from the June 23, 2008 edition
What’s needed to discourage illegal immigration into the United States has been known for years: Enforce existing law.
Amazingly, that is happening now – to some degree. This trend may already be shrinking the flood across the Mexican border and have a modest positive impact on job prospects for “native born” Americans during the present economic slump.
Immigration prosecutions reached an all-time high in March, reports the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), a data research and distribution group at Syracuse University in New York. Using data from the Justice Department, it calculates that prosecutions were up 49 percent from February and 72.7 percent from March of last year. This highly unusual surge is filling up US detention centers and jails.
March prosecutions numbered 9,360. That’s small compared to the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants in the US. Nonetheless, “It’s working,” says Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington think tank that would like immigration levels reduced considerably.
The hike in prosecutions stems from an expansion of “Operation Streamline” last year by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Under the effort, undocumented aliens caught by border guards are no longer simply steered into “air-conditioned buses,” as Mr. Krikorian puts it, and driven back across the border to try crossing again. Instead, they are charged with crimes and detained.
The most common charge is “reentry of a deported alien.” But there are at least nine other crimes, including entry of an alien at an improper time or place. The result is detention until trial, usually before US Magistrate Courts. A typical sentence is one month, and then “removal.”
That time under detention, DHS hopes, will deter these aliens from trying again and discourage others from even trying. Border crossings have plunged, especially in areas where those caught are put into lockups. Border patrol apprehensions along the Mexican border were down 17 percent to 347,372 between October 2007 and March 2008, compared with the same period a year previous.
In addition to the border measures, immigration officials have stepped up well-publicized raids on meatpacking firms and other companies hiring undocumented workers. States, including Arizona, also have been cracking down on employers of illegal immigrants, a crime often harder to prove in court than illegal border crossing.
Krikorian guesses that in the past, 800,000 to 900,000 illegal immigrants successfully entered the US every year, and about 400,000 left voluntarily or were deported each year – a net growth of about 500,000 illegal immigrants a year.
If current moves to restrain illegal immigration trim that growth by 100,000 to 200,000 immigrants, it should have some effect on the nation’s labor supply, notes University of Chicago economist Jeffrey Grogger. He’s coauthor of a paper calculating that a 10 percent increase in the supply of a particular skill group caused by higher immigration prompted a reduction in the wages of similarly low-skilled black men by 4 percent between 1960 and 2000, lowered their employment rate by a huge 3.5 percentage points, and increased their incarceration rate by almost a full percentage point.
So, presumably, fewer low-skilled immigrants could gradually induce more work for low-skilled native Americans.
The weaker economy and labor market should also prove less of a draw for immigrants, mostly undocumented ones, over the next year or two, cutting the flow by “several hundred thousand” per year, reckons a new study by four economists with Goldman Sachs, a prominent Wall Street investment bank. That would reduce labor-force growth by 0.2 to 0.3 percentage points compared with the growth rate in the past few years – and thus the potential for greater economic growth. The Goldman Sachs economists would welcome an increase in the flow of immigrants as a way to absorb the excess inventory of homes troubling the housing industry, and mitigate the “incipient pressures on the federal budget due to the impending retirement of the baby boom generation.”
But a study by Northeastern University’s Center for Labor Market Studies in Boston attributes the “unprecedented” levels of legal, illegal, and temporary immigration as a factor underlying the “devastation” in the job scene for America’s teens and young adults over the past seven years. That’s especially the case for males with no schooling beyond high school and youths from low-income families. Summer seasonal jobs as a proportion of all jobs are at the lowest level now in the past 30 years.
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To the editor of the Wall Street Journal:
What Kind of Change?
By Victor Davis Hanson
The Washington Times | 6/23/2008
By this point in the presidential campaign, the public knows a charismatic Barack Obama wants sweeping “change.”
While the national media have often fallen hard for the Illinois senator’s rhetoric – MSNBC’s Chris Matthews said he felt a “thrill going up my leg” during an Obama speech – exactly what kind of change can Mr. Obama bring if he’s elected in November?
Foreign Policy: Take Mr. Obama’s foreign-policy pronouncements, which promise a break with the unhappy past. Two doctrines are most prominent. One is to engage our enemies and be nicer to our allies. The other calls for leaving Iraq on a set timetable.
The problem with the first is that key allies like the conservative French, German and Italian governments – unlike the days of rage in 2003 – now embrace pretty much the same policies we do. Britain and the European Union just called for imposing tougher sanctions on Iran, while France and Britain promise more troops for Afghanistan.
