Saturday, September 26, 2009

Local Cops Enforce Immigration Laws

A controversial illegal immigration program has been expanded by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The program, referred to as Section 287(g) allows local law enforcement officers to be trained by and work with federal immigration nforecement agencies. The aim is to enable local agencies to assist with the capture and removal of criminal illegal aliens.

Critics of 287(g), which has been in existence since 1996, hoped the Obama administration would end the program. Pro-immigrant and civil rights organizations have been outraged at the support for 287(g). However, DHS and the administration should be commended for supporting a program that helps maintain the rule of law and removes illegal criminals from America’s towns.

The critics’ main argument, as reported by The Economist, is that 287(g) weakens already strained relationships between immigrant communities and law enforcement. The Economist states, “Crime victims and witnesses are likely to be reluctant to come forward if they fear that they may be deported for their pains.” This relatively weak argument can be extended to claim that enforcement of any law can lead to weakened communication between criminals and law enforcement. While it is sometimes advisable for police officers to give petty criminals, such as minor drug dealers, a break in order to obtain information about more heinous crimes, no one supports blanket disregard for law enforcement to facilitate open communication channels. At their extreme conclusion, such arguments utterly prevent any form of law enforcement.

Policies, such as 287(g), may push illegal aliens further “underground”; however, this will only help to create disincentives for future immigrants to choose to migrate illegally. Likewise, it will make legal methods of immigration more appealing. Both of these effects are end-goals that America’s immigration policy should strive to achieve. After all, there is no reason to support policies that make illegal immigrants comfortable living unlawfully in America.

Ultimately, Section 287(g) helps stop illegal activity. As a report by the Heritage Foundation points out, 287(g) fulfills one aspect of a triumvirate of immigration policy goals: “internal enforcement of immigration laws, international cooperation, and border security.” By reducing the burden on federal agents, it creates efficiencies that limit tax dollar waste and facilitates the maintenance of law and order. While the original intent of the program may have been to enforce actions against major criminals, it is acceptable that the program has also been used to nab petty illegal immigrants. Residing in this country illegally is, despite pro-immigrant group’s claims, illegal.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A Nuclear Free World Won’t Be a Blast

One of the prominent themes throughout this week’s sessions at the United Nations was a nuclear free world. The Security Council passed a resolution today, reaffirming the support for the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). The underlying message, bolstered by President Obama’s remarks, was clear: the guiding policy is to create a world without nuclear weapons. While noble in aim, there are two main questions surrounding the legitimacy of such a policy.

First, there is a question of feasibility. It is highly unlikely that the world community will be able to rid itself of every single nuclear weapon. While many, if not all, nations publically state agreement with this principle, practice is much more difficult. Global insecurity causes hesitation in many leaders. The delicate disarmament negotiations between Russia and the United States are a stark example of this difficulty. Even so, if every party was truly committed to a nuclear free world, the issues of mistrust might eventually be worked out. However, there are many global actors – both state and non-state – that want to possess nuclear weaponry. Terrorist organizations and rogue states would gain much power in a world where the major countries reduce their nuclear stockpiles. The global leaders, such as the US, Russia, Great Britain, France, and China, understand this and are thus hesitant to reduce their arms. The nuclear threat between the US and Russia may be diminishable through negotiations; the nuclear threat from Iran to the US most likely will not be. Furthermore, even if every nuclear weapon is dismantled nuclear technology will still exist. It will be far too easy, and tempting, for countries [particularly when tensions are high] to restart a nuclear program.

The lack of feasibility makes a goal of a nuclear-free world foolish. It is far better to focus on more meaningful controls of nuclear power than disarmament. Nuclear disarmament should be a distant goal behind non-proliferation and increased security measures for nuclear stockpiles. Relatively new nuclear powers, such as Indian and Pakistan, should be assisted in developing internal controls to prevent ‘misplacement’ of nuclear weaponry and technology and failsafes to prevent the use of nuclear weapons in conflict.

