The Death of a DREAM

Everyone can breathe a sigh of relief. America will not be destroyed. The undocumented children living in the United States will stay in the shadows and margins of society where they belong. Sure, we’ll be forced to give them a high school education – heck, we give anyone a high school education whether they deserve it by birth-right or not – but they won’t go using it to get a college education or a tax-paying job.

As I predicted – and I need not have been much of a prophet to do it – the DREAM Act failed to get enough votes in the Senate to move the bill forward. Only three Republicans dared to support it – lame duck Bob Bennett of Utah, undefeatable Dick Lugar of Indiana, and the write-in re-elected Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. Even former sponsors Orin Hatch and John McCain felt too much heat from the fear-mongerers to continue their support.

The opponents of a productive future for undocumented children demanded all sorts of concessions in the bill to which sponsors acquiesced, including attaching hefty fees for those wanting to apply for conditional residency under the Act, narrowing the eligible age group, making sure the relatives of those using the Act could never gain residency though sponsorship like those of other legal residents, and extending the period of conditional residency from six to ten years before someone under the act could apply (again with hefty fees, lots of complicated paperwork, and up to a year-long wait) for permanent residency (which would then have to be followed by another five years before being eligible to pay more fees, file more paperwork, and wait months for citizenship).  Yet despite having all the demands met to water down the bill, those who made the demands still refused to vote to let the bill be considered.

I was particularly disappointed by the excuses given by the Senators from my home state of Texas. John Cornyn said, “I am sympathetic to the plight of children who have no moral culpability for being in this country illegally and I support the intent of the bill today, but not this legislation and not this way.” Unfortunately, he didn’t say which legislation and which way would allow him to vote with his sympathies.

Kay Bailey Hutchinson opted for a outright lie rather than Cornyn’s ambiguous drivel. She said, “I could not support the DREAM Act legislation brought before the Senate today because it expanded the scope of the bill beyond the intended individuals who were brought here as children and were educated in the United States.” Not only is that made up out of whole cloth, but the real reason Hutchinson could not support the bill was because she had been threatened by conservatives. After all, when a much broader bill was before the Senate in 2007 she said,

“This is such an important piece of legislation, and I do think this is isolated from the entire immigration issue because there … are young people who have been brought to this country as minors, not of their own doing, who have gone to American high schools, graduated, and who want to go to American colleges. They are in a limbo situation. I believe we should deal with this issue. We should do it in a way that helps assimilate these young people with a college education into our country. They have lived here most of their lives. If we sent them home, they wouldn’t know what home is. There is a compassionate reason for us to try to work this out.”

In the meantime, she alienated the furthest right-wing of the GOP in running against Rick Perry and can’t afford to lose their support in 2012. Somebody has to pay the price and it is certainly easiest to put it on those who have no voice and if her supporters have their way, will never have a voice.

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
for the rights of all who are destitute.
Speak up and judge fairly;
defend the rights of the poor and needy.

Proverbs 31:8-9

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.

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.

The Fine Print

There are so many things that can be written (and mostly not read) about new Arizona law or about the issue of illegal immigration. As this resolution from the National Association of Evangelicals (followed up by this ad in Roll Call) shows, I can be encouraged that I am not the only conservative who will admit that something needs to be done other than shipping them across the border, Do Not Pass Go, and above all else Do Not Collect $200.

Before addressing the fine points of the Arizona legislation, let’s look at the big picture. A good friend of mine is an immigration lawyer and for those who vet  sources by ideology or theology, he is conservative both politically and theologically. In a recent email (and with permission to reprint) he said:

Regarding the ~12 million people here illegally now.  I am pretty brutally pragmatic about this.  I move right beyond the moral issues about whether we should grant amnesty to the practical conclusion that we have no choice.  We simply cannot deport all these people.  We cannot just send ICE buses into neighborhoods, round up 12 million people (the population of a pretty good-sized state) and drive them to the border.  Under the Due Process Clause, every person allegedly in the US illegally gets a hearing before an immigration judge in immigration court before they are deported.  You will need to confirm the numbers, but I think our entire immigration court system can process about 300,000 to 350,000 people a year.  At that rate, it would take about 35 or 40 years to deport the 12 million people here now, assuming no more came in.

So the Arizona legislation won’t work. It will work even less if other states take up the same legislation. The essence of the Arizona bill is nothing more than NIMBY- Not In My Back Yard. (From section 1: The legislature declares that the intent of this act is to make attrition through enforcement the public policy of all state and local government agencies in Arizona.) But if the federal court system can’t handle the numbers (that’s after all the added work for the Arizona court system) they have no choice but to release everyone that Arizona rounds up. As many of these people who are able will probably move out of Arizona to avoid having to go through that again, so Arizona’s loss will be the gain of another state. So if you are in a state other than Arizona, the Grand Canyon State wants her problems to be yours.

So how is this attrition of illegals in Arizona supposed to be accomplished? Here’s the rest of section 1: The provisions of  this act are intended to work together to discourage and deter the unlawful entry and presence of aliens and economic activity by persons unlawfully present in the United States. More specifically in section 5: IT IS UNLAWFUL FOR A PERSON WHO IS UNLAWFULLY PRESENT IN THE UNITED STATES AND WHO IS AN UNAUTHORIZED ALIEN TO KNOWINGLY APPLY FOR WORK, SOLICIT WORK IN A PUBLIC PLACE OR PERFORM WORK AS AN EMPLOYEE OR INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR IN THIS STATE. (I’m not shouting – it’s all caps in the original.)

Simple enough. We don’t let them work. If they have no money, they’ll have to go on welfare. Oh, except that Arizona passed HB 2008 last year [codified as ARS §§1-501(E) and =502(E)]  that not only denied benefits to illegals, but makes it a crime punishable by four months in prison for an government worker who does not report to immigration authorities any illegal immigrant who requests benefits even if they are requesting them for a citizen child entitled to them, even if they discover the information in casual conversation. According to the the opinion of the Arizona Attorney General, this includes emergency health care, emergency disaster relief, and immunization.