In February 2007, Mr. Obama called for American troops out of Iraq by March 2008. But in the last four months since that proposed final departure, violence is way down: The U.S. military and Iraqi army have stabilized much of the country.
The world in January 2009 will not be the same as it was in February 2007. So would a President Obama really engage Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad just as the Europeans are isolating him, or give up on Iraq when the American military may well gradually draw down in victory, not defeat?
Energy: Gas prices are soaring. Americans are frustrated (and a bit ashamed) that we continue to beg the Saudis to pump another half-million barrels a day on their soil and off their shores to ease global tight supplies, when we could pump much more than that in Alaska, off our coasts and on the Outer Continental Shelf – and thus save hundreds of billions of dollars.
Yet Mr. Obama’s change probably wouldn’t include more drilling; more nuclear power plants; or fuel extraction from tar sands, shale or coal. Instead, his strategy emphasizes more conservation; mass transit; and wind, solar and alternate green energy. All that is certainly wise and could be a winning combination by 2030, but right now it won’t fill our tanks.
Taxes: Mr. Obama also wishes to raise trillions in new taxes by upping the capital-gains margins, restoring inheritance taxes, raising the income rates on the upper brackets and lifting the income caps on Social Security payroll taxes. Such an old-fashioned soak-the-rich plan will please a strapped public tired of overpaid CEOs and Wall Street jet-setting.
Yet forcing the affluent to pay even more won’t necessarily reduce annual deficits of the last eight years or pay down the huge national debt – not when Mr. Obama promises more vast entitlements in health care, education and housing, and current federal revenues were increased by past tax cuts that spurred economic growth.
Mr. Obama promises a new style of politics that is issue-based, rather than attack-dog. But so far, he has campaigned in conventional fashion: He is tough on his opponents and as prone to overstatements and mischaracterizations as any other candidate.
The take-no-prisoners Moveon.org, which gave us the “General Betray Us” ads, is now an ally running third-party hit pieces on John McCain. Such outside help is customary in an election but seems inconsistent with Mr. Obama’s disavowals of the hardball politics of the past.
Mr. Obama has promised a new dialogue on race and tolerance. His own impressive personal journey may make that possible. But his 20-year intimate relationship with the racist Rev. Jeremiah Wright suggests that for years he was heavily invested in the rather tired and predictable identity politics of grievance rather than a vocal advocate of novel racial transcendence.
Overall, Mr. Obama’s announced policies are sounding pretty much the same old, same old once promised by candidates like George McGovern, Mike Dukakis, Walter Mondale, Al Gore and John Kerry. Of course, a return to the standard big-government nostrums of the past may well be what the angry voters want after 20 years of the Bushes and Clintons. But it is not a novel agenda, much less championed by a post-racial, post-political emissary.
So what are the Democrats thinking? That a mesmerizing, path-breaking African-American candidate – coupled with Bush exhaustion – will overcome past public skepticism of Northern presidential Democratic candidates, traditional liberal agendas and Mr. Obama’s own relative lack of experience.
In other words, we should count on hope rather than change.
Muslim Mindset: ‘The hatred is in Muhammad himself’
To Westerners and moderate Muslims shocked by the radical form of Islam now topping nightly newscasts, the efforts of liberal-minded Muslims like Tawfik Hamid, Italian Sheikh Abdul Hadi Palazzi and a handful of others may seem like the perfect solution. Not so for Ali Sina, who has a different suggestion: destroy Islam.
Sina, who runs Faith Freedom International – an Internet forum dedicated to debunking Islam – calls himself “probably the biggest anti-Islam person alive.” The publication of his latest book, Understanding Muhammad: A Psychobiography of Allah’s Prophet, will likely cement that position. In it, Sina suggests that Islam’s central figure suffered from a series of mental disorders, including narcissistic personality disorder, temporal lobe epilepsy and obsessive compulsive disorder.
“These disorders,” he says via telephone, “can explain the phenomenon known as Islam… which is nothing but one man’s insanity.”
Sina grew up a non-practicing Muslim. Raised in Iran, educated in Pakistan and Italy and now living in Canada, he began jousting with believers in the 1990s. What bothered him, he tells The Jerusalem Post, was not the penchant for jihad and intolerance that certain fanatical Muslims displayed, but the foundation for such ills in the Koran and core Islamic texts.