Second, it is questionable if it is desirable to have a nuclear-free world. While controversial, there is much support to suggest that nuclear weaponry actually reduces conventional warfare and makes the global community safer. No country has used nuclear weapons since World War II. Conventional wars between major powers have been nonexistent. The threat of nuclear war persuades powerful states to negotiate before launching missiles. The successes of global integration and communication rest on the threat of nuclear destruction. As bad as relationships have been during the past fifty years, the United States, Russia and China have not gone to war with each other.

A nuclear-free world could unravel all of this stability. The threat of a conventional counterattack is not, nor ever has been, significant enough to preclude wars between major powers. While the international and supranational institutions formed over the past 70 years are strong, there is little reason to believe a resurgent Russia would continue to abide by a US dominated system without the nuke as a balancing act. The demise of nuclear power would herald an rise of conventional armies. Our international community would once again see the large scale wars that wrecked havoc across the globe one-hundred years ago.

While seemingly contrary to logic, a nuclear-free world is a lot scarier than one without nuclear weaponry. The presence of nuclear weapons is something the world must accept and work with. Rather than deluding ourselves with utopian views of a nuclear-free world, steps must be taken to create a stable international community where nuclear weapons exist but are not used. A world with few nuclear powers that are stable and in control of their stockpiles is ideal. Any other world is a recipe for disaster.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Blame the Israelis - The Goldstone Report

The results of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, published in what is being called the Goldstone Report, were unsurprising to say the least. The report, under the auspices of the United Nations’ Human Rights Council, a notoriously biased institution, predictably slams Israel. It places undue blame on the Jewish state for the conflict, accusing the nation of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The report, which essentially claims that Israel used disproportioned force and directly targeted civilians, is another entry in a long list of systematic anti-Israel bias propagated by the UN and other international bodies. According to the press release announcing the report,
The report underlines that in most of the incidents investigated by it, and described in the report, loss of life and destruction caused by Israeli forces during the military operation was a result of disrespect for the fundamental principle of “distinction” in international humanitarian law that requires military forces to distinguish between military targets and civilians and civilian objects at all times.
While the report does cite war crimes committed by Palestinian terrorists, it largely focuses on the alleged Israeli actions. The anti-Israel sentiment is deep-seeded and unlikely to go away. It is relatively clear that the Human Rights Council has little interest in promoting human rights, but has a predisposed agenda to target the tiny nation. This is exemplified by the fact that the Council recently congratulated the Sri Lankan regime after a war to rout the insurgent Tamil Tigers left thousands of civilians dead. The fact that the Council has such inconsistent standards is stark evidence of their inbuilt biases.

Israel, which refused from the beginning to participate in the prejudiced ‘fact-finding’ that led to the report, lashed out at the publication. Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu claimed “[The report] put Israel in a kangaroo court and was a prize for terrorism…” The report’s central conclusion of Israeli aggression is a gross misstatement of reality and a complete avoidance of the facts that surrounded the conflict. The Israelis operated one of the most civilian friendly attacks- particularly given the high propensity of Hamas to hide fighters and military targets alongside or within civilian facilities. The Israeli army consistently warned civilians to leave areas that were to be attacked and avoided attacking targets that would severely harm civilians. While civilians were unfortunately killed, the culpability lies with Hamas, not Israel. Hamas routinely tries to inflate civilian injury and death counts- both through manipulation of statistics and by directly putting the people they supposedly lead into harms way. The report does little justice to this fact.

The fact of the matter is that, as The Economist points out, Israel has overwhelming military superiority. If Israel’s aim was to cause civilian suffering they certainly would have inflicted much greater damage. The imbalance between the strength of the Palestinian forces and the Israeli military only speaks to the restraint exercised by Israel. Israel’s sole goal is to prevent Palestinian attacks and protect its citizens. To assert otherwise is simply an act in self-delusion motivated by anti-Israel sentiments.