All the better, you say. If ICE won’t do the job, Arizona will. The message: no work, no welfare or healthcare (even for citizen children of illegals), no problem. You have to leave Arizona or starve. Or get diseases from which everyone else gets immunized. A little polio or tuberculosis or rubella will teach you. Get back over the border. Duck if you hear any gunfire. But that’s where you were born and that’s what you deserve. You might not be one of the next 20,000 killed.  And if you just won’t leave this wonderful country that loves legal immigrants who are from eligible countries of origin and have paid lots of money and suffered through years of red tape, at least go to California or New Mexico or Indiana or Texas (Hoosiers and Texans will be glad that you probably won’t get that far).

I’ve only touched on a tiny part of the new Arizona law. Every section, sub-section and clause deserves to be examined closely. For example, section 3 makes it a crime in be anywhere in Arizona without proper federal immigration status, subject to (in addition to the provision of federal law) six months in an Arizona jail and a $2500 fine plus:

C. A PERSON WHO IS SENTENCED PURSUANT TO THIS SECTION IS NOT ELIGIBLE FOR SUSPENSION OR COMMUTATION OF SENTENCE OR RELEASE ON ANY BASIS UNTIL THE SENTENCE IMPOSED IS SERVED.
D. IN ADDITION TO ANY OTHER PENALTY PRESCRIBED BY LAW, THE COURT SHALL ORDER THE PERSON TO PAY JAIL COSTS AND AN ADDITIONAL ASSESSMENT IN THE FOLLOWING AMOUNTS:
1. AT LEAST FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS FOR A FIRST VIOLATION.
2. TWICE THE AMOUNT SPECIFIED IN PARAGRAPH 1 OF THIS SUBSECTION IF THE PERSON WAS PREVIOUSLY SUBJECT TO AN ASSESSMENT PURSUANT TO THIS SUBSECTION.

That’s right, unlike a citizen, an illegal does not get equal protection under the law (yeah, yeah, big constitutional problem here that those pesky liberals are gonna go and bring up) plus (and remember, this is someone not allowed to make any money) they shall be ordered to pay jail costs plus $500, unless the ICE has previously let them go in which case it is an additional $1000. And if it is second offense or subsequent offense of being in Arizona, it becomes a class 4 felony, punishable by 3 years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000 (no, that’s not a typo), plus jail costs, plus the $1000.

And remember, 3 years means 3 years. No suspended time, no good time, nothing that a citizen can expect. And let’s be honest. This will be at the cost to the Arizona taxpayer (even in a Joe Arpaio tent city with rancid bologna sandwiches and that constant 115F sunshine), because you can demand all those fines and costs but if someone not only doesn’t have the money but is also forbidden to earn the money, there’s not going to be any money.

Don’t forget that HB2008 and SB1070 are specifically designed to catch parents of children with legal or illegal status. Some one’s gonna have to take care of them. To change the lyrics of the traditional song just a bit, “Motherless children have hard time when their mother is Arizona prison for three years.”

I’ve only touched on a tiny bit of SB1070. There’s plenty more. Given my inability to shut up about this (despite the being explicitly asked to do so in one instance), I will probably go and dredge it up. If we just want people to obey the law, it can’t hurt to examine it closely, can it?

A Matter of Principles

I haven’t seen the rhetoric flying like this for a long time. The battle lines are drawn. Ideologues on either side will truck no dissent. If there is one thing of which we as conservatives can be sure, liberals are always wrong about everything. If there’s a liberal is favoring a particular policy, we don’t have to know anything about it. That tells us enough to know we’re agin’ it.

I keep writing about the matter of illegal immigrants, even though I get very little blog traffic or Facebook comments about it. My liberal friends have written me off years ago and my conservative friends have by and large shunned me. Sadly, that includes most of my conservative Christian friends. But for Christians is it an area where the ideological rubber meets the theological road.

More than anything, this issue has highlighted that when it comes to politics for a lot of conservative Christians, they are conservatives first. If it is possible to eisegete their square Christianity into the round conservative hole, all the better, but if not, it can be silently left outside.

I consider myself a conservative. I’ve always been on the right wing of the Republican Party. At one time I was very active on the right wing of the Republican Party. You don’t have to be a Christian to be a conservative. You do however, have to be a Christian to be a Christian.

Christians are not called to be politically conservative. Neither are they called to be politically liberal. They are called to be Christians. Where being salt and light, even in political participation, intersects with being politically conservative (in the very limited meaning that term has within the very specifically American context, which most Americans assume is the only context), that’s great.

Time and again I have read and I have been told that we should be compassionate individual Christians, but that when it comes to the State it is a whole different matter.  The State, just like any other God-ordained institution, is nothing more than a collection of individuals. As such, it has – we have – a responsibility to act righteously and compassionately without assuming roles not delegated to the state. Should we not as the Church be compassionate? Should we not as members of families in whatever capacity we find ourselves – father, mother, child, sibling, or collateral – be compassionate? Likewise, we have a responsibility to look to the Scriptures for guidance with regard to how we treat others as a body politic.

A lot of Christians seem to be concerned with the fact that illegal immigrants broke the law to get into the United States. Now most of these people would not have been involved in the civil disobedience of the Civil Rights Movement. I don’t mean that they were too young to have been involved, but rather as conservatives they would have seen the whole thing as a big liberal conspiracy. I wonder how many of these people were involved in Operation Rescue. After all, I’ve never heard of OR folks being labelled as liberals.  And how many are old enough to have homeschooled in the 1980s when it was illegal in many states? For many Christians, it was imperative – it was a matter of conviction – to educate their children at home. In some states it was illegal to have an unlicensed private Christian school, especially one that did not have state-certified teachers. Nonetheless, otherwise law-abiding citizens opened them. To a person, these folks were committed to the right wing of the Republican Party and self-identified as very conservative.

I have heard complaints that these illegal immigrants are getting welfare benefits. Most of these people complain that anyone is getting welfare benefits – that, in fact, there should be no state-funded welfare benefits. I can’t disagree with the last bit. There is no biblical mandate for the state to be engaged in the financial support of individuals. That’s good conservatism. However, if the state chooses to provide benefits, it cannot biblically discriminate between the citizen and the stranger. To do so is to violate the mandate of Leviticus 19 – a civil mandate to love your neighbor as yourself including the stranger among you.