(Through the Faith Freedom Web site, Sina lists canonical references to Muhammad’s actions and offers $50,000 to anyone who can disprove Sina’s charge that Islam’s prophet was “a narcissist, a misogynist, a rapist, a pedophile, a lecher, a torturer, a mass murderer, a cult leader, an assassin, a terrorist, a mad man and a looter.” Respondents relentlessly attack Sina’s motives, but none has won the prize.)
With violent conquest and contempt for non-believers central to the tenets of the faith, Sina argues, attempts to forge a moderate form of Islam are doomed.
“The idea that Islam can be reformed is a fallacy,” he scoffs. “It’s like saying we can reform Nazism and it will be a wonderful party.”
No, says Sina, “The only way to reform Islam is to throw away the Koran; 90 percent of it should be thrown away. You also have to throw away the history of Islam, and you have to completely disregard the Sira” – the Arabic term used for the various traditional Muslim biographies of Muhammad, from which most historical information about his life and the early period of Islam is derived.
For this reason, Sina says, Western suggestions that extremism in Islam can be eradicated if certain imams are quieted, or if Muslims are encouraged to embrace the universalist elements of their faith – but without addressing the extremism inherent in the religion’s texts – are based on a mistaken comparison of Islam to Christianity.
“In the West, people ask whether Islam can undergo a reformation like the one that Christianity underwent. That’s a poor parallel,” he says. “In Christianity, it wasn’t the religion that needed to be reformed, but the church; what Jesus preached was good.”
On the other hand, Sina continues, “In Islam, it’s not the community that is bad, but the religion. Islam has nothing like ‘Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.’ Islam is full of hatred, and the hatred is in Muhammad himself. I argue in my book that Muhammad was insane – and that Muslims, by emulating him and by emulating his ways, his insanity is bequeathed to them.”
BY NOW, CRITICS of Islam are fairly common in the West. And there are more than a few former Muslims who have rejected Islam in favor of Christianity, citing the difference between their former religion’s overwhelming focus on hatred and their newfound faith’s central teaching of love and forgiveness. But, like Wafa Sultan, Ibn Warraq, Ayaan Hirsi Ali and the handful of other apostate Muslims demanding that Muslims reject the negative aspects of their religion, Sina’s critiques are especially problematic.
“People have to dismiss me some way, they have to put me down in one way or another. I’m a Jew, I’m a Christian, I’m a Hindu. I’m whatever people want to say in order to discredit me,” says Sina, who closely guards his true identity because of the death threats he receives. “But they can’t ignore my questions.”
Sina has little patience for those who believe they can temper Islam with reason and mutual respect, or for those who remain cowed by the masses of Muslim devotees around the world.
“Islam is the biggest hoax, the biggest lie,” he says. “Yes, a billion people believe it. But truth is truth. People will eventually see it. Believe me, there is no other answer. We will pay a great price until we realize that this is the solution – to undermine Islam itself, to show Muslims that this religion is not from God, that Muhammad was a charlatan and a liar.”
Sina knows that his blunt, outspoken approach can be “problematic.” But he is confident nonetheless that the force of his arguments will ultimately prevail.
“I am sure that, with time, I will convince millions and millions of Muslims, and the foundations of Islam will collapse,” he says.
Already, he continues, Faith Freedom has attracted an impressive amount of attention.
“In Iran, my site is banned. In many parts of Pakistan, it is banned. The list goes on,” he says. “Despite this, I have over 10 million readers in just over two and a half years. And I have received letters from Muslims from all over the world. Muslims everywhere are paying attention. I believe that Muslims everywhere are realizing that something is amiss.
“If I didn’t have so much success in convincing people, then I would not be so confident. But I see that truth works. So many people who are now writing for me and putting things up on Youtube; seven or eight years ago, we were having fierce debates. Now, they are my greatest allies. There are many people who have seen the light after reading FFI and many of them are now working on my side, trying to help others to see the truth.
“This is the way to fight evil. I do not want to kill the enemy. I want to win them as friends and allies. That is the real victory. In this way, we win because we eliminate our enemy, and our enemy wins by eliminating his ignorance and hate. That is why I believe in my cause. That is why I think I am an instrument of peace.”
As recently as 2006, former top Pentagon official William Gawthrop lamented that
“the senior Service colleges of the Department of Defense had not incorporated into their curriculum a systematic study of Muhammad as a military or political leader. As a consequence, we still do not have an in-depth understanding of the war-fighting doctrine laid down by Muhammad, how it might be applied today by an increasing number of Islamic groups, or how it might be countered” [emphasis added].
