Archive for the ‘Border Security’ Category

From the land of the truly nuts:

  • As I said in a post the other day national focus has turned to AZ again primarily due to Senator McCan’t and his Border charades.  The Senator’s antics were no doubt timed to coincide not only with the state GOP’s vote of no confidence, but also to the appointment of the newest Secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, who has only been in office since Dec. 23, 2013.  Sec. Johnson is getting familiarized with the gargantuan task of running such a massive department, so it must be the perfect time for Sen. McCain to start hammering said department on the efficiency and effectiveness of their border security program.  Sec. Johnson will be visiting the Tucson sector of the Arizona border with Mexico this week.  Let’s hope the press leaves him alone so he can get to work sooner rather than later…although if Sen. McCain has his way, Johnson will be hounded every step of the way, I’m sure.
  • Since it is MLK Day, there will be lots of stories about his legacy such as the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which is fitting.  It should also be a day to remember that the fight for those Rights did not end in 1965 and recently has heated up.  Just this past year, a US Supreme Court case gutted the law, so states like Arizona went right back to their old shenanigans.  Since then States controlled by Republican governors and/or legislatures been involved in attempts to limit access to polling stations, remove methods of voting, and limit who can vote (mainly using new Voter ID laws or outright removing people from the state’s registration lists).  Of  course, these all target traditionally Democratic voters like African Americans, Native Americans, the urban poor, women and the young.  Today, of all days, we must remember that we’re still in the ring and the other side is throwing a lot of unanswered punches.
  • Another inmate has died in a Maricopa County jail under Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s reign.   Even though the MCSO is being monitored by the U.S. District Court (because of the pattern of abuses and unethical behavior spotlighted in the Melendres v. Arpaio Civil Rights case), I doubt anything will come from this latest death investigation. After all, who cares about another dead inmate—except their family of course.  They’ll get paid off like they always do and Maricopa County residents will forget and re-elect Arpaio yet again .
  • The incredibly stupid bill to allow people to carry weapons on school campuses is being proposed in the AZ State Legislature again.  It failed to even reach committee last year so let’s hope it suffers a similar fate this time as well.

It’s anotherSunday morning breakfast at IHOP before I launch into another project. My sig other has finally decided to move out of his place and I am helping him get started today. He helped me move out of my apartment and saved me hundreds of dollars so it is the least I could do.

I have been real slack on blog posting lately so I’m going to use the time while I am waiting on a table to let you know about the latest high jinks by Senator McCan’t on Immigration Reform.

Over the last few months he has been frozen out of leadership on this issue because the Tea Party members of the House have hijacked the Congressional ship. They’d prefer to cause our economy to crash rather than actually govern. Anyway Senator McCan’t has sent a letter to Homeland Security posing some interesting questions about the effectiveness and methods of US Border control. Pundits think the letter serves two purposes. First it gets the Senator back in the news and we know how much he loves being on the Sunday talk shows.. Second, it is supposed to be a wrist slap for the Congressional Teahadists who are making noises about doing something but ultimately don’t want a real solution preferring to deport everyone instead.

Not that Senator McCain’s position all that different. Instead of offering comprehensive reform to deal with all aspects of this very complicated problem he has spent the last decade demanding that border security be dealt with before anything else can be discussed. This is a lovely Catch-22 because no matter how much money we pour into Border Security it will never be truly secure for many practical reasons and that lack of perfect security can be used as both a cudgel against Dems in Congess and the White House AND as an excuse to never really deal with the problem comprehensively. It doesn’t matter if the Teahadists propose absurd reforms or if McCain and his cabal propose increased security….the sum effect is the status quo will be maintained. And the conservative employers who are also McCain donors and who depend entirely on the slave labor of immigrants are simply thrilled.

As part of the cudgel, McCain’s latest press release/letter of inquiry shows concern for a couple of things. First he is worried about effectiveness. He says that the increased number of apprehensions means that what we are doing isn’t working. That sounds kind of counterintuitive since better security should mean increased apprehension rates, logically speaking. The truth is the experts don’t know if the increase is the failure of preventative efforts or if it is due to a simple increase in illegal immigration having nothing to do with border security or if the numbers were always higher than we knew or if the new security is over zealous. Like I said its a very complicated issue. of course McCain jumps the gun and assumes it is a lack of effectiveness because that is the politically expedient thing to assume.

