Friday, April 28, 2006

Illegals Plan to Set Back Their Cause

The illegal alien lobby is about to once again do a phenomenal job of setting itself back in the hearts and minds of Americans. So to get there, they are staging walk-outs, and are threatening to shut down U.S. cities on Monday. The original idea was to walk out of work to show how important the illegal community is to our economy.

But presuming that all 11 million did walk out, which is highly unlikely, how would it be any different than Yom Kippur or Columbus Day when many do not work? Certainly some businesses would be slower and there are some that would be halted for a day. The response, however, would be to fire those who didn't show for work, as there are other Mexican immigrants with less political goals who would gladly take their place on a moment's notice. The protesters would return on Tuesday to find themselves replaced by fellow Latinos.

But if they are going to protest by not participating in the economy to show what would happen if they were not in our country, they may want to make the picture all the more complete by failing to take advantage of our welfare system and other legal benefits of which they regularly avail themselves. Don't pick up AFDC checks or food stamps, don't use Medicaid, don't apply for such assistance, don't allow others to cross the border on that day, don't give birth to children who will automatically become citizens, and pay for everything out of your own wages that day. Consistency in such a noble goal would indeed be unpleasant, though, so they won't.

But a protest on behalf of lawbreakers who are not Americans, with the goal of shutting down American cities and cramming the Mexican flag down our throats won't further the cause of illegals. The basic gist of their protests is that because they broke the law, they are entitled to special rights. That doesn't resonate with too many people. And the idea of clogging American cities to make such a statement isn't all that welcoming. When Americans seem eager to stem the flow of illegal immigration, something like this will likely make a penalty-oriented bill more appeasing than a hybrid guest worker/border fence proposal.

It's one thing to take an affirmative action approach, but the day of that type of appeal is also passing. It is quite another to come from a foreign land, demand access to free health care, tax-free jobs and demand squatters rights like a spoiled and ungrateful bunch of brats.

We have folks who are here illegally who want nothing more than just to work and better themselves. Their status and mode of entry are bad, but for hard workers with good attitudes, America has room. But if these illegal activists pull a stunt as planned for Monday, they will do a great disservice to the notion of a generous immigration system with Mexico.

Duke's Tawana Brawley

Everyone remembers the story of New York teen Tawana Brawley who made racially charged accusations that she was raped by six cops and left for dead. And she made good money off of the story, per the linked article. But the legal system didn't believe her. The story didn't add up, and the political angle just added that extra taint to make the story incredible.

Fast-forward to 2006. Three Duke lacrosse players have been charged with raping a stripper at a party. They were accused of hurling racial epithets at her, beating her and robbing her. From the other side of things, there are reports that she agreed to have sex with one of the players, who offered her $300 to do it, but when she didn't follow through and the player demanded his money back, she refused and demanded $1,500 or she would report a rape. Two separate sets of allegations--neither compatible with the other.

In the practice of law, there is an old saying: There are three sides to every story--your side, my side, and the truth. And I think that among these allegations, there exists some scintilla of the truth, but I think that most of it is sensationalized stupidity.

The rape claim is beginning to unravel just like the Brawley case. From allegations of inconsistent statements/unmade accusations by the accuser at critical junctures to independent accounts (HT RealClearPolitics on both) that several of the accuseds were nowhere near the scene at the time of the alleged act, the accusations seem more and more curious. Add to that the fact that this accuser made a similar accusation 10 years ago, and has a recent criminal past.

The past allegations may tend to show that this person is a chronic wolf-crier, which might have a small impact on the strength of her claims. But the issue of past crimes is highly relevant. If one has a history of committing what are known in the practice as "infamous crimes" which involve theft, fraud, embezzlement, perjury, conspiracy to commit crimes, etc., what I like to call "crimes of sneakiness", that person's testimony in court can be impeached by showing that they have a history of untrustworthy behavior.

And speaking of trustworthiness, the validity of this woman's claims has not been helped in the court of public opinion by the presence of the near automatic credibility-destroying involvement of Jesse Jackson. Upon entering any kind of fray like this with an black alleged victim and white alleged perpetrators, the sympathy for the accuser is almost always immediately diminished, as the Rev. Jackson is the king of the racial shakedown. He is not interested in justice, but rather, money. And it often takes a big check--payable to him or one of his charity fronts--to make that guy go away, lowering the "justness" of the accuser's cause to that of Jackson's.

And if that was where the problems ended for the accuser, that would be enough, but one of the biggest problems for the case is the guy prosecuting it. Michael Nifong is the local state's attorney, and is in the re-election race of his life. He looked to be dead before this scandal, but now is pushing this case in the most indiscreet manner possible in order to generate support among the people of Durham. For a bit of perspective, Duke is not loved in Durham. So any effort to make life more difficult for it plays well among the locals. Nifong is simply stirring the voters in his direction. But to vigorously and belligerently push a prosecution based on questionable facts simply because race is involved and because the Defendants are part of a disfavored organization in a transparent attempt to get votes on the eve of a tight election calls into question the prosecutor's ethics and sullies whatever remaining image of justice this whole proceeding may have had.

And while we are on the topic of ulterior motives and ethics, the other stripper has had a recent epiphany when it comes to what she believes took place on that night. She initially did not take the story seriously. But given that she has an open issue or two of her own with the Durham prosecutors, she offered to help, and even e-mailed a PR firm in New York to ask how she can best spin this for her own self interests. She openly states that she intends to profit from it. Take from that what you will.

And while I find the accusations against the lacrosse players increasingly suspect with each new report, to the point that I now believe that the charges are probably bogus, I am not going to argue that the students are angels either.

Throwing an out-of-control party with strippers and alcohol flowing freely is not the behavior of responsible or moral individuals. And it had been a matter of concern for some time that the Duke lacrosse team partied a little harder than they should. It was the responsibility of the coach to get his players under control and to establish consequences for poor conduct. He didn't, and the school now has this as the fallout. They lost their lacrosse season--the whole reason some of these kids chose Duke as their college. Which means that because the actions of a few, the many are punished. And it will be a very expensive lesson for Duke and other institutions that the party scene needs to be brought under control.

And with respect to the individuals involved, Collin Finnerty one of the accused lacrosse players is now facing older charges in D.C. for assault. So he is also not the kind that a mother wants her daughter bringing home.

I think the net is that a group of morally and ethically challenged people willingly met together in an environment conducive to debauchery and misogyny with one or both groups taking full advantage of the opportunities for selfish gain that were presented. The only problem is that one party is suffering because of the political nature of the other's charges, and because prosecuting such charges, regardless of merit, work to the benefit of an opportunistic local politician.

And if these charges are false, Duke has learned its lesson for failure to control its students' behavior, and a group of youths with execrable moral standards have learned that they cannot control their conseqences when they make dumb choices. But for the accuser and her witness who have made very serious and specific charges about which there really can't be much ambiguity, and for the politician who advanced them in order to survive an election, there needs to be a similar consequence.

