Friday, November 22, 2013

Imigration Sanity 2: Scott Walker

Scott Walker is still talking sensibly about immigration:

“See now that’s where they take it out of context,” Walker said in response. “I’ve not said there should be amnesty in this country. I don’t believe that. I don’t support the legislation being kicked around. What I’ve said repeatedly is we need to fix the immigration system, but fix the legal system. So if people want to come in this country we should have a legal immigration system.”
Allahpundit is skeptical but he acknowledges that Walker has been consistent on this point:
I haven’t seen him comment on this subject at length (why would any Republican governor want to handle this grenade when he doesn’t have to?), but twice already this year he’s made remarks that make it sound like he’s more interested in the legalization side of the equation than the security part. Ed wrote about it back in February and I noted it when it came up again in July. In both cases, but especially in the latter (watch the video below), he emphasized that a more permissive legal immigration process would solve, in some large part, America’s illegal immigration process. I … suppose that’s true. If you line up the Border Patrol at the border to hand out visas to people as they stream across, that would indeed technically reduce illegal immigration to zero. 
I don't think Allah is being fair here.  Is the problem simply that we want to punish people for breaking the immigration laws? That may satisfy our sense of fairness, but how does anyone profit by such a scheme?. We need to do three things to solve the illegal immigration problem:
  1. Protect the country from hostile invasion by improving border security. 
  2. Reduce the incentive for malfeasance by eliminating the welfare state.
  3. Encourage productivity and competition by allowing anyone who wants to work to do so.
Walker doesn't talk much about point 2 but both 1 & 2 are aided by point 3.  This is the same principle that makes us support right to work against union activists.  I don't see why more conservatives don't see that parallel.

Friday, October 04, 2013

Ben Carson for President?

I just got an email forwarded by a friend from a Draft Ben Carson for President campaign. For those who don't know, Ben Carson was propelled into the political limelight by a keynot speech he gave at the National Prayer Breakfast. (He may have also become a victim of the ongoing IRS scandal as a result.) Here is my response to the email:

He seems like a great guy. I appreciate a plain-spoken man and he clearly has a grip on the conservative talking points. But it takes a bit more than talk to qualify for the Presidency, and there is no way to know much about how he would go about implementing his ideas. I don't, in principle, object to people running for office with no prior political experience, but President is a pretty big deal and we need to have some grasp of how he would design his reforms and how he would manage to get them through Congress. It may be too early to ask that question, but his lack of executive or legislative history is a big question that needs to be answered.

Also, I realize the original email is not coming directly from Carson, but things like this make me nervous:

Dr. Carson is the only man who can heal and unite Americans - black, white, Hispanic; men, women; employer, employee; young, old.

Nonsense! There are plenty of black conservatives who would be good candidates, and there are plenty of non-blacks who have the political skill to unite different ethnic and socio-economic groups. I like what I see of Carson and would vote for him if he were the Republican candidate, but lets leave the Messianic language to the Democrats.

National Debt. Cut government spending by 10% each year, across the board, until the budget is balanced!

Sounds good, but I need to see the plan.

Obamacare. Repeal it! Replace it with a free market health savings account.

Just about every Rebulican will be saying something like this. Again, need to see the plan.

Taxes. Make it flat and make sure that everyone has skin in the game. Everyone pays.

Fair enough. There are other viable options, but this could work if done right. The "everyone pays" part is going to be a tough sell. Even a black guy is going to get skewered by the NAACP and other such groups. If anything, he might get more heat from them as a "race traitor" or the various other kind expressions that left-leaning blacks use against conservatives. Not that that should stop him, but we are kidding ourselves if we think that he will get a pass just because he is black.

Abortion. End it now! It is barbaric.

As I have said in lots of other places, this isn't the President's job. I realize conservative politicians have to say this sort of thing to prove their cred, but I am always a little uneasy when politicians gloss over the constitutional obstacles to doing this on the Federal level.