The Human Rights Council’s report only serves to obfuscate the facts of the conflict and prolong unnecessary hardship in the region. Israel is already reluctant to engage with the biased international community. If the UN aims to find a solution for the crisis in the Middle East, it is better served by toning down its prejudiced attacks on Israel and allowing the tiny nation to feel that it can turn to the international community for assistance with its grievances. The current international approach only serves to push Israel away, feed the nation’s insecurity and solitude, and increase the likelihood that Israel will take defensive actions (read: attack Iran) on its own.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Do Iranians Hate Israel or Their Own Regime?

There was a new chant this year at the annual anti-Israel Quds Day demonstrations in Iran. Alongside the familiar “Death to Israel” and “Death to America” was the new “Death to the Dictator.”

Quds Day is a government sponsored day of rallies and Israel bashing in Iran. While the anti-Israel nature of the event was certainly not diminished, it was challenged by a brief resurgence of the Iranian reformists, who used the opportunity to continue their protest of the unjust clerical regime.

The protests highlight the illegitimacy and oppressiveness of the Iranian regime. Even reformist former president Mohammad Khatami was not immune from the hard-liners abuses as he was attacked during the protests. Despite the fact that the Iranian regime has successfully cracked down and solidly maintains control, the reformist movement has not been obliterated.

This speaks to the tenacity of the movement. They were deserted by the West three months ago when they were at the peak of their fervor and the Iranian regime was at its weakest in 30 years. Despite acknowledging the electoral fraud, the Obama administration chose not to support the protestors because it wanted to keep a ‘good’ relationship with the current regime.

This realist policy seems to have yielded little. In a recent interview with NBC’s Ann Curry, Ahmadinejad refused to state that Iran would not develop nuclear weapons. The slippery President generally refused to answer any questions directly. The relationship with Iran continues to stagnate, as the regime persists in its dance with the West. This will surely continue with Ahmadinejad’s upcoming speech to the UN General Assembly in New York next week. It is easy to expect another round of provocations of the US, anti-Israel rhetoric, and Holocaust denials.

The fact that the US still feels the need to tiptoe around Iran and fails to provide any real consequences for the regime’s defiance and its repression of its people is unacceptable. The revolutionary spirit still lives in Iran. So much so that some of the notorious enemies of Israel, have given up an opportunity to bash the small Jewish state in favor of condemning their own government. Our fear of challenging Iran only strengthens its hand.

Friday, September 18, 2009

A Cracked Nut: ACORN's Implosion

In a recent series of sting-operation videos, ACORN, the community organizer association affiliated with President Obama, was exposed for being corrupt and aiding people in committing illegal acts. The videos, posted on Andrew Breitbart’s BigGovernment.com, show a young couple, posing as a prostitute and pimp, get advice from ACORN workers on how to avoid paying taxes, run a prostitution ring, engage underage girls in prostitution, smuggle illegal immigrants into the country, and other heinous crimes.

ACORN has been forced to respond, naming a self-appointed ‘independent’ auditor to review the organization. It is doubtful that this auditor will uncover anything truly independent. However, the damage has seemingly already been done as Congress voted to cancel the copious funds that were earmarked for the organization.

ACORN’s actions are shameful, yet unsurprising. The left-leaning group, which has strong ties, to the Obama administration, has been continually been connected with controversy and corruption. The scariest part is that the tentacles of ACORN and its sister organizations run deep into the administration. Obama’s choice of allies and advisors is becoming increasingly damnable as more corruption is revealed.

ACORN’s sleaze, the resignation of Obama advisor Van Jones , and other Obama disasters, raise the question of the President’s competency in choosing his associates. He is either grossly inept at vetting his connections or is ideologically committed to their atrocious worldviews. Either way, it is a scary fact that these people are so tied into the leadership of our country.

This has given Republicans much fodder to lash out at Obama and has resonated strongly with many Americans. Obama’s popularity is in a steady decline, falling at an extremely fast rate. In fact, as The Economist points out, if Obama’s popularity continues its descent he will fall below the 50% approval rate faster than any post-War President except Bill Clinton and Gerald Ford.

