Patterico's Pontifications

4/25/2012

News Reports: Supreme Court Looks Ready to Uphold Most of Arizona Immigration Law

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:31 pm

Adam Liptak at the New York Times: Justices Seem Sympathetic to Central Part of Arizona Law.

Justices across the ideological spectrum appeared inclined on Wednesday to uphold a controversial part of Arizona’s aggressive 2010 immigration law, based on their questions at a Supreme Court argument.

“You can see it’s not selling very well,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor, a member of the court’s liberal wing and its first Hispanic justice, told Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr., referring to a central part of his argument against the measure.

David Savage at the L.A. Times:

The Supreme Court justices, hearing arguments Wednesday over Arizona’s tough immigration law, suggested they were inclined to uphold parts of the state’s law but may block other parts.

The Obama administration lawyer who wanted the entire law struck down ran into skeptical questions from most of the justices, who said they saw no problem with requiring police officers to check the immigration status of people who are stopped.

But the justices also said they were troubled by parts of the Arizona law that made it a state crime for illegal immigrants to not carry documents or seek work. The stop-and-arrest provision has been the most contested part of the law.

Bloomberg.com:

Inside, court members voiced skepticism about parts of the Arizona law, including penalties on illegal immigrants who seek jobs. Still, the justices made clear they see states as having a role to play in addressing the presence of what the government has estimated is 11.5 million unauthorized aliens in the U.S.

“What does sovereignty mean if it does not include the ability to defend your borders?” Justice Antonin Scalia said during the 80-minute session, which ran 20 minutes beyond its scheduled time.

The transcript of the oral argument is here. I have not had time to read it.

Report: Newt Out

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:54 am

It’s not official yet, but should be soon:

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is expected to suspend his presidential campaign within the next week, according to a Republican operative familiar on the decision.

H/t Aaron Worthing.

Not too earth-shattering, but nice to see we can start fully directing our resources to attacking Obama.

Supreme Court Hears Arizona Immigration Law Case

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:39 am

The Supreme Court today hears arguments regarding Arizona’s immigration law. It is a rematch of the ObamaCare arguments, with whiz kid Paul Clement once again facing off against “chokin’ Don” Verrilli. The issue, as I see it, is whether Arizona is authorized to empower local law enforcement to carry out federal immigration law, or whether President Obama gets to say: hey, I am the decider of what laws we’re going to enforce around here.

Here are a couple of passages from the United States’s brief (.pdf):

Section 6, therefore, does not serve any state-specific crime-prevention goal; it instead works in tandem with Section 2 to allow second-guessing of federal enforcement priorities. For the same reasons as Section 2, that effort is preempted: while cooperative law-enforcement efforts are both permissible and welcome, arrests based on state officials’ view of who should be removed are not “cooperat[ion].”

That’s on page 28, and you should read “federal law enforcement priorities” as code for “Obama’s decision not to fully enforce immigration laws.” He is the president, dammit, and he doesn’t want his nullification of Congress’s laws to be nullified. More, at page 26:

Federal law and policy do not adopt such a one-size-fits-all approach to enforcement. The officials who enforce the Nation’s immigration laws require significant discretion in order to balance numerous goals and purposes relevant under the INA, including law enforcement priorities, foreign-relations considerations, and humanitarian concerns. Congress has expressly directed the Secretary to prioritize “the identification and removal of aliens convicted of a crime by the severity of that crime.” DHS Appropriations Act, Tit. II, 123 Stat. 2149. Among criminal aliens, DHS’s highest enforcement priorities are aliens who threaten public safety or national security and members of criminal gangs that smuggle aliens and contraband. DHS also gives priority to removing repeat border crossers, recent entrants, aliens who have previously been removed, and aliens who have disregarded an immigration court’s final order of removal. C.A. Supp. E.R. 109-111. Federal officials exercise countervailing discretion in some instances; in some individual cases, humanitarian considerations may call for deferring removal of an otherwise removable alien.

You should read this passage as code for: Obama does not want to fully enforce federal immigration law, because it might upset Mexico (foreign-relations considerations) or piss off Latino voters (humanitarian concerns).