Because the age of the Tawana Brawley racial shakedown needs to end, and there need to be consequences for those who make such socially devastating false accusations which follow people all their lives.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Bush's Snow Job

President Bush may have made his best staff selection so far, aside of Dick Cheney and Condoleeza Rice. He chose Tony Snow to speak for him, and that choice implies that perhaps more than a few changes are about to take place.

Tony Snow is a rare find for an administration whose PR inaptitude may be driving it into the ground. And someone like Tony comes to this job with way more pull than Tory Clark or Dan Senor, who were the other candidates for the job of White House Press Secretary.

He is taking a substantial pay cut to be Press Secretary. He is also an respected figure in the media industry, so he doesn't need this in order to further his career. But most importantly, the White House really wants him and knows that they are in a heap of trouble without a new and functional communications machine.

Which means that Snow can dictate terms. And in his position as a commentator, parsing for the public what politicians put out, Tony is able to identify the communication problems plaguing the Bush Administration and correct them.

And probably first among the things to be corrected is the degree to which Snow has direct access to the President and to the kind of information he needs in order to effectively deal with the issues that the Press Corps will throw at him. That was one of Scott McClellan's biggest weaknesses. The Administration didn't tell him what he needed to know. It became clear that he did not have a decent stream of information or appropriate confidence from the top when, after dismissing the possibility of it, Karl Rove was called to testify about the Plame matter. McClellan's credibility never really recovered, and it was surprising at that point that he didn't resign on the spot, as the Administration did him a huge disservice. To prevent that from recurring, Tony Snow will insist that he have complete access and complete disclosure on all matters which might require public comment. He didn't come to the job just to be a mouthpiece, and I doubt that he would stay in it if that's what things came to.

Thereafter, Snow will develop a communications strategy. It's a novel concept, and it worked for the 2004 campaign. It's why John Kerry was very often on the defensive during the campaign. Failing to employ one for the second term is why we find the President's popularity exploring new depths.

Snow needs to make life complicated for the Democrats, in other words, he needs his position to be a newsmaking one which generates response, rather than simply responding to whatever easy allegation Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer, Hillary Clinton, or Nancy Pelosi drops. In fact, he needs to keep the Congressional minority so busy that they don't have time to lob the kinds of cynical accusations at the Administration that they have had the luxury of doing over the past 18 months.

Instead of a "culture of corruption" among Republicans in Congress, the Dems would have to be dealing with the bombastic comments and juvenile behavior of Rep. Cynthia McKinney, and minimizing the damage done to their 2006 election effort by Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-WV), the ranking member of the House Ethics Committee now facing serious allegations of corruption.

Snow will also tell the President that when the blame game is played, he needs to join in and give some very hard assessments of his critics. Which means that former FEMA head Michael Brown would have gone down with Mayor Ray Nagin who told New Orleans residents without transportation that they were on their own if they wanted to get out of the city, and with Gov. Kathleen Blanco who also escaped scrutiny after delaying federal aid that the President offered.

Imagine how things would be if Bush actually came out of most of these controversies looking good. But when he will not set the record straight in an effective manner, he gives the microphone to the Dems to freely do whatever damage their accusations can inflict.

The bottom line is that the President, in order to be successful, must win the news cycle every single day. Because the damage he suffers is cumulative for every day he fails to do it.

If he listens to Tony Snow and does as he says, we will see a return of the very nimble and believable Bush we saw in 2004. Failing that, Snow will resign, a sign that the Administration intends to miss the boat on the art of successful communication, and to set the Democrats up nicely for unearned victories in 2006 and 2008.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Left Caused Higher Gas Prices

(Please note, this post was changed from its original. I released it too soon in draft form. My apologies for anything that was more incomprehensible than usual!)

President Bush has announced a new investigation into the cause of the astronomically high gasoline prices from which we now suffer. The investigation is going to center around loose allegations of anticompetitive behavior among the various petroleum retailers and distributors, and while there may be something to that it doesn't address the real problem.

If anything, it shows that Bush is responding to pressure from within the party and probably from his new Chief of Staff to be seen doing something--anything--on gas prices. Mind you, this will likely go nowhere, as the oil and gas suppliers aren't stupid enough to do any gouging in the open, especially in an environment where it might be caught. And the president is really powerless to deal with the price of oil. It is a market-controlled price. But an investigation into the big bad oil companies looks good, and like Bill Clinton's idea war room that pumped out a new feel-good proposal every week which generally went nowhere but sounded nice, it seems that Bush is buying into some of that fluff politics for the sake of his political viability.

Notwithstanding what I just said about the likelihood of the success of such an investigation, the fact that Exxon Mobil is reporting that its profits last year hit a new high and were of a "record" variety, after Katrina's wrath damaged our refining and distribution infrastructure in the Gulf, raises some serious questions. It stands to reason that higher costs of the raw material (because OPEC wants it that way) and of its refining (because Katrina and Rita scored big hits on our refining abilities) would translate into higher costs at the pump. That's painful, but it has no moral component. But by that same reasoning, the higher costs should not translate into significantly greater profits, as the margin between cost and profit wouldn't/shouldn't change. That margin would "float" on top of the costs, largely unchanged. That's just how business works.

But it becomes something different if, after passing on costs to us, the petroleum supplier hits us again, and uses the excuse of high oil prices to justify the higher pump price to score a huge opportunistic profit. And if that is really going on, (I have a very hard time believing that it's not--if anyone can explain to me how their profits can soar in the face of such costs in a way other than I have suggested, please let me know) a price needs to be paid for profiteering from anti-market behavior.

But that is not nearly so much the problem as having OPEC in the driver's seat. And for that, we need to thank the left. Because whatever we think of petroleum companies, OPEC an organization comprised of mainly unfriendly dictator-run nations whose only positive is that they have reserves of petroleum within their borders, can dictate terms to the rest of the world as to what it will cost us to use energy to keep our nations running. And we've seen the effects of having OPEC commanding the international oil market. The gas shortages of the early 1970s, those under Jimmy Carter, interminable gas lines, and the economic ramifications that come with exorbitant energy prices and lack of access to energy sources are the fruits of OPEC's cartel control of the market. And with Iran's running mouth, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stating that oil is undervalued, things are not looking up.

So in a very real way, the left has placed us under the government of dictators because we depend upon such people's nations to provide us with the fuel we need to remain operational.

Because of environmental regulation, the last time a refinery was built in the United States was 30 years ago. The result is that we cannot really modernize our refining capacity, must rely on less efficient 1960s and 1970s technology, further preventing us from protecting our energy production infrastructure by moving facilities inland. It not only is more pollutive, which one would think the enviro-left would oppose, but dangerous. The danger is that it increases the relevance of people like Ahmadinejad, the Saudi Royal Family, and Hugo Chavez by allowing them to dictate energy terms to us, and by giving them the cash for their oil. In such a way, we are buying from them the rope by which they will hang us.