The second concern is a monster of his own making, which cranks the irony factor to 11. He is worried about the militarization of the US Border Pattol. He has pressured for and received from this Administration and the previous one billions of dollars in manpower, weaponry, equipment, fortifications, walls, high tech unmanned gadgets like drones (here is just one example). He and other AZ politicians have been banging on the fear drum about beheadings in the desert, Mexican drug dealers crossing over to kidnap Americans, and Muslim terrorists using the supposedly wide open border as a highway to the heartland. But now, NOW, he wants to get his panties in a bunch about the militarization of border patrol? I gotta call BS on this one.

Oh what I wouldn’t give for an actual Senator doing actual work on behalf of his constituents in Congress. I think we will have to wait until he passes. Unfortunately he will probably live longer than Strom Thurmond and we will just get another old, white guy who cares more about his Q score than his state and his country.

For years I felt that it was pretty clear we had the right to bear arms but I never had an answer to those who insisted it needed to be a completely unfettered right because the Founding Fathers intended it to be a safety against tyranny from within. A conversation on another blog made me re-think things.

For instance, modern weaponry simply didn’t exist when the Constitution was drafted and what did they mean by “arms”?   There is no way the the Founding Fathers could have envisioned rifled barrels being widespread, 100 round mags, infrared scopes, etc. Muskets, the individual weapon of choice for the Continental soldier had no rifling–the twisting grooves in modern gun barrels that turn the bullet and improve accuracy. Although it had been invented in the 1500’s, the ability to manufacture rifled barrels in mass didn’t occur until the 1800’s1, long after the Founding Fathers were dead.

When most people armed themselves during the 1700’s they would buy a musket. In fact, because people usually hunted in addition to farming, almost every family in America had a musket of some kind (not to mention for personal defense because we had nothing like modern law enforcement at the time). If they had a bit more money and anticipated the need to defend themselves in close quarters, then they might have purchased a flint-lock pistol and/or a sword. However, those weapons weren’t common because they were expensive and the average citizen/soldier was not expected to carry anything more than a musket and a hatchet. Other things that the average citizen was NOT expected to have were the Colonial equivalents to automatic weapons such as  cannons, grenades, howitzers, etc.

Even if you don’t buy the argument that the Founding Fathers could not have conceived of things like the AR-15 assault rifle nor could have wanted the average citizen to have one, there are other things to think about. For example, what did they mean by a “well regulated militia”? The concept of a militia2, as we recognize it in the U.S., was created by the Anglo-Saxons (think back to England between the 5th Century until the Norman invasion by William the Conqueror in 1066). In Anglo-Saxon England a militia consisted of every able-bodied free male and its purpose was to protect the populace from outside invasions and to enforce the ruling feudal Lord’s laws, etc when the Lord’s standing Army was not around. These militias were called to duty by men called Sheriffs (the origin of our modern Sheriffs). In Colonial America, the militia was basically always “on duty” to defend colonists from hostile Native Americans. Thus it was that when the Founding Fathers decided they had no choice but to fight for independence, they turned to the standing militia as their army since it was the closest thing to a standing army.

So yes, armed citizens were a part of the militia and that militia ended up being the military force that fought against British tyranny. However, there was also a firm belief by many in the Colonies that we should never have a standing army as we do now and that a militia would have to be maintained as a result. One can see this in The Virginia Delcaration of Rights3 and its definition of a militia:

SEC. 13. That a well-regulated militia, or composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defense of a free state; that standing armies, in time of peace, should be avoided as dangerous to liberty; and that in all cases the military should be under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power.

Note there, the consensus was that a militia was meant to exist if we had no standing army. In spite of the widespread cultural attitude of wariness of a standing army, the Founding Fathers felt it would be necessary. So as soon as the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1784 to end the War, the Founding Fathers disbanded the Continental Forces and then immediately re-formed them as the United States Army–this became our standing military4.   As a result, the consensus was that no militia was needed at that time. The concept of a militia didn’t disappear, of course, because we have the National Guard and the Reserves. The modern National Guard was formed in 1903 as both a reserve force for the standing army but also as a “militia” in the traditional sense to keep the peace at home5, if necessary. That’s why we say a Governor “calls out” the National Guard. The Executive of each state has the right to “call” up that militia. The Reserves were formed early in the Cold War in order to act as a true strategic reserve in the case of a ground war between us and the very large Communist armies of China and Russia and can only be called up by the Federal Government.

