to get to the United States.

This now leads to the moral issue. Why are all these people trying to get to the United States? Is it just so they can kill American ranchers? If you honestly believe that, then I have some ranch property on the Moon I’d like to sell to you. If you lived in a place where more than 20,000 murders have taken place since 2006 and both the police and army are incapable of even reducing the rate, not to mention come close to actually stopping it, would you not be trying to get away at all costs? Would you not be seeking refuge in a country where the white people don’t like you, and the authorities might harrass you, but you have a much bigger chance of staying alive?

The drug wars on the border – which are much, much worse  – astronomically worse – on the south side than on the north side – are a reason that we should be letting people into the US.

If I may analogise to all of my friends who have NRA bumper stickers, if immigration is outlawed, only outlaws will immigrate. In other words, just in case I haven’t made it clear enough, people who are coming into the US with criminal intent are not going to be stopped by laws saying they can’t be in the US (or Arizona). Those with crminal intent are not going to stop at border check points and hand over their weapons, drugs or people.

There is a much published and circulated explanation by Arizona State Senator Sylvia Allen regarding why she voted for SB1070. She was heavily motivated by all of the violence within 60 to 80 miles of the border, including the rancher who “In the last two years he has found 17 dead bodies and two Koran bibles.” (I have no idea what a Koran bible is, or why one would find it in the Arizona desert – perhaps it is an al-Qaeda conspiracy terrorise the border region.) She is very clear about how the federals cannot/will not control the border, even though she is certain “We have the technology and we have the ability to stop this invasion.” She never explains what this technology is or how SB1070 will now allow Arizona (which she admits is not only out of money but in the red) to use this technology.  If anyone will read Sen. Allen’s open letter carefully, they will see that it is all fluff and no substance. Please, someone actually show me the substance.

Sen. Allen and others bend over backward to assure everyone that SB1070 only allows Arizona law enforcement officers to stop someone due to reasonable suspicion of committing a crime to see if they are an illegal. If they are stopping someone on suspicion of murder, human trafficking, drug trafficking or related crimes, whether or not that person is an illegal is the least of their worries! And whether Arizona officers are investigating these crimes should have nothing to do with whether they were perpetrated by illegals. Violent crime is violent crime – something they are supposed to be addressing anyway. SB1070 does not give them any additional powers in the actual interdiction of crime.

That’s the problem with everything I’ve read by the pro-SB1070 people. It is all sword-rattling rhetoric. When it comes down to it, people like SB1070 because it appears to be doing something. Form over substance. Smoke and mirrors. No one can tell me anything about it other than, “Well, at least they are trying.” So what? What difference does that actually make, beyond creating an ephemeral feel-good factor of camaraderie amongst like-minded individuals? At the same time, it is not conservatively politically correct (yes we have a PC problem as well) to suggest that we address the problems that can be addressed and face up to the real moral questions.

Again, I challenge any reader – and yes, my stats show that there are some of you out there – to show me how SB1070 is actually going to deal with the issues of border violence, drug trafficking, and all of the nerfarious things that are happening.

It’s Still the British Government

As the euphoria of Labour’s ejection from Government recedes and the novelty of the new coalition Government wears off, it’s time to realise that the more things change the more they stay the same.  Here’s what to expect:

There wasn’t much conservative left about the Conservative Party before the General Election. David Cameron was already on the left side of his party with the Thatcherites severely marginalised. Now that he in in coalition with the LibDems, he has sold off the rest of the family silver. That was the price of the deal.

There is no question about the UK becoming less socialist. In this country it is not a matter of whether socialism but whose socialism. The new Government promises to spend more on the NHS year-on-year, but it will be spending less than was being spent. All the other money went to the banks. There will still be rationing. After promising that everyone will have access to the health care they need, the new Health Secretary admitted that there will never be enough to meet the demand, but that by shuffling around the nurses into various roles everything will be gloriously better.

Having poured the public purse into the bankers’ bonuses, new money to run the Welfare State will have to come from somewhere. They aren’t talking about the tax increases. It’s all about the spending cuts. However the reality is that the Conservatives have dropped the marriage (and civil partnership) tax break they promised during the campaign. That’s £150 per year per couple. They have dropped plans to raise the inheritance tax limit. (Inheritance tax is the tax penalty for dying after saving any of the money that has already been taxed.) There will be a very significant rise in capital gains tax (this means that everyone will dump whatever shares they can before it comes into effect and will drive down the market). VAT (that’s sales tax) will rise to at least 20%, though it could very conceivably go higher. The Tory promise of not implementing the Labour Government’s rise in National Insurance tax is being kept in part. Employers will not have a rise in their NI contribution, but employees will pay more.

The new Conservatives are every bit as liberal on social issues as Labour. They partners the LibDems are even more so. The man who would have been expected to take over as Home Secretary has been left out of the Government because he unwisely sided with a family who would not let gay couples share a double bed in their Bed and Breakfast. Since David Cameron took over from Iain Duncan Smith (an actual conservative Conservative), the Tories have tried to be pinker and greener than any other party. Abortion is not even a political issue in this country, despite the 200,000 that are performed every year.

What remains to be seen is just how the new Government will deal with Labour’s surveillance society. Both the Tories and the LibDems have promised to get rid of ID cards. How far they will go in otherwise getting out of the lives of individuals and families has yet to be seen.

There will be no conserving of the British constitution. The House of Lords, already nearly bereft of the hereditary peers who populated it for 800 years, will be turned into an elected Senate, elected by the LibDem’s preferred method of proportional representation. Like the Lords it will be an upper chamber in name only, with the centre of power still firmly in the Commons, even if it will no longer have the claim to the greater legitimacy of being democratically elected.