And because of environmania, the left has prevented domestic exploration of energy sources such as those to be found in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. But the fear by a myopic but noisy few with poor science on their side that caribou would be upset or displaced by exploration, is inhibiting the growth of our national economy and requiring us to beg for mercy from dictators who have no reason to offer any. So because of a misbegotten concern that an animal might not like it, (and evidence suggests that caribou tend to thrive in the warmer environment of a drilling station), we have placed ourselves at the mercy of the OPEC robber barons.

But a series of other environmental restrictions enacted by Executive Order fiat during the Clinton Administration have restricted access to natural gas (while promoting its use), thus making it nearly unaffordable, requiring different gas formulations in different areas of the nation, and promoting unnecessarily restrictive environmental regulations have not advanced the cause of energy independence and efficiency.

So while the likes of Harry Reid complain about the cost of a gallon of gas, blaming the problem on the Bush Administration, they really have no room to do so. Because their party's radical environmental policy has wreaked havoc on our economy and exposed us on the national security front by promoting dependence on other nations whom we might otherwise consider enemies to meet our energy needs. The environmental overregulation is a body of law whose time has passed. Technology permits cleanliness without a loss in production, and we should be permitted to pursue that for our own national well-being.

Of course, the left is more interested in orthodoxy, not innovation. And they are not interested in any economy-growing energy policy that doesn't pay homage to their environmentalist philosophies. This is evidenced by the Cheney-Halliburton demagoguery (because Cheney was head of a very wealthy oil and gas servicing company, that's a very bad thing), and the bashing of Bush whose history in the Texas oil and gas business was used similarly as an unpleasant rather than a positive quality.

These men have the industrial experience and knowledge to formulate a very economically beneficial and environmentally safe energy policy which would enable us to improve our infrastructure and increase our ability to deliver energy in a cheaper way and with less environmental impact.

But tell that to the left, who view industry and our economy with suspicion and loathing, and whose misbegotten environmental policies promise to perpetuate a system that enriches expansionist dictators who oppose our political objectives and who export terror to our shores.

Because one does not have to go to the length of actively supporting terrorism in order play a role in weakening our national security.

McKinney's McGoof

Cynthia McKinney remains a fool.

In an interview with a local TV station, Congresswoman McKinney was asked a number of questions about her run-in with the Capitol Hill Police officer whom she is alleged to have struck, among other issues surrounding that incident. But then McKinney got nasty in an off camera, but apparently on-record moment claiming that the reporter broke a deal not to broach that topic, and calling her staffer who set up the interview "a fool". It's good to know that the Congresswoman hires like-minded people. Then, of course, she demanded that anything she said off-camera was "off the record", which is like saying that she wanted to un-ring a bell. If you say it prior to an agreement, it's off-record. Anything else is free for the pickings.

First, this episode is just another in a pattern which shows remarkably intemperate behavior on the part of a Member of Congress. It also shows what a poor leader she is to criticize a staffer in public.

Second, it shows that the Congresswoman is remarkably arrogant, abysmally stupid, or more likely some tragically synergistic combination of the two. To illustrate what I mean, let's consider what any reporter might want to discuss with Cynthia McKinney at this point in time. Certainly it is not serious news that she qualified to be placed on the Democratic Primary ballot. 435 other candidates did the same in their districts, and I could do the same in mine of I wanted to. So could you. It would only be news if she didn't. It was not a cooking segment where the Congresswoman was going to share her Georgia peach cobbler or vidalia onion soup recipes. The only news relevance this person has ever had in Congress is her value as a figure of public curiosity. Between her issuing of bombastic and conspiracy-centered comments, and now an alleged act of violence against a police officer, McKinney has only been newsworthy as a result of outrageous and obnoxious behavior. So for her to presume that the interview was about anything other than the embarrassing and potentially criminal controversy in which she now finds herself, shows a remarkable lack of introspection and understanding of just how unimportant she is on a substantive level.

Lastly, it shows a lack of political sophistication. For McKinney to go back on the record and demand that her statements not be used because she was too obtuse to remove her microphone, besides being futile, shows that she has no idea how real life works. Candid comments are reported comments, absent prior agreements, and to presume that she could dictate terms when she had absolutely no cards to play is to reveal one's naivete.

Her record is one of juvenility and vulgarity. That's why she makes the news and that's why she may ultimately pay a significant legal price. She is just too arrogant and simple to see it.

Happy News

My brother in law, Frank, has returned from Iraq for vacation. His wife, Jennifer, was having difficulty maintaining self-control in the airport as she saw his plane coming in.

I'll see him tonight, but if you have the inclination, please raise a toast for both of them tonight. They put their first year of marriage on hold so that we could be safer. A very hard, but marvelously American thing to do.

Thanks Frank, and thank you Jenn for bearing up here at home. We love you both.

Derelict Blogger

I've been busy about the important stuff, leaving little time to opine. I have a few thoughts to pass along today regarding the gas prices, Iran, Duke, and perhaps a few other things that interest me.

Thanks for reading and for being patient.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Immigration Insurrection

The Administration's failure to act and establish a fence along our border with Mexico is generating a pretty significant attack from the right. The Minutemen who have made a point of interdicting illegal border crossings, to the chagrin of the ACLU and other criminal enablers are now promising to do something similar on private lands bordering Mexico if Bush won't. And the fence promises to create at least some political blowback for an Administration that really can't afford another hit to its credibility.

If the fence goes up on a private basis as a form of protest, the Administration will look foolish. If it somehow seeks to block people from erecting anything, then the President appears to favor illegal foreign nationals to his own people who are trying to protect their own lands from foreign incursions. Either way, he loses.

But the damage may already have been done. Because while any fence built on private property will have limited value at best when it comes to securing the entire border, it sends the message that the White House is missing the boat on one of the biggest issues of popular concern, and the President is losing the opportunity to restore some credibility, instead trading for the likelihood that he will end up looking weak on national security, just in time for the election.

I really have no suggestions for the President other than to seal off the border to unauthorized crossing. Certainly no method will absolutely prevent all illegals from crossing into the U.S.; there are a few who will get through, but the vast majority will be stopped, such that the influx of Mexicans who enter our nation to get what they can and go home is stopped, and likewise, the trafficking in drugs and terrorists.

So if the President can offer a reason for not sealing up the leaks from Corpus Christi to San Diego, I'll hear him. But if the excuse is in any way rooted in garnering the Hispanic vote, the rationale is hopelessly flawed.

The President's approval rating has dropped to an all-time low of 33%. He can't afford any more losses in public confidence if he is going to remain a vaible political force. Those of us who rooted, worked, and voted for him are tremendously disappointed at what he has allowed his second term to become. And if he punts on this issue, leaving it to private individuals to protect their own lands with a border fence, he can likely kiss his presidential relevance goodbye.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Problems with the Generals Criticisms of Rumsfeld

We've all heard the maxim about too many cooks, but it seems that it could be equally applied to former Generals. Likewise with the always relevant "sour grapes" test of Washington critics which I think will ultimately undercut this effort.

