Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Democrats: Do as we say, not as we do

The Leftist immigration lawyer below accuses the GOP of bad faith in their approach to a White House regulatory reform

But who is responsible for the bad faith? When Obama releases tens of thousands of illegals even after they are caught, how can anyone have faith that he is honestly doing his best to enforce the laws he has sworn to uphold? It is his actions that make all that he proposes automatically untrustworthy and worthy of rejection. If you play a rough game, you've got to expect the other side to do likewise

If illegal immigration were under control the proposals might be reasonable and acceptable, but it is not under control. As it is, they are just another way of weakening the small amount of deterrence that still exists in American immigration practice

If Obama wants co-operation, why doesn't he start deporting ALL illegals who are apprehended and blow a large trumpet declaring that he is doing that?

Sometimes it's hard to tell whether Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) is chair of the House Judiciary Committee or the head of the "Just Say No To Any Immigration Solution" crowd.

As if on cue, Smith criticized a processing tweak -- proposed Friday by the Obama administration -- which will allow undocumented immigrants to remain in the U.S. while the Department of Homeland Security determines whether or not denial of their green card would cause extreme hardship to their U.S. citizen spouse or parent. Smith's predictable knee-jerk reaction included the same old tired claim that the administration was trying to pull an "end around" the immigration law. I expect Smith's restrictionist friends will soon chime in with a hearty chorus of "backdoor amnesty".

Smith should have read the proposed rule change before he opened his mouth. Under the law -- which, contrary to what Smith claims, would not change one bit under the administration's proposal -- undocumented husbands, wives, sons and daughters of U.S. citizens cannot apply for a green card in the U.S. Yet, when they leave the U.S. to get right with the immigration law, they are barred by statute from returning for up to 10 years -- kind of a legal "Catch-22".

Immigrants who face the unlawful presence bar can ask the government for a waiver if they can prove their U.S. citizen spouse or parent will suffer extreme hardship -- a very difficult standard to meet. Unfortunately, due to backlogs, the overseas waiver process takes months, sometimes even years. In the meantime immigrants remain stuck abroad, separated from their loved ones in the U.S. Over the years immigrants have been seriously injured, even murdered, while waiting in dangerous cities like Ciudad Juarez.

Lost in Smith's reflexive denunciation is that the rule change would do little more than allow an immigrant to file a waiver application in the U.S. before going abroad to apply for an immigrant visa. The rigors of the law have not been altered one bit: the applicant still must meet the exacting legal standard of proving his spouse or parent would suffer extreme hardship and, if the waiver is granted, the applicant still must leave the U.S. to apply for the immigrant visa abroad. Smith also fails to note that the administrative change will reduce backlogs at U.S. embassies, leading to more efficient government and smarter enforcement.

If Lamar Smith were truly interested in making the immigration system work for American families he would wholeheartedly support the administration's stateside waiver proposal. The proposal is far from perfect and needs several key adjustments, but it is a welcome step in the right direction. If implemented, it will keep American families safe and together, make visa processing more efficient and secure, and guard the rule of law. The nation deserves Congressional leaders who are committed to fixing America's broken immigration system, not politicians who offer little more than hot air.



The Hutaree "militia" case unravels

The case was designed to fuel hysteria against conservative groups in the early days of the Obama administration. The Leftist pretence was that conservatives are just as dangerous as Muslims

"We haven't worked a year and a half on this investigation and risked [an undercover agent's] life to walk away from this with 3 arrests," groused the secret police investigator two years ago. By that time it had become clear the FBI wouldn’t be able to manufacture a successful criminal conspiracy out of a few trivial firearms violations and a surfeit of anti-government rhetoric.

The Hutaree was the first non-Muslim "domestic extremist" group to be cast as the lead in one of the Bureau’s post-911 Homeland Security Theater productions. U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts, who was able to see the plot holes in the FBI’s implausible script, had the character and good sense – traits otherwise all but impossible to find on the bench – to dismiss the case with prejudice [i.e. She barred re-opening the case]

In her order granting the defense motion for summary judgment, Roberts – who had previously expressed severe skepticism regarding the supposed merits of the case – lambasted the Feds for repeatedly venturing beyond "inference to pure speculation" and "attempting to formulate an alternative theory of criminal liability" when it became clear that they couldn’t provide tangible evidence of intent to commit an overt criminal act. This resulted in a theory of the case "based primarily on two conversations … the first on August 13, 2009, and the second on February 20, 2010."