Illegal Immigration. Listen to the American people, secure our borders. End it.
Redistribution of Income. Stop it. It’s un-American.
Welfare. It not only encourages self-destructive behavior, it is a trap. Replace it with a truly compassionate, free market approach that enables those on welfare to gain prosperity through employment and entrepreneurship.

Again, with all these issues, we need to see the details. These are some of the thorniest issues in current politics and no president is going to be successful at dealing with them if he doesn't acknowledge the great difficulty of the problems.

Judges. Appoint judges committed to the US Constitution.

This is what I would have liked to hear on the abortion point above. Also, as with everything else, we need more details.

Political Correctness. It is dangerous. It hinders progress and divides our nation.

Whoa! I totally agree, of course, but why is this in a presidential campaign? He needs to be very careful talking about this. If he means he isn't going to base his policies on politically correct considerations, fine. But if he means he is going to try to weed political correctness out of the system, that will quickly get involved in 1st Amendment issues. Maybe this is just more base-rallying rhetoric, but careless words can kill a campaign.

Right to Keep & Bear Arms. It's a vital part of the our Bill of Rights! End of story! 

Fair enough, but his comments to Glen Beck were a little more ... nuanced. Not necessarily a deal killer, but he is going to have to think this through a bit more.

Democrats and Republicans. Both have been part of the problem. America first!

This is probably just more rhetoric, but his Wikipedia page notes that he doesn't actually affiliate with any party. That is going to have to change if he runs for the Republican ticket. If he runs as an independent, then no deal as far as I am concerned.

One last point: Dr. Carson has done a great deal of good with his Carson Scholars Fund. It woud be even better if he expanded it to include scholarships for private High Schools, but that is another subject. I actually think he could do a lot more political good by concentrating on this sort of thing than by running for president. One of the problems with a lot of conservative thinking is that we tend to think that the only important thing in politics is to hold office. But that betrays the very principle of limited government that we are supposedly advocating. Giving young minds the opportunity to learn to think clearly is a much longer-term benefit to the political process than anything a politician can do, especially at the Federal level.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Immigration Sanity

Emily McClintock Ekins at Cato has one of the few intelligent analyses of the immigration issue. Unfotunately it is in podcast form, and there doesn't appear to be a transcript:

Really the debate should not just be on unauthorized immigration and how we deal with those who are currently in the country without authorization, but how to deal with future immigration; to make it easier to come to this country; to help businesses grow and thrive; and just have a saner immigration system. And that, people aren't getting behind that yet, because we are not talking about it. 4:22

I wholeheartedly agree. If we made it easier for people of good will to immigrate or at least to obtain work visas, there would be two immediate benefits. One, it would drastically reduce the amount of illegal border crossing and free up police resources that are currently tied up chasing people who are basically harmless. And, two, it would virtually guarantee that everyone who did cross illegally was up to no good, and so would justify more severe enforcement. Clarity is a great benefit to justice.

Update (7/3/13): Evidently Scott Walker has similar thoughts (via Hot Air).

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

IRS Whistleblower Site

In contrast the many conspiracy theories surrounding the Obama administration, this story is actually based on solid research and documentation. But there are still many facts to be uncovered. The House Ways and Means Committee has established an anonymous, secure website for victims of IRS discrimination to add to the growing body of evidence:

Following repeated congressional inquiries, [...] a senior IRS official acknowledged that the agency had been targeting conservative-leaning political organizations. On May 14, the Treasury Inspector General for Taxpayer Administration (TIGTA) released a report detailing a TIGTA audit of IRS activities and confirmed that, “the IRS used inappropriate criteria to identify organizations applying for tax-exempt status.” The TIGTA audit confirms that targeting of conservative groups began in 2010. The report also confirms that, despite repeated denials to the contrary, IRS officials had knowledge of such activities as early as 2011. During a hearing before the House Ways and Means Committee the TIGTA Inspector General testified that U.S. Treasury officials were notified of the audit in 2012.