This trend was somewhat predictable. As more controversies in Obama’s inner circle come to light, it is clear that America did not really understand the relatively unknown candidate when he was running for the presidency. Whether it was implicit bias in the media or simply anti-Bushism, Obama was given a free pass that is coming back to haunt America. As has been argued here before Obama was not elected on his own merits, but on a rejection of the prior eight-years. America, having duped itself, is regretting this mistake as the administration’s ideologies and associations are becoming clearer. Hopefully, we can avoid some of the damage still to come.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Carter: Wrong on Race, Loved by Bin Laden

The worst post-war President is at it again. Jimmy Carter cannot avoid looking like a fool. Rather than gracefully retiring to private life (George Bush) or serving as a relatively quiet, respectful behind-the-scenes political force (Bill Clinton), Carter is drawn to political controversies like a moth to a flame. He has recently been back in the news in two most unpleasant ways.

Having caused uproars with his biased anti-Israel book, “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid,” a few years ago and with his visit with the terrorist group Hamas this past June, Jimmy Carter is well known for his warped worldviews. Fortunately for Carter, his book now has the honor of making a top-three recommended reading list. This past Monday, Osama Bin Laden included “Peace Not Apartheid” alongside Mearsheimer’s and Walt’s “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy” as recommended reading. Bin Laden claimed that “After you read the suggested books, you will know the truth, and you will be greatly shocked by the scale of concealment that has been exercised on you.” President Carter should feel proud of the striking support from one of America’s greatest friends.

If Bin Laden’s endorsement was not enough, Carter stirred-up a hornet’s nest of controversy by claiming that the majority of opposition to President Obama is based on racism. In an interview with NBC’s Brian Williams, Carter stated, “I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man, that he is African-American.” Obama’s administration has naturally distanced itself from his comments, patently denying a racial link.

As discussed in a prior post, “You Lie” Is Joe Wilson a Racist?, Carter’s infusion of racism into political debates is reprehensible. It is unclear what Carter is attempting to accomplish, as such divisive talk cannot be helpful to the President. Such remarks are patently absurd and have only enraged most Americans. After all, President-elect Obama held an approval rating of 70% in November 2008. The roughly 20% that have since changed their minds and currently disapprove of his policies could not have become rampant racists over the past year. Likewise, it is highly unlikely that the 30% that did not approve of Obama to begin with are all racists. Contrary to Carter’s and his asinine cronies’ beliefs, most disagreement with Obama is politically, not racially, motivated.

The fact of the matter is that Carter is entirely disconnected with reality. Time after time he proves that he has no understanding of what goes on outside of his narrow world-view. Carter is an embarrassment to the Democratic Party that he professes to support. He was a miserable failure as a President. What makes him believe that he can do any better now as the senile “elder statesman”? Maybe he should just stick to peanut farming.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

"You Lie" Is Joe Wilson a Racist?

In an overwhelmingly partisan vote, the House of Representatives expressed its disapproval of Representative Joe Wilson’s outburst during President Obama’s speech last week. Wilson’s interruption of the President was certainly inappropriate, prompting the Representative to properly apologize to Obama. Some Democrats, however, are increasing the poisonous atmosphere in Congress through their insistence on drawing race into the picture.

Before Congress’s vote, Hank Johnson, D-Ga absurdly stated that without action taken against Wilson people would be wearing “white hoods and white uniforms again and riding through the countryside" – a direct reference to the Ku Klux Klan. Likewise, the head of the Congressional Black Caucus, Barbara Lee, D-Ca, said that we “can't sweep race under the rug — racism is still a factor and must be addressed.” While not directly in response to the Wilson affair, former President Jimmy Carter echoed this sentiment. He stated that “I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man."