But let’s look at Leviticus 19 more closely. While there is no provision for the State to collect and distribute welfare, there is a provision requiring individual property/business owners to provide welfare in the form of unharvested produce. In other words – or in modern, non-agrarian application – to provide work and remuneration. And for whom is this provision made?  The poor and the stranger. This idea of providing for the alien among you is so important that it appears three times in the Torah (Leviticus 19:10, 23:22 and Deuteronomy 24:21). Biblically speaking, non-citizens are not only entitled (I know, a liberal word, but hard to get around) to work-based welfare, they are one of the principal intended recipients.

And while we are at it, it is unbiblical to choose your neighbors, stranger or citizen. Neighbors are yours because they see you have a desirable society and settle among you. Once among you, they must follow the rules – not any more strictly or with any greater consequences than citizens – but there’s no biblical provision for discrimination.

And finally for those repulsed by the theonomic tone in setting out what is biblical and what isn’t – those who say forget the Old Testament and ask WWJD – there is no evidence that the conservative views incompatible with the Torah are somehow more compatible with the New Covenant.

Theologically conservative Christians must begin to discerne where poltical conservatism merges and diverges. The current hot button issue of illegal immigration provides such an opportunity. It is then a matter of choosing which principles take priority.

Illegal Means Illegal – What Could Be More Simple?

I was leaving a comment on a Facebook thread about illegal immigrants, responding to someone who said,  “I think the problem is when the word “illegal” comes into play. Imagine making a law to punish law breakers, hmmmm…” I thought to myself, it’s really as simple as that. Okay, there are a few minor hitches, but surely nothing we can’t handle.

If you look at it that way, the Arizona law doesn’t go far enough. After all, if someone committed a robbery we wouldn’t just arrest them and punish them because they got stopped for doing something else, would we? So if someone has broken the law by entering the country illegally, what are we waiting for? I have heard it over and over from my fellow conservatives:  they have broken the law and entered illegally, so let’s just round them up and send them back to where they came from.

Many of them have large families of children who are US citizens, so we’ll need to deport these US citizens to countries of which they are not citizens – wait, that’s where the word “illegal” comes into play, as you can’t just go deporting natural born citizens.  Okay, Plan B:  take all the children into the care of the State to feed, cloth and house them until they are 18. Yes, that would be the only legal option. I’m sure they’ll grow up to be fine law-abiding, emotionally stable, productive adults having had their parents forceably removed from them to another country and permanently separated.

But the upside is that we will need so many state-run orphages, which will provide jobs. We’ll need those jobs because the hundreds of thousand of illegals won’t be spending any money on food, clothing or shelter, so there’s gonna be some job losses. Of course state-run orphages will have to be paid for out of tax dollars, but it’s worth paying a lot more in taxes to create this social care monolith because we won’t have all those law-breaking immigrants.

What’s more, we’ll be punishing all those businesses that stay afloat employing illegal immigrants. Law breakers are law breakers. They will be paying at least the federal minimum wage and if they can’t afford to let the government rather than the market mandate wages, they go under. And if they need the kind of work that citizens won’t do, regardless of how hard up those citizens are, they go under. I think fruit is overrated anyway, and besides, we can always import it. With all those taxpaying businesses folding, we’ll have to pay even more to make up the difference, but it will be worth it not to have all those law-breaking immigrants!

What’s more, someone is housng all those illegals and their citizen children. Some of it’s not the best of housing, but it is better to have it all boarded up than have illegals living there. With the hundreds of thousands of illegals we have, that’s a lot of buildings abandoned. But looking at it positively, most families with illegal immigrants tend to live around other immigrant families. Most of the houses and aparments will be concentrated in certain areas of towns and cities. It will be easy to drive around those boarded up areas and ignore them. Areas with lots of abandoned buildings tend to attract crime and fire. Ths will mean more jobs for police and firefighters. That’s more public sector jobs costing more tax dollars, but once again it will be worth it not to have all those law-breaking immigrants.

Yes, enforcing that unmoveable conservative principle of “illegal means illegal” will lead to the break up of thousands of families, a massive increase in social services, massive expansion of the public sector, and tax increases. Anyone opposed to that is just a liberal. The law is the law.

Yes, when you think it about in straight-forward terms like punishing law breakers, the answers are all so simple.

Why Arizona is Wrong

I know that most of my friends, enemies, and passing readers will disagree with me. When the Arizona legislature passed a law allowing the stopping and questioning of anyone suspected of being an illegal alien and made it criminal trespass for an illegal alien to be present on any public or private land in Arizona (thus helping to facilitate their detention and deportation due to the commission of a crime), they did the wrong thing. For once (and probably only once) I agree with President Obama and a lot of Democrats. I don’t necessarily have the same reasons for supporting the same policy, because I think the Arizona law is in violation of Biblical principles and the economic free-market principles that made America great.

The Arizona law does reflect the views of the majority of Americans. Sad, but true. In fact, it reflects the view of the majority of Americans for most of the 20th century as well as this first decade of the 21st. It reflects attitudes of isolationism (not so bad) and protectionism (a bit more bad). This idea of coming to America and shutting the door behind us first reached fever pitch in 1882, with the Chinese Exclusion Act, which was made to look a bit more like the current Arizona legislation by the Geary Act in 1892. Almost all Asians were barred from entry in the Immigration Act of 1917.

The Emergentcy Quota Act of 1921 limited the number of immigrants to 3% of the number of persons living in the US at the 1910 census who had been born in that country.  The purpose of this was to keep out eastern and southern Europeans and allow in more northern and western Europeans. The Immigration Act of 1924 reduced this to 2%. Interestingly, it did not restrict immigration from Latin America. No one was worried about Mexicans then. Rather it was an effort to keep out all those Italians.