Those are the facts, but many more questions remain, including how individuals and organizations were affected by the actions of the IRS. As the Committee continues to pursue this investigation, this website allows those affected by the IRS scandal to share their story. Your story is critical to moving the investigation forward. Taking a few minutes to fill out the form below and share your story will allow the Committee to identify key facts and take action to deal with the failures of the IRS.
The IRS Political Discrimination Investigation

CORRECTION: The site is not anonymous, since you have to leave a name, but the option exists to allow disclosure or not.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Welcome to NICE

According to FOX News, a university student has been suspended for complaining about an assignment to trample the name "Jesus":

Rotela, who is a devout Mormon, said the instructor in his Intercultural Communications class told the students to write the name “Jesus” on a sheet of paper. Then, they were told to put the paper on the floor.

“He had us all stand up and he said ‘Stomp on it,’” Rotela said. “I picked up the paper from the floor and put it right back on the table.

The young college student told the instructor, Deandre Poole, that the assignment was insulting and offensive.

“I said to the professor, ‘With all due respect to your authority as a professor, I do not believe what you told us to do was appropriate,’” Rotela said. ‘I believe it was unprofessional and I was deeply offended by what you told me to do.’”

Rotela took his concerns to Poole’s supervisor – where he was promptly suspended from the class.


A university spokesperson told they could not comment about Rotela’s case due to student privacy laws.

However, the university is defending the instructor’s assignment to stomp on the name of Jesus.

“As with any academic lesson, the exercise was meant to encourage students to view issues from many perspectives, in direct relation with the course objectives,” said Noemi Marin, the university’s director of the school of communication and multimedia studies.

So the activity is justified on the grounds that it is an exercise in objectivity. It is hard not to think of a similar scene in C.S. Lewis' That Hideous Strength:

On the floor lay a large crucifix, almost life size, a work of art in the Spanish tradition, ghastly and realistic. "We have half an hour to pursue our exercises," said Frost looking at his watch. Then he instructed Mark to trample on it and insult it in other ways.

Now whereas Jane had abandoned Christianity in early childhood, along with her belief in fairies and Santa Claus, Mark had never believed in it at all. At this moment, therefore, it crossed his mind for the very first time that there might conceivably be something in it. [...]

"This," said Mark, pointing with an undefined reluctance to the horrible white figure on the cross. "This is all surely a pure superstition." [...]

"Of course, it is a superstition; but it is that particular superstition which has pressed upon our society for a great many centuries. It can be experimentally shown that it still forms a dominant system in the subconscious of many individuals whose conscious thought appears to be wholly liberated. An explicit action in the reverse direction is therefore a necessary step towards complete objectivity. It is not a question for 'a priori' discussion. We find it in practice that it cannot be dispensed with."

This is an instructive case of ideological over-reach having the opposite of its intended effect. Note that Mark Studdock is an atheist
who has never had even the slightest religious instruction. But his reaction to the specific attack, not on religion generally, but on the person of Christ, raises uncomfortable questions about the objectivity of his indoctrination:

Mark was well aware of the rising danger. Obviously, if he disobeyed, his last chance of getting out of Belbury alive might be gone. Even of getting out of this room. The smothering sensation once again attacked him. He was himself, he felt, as helpless as the wooden Christ. As he thought this, he found himself looking at the crucifix in a new way - neither as a piece of wood nor a monument of superstition but as a bit of history. Christianity was nonsense, but one did not doubt that the man had lived and had been executed thus by the Belbury of those days. And that, as he suddenly saw, explained why this image, though not itself an image of the Straight or Normal, was yet in opposition to crooked Belbury. It was a picture of what happened when the Straight met the Crooked, a picture of what the Crooked did to the Straight - what it would do to him if he remained straight. [...]