It is now old news that a group of retired generals has made a significant point about trying to get Don Rumsfeld to resign. And based upon some reports, including this comment buried in this New York Times article, there seems to have been an effort on the part of the various retired generals to recruit others into the ranks of the disgruntled:
Current and former officers said they were unaware of any organized campaign to seek Mr. Rumsfeld's ouster, but they described a blizzard of telephone calls and e-mail messages as retired generals critical of Mr. Rumsfeld weighed the pros and cons of joining in the condemnation.
This is fairly telling, as it undercuts the entire appearance that the generals are attempting to create of independent and candid criticisms of the Secretary. But dismissing that for a second, the criticisms being leveled at Rumsfeld are conclusory. He is charged with being incompetent, not building "a strong team", but more than anything for having a tough leadership style. The impression with which I am left is that these criticisms have very political rather than military underpinnings. We don't know the facts supporting these opinions, and we don't know what advice Rumsfeld denied, or whether it was even really offered. But Gen. Batiste's comments about not building a strong enough team are particularly interesting, given the fact that it sounds like he is returning to the whole "unilateral" argument--a very political one which has nothing to do with the work of the Secretary of Defense.

But these generals took a significant hit to their cause when they were--officially or otherwise--joined by the General and once and future presidential candidate, Wesley Clark. If they wanted to avoid the appearance that their opposition to Rumsfeld had a basis in anything but politics, which is becoming a harder and harder thing for them to do, Clark probably ended any remaining hope they had. Clark knows nothing about Rumsfeld's leadership, as he never served under the guy. And his record of praising the Administration and the Iraq War effort, and waffling when it became politically necessary to do so makes any statements that he offers on the topic suspect, especially given the fact the he will almost certainly aspire once again to be a second-tier candidate for the Democratic nomination in 2008. So no matter how this gets spun, this was not a helpful development for the generals.

But the one gripe that seems to really be making headlines was that Rumsfeld had a tough leadership style. He was critical. As one supportive retired general stated this morning, there were a couple of times that Rumsfeld ate him for lunch when that general was for some reason not prepared to advise him on whatever issue was at hand. But that's life. We all have had hard bosses who demanded much and weren't happy when they didn't get it. We have also had bosses who rejected our advice in favor of another's input. We have been snubbed, blown off, had our feelings hurt, etc. But these are matters of personal chemistry and thickness of skin rather than competence. And it sounds a heck of a lot like these were the generals whose advice was not nearly so favored as that of other generals. And so as I stated earlier, those sour grapes produce a particularly bitter whine.

And this creates another very real perception problem for this disaffected group. Because when the most resonant cry can be reduced to an accusation of hurt feelings, the push for Rumsfeld's resignation carries significantly less urgency and relevance.

The other matter is that Rumsfeld is trying to do something a heck of a lot more controversial than any of his predecessors: he is trying to modernize the military. To put it succinctly, he is throwing out much of the old and trying to bring the military into the 21st Century. That kind of thing will rub the old guard wrong. And agents of change are generally unpopular with their contemporaries who are just fine with the system as it is.

But more to the point, the Editors over at the Wall Street Journal encapsulate the arguments beautifully. And their criticisms center around the notion that some of these generals, most notably the very vocal Anthony Zinni, just don't get it when it comes to the war on terror. Zinni thought that an attack on Iraq would destabilize the Middle East. But his view ignores the fact that 9/11 was the result of over 10 years of Middle East "stability". And these calls also ignore the fact that while some thin-skinned generals may not like Rumsfeld, other rogue nations such as Iran, North Korea and Syria like him even less.

And apparently being a whit more practical and smarter than some of these philosophical former generals, dictators know that it's game over for them if their regime is toppled. Just ask Saddam who now lives in a cell and whose daily highlight is washing his own drawers before he gets a death sentence.

Rumsfeld is the tip of Bush's spear. And he isn't trading it in for anything.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Immigration is Fine--So Is a Wall

Today, House Speaker Denny Hastert (R-IL) and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) offered to the nation that they do not intend to have illegal immigrants exposed to felony punishment (H.T. Drudge).

I have not been able to find any clarity on this, but it remains an open question as to which illegals we are talking about--the ones already here or the ones to come.

I have been very clear that I favor a guest worker program in this nation. With unemployment at 4.7%, it's a hard argument to make that Mexican illegal immigrants are siphoning off jobs. And based upon that figure, I really don't buy the argument that if the wages were higher, Americans would go flocking to the jobs which Mexicans are doing. There is no evidence that these folks are keeping Americans from employment.

But I have also been clear that security and the rule of law are more than bywords, and that if we overlook either, we do so at our own peril.

Immigrant workers are here to stay, but just the same, we need to set up a system that permits legal entrance into our nation after various examinations to ensure that they aren't bringing anything unhealthy or unlawful into our nation. As a point of reference, my children's pediatrician advised that we have our children vaccinated for hepatitis-A because the disease can be passed by infected migrant workers in the fast food industry to customers. Likewise, drugs and other problems need to be interdicted at the border. About such things there can be very little wrangling. These are reasonable restrictions.

On the other hand, there is room to discuss penalizing illegals--after all, they broke the law. I'm in favor of fines or other civil penalties for illegals who are already present, but as with anything else, how do we enforce it? Will the promise of a penalty dissuade workers already here from getting legalized? Probably so, as there is really no disincentive at this point to being an illegal worker. The other side to the enforcement coin, however is putting the burden on the employer to hire only documented workers, severely penalizing those who employ unauthorized workers, thus creating the incentive for current illegals to register, pay the piper and go on working. The question is whether this is a form of amnesty.

But "amnesty" is not per se a bad thing. However, as it is applied in this debate, it means one of two things: forgiveness for crimes committed and/or an encouragement for future lawbreakers that the law will remain unenforced.

The first one is, unfortunately a given in this debate. We felonize 11 million people, round them up, jail them, and/or deport them all. I'd love to see how that would work logistically. Part of the difficulty is that we have let the problem go on this long, making enforcement a nightmare. And it would miss the entire point of a meaningful immigration bill. A civil sanction is about as far as we can reasonably go with the folks we have.

But a system that provides severe criminal penalties to those who illegally enter our nation in the future would do the trick of discouraging illegal entry, as would a system that causes employers who hire such folk to hemorrhage cash.

And so having established something on that order--a program that legally processes immigrant workers, ensures that they are not bringing contraband or illness into the nation, and authorizing them to work in a legal capacity, we also establish a wall on the border, as all of the legitimate concerns about immigrant access will have been addressed.

Because at that point, if anyone opposes a wall to prevent unauthorized immigration, they are advocating for drug trafficking, an open door for terrorists, and unrestricted access to our welfare system. And the "Berlin Wall" demagoguery misses the entire point of this program. That wall was meant to contain East Germans and restrict influence from the West. This one permits Americans and Mexicans alike to pass freely through. It permits the enforcement of our laws and allows easier detection and interdiction of criminal elements. And who could argue with that--other than criminals?