This is more ironic when one considers that, while classical military theories (Clausewitz, Sun Tzu, Machiavelli, et. al.) are still studied, the argument can be made that they have little practical value for today’s much changed landscape of warfare and diplomacy. Whatever validity this argument may have, it certainly cannot be applied to Islam’s doctrines of war; by having a “theological” quality, that is, by being grounded in a religion whose “divine” precepts transcend time and space, and are thus believed to be immutable, Islam’s war doctrines are considered applicable today no less than yesterday.
While one can argue that learning how Alexander maneuvered his cavalry at the Battle of Guagamela in 331 BC is both academic and anachronistic, the same cannot be said of Islam, particularly the exploits and stratagems of its prophet Muhammad — his “war sunna” — which still serve as an example to modern day jihadists. For instance, based on the words and deeds of Muhammad, most schools of Islamic jurisprudence agree that the following are all legitimate during war against the infidel:
- the indiscriminate use of missile weaponry, even if women and children are present (catapults in Muhammad’s 7th century, hijacked planes or WMD by analogy today);
- the need to always deceive the enemy and even break formal treatises whenever possible [see Sahih Muslim 15: 4057];
- and that the only function of the peace treaty, or “hudna,” is to give the Islamic armies time to regroup for a renewed offensive, and should, in theory, last no more than ten years.
Koranic verses 3:28 and 16:106, as well as Muhammad’s famous assertion, “War is deceit,” have all led to the formulation of a number of doctrines of dissimulation-the most notorious among them being the doctrine of “Taqiyya,” which permits Muslims to lie and dissemble whenever they are under the authority of the infidel. Deception has such a prominent role that renowned Muslim scholar Ibn al-Arabi declares: “[I]n the Hadith, practicing deceit in war is well demonstrated. Indeed, its need is more stressed than [the need for] courage” (The Al Qaeda Reader, 142).
Aside from ignoring these well documented Islamist strategies, more troubling is the fact that the Defense Department does not seem to appreciate Islam’s more “eternal” doctrines, such as the Abode of War versus the Abode of Islam dichotomy, which in essence maintains that Islam must always be in a state of animosity vis-à-vis the infidel world and, whenever possible, must wage wars until all infidel territory has been brought under Islamic rule. In fact, this dichotomy of hostility is unambiguously codified under Islam’s worldview and is deemed a fard kifaya-that is, an obligation on the entire Muslim body that can only be fulfilled as long as some Muslims, say, “jihadists,” actively uphold it.
Yet despite all these problematic but revealing doctrines, despite the fact that a quick perusal of Islamist websites and books demonstrate time and time again that current and would-be jihadists constantly quote, and thus take seriously, these doctrinal aspects of war, apparently the senior governmental leaders charged with defending America do not.
Why? Because the “Whisperers” — Walid Phares’ all too apt epithet for many Middle East/Islamic scholars, or, more appropriately, apologists — have made anathema anyone who dares imply that there may be some sort of connection between Islamic doctrine and modern-day Islamist terrorism, such as in the recent Steven Coughlin debacle. This is a long and all too well known tale for those in the field (see Martin Kramer’s Ivory Towers on Sand: the Failure of Middle Eastern Studies in America).
But consider for a moment: though there are today many Middle East studies departments, one will be sorely pressed, especially in the more “prestigious” universities, to find any courses dealing with the most pivotal and relevant topics of today, such as Islamic jurisprudence and what it has to say about jihad or the concept of Abode of Islam versus the Abode of War — no doubt due to the fact that these topics possess troubling international implications and are best buried. Instead, the would-be student will be inundated with courses dealing with the evils of “Orientalism” and colonialism, gender studies, and civil society.
The greater irony — when one talks about Islam and the West, ironies often abound — is that, on the very same day of the ASMEA conference, which also contained a forthright address by premiere Islamic scholar Bernard Lewis (“It seems to me a dangerous situation in which any kind of scholarly discussion of Islam is, to say the least, dangerous”), the State Department announced that it had adopted the recommendations of a memo stating that the government should not call al-Qaeda type radicals “jihadis,” “mujahadin,” or to incorporate any other Arabic word of Islamic connotation (“caliphate,” “Islamo-fascism,” “Salafi,” “Wahhabi,” and “Ummah” are also out).