Mark made no reply. He was thinking, and thinking hard because he knew, that if he stopped even for a moment, mere terror of death would take the decision out of his hands. Christianity was a fable. It would be ridiculous to die for a religion one did not believe. This Man himself, on that very cross, had discovered it to be a fable, and had died complaining that the God in whom he trusted had forsaken him - had, in fact, found the universe a cheat. But this raised a question that Mark had never thought of before. Was that the moment at which to turn against the Man? If the universe was a cheat, was that a good reason for joining its side? Supposing the Straight was utterly powerless, always and everywhere certain to be mocked, tortured, and finally killed by the Crooked, what then? Why not go down with the ship? He began to be frightened by the very fact that his fears seemed to have momentarily vanished. They had been a safeguard ... they had prevented him, all his life, from making mad decisions like that which he was now making as he turned to Frost and said,

"It's all bloody nonsense, and I'm damned if I do any such thing."

To be fair to the Florida University in the FOX piece, I doubt that they were intending such a specific indoctrination as Frost is imposing in the novel. But it is significant that it was the name of Jesus that the course specified, rather than the name of the President or Santa Claus, or some other culturally significant symbol.

If I were in the course, rather than objecting, I would have written the name of the instructor and trampled that. If the objection was raised that this was not the assignment, I would point out that the instructor's name denoted a clearly more immediate authority figure and thus a more relevant symbol for that particular classroom. Why, in that context, should there be such an interest in the name of Jesus?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Pope Francis

The Roman Catholic Church has elected the first New World pope! (Also, the first Jesuit, the firs pope from the Southern Hemisphere, and the first non-European in over a millenium.)

There is already a Wikipedia page (though admittedly rudimentary).

Friday, February 15, 2013

Pro-life Hollywood

Huffington Post (of all places) has a remarkable slide-show of 11 celebrities who are pro-life. Some of them, like Mel Gibson and Ben Stein, are well-known. But others are rather surprising, at least to me. Truth be told, I don't know who some of these folks are, but it is always encouraging to see the cracks in the left-wing hegemony. (Note: the slide-show doesn't work well under Internet Explorer. I had to switch to Firefox to get it to load properly.)

Jack Nicholson
Jack Nicholson has said his pro-life stance stems from being born out of wedlock himself. His mother, a showgirl, became pregnant with him as a teenager and was encouraged to have an abortion but did not.

Kenny Chesney
It would be no surprise to see any number of country stars on this list, but Kenny Chesney may have taken his pro-life stance an extra step. His 2003 single "There Goes My Life," about a teenager preparing to become a father, has been lauded as an anti-abortion, pro-fatherhood anthem.

Mel Gibson
Mel Gibson told Barbara Walters in 1990 that he is opposed to birth control and abortion, saying, "God is the only one who knows how many children we should have, and we should be ready to accept them. One can't decide for oneself who comes into this world and who doesn't. That decision doesn't belong to us."

Patricia Heaton
The Emmy-winning "Everybody Loves Raymond" actress has long been known as an outspoken Republican. In 1998 she became the honorary co-chair of Feminists for Life, a pro-life organization that aims to steer women away from choosing abortion.

Martin Sheen
Martin Sheen, who portrayed Democratic president Jed Bartlet on "The West Wing," discussed his devout Catholic upbringing and conservative viewpoints on an Irish talk show in 2011. He specifically mentioned being pro-life, but that didn't stop him from telling HuffPo that Mitt Romney is "stupid" and "arrogant."

Ben Stein
Before becoming an actor, Ben Stein was a speechwriter for presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. He's remained a well-known political and economic commentator and in 2003 was honored at the Tenth Annual Proudly Pro-Life Awards Dinner, hosted by the National Right to Life Educational Trust Fund.

Kathy Ireland
Kathy Ireland rose to fame in the 1980s as a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model, but, like her political beliefs, much of her work has since been comparatively conservative. In 2011, Ireland was the keynote speaker at the Council for Life's annual luncheon, where she professed her religious beliefs and detailed her journey to becoming a pro-life supporter.