Then along came the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA). This allowed for anyone in the country illegally, even with an expired visa, or guilty of the tiniest crminal offense, to be detained for deportation. It was only because the Supreme Court intervened in Zadvydas v. Davis that the detention cannot be indefinite, though the Court held that “Despite the constitutional problem here, if this Court were to find a clear congressional intent to grant the Attorney General the power to indefinitely detain an alien ordered removed, the Court would be required to give it effect.” So Congress can decide that without any criminal proceedings, those with expired visas can be given an effective life sentence. In addition,  IIRIRA imposes draconian sanctions on re-entry to the US after overstaying a visa.

There’s the review of US immigration law. Now how does it hold up to Biblical principles? Throughout the Old Testament, especially in the Torah and in the Prophets, it is very clear how the Israelites were to treat strangers and aliens who settled among them. For the sake of space, and because it succinctly summarises the teaching of Holy Scripture, I will just refer to Leviticus 19:34 – The stranger who dwells among you shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.

The first part is obvious. You should treat aliens (which is what the term stranger means) as someone native to your country. How you treat him is indicative of whether you are following the second great commandment given by Jesus, to love your neighbor as yourself. However, that last bit of the verse is very instructive, especially for Americans. It applies to us because it reveals the reason we should be generous with immigration.

“…because you were strangers in the land of Egypt” is a powerful statement. It is so hypocritical for the children of immigrants to deny immigration to others. Unless you are entirely of Amerindian descent, then at some time since 1607, your  ancestors washed up on these shores, probably without a visa, and made a life for themselves. The law of Moses was not given just to the first generation of settlers in the Promised Land. In fact almost all of those to whom it was originally given died before getting there. It wasn’t the readers and hearers of Leviticus personally who had been strangers in the land of Egypt, but rather their ancestors. Because their ancestors had been immigrants in Egypt, they were to treat their own immigrant peoples as they would want to be treated. They were to love their immigrant neighbors as themselves. Now you can argue against the applicability of the Law of Moses to civil law, but in this case you argue against the teaching of Jesus, Who said this same thing.

IIRIRA and the INA, just like the Immigration Act of 1917, the Emergency Quota Act of 1921, and the Immigration Act of 1924, fly in the face not just of the Mosaic Law, but of the teaching of Jesus.

But let’s de-spiritualise it for a moment and just look at our nation’s history. Hardly was the bronze plaque fixed to the Statue of Liberty before the words of Emma Lazarus’ sonnet were eroded – worn down now to the point of of being meaningless. We all know them:

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Just like in 1917 and 1924, the US employs quotas. We still only want people from certain countries (if you are from the UK, for example, you can’t even enter the green card lottery). Most of the quota allotments are reserved for PhDs, professional athletes, researchers who are recognized internationally, business executives, and investors. We also let in a few Filipino nurses. The others don’t fit our protectionist, anti-capitalist, anti-free market model.

But for me the standard by which immigration policy and law must be judged: you shall love him as yourself. Does the new Arizona law meet that standard? I don’t think so.

My Letter to Metropolitan Gerasimos

I will be posting this letter along with the letter to Rep. Dina Titus:

His Eminence Metropolitan Gerasimos
Greek Orthodox Metropolis of San Francisco
245 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94103

Your Eminence

As an American member of the Greek Orthodox Church currently living abroad, I was appalled when I learned that a member of your diocese serving in the United State House of Representatives, Dina Titus, publicly declares that she supports ethics of which Orthodox Christians would be proud and uses her position in Congress to look out for Orthodox issues.

Rep. Titus’ ethics are in direct contradiction to the teaching of the Orthodox Church. Rep. Titus openly supports the federally sponsored killing of the unborn. By her words and actions she is declaring that support for abortion is compatible with Orthodoxy.

Metropolitan Jonah of the Orthodox Church in America boldly declared in Washington, D.C. in January of this year, “…the unqualified opposition to abortion that is at the heart of the Orthodox Christian Tradition and is unarguably the teaching and the dogma of the Orthodox Church.” As Metropolitan Maximos of Pittsburgh has said, “It is our obligation as Orthodox to speak up and not remain silent on this issue.”

Rep. Titus has voted in favour of using tax dollars to fund abortion, in House Roll Call No. 571 (the District of Columbia funding bill, H.R. 3170), in House Roll Call No. 643 (the Pence amendment to H.R. 3293), and in House Roll Call No. 884 (the Stupak-Pitts Amendment to H.R. 3962). Such votes unarguably stand in opposition to the ethics of the Orthodox Church. She is openly an accomplice to what the Orthodox Church clearly and unequivocally regards as murder.

As a member of the Greek Orthodox Church, I urge you to fulfil the obligation to speak up and not remain silent. I ask you to call upon Rep. Titus to repent of publicly rejecting the teaching and dogma of the Orthodox Church and Holy Tradition in the Congress of the United States. I call upon you to fulfil your duty to Christ and His Church to guard the holy, life-giving sacraments and demand that Rep. Titus refrain from receiving the Most Precious Body and Blood of our Lord so long as she spends the public purse to rip the bodies of the innocent unborn from their mothers and pours out their blood upon the altar of convenience.

In Christ,

My Letter to Dina Titus

The Honorable Dina Titus
319 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Dr Titus,

As an American ex-pat member of the Greek Orthodox Church, I was appalled when I read Andrew Manatos’ article on the home page of your website entitled “Congresswoman Dina Titus Sworn-In on Grandfather’s Greek Bible.”

In this article, he claims “Orthodox Christians would be proud of the ethics Congresswoman Titus brings to politics.” Manatos, in an article clearly endorsed by you, equates this to a lack of negative campaigning in the 2008 elections. He also claims that you are looking out for Orthodox issues in Congress.

Metropolitan Jonah of the Orthodox Church in America boldly declared in Washington, D.C. in January of this year, “…the unqualified opposition to abortion that is at the heart of the Orthodox Christian Tradition and is unarguably the teaching and the dogma of the Orthodox Church.”