What we need is a bill that addresses these realities and gives us a reasonable place from which to start. Because neither punishment of 11 million people nor leaving an open border is in our best interests.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Will 2008 Involve Two Marriages of Convenience?

Handicapping the 2008 election is at this point a little tough, as certain things, known as 2006, 2007 and 2008 need to take place in order to better shape the environment of those contests. But ignoring the whole "events" necessity, there are a few things that can be reasonably calculated, and at this stage, I can only imagine that both Democrats and Republicans will each engage in a marriage of convenience in the selection of their nominee.

And with the mention of a marriage of convenience, it is appropriate to begin any discussion with the Democrats' current favorite, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-?). The Democrats love her because they know who she is, and they know that she is probably the most savvy liberal to enter politics in a very long time. She plays to the middle of late, but nobody other than the most obtuse are in any way affected by the charms of the architect of Bill Clinton's health care takeover plan of 1994. And it is rare that we get as decent a glimpse into how one would behave in the White House as we have had with Hillary Clinton.

Hillary is nothing short of a megalomaniac. Instead of having photos of the President and Vice-President adorning the atriums of federal buildings, during at least the early days of the Clinton Administration, it was the President and Hillary. And as the first ever First Lady to testify before a grand jury, Sen. Clinton seemed to be rolled up in scandal and ethical controversy at every available opportunity. Among the asterisks on her glowing resume are Travelgate where she bounced out White House employees in favor of cronies to run the White House Travel Office, her involvement in the Whitewater scandal which brought down a savings and loan and numerous friends of hers, resulting in the suicide of another and the hasty removal of related files from his office, as well as the concealment of the billing records that her firm generated as it represented the savings and loan, and even the campaign finance issue where her Senate campaign underreported $800,000 of in-kind campaign contributions, leading to the indictment (and in all fairness, later acquittal) of her campaign finance director, but where the campaign still paid out a $35,000 fine to resolve the matter.

So as much as the left loves Hillary, she possesses many of the same qualities that they despised in Richard Nixon. They will likely nominate her if they continue to divorce themselves from the political realities of the American electorate. But if Tom Bevan is right, she may not survive the primaries. His reasoning is insightful, he's got a very good point, but I pray that he is wrong. And he probably prays the same thing. Because a general election without Hillary is potentially a scary thing for Republicans.

If Even Bayh or Mark Warner runs in the general election and keeps a very conservative tack on national security, such a candidacy will carry tremendous credibility, provided that the candidate doesn't have any significant or unrequited skeletons in his/her closet. But I still think that a left-wing candidate has a better than average shot.

Much is made about the fact that Howard Dean peaked about 3 weeks too early in 2004 and then crashed and burned in Iowa, sealing the deal with his intemperate concession speech. But John Kerry was no less of a leftist; he just appeared to be more grown-up than Dean. Similarly, John Edwards who pretended to be a southern conservative but was in the same ideological camp as Kerry seemed just that much more responsible, despite the "Breck Girl" perception. So a left wing candidate like Hillary or Russ Feingold has some very significant potential if they can turn media buzz into votes, which is, after all, the only thing that matters in the end. And while I agree with Tom Bevan that low recognition now for the likes of Bayh and Warner has no bearing on what they will look like in 2008, a "who's more progressive?" battle between Hillary and Feingold could obscure media exposure for the rest of the field.

And in a similar vein, the Democrats had the choice of a couple of very credible moderates in 2004 and rejected them. Certainly, Dick Gephardt was a guy who could have generated a good deal of appeal in the general election, was (and would have been) infinitely more likeable than John Kerry, and was on the right side of the national security issue. Joe Lieberman, an aisle-crossing and personally very likeable man with impeccable moral credentials and a true centrist outlook was an equally compelling choice. But the Dems passed on electability and went for a leftist.

So if a Warner or a Bayh is to be considered for the presidency, the Dems would have to collectively decide to set aside a number of their more controversial political objectives and select a candidate whom they might not love, but who nonetheless has a real shot at getting them in the door of the White House. That is a very tall order but still possible, as electoral losses tend to be a very powerful lesson. But if the Dems rise to that level of maturity, unseen since 1992, the Republicans will have a very real fight on their hands.

And with respect to the GOP, the prenups are already being drafted. John McCain is the frontrunner, bar none. Condi Rice does not seem interested in running, but much can happen in two years. Nonetheless, while McCain had a shot in 2000, he seems the heir apparent for 2008. And that has some conservatives unnecessarily but in a strange paradox, understandably concerned.

Republicans have bought into the notion that because McCain is a media darling that he cannot be trusted. There is more than just a passing validity to that point of view. We all know where the media stands, and we all know that everyone loves fawning media coverage. The problem becomes when the media glow becomes addictive and politicians read their own press. Because the media has a remarkable neo-Pavlovian behavior conditioning system for politicians that gets results for those who fall into their web. They simply punish with bad press and reward with good.

And John McCain has appeared to be swayable by press. Between McCain-Feingold to swearing off coercive methods of interrogation of terrorists, McCain has confounded conservatives by seeming to be a maverick. But while a maverick he is to a degree, he is likely no more independent than President Bush whose illegal immigration policy is regarded by many conservatives as an amnesty program and whose efforts at creating Medicare Part D are among the greatest spending measures in our history. But McCain's loyalty to the party, including to a President with whom he has had a tepid relationship, has been better than anyone might have hoped. His speech before the Republican National Convention in 2004 was nothing short of magnificent as he did a perfect job of deconstructing the left's attack on the Bush and was remarkably magnanimous, given the fact that he and Bush had made no secret of their differences. And when it comes to major issues, McCain's Senate voting record is more or less solidly conservative.

So conservatives need to see McCain through something other than Campaign Finance Reform glasses. Because McCain is likely not the John Anderson or Jim Jeffords he has appeared to be. But as with many things, the press isn't fawning over McCain for no reason, and it needs to be understood that perhaps the media wants McCain to run in the same way that Republicans relished the idea of a Dean candidacy.

If anyone recalls the early 2000 primaries, the Dems were encouraging their voters in states with open primaries (where anyone from any party can vote for another party's candidate--a stupid idea to be certain) to forget about the nonexistent Gore-Bradley battle and vote for McCain, knowing that if he beat Bush, that they could take McCain apart in a general election, much more easily than they could the much better politically equipped Bush. And I think that same strategy underlies at least some, if not all, of the press honeymoon with him.

McCain has a temper, and it shows through. And if 2004 tells us anything, spouses and children are fair game in the Dems' playbook, meaning that his wife Cindy's issues with mental health and the ethnicity of his adopted children will come into play. Because in 2004 the John Kerry and John Edwards crossed the taste barrier a number of times by making shameless and tacky references to the sexual orientation of Dick Cheney's daughter followed by a rude comment by Elizabeth Edwards who accused Lynne Cheney of being ashamed of that daughter. So 2008 will be a nonstop effort to bait McCain and his family and to show just how low this party has decided to go.

