Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Can We Get An Honest Look At Illegal Immigration?

For John, BLUFUntil we understand the root cause we can't fix this problem.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From The State House News Service, Reporter Andy Metzger gives us a look an MSNBC debate between former U.S. Senator Mo Cowan and State Rep. Marc Lombardo that touches on the issue of the Commonwealth absorbing some of the 53,000 or so border-crossing children.

Frankly, the debate continues to be superficial.

The fundamental question is, why are these children risking their lives to come to the United States?

  • If this is a narrow issue, then perhaps we can absorb these children as refugees and make them part of the United States.
  • If this is a major (and systemic) problem in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, as The [Lowell] Sun article suggests, then the problem requires a totally different response.  Looking at possible options:
    • The situation in those three countries, drug cartels, corrupt governments, lawlessness, require our intervention, under the doctrine of Responsibility to Protect.  We need to go in and displace those Governments (or strengthen them against criminal forces).  We will be landing the Marines.
    • The situation is so bad that people should not be forced to live under such criminal conditions, but we don't see it as our place to intervene, so we need to provide refuge to all who want it, even if they are merely economic refugees.  We need to provide ships and aircraft to evacuate to these shores some 27 million men, women and children (assuming some 10% of the population is criminal and shouldn't be admitted to the US.
    • We could decide this is a problem so big we not only don't wish to cope with it, but we can't.  Thus, we need to close the border and prevent any more refugees.  This is a case of realizing that the problem is bigger than we can cope with and we owe it to our Citizens to not be involved.  If Iraq and Afghanistan have taught us anything it should be that we can't solve all the world's problems.
Leadership on Beacon Hill or in DC needs to give us an honest appreciation of the situation.  Then we can talk about solutions.

Once we see the size of the problem we need to talk about cost.  With 3142 Counties (or County like entities) in the United States, some 53,000 children can be apportioned out with 17 children per county.  That should be easy enough to absorb, at least locally.  However, that 17 goes up as the number of border crossers go up.  Thus the importance of scoping the problem, as discussed above.  What is the plan out of the Administration?

Who pays is an important issue.

  • For our Governor to pass it off as a Federal issue is disingenuous.
  • The Federal Government does not provide free money to the States, just as our Commonwealth doesn't provide free money to cities and towns.  It all represents taxes paid by tax payers.
  • Unlike our Commonwealth, the Federal Government can fund some things by printing money, but that is a tax on the future.
  • When children come and stay (they are going to say, not just hover around for four months, as some suggest), they cost governments money and if adequate funds are not shared across political entities, some areas get hit harder than others.  If all of Middlesex County's 17 children come to Lowell, and there is not Federal or State support, that is a direct tax on the tax paying Residents of Lowell.
  • If a million children show up, that is 318 per County, or a dozen or so classrooms that have to be added.  We need to avoid letting politicians tell us that it is just a few children per community.  It is an increased burden and it is not a cheap burden.  Most of those children will not be speaking english and some will have medical or developmental problems.  Solutions will not come cheap.
Let us not kid ourselves about our moral obligations here.  If children have made it into the United States, we, the People of the United States, are morally obligated to look after them, to include feeding, clothing, housing and schooling them, until they are returned home or they are assimilated into our nation.  This is no small burden, but it is also not one we can shirk.

Regards  —  Cliff

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Overkill in Court

For John, BLUFCitizens need to be alert to over zealous prosecutors.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Sometimes I am not sure what is driving Lowell Sun OpEd writer Peter Lucas.  Today's offering is "U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz failed to catch the big fish".  OK, so that is the headline, written by a headline writer, whose job it is to reel us in.  For a headline writer there need be no real relationship to the story, or ground truth, as long as it reels us in.

But, on to the story.  Mr Lucas does make the point that Federal Attorney Carmen Ortiz was going after, or at least appeared to be going after, the Speaker of the House in the General Court, Mr Robert DeLeo.  In that she has, so far, failed.  However, she may still try to turn one of the convicted, former Probation Commissioner John O'Brien and his two deputies, Elizabeth Tavares and William Burke III, between now and their sentencing.

Mr Lucas does take some time to talk about Mr Ortiz's use of the RICO statute to go after the three.

What should also concern people is that the three former Probation Department officials were charged and convicted under the draconian RICO statute.  RICO is the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.