The Left’s fixation with bringing race into the discussion is disingenuous and reprehensible. There is absolutely no reason for anyone to suggest that Rep. Wilson’s or any American’s disagreement with Obama’s and the Democrat’s policies have anything to do with race. Wilson’s outburst, while unacceptable in that forum, was the result of well-thought out policy differences, not a deep-seeded racism. The fact that this was the first time a President has been shouted down while speaking on the floor of the House is a testament to the divisiveness and partisanship that has grown under the current administration. The fact that a Representative, who by all accounts is respected and respectful, broke such rules of decorum only speaks to the fact that the administration’s policies are threatening to a vast swath of America.

The Democrat’s endeavors to paint this as racism, is simply an attempt to stifle discussion. By trying to divert the discussion, they are seeking to avoid real discourse over the issues. While Wilson should have addressed his concerns in another forum, Democrats are willing to pull out every stop to silence him. President Carter’s blanket statement is even more dangerous. To label any disagreement with the President as racism takes America down a perilous path. Under such a Carteresque world-view dissent is not allowed and the opposition is silenced.

The only issue of race in any of this is in the heads of these Democratic statesmen. Whether they truly believe these disagreements with the administration are race-based or whether they are simply using race as a political tool to silence Republicans, the Democrats are sorely misguided. It is time for the Democrats to mature past the siren’s call of race as their fall-back explanation for every disagreement with Republicans. Americans care far more about good policy than the skin-color of the individual proposing it. If Democrats are so na├»ve to think otherwise, they are hurting themselves and America.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Yale Offends the West: The Muhammad Cartoons

The infamous Muhammad cartoons are back in the news again. This time the Danish caricatures that were implicated in the worldwide uproars in 2005 were edited out of a new book by the Yale University Press. Yale’s decision is a despicable display of spinelessness.

Yale offers two unsatisfactory explanations for its actions. First, the university cites fear of violence. This implies that if someone has something controversial to say, one only needs to threaten violence to silence the perspective. This is counter to the very basis of American free-speech. Since when do we silence a voice because one group throws a tantrum? If Muslims respond to the republication of the cartoons with violence they are in the wrong- not the publisher. Using potential violence (even if highly likely) as a reason for non-publication, gives those who wish to silence others an unimaginable power.

Second, Yale claims it does not want to offend. This is patently absurd. How many books have been published that offend someone, somewhere? Is it even possible to find a book that is agreeable to everyone? The publishing of any quality piece of writing is bound to offend someone. If literature, journalism, or research were uncontroversial they would seek to have an appeal. Yale’s decision to avoid publication soothes the egos of radical Islam by offending the sensibilities of the free West.

Yale’s dastardly editing speaks to a deeper seeded problem. The West is being brow-beaten into disregarding its own founding principles. Muslim leaders and countries attempt to argue that incidents, such as the publishing of the cartoons, should not be allowed. They perversely argue that blasphemy is discriminatory against Muslims and repressive of their freedoms. Rather than rightfully challenging this warped view, many in the West are conceding to these demands.

This poses a number of problems. First of all, it gives dangerous powers to groups to oppress minority views. Religions are entitled to believe what they will; they are not entitled to demand global orthodoxy. As The Economist points out, those attempting to limit ‘defamation’ of religion represent the antithesis to individual and human rights. These arguments are often couched in the language of freedom, but they serve the opposite aim. Instead, by tiptoeing around the supposed sensitivities of a group and preventing individuals to voice their dissent, we are creating a system that allows repression and forced conformity.

Second, by acceding to this perspective Yale is helping the reactionary forces of the Muslim world demolish years of Western progress. Yale is implicitly replacing the individualism that has defined Western culture with a foreign collectivism. This is a small piece in a dire threat to Western civilization. Western society is built on the individual. If we cannot support the individual in some of the more innocuous facets of life, it is only a matter of time before the assault on our core beliefs begins.

While some may dismiss this event as insignificant, it is anything but. It is a sign of the weakening spirit of the West. Yale’s cowardice is inexcusable. Their actions have granted the enemies of the Western society an easy win.