And while a McCain candidacy may involve no small degree of grace among Republicans, it will involve nearly no surrender with respect to policy differences as it will on the Democrats' side. McCain is as much a conservative as he always was. He just seems disagreeable, but is actually more of a team player than the perceived-conservative Chuck Hagel (R-NE), who has no national security credentials and yet pontificates on the matter, specifically his disagreements with the President, to the delight of the anti-war media who flocks to his doorstep for every such pronouncement.

And while I seem to be saying that the nomination is all but McCain's it needs to be understood that the likes of Bill Frist (R-TN) or George Allen (R-VA) may also be in the game. Count Frist out. He votes conservative, but he is one of the least effective and most flaccid Senate Republican leaders in modern American history. If you are ever behind him, take note that you will see the shoeprints of both Tom Daschle and Harry Reid on his suit jacket. I don't think he has a spine of which we can speak, which puts him out of the contention. You need to be able to stare down an opponent as President. And if you can't do that to the largely powerless Senate Democrats, you won't be able to do it to Iran, Syria,China or North Korea.

Allen is different. He is a solid conservative, but his qualities are not known very well, and it will be hard to catch up to McCain's notoriety. And expect McCain to make himself significantly more palatable to conservatives over the next 18 months.

And expect it to be his race to lose if he wins the nomination.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Bob Woodruff Getting Back to Business

In spite of all the crummy things that get reported every day, sometimes some really amazing and wonderful things happen. Bob Woodruff is going home and will return to the hospital for outpatient treatment.

He seems to weight a bit less, but it is really good news that this guy is back where he belongs, being a father and a husband.

Good for him, and remember his family with a prayer of thanksgiving.

McKinney is Sorry for Being in Trouble

When someone publicly behaves like a complete posterior, it is expected that they will be forced to endure the public wages of such choices, such as the whispering, snickering and various forms of scarlet-lettering that usually take place in our society.

And Cynthia McKinney is no exception. The episode where she is alleged to have struck a Capitol Police Officer has turned most grave. It is now the subject of federal grand jury proceedings. And a grand jury is serious business. There were two charges they were considering. The misdemeanor assault, and the felony assault of a police officer. If they are bringing it before a grand jury, they are trying to indict her on the felony charge. This went from a goofy story to one that that has some not very funny consequences.

But if there is anything funny, it is this: Rep. McKinney just offered an apology on the House Floor. But the delay in apology--until the day that a grand jury is presented evidence that could lead to her indictment and arrest--is patently hollow. It would have been different if she had apologized at the scene and avoided the week of celebrity photo ops, the rabid race rhetoric, and the truly disgusting appearances on the morning news shows where she filibustered and appeared proud of what she had done.

I will not bother to dissect her exact words, because I think that given her behavior over the past week, her words could convey the perfect message and still have no value. She reveled in race hysteria and "guilty of being a black woman in Congress" rhetoric, and accused the officer of being a racist. So when she claims to have had a 180 degree change of heart, coincidentally on a day when a grand jury meets to make decisions that will have a significant effect on her future, her epiphany is just a tad suspect.

Her recent statements make it highly unlikely that she regrets the act of striking the officer because the doing of such an act is legally and morally wrong. Rather, I'd feel pretty safe stating that she regrets the potential consequences of her actions, as opposed to the actions themselves. There is no penitence in regretting the consequence--only in regretting the act--and there is something rather insulting in her presumption that we would buy the apology after her truly boorish behavior that made headlines this week.

As unpleasant as it is, the work of the grand jury needs to go forward. And the prosecutor should use the text of the apology as an admission before the grand jury. There is a cost to abject stupidity and immorality.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

DeLay's Resignation Signals a Healthier Party

Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX), the former House Majority Leader decided to call it quits. Good for the Republicans, and good for him. Because while he has been indicted by Ronnie Earle in what is nothing more than a political witch hunt, he has most ominously had two staffers caught up in a criminal investigation to which one copped a plea and agreed to help in the investigation. One can only assume that some of it is pointing to DeLay.

The good for DeLay is that this is his opportunity to focus his attack on the charges against him, and to exonerate himself--as opposed to acquitting himself--so that he can restore credibility to himself. It also sends a message that DeLay is more concerned about his reputation than his hold on power. And if he is able to turn the tables on his accusers, he will be of even more value to the party than he was before, as a wrongly accused man who is the victim of a political hit and who clears his name emerges as a hero.

But one who is dirty is a political liability to the rest of his brethren until he is removed. And as we learned in 1994, it is a much worse thing for politicians when voters have to do the removing.

After the check bouncing scandal and various other disgraceful revelations about the House of Representatives, a general perception that Democrats had been abusing the privileges that come with leadership, and that they could no longer be trusted to lead, voters had had enough and expurgated Democrats from the Congress. Certain Democrats chose not to run again, but others put up the fight and lost. And those who didn't returned in January to a Capitol where their relevance was much less than it had been only a few months before.

And if Tom DeLay was involved in illegal activity, he did the responsible thing by bowing out, as the Congress is not a place for people who have problems respecting the law.

But most importantly, a party that can police itself can retain public trust. There will always be renegades. But when they can be identified and removed, regardless of the power and influence they wield and the apparent cash benefits they can bring to the party, it increases the credibility of the rest of the party.

We'll see how this plays out, but it was a good move for all, depriving the Democrats of the opportunity to use the issue.

McKinney Sets Back the Race Clock

It's an early lesson in life that crying wolf in the long run bears fewer consequences for certain wild canids than it does for the criers. More to the point, Rep. Cynthia McKinney's (D-GA) recent behavior, along with her history of making every issue a race issue is arguably turning back the clock on race relations in this nation, possibly making it easier for racist behavior to take place, largely because the term "racist" has been so overused and the act so over-accused that it is losing its relevance in American society, to the point that only the most egregious acts of overt hate are challenged for what they are.

McKinney didn't want to go through security upon her entrance to a House Office Building. But the Capitol Hill Police not recognizing her, especially after a recent appearance change, required that she go through the screening like everyone else. And in response, she is alleged to have struck the officer. It's a charge she hasn't denied. But her claim was that the officer "profiled" her, presumably excusing an unnecessary act of violence. From that falls the usual demagogue tropes that she was guilty of being a

And all of it is complete hogwash. Because if all of the allegations are true, we have a Member of Congress whose arrogance and belligerence got the best of her. She expected the police to recognize her despite the fact that she was displaying no form of identification, but in any case, to except her from the rules that applied to everyone else because of the political implications of her racial and gender identification. In other words, she is blaming the officer for not having the same comically inflated opinion of her that she does of herself.