It was passed in 1970 to go after the Mafia and drug kingpins, as well as the crimes of murder, arson, bribery, gambling, prostitution, extortion, counterfeiting, terrorism and kidnapping.

Over the years, it has been expanded to include street gangs, corrupt police departments, drug cartels and white-collar crimes, such as mail, wire and securities fraud.

Defendants convicted of several counts of mail fraud, racketeering and conspiracy under RICO, as these three are, face up to 20 years in federal prison on each count, as well as fines up to $250,000.

The RICO statute was supposed to be narrowly frame and used to go after criminal enterprises.  However, like many laws passed by Congress, it has grown well outside its original purpose.  For example, it has been used to go after Pro-Life groups, although that was some time in the past.  But, still, someone had to go to court and get the case thrown out.  Brings to mind the paper, Ham Sandwich Nation:  Due Process When Everything Is a Crime.

So, to sum up, here is what I think Mr Lucas was trying to say.  Ms Ortiz went after Mr DeLeo, and failed.  She used the RICO statute (a shot gun) to do what should be have been a simple corruption case (fly swatter needed).  Patronage is not illegal.  Taxpayer money was wasted by General Court patronage and corruption, but it was also wasted by Ms Ortiz in this trial.  It is time to fix RICO.  It is time to rein in Prosecutors.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Of course we could ask why Massachusetts AG Martha Coakley was sitting on the sidelines.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Are we going to Abilene?

For John, BLUFCongress needs to start doing its job again and stop passing rules for execution, as opposed to actual execution, to the bureaucrats of the Administration.  They are becoming almost a Fifth Estate.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

This starts at a Federal Courthouse in DC, where the DC Circuit ruled that Federal Subsidies for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act are illegal.

Then we move to The Instapundit,

TYLER COWEN:  The Real Import Of The Gruber Fracas.  I like this from the comments:  “All I can say is, if you’re going to pass a law with zero bipartisan support, you should be very careful in the drafting, since they aren’t likely to help you out if you muck it up.  In this case, haste and arrogance is biting them in the ass.”
(A little crass, but true.)

But them this moves to the blog Marginal Revolution, where Mr Tyler Cowen talks to "The real import of the Jon Gruber fracas".  Ah, Professor Jonathan Gruber of MIT and his quotes about Federal vs State Healthcare Exchanges.  From the Marginal Revolution blog post:

It would be much easier if (some) people would simply say “Of course this normally should be kicked back into the legislature for clarification.  But I don’t want to do that because I don’t regard Republican control of the House, and how that control is used, as a legitimate form of rule.”  One may agree, or not, but the nature of the case is pretty clear.

Instead we read irrelevant blog posts and tweets about how the experts meant to have subsidies at all levels all along.  Of course they did.  But did Congress know what it was doing in a detailed sense, one way or another?  Hard to say, personally I doubt it, and Alex says no.  The basic starter hypothesis here is that many of them knew this was a health care bill, it would extend coverage, it had a mandate, it had some subsidies, it had a Medicaid expansion, it had some complicated cost control, it was approved by leading Democratic Party experts, it met some CBO standards, and beyond that — if you pull out those who were confused on the details of the exchanges and the subsidies do you still have majority support?  I doubt it.  Most absurd of all are the tweets asking the critics to show Congress intended no federal-level subsidies.

Regarding the line "But did Congress know what it was doing in a detailed sense…", this is a key issue.  Are we going to have rule by representative government or by bureaucratic experts?  This leads to Arrows Theorem.

An easier explanation can be found here, where Wikipedia explains how the family ended up on the road to Abilene, when no one really wanted to go there.  Here is a video explaining the theory.

I am not saying Congress was on the road to Abilene with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, but with regard to details they were.  They didn't have the time to argue through a lot of the details.  Frankly, it was all Scott Brown's fault.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

  The Fourth Circuit went the other way, as noted in the article, so a battle is teed up for the US Supreme Court.
  City Life host George Anthes prefers ObamaCare.  I would go with Reid/Pelosi Care.
  Well, if you are a Registered Democrat, or a fellow traveler, you should blame Attorney Martha Coakley.

Transparency in Government

For John, BLUFWell, it seemed a good idea in 2008.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

This is disappointing.

Per Washington Examiner Reporter Sean Higgins, "Eleanor Holmes Norton says 'you don't have a right to know' what's going on in government".