Kirk Cameron
A former atheist, Kirk Cameron famously became a born-again Christian at 17 while starring on "Growing Pains," which he then insisted had plots that were too inappropriate. He's since been an incredibly outspoken Republican, receiving intense backlash from the the Hollywood community in 2012 when he told Piers Morgan that homosexuality is "unnatural ... and ultimately destructive to foundations of civilization." He is currently a member of the evangelical Christian movement and has espoused anti-abortion ideology.

Justin Bieber
"I really don't believe in abortion," Justin Bieber told Rolling Stone in 2011. "It's like killing a baby." When asked about cases of rape, the pop star said, "Um. Well, I think that's really sad, but everything happens for a reason. I don't know how that would be a reason. I guess I haven't been in that position, so I wouldn't be able to judge that."

Jim Caviezel
Having portrayed Jesus Christ in Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ," it seems only appropriate that Jim Caviezel has proclaimed himself to be a devout Catholic. The actor told Catholic Digest in 2009 that being pro-life is more important to him than his career.

Andrea Bocelli
Andrea Bocelli first made his pro-life stance public in 2010 when he recorded a video discussing his mother's decision not to have an abortion even though she was encouraged to after coming down with appendicitis while pregnant. “Of course, personally I do not share the idea of being able to interrupt life arbitrarily,” he told The Telegraph in 2011. “But I cannot be the judge of those who decide in a different way. As much as I can, I show them an example and act as a role model, because I believe this is the only way.”

Justin Bieber's comments are about as incoherent as you might expect, and I wouldn't bet much on his position withstanding the pressure his colleagues are likely to put on him. On the other hand, if even such a mediocre intellect can get that abortion is "like killing a baby" maybe there is some hope for the upcoming generation after all. Even public schools can't completely drown out the obvious truth.

Friday, January 04, 2013

Abolishing the Southern Strategy

Originally the "Southern Strategy" was adopted by Richard Nixon to motivate the solidly Democrat states in the South to switch to the Republican party. This proved politically successful, but at great cost to the moral integrity of the party. In the 1980s Lee Atwater, working for Ronald Reagan attempted, with moderate success to push the party back to a more principled conservatism. Since that time, the Southern Strategy has been more useful to the Left, in both the political and media professions, as a way to keep blacks from voting Republican. The Republican party, and conservatives in general, have deplored this situation, but have generally conceded the battle as a lost cause.

If conservatism is ever going to reclaim its rightful moral high ground, we are going to have to permanently reject the short-term, unprincipled, and frankly desperate appeal to our constiuent's baser instincts and do so publicly and unambiguously. This makes many conservatives uncomfortable because it sounds like political correctness and/or tokenism. But we need to remember that the battle for public opinion is often fought at a low level of intellectual substance. Symbolism matters and if we try to make this a fight of substance versus symbolism, we will lose every time. Instead we need to find examples of substance that also have the correct symbolism.

Case in point: the recent appointment of Tim Scott to represent South Carolina, replacing the invaluable Jim Demint in the Senate. Front Page Magazine has a good introductory article:

Scott’s public record and ability to attract support from across racial lines paints a picture of Scott as one whose political career was built upon steering clear of, and rejecting, racial stereotypes or identification. His election, as well as the success of other Republican politicos such as Florida Senator Marco Rubio, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez, reflects a Republican Party which is beginning to move back towards the multi-racial identity it held after the Civil War, leaving the post-Civil Rights “Southern Strategy” Nixon era behind.

National Debt Clock

I have added a link to in the News Sources section of the blogroll. I have also added a widget that shows a running total below the Personal Links section. I am not really happy with the widget, but it is more attractive than others that I have seen.

Interesting fact: My household's share of the national debt is now greater than our mortgage.

Update: 02/15/13 Deleted the widget because it was interfering with my browser history. The link is still there in News Sources.