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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Secure the border first: to be "comprehensive," immigration reform must be a 2-step process

Newt Gingrich risked his standing with conservatives last night by calling for a "comprehensive approach" to immigration reform. "Comprehensive immigration reform" is a poisonous a term to conservatives because of the reckless dishonesty with which it has been applied to a long series of bills that have been anything BUT comprehensive. In particular, these bills have promised to both secure the border and establish a path to citizenship for those illegals who are already here (amnesty), while only actually providing amnesty, which together with our still unsecured borders dramatically increases illegal immigration. It's like hosing gasoline on a burning house and calling it "a comprehensive approach to firefighting." Comprehensively dishonest and comprehensively disastrous perhaps.

It took a huge fight to turn back the last such attempt (the McCain-Kennedy Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007). Newt had been asked about his vote for the first such phony-comprehensive bill and stepped in it by making a renewed appeal to comprehensiveness:
I did vote for the Simpson-Mazzoli Act. Ronald Reagan, in his diary, says he signed it -- and we were supposed to have 300,000 people get amnesty. There were 3 million. But he signed it because we were going to get two things in return. We were going to get control of the border and we were going to get a guest worker program with employer enforcement.

We got neither. So I think you've got to deal with this as a comprehensive approach that starts with controlling the border, as the governor said.

A comprehensive approach vs. a comprehensive bill

It is a tricky rhetorical question: how to call for a genuinely comprehensive approach to immigration reform when the term "comprehensive immigration reform" has been systematically used in the most dishonest fashion as cover for what are actually pro-illegal-immigration policies? But there is a simple answer. Truly comprehensive immigration reform MUST be a two-step process. The border must be secured FIRST. Until that is accomplished, even to talk of amnesty, never mind legislate about it, only increases illegal immigration.

In other words, a "comprehensive immigration" BILL is the diametric opposite of a comprehensive immigration APPROACH. Anyone who talks about a comprehensive immigration reform bill (McCain) is a anti-conservative fraud who should be routed out of the party.

Newt's control-the-border-first statement shows he understands the problem, but does he understand the solution? Does he understand that a comprehensive approach to immigration requires, not just that legislation to control the border comes first, but that actual achieved control of the border has to come first, before any other steps can be taken?

It is not a good sign that Gingrich spent most of his "comprehensive" immigration reform comment talking about the need to provide a path to citizenship for long-term illegals. A lot of us agree with him that such a path should be enacted AFTER the borders are secure. But if Newt would try to achieve it through the same bill that initiates border control it's a total fail, it's hosing the burning house with gasoline. If Newt wants to keep from terrifying his would-be supporters, he needs to be specific that by comprehensive reform he does not mean a comprehensive bill, but a comprehensive approach that enacts and achieves border security before any amnesty legislation is considered.

UPDATE: Details of Gingrich plan make him sound like another McCain, or worse (if that is possible)

See Ace's critique here. A tidbit:
Gingrich proposes, goofilly, that we'll have "Community Boards" to decide on whether or not illegal immigrants within specific communities will be granted amnesty or deported.

For starters, it is very odd to say that ordinary citizens will essentially be elevated to the position of judge -- without any sort of standards binding their decisions -- to essentially grant illegal immigrants an immunity from the operation of the law, or to order them deported.
Could he really support such an arbitrary and STUPID process?
...illegal immigrants would just game the system by moving to the blue areas where they know the Commmunity Boards would give them amnesty.
What is worrisome about Newt is that he is as confident in his stupidest ideas as he is in the things he actually understands and gets right. How is that possible? But he does get a lot right.

The other week I posted a comment on why I support Newt's candidacy at this point, regardless of his (sometimes glaring) imperfections. This in response to an astute analysis of Newt's pretend walk-back of his global-warming love-in with Nancy Pelosi (where he actually only said that his advisors had convinced him that he should distance himself from the issue, regardless of his beliefs):
Seems like you've hit on the most likely interpretation. Well, Newt has a lot of flaws, which can pretty much all be attributed to his being bullheaded on things he is wrong about. He gets an opinion in his head and is absolutely uninterested in hearing any contrary reason and evidence. BUT, we don't need the president to be right about everything, or even reasonable about everything.

If Republicans can get control of Congress, then Congress can keep Newt's failings in check. As long as he is competent on enough important things, and will spend the bulk of his energy on them, he'll make a good president, and Newt has the one strength that is missing from pretty much all other Republican pols: he knows that our deepest problem, what has allowed all of our problems to proceed, is our lying Democrat controlled media, who spin absolutely everything for maximum partisan advantage.

Newt is willing to fight that enemy and he has the skills to do it effectively. Bush was a great war president but decided not to fight the Democrat media, effectively handing the presidency to the Democrats. With EVERYTHING on the line, he decided not to campaign AT ALL in the 08 election. Insane. Newt is a different animal entirely, and will fight that most important battle.

He doesn't need to get everything else right. I would rather have Bolton or Palin but, inexplicably to me, both bowed out early. Of the folks still in, Gingrich has the best combination of competence and conservatism. So we'll have to fight him on a few things. What else is new?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday not-so-funny: Europeans can now be imprisoned (2 yrs!) for claiming that water protects against dehydration

"It took the 21 scientists on the panel three years of analysis into the link between water and dehydration to come to their extraordinary conclusion," reports the UK Express. To be precise, the European Union has barred vendors from claiming that "regular consumption of significant amounts of water can reduce the risk of development of dehydration." Apparently there are some skeptics:


Perhaps a dictionary would have helped. Dehydration, from "hydor," the Greek word for water, means to lose water, or suffer water deprivation.

"The euro is burning, the EU is falling apart and yet here they are, highly paid, highly pensioned officials trying to deny us the right to say what is patently true," says Conservative MEP Roger Helmer.

Wait a minute. How does an anti-science flat-earther like Helmer rate mainstream ink? Leave science to the scientists!

UPDATE: EFSA and/or EFBW issue a blatantly fraudulent "clarification," lying about the actual basis of EFSA's ruling

Anthony Watts links to what seems to be a clarification by EFSA, scolding the press for what it claims are misrepresentations of its ruling. (I say that the clarification seems to be be from EFSA because that is how it is written, but instead of being posted on the EFSA website, it is posted on the website of one of the organizations that EFSA regulates (the European Federation for Bottled Water), with no indication of authorship. It's hard to believe that the regulated body would have posted such a clarification without guidance from EFSA, so it is most likely that this IS an EFSA clarification, but as yet this is uncertain. Given the blatant dishonesty of the statement, authorship really should be established.)

The "clarification" claims that the EFSA ruling rejected the proposed health claim on the grounds that dehydration is not recognized as a disease (leaving the implication that since no actual health claim was made, there would be no prohibition on making it):
Among those claims was a claim related to the role of water in the prevention of dehydration filed earlier this year by two German scientists. At the time, the claim had to be rejected by EFSA because it was filed under the wrong legal provision (Article 14 of Regulation 1924/​2006/​EC instead of Article 13). In short, Article 14 deals with diseases and illnesses whereas dehydration was not regarded by EFSA as a disease.
The actual ruling, however, says no such thing, but quite clearly accepts that dehydration IS a disease:
… the applicant proposed water loss in tissues or reduced water content in tissues as risk factors of dehydration. On the basis of the data presented, the Authority concluded in its opinion received by the Commission and the Member States on 16 February 2011 that the proposed risk factors are measures of water depletion and thus are measures of the disease. Accordingly, as a risk factor in the development of a disease is not shown to be reduced, the claim does not comply with the requirements of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 and it should not be authorised. [Emphasis added.]
As this excerpt makes clear, EFSA's actual grounds for rejecting the proposed claim was a bizarre assessment that the claim does not address a risk factor for the disease, but only a measure of the disease, and hence is not a valid claim about reduction of a risk factor.

This is incredibly stupid. Failure to drink enough water is not a risk factor for dehydration? Just to try to make this distinction is nonsensical enough, but then they get it wrong to boot, on the most trivially simple matter: can drinking water help prevent dehydration?

Also, EFSA does declare the claim unauthorized, meaning disallowed, which would not be the case if they had ruled that it was not actually a health claim. So everything in the clarification is just a fraud. It seems they got embarrassed when people noticed how stupid their ruling was and concocted a completely dishonest excuse.

I emailed both EFSA and EFBW inquiring whether EFSA had provided guidance on the clarification posted by EFBW, or whether EFBW was just brown-nosing on their own initiative. Hey, no answer. I may have to try a Freedom of Information request.

Even if this was just brown-nosing, EFSA is complicit by not correcting the bogus "clarification," and for a government agency to be involved at all with this kind of blatant dishonesty is serious in itself, regardless of the inanity of the issue.

UPDATE II: The UK Register's attempt to make sense of EFSA's ruling is also at odds with the ruling

From the UK Register's report, the same day as the Express story:
After due deliberation, the panel concluded that "the proposed claim does not comply with the requirements for a disease risk reduction claim pursuant to Article 14 of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006". This sticking point appears to be whether water alone, and how much, will cure dehydration.
One understands the need of the human brain to impose order onto chaos, but the ruling itself is quite clear. There is nothing in it about the inadequacy of water as a means of reducing risk of dehydration. EFSA never reached that question, thanks to its ludicrous decision to declare that drinking water does not address a risk factor for dehydration, but only a measure of dehydration. (What?) Sorry Register, but you need to restrain your reporters from substituting what their subjects might sensibly have said for what they did say.

Not to suggest that the ruling would have been reasonable if it were based on a sufficiency argument. The claim in question was very modest. It only said that drinking water "can reduce the risk of development of dehydration.” So a negative ruling (if the actual issue had been reached) would have said no, drinking water cannot reduce the risk of dehydration. Really, it can't? Not ever? Can't even reduce the risk? That would be almost as insane as their actual ruling.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Republicanism, not democracy, is what we should be promoting in the Middle East

With popular sovereignty and populist revolution bringing Islamofascism (or orthodox Islam) to power across the Arab world, it is important to remember that democracy is not the criterion of legitimacy. To be legitimate, government must be republican. That is, it must serve to establish a system of liberty under law. If the majority use democracy to violate the natural liberty rights of the minority, that "tyranny of the majority" is no more legitimate than the "tyranny of the minority" that is exercised by unelected dictators. Such, at least, is the founding ideology of the United States.

The framers of our Constitution were highly suspicious of democracy, which they often denigrated as "mob rule." To them democracy was a necessary evil. If we must be ruled, let it be by ourselves. But there are many ways in which we are not supposed to be ruled at all, but are supposed to be free, according to natural law (i.e. according to what can be understood about right and wrong on the basis of moral reason, regardless of whether our capacity for moral reason comes from God or from godless nature).

Hence the enumeration of limited federal powers in Article I of our Constitution, and the enumeration of individual rights in the Bill of Rights (explicitly incomplete). Unfortunately, our Democratic Party seems to take its name literally. They have been systematically breaking down constitutional limits on majority power since the New Deal, when FDR tore down the Constitution's system of limited federal power.

With the Democrats in control of all of our information industries (academia, news and entertainment media, all of our biggest philanthropies, all of our professional organizations), the priority of liberty is no longer widely understood. As a result, democracy is often held up as a first principle, when in our system it's value is purely instrumental. It is valued as a way to secure liberty, and it is without value if it fails to be advantageous for that purpose.

Our loss of understanding of the priority of liberty leaves the nation standing perplexed as the Arab world falls in a single sweep to popular tyranny. Democracy—our supposed criterion of right—is leading to the most evil outcome: the empowerment of al Qaeda and Iran in country after Middle Eastern country, while America mumbles half a cheer and a lot of quiet fretting.

Daniel Pipes on the disastrous consequences of regarding democracy as principle in the Middle East

Pipes has a nice piece on our state of impotent discombulation. He does not say anything about democracy not being the correct criterion of legitimacy—very likely he does not understand this point himself—but he nicely sums up the confusion that is created when U.S. policy-makers treat democracy as principle in the Arab-Muslim world:
•Democracy pleases us but brings hostile elements to power.
•Tyranny betrays our principles but leaves pliable rulers in power.
"As interest conflicts with principle," says Pipes, "consistency goes out the window."

But is inconsistency really the problem? Obama has actually been perfectly consistent. Where dictators are friendly or pliable, he throws them to the wolves (demanding that Ghaddafi and Mubarak leave). Where they are hostile to the U.S. and not at all pliable, he is silent and unmoved when protesters are slaughtered en masse (Iran and Syria).

The obvious explanation is that Obama himself is not just a Muslim, but is an Islamofascist. (The evidence for both is overwhelming.) He skillfully uses the Democratic Party's immoral priority of democracy over republicanism to advance democracy where the outcome will be anti-republican, and suppress it where republicanism is likely to prevail.

The key is Iran. A democratic Iran would almost certainly embrace liberty/republicanism, but so long as it remains in the hands of the Islamofascists, it can usurp every populist movement in the area to the Islamofascist side. Hence Obama's determination to see that Iran gets The Bomb.

Assert republicanism over democracy

Faced with a president who is actively making use of the errant principle of democracy to undermine the national interest, it is not enough to advocate some wise balancing of democracy and interest. Instead, it is necessary to clarify and insist that republicanism, not democracy, is our principle, and that democracy should only be advanced where doing so advances the cause of liberty. Until we get regime change in Iran, that means no-where else in the Islamic world should we be pressing yet for democracy. Iran has to come first, or it will usurp every other attempt at democratic reform.

This strategy would expose Obama for what he in fact is doing, using a false principle to advance the Islamofascist cause. Pipes, in contrast, casts Obama as a bumbler, presumably well intentioned. Would that it were the case. Pipes' suggestions for how to deal with the conflict between democracy and interest are fine as far as they go:
Aim to improve the behavior of tyrants whose lack of ideology or ambition makes them pliable. They will take the easiest road, so join together to pressure them to open up.

Always oppose Islamists, whether Al-Qaeda types as in Yemen or the suave and "moderate" ones in Tunisia. They represent the enemy. When tempted otherwise, ask yourself whether cooperation with "moderate" Nazis in the 1930s would have been a good idea.

Help the liberal, secular, and modern elements, those who in the first place stirred up the upheavals of 2011. Assist them eventually to come to power, so that they can salvage the politically sick Middle East from its predicament and move it in a democratic and free direction.
If Obama was merely a bumbler, he could learn from this advice. Since he is actually an Islamofascist, the only counter is to assert correct moral principle: that our goal is to advance liberty, and that democracy is only on the side of principle where it serves to promote liberty. Otherwise Obama can just continue to pretend to be acting on American values as he helps elevate Islamofascists to power across the Middle East.

Addendum: the New Deal actually ushered in a new (and un-ratified) Constitution

Since everything affects interstate commerce in some way, post-New-Deal Supreme Courts have held that Congress is empowered to regulate anything and everything under its power to regulate interstate commerce. Pre-New-Deal Courts had rejected that interpretation on the grounds that it violated Justice Marshall's first principle of constitutional interpretation:
It cannot be presumed that any clause in the Constitution is intended to be without effect; and, therefore, such a construction is inadmissible unless the words require it. [5 U.S. 137, 174 (1803).]
Allowing everything to be regulated under the commerce clause did not just render one clause of the Constitution without effect, it vitiated the entire system of limited enumerated powers.

That system of limited enumerated powers stood in the way of FDR's desire to implement a Soviet-style command economy, where the government dictates to industry the quantities that it will produce and the prices it will charge. Yes, Roosevelt did actually try to implement such a system, dictating prices and quantities to every major industry in America. That was the job of the NRA (the National Recovery Administration), created by the National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933 (NIRA). (See FDR's Folly, by Jim Powell, chapter 9.)

NIRA was struck down by the Supreme Court, prompting FDR's infamous court-packing scheme and "the switch in time that saved nine." Intimidated by a popular president during a time of national agony, the Supremes agreed to abandon the Constitution, and we have never gotten it back.

UPDATE: Secretary of State Clinton endorses Islamist regimes, calls their ascention to power a triumph for freedom

Robert Danin lists some main points from Hillary's November 7th speech:
– reaffirmation of the “Freedom Agenda” and America’s commitment to democracy in the Middle East, exclaiming “What a year 2011 has been for freedom in the Middle East”
– a headline grabbing pledge for the United States to work with the Islamist al-Nahda party in Tunisia
– an oblique reference for the need of “unelected officials” (read: the military) in Egypt to relinquish their role as the most powerful political force lest they plant the seeds for future unrest
Islamofascist triumph in Tunisa, YAY! But while the Islamofascists are making great headway in Egypt, the military is threatening to block them from taking complete control, BOOOOO! The worst bit (via Barry Rubin) was her opening:
Not all Islamists are alike. Turkey and Iran are both governed by parties with religious roots, but their models and behavior are radically different. There are plenty of political parties with religious affiliations—Hindu, Christian, Jewish, Muslim—that respect the rules of democratic politics. The suggestion that faithful Muslims cannot thrive in a democracy is insulting, dangerous, and wrong. They do it in this country every day.
Actually, as Rubin notes, all Islamists ARE alike, as Obama's Turkish hug-buddy Erdogan proves every day. ("Erdogan is openly taking steps to transform Turkey into an Islamic state along the lines of Iran," summarizes Carolyn Glick.)

Certainly faithful Muslims can thrive in a democracy, and they might even respect the rules of democratic politics, where doing so is an effective way to advance Islam, but they can never be small "r" republicans, at least if they are orthodox, and that is what matters.

The bold ruthlessness with which the Obama administration is using the false principle of democracy as a weapon against the genuine principle of republicanism could hardly be more explicit. Clinton actually declares unabashed tyranny of the majority—the electoral triumph of unabashed totalitarians—to be a triumph for "freedom." This blatant dishonesty invites the obvious and correct response. Yes, "freedom" is the right criterion, but no, totalitarianism is not freedom.

RELATED: How the Democrat-endorsed Occupy morons are explicitly calling both for tyranny of the majority and for the destruction of liberty. It's right in their two names: "the 99%" and "Occupy." They are urging everyone not in the top 1% of earners to Occupy (to take over, to confiscate) what the 1% has.

Of course that is very far from a majority opinion. It is more like a 1% opinion, or at worst (I hope) a 10% opinion. But as an expression of their anti-republican ambition, the label is appropriate. What a heap of moral trash, and they look like it too:

An island of human flotsam planted with an America-hating upside-down flag and the blood red flag of the left's favorite sadistic communist mass-murder, plus cheery slogan.

Good for Newt for shaming these idiots:
There is no such thing in America as 99 percent. We are all 100 percent Americans.
Of course they think they are just the loveliest people:
From Zombie, who notes:
Rule #451 of protest sign-making: If you put a unicorn on it, no one can accuse you of malice.
What a cute little liberty-hater:
The male-looking masked coward seems to have poop on his pants.

UPDATE II, 11-25-2011: Obama still pushing hard for Islamofascist take-over of Egypt

The only hope for Egypt not to go to the bin Ladenists is if the Egyptian military re-asserts control and forcibly suppresses the Muslim Brotherhood (which is trying to forcibly suppress everyone else). So what does our Islamofascist president do? Exactly what you would expect:
The White House demanded the transfer of power to a civilian government in Egypt must be "just and inclusive" and take place "as soon as possible". "Most importantly, we believe that the full transfer of power to a civilian government must take place in a just and inclusive manner that responds to the legitimate aspirations of the Egyptian people, as soon as possible," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said in a statement.
To our democratic but not republican president, the "legitimate aspirations of the Egyptian people" is whatever the Islamofascist majority or minority is able to impose through elections, however corrupt. He already proved in Iran that his criterion of democratic legitimacy is not an honest election, but just the outcome of the de facto election process, whatever that may be. His only proviso there was that not too many of the people who were protesting the stolen election should be murdered in the process:
My understanding is, is that the Iranian government says that they are going to look into irregularities that have taken place. ...

I think it's important that, moving forward, whatever investigations take place are done in a way that is not resulting in bloodshed and is not resulting in people being stifled in expressing their views.
He doesn't care whether their votes are counted correctly. He just doesn't want too many of them to be stifled (or killed, which is how the Iranian Mullahcracy "stifles").

See also "False AP report." (No, Obama did NOT say that Iran must respect voters' choice.)

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