Inasmuch as you have voted in favour of using tax dollars to fund abortion, in House Roll Call No. 571 (the District of Columbia funding bill, H.R. 3170), in House Roll Call No. 643 (the Pence amendment to H.R. 3293), and in House Roll Call No. 884 (the Stupak-Pitts Amendment to H.R. 3962), you are not looking out for Orthodox issues in Congress. Such votes unarguably stand in opposition to the ethics of the Orthodox Church.

As a member of the Greek Orthodox Church, I am embarrassed that someone of such public prominence would claim to not only be a member of the Church, but claim to bring Orthodox ethics and look out for Orthodox issues, and yet make just as publicly and prominently a stand in absolute opposition to the same.

As a fellow Orthodox Christian, I am obligated to urge you to repentance in rejecting the teaching and dogma of the Orthodox Church and Holy Tradition. As by your votes in the House of Representatives you have publicly stood against the Church, I urge you to publicly repent and declare you intention to conform your ethics to teaching of the Church. Otherwise, do the honest and ethical thing and remove yourself from the membership and communion of the Church.

I would never suggest that you should not vote in accordance with your conscience. However, if your conscience is opposed to the unarguable teaching and dogma at the heart of the Orthodox Tradition, please do not claim to be Orthodox.

Respectfully yours,

Closing the Gap: Commandment Breakers on the Christian Left

I received my usual email bulletin from a UK based left-leaning Christian think-tank and once again I see that they are concerned with the gap between the rich and the poor, this time as exacerbated by the worldwide recession. Closing the gap is one of the mantras of the Left, whether their economics is cloaked with Christian buzz words and bad theology or not.

Why are we supposed to close this gap? Jesus said, “you have the poor with you always.” The story of the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25 makes it clear that it is imperative for us to care for the poor and it is an indication of our eternal destination. That’s pretty serious business. The Holy Scriptures are replete with the words spoken through the prophets concerning God’s concern about our care of the poor.

However, it does not necessarily follow that the poor are better off by making the rich less well off. This is simply bad economics. It assumes that there is a fixed pie of world-wide wealth and it can only be sliced so many ways. According to this model, if some people get big pieces then other people are forced to have small pieces, even to the point that if some people get huge pieces, then some will be left with none.

It is not surprising that some politicians fall into this fallacy, because they confuse “wealth” with “government budget”. It is true that the government should only have a fixed amount of money to divvy up. After all, they have to get it from those who have created it. This confuses a lot of politicians, too. They have somehow gotten the idea that they are, or should be, or even can be, wealth creators. Once again, this comes from the inability to grasp simple economic concepts, and if you have heard some members of Congress speak to the press or to their colleagues during the legislative process, this incompetence shouldn’t surprise you.

Once we get past the fixed pie false paradigm, the source of wealth gap economics is clear. It is nothing more than the politics of envy. This is the root of Marxist and redistributionist ideology. It is a violation of the Tenth Commandment. The giving to someone else of something belonging to you is called charity. The taking of something belonging to you to give to someone else is called theft. That’s a violation of the Eighth Commandment. Governments that do this turn the less fortunate into receivers of stolen goods.

Now while matters of commandment breaking have no bearing on your average atheist Marxist, they should be relevant to the Christians that have co-opted the socialist ideology and attempted to baptise it. While the Commandments are in the Bible, the idea of making sure everyone has the same wealth, oppotunities, or advantages – closing the gap between rich and poor – is not.

Mythbusting: Who Were the First Congressmen?

Because I was recently reminded of the popular idea amongst those favouring Congressional term limits and the ideal citizen legislator that the original intent was for yeoman farmers to serve a single term and return to his land, I decided to do a little bit of research.

Looking at the members of the House of Representatives in the First Congress (1789-91), I compiled information about how many terms they served, what their occupations were outside of politics, and what political offices they held prior and subsequent to their service in the House. The results were quite surprising.

The House of Representatives of the First Congress of the United States was comprised of 66 members. There were 65 seats, but one member, Theodorick Bland of Virginia, died in office and was replaced by William Giles. In calculating the average number of terms, I have used Giles. The average number of terms served in the House was 2.72.

However, of the 66, only two (George Gale of MD and Giles of VA) held no previous political office, though Gale was a member of his state’s convention to ratify the US Constitution. Of the rest, 48 had previously served in their state’s legislature and 29 had served in the Continental Congress. Only 13 ended their public service with their stint in the House of Representatives and only three of these were single term Congressmen. Seventeen served in the US Senate, including 4 of the 18 who only served one term in the House. Balancing out the 18 single-termers are 18 who served four or more terms.

Twelve held executive branch appointments after leaving Congress, including Thomas Tucker who served as Treasurer of the United States for 27 years,  John Steele, who was Comptroller of the US Treasury and Elias Boudinot who became director of the US Mint.

Others were elected to executive office in their home states, including seven governors and two lieutenant governors. Thirteen served as judges after leaving Congress, six on the supreme courts of their states and four as federal judges.

So how many were farmers? Of the 11 with agricultural interests, eight owned plantations. Only three could be referred to as lesser farmers. Of those three, only one, William Floyd of NY, was just a farmer. George Mathews of GA was also a merchant and Joshua Seney of MD was also a lawyer.

A lawyer? Surely there weren’t lawyers in Congress back in this golden era! Well, only 29 of them in the first House of Representatives. That’s 44% of the membership. Yes, almost half. The next closest occupation represented amongst the Representatives are the thirteen with mercantile interests. Five were clergymen and five were teachers (this includes William Baldwin of GA, who had been both).

There seems to be little evidence from the First Congress that members were expected to be yeoman farmers who spent a few weeks in Washington during a single two-year term and then went back to the land. For the most part they were lawyers and rich merchants who spent a significant part of their lives engaged in the business of government.

Forgive Us Our Trespasses

Recent conversations and a few newspaper articles about the death of Ted Kennedy have revealed the continuing animosity toward Kennedy with regard to the death of Mary Jo Kopechne. This has highlighted to me the tendency that we often have to think and act in a personal way toward public figures. This is true of politicians, celebrities, and notorious criminals, and those we might think fit into the triple overlap of these categories (if it were a Venn diagram, they would be in the middle).

