B After The Fact

Friday, June 29, 2007

Sure I'd Like To Stick A Fork in It. But ...

“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside” – U.S Constitution 14th Amendment

“Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether." – Abraham Lincoln – Second Inaugural Address, 1865

“The best way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discrimination on the basis of race.” – Chief Justice Roberts, Parents Involved –v- City of Seattle, somewhat less than 250 years later.


We have been listening to these debates about the Bush/ Kennedy immigration proposals for years now.

To my knowledge, it has never been pointed out that the Constitution contains its own amnesty program – the 14th Amendment. The 14th Amendment does not make any mention of where your parents come from. If you are born here, you are a citizen here.

If a serious immigration bill is ever discussed, people are going to have to explain to me why they feel that it is so important to deport the parents of United States citizens.


The 14th Amendment exists to amend the original Constitution, which in its "Intent of the Framers" version did not use the everyday definition of “person.” There were “persons subject to Migration or Importation”, there were 3/5 persons, and there were “persons held to service or labor.” None of these persons were citizens, and none of their children were citizens, whether they were born in the United States or not.

If a serious immigration bill is ever discussed, someone, preferably a direct descendant of a “person held to service or labor,” is going to have to explain to me why they support a bill that seems to reintroduce a concept that we spent 4 long and bloody years fighting a Civil War over, and the subsequent 140 plus years fighting over the results.

Incidentally, I have no opinion on the immigration bill as a whole. I hardly know what is in it, except for the guest worker program.

However, a guest worker program, a road back to slavery, is so hateful to me, that I cannot see past it, and I cannot understand how anyone else can see past it either.

I am so happy that this Immigration Bill is dead –for now.

It is worth noting, as the Chief Justice’s statement, just yesterday, indicates, that people are tired of talking about race in this country, and would like to see a day where we move past it.

That day is far away. Slavery is the original sin of this country. Some people benefited greatly from the suffering of others. They long for those moonlight and magnolia days.

Some people believe that they should not be burdened by the sins of those who died years and years before any of their own ancestors ever set foot in this country. Here is where Pat Buchanan and I agree. Certain people should have immigrated somewhere else. Everyone wants to be an American? Well, the effects of racism and discrimination is one of the fundamental things about what it means to be an American. If you want another, lesser sort of experience, there are a whole lot of other countries to go to.

We need to go to extra lengths to be sure that we do not find ourselves on, or anywhere near, the road to slavery.

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Tony Blair -- Mid-East Envoy

Tony Blair is appointed Middle East envoy.

This account, which is typical, says ---

“U.S. and Israeli officials welcomed the appointment, which had been expected. But reaction was cool in the Arab world, where Blair is viewed more skeptically because of his close alliance with Bush and the positions he took on the invasion of Iraq and the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon.”

Maybe. But Tony Blair's views on all these matters has always been far more nuanced than anything any American can say in public.

This is Tony Blair in Los Angeles, August 1, 2006 , in the middle of the Israel-Hazbollah fighting.

“MEPP” refers to “Middle East Peace Plan,” the so-called “road map”

"The question is: how do we empower the moderates to defeat the extremists?

"First, naturally, we should support, nurture, build strong alliances with all those in the Middle East who are on the modernising path.

"Secondly, we need, as President Bush said on Friday, to re-energise the MEPP between Israel and Palestine; and we need to do it in a dramatic and profound manner.

"I want to explain why I think this issue is so utterly fundamental to all we are trying to do. I know it can be very irritating for Israel to be told that this issue is of cardinal importance, as if it is on their shoulders that the weight of the troubles of the region should always fall. I know also their fear that in our anxiety for wider reasons to secure a settlement, we sacrifice the vital interests of Israel.

"Let me make it clear. I would never put Israel's security at risk.

"Instead I want, what we all now acknowledge we need: a two state solution. The Palestinian State must be independent, viable but also democratic and not threaten Israel's safety.

"This is what the majority of Israelis and Palestinians want.

"Its significance for the broader issue of the Middle East and for the battle within Islam, is this. The real impact of a settlement is more than correcting the plight of the Palestinians. It is that such a settlement would be the living, tangible, visible proof that the region and therefore the world can accommodate different faiths and cultures, even those who have been in vehement opposition to each other. It is, in other words, the total and complete rejection of the case of Reactionary Islam. It destroys not just their most effective rallying call, it fatally undermines their basic ideology.