The Hutaree "militia" was a loosely organized group of obscure people united by their entirely commendable hostility toward the criminal clique calling itself the United States Government. They apparently shared a set of apocalyptic beliefs about the imminent rise of the Antichrist, and they engaged in survivalist training in anticipation of the End Times, when they might confront the necessity to use defensive force against government agents – whether foreign or domestic – in league with the enemy.

The original indictment – which Judge Roberts eviscerated in a preliminary ruling – accused the Michigan dissidents of making material preparations to carry out specific criminal acts. When it was shown that there was no evidence to support that charge, the Feds shifted their focus and charged them with "seditious conspiracy," which consisted of expressing opinions about government corruption and making physical preparations to for self-defense against criminal violence perpetrated by government authorities.

Citing a Supreme Court precedent (Russell v. United States, 1962) holding that the prosecution isn’t "free to roam at large – to shift its theory of criminality so as to take advantage of each passing vicissitude of the trial," Roberts observed that the Feds were not free to "say that the alleged plan set forth [in the original indictment] is irrelevant." Yet that’s precisely what they attempted to do.

Although the supposed police assassination plot was central to the case against the Hutaree, "the Government did not provide sufficient proof of the existence of a conspiracy at all," ruled Judge Roberts. "The Government says it is not certain whether the Hutaree intended to initiate the conflict, or simply engage in it once it was initiated by others."

While Hutaree members frequently engaged in what were described as "diatribes" against law enforcement, "all of this speech is protected by the First Amendment," Roberts observed. Expressing hatred for the government’s enforcement caste "is not the same as seditious conspiracy."

Under the Government’s theory of the case, Roberts noted, one could be charged with "sedition" simply through his or her "mere presence at the scene" when a Hutaree activist spoke about "going to war and killing police."

One of the defendants, Tina Mae Stone, was described by the Feds as an "active, engaged and vocal member" of the purported conspiracy because she overheard two conversations – one regarding a planned trip to Kentucky by David Stone, Sr. and the federal informant, and a second that took place in an FBI-rented warehouse in which the provocateur "discussed explosives" with Mr. Stone.

The latter conversation touched on the subject of using coffee cans and wine bottles to make improvised explosively formed projectiles (EFPs). Ms. Stone joked that "she would take one for the team and drink more wine, presumably so that the bottles could be used to make explosives," Roberts recounts. The Feds characterized that wisecrack as evidence that she had "played an active, unhesitant, and continuing role in obtaining materials to use in building EFPs" – despite the fact that she was present for only one meeting with the Hutaree co-defendants, and never provided them with anything.

Following dismissal of the case, Hutaree defendant Michael Meeks, a 42-year-old former Marine, said that the salient lesson taught by the case was the need for Americans to "watch what you say. Even the most innocent of statements can be used against you."

Actually, the lesson is that anything said in your presence can be used against you – and if a sufficiently incriminating remark isn't forthcoming from you or your friends, the Feds can always pay somebody to perform on cue, and on camera.

While the Feds didn’t succeed in imprisoning the Hutaree defendants for life, they were able to steal more than two years of their respective lives through pre-trial incarceration.

As a consolation prize, the Feds were able to extort guilty pleas from David Stone, Sr. and his son Joshua on weapons charges, which could result in prison terms.

Although U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade – the Madam DeFarge behind this case – wasn’t able to feed the defendants to the guillotine, she expressed a measure of vindictive satisfaction that the felony convictions mean "that these defendants will never be permitted to possess firearms again." She also reiterated the Regime’s intent to continue "dismantling" militias and other dissident groups suspected of impermissible animosity toward their rulers.



With Washington Now Imposing the World’s Highest Corporate Tax Rate, Every Day is April Fool’s Day for American Companies

Last year, I expressed skepticism that the White House was serious about reducing the corporate tax rate. And, sure enough, when the Obama Administration produced a plan earlier this year, it was a disappointing mix of a few good provisions and several unpalatable proposals.

This is unfortunate because the United States has one of the most punitive corporate tax systems in the developed world. Indeed, every singe European welfare state has a lower corporate tax rate than America – even leftists nations such as France and Sweden!

For a long time, only Japan imposed a more onerous tax rate than the United States. But even that now has changed. After toying with the idea since 2010, the Japanese government finally pulled the trigger and reduced the nation’s tax rate.