With elected politicians, we have a responsibility to call them to account for their actions and decide whether they should continue to represent us – by impeachment for high crimes and misdemeanors, and by voting against them in the next election for lesser reasons. Except for citizens of Massachusetts, this is where unforgiveness toward Ted Kennedy falls short. Though he was nationally known, he did not represent the nation. He was elected by the people of Massachusetts and it was their decision, for better or worse, to return him seven times to the United States Senate.

The idea of forgiving or not forgiving public figures not personally known to us is foreign to any concept in the scriptures. Jesus said we should pray, asking the Father to “forgive our tresspasses and we forgive those who trespass against us,” and said further said, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.” It’s a personal thing.

Not forgiving Ted Kennedy is about as pointless as the politicians on Capitol Hill who apologised last summer and this summer for something they didn’t do. In July of last year, the U.S. House of Represenatives apologised for slavery and racial segregation. The Senate did the same thing in June of this year with almost identical language.

This is ridiculous for a number of reasons. First of all, neither the House nor the Senate ever legalised slavery. Slavery has always existed. (It still exists today, even in the US, but that is a subject for a future post.)

Admittedly, they did vote to approve the Corwin Amendment which would have prohibited any other Amendment to the Constitution allowing the federal government to interfere with slavery. (Congressmes and Senators from the seven Deep South states did not vote for the Corwin Amendment, as they were already in the process of seceding – it was a Northern proposed amendment to preserve slavery.) Despite their apology 148 years later, that amendment is still pending as it was only ratified by the state legislatures of Ohio, Maryland, and Illinois.

The only slaves that could be said to have been owned by the United States itself were those used by the Union armies in the Recent Unpleasantness. Not the freedmen soldiers that everyone hears about, but the still enslaved laborers. (I can’t imagine why those Yankee-authored history books fail to mention this.) Neither the House nor Senate mentioned the Corwin Amendment or the use of slave labor by the bluecoats and I don’t think either body had either issue in mind.

On the other hand, Congress at times voted to restrict slavery’s extenstion into certain territories. It then voted to abolish slavery through the 13th Amendment. Likewise it passed the 14th and 15th Amendments to send to the states for ratification. It passed various Civil Rights Acts. So even if it could apologise, there is nothing to apologise for.

But what really angers me about both House Resolution 194 and Senate Concurrent Resolution 26 is that both purport to apologise on my behalf. “The Congress…apologizes to African-Americans on behalf of the people of the United States, for the wrongs committed against them and their ancestors who suffered under slavery and Jim Crow laws…” This may surprise some people, but I have never owned a single African-American slave. I would go so far as to suggest that no living American citizen has ever owned a single African-American slave. Having been born less than four months before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 came into effect, I can also assure readers that I have never promulgated or enforced any Jim Crow laws. (But then again, neither has the US Congress, in its present, or any previous, incarnation, as Jim Crow laws were state laws.)

I have lots of ancestors who owned slaves. Lots of slaves. Just for the record, I do not apologise for them either. I couldn’t even if I wanted to do so.

I do admit to calling another 2nd grader “nigger” in 1971. I will not even offer the excuse that my erstwhile friend Scott encouraged me to do it. I was beaten soundly about the buttocks by the school principal and had to apologise, so I think I have paid my debt. (I hope that any of my friends who haven’t forgiven Ted Kennedy for the Chappaquiddick incident will not also refuse to forgive me for something that happened two years after.) However, I do not believe the US Congress needs to apologise for this on my behalf.

Why Kay?

It used to be my job to stay abreast of developments in Texas politics and write about them. I have not been a resident of my native Lone Star State since 1988, so I may not be aware of some of the finer details these days. For example, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison is planning to run against Rick Perry for Governor of Texas. Why?

Hutchison’s campaign tag line is “I’m running for Governor because I love Texas and I know we can do better.” How? As states go, Texas is in pretty good shape. It has suffered less in the recession than most states, thanks to Perry’s protection of the rainy day fund. It has lost fewer jobs. So if it isn’t the economy, what is it? What does Hutchison expect to do better?

“On key challenges like property taxes, education, private property rights, transportation, utility rates, insurance rates and health care; we need results, not politics.” What sort of results? What has Perry not accomplished? Seems to me there may be differences with regard to some policies or projects, but Perry has gotten things done.

Most recently Perry has been in the news for standing up to the Obama administration. He has appeared at various TEA parties. Some people tried to distance themselves from him when he made remarks that suggested support for secession, though that raised his stock with me.

A couple of years ago Perry told a group of black ministers, “It’s a ridiculous notion to say you cannot legislate morality.” Perhaps he realises that all legislation is, in fact, morality.

And who would have thought back in 1985 when I was helping to coordinating efforts to get the Texas Board of Education to leave homeschoolers alone that one day a homeschool mom would be on the Board. Word is that Perry is considering her for board chairperson and the liberals are frothing at the mouth. Yep, another tick in the Perry column.

Except for voting in favour of the federal bailout, Hutchison is rather conservative. NARAL don’t like her, though National Right to Life only rate her at 75%. The NEA rate her at 36%, which is a little high for my comfort but still no sell-out to their liberal education agenda.  The environmentalists don’t like her, so that’s good.

But as conservative as she may be, the only reason for her to run for governor is that she wants to. She’s always wanted to be governor and at 66 she’s no spring chicken. In fact, if elected she will be the oldest Texas governor inaugurated to a first term. So this is her last shot, really.

Is that reason enough to send Rick Perry back to Haskell County? I don’t think so.

Because I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and, doggonit, people like me!

Al Franken has been declared the Senator-elect from Minnesota. Franken, whose previous contributions to the political arena have included such thoughtful books as Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot, will now be the 60th Democrat in the Senate. If possible, he will tilt the chamber further to the left.

It will be interesting to see how he gets along with colleagues across the aisle. It was only a couple of years ago that he wrote, “Republicans are shameless dicks. No, that’s not fair. Republican politicians are shameless dicks.” I’m not seeing a lot of bi-partisanship there.