"And, for sure, it empowers Moderate, Mainstream Islam enormously. They are able to point to progress as demonstration that their allies, ie us, are even-handed not selective, do care about justice for Muslims as much as Christians or Jews.

"But, and it is a big 'but', this progress will not happen unless we change radically our degree of focus, effort and engagement, especially with the Palestinian side. In this the active leadership of the US is essential but so also is the participation of Europe, of Russia and of the UN. We need relentlessly, vigorously, to put a viable Palestinian Government on its feet, to offer a vision of how the Roadmap to final status negotiation can happen and then pursue it, week in, week out, 'til its done. Nothing else will do. Nothing else is more important to the success of our foreign policy."

The centrality of Israeli-Palestinian peace was the second important rationale in Blair's appeal to Parliament, March 18, 2003 to join the coalition of the willing.

“Partners are not servants but neither are they rivals. I tell you what Europe should have said last September to the US. With one voice it should have said: we understand your strategic anxiety over terrorism and WMD and we will help you meet it. We will mean what we say in any UN Resolution we pass and will back it with action if Saddam fails to disarm voluntarily; but in return we ask two things of you: that the US should choose the UN path and you should recognise the fundamental overriding importance of re-starting the MEPP, which we will hold you to.

“I do not believe there is any other issue with the same power to re-unite the world community than progress on the issues of Israel and Palestine. Of course there is cynicism about recent announcements. But the US is now committed, and, I believe genuinely, to the Roadmap for peace, designed in consultation with the UN. It will now be presented to the parties as Abu Mazen is confirmed in office, hopefully today.

“All of us are now signed up to its vision: a state of Israel, recognised and accepted by all the world, and a viable Palestininan state….

“(I)f our plea is for America to work with others, to be good as well as powerful allies, will our retreat make them multilateralist? Or will it not rather be the biggest impulse to unilateralism there could ever be. And what of the UN and the future of Iraq and the MEPP, devoid of our influence, stripped of our insistence?

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Monday, June 25, 2007

Vice-President for Life?

I wrote earlier about my paranoia that since the 22nd Amendment does not give term limits to the Vice President, that Dick Cheney might seek a third term.

Further evidence came this week when it was reported that Dick Cheney believes that the Vice President is not a member of the Executive Branch , and is not subject to Congressional oversight.

A lack of outrage over this on the Republican side of the aisle only adds fuel to my speculation.

Since the President is term-limited, and the Vice President is not term limited, wouldn't it stand to reason that the Vice President thinks he is more powerful than the Executive?

Since Senators and Congressmen have to face the voters, and the Vice President does not (you're not allowed to vote for, let's say, a Kerry-Cheney ticket), wouldn't it stand to reason that the Vice President feels he doesn't have to answer to the Legislature?

It doesn't appear that the Framers had much in mind when it came to the Vice President. I'll talk more about that in another post.

Whatever the intent of the Framers, it is important to remember that the Republicans who forced the 22nd Amendment term limits onto the backs of a free people, were terrified that there might be another liberal President like FDR. These term limit supporters were the same McCarthy-loving Republicans who Dick Cheney considers to be his political fathers.

But even that bunch was not concerned about the power of the Vice President. As nutty as they were, they were realistic enough to know that under the Constitution, THE VICE PRESIDENT DOES NOT HAVE ANY POWER! Because it would have been very easy, at the time, for the Republicans to have added the Vice President to the 22nd Amendment term limits provisions.

Maybe the best solution would be for Al Gore to run for Vice President again, and just follow the path that Dick Cheney showed him. This way Al Gore can increase the money going to the environmental/ global warming/ alternative energy movement in the same way that Dick Cheney sends money and power to independent military contractors and oil companies.

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Sunday, June 24, 2007

Is Everyone Stealing From B-? (The Surge)

Frank Rich in today's New York Times

"The first was a confirmation of recent White House hints that the long-promised September pivot point for judging the success of the "surge" was inoperative. That deadline had been asserted as recently as April 24 by President Bush, who told Charlie Rose that September was when we'd have "a pretty good feel" whether his policy "made sense." On Sunday General Petraeus and Mr. Crocker each downgraded September to merely a "snapshot" of progress in Iraq. "Snapshot," of course, means "Never mind!"