Now, the argument about “priorities” does not carry much weight when the states are offering their resources to effect more enforcement. For example, if I have four goals and prioritize goal #1, I can’t really complain when someone says: “I’ll help you, but I want to focus more on goals 2-4.”

That is, unless goals 2-4 aren’t really goals of mine, and I am paying lip service to them — or there is some compelling reason (beyond insufficient resources) that I shouldn’t address goals 2-4 before goal 1.

President Obama isn’t the only player in this game. Congress has passed laws and expects them to be enforced. Obama surely has discretion, but that discretion should not extend to non-enforcement. And that is what he seems to seek: the ability not to enforce federal immigration law.

If the Supreme Court sees the issue the way I do, it may be another 5-3 split the way it was last time an Arizona immigration law went to the High Court. (Justice Kagan is recusing herself from this one.) Today’s arguments may send a clear signal. It should be interesting.

How I learned to stop worrying about “manufactured” outrage

Filed under: 2012 Election — Karl @ 7:03 am

[Posted by Karl]

Or perhaps it is how I learned to start being concerned about “manufactured” outrage.  It depends on how you look at it, I suppose.

After all, when I read generally conservative columnists like Matt K. Lewis or John Podhoretz disdaining “manufactured” outrages from different angles — even when the GOP may enjoy some temporary advantage from the kerfuffles of the current campaign —  I am not entirely unsympathetic.  Indeed, I am already on record arguing that institutionally, the GOP should not engage in these controversies, but note that Democrats have been generating them to distract from the anemic economy and the Obama administration’s record on the issues Americans care most about.  I think that’s pretty close to Podhoretz’s position, if I’m reading him correctly.

On the other hand, I recognize at least two problems inherent in the position of disdaining these distractions entirely.

First, there is at least a whiff of condescension involved.  I do not think those upset by the Obama administration’s plans to infringe on religious liberty as part of Obamacare are just pretending to be upset.  I doubt the progressives who seem so passionate about increasing access to abortion and birth control are playing make-believe (beyond the notion that such access is “free” in terms of money or overall liberty).  People who denounce a Democratic honcho who let her mask slip to suggest stay-at-home mothers don’t really work are not entirely engaged in hype.  I may think economic growth, exploding public debt and the entirety of Obamacare to be bigger issues, but it would be elitist to deny there are real issues at the heart of most of the supposed sideshows of the campaign so far.

This is even arguably true about this campaign’s dog tales.  Admittedly, whether Mitt Romney once transported his family dog atop his car or Obama ate dog as a child in Indonesia (with little apparent regret as an adult) has no direct policy consequences.  On the other hand, Podhoretz admits Democrats became interested in the Romney dog tale because of the effect it had on Mitt’s favorability in focus groups.  Moreover, the intersection of moral psychology and politics is a hot topic these past months.  And in this regard, it is notable that when asked whether it would be wrong for a family to eat the family dog after it was killed by a car, it turns out that the only group that thinks it alright is college-educated liberals.  The swingiest of swing voters are almost by definition not particularly moved by policy arguments, or they would be partisans.  America is still a free enough country that we get to tell this key bloc that dog tales are unimportant, but they don’t have to listen.

The second major problem with ignoring campaign sideshows is Utopianism.  As Podhoretz notes, opposition research is democratized in the Internet Age.  And Lewis concedes that ceding the field to Democrats on these issues may be necessary to win elections (and thereby address those “real” issues).  There is nothing in American history, let alone the history of the Internet Age, suggesting that a handful of pundits — or even concerted efforts by candidates and their teams — are going to stop these controversies.  To rhetorically shovel against this tide is in one sense noble, but also unconservative to the degree that it pretends human nature is so easily molded by the political realm.

In short, while I still think it helps the GOP to use these kerfuffles to say Democrats want to avoid discussing the economy and Obama’s record, there is probably a role for those who want neutralize or reverse their effect.