Eleanor Holmes Norton, the non-voting congressional delegate for the District of Columbia, angrily sputtered during a congressional hearing Friday that the White House should not be held up to scrutiny, saying that there was no right to know what it was doing behind closed doors.
Goose/Gander thing I guess.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

Sunday, July 27, 2014


For John, BLUFWhite House asking for President to be Impeached?  Sounds like it.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

I think the White House is more serious about this than the House of Representatives, which is the House that actually does Impeachment.  Any trial is held in the US Senate.

It isn't like the White House isn't out there flouting the separation of powers; the President's "Pen and Phone" is an example, and the IRS changing the Congressionally passed rules for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PP&ACA) is another.

Here is the article from The Hill, by Reporter Rebecca Shabad.  This last Friday White House spokesman Josh Earnest was working the crowd with this talk of Presidential Impeachment.  He was talking about it as though there was a vast right wing conspiracy to get the President, or at least raise money off of saying they would get him.

Earnest was asked to identify who those Republicans are, and he only mentioned Sarah Palin, the 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee, but added there’s “no doubt” there are other voices also calling for impeachment.

Earnest also acknowledged that impeachment calls are being tied to fundraising.

White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer told reporters Friday that the White House is taking calls for impeachment more seriously.

Much as I like Governor Sarah Palin, she is going nowhere at this time.  She is important for stirring up the base, but she isn't running for anything in 2014 and is unlikely to run for anything in 2016.  Now I would take her over the Big E any day of the week, but there is not a strong base of support amongst Republicans and Democrats have less respect for her as a woman than they do for Senator Clinton.

As for Whie House Senior Advisor, Mr Dan Pfeiffer, I am not sure what he means by "...taking calls for impeachment more seriously."  Can we put it on a scale of 0 to 9?  Last month it was a 4 and today it is a … 7?, 8?, 9?  Who knows?  I suspect even Mr Pfeiffer doesn't know.

A Bill of Impeachment would be a gift to the Democrats running for office this year?  By 2016 it would be old news.  This isn't to say there are not Republicans willing to talk about Impeachment, but I doubt House Speaker John Boenher would entertain such an action before Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid came to his office and suggested the time had come.  Possible, but not likely.

Or is this a case of the White House wanting to talk about anything except illegal immigration?

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Article I, Section 2, Clause 5, Section 2.
  One wonders, if he has this authority now, why didn't he have it in early 2009 and why did he not use it to fix things that were broken then.  Was he negligent in not using this authority, assuming it existed all along.  Or is the House Speaker correct in saying the Federal Courts ought to weigh in on this?
  Which should be known as Reid/Pelosi Care, since they are the ones who rammed it through Congress without a good once-over.

Reform of Asset Forfeiture Proposed

For John, BLUFAs me about the Mother-in-Law and Sports Car joke.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

As Washington Post Reporter Radley Balko says, "This is a pretty big deal."  US Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has introduced legislation to reform Asset Forfeiture.  Asset Forfeiture is where if the folks who owned the house before you did were thought to have been cooking Meth in the basement, the Government can seize your house.  Or if you are going on vacation and have $2,000 in cash in the back seat of your car, the police can decide it is drug money and seize it.  Your recourse is to go to court.

From the story:

Sen. Rand Paul yesterday introduced S. 2644, the FAIR (Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration) Act, which would protect the rights of citizens and restore the Fifth Amendment’s role in seizing property without due process of law. Under current law, law enforcement agencies may take property suspected of involvement in crime without ever charging, let alone convicting, the property owner. In addition, state agencies routinely use federal asset forfeiture laws; ignoring state regulations to confiscate and receive financial proceeds from forfeited property.
Senator Rand Paul, looking out for the little guy.  And minorities should pay attention.

Good luck Senator Paul.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

A Judge With Common Sense

For John, BLUFAt the end of the day Judges need to be free to make a reasonable call.  If they can't think then they should be removed.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Sometimes Judges do things we don't like.  Here is a Judge making, IMHO, the proper decision.  Remember that we have so multiplied the laws that it is easy to be "in violation".  When a bad thing happens it is good to prosecute, such as having an illegal gun, which is a year in goal here in Massachusetts, if the DA doesn't plead it down and the Judge is steady.

This case, explained by blogger Eugene Volokh, here, is a different story.  The police were acting like they had a quota.  And the case of Mr Clayton Baltzer, cited, was just pathetic.  Sometimes the DA should use his or her discretion, especially if the police fail to.  Carrying an illegal gun is not one of them.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff