Thursday, March 30, 2006

More On Immigration Hysteria

It was hard to miss the theme running rampant across conservative talk radio today: As Americans we should be angry at all the elites who insist that illegal immigrants perform jobs no one else wants to do. As one host ranted earlier this evening, "These elites don't know what jobs people will do. Barbara Boxer hasn't done a hard day's work in her life! Ted Kennedy doesn't know a hard day's work."

Of course I'm not sure what American wants to work in the tobacco fields for $2.00 per hour.

Conservatives like to focus on the "illegal" aspect of illegal immigration- as if the same immigrants doing the same work here legally would make everything all better. The truth of the matter is that if the only concern is the illegality aspect then that problem could be simply solved by letting in a lot more immigrants legally. But something tells me that most of conservative talk nation is in a hurry to open up the borders.

Conservatives have a lot of explaining to do about why I shouldn't be allowed to hire a Mexican to landscape my yard for $2.00 an hour. After all, conservatives aren't supposed to like the idea of minimum wages in the first place. The fact of the matter is, our economy is going strongly as ever, and unemployment is as low as it's ever been- All this with what's described as a massive illegal immigration problem. It's hard to see who's really hurt by this so-called illegal immigration problem. Americans get cheap labor and immigrants get more money then they could possibly hope to make back home. So once again, where's the fire? As usual, there seems to be a lot of hysteria, and very little rational discourse.

MySpace and the Politics of the Future

The lonely libertarian noticed this story on California schools shutting down for a brief time over the immigration uproar. (More here from what looks like the same AP source.) What's really interesting:

From the AOL piece:

On the popular Web site, where many students have said they go for protest information, the word was to wait until Friday for the next mass demonstration.

And from the piece:

Ceres High School students hyped the rally through the popular social network and met with the school's principal to plan the event ahead of time.

With all the negative news about the website the past few months, it tends to be forgotten that at it's most basic level, MySpace is merely the latest means of communication and interaction on the internet for young people. The medium itself is neither good or bad, any more than the printing press or the telephone is good or bad. In all these cases we're talking about technology with the potential to affect political discourse. And that's precisely what we've seen with these protests.

This is not to say that MySpace is bound to have the same impact on society as the printing press- The lonely libertarian's only point is that the MySpace critics don't have much of a grasp of what they're criticizing. MySpace has tremendous potential as a organ for political discourse and political change, yet the critics have no conception of this. I imagine someone once criticized the printing press too, when some pedophile lured young girls with his horrible printed pamphlets.

We may be reaching a tipping point- global laming is occurring and there may be no turning back!

Kudos to anyone else who enjoyed a very entertaining "South Park" last night. The episode was really a big joke about hybrid cars- not the cars themselves, as the cars are just inanimate objects, but the high and might attitudes of the hybrid crowd. The jokes involved hybrid owners talking with their eyes closed, enjoying the smell of their own farts, and driving cars with names like "Pious."

Of course, all the high and mighty attitudes led to large clouds of "smug" building over South Park and of course, San Francisco. These clouds combined with the cloud of smug emanating from George Clooney's Oscar Awards acceptance speech to form a very perfect storm.

But for the lonely libertarian, the best part was when Ranger McFriendly explained to the kids how such clouds of smug invariably lead to global laming. Ahhh global laming. Now that's a real threat if I ever saw one.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

From the adults don't have a clue file, it's House Party V

"Make 'House Parties' Illegal!" screams the editorial in today's Hartford Courant. "According to a survey reported by the Connecticut Coalition to Stop Underage Drinking, 61 percent of Connecticut middle school and high school students reported that they drank alcohol at house parties."

One can imagine that number approaching the 80-90 percent range if 19 and 20 year-olds were included. Even the 61% tells a story. 'House Parties' are common, and a majority of kids are going to them. According to the Courant, we should be concerned because "[d]ozens of teens are killed every year in alcohol-related accidents in the state. House parties encourage binge drinking. The all-too-predictable results are car crashes, sexual assaults and other forms of violence, property damage and alcohol poisoning."

Of course, no numbers are cited- And given how many kids go to these parties, striking at real alcohol related problems with laws aimed specifically at such parties seems to be attacking a relatively small problem with a very large brush.

The real issue is the media hysteria over kids today. Every incident is overblown, and putting the legal clamps down on 16-17-18 year olds is somehow seen as a solution. As always, the real issue is as simple as parents and parenting.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

"When did you ever see a Mexican blow up the world trade center?"

I wonder if I was the only one who loved that quote,from a protester among the 1/2 million who marched in Los Angeles to support immigration rights this weekend.

And not to harp, but so-called illegal immigrants were not among the 19 September 11th hijackers either.

For those who wonder why I can think highly of President Bush at times, it is because of issues such as immigration, where he has taken stands at odds with his own party to do what he believes is good for America, good for business, and just the right thing to do. Hopefully Bush will continue to stand up to the growing ranks of the xenophobic and isolationism who would militarize our borders- the problem is, what used to be a strictly Republican sort of ugliness has seeped into the Democratic party as of late. Of course, what would be even better would be if someone realized the illegal immigration problem would be solved by letting a lot more people in the country legally.

Wolf Blitzer, Climate Scientist

"Be worried, be very worried" screams the CNN headline. "The climate is crashing and global warming is to blame." That is what greeted visitors to CNN's main page this morning.

Buried in the story is this other piece: "The science debate behind climate change." This piece mentions 3 of the concerns raised by scientists who question global warming alarmists:

*Natural climate variability is not well understood and may be greater than once thought.

*Computer models are oversimplifications that cannot simulate the complexities of the real climate.

*Temperature extrapolations of the past are not precise enough to make dire conclusions about "normal" warming.

Richard Lindzen, a respected meteorologist from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, says in light of these uncertainties, pronouncements about climate change are both self-serving and unscientific. Scientists make meaningless or ambiguous statements. Advocates and media translate statements into alarmist declarations. Politicians respond to alarm by feeding scientists more money," said Lindzen at a scientific conference this January. He added that the accepted evidence is "entirely consistent with there being virtually no problem at all.

The question the lonely libertarian has is, what expertise does CNN, or any other news organization have to weigh the scientific arguments about global warming. There is something inherently wrong with the media reporting such editorialized science. When one side of a controversial scientific question presented as fact, the other side of the issue is given the short end of the stick, and the general public sense of the issue is drastically effected. This is never more true then when talking about something as complex as climate change that as Dr. Lindzen said above, isn't even fully understood by scientists, let alone the lay public.

My repeated hammering of this issue isn't to demand that people take a certain position, only that the media report the news in a somewhat balanced matter. It's not about science, it's about the media.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

On The Local Scene, the NAACP clashes with Dick Blumenthal over No Child Left Behind

From today's Hartford Courant: NAACP Details Opposition to "No Child" Lawsuit

When lawyers clashed in a New Haven courtroom recently over a federal school reform law designed to help poor and minority children, state NAACP President Scot X. Esdaile couldn't help noticing who was missing. "It was all white people on this side [of the courtroom], and all white people on [that] side - and the argument is about our children," he told a mostly black audience in Hartford Wednesday.

Maybe the lawsuit smacks of condescension, maybe it doesn't. Regardless, the NAACP's opposition is more than a wee bit interesting. With minority children disproportionately affected by No Child Left Behind, their position speaks volumes about both the validity and usefulness of such a law.

Of course, the lawsuit itself borders on frivolous. Congress's power to condition federal money on the fufillment of certain conditions is well-steeped in Spending Clause doctrine. The unfunded mandate complaint is laughable- No Child Left Behind is merely a condition placed on states should they chose to except federal education funding. Should the states refuse such funding, the conditions of No Child Left Behind would be unenforceable.

But apparently, tricky Dick doesn't see it that way.

Random Thoughts: 5 Reasons Why Iraq Is Not Vietnam

1- The democratically elected Iraqi government wants us there.

2- In Vietnam, democracy was thwarted in the name of combating communism. In Iraq, democracy is lauded as a tool to be used in combating terrorism.

3- In Vietnam, the United States had a presence in the country after the French left in 1954, and the war was escalated by President Johnson in 1964. It wasn’t until the 1968 Tet Offensive that public opinion began to turn against the war. In Iraq, the invasion took place only three years ago.

4- In Vietnam we were fighting an actual war- In Iraq we are playing the role of peacekeepers and police.

5- Failures in Vietnam were indicative of the apathy of the Vietnamese toward our goals. Many people didn’t understand and didn’t care about the struggle against communism. In Iraq, regardless of their views of the U.S., most people don’t like terrorists who kill innocents and blow up Mosques.

A Study In Verbal Manipulation: The Global Warming Panic

The lonely libertarian's war on "global warming" isn't so much based on any strong scientific viewpoints as it is upon the tactics used by the enviro-disaster crowd. Once again, take yet another piece from the New York Times' Andrew Revkin:New Study Warns Of Effects Of Melting Polar Ice.

Like the vast majority of the public, I am in no place to debate the science of global warming. However, there is a tremendous difference between scientific studies, and the urgent calls for action made by some journalists and climate scientists. Sea levels are rising, but as the article points out, disagreement remains over the causes of those rise in sea levels.

But significant disagreements remain over whether recent changes in sea level and ice conditions cited in the new studies could be attributed to rising concentrations of the greenhouse gases and temperatures linked by most experts to human activities.
Sea levels have been rising for thousands of years as an aftereffect of the warming and polar melting that followed the last ice age, which ended about 10,000 years ago. Discriminating between that residual effect and any new influence from human actions remains impossible for the moment, many experts say.

But still, Revkin feels compelled to end the article on this note:

Dr. Overpeck, the co-author of the paper on sea-level rise, acknowledged the uncertainties. But he said that in a world in which humans, rich and poor, increasingly cluster on coasts, the risks were great enough to justify prompt action. "People driving big old S.U.V.'s to their favorite beach or coastal golf course," he said, should "start to think twice about what they might be doing."

Assume for a minute that there was no debate, and the actions of mankind are in fact causing global warming, and are in fact going to cause sea levels to rise worldwide. As this Dr. Overpeck points out, the biggest issue is the effects such changes have on us. And doesn't this just amount to a balance of the benefits of modern technology and modern amenities with the potential problems caused by a rise in sea level and a slight rise in temperature. It actually sounds quite like an economic cost-benefit analysis. Funny though, the enviro-disaster crowd never likes to frame it that way.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Cory Maye Updates

Cory Maye updates on the Agitator, complete with personal pictures, family pictures, and pictures of where the incident took place.

Once again, the lonely libertarian is amazed by how few people seem to care about this story, as the mainstream media has remained essentially silent. Regardless of politics, the Cory Maye story ties in to a vast array of relevant issues- drug laws, the war on drugs, race, self-defense, along with general questions about what sort of government we really want.

This Week, On 60 Minutes

This week on 60 Minutes: "Rewriting The Science." Actually, the New York Times already covered this story a month ago- And the lonely libertarian blogged about it "here.

For those who think the mainstream media really does provide different viewpoints, try distinguishing the 60 Minutes coverage from the previous Times coverage. Once again, this is the story of the supposedly evil Bush administration attempting to hide the truth about global warming. Of course, the truth is, this isn't really about science at all, but about politics on both sides. Global warming has become an inherently political issue, as the "solutions" to the problem have become intermingled with the issue of global warming itself. Whatever your thoughts on global warming, if you think those thoughts aren't influenced by political ideology, you're deluding yourself.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Maybe He's Just The Middle Eastern George Bush

Iraqi President Says U.S. To Stay As Long As Needed.

Of course, maybe President Jalal Talabani is the Middle Eastern version of George Bush- the democratically elected president who doesn't really represent the nation.

In all seriousness, how can one protest, "They don't want us there!" when the democratically elected leaders of Iraq clearly do want us there. As always, there is plenty to debate about the war- However, unless you put more faith in vocal terrorists than in Iraq's fledgling new democracy, it is difficult to comprehend how the anti-war crowd can claim he moral high ground on our presence in Iraq in the first place.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Miss Information Part II

To continue the topic of the last post ...

Even assuming the proposed Bill before the House does what the Times claims it will (which it won't), their reporting still reeks of inaccuracy and bias. First, the Times editorial mentions arsenic in bottled water: "If consumers believe that, then we have some bottled water to sell them that no longer warns of arsenic levels ..."

Of course, most states have their own bottled water requirements- And it is very unlikely that any state would allow bottled water to be sold when the water contains unsafe levels of arsenic. The issue is of course, the warning label itself. And one can see the problems that could arise should every state decide to enact its own warning label laws for products sold within the state.

But beyond matters of practicality, one wonders why the Times titled its editorial, "The Abusive New Federalism." Federalism implies the division of power between the states and the federal government. Generally, the Times has editorialized against federalism and in favor of a stronger national government. But maybe those views only apply to their own political agenda.

Obviously, the concept of federalism is implicated anytime there is a dispute between the states and the national government. But to the call this Bill "abusive" defies logic. One can't argue on one hand for national standards while on the other hand argue that the states should be able to impose standards of their own. You can't have it both ways. Either national standards are needed, or they aren't needed. And Constitutionally, if Congress has the power to legislate national standards, they surely have the power to legislate uniform national standards.

Miss Information Part I

From today's New York Times Editorial Page: The Abusive New Federalism. This is a follow up to this piece from a few days ago: Bill May Undo States' Rules on Safe Food

Perhaps it goes without saying, but the New York Times just can't be trusted to properly report on legal and scientific issues. The Times, along with spokesmen from so-called consumer groups paint a picture of Congress preempting all state food and safety regulation, eliminating state standards that are stricter than the national average. The only problem is, the proposed bill does no such thing.

The full text of the bill is available here. The relevant portions:


(a) Uniformity requirement.

(1) In general.

Except as provided in subsections (c) and (d), no State or political subdivision of a State may, directly or indirectly, establish or continue in effect under any authority any notification requirement for a food that provides for a warning concerning the safety of the food, or any component or package of the food, unless such a notification requirement has been prescribed under the authority of this Act and the State or political subdivision notification requirement is identical to the notification requirement prescribed under the authority of this Act.

This act applies only to warning labels and notification requirements- It does not amount to a total preemption of all state food safety standards. It does not, as the Times says, "threaten existing food safety programs affecting things like restaurant sanitation and sales of milk and numerous other vital products."

How can the Times get it so wrong? One wonders if they actually looked at the text of the bill, or merely relied on statements from the Bill's opponents. In the realm of regulation, this is particularly disturbing given the general public's lack of familiarity with the subject in the first place.