–Karl

4/24/2012

NY, CT, RI, PA, DE primary thread

Filed under: 2012 Election — Karl @ 3:22 pm

[Posted by Karl]

Ed Morrissey is entirely correct about the anticlimactic nature of these contests.  Indeed, it is doubly so when you consider that Pennsylvania is the only state in this group the GOP has a reasonable shot to win in November.  However, it is worth reminding ourselves the degree to which the RNC’s calendar drives perceptions of the primaries.  Had Rick Santorum done a little better in March (and his daughter had not fallen ill), tonight’s results would be hyped by the cable nets, and the likely results trumpeted at Romney regaining momentum.  Instead, everyone yawns, and the spin probably will focus on spurious voter turnout numbers.

–Karl

L.A. Times Uses Classic Liberal Bias Techniques in Article on Death Penalty Initiative

Filed under: Crime,Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 6:28 am

In reporting on an initiative to abolish the death penalty, the L.A. Times tells us about the “[g]rowing numbers” of people — conservatives, even! — who oppose capital punishment:

Growing numbers of conservatives in California have joined the effort to repeal the state’s capital punishment law, expressing frustration with its price tag and the rarity of executions.

The numbers have grown so much, it’s now a “chorus”!

The chorus of criticism has death penalty advocates worried, even though California voters have historically favored capital punishment, passing several measures over the last few decades to toughen criminal penalties and expand the number of crimes punishable by death.

Way back in 2004, I discussed the way this newspaper employs phrases like “growing chorus” to describe public opinions they agree with:

[W]hy another story on this topic? Blame the “growing chorus”:

A growing chorus of Bush critics has emerged in recent weeks, saying his youthful conduct then is freshly relevant today.

I have warned you that such language is a signal that the paper agrees with the criticism. When the paper disagrees with criticism of a candidate, it is portrayed as an attack by political opponents. When the paper agrees with the criticism, the criticism becomes a mysterious and disembodied (but ever-growing) entity. Doubts grow. Criticism emerges.

This doesn’t apply merely to criticism of candidates, but any public controversy that the paper’s editors want to push. The fact is that the way an article is worded can skew the reader’s perceptions markedly even if the facts are correct. Since we’re revisiting old posts, let’s look at another example, this time from 2007:

The article in question begins:

WASHINGTON — The growing controversy over White House recordkeeping and disclosure swirled around presidential adviser Karl Rove on Thursday, as congressional Democrats said they were told some e-mails that Rove sent from a Republican National Committee account are missing.

I have to take my hat off to the reporters for the skill in which they portray the controversy as a ghostly entity with a spirit all its own — rather than as attacks on the Administration by partisan Democrats.

And so it is with the article on the death penalty initiative. We are told about all the public officials who have changed their minds on the death penalty, and told that this represents a growing chorus that has death penalty supporters worried. But just how worried are they? When we hear the actual quote, it doesn’t sound like they are as worried as they were portrayed:

“The people of California have regularly voted for the death penalty by wide margins, but of course it has to be a matter of concern,” said Kent Scheidegger, legal director of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, which advocates for tough criminal penalties. He said fundraising to defeat the November measure would be difficult.

And indeed, when we look at the numbers, support for the death penalty is still strong even in reliably Democratic California. The last time the Field Poll surveyed Californians on this issue, 68% supported the death penalty (.pdf). Although the poll tries to claim that a growing number of people support life without parole for first degree murder, that is misleading, because we don’t impose death in every first degree murder case — by a longshot. Death is reserved for the worst of the worst, and asking people what punishment they prefer for first degree murder in the abstract (as the Field Poll does) does not answer the question whether they want to reserve death as an option for serial murderers, child rapist-murderers, people who murder and continue to kill after being incarcerated, and so forth. Kent Scheidegger addressed this in 2010:

But Kent Scheidegger, legal director of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, which supports capital punishment, said the question on death and life without parole was misleading because respondents were asked to choose a uniform punishment for all first-degree murderers.

“The question really is, do you favor the death penalty for the worst murderers?” Scheidegger said. “Very few people want the death penalty for every first-degree murder case.”

Overall, he said, the poll shows that “support for the death penalty is pretty stable.”

As long as the California initiative is described in a fair and non-misleading manner on the ballot, I am not particularly concerned about it.

By the way? One of the big arguments in the article is that the death penalty costs too much. I will never stop being amazed by the gall of those who throw up roadblocks to the implementation of the death penalty, and then argue that we shouldn’t have the death penalty because there are so many roadblocks. But this is what death penalty opponents do.