So the concept of a militia remains an important part of our culture. However, what is new is the conservative veiwpoint that a militia consists of untrained, armed civilians. The National Guard is highly trained. Reservists are highly trained former active duty soldiers. Your fat La-Z-Boy surfing neighbor with his gun safe in the basement full of automatic weapons is not, nor should he ever be part of a militia UNLESS he signs an official piece of paper and verbalizes an oath, loses 50 lbs, gets some damn training, learns how to follow orders, etc. A “well regulated militia governed by civil power” also does not include the various indepdent groups formed by charismatic libertarians (or neo-Nazis as is sometimes the case in AZ) that build compounds out in the hinterlands. Sometimes these groups take it upon themselves to patrol our national borders with Canada and Mexico, but they are certainly not what the Founding Fathers defined in our Constitution. These self-same militias and conservatives sometimes encourage secession of a state and openly renounce the power of the Federal Government (especially since President Obama became the Democratic Party’s nominee for the President in 2008). For some reason they fail to note that the militia was supposed to be governed, like all military forces should be according to the Constitution and the Founding Fathers, by civilian power. In the U.S. Constitution civil power is the people and the people wield their power through their elected representatives that are sent to State and National Legislative Bodies and Executive Offices.  This is why we have never suffered from a “military coup” and it distinguishes us from many other countries in the world.

Okay, so you don’t agree with this historical interpretation of a “well regulated militia”. What about the fact that the Founding Fathers never wanted bloodshed during the Revolution? Yes, you heard that right. They tried, repeatedly, to find a diplomatic solution. A careful reading of the history shows that they only acquiesced to the idea of a bloody revolution when they felt they had no other choice.

Still don’t buy it? Then what about simple logic (which I am borrowing from a post on another blog by someone who regularly makes incredibly intelligent comments–GrafZeppelin127). Graf posits that it makes absolutely no sense for the Founding Fathers to create a new form of government that was supposed to be stabilized by the three separated powers of Executive, Legislative and Court branches and then allow for its violent, bloody overthrow by a bunch of angry armed citizens6. We absolutely, positively KNOW that the Founding Fathers, almost all of whom were patricians, feared the violence and capriciousness of the mob. They were not fans of ‘direct democracy’.  So when the French Revolution devolved into various factions fighting for control and mob killings not only of the nobility but each other, their fears were justified.   That fear is  precisely why the Founding Fathers created the Legislative Branch, to create a filter and a process that would make the change of laws a more deliberative process. In fact, the entire concept on which our United States is built is the concept of a peaceful, bloodless change of power through election. Graf argues:

If any person can unilaterally and arbitrarily decide, on his own initiative and for any reason, that “the government” is by his own subjective definition “oppressive,” take his gun, go to Washington and shoot his, your, my, and others’ duly-elected representatives, then this is neither a free country nor a republic nor a democracy nor a nation of laws. The exercise is ultimately and entirely self-defeating.

I think Graf is absolutely right. The Founding Fathers feared instability as much as they did tyranny. That’s why they created our “experimental” form of government. Furthermore, the argument made by conservatives that our right to bear arms was meant to protect us from internal tyranny of our own government ignores the fact that the actual structure and process of governance (i.e., elections, the three branches, the states versus the federal, the separation of church and state, etc) are our protection against internal tyranny.   No particular group–not the military, a church, the rich, the poor, the majority, the minority–could gain enough power, quickly enough to establish tyrannical control.   To claim that the Founding Fathers meant to introduce the wildcard of armed yokels with itchy trigger fingers into that wonderfully stable and tyranny free system is absurd.

Strangely enough I have made this argument to libertarians before but I never realized it.  I would always sputter something about, ‘well that’s what Congress is for….go vote…don’t take up arms”.  The next time I encounter a conservative that wants to discuss why he can’t have an Uzi, I’ll be much better prepared.  Thank you, Graf!

Sources:

1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rifling
2. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/223015/fyrd
3. http://www.constitution.org/bcp/virg_dor.htm
4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Armed_Forces#History
5. http://www.ng.mil/features/birthday/index.html
6. http://bobcesca.com/blog-archives/2012/07/progress-10.html#disqus_thread

Like a tick on the body politic, Sheriff Joe Arpaio has been pretty hard to remove. Yesterday, he might have been extracted, at least partially. Arpaio was called to the stand to testify about whether his agency, the MCSO, engaged in racial profiling. Like his testimony during the Ethics Hearing against his partner in corruption1 Sheriff Joe was subdued, clearly not his normal cocky and defiant self.

