THE OTHER SHOE DROPS: Updates To Previous Posts
† A To Z Approach On Illegal Immigration In AZ: A Washington Post editorial terms the most recent attempts of AZ state legislators to keep forged documented aliens on their side of the U.S.-Mexico border “official malice,” and contends that proposed laws defining illegal entry into the U.S. as “trespassing,” criminalizing the hiring of undocumented workers and requiring local law enforcement help enforce federal immigration laws are meant to “harass, intimidate and hound the state's several hundred thousand undocumented residents.” The WaPo adds: “No other state has gone so far to usurp the federal government's authority over immigration enforcement.”
† States’ Rights Vs. The Feds: AZ’s insistence on asserting control over what is legal within its borders has become a flash point with the Obama administration. So too, mandatory health insurance coverage. The VA Legislature is poised to pass legislation that will be “one of the greatest tests of federal power over the states since the civil rights era,” reports The Boston Globe:
Virginia’s lawmakers are focused on constitutional questions and the power of states to run their own affairs.
“The administration is trying to shift from a government by social compact, agreement between elected officials and citizens, to a government where the leaders tell the subjects what to do,’’ said Virginia Delegate Bob Marshall, a Republican and chief sponsor of the measure. “That is not what the American Revolution was about.’’
The National Conference of State Legislatures says similar bills or state constitutional amendments are being proposed in at least 32 states. …
In Arizona, for example, voters will have a chance to approve a constitutional amendment this fall that would “preserve the freedom of all residents of the state to provide for their own health care.’’
Obama won Virginia in the presidential election, but that was followed by the 2009 election of McDonnell as governor, which was interpreted partly as an ebb in enthusiasm for the president’s policies.
The effort to reject a federal mandate is not only a challenge to Obama’s proposal but also to Obama himself. The president is a former constitutional law professor who has rejected claims from Republicans that his proposed mandate is unconstitutional. …
But opponents insist an insurance mandate is not legal because there is nothing in the Constitution that gives the federal government the right to penalize citizens for failing to purchase something. That is different, proponents says [sic], from specifically enumerated federal powers such as taxation, raising an army, or regulating commerce. …
Clint Bolick, a litigation specialist with the conservative Goldwater Institute who wants to test the mandate in the US Supreme Court if it passes, said Obama’s plan to mandate insurance coverage is nothing more than an effort to require one group of people to subsidize insurance for another.
According to The New York Times, states’ rights proponents “are on a roll”:
Gov. Mike Rounds of South Dakota, a Republican, signed a bill into law on Friday declaring that the federal regulation of firearms is invalid if a weapon is made and used in South Dakota.
On Thursday, Wyoming’s governor, Dave Freudenthal, a Democrat, signed a similar bill for that state. The same day, Oklahoma’s House of Representatives approved a resolution that Oklahomans should be able to vote on a state constitutional amendment allowing them to opt out of the federal health care overhaul.
In Utah, lawmakers embraced states’ rights with a vengeance in the final days of the legislative session last week. One measure said Congress and the federal government could not carry out health care reform, not in Utah anyway, without approval of the Legislature. Another bill declared state authority to take federal lands under the eminent domain process. A resolution asserted the “inviolable sovereignty of the State of Utah under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution.” …
Alabama, Tennessee and Washington are considering bills or constitutional amendments that would assert local police powers to be supreme over the federal authority, according to the Tenth Amendment Center, a research and advocacy group based in Los Angeles. And Utah, again not to be outdone, passed a bill last week that says federal law enforcement authority, even on federal lands, can be limited by the state.
The Times quotes legal scholars who warn that such laws run afoul of Article 6 of the Constitution, because federal law is supreme. But Tenth Amendment Center founder Michael Boldin counters that states successfully legalized medical marijuana despite marijuana use and possession remaining illegal under federal law.
† Obama Doctrine Taking Shape: Washington Post columnist Robert Kagan, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, makes the case that President Hussein Obama “has worse relations overall with American allies than George W. Bush did in his second term” because it has devoted disproportionate time and attention to:
[T]the failed first-year attempt to improve relations with Iran; the ongoing attempt to improve relations with Russia; the stalled effort to improve cooperation with China; and the effort - fruitless so far - to prove to the Arab states that the United States is willing to pressure Israel to further the peace process. Add to these the efforts to improve relations with Syria, engage Burma and everything with Af-Pak, and not much has been left for the concerns of our allies.
This is bad enough, but compounding the problem has been the administration's evident impatience with allies who don't do as they are told. Europeans get spanked for a pallid commitment to NATO defense spending even as they contribute 30,000 troops to a distant war that European publics mostly don't believe in. Japan gets spanked when its new government insists on rethinking some recent agreements. In both cases, the administration has a point, but it's always easier to hammer allies when they misbehave than to hammer tough competitors such as Russia or China.
The president has shown seemingly limitless patience with the Russians as they stall an arms-control deal that could have been done in December. He accepted a year of Iranian insults and refusal to negotiate before hesitantly moving toward sanctions. The administration continues to woo Syria and Burma without much sign of reciprocation in Damascus or Rangoon. Yet Obama angrily orders a near-rupture of relations with Israel for a minor infraction like the recent settlement dispute - and after the Israeli prime minister publicly apologized. …
This administration pays lip-service to "multilateralism," but it is a multilateralism of accommodating autocratic rivals, not of solidifying relations with longtime democratic allies.
† Employers Hiring Forged Documented Aliens Are Lawbreakers In Other Ways, Too): The Washington Post reports that “there are signs that the recession has prompted more employers to shortchange their workers, either by failing to pay the promised amount or by offering less than minimum wage in the first place” and that those who are most vulnerable to being exploited are “[c]onstruction, restaurant and janitorial workers … especially if they are immigrants who don't speak English or lack legal status.”
† All The News That’s Fart To Print (ninth item): In what can only be described as sheer lunacy, environmentalists are now taking issue with another body cavity. A reader purportedly wrote to The Washington Post's "The Green Lantern" fretting that the disposable pads and tampons she uses while menstruating could be bad for the planet. She was advised to consider using maxi pads that aren't individually wrapped, tampons without applicators or pads and tampons made with organic cotton instead of rayon. But if she is “willing to make a really radical change” she should use “machine-washable fabric maxi pads, for example, sold under brand names like Lunapads and GladRags” or “menstrual cups, which catch the flow internally and can be cleaned and reused.” It would appear that to save the planet, women have to turn the clock back to the 19th Century, before disposable feminine hygiene products were invented. Hmm. What would Gaia do?
† Updates To Previous Posts (sixth item, The Keystone Kops Are Enforcing U.S. Immigration Laws): Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is cutting the federal government’s losses on the "virtual fence" along the 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border and plans to divert $50 million of stimulus funds that would have gone to the glitch-plagued project in favor of spending the money on “more proven and cost-effective security technology,” reports The Washington Times:
The decision to pull back funding on the initiative aimed at protecting the U.S. from terrorists, violent drug smugglers and illegal immigrants comes on the heels of a series of damning reports by the Government Accountability Office, and as Ms. Napolitano attempts to justify to lawmakers a 30 percent budget reduction for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in the midst of a raging drug war along the Southwest border.
To date, the U.S. government, through the Secure Border Initiative, has paid Boeing Co. more than $1 billion to build less than 700 miles of barriers between ports of entry, and a costly but flawed system of radar towers, ground sensors and cameras known as SBInet, a $4 billion project that appears to be in jeopardy.
"Not only do we have an obligation to secure our borders, we have a responsibility to do so in the most cost-effective way possible," Ms. Napolitano said. "The system of sensors and cameras along the Southwest border known as SBInet has been plagued with cost overruns and missed deadlines."
Ms. Napolitano said the department will instead … buy security technology such as mobile surveillance, thermal-imaging devices, body scanning units, mobile radios, cameras and laptops for pursuit vehicles.
At a time when taxpayers are being tapped to bail out failing corporations, corporations failing to provide goods and services the federal government has paid for with our tax dollars should refund our money.
† Updates To Previous Posts (fourth item, Is Hasan A Crazy Terrorist, Or A Terrorist Crazy?): The Washington Times reports more evidence that because of political correctness nothing was going to stop the U.S. Army from promoting Nidal Malik Hasan through the ranks no matter how unfit he was for duty, citing internal e-mails between residency director Maj. Scott Moran and his superiors. Time and again Moran raised red flags about Hasan’s performance (“He is a chronically somewhat unprofessional officer with a somewhat poor work ethic”) and time and again his concerns were brushed aside:
The communications are the latest in a series of early signs that showed officers had reason to suspend Maj. Hasan's training, and perhaps re-evaluate his suitability as a military physician, but failed to do so. …
In May 2007, as a then-Capt. Hasan approached a June 30 date to complete his residency in psychiatry, his direct supervisor warned higher-ups he had failed a physical by being overweight. …
Maj. Moran said he was preparing to put Maj. Hasan on probation and extend his residency.
But the superior rejected the idea, saying it would prompt a total re-evaluation of Maj. Hasan.
The superior wrote back to Maj. Moran: "Please don't go forward on anything yet. If you put him on probation, even administrative, will require me to convene a relook board." …
Then came Maj. Hasan's research project that was required for completing the residency … "Koranic World View as it Relates to Muslims in the U.S. Military." The slide presentation promoted Islamic law over the U.S. Constitution.
At first, Maj. Moran was appalled. "This is not scholarly project level," he e-mailed other staff members. "[We] are going to meet with him this AM and counsel him." …
One staff supervisor was ecstatic. "Dr. Hasan does an excellent job speaking without 'reading' slides!" he wrote on a "resident evaluation."
"His balance of academic knowledge and personal awareness is remarkable." …
Charles Gittins, attorney for Maj. Moran, said the e-mails show his client was trying to hold Maj. Hasan to Army standards.
† Updates To Previous Posts (sixth item, There's No Such Thing As Free Healthcare): In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Galen Institute president Grace-Marie Turner takes issue with former MA Gov. Mitt Romney’s recent assertion that the health reform plan he stuck the state’s residents with in 2006 is "the ultimate conservative plan." She adds that the “likely 2012 presidential aspirant … has been on the wrong side of the defining political battle of our time”:
[T]here are many similarities between it and the ObamaCare loathed by conservative voters.
Both have an individual mandate requiring most residents to have health insurance or pay a penalty. Most businesses are required to participate or pay a fine. Both rely on government-designed purchasing exchanges that also provide a platform to control private health insurance. Many of the uninsured are covered through Medicaid expansion and others receive subsidies for highly-prescriptive policies. And the apparatus requires a plethora of new government boards and agencies. …
[I]nsurance companies are required to sell "just-in-time" policies even if people wait until they are sick to buy coverage. That's just like the Obama plan. There is growing evidence that many people are gaming the system by purchasing health insurance when they need surgery or other expensive medical care, then dropping it a few months later. …
Mr. Romney insists that in Massachusetts, "We didn't do what President Obama's doing, which is putting controls on our system of premiums for private insurance companies."
But that is what's happening now: Faced with soaring medical expenses, Gov. Deval Patrick, Mr. Romney's successor, wants to cap insurance rate increases at 4.8%, not the 8% to 32% increases the companies have requested for April 1. Three of the four major health insurers in Massachusetts showed operating losses for 2009. If their rates are capped, they say they'll be forced to cut payments to health providers, putting further pressure on doctors and fragile hospitals.
Turner also calls bullsh*t on Romney for claiming in his book "No Apology" that “everyone in Massachusetts now has access to "portable, affordable health insurance":
68% of the newly insured since 2006 receive coverage that is heavily or completely subsidized by taxpayers. …
Another 140,000 remained uninsured in 2008 and were either assessed a penalty or exempted from the individual mandate because the state deemed they couldn't afford the premiums.
Mr. Romney's promise that getting everyone covered would force costs down also is far from being realized. … Per capita spending is 27% higher than the national average.
Turner urges Romney to be “more honest” about his healthcare “experiment and its failings.”
† Updates To Previous Posts (second item, Putting The “Boo” In Boomer): Our grandparents and parents rely on Medicare to get treatment for arthritis, broken hips and other infirmities of old age, as well as for stroke, Alzheimer’s and other serious and debilitating ailments. The availability of high-tech (and expensive) diagnostic imaging tools like functional MRI and cutting-edge (and expensive) post-stroke rehab, for instance, has improved the quality of life of our elders, and lengthened their lifespans. That’s why cuts to Medicare are such a touchy subject. But costs of keeping the Baby Boomer generation alive on their terms will end up ruining a good thing for everyone else. These aging hippies never stopped using illicit drugs recreationally, so Medicare has to cover the cost of drug abuse treatment, as well as the cost of the heart attacks and strokes that would not have occurred but for drug abuse. Now, The Associated Press reports that “people in their 60s, 70s and 80s coming to terms with the truth that they are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.” So does this mean that in the coming years Medicare will be paying for tens of thousands of “gender reassignment” surgeries for transgender Baby Boomers? The Stiletto long resigned herself to the likelihood that Social Security and Medicare will not be available when she needs it, but was somewhat comforted by the thought that these programs would take care of her parents’ needs. But not if the perennially selfish Baby Boom generation has anything to say about it.
† Updates To Previous Posts (last item, 10 Reasons Michelle Obama Should Be Proud – Really Proud – Of America): This latest installment in The Stiletto Blog’s ongoing series meant to help instill the necessary pride of country in Michelle Obama’s consciousness to enable her to serve as an unofficial ambassador focuses on Erez Lieberman-Aiden, 30-year-old graduate student at MIT and Harvard who, CNN reports, “had a nagging feeling that his grandmother's death, which occurred after a hard fall, could have been prevented”:
Lieberman-Aiden invented a high-tech shoe insole to help older people manage their balance before a catastrophic fall occurs. His "iShoe" sneaker insoles track a person's balance patterns using digital sensors. The battery-powered footbeds transmit data to computers about a person's walking and standing stability.
"The model of 'I go into my doctor once every six months or once a year to get a check up' is kind of more the speed of a society where people write long letters to each other every three months to be in touch," he said. "Now information can travel all over the place in real time. ... That model is beginning to influence medicine as well." …
"There are interventions people can engage in in order to improve their balance," he said. "It's kind of like, in some sense, heart disease, where you're increasingly prone to it as you age, but there are treatments that can improve the situation."
The key to a person's balance, it turns out, is not in how well they walk but how well they stand still, he said. So the iShoe takes particular note of how much a person shifts his or her weight while standing. A well-balanced person might shift weight every 40 seconds, he said, but a person with potentially dangerous balance problems might shift weight constantly, or every second.
The iShoe spits out balance data sets that can be interpreted by doctors, or potentially by patients themselves, he said. It uses a Bluetooth connection to transmit the info from a person's shoes to a computer.
Lieberman-Aiden was among four students awarded the Lemelson-MIT Collegiate Student Prize awarded to “inventive and entrepreneurial” students attending MIT, Caltech, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the University of Illinois. He plans to use the $30,000 prize money “to further his research efforts, help with baby expenses and, possibly, to buy a new couch.”