But the charges of racism, profiling, and other concerns, while completely frivolous charges in this instance, may not be in others, and the practice of making such charges every time someone is inconvenienced fans the flames of racial intolerance and actually makes subtle acts of true racist wrongs easier to commit. Because racism is something that still exists.

African Americans are owed a huge apology from the likes of Jesse Jackson and the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, Al Sharpton, Kweisi Mfume, Charles Ogletree, Julian Bond and the NAACP, Cornell West, and the Congressional Black Caucus for their behavior over the past twenty years. Because during that time, among other wrongs they have done to their constituents, their overuse of the term "racist" has turned it from a serious charge with moral and legal implications into an easily made and dismissed grievance that causes eyes to roll. The result is a disastrous twofold.

First, it deepens the interracial distrust that already unfortunately exists between people of different skin tones and ethic origins in this nation. When one fears that another will drop a cruel label on another because of a simple civil disagreement--a label easily flung about, but sometimes not as easily cured without significant cost and embarrassment to the accused--there exists an unfortunate arm's length distance between people who look different but who are equally American. Lincoln's admonition that a nation divided against itself cannot stand remains as valid now as it was during the Civil War. And that won't go away until people accept common disappointments as such and move on to the next opportunity. And while this divide is a serious concern, it is the least of the two.

Because when one cries wolf enough, the real wolf is eventually able to attack with impunity. Racism still exists, because stupidity still exists among humans. But if one is clever enough to disguise racist behavior in the appearance of legality, or more likely people are just too jaded to care, injustice begins to reign. And we already have evidence of that in our society.

Certainly, a display by a hate group will be challenged by any American community, but hate groups operate on the fringes and their crude displays can often be unifying to those of us of all ethnic backgrounds who abhor such vulgarity. But they are not the problem because their effects on our society are grossly limited. Their message is so clear, so extreme and so wholly unacceptable, that they and their members are most properly and easily shunned from polite society. The problems are the disgraceful things that we accept as normal.

We have a permanent urban underclass that is self perpetuating. Our welfare system which is often a way of life among many urban blacks presumes that they cannot achieve economic independence on their own. It is a system that rewards single-parent families by presuming that fathers are no more than paycheck generators, to the point that it is now not at all surprising when fathers are allowed to abandon their children and their mothers to the detriment of both. Failed schools in the cities presume that young blacks don't care about their education, can't achieve, and aren't entitled to opportunities anyway. Systems of excuse whereby crime is justified as the natural and uncontainable overflow of anger as a result of alleged racial and economic disadvantage ignore the clear choices made by the wrongdoer and the sophistication of his infractions, thus encouraging deviant behavior. Worse yet, such pleas insult the law-abiding citizens of his neighborhood whose economic status has not stopped them from living respectable and good lives. As such, racism runs unnoticed, unchecked, and is even welcomed by those who are its victims.

So when the race card is played regularly by the likes of Rep. McKinney, ignoring the fact that she was the wrongdoer, not someone trying to ensure the security of our leaders, the cumulative effects have consequences far more serious and systemic than making just one irresponsible and opportunistic Member of Congress look even more foolish than she already did.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Feingold: Less Debate, More Politics

Russ Feingold's (D-WI) appearance on Fox News Sunday (transcript courtesy RealClearPolitics) was one that, from his perspective, was best avoided. Feingold was posed some tough questions about his censure proposal, and his unfortunate comparison of Bush to Richard Nixon, but he managed to dodge each of Chris Wallance's questions, showing that his focus was less about the issue's substance, than the politics surrounding it.

Feingold couldn't seem to understand that nobody needs to be punished when the President and the Congress have a disagreement over the interpretation of the law and powers granted to the president to fight terror. He couldn't get past the fact that Bush briefed members of Congress, the Senate, and the Intelligence Committees of both houses before doing anything. He also seemed eager to equate a program designed to protect Americans from terrorist attacks with Nixon's Watergate break ins and the list of enemies he intended to punish for sedition. But when asked about how much he knew about the program, Feingold indicated that he had not yet received a full briefing on the matter that Rep. Jane Harmon (D-OH) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) had, leading them both to laud its merits. In other words, Feingold is not allowing the facts to get in the way of the politics of this censure effort.

But more to the point, he allowed a tiny little Freudian slip to get out, revealing what this whole thing is about:

FEINGOLD: [snip] We have a terrible problem that we have a Republican president and two houses of Congress run by the Republicans, who are intimidated by this White House, even to the point of not standing up for the right of Congress...

WALLACE: But Senator, and we're running out of time...

WALLACE: ... you make that sound like it's a coup. I mean, that's the result of the election. Elections have implications.

FEINGOLD: Well, there's nothing wrong with it from the point of view it was inappropriate. It's just that maybe the country wants to turn this here to a little more balanced government, where you have at least one house of Congress saying, Mr. President, you can't just make up the law.
What the Senator meant to say was, "Elections aren't so bad when they result in Democrat wins." And as Michael Barone will tell you, the best evidence of what the electorate wants can be seen in the most recent election data. And a Democrat House or Senate isn't it.

But tell that to Feingold who is using this as free press for 2008. It gets him on TV, gets him recognized for Iowa, which is very near Wisconsin, and much closer than Chappaqua, New York or Little Rock, Arkansas (whichever), and may make him a contender for the Democratic Party's nomination for president. The only thing that Feingold didn't consider was that authoring a censure resolution and then stating on national TV that he doesn't have all the facts as did his colleagues who praised the program, makes him look stupid.

But I stand with the Senator in hoping that he does get his vote on the resolution. And I pray that other Democratic Senators in tight races in 2006 vote for it, believing that it will help them in the general election.

Afghanistan Needs to Grow Up, Amnesty Needs to Speak Up

Abdul Rahman Jawed, a resident of Afghanistan, committed the serious crime of converting from Islam to Christianity. In most of the Western world, such an act would be ignored, as it is generally regarded as one's own business what faith one chooses to practice, and how they choose to practice it.

But not in the new Afghan Republic. There, Jawed was put on a fast track to the death penalty. Having converted to Christianity in 1990, and having survived the wrath of the Taliban government, the people of the successor democratic state want to put him to death for what they consider the crime of "apostasy".

Islamism remains a very powerful force among the Afghan people, and the government under Hamid Karzai, recognizes this, as well as his countervailing responsibility to the law and the expectations of a free world. Karzai is in a very tough position, and his dilemma is one that should cause the West some serious concern.

Democracy is a powerful thing. It allows people to consent to their own government, and at appropriate times to revoke that consent. But it is inconsistent with the medieval attitudes that the Afghan people seem to be retaining. To be certain, nobody could expect them to abandon those attitudes overnight, and certain things will likely never completely pass away. But to seek to bring the force of law against someone because he changed religions is antithetical to freedom. To be clear, there is nothing wrong with the Afghans not liking this man's choices, even though I think that the intolerance that this behavior reflects is unfortunate. And while it is a bad thing to have religious strictures as the governing law in a free society, the people of free societies can shape and enforce community standards by doling out peaceful social consequences for those who engage in entirely legal, but socially unwelcome behavior.