As a trade off for the Conservatives taking on the LibDem tax increases, the LibDems only lose one significant one significant policy, which is the only one for which I had any sympathy. The Tories are opposed to amnesty for long-term illegal immigrants, so there will be no amnesty for at least the length of this fixed-term five-year Parliament.

I’m glad to see Labour gone. I’m hoping that the new Government will not be as arrogant as the last, though the British Government is typically quite arrogant, regardless of who is in power.

Buying Drugs

Paracetamol (as it is known in most of the world) or acetaminophen (as it is known in North America) is the most commonly overdosed drug. Nonetheless, in the US you can go to Wal-mart and get a tub of 225 of them, since they are perfectly safe when taken as directed. In the UK you can get 16. That’s right. The biggest pack of paracetamol is 16.

Legally you can buy six packs, but most stores, convinced by propaganda, will only sell you two. In fact, when the discount store Poundland started offering three packs for £1, there was quite a kerfuffle. The Royal Pharmaceutical Society is ‘extremely concerned’.  The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency wants to change the law because they accuse Poundland of exploiting a loophole.

It’s not the price. You can get three 16s at Asda cheaper. Of course you would have to buy two packs,  take them out to your car, go back into the store and buy another pack, because this is apparently effective suicide prevention. The Goverment here thinks that you will buy the 32 (enough at once to damage or kill you anyway), and then think, “I’d like to do the job right, but since I’ll have to walk back into the store and pick another pack off the shelf, and go to the self-checkout, and fish out another 30p from my pocket, and take my receipt, and walk back out to my car… I’ll just go ahead and get on with my life.”

But the propaganda war as virtually been won. As reported in the Daily Mail,

Nurse Nichola Sheehan, who was stunned to spot the offer at her local branch in Chatham, Kent, said the offer could prove deadly and accused the chain of the ‘height of irresponsibility.’

Mother-of-two Mrs Sheehan, 47, who has worked for the NHS for more than 20 years, fears the offer could lead to tragedy as a dose of just eight paracetamol can prove fatal.

If eight is fatal, it’s seems like one pack of 16 would be more than enough. By Mrs Sheehan’s logic, they shouldn’t be selling it over the counter. In fact, they probably shouldn’t be selling it at all. It should only be available in a hospital administered by a doctor and locked in a cupboard.

Do we ever wonder why this country is going down the pan? The Government is busy micro-managing our lives, telling people how much paracetamol they can buy.

House of Common Criminals

Parliament and the Government are in total disarray. In the States, Newt Gingrich is calling for Nancy Pelosi to resign for lying to Congress, but that’s small potatos compared to what’s happening over here in the People’s Republic of Britain. Members of the House of Commons are calling on Speaker Michael Martin to resign. This just doesn’t happen here. Not since 1695.

The Commons Speaker, unlike the Speaker in the US House of Representatives and in the various US state legislatures, is not supposed to be affected by political party affiliation or loyalty. When they are elected by the members, they resign their party membership and when they run for re-election to represent their constituency, they are on the ballot as Speaker. They then serve as Speaker until they retire.

Over the past few years, there have been informal suggestions by some backbenchers (members of the Commons who are neither Government ministers or the spokespeople from opposing parties) that the Speaker should step down because he has been incompetent and feathering his own nest. However, this is the first time that a motion of no confidence in the Speaker has been put before the House or that a party leader has openly spoken against the Speaker.

It all stems from the huge fiasco over how members expenses have been paid. It turns out that many members across all parties have been claiming expenses for some pretty outrageous things. Two members of the Labour Party have been expelled from the party and one Government minister has stepped down during the investigation. Criminal charges may be in the offing for members who have been completely fraudulent, for example claiming expenses for mortgages that didn’t exist.

For mortages, rents, renovations, repairs, and every other conceivable domestic expense, MPs have repeatedly engaged in “flipping”. This means they will claim a particular residence is their second residence, claim loads of expenses, then flip the designation to a different home, claim loads of expenses, and continue doing this.

Married cabinet ministers Ed Balls and Yvette Cooper made a claim for almost four times the amount of mortgage interest to which they were entitled. They flipped the designation of their second home to three different properties within the space of two years. They also charged the taxpayer £600 per month to feed themselves. This is on top of their combined salary of nearly £285,000.

But back to Mr Speaker. As reported today in the Daily Telegraph:

Parliamentary authorities, overseen by Michael Martin, the Speaker, gave secret permission for some MPs to over-claim for thousands of pounds in home loan interest in deals that led to the systematic abuse of the taxpayer-funded expenses system.

He let his people collude with MPs to cheat the taxpayer. He also tried to stop the publication of information about expenses. He tried to call the police on the Daily Telegraph when they started exposing all of this. He has got to go.

But so do so many other MPs. Many have hastily repaid some of their more outrageous claims but some caught with their hand in the cookie jar just don’t care. For example:

Ben Chapman, a Labour MP, admitted last night that he was allowed to continue claiming for interest payments on his entire mortgage after repaying £295,000 of the loan in 2002.

Over 10 months the arrangement allowed Mr Chapman to receive £15,000 for the part of the home loan which had been paid off. Last night, he said he would not give back the money.

It has gotten so bad that even the Queen, who never gets involved in political matters, has had strong words with the Prime Minister. She is conscious that her people are suffering the effects of a recession, while her Parliament are stuffing their pockets with every available taxpayer pound.

More and more people and media outlets are calling for a swift general election. What we need is time for the smoke to clear and for constituency organisations of all parties to have time to de-select offending incumbents (thus preventing them from standing for re-election as anything other than an independent) so the election can be fought on the failure of the Labour Party and not on the behaviour of individual members.