Hopefully he’s given up violence as a means of controlling free speech. Back in 2004, he body-slammed a demonstrator at a Howard Dean rally. He justified his actions by saying, “I’m neutral in this race but I’m for freedom of speech, which means people should be able to assemble and speak without being shouted down.” Apparently that means people who assemble and agree with the man on the stump. After all, he didn’t say people should be free to assemble and speak without being knocked down. It’s a good thing he’s in the quieter Senate rather than in the more robust House of Representatives. There should be less opportunity for body slamming the opposition.

I agree with most pundits that being the filibuster-breaking 60th senator is not going to be significant. Filibustering is not a frequent tactic. What is significant is that the President has another ideological comrade in the Senate.

Bill Clinton’s Biological Ignorance

I saw this on the Mere Comments blog. I clicked on the link thinking surely this can’t be true. Surely Bill Clinton knows what an embryo is. Surely someone is capitalising on a slip of the tongue. Nope. Bill Clinton is against using embyros if they have been fertilised and could become a baby. He says it more than once.

You gotta see this.

I have to agree with Bill Clinton. Experimentation on unfertilised embryos is perfectly fine by me.

Hollywood Democrats Who Want Republicans to Leave America

Democrats are very tolerant. Of other Democrats of course. Take that great political philosopher Cher, for example. At the recent Slumdog Millionaire/The Wrestler awards party in Los Angeles, she told the press, “The Republicans nearly killed me. My spirit is renewed, this is such a great time to be an American.”

And apparently the penalty for the attempted murder (or near negligent manslaughter) of Cher by the collective Republican population is exile. “Republicans: why would you want to be one, especially if you’re a minority. I wish they would go somewhere else.”

That’s right, you shouldn’t want to be a minority. And minorities should just go somewhere else. Wow, think of what would have hit the fan if a Republican had said that.

After the previous elections, the Hollywood Democrats threatened to move somewhere else, because it was better to live outside of America than to live under a Republican president.  Now that they have the presidency, they want anyone who disagrees with them to move away. They can’t stand to be in the same country with anyone who is not like them.

Doesn’t sound very tolerant, does it?

Birth Control as Population Control

I was about to go to bed when I saw that Nancy Pelosi said birth control will help the American economy. I had to say something. According to the Daily Telegraph, she has already angered conservatives with this. Clearly this conservative is a little slow in getting the news.

Her reasoning is that cutting back on the number of children will reduce education and health care costs and save the several States money in their cash-flow crises. How short-sighted can you get?

The school children of today are the taxpayers and wealth creators of tomorrow. They will be the ones funding Social Security. It’s not time for a Chinese one-child law.

Perhaps Nancy’s next idea will be to kill off old people. After all, they use far more health care dollars at the State and Federal level than children do. That will immediately free up tax money. It will cut down on Social Security costs as well.

Yes, the Democrats are in charge now.

One Right Move

In some ways I’m happy that Obama is president. Being a grumpy old man, yet a Republican, it has been difficult to complain about American politics while being loyal to the president and the party. Now that the Democrats control both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, it will be much easier.

Before I launch into what will no doubt be at least four years of moaning, I will give credit where credit is due. One of policies of the Bush administration with which I disagreed was the detention of enemy combatants and various others at Guantanamo Bay, using it as a loophole to avoid the usual Constitutional constraints. In one of his first acts, President Obama ordered the closure of Gitmo within a year.

I’m not denying that this will not be an easy thing to do while maintaining the security of the US and avoiding the disclosure of classified information. However, these things must be resolved within the law, something that was wearing thin in the ongoing situation since the overthrow of the Taliban and the installation of the current Christian-hating regime in Afghanistan.

So in this one small way, I think BHO has moved in the right direction. We now return to our regularly scheduled programming.

The New Gospel

8 Now there were in the same country voters living out in the towns, keeping watch over their wallets by night. 9 And behold, an actor of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.10 But the actor said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is inaugurated to you this day in the city of Washington a Savior, who is Barack the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a capitol wrapped in cloths and bunting, lying about everything.”
13 And suddenly there was with the actor a multitude of the Hollywood host praising Government and saying:
14 “ Glory to Government in the highest,
And on earth peace, free health care to all men (women and transgender individuals)!”

15 So it was, when the actors had gone away from them into Hollywood, that the voters said to one another, “Let us now go to Washington and see this thing that has come to pass, which the celebrities have made known to us.”

Giving It All Away

In the course of recent research on my book, I came across political history of which I was entirely unaware. I was looking at information about Cordell Hull, Secretary of State under FDR and known as the Father of the United Nations. I’m sure you’ve heard of the United Nations, that rather useless organisation headquartered on American soil, with 20% of its budget funded by US taxpayers, opposed to most everything the US does or collectively believes. Yeah, that’s the one.

The only relevance of my book to Hull is that one of the characters may have once owned a house later owned by Hull’s father and I was just trying to suss that out. Both of them lived in an area now under Dale Hollow Lake. I get easily sidetracked when I’m doing research.

What I didn’t know was that Hull – in addition to giving away as much US sovereignty as possible – also authored the original Federal Income Tax law of 1913 and the Inheritance Tax law of 1916 when he was a member of the US House of Representatives. He had the audacity to argue that an income tax would restrain Government spending because Congress would realise that it was spending money directly taxed from the American people.

I can’t find what excuse he gave for the inheritance tax. I’m guessing he figured he’d pulled off taxing the living, so why not tax the dead. After all, Democrats vote when they’re dead, so why shouldn’t Republicans pay taxes at the same time?

Yes, that’s right, this man gave away both your country and your money. Cordell Hull influenced Al Gore. He must be Barack Obama’s hero.

The Outrage Continues

The Government must be loving the news out of Mumbi. Just like with 9/11, they are using it to bury bad news.

They haven’t buried it entirely. The Daily Mail has the arrest of Damien Green as the front cover. After all, MPs across the political spectrum are completely beside themselves. There have been waves of questions tabled about it, though ministers don’t have to deal with them until after Parliament comes back into session on Wednesday with the State Opening and the Queen’s Speech.  Tory MPs are threatening to disrupt the Queen’s Speech debate, which should be about the Government’s legislative agenda.