Alas, far from taking the most basic and simple advice regarding warfare-Sun Tzu’s ancient dictum, “Know thy enemy”-the U.S. government is having difficulties even acknowledging its enemy.
By Steve Boler
We often hear of how we must reduce our carbon footprint. We are told as Americans, that CO2 is a pollutant and that we release upwards of 20 tons of carbon dioxide per person per year into the atmosphere. This sounds incredible and evokes images of black soot and dirt clogging the air.
In fact, despite recent increases in CO2, both NASA and the UN’s IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) have recently conceded that the earth has entered a natural cooling phase that will last decades. However if you are concerned about the size of your footprint read on:
How big is your is your footprint in relation to the atmosphere? Grab a ruler, and let’s go for a walk. Make each step about one meter long, so walk as though you are a football referee. As we are walking we will both count each step and do some math. How much CO2 is in the atmosphere? Current estimates put it at 350 -380 parts per million. For ease of computation, we will round it up to the nearest 100, or 400 parts per million. Now let’s use that old fashioned math and reduce that down. 400 parts per million is the same as 40 parts per 100,000 and can be reduced further to 4 parts per 10,000. When we have finished taking 10,000 steps, stop and turn around. You have just walked 10,000 meters or 10K, which runners know is roughly 6 miles. At average walking speed this takes about 2 hours. (If you do not want to take the walk, get in your car, and drive 6 miles, just to see how far it is.) Once there, look back at where you started. Remember that all the CO2 in the atmosphere is 4 parts per 10,000. Take 4 steps back towards your starting point. Those four steps out of 6 miles represent the entire amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.
Global warmists determine that the carbon dioxide caused from man as the amount we have today over what existed before the Industrial Revolution. That is debatable, with some scientists estimating that man is only responsible for 15% of that amount, but for our demonstration purposes we will concede to the alarmists that all the additional CO2 came from Man.
One step out of the 6 miles represents man’s carbon footprint from the 1880s until today. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL) the entire CO2 increase for the earth in 2007, was 2.4 parts per million.
Once again we will assume it is all man made and, furthermore, we will round up to 2.5. The 2007 world wide carbon footprint of 2.5 parts per million translates in our walk to two and one half centimeters, or about 1 inch out of 6 miles. Some environmentalists suggest that the three hundred million people in the United States are responsible for as much as one fifth of all CO2 released in a year.
Because it is easier to find ¼ inch on our ruler, let us say that the U.S. population is responsible for one quarter of all CO2 released in the world last year. Look at the ¼ of an inch on your ruler that represents the carbon footprint of the entire U.S.. Now look back over the six miles you walked that represents the entire atmosphere.
Scott Johnson has a piece in the New York Post today taking Onama to task for being unaware of history and the law when it comes to terrorism:
In his ABC interview last Monday, for example, Obama attacked the Bush approach on fighting terror. He claimed that, in the case of “the first attack against the World Trade Center, we were able to arrest those responsible, put them on trial. They are currently in US prisons, incapacitated.”As an assistant US attorney, Andrew McCarthy prosecuted the perpetrators of the 1993 WTC attack. He calls Obama’s statement “a remarkably ignorant account of the American experience with jihadism.”Writing for National Review Online, McCarthy notes: “While the government managed to prosecute many people responsible for the 1993 WTC bombing, many also escaped prosecution because of the limits on civilian criminal prosecution.“Some who contributed to the attack, like Khalid Sheik Mohammed, continued to operate freely because they were beyond the system’s capacity to apprehend. Abdul Rahman Yasin was released prematurely because there was not sufficient evidence to hold him – he fled to Iraq, where he was harbored for a decade (and has never been apprehended).”Pointing to the later terrorist attacks on Americans and US assets, culminating in 9/11, McCarthy concludes that the law-enforcement approach to combating terrorism was futile.
This is the “9/10″ mindset that John McCain has been hammering away at Obama on for the last 10 days. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be getting much play in the media or traction with the electorate. But it shows Obama truly lacking a fundamental understanding of the War on Terror and more importantly, our own government’s response to the challenge.
The worry I have is that we will be attacked by terrorists and Mr. Obama will retaliate in such a way as to make further attacks more likely. This is the essence of our counterterrorism policy; wipe out the enemy before he can hit us and, failing that, making the terrorists and their state enablers pay dearly.
Obama wants to “arrest” the terrorists. John McCain wants to kill them. Who are you going to vote for?