B After The Fact, letter to The Weekly Standard
February 4, 2007

"If this surge fails, and since it is not even a half-measure, it likely will fail, the President and the Vice President will have no choice except to ask for another surge. And another one. And your position will be increasingly lonely. Because all your friends, the folks at the New York Post, the folks at the Corner, Senator Lieberman, Secretary Gates, General Petraeus, all your friends, keep referring to this surge as "one last chance". They keep talking about requiring the Iraqi government to work with us. They keep saying that our stay in Iraq is not forever.

"Better stop flogging your natural allies. Better stop treating the 50% of the voters who are Democrats as if they belong to another, unpatriotic nation. Better start laying the groundwork for the fact that United States actions in this region should not be dependent upon the actions of any Iraqi government; better start laying the groundwork for the 20, 30, 40, 80 more years of "one last chances" that American Presidents (or whatever Dick Cheney thinks of himself as) are going to need to make this right."

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

President Mayor Mike

Michael Bloomberg has declared himself an independent, and maybe he'll run for President.

I'm ambivalent about Mayor Mike. I think he's shown that New York City can be governed with both an iron fist and humanity. The previous mayor, Guiliani, only had the iron fist. The one before him, Dinkins, capped an at least 30-year run (with intermittant exceptions by Ed Koch, who was more show biz than substance) of Mayors who turned humanity and seeing the other person's point of view into paralysis and decay.

New York City in 2007 is well-run and safe and friendly. The procurement policy, how things get sold to the city, and who gets to sell them, could use a nice dose of clean air and sunshine, but I'm mostly guessing about that. Basically, life is good here, and Mayor Mike gets a lot of credit for that.

On the other hand, I am married to a teacher, and when you look at things up close like that, Mayor Bloomberg's education policy is completely Republican, and can be said to be exactly like the Republican domestic policy in New Orleans, and the Republican foreign policy in Iraq.

If it ain't broke, break it.

I don't question Bloomberg's motives in running as an independent. However, the net result is a great big valentine to Karl Rove and the Jeb Bush-Dick Cheney 2008 Presidential campaign (another guess).

An independent run by Bloomberg will make it possible for Republicans to win 3-way races in New York, California and Illinois, where it would be impossible for them to win otherwise.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Sopranos

What I liked about the finale of the Sopranos.

The way the show was set up, no one had the moral authority to kill Tony Soprano, and so it is good that no one did. Had Tony been killed, I'd like to see the kinds of people who would have the nerve to say that justice prevailed.

It will be easier, and more fun, to watch the re-runs. You can link past events to the way things were left at the end, and try to get a better grasp about what would happen in the future.

In the age of Roger Clemens, who dares to say that we've seen the end of The Sopranos?

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Note for Posts I Can't Get Around To (Immigration and The Compromise of 1850)

I wrote about immigration previously.


My biggest problem with the immigration bill coming down the road is that we had a guest worker program in this country once -- it was called slavery.

There is nothing in the proposed bill, there is nothing in the proposals in the wind, that is worth going down the road to legalized second class non-citizenship.

The difference between a group of people living "like" slaves and people actually being legalized second class non-citizens is enormous and fundamental.


The analogue in American History that this is the most closely related to is the Compromise of 1850.

We fought a Mexican War. A war that Lincoln and many others at the time felt was imposed by the South on the North in order to expand the basis for a slave labor system.

We won the war (it is not a perfect analogy, but bear with me for a few more minutes), and took over all that land north and west of the Rio Grande.

Then as now, the government was at impasse for years over what to do about the inhabitants of the land.

The Compromise of 1850 emerged. In the Compromise, California was admitted as a free state, the borders of modern Texas, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona (and, I think, Colorado) were established, and the Fugitive Slave Act was passed. The Fugitive Slave Act put teeth in the following provision from the original Constitution (the "originalist" "Intent of the Framers" Constitution)

No Person held to Service or Labour in one State, under the Laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in Consequence of any Law or Regulation therein, be discharged from such Service or Labour, but shall be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labour may be due

The Compromise was proposed by Henry Clay, and opposed by John Calhoun. On March 7, 1850, Daniel Webster, controversial Senator from Massachusetts made a speech supporting the Compromise, in all of its good parts and all of its abhorrent parts.

"I speak today," Webster said, "I wish to speak to-day, not as a Massachusetts man, nor as a Northern Man, but as an American."