It has now emerged that the Speaker of the Commons, Michael Martin, knew of the plans to arrest Damien Green and authorised the search of his parliamentary office. This has not done the Speaker’s reputation for incompetence any good. The calls for his resignation have never been louder. Unlike like the Speaker of the House of Representatives in the US Congress, the Speaker of the Commons is supposed to be completely politically unbiased and defend the rights of MPs. Again, MPs across the political spectrum are horrified at the Speaker’s actions.

The leader of the Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg, used the same language that I used in the previous post, “This is something you might expect from a tin-pot dictatorship, not in a modern democracy.” Tony Benn said this indicates we are now in a police state.

Government Terrorising the Opposition

It’s all over the top of the news – the BBC, the Daily Mail, the Telegraph, the Times. The Government of the United Kingdom has just upped the totalitarian stakes.

It’s the sort of thing that happens in tinpot dictatorships. The Opposition spokesman on immigration, Damian Green, MP, has been arrested on allegations that he leaked stories to the media that he received from a Home Office whistle-blower. The police raided his home, his parliamentary office, and his constituency office.

There were allegedly four leaks between November of last year and September of this year. Green let the press know about:

an illegal immigrant that had been employed as a Commons cleaner,

a letter from the Home Secretary to the Prime Minister warning that a recession could lead to a rise in crime,

that the Home Secretary was warned that thousands of illegal immigrants had been cleared to work in sensitive Whitehall security jobs but accepted advice from her officials for a news blackout on the affair, and

a list, prepared by Labour whips, of MPs’ likely voting intentions on legislation to extend to 42 days detention without charge.

The Tory Leader, David Cameron has rightly noted, “As Shadow Immigration Minister, Mr Green has, on a number of occasions, legitimately revealed information which the Home Office chose not to make public. Disclosure of this information was manifestly in the public interest. Mr Green denies any wrongdoing.” Instead, he was arrested by counter-terrorism officers.

Those officers came from the Metropolitan Police. It is no coincidence (and even the mainstream media are saying this) that today is the last day in the job for Met Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair, forced out of office by the Conservative mayor of London Boris Johnson.

It is also no coincidence that it came as the House of Commons was in recess. The matter would have been immediately raised with ministers. As it is, they can operate without challenge for several days.

George Osborne said moments ago on BBC’s Question TIme, “It has long been the case in our democracy that members of Parliament have received information from civil servants. I think to hide information from the public is wrong.”  Labour MP Diane Abbott, not being very supportive of the Government, just said on This Week, “Civil servants have been leaking information to politicians since the dawn of the photocopier. The Metropolitan Police do some daft things. They would never arrest a Member of Parliament without getting some form of political cover.” In other words, as much of the media is saying, this has to have been cleared at a very high level, despite the statement by a Downing Street spokesman that the Prime Minister had no prior knowledge of the arrest.

Green is being questioned on allegations of the offence of conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office. This carries a possible life sentence.

There is terrorism involved here. The Government is terrorising the Opposition to keep it from raising questions about the Government’s competence and honesty at the highest levels. As one not surprisingly anonymous insider question has been quoted in the media, this is “Stalinesque . . . unprecedented in its high-handedness”.

Guilty Without Association

I don’t like the views of the British National Party. In fact, I find many of their views reprehensible.

In fact, the only thing as bad as the BNP is the persecution of BNP members.

There has been a leak of the BNP’s membership list and it has been published online. It included names, addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, and in some cases employment. This will put jobs at risk due to political affiliation.

The place of the BNP in British politics is a bit like that of Communists in 1950s America. It is the forbidden party. Because of that, witch hunts are allowed.

Police officers who are members of the party can be sacked from their jobs.  As revealed by the Daily Mail, they can commit crimes while employed by the police (including benefit fraud, gun crimes, drug crimes, assault and theft) and keep their jobs. This is not seen as being incompatable with their job. They are protected by Government rules called Police and Misconduct Regulations which treats them differently form the general public. However, being a member of the BNP conflicts with the force’s duty to promote race equality and that means they can be summarily dismissed.

Stuart Janaway was with the Greater Manchester Police for 14 years, until last month. There’s no indication he was anything but a good cop. That was until he was accused of wearing a BNP badge at an England football match. Well, it wasn’t actually a BNP badge, but it was also worn by BNP members.

Janaway is not and has never been a member of the BNP, but that doesn’t matter. In fact, the BBC, the Mirror, nor Manchester Evening News’ main outlet bothered to mention that bit. Some outlets ran the story with a picture of an actual BNP candidate badge (every candidate for Parliament wears a party badge during the announcing of the election results), implying that this is what Janaway was wearing. To find out that Janaway isn’t a member of the BNP, you actually have to go to the MEN-published Asian News. In a surprisingly sympathetic approach, the Asian News noted:

A police spokesman said there was no evidence that he was a member of the BNP.

Acting Assistant Chief Constable Terry Sweeney, head of the Professional Standards Branch, said: “The Chief Constable’s Order of 2004 makes it clear officers are banned from being members of the BNP. This requirement extends into the private lives of officers.

“All officers and staff are aware that non-compliance will likely result in dismissal. The officer failed to live up to the high standards we demand.”

One source said: “The swiftness with which this matter was dealt with indicates that GMP will not tolerate such breach of police regulations.”

In 1998 Mr Janaway hit the headlines when he helped treat a shooting victim. He also saved a number people intent on committing suicide.

That’s right, the police said both that there was no evidence he was a member of the BNP, but that since officers are banned from being members of the BNP, being off-duty and wearing an emblem sometimes also worn by members of the BNP resulted in his swift dismissal and the loss of his pension.

In fact, it wasn’t even a police officer who reported seeing Janaway wearing the badge. It was a member of the public who had a grudge against him. Something even scarier? As another police officer noted, how did the police get a search warrant for Janaway’s house because of something that did not constitute a criminal offence?

Is it any surprise that the BNP are a little angry the personal information of their members has been published?