That’s because Arpaio ain’t stupid. He knows that judges are Gods in their courtrooms and he knows that witnesses that grandstand and act arrogant appear less credible. In other words, Arpaio knows that to misbehave in court, the way he does when he is facing down reporters in carefully orchestrated press conferences, would likely result in negative consequences for him. If Arpaio can get away with treating reporters, protestors, inmates, political opponents, and innocent people like crap he will, because that’s what he does.  He is a bully.  But yesterday, he couldn’t get away with it.  The bully recognized that he was under the thumb of a bigger power and so he reined in his usual over-the-top shenanigans.  Unfortunately, his respect for the power of the court did not aid him in telling the truth.  Either that or his age is finally catching up to him and he is lucky to remember his own name.

It’s hard to tell what was really going on with Aprpaio since cameras aren’t allowed in Federal Courtrooms.   We have to rely on the MSM filter, which has made a pattern of ignoring Arpaio’s blatantly racist behavior and statements by functioning as stenographers for Arpaio’s pre-determined narrative.  Even now after all the accusations, cases against him, deaths of inmates, un-investigated crimes, settlements given out to victims’ families, etc, decent, investigative and informative stories about Arpaio in the MSM are hard to find2.   The major news channels did brief stories on it and a few have some brief video and/or picture slideshows, but a fully researched and factual article that really airs out the filth? Only one does, the best investigative paper/magazine in Arizona, The Phoenix New Times.

The facts of this case, initiated by a Hispanic tourist who was here legally by the name of Ortega Melendres, needs to be widely distributed. The voters of Maricopa County should know exactly what the Sheriff is saying and doing on their behalf.  Here is one little example from his book:  “….second- and third-generation Mexican-Americans were not part of the American “mainstream.”   Wow, I bet that would surprise the hell out of them!  Using this kind of logic my own mother, who is a third-generation descendant of our illegal Irish immigrant3, shouldn’t belong.  Or is she okay because she’s white?

If that doesn’t incense you, how about the letters from supporters that encouraged him to come do a sweep of their area.  In one, the very angry, bigoted writer requested that he come to Mesa and he did about a month after receiving and writing a handwritten note on that same letter that he filed and kept for our edification.  All of sudden I am thinking of petards and hoisting for some reason, but perhaps I digress….

My point is this.  The white, middle class voters who keep putting Arpaio in office haven’t gotten the message yet. They’ve set him loose in the down and out neighborhoods that tend to be predominately brown. And so long as he stays in those neighborhoods, out of sight and out of mind, and the MSM doesn’t do their job in showing us ALL of this ugliness, then they will continue to vote him into office and he will continue to roam, hurting innocent people, and spreading his particular brand of disease–hate.

Notes:

1.  this is former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas who was disbarred as a result of that hearing
2. granted Arpaio creates all kinds of press on his own and the amusing thing about it is that attorney for the plaintiff in this case, Stanley Young, has been using Arpaio’s own words against him, hoisting him on his own petard
3 AND he was Catholic, the kind of people that we used to refer to as “white apes” http://suite101.com/article/stereotyping-the-irish-from-the-16th-century-to-the-present-day-a394227, note the pic on this page of John Bull and Uncle Sam discussing whether democracy can survive the influx of “Fenians” and freed slaves…..sounds pretty close to Arpaio’s view of things, doesn’t it?

Dont know if you have been paying attention to the fact that the Eric Holder is under threat of being held in contempt by Congress for actually doing his job. Holder has turned over thousands of documents to the Witch Hunt Committee headed up by Darrell Issa. Basically Holder will not turn over documents that exposé active investigations and the agents involved. This is a standard practice of the DOJ and has always, to my knowledge, been understood as accepted by Congress as compliant with the law. I guess the difference is this is a Presidential election and the GOP is desperate to get the blackity-black man out of their awhile House. Pres. Obama really had no choice but to use Executive Privilege to protect those investigations and agents. It’s the first time he has used it. Compare that Pre. GW who used it at least three times.

Here’s a great article on how much crap Issa and his henchmen are full of and how a lot of the stuff we have been hearing about the “Fast and Furious” operation are outright lies….perhaps real journalism isn’t dead!