Tonight's Grab Bag

I have just a few items that like to talk about:

  • 53 hours. It was 53 hours from a homeless veteran’s report to authorities that a suspicious car was on fire to authorities pulling Faisal Shahzad off a plane, headed to Dubai, at John F. Kennedy Airport. Over the past several years, we’ve heard lots of criticism of the “law enforcement” approach to terrorism. This approach appeared to have worked very well. There are some Americans who say they love the Constitution. At times of crisis, however, these same Americans sometimes seem to be the first ones who want to throw the Constitution in the trash. After word of Faisal Shahzad capture was leaked to the press, John McCain was stating that reading this naturalized American citizen his Miranda rights would be a mistake. A mistake? Does the United States Constitution not apply to all American citizens? If so, then there was no mistake. There have been times over the last 200 years when we have seen our Constitution selectively applied. Only certain citizens have, at times, been billed “American enough” for all of our laws to apply to them. It is clearly time that the Constitution applies to everyone who is an American citizen. If you’d like to discuss whether he should have been made a naturalized citizen, that’s another discussion. The What the Heck Were They Thinking? Award goes to a few Senators who want to strip Shahzad’s citizenship before he has been tired and convicted. After trial, the Senate can do what they want, but now, before trial, they should be quiet and let the wheels of justice turn. Congratulations to New York and the Obama administration for quickly capturing this terrorist. This near miss should show us once again how vulnerable we can be. As a free society, we are going to be vulnerable to those who want to do us harm.
  • The immigration law signed by the Arizona governor several weeks ago is an excellent example of the overreach of government. Where are the tea baggers now? The law basically states that members of law enforcement should and must stop anyone they suspect of being in this country illegally. There’s been lots of finger-pointing from both sides about immigration. Both sides declare that the other side is weak on immigration. What would happen if Arizona went about this a different way? What would happen if they passed a law which reinforced current federal law? What if the law stated that any business that hires illegal workers (economic refugees) will be subject to a fine up to $100,000 per economic refugee and the cost of deportation of that economic refugee? What would the reaction have been? Well, there would be outrage from the business community. The Chamber of Commerce would’ve gone nuts and declared that the Arizona government was declaring war on business. Economic refugees come to United States for a reason. They don’t come here to stand on corners. They don’t come here to bus tables. They come here to make more money than they could make at home. If we were to strengthen our borders and enforce the laws we have, our immigration problem would go away.
  • Finally, we need to fix Wall Street. Now, do not let your eyes glaze over. Focus. The guys on Wall Street want us to leave Wall Street alone. Like a patronizing teacher, they are patting us on our collective head and asking us to sit in the corner and be quiet. They want our eyes to glaze over at the sound of Credit Default Swaps. Three things got us into this mess. 1) Unregulated nonbank lenders 2) Low or no interest rates 3) Rating agencies stamping AAA on stuff that smelled like junk. So, to fix this we need a bill that is going to fix the rating agencies. We need to regulate mortgage lenders. Finally, we need to fix the too-big-to-fail-guys. Regulation is not going to fix everything. A few banks (six, to be precise – Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley) own assests totalling over 60% of our GDP. I’m sorry. That’s too much money in the hands of six banks. These banks are currently free to do whatever they please because they know they are too big to fail. No matter how much these guys screwed up we would have to bail them out in order to prevent our economy from completely imploding. These guys need to be cut down to a size so that we, the American taxpayers, can live with them. This is a must. So, when you are listening to the news in the coming weeks, listen to see if Congress is going to break up the big banks, regulate the mortgage industry and fix the rating agencies. It’s the least Congress should do.

0 Responses

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  2. This is quite possibly the silliest thing I've ever seen you write, Doc: “The immigration law signed by the Arizona governor several weeks ago is an excellent example of the overreach of government.”

    So, an action to secure an open border that jeopardizes the lives and property of American citizens is an “overreach of government”, but a wholesale reinvention of the heath care industry that increases our national deficit by 1000% isn't?

  3. B –

    What was silly to you may not be silly to everyone else. (By the way, I know I have written much sillier things.)

    I'm sorry that you think the Arizona law is constitutional and justified. I think it is neither. I think as an attempt by conservatives to whip up their base. If Arizona really wanted to secure their borders, all they needed to do was appropriate millions of dollars to add to the border security. That's it. If border security was really that important to them, that is all they needed to do. They could've appropriated money which could have gone to homeland security specifically earmarked to hire more border agents. They decided they did not want to do that. The other thing that they could've done would've been to require all employers to make sure that everyone that they hired were American citizens. They could've appropriated money to help small businesses do the necessary background checks. They didn't do that. Instead, they decided to pass along which pass the buck. Let's make law enforcement figure out a way to identify economic refugees without racial profiling. Good luck with that.

    In my opinion the law was stupid and self-serving.

    Thanks for your comments.