Here’s a brief blurb from Reuters:

"The United States will hold the dubious distinction starting on Sunday of having the developed world’s highest corporate tax rate after Japan’s drops to 38.01 percent… Japan’s reduction , prompted by years of pressure from Japanese politicians hoping to spur economic growth, will give that country the world’s second-highest rate. …The average 2012 corporate tax rate for the 34 developed countries is 25.4 percent, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development."

That leaves America in the unenviable position of having the developed world’s highest corporate tax rate, somewhere between 39 percent-40 percent.

The moral of the story is very straightforward. A high corporate tax rate is a self-imposed wound to American competitiveness. But that’s only part of the story. America also has a “worldwide” tax system, which forces U.S. companies to suffer a big disadvantage when trying to compete for market share in other nations.

No wonder even officials from the Clinton Administration have begun to argue that the corporate tax rate should be significantly lowered.



Bankruptcy can rein in greedy public sector unions

Distressed cities are finally doing what they should have been doing long ago, declaring bankruptcy to force concessions from public unions. Numbers are still a trickle, but at soon as a major city such as Oakland or LA selects that option, we will likely see a torrent of municipal bankruptcies.

At a packed, two-day conference on municipal woes sponsored by Michael Stanton, the publisher of The Bond Buyer Distressed Cities Discuss Bold Tactics in a New Fiscal Era.
The conference was devoted to a discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of the more powerful tools being used in many cities these days, including receiverships, emergency declarations and even bankruptcy.

Attempts to plug budget holes with one-time transactions are giving way to other approaches, “This is truly a new era for dealing with troubled municipalities,” said Stanton.

New woes were unfolding elsewhere even as a capacity crowd of government officials, investors, lawyers and credit analysts were gathering here to discuss the trend.

In Jefferson County, Ala. — which filed the biggest Chapter 9 municipal bankruptcy in American history this fall after its sewer-construction financing fell apart and a court threw out one of its taxes — county commissioners were voting to default on a general obligation bond payment.

In Detroit, city and state officials were sparring over how much emergency aid the city might be able to get, and how much state oversight and control would accompany it.

Stockton, Calif., was in negotiations in a last-ditch effort to avoid becoming the biggest American city yet to declare bankruptcy. And just two hours west of Philadelphia, Harrisburg, the state capital, recently announced that it would default on a payment coming due to general obligation bondholders.

Robert G. Flanders Jr., the state-appointed receiver for Central Falls, R.I., said his city’s declaration of bankruptcy had proved invaluable in helping it cut costs. Before the city declared bankruptcy, he said, he had found it impossible to wring meaningful concessions out of the city’s unions and retirees — who were being asked to give up roughly half of the pensions they had earned as the city ran out of cash.

“The municipality is on bended knee asking the retirees and unions to come to the table and give up their contract rights,” he recalled. “All of that leverage shifts once you have the gumption to pull the Chapter 9 trigger. And guess what? That produces agreements quicker and more effectively than otherwise.”

Naomi Richman, a managing director at Moody’s Investors Service, wondered aloud whether it might become more acceptable for cities to declare bankruptcy.

“Back in the ’80s, the stigma against corporate bankruptcy fell away, and it became viewed as a strategy a corporation might pursue for various reasons,” Ms. Richman said. “Recently, with the residential housing collapse, individual bankruptcy has less of stigma in society — it’s a strategy that a person might be advised to follow if they have a debt that they can’t afford. Could the same thing happen for municipal bankruptcy?”

Rhode Island City Offers Gloomy Lesson

The Huffington Post reports As Detroit Bankruptcy Looms, Rhode Island City Offers Gloomy Lesson
Bankers, consultants and elected officials gathered at a conference here on Wednesday to discuss a hot political question for the formerly sleepy municipal bond industry: how to sell the need to protect the rights of bondholders -- the often large, distant financial institutions who extend the credit that keeps towns humming -- when cities enter financial crisis. The issue has most recently been thrown into relief as a Monday deadline for the city of Detroit to accept a consent order to fix the city's budget looms.

From the comments of Flanders and others at the municipal bonds conference, it seems like the industry is in agreement about one thing going forward: someone is going to have to suffer, and it shouldn't be bondholders.

This idea that bondholders should not take losses is ludicrous. Anyone stupid enough to buy Detroit bonds should pay a hefty price. Moreover, since untenable promises made to public unions are generally a leading cause of bankruptcy, public unions should suffer as well.



There is a big new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc.

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