April 30, 2010
All across America, and much of the civilized world, people are furious --furious! -- that the state of Arizona had the temerity to pass a law aimed at controlling the problem of illegal immigration. In the minds of many human rights activists, this was motivated by nothing more than irrational fear and racism. San Francisco and other cities are moving to declare an official boycott of Arizona, the government of Mexico has warned its citizens not to travel there, and after President Obama scolded Arizona, Attorney General Eric Holder announced the Federal government would file a lawsuit against the state. Well!
And by the way, Amnesty International says a "major human rights crisis" is taking place in Mexico, where migrants from countries further south are subjected to widespread abuses. See BBC. Actually, those of us who study Latin America have known about that problem for years; see March 2006, for example.
On Facebook, Bruce Bartlett applauded former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush for criticizing the Arizona law, and has cast aspersions on those in Arizona and elsewhere who resist illegal immigration. Today he criticized Tea Partiers for claiming to cherish liberty, but staying silent while a (supposed) police state is being set up in Arizona. ("Show me your papers.") [This came from a blog piece by Peter Beinart at thedailybeast.com: "America will become Amerika, a totalitarian dystopia where citizens can't even walk the streets without their government-issued identity papers..."] This prompted a heated debate, to which I added:
Liberty can only survive when the rule of law is widely respected and enforced. Even the lowliest, most simple-minded Tea Partier knows that. But they are beside the point in the Arizona mess.
Illegal immigration has reached an unprecedented scale that may be impossible to reverse before long, as companies and consumers get used to cheap labor and cheap services. Our economy has come to depend on "indentured servants," an abominable practice that makes a mockery of freedom. We are fast becoming a nation of cheaters, whose comfortable lifestyles are sustained by a hidden, resentful underclass. If you ask me, every upper-class American who poo-poos the illegal immigration issue is a hypocrite!
Those who disparage state efforts to rectify for the failure of the Federal government to enforce borders or uphold labor laws should be ashamed of themselves.
Personally, I am not at all happy about what Arizona has done, but I wouldn't blame them for it one minute. If someone has a better answer to dealing with the crisis, now's the time to speak up. Of course, many politicians will bemoan the failure to pass a comprehensive "reform" of immigration, by which they typically mean a general amnesty. Evidently they have forgotten that the amnesty of the 1987 Simpson-Mazzoli Act did not yield the desire effects.
And speaking of Florida, Gov. Crist announced he is withdrawing from the Grand Old Party, and will run as an independent in this fall's election for the U.S. Senate. He was way behind in the polls to Marco Rubio, the latest sensation among conservatives in the Sunshine State. It's probably for the best, as Crist made a fatal mistake by embracing President Obama's stimulus program last year. I wish moderates such as him and conservatives could make common cause, but prospects for bridging the political gap seem slim right now. As for Rubio, my initial impression was not strong, since he is so young and untested. When I heard him in an interview yesterday, however, he came across as very serious and thoughtful. Here's something else: When queried about the new immigration enforcement law in Arizona, Rubio expressed understanding for the plight of law-abiding Arizona residents. He seems to share my sentiments that it is a regretful but necessary measure to restore law and order.
Comedian-pundit Bill Maher does not exactly appeal to a wide audience. His sneering tone and sarcastic diatribes against conservatives are aimed exclusively at those on the Left, and I rarely pay attention to him. Thanks to to Andrew Murphy, however, I learned that Maher came close to making a good point when he criticized "Tea Baggers" for not caring about wasteful defense spending. See the video on huffingtonpost.com. Well, he does have a point, in spite of himself.
New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman (hat tip to Connie) has a suggestion for Tea Party activists who are concerned about America's national security and economic future:
We, the Green Tea Party, believe that the most effective way to advance America's national security and economic vitality would be to impose a $10 "Patriot Fee" on every barrel of imported oil, with all proceeds going to pay down our national debt.
On policy grounds, I'm not sure that a selective tax on imports is the right way to go, but Friedman nevertheless makes an excellent point that not many Tea Parties would want to acknowledge. Some kind of tax on energy, for economic and environmental reasons, will become more and more compelling in the years to come. Those who resist the suggestion on ideological grounds are only fooling themselves.
Even though I'm no longer as enthusiastic as I once was, I still tune in to Rush Limbaugh two or three times a week. Sean Hannity grates on me more and more, however, and Mark Levin is extremely annoying, with a voice like Gilbert Gottfried. Levin has written some interesting books, however, and this prompted a Facebook discussion, in which I wrote:
All radio entertainers (which is what talk show hosts are) HAVE to act nutty or outraged in order to boost ratings. It doesn't necessarily mean they ARE nuts, but it sure seems that way quite often. It's a business, pure and simple. The demand for the hyperpartisan rantings of Rush or Glenn or Sean or Mark far outstrips the demand for sober, thoughtful reflections on policy that I would prefer. Same goes for blogs, where popularity is often inversely proportional to merit. Ironically, conservatives are loathe to acknowledge that reality.
The Waynesboro News Virginian has endorsed Carl Tate, my friend and local Republican activist, in his bid to win a seat on the Staunton City Council. In their editorial:
Tate is our first pick for the Staunton Council. While taxes and public spending have helped the Queen City fashion a thriving downtown, Tate's focus on reducing the tax burden and tightening spending is particularly needed now.
Go, Carl, go!