In our society, it is perfectly legal to be a racist and to express racist attitudes, but likewise, most Americans refuse to socialize with racists. Similarly, O.J. Simpson lives freely in America, as he was acquitted by a jury of his peers. Nonetheless, most Americans believe that O.J. committed the acts for which he was tried and as a result he remains a social outcast. So while it is not appropriate to legislate our own faiths, we can still shape mores by making clear that we will not welcome individuals who violate our sensibilities.

But the thing that gets me is that the Afghans did not want ostracism--they wanted an execution, to wit this comment from a man in Afghanistan as reported in the Salt Lake Tribune:

"I thank my God that I am a Muslim," said Ahmad Farhad, 25, who sells car parts
in a Kabul market. "We hate people like Abdul Rahman. He should be killed. If
they give him to me, I will cut him into small pieces with a knife."
Rather than expurgating the man, they wanted to get him back to make him suffer. It is just this kind of barbaric attitude that makes one wonder if the people of the Muslim world can rise above medievalist attitudes to make democracy work and to become a respected member of the international community.

But there were a few voices that were remarkably silent, namely the folk who relentlessly complained about nonexistent human rights violations at Guantanamo Bay. Amnesty International cried for months, until their accounts were debunked, about mistreatment at the prison, while terrorists enjoyed the jail equivalent of white glove service. We feared offending their hostile sensibilities for reasons that still remain unknown. But here, Afghanistan threatens to take a man's life for having nothing more than a difference of opinion, and these human rights groups remain silent.

So, I suppose the question becomes whether they are concerned about the rights of people, so long as those people are the enemies of the United States. There was no hesitation to apply the strictest standard to the world's biggest peacekeeper, donor and nose-wiper, when anti-civilization terrorists complained about the slightest nuance, but they felt safe ignoring the the very life of a man who was being persecuted for his religious beliefs by a people who hold differing and extremist religious views. Their silence speaks much about their politics.

What we are left with are two things: a nation that needs to grow up, to let people live peaceably, and to accept a more civil notion of treatment of others, despite differences. Put simply, they need to step up to gain international credibility. Conversely, we have human rights groups who have lost theirs by their failure to apply the same standards to the Islamic world that they do to the West, confirming that humans have rights, only if they are the right humans.

We can only hope that the lesson of Abdul Rahman Jawed is not lost on the people of the world, nor on those in Afghanistan.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

McKinney - A True April Fool

I am delighted to be writing this post on April Fool's Day about Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA), a complete and utter fool.

To put it simply, McKinney is an unintellectual leftist nut. She is known for little more than making various hysterical anti-American comments such as this and this, which suggest in true Michael Moore form that 9/11 was a conspiracy to bring direct profit to President Bush and his family, and this little jewel, where she suggested that there was a government conspiracy to assassinate black leaders.

And it turns out that she is a physically belligerent nut as well. This week, the Congresswoman struck a Capitol Hill Police officer for doing his duty. McKinney, in her arrogance strolled into the House Office Building, expecting to be recognized. But with 435 Members of Congress, sometimes everyone is not recognized. McKinney entered without her House Member lapel pin that usually identifies Members of Congress to security, and refused to respond to three calls that she stop and be identified. Her response? She punched the officer in the chest. And now she is facing charges for it.

The funny thing about this is the arrogance which reeks out of the Congresswoman and others of her ilk. She spent the past day or so at scripted press conferences enlisting the help of the likes of Harry Belafonte who likes America's enemies, and Danny Glover who is not much different. Ignoring what the company she keeps may say about her, McKinney's grandstanding and demagoguery, which is all she really seems able to do, misses the point of this incident.

The crux of her carping, is that the officer's stopping of her was a racist act, and that he should have recognized her, despite the fact that she recently changed her appearance. He didn't know who she was. But she knew who he was when she committed a criminal act by hitting him.

I don't know where to start deconstructing this event and McKinney's behavior, but let's try this: former Rep. J.C. Watts (R-OK) who is black, refused to join the Congressional Black Caucus, which is comprised of many folks with the same attitudes as McKinney. He called them a bunch of "race-baiting poverty pimps", which adequately describes this thoughtless band who abandon discussion and debate and have resigned themselves to making every issue a race issue. I hate being stopped at airports and being searched. It is completely irritating. But I do it because there is nothing that makes me more or less important than the person in front of or behind me who didn't get searched. But for one to claim that she is above the law and security procedures because her skin is of a different tint is disgraceful. Similarly, for this congresswoman to claim that a greater amount of melanin in her skin justifies her abandonment the simplest fetters of socially mandated self-control, permitting her to use physical violence against a law enforcement officer because she is frustrated with the fact that she must comply with security procedure is intolerable.

And whatever comments I have made of Ms. McKinney's colleagues in the House and Senate Democratic leadership, those individuals who express equally hysterical ideas do not resort to physical violence to express disagreement.

The Congress should not fear this woman's hysteria. She should be charged and treated just as James Traficant (D-OH) was treated. She needs to be expelled from Congress.

Her district deserves and certainly can pick better people to represent them in Congress. And this will hopefully begin to correct the unfortunate but similarly divisive and evil messages that self-appointed "black leaders" and their white racist counterparts have been peddling for years: that skin color justifies different standards of behavior, and that it should divide us.

Lazy French Protest Their Right to Collect

France is awash in rioting. You may recall about six months ago that rioting broke out after two Muslim youths who fled from cops got themselves electrocuted when they made the brilliant decision to hide in a power substation. Now, French youth have come out again to riot about the fact that they actually have to work.

A new proposal allows employers to terminate young employees within a two year probationary period. What that means is that France's anti-business labor laws will become just a bit more business-friendly. And it also means that hiring of young people may become more attractive, given the fact that employers would not be shackled with a dud employee for his entire vocational life.

But the French are beside themselves. For some reason, merit-based retention remains a truly odd thing for the Gauls. And the riots should make clear to employers that their reluctance to hire French youth remains a wise decision.

But this kind of thing, and the need for such a law is completely foreign to Americans. Firing and layoffs are very common occurrences here. Employers retain people based on merit, and those who deserve to be booted are often shown the door in favor of someone who does a decent job. And such a disparity in the treatment of the lazy partially explains why the United States standard of living is much greater than that of Western Europe.

I must credit the Chirac government for offering such a bold proposal. But given that the latest news Chirac, in true French form, is surrendering his position just a tad, by allowing the probationary period to be 1 year only. But the notion that socialism is bad for business seems to be getting through. Interestingly, the French seem to fear that competition from India and China will outclass them, which it very well might. But if they allow a capitalist system that doesn't punish private enterprise for doing what it does best, they may actually find themselves prospering.

Socialism is a fine plan if one wants misery spread out equally. But I wonder if the French are preferring a certain level of misery that they know over a capitalist boom that they don't.