  4. Unfortunately, Doc, you've missed the point.
    1) Simply building a fence doesn't solve the problem. It may cure the new illegals (I doubt that it would, but thats really neither here nor there), but the issues that Arizona is drowning under would remain because of the illegals that are already in the US. Gang violence, drug trade, hell, even the relatively benign illegals destroy irrigation equipment as they search for water from the long walk through the desert.
    1a) Why should Arizona pony up for a fence that Congress has already allegedly provided for?
    2) You said that the new immigration law was, “an excellent example of the overreach of government. ” I find it amusing that you clearly feel that mandating a health care plan and driving up the national deficit 10-fold is NOT an overreach of government, but rounding up illegal aliens for deportation IS. Would you care to comment about that?

  5. Where did I say anything about a fence? I think that building a fence is the dumbest idea since invading Iraq. Fences didn't work for the Romans or the Russians why do we think that it is going to work now?

    You haven't represented my position on healthcare very well. I think that every American should have government provided healthcare. I think that it should have been funded through a variety of mechanisms including a direct reduction from our paychecks just like Medicare and Social Security are deducted from our paychecks, a tax on soft drinks and fast foods as well as a tax on cigarettes, alcohol and other tobacco products. I really don't like unfunded mandates.

    According to the Congressional Budget Office, the new healthcare plan is revenue neutral. Therefore, I'm not sure where you get the notion that this is going to cost us billions of dollars. There are various funding mechanisms.

    Finally, back immigration, close the border with more agents and better surveillance. Force employers to hire Americans or those who are in this country legally. Then, we can argue about what to do with economic refugees that are ready here in our country. The answer should probably be some sort of hybrid which includes forcing some to go back to their country of origin and others to pay a fine. I never said anything about handing out amnesty or get out of jail free cards. I think if you broke the law there should be some penalty for breaking the law.

    Any questions?

    Thank you for your comments.

  6. Doc, once again you've skirted the question. You've asserted your support for governmental healthcare (which is fine by me: you're well within your rights to do so. I just think you're wrong, but that's another argument entirely). Government mandated healthcare is all encompassing, and pays little heed to what its customers actually want. You get it, or else. Now, instead of several insurers insuring everyone who wants to be insured, you have the US Government insuring everyone. Period.

    But, that isn't a governmental overreach, according to you.

    A governmental overreach, according to you, is a state defending its citizens. Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't this the purpose of a government in the first place?

    And besides, I agree with you, if you break the law, you should be held accountable. These people are in our country illegally. They're breaking the law. They should be held accountable. Arizona is doing just that.

  7. First of all, I disagree with the premise that government healthcare is all encompassing. It simply isn't. Secondly. we don't have government health care. If you're a veteran, you have government health care. The rest of us have private healthcare which is paid for by our taxes (if you are in the government program and not on private insurance). That's completely different. Thirdly, healthcare is different than almost anything else because even if you don'thave the means to pay for services if you have an emergency you can still get care.

    I don't see where the state is defending its citizens. Sorry. If businesses would stick to the law that would prevent illegal immigration. Yet, the Arizona law doesn't go after business as a matter of fact the law has a huge loophole for business to drive an 18-wheeler through – An employer shall not intentionally employ an unauthorized alien. (you can find the bill here.) This is ridiculous. Intentionally? Stop businesses from hiring economic refugees and that would defend Arizona as you say but the law doesn't. The law targets the little guy who is trying to make a living and not the big guy who is trying to make a larger profit.

    Thanks for your comments.

  8. ECT:
    “The law basically states that members of law enforcement should and must stop anyone they suspect of being in this country illegally.”

    Basically, you have misstated the law. As noted in a previous post, here is what the law states, quote:
    “For any lawful STOP, DETENTION OR ARREST made by a law enforcement official or a law enforcement agency of this state or a law enforcement official or a law enforcement agency of a county, city, town or other political subdivision of this state IN THE ENFORCEMENT OF ANY OTHER LAW”

  9. Maybe those who criticize the law should actually read it first — like Eric Holder for example.

    –” “I've just expressed concerns on the basis of what I've heard about the law. But I'm not in a position to say at this point, not having read the law, not having had the chance to interact with people are doing the review, exactly what my position is,” Mr. Holder told the House Judiciary Committee.

    –This weekend Mr. Holder told NBC's “Meet the Press” program that the Arizona law “has the possibility of leading to racial profiling.” He had earlier called the law's passage “unfortunate,” and questioned whether the law was unconstitutional because it tried to assume powers that may be reserved for the federal government.

    –Rep. Ted Poe, who had questioned Mr. Holder about the law, wondered how he could have those opinions if he hadn't yet read the legislation.

    –“It's hard for me to understand how you would have concerns about something being unconstitutional if you haven't even read the law,” the Texas Republican told the attorney general. ” ”

    (Its too bad that the Times is being sold, because you'd never see Holder's admission printed in the Washington Post.)