It’s a “by any means” necessary point of view. And one of the “means” is to take strong public support for the death penalty and portray it as a growing, swelling, ever-increasing opposition. They will suggest, as the article does, that abolishing the death penalty is better for victims:

Most death row inmates would be returned to the general prison population and be expected to work. Their earnings would go to crime victims.

Don’t you care about victims, Californians?

Seen this way, the editors aren’t behaving as journalists here, but as partisans. In that vein, I will note that the article is by Maura Dolan, one of two reporters who screwed up a DNA story to make it sound more favorable to the defense, and refused to admit that she had gotten it wrong.

Nice to see she’s on the death penalty beat. I have a feeling this article will be the first in a growing chorus of articles by her designed to sway Californians to vote for this initiative.

UPDATE: Here’s another one I missed, from April 14: Fight against death penalty gains momentum in states.

The fight against the death penalty is gaining momentum, opponents of the practice say, with Connecticut’s decision this month to abolish capital punishment making it the fifth state in five years to so do.

It’s a growing chorus!

Jon Lovitz Screams About Taxes

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 5:38 am

All you really need to hear is the first 80 seconds or so. Via Hot Air.

4/23/2012

Book: Contact with Underage Girl Was Weiner’s Downfall

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:18 pm

The New York Post reports:

President Obama was willing to put up with a lot of Anthony Weiner’s antics — the bad boy congressman’s sexting with women he never met, tweeting pics of his own penis, and acid tongue.

But the White House finally got fed up when reports emerged that the pol was in contact with an underage girl.

According to a new book, the cold shoulder from the White House was the beginning of the end of Weiner’s career in Congress.

“We were willing to stand by him before, but I don’t see how we can do it any longer,” White House political director Patrick Gaspard is quoted as telling Weiner’s advisers.

With that, Weiner — who thought he could weather the scandal that started when he accidentally tweeted a crotch shot — lost his trademark bravado.

“I just can’t figure out what I should do,” Weiner told advisers.

I believe the girl in question is the one discussed in posts of mine, here and here and here.

I never knew until now that these posts were so central to Weiner’s decision to step down. Now that I realize this, a lot of things make sense.

About which, more later.

P.S. The book comes out tomorrow and can be ordered here.

Open Thread: John Edwards

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:10 pm

Not the first guy to confuse “campaign funds” with “funds used to cover up a scandal.”

Hot Air has more here.

Comment away.

L.A. Times: Romney’s Constitutional Health Care Plan Is Just Like Obama’s Unconstitutional Plan!

Filed under: 2012 Election,Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 7:18 am

The L.A. Times tells us Romneycare is “similar” to Obamacare (only much, much scarier!):

Romney’s plan follows a lead set by President George W. Bush, who unsuccessfully pushed for a healthcare overhaul. It adopts proposals long championed by conservative healthcare experts.

It also sharply contrasts with Romney’s last foray into healthcare reform. As governor of Massachusetts, Romney successfully pushed a law that guaranteed coverage for all state residents and included a requirement that people buy insurance — an individual mandate similar to Obama’s.

Very similar . . . with one smalllll, tiny leetle difference: Romney’s plan was constitutional, while Obama’s is not. (That last statement is not just my opinion, by the way. It is also the opinion of somewhere between 4 and 5 Supreme Court justices!)

The difference between legal and (at least very arguably) illegal is not a distinction without a difference. It’s like saying: Joanne and Chester both take property from a home and keep it, therefore their actions are “similar” — without noting that Joanne is the homeowner, while Chester is a burglar.

Legal vs. illegal matters. Whether the federal government is overstepping its constitutional authority matters.

I guess this is too subtle a point to expect a newspaper reporter to understand, and therefore far too subtle for the general public. Which means that, for the electorate, Romneycare and Obamacare are really the same — meaning we have basically lost that issue for the election.

But if we wanted to try to take it back, the way to start would be to note the distinction that the L.A. Times refuses to tell you about.

P.S. The rest of the L.A. Times article simply tells you why Romney’s current plan — giving Americans a tax break to make their own choices — is “more revolutionary” and “potentially more disruptive” than Obamacare. Fisk away in the comments.

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