Controversial stuff back then. Apparently, this was a famous speech in its day. Still talked about in history books.

Didn't have the desired effect in its day, though.

A sizable percentage of the population felt that no matter how draconian the provision of the Constitution was, no matter the implication, the law was the law, and it had to be enforced at all costs.

Another portion of the population thought that strict enforcement was ridiculous. We would turn into a nation of bounty hunters, like it or not. We were no longer free to have our own opinion of slavery. We would be forced to help validate the opinions of the most extreme people regarding the use of farm workers.

The grandiose scheme at a Great Compromise, put together by the old lions of the prior generation, fell apart.

For a few weeks, it looked like there would be no solving of this critical issue of the day.

Talk of living in two separate countries dominated the political talk.

Then, a younger Senator, Stephen A. Douglas, Democrat of Illinois, picked up all the pieces of the Compromise of 1850, and one-by-one, the bills were passed, with each bill picking up a different number and different type of supporter.

Maybe a younger Senator, one that we are not even thinking too hard about, can put together a compromise immigration bill today.

If the immigration bill has a guest worker program, it will not be worth it.

The Compromise of 1850 had a Fugitive Slave Act. Historians are still debating, but most feel it was worth it.

It is worth noting that in 1850 there was already a legalized, two-tiered system of labor.

It would be this immigration bill that would create a two-tiered system of free and not-free labor. That, to me, is a difference that makes a difference.

Anyway, thanks in part to the Compromise of 1850, the catastrophe of seccession was averted for another 10 years, during which time the forces of Northern freedom accumulated more industrial strength, even while the forces of Southern slavery were successfully making hash out of notions of liberty, nation and constitution that were long ago considered settled (see, for example, Dred Scott). Some of these Southern notions, like the tortured logic of States Rights, are still being fought over today.


Pat Buchanan has been saying for a while now that the current immigration crisis is a by-product of the same Mexican War that lead to the Compromise of 1850 ... a chance for the losers of the war then to win the war now. Perhaps that is some of it.

Perhaps this immigration debate is a chance for people who like having a pool of slave labor, who can't get over their losses in the last century, to recover some of their power.


No matter how you dress the rhetoric, there always seems to be a side in favor of cheaper labor and a side in favor of freer people, whatever the cost.

And that no matter how you dress the rhetoric, there are always complicating factors. Politics makes strange bedfellows.


The Senator from Massachusetts then felt that keeping the union together was worth the price of enforcing the Fugitive Slave Act.

The Senator from Massachusetts now seems to feel that solving the problems of current illegal immigrants now is worth creating a future class of non-citizen workers, permanently lingering in the shadows.

I don't know what Ted Kennedy can possibly be thinking.


In any event, except for the random comment by Senator McCain, nobody is connecting the current immigration problem to the current war.

It's further proof, of course, that no one in a position of power, Democrat or Republican, takes the War in Iraq seriously enough.

You can't have a rational immigration compromise without taking into account the coming storm of refugees from the Middle East and Africa.

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If Paris Hilton can get 45 Days, Lewis Libby Gets Off Easy at 45 Years

I'm always thrilled to see that the same people who want to throw the book at Paris Hilton and the 12 million illegal immigrants shriek with outrage about the hard time Lewis Libby is having.

If Paris Hilton can get 45 days, Lewis Libby gets off light at 45 years, never mind the 30 months of prison time he will most likely never have to do.

I wrote this in October 2005 .

Nothing has changed.

"So far, the difference between Libby's Indictment for Obstruction of Justice, and the Watergate Indictments, or the Clinton Impeachment, or even Martha Stewart's stock fraud, is that in those cases the people obstructing justice did not do a good job with their obstruction. The truth came out pretty quickly.

"We wondered why the Nixon White House, or Bill Clinton, or Martha Stewart would lie about such small matters....

"Scooter Libby not only obstructed justice, but so far his obstruction of justice has succeeded. The obstruction remains. We only have a slight clue as to what really happened.

"People who say that the cover-up was worse than the crime -- or that there was no crime to cover up --- are pretending to know something they don't know.

"(A)n enormous crime has been committed against the CIA in particular, and the security apparatus of this nation in general, and so far, Scooter Libby, a professional at his craft, has thwarted the professional prosecutors at their craft.

"We do not know - when - if ever -- the true story will emerge."