  10. Oh, I have the document here. I think that you might of missed a section of Article 8 Section B – For any lawful contact made by a law enforcement official or agency of this state or a county, city, town or other political subdivision of this state where reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the united states, a reasonable attempt shall be made, when practicable, to determine the immigration status of the person. The person's immigration status shall be verified with the federal government pursuant to 8 united states code section 1373(c).

    The way this is written you have to ask what is reasonable suspicion. That is plenty subjective. That the problem. Sorry for being vague before.

    Thanks for your comments.

  11. No worries Red State would have it.

    I'm not sure what you are bashing Holder about. He said “possibility.” And he admitted that he hadn't read the law. If he would have passed you would have complained that he is just bending in the wind and will not commit to anything.

    Thanks for your comments.

  12. When he was on Meet the Press he should have said he hadnt read the law, but he didnt. Instead he repeatedly insinuated things about which he actually knew nothing, and played the race card.

    When he was put under oath, a Republican Senator forced him to admit he didn't know what he was talking about.

  13. The law was amended to clarify “lawful contact” and “reasonable suspicion” My previous post clarified lawful contact. Here is what constitutes reasonable suspicion requiring further inquiry into immigration status after lawful contact.

    “A person is presumed to not be an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States if the person provides to the law enforcement officer or agency any of the following:

    1. A valid Arizona driver license.
    2. A valid Arizona nonoperating identification license.
    3. A valid tribal enrollment card or other form of tribal identification.
    4. If the entity requires proof of legal presence in the United States before issuance, any valid United States federal, state or local government issued identification.”

    Don't have any of the above then the police can suspect that you are an illegal immigrant and check with the feds.

  14. BTW I don’t think that my initial point was countered. Opponents seem to confuse at what point reasonable suspicion is involved. Most opponents assume that reasonable suspicion leads to police contact. Most opponents seem to believe in the following sequence. The officers is driving then sees someone whom he suspects is an illegal alien then detains the person.

    The sequence of the law is that someone is stopped for some type of legal violation other than immigration such as a traffic violation or a criminal violation. The police ask for ID. Failure to produce the usual documentation such as a driver license triggers reasonable suspicion.

    The amended version as I have noted in a prior post clarifies the law’s intended sequence.

  15. You might be right. Kevin Johnson, Law Professor, would disagree on a different basis.

    From a lawyer's perspective, several facts are clear. There will be a legal challenge to the Arizona law, and it probably will be successful. The legal challenge will likely focus on the most controversial provision in the Arizona law – the requirement that local police in the state verify the immigration status of any person with whom they have “lawful contact” and about whom they have a “reasonable suspicion” is in the country in violation of the U.S. immigration laws.

    Why does Arizona's Senate Bill 1070 violate the U.S. Constitution? First, the Supremacy Clause of Article VI of the U.S. Constitution declares that federal law “shall be the supreme Law of the Land.” Second, unlike many other areas of law, such as criminal law in which the states and the U.S. government may pass their own laws, immigration regulation is exclusively within the power of the national government.

    Because immigration may have foreign relations impacts that are best addressed by a single central government, the U.S. Supreme Court has emphatically proclaimed that the “ower to regulate immigration is unquestionably exclusively a federal power.” Consequently, just like it prohibits the 50 states from having their own foreign policy, the U.S. Constitution bars the states from having their own immigration laws.

    Through the comprehensive Immigration and Nationality Act, Congress has exercised its power to regulate immigration while the executive branch, primarily through the Department of Homeland Security, enforces the immigration laws.

    Both proponents and opponents agree that the Arizona law is an aggressive immigration enforcement measure. The problem is that it is a state, not the U.S. government, which is seeking to regulate immigration. By seeking to regulate immigration, the Arizona law plainly intrudes on the federal immigration enforcement scheme and therefore violates the Supremacy Clause. (more…)

    Thanks for the discussion. I appreciate it.

  16. Looks like Atty Gen Holder is not alone in failing to read the law, (but yet attacking it anyway. )


    “Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano admits she hasn't read the Arizona immigration law, but passed judgment on it anyway. “That's not the kind of law I would have signed,” she declared.”

    Is that really the kind of behavior these guys were taught in law school?

    How can a guy like Holder expect anyone to take him seriously when he makes such an obvious (and failing) effort to deceive the country into thinking that he knows what he is talking about?

    How can someone like Napolitano think that anything she says carries any weight when it is clear that she's talking thru her hat?

    Are they so busy at cocktail parties that they simply can't be bothered to read the law before attacking it?

    This so reminds me of the health care debacle which many of the senators voted for, never having read it.

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Errington C. Thompson, MD

Dr. Thompson is a surgeon, scholar, full-time sports fan and part-time political activist. He is active in a number of community projects and initiatives. Through medicine, he strives to improve the physical health of all he treats.


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