American Elephants

The Concours de Castells in Tarragona, Spain by The Elephant's Child

The Concours de Castells in Tarragona, Spain is a human tower-building competition. It is a long tradition in the region, castells began at the end of the 18th century. The sport has rules, techniques, and team responsibilities to guard safety and success. The pinya or base is made of a few hundred people that can catch anyone who falls. The tower itself has a variety of different formations. The top three levels are the pom de dalt, made up of children in helmets. This 2010 video by Mike Randolph shows why safety and teamwork are so important.

Strange and interesting sports. I’d be a spectator.

A Conversation with Governor Scott Walker by The Elephant's Child

Wisconsin’s outstanding young governor, Scott Walker,  appears on the Hoover Institution’s Uncommon Knowledge, wonderful interviews conducted by Peter Robinson.

I am deeply impressed with this young man. He was elected to face a state in trouble, with problems with the schools, the state budget, domineering public sector unions. The Democrats in the Legislature skipped town to avoid having to face up to a vote they might lose. The Governor was picketed, threatened, the subject of near riots by angry protesters, and he went ahead and did what was right anyway. Courage, and then some.

He has fixed the problems, survived a recall election, and put Wisconsin on the path to freedom and good government, opportunity and growth. Courage, character and determination.  He seems to be a really nice guy as well.

Secure The Border First. Then We’ll Talk. by The Elephant's Child

“They came here to kill,” the Boston Police chief said. That should give a little pause to supporters of the Immigration Bill now being discussed in Congress. Mark Krikorian, who heads the Center for Immigration Studies, testified at yesterday’s immigration hearing, one of the few witnesses who so far are critical of the Gang of Eight’s proposal.

There may be circumstances under which an amnesty for certain illegal aliens would make sense. Given the pervasive and deliberate non-enforcement of the immigration laws for so many years, and the resulting large population of illegal aliens, one could make a case for clearing the decks, as it were, and making a fresh start. This would be a distasteful proposition, to be sure, given that virtually all illegal aliens are guilty of multiple felonies, among them identity theft, document fraud, tax evasion, and perjury. Nonetheless, for practical reasons conferring legal status on established, non-violent illegal aliens may well, at some point, be a policy option worth discussing.

But only after the problem that allowed the mass settlement of illegal aliens has been addressed.

S 744 takes the opposite approach. It legalizes the illegal population before the necessary tools are in place to avoid the development of yet another large illegal population. As such, it paves the way for yet more demands for amnesty a decade or so in the future, as those who entered in, say 2015, are so well-established by 2023 that we will be told that we have to permit them to stay as well.

What’s more, the legalization provisions of the bill make widespread fraud very likely.

Much has been made of the so-called triggers in Sec. 3 that would permit the Registered Provisional Immigrants (RPI) to receive permanent residence. Tying the green card to achievement of these benchmarks – which include an employment authorization system for all employers, biographical exit tracking at airports and seaports, and substantial completion of two border strategies – is presented as a guarantee that this scenario of serial amnesties would not happen. Unfortunately, those triggers are, in a very real sense, beside the point.

The other triggers mentioned in Sec. 3 – those allowing the granting of the initial RPI status – are the submission by the Department of Homeland security of two plans: A “Comprehensive Southern Border Security Strategy” and a “Southern Border Fencing Strategy”. Since similar plans have been frequently offered over the years, this isn’t much of a hurdle.

And yet it’s the only hurdle that matters because receipt of Registered Provisional Immigrant status is the amnesty – that is to say, it represents the transformation of the illegal alien into a person who is lawfully admitted to the United States.

RPI status brings with it work authorization, a legitimate Social Security account, driver’s license, travel documents – in effect, Green Card Lite. It is only the upgrade of this status to that of lawful permanent resident – Green Card Premium, if you will – that is on hold until the enforcement benchmarks are satisfied. But the political and bureaucratic incentives to press for the achievement of those enforcement benchmarks are blunted by the fact that the amnesty has already happened. With people “out of the shadows” and no longer “undocumented”, the urgency to meet enforcement deadlines would evaporate, especially in the face of determined opposition to enforcement by business and civil liberties groups. The rest is available here.

Tom Sowell points out today that immigration reform serves the interests of politicians of both parties, not the people. Do read the whole thing, it is, as always from Dr. Sowell, an important and clear analysis of the problems. And there are a lot of them.

To have any immigration policy serve any purpose, the border must first be secured. Otherwise, American immigration policy exists only on paper, and is mocked by what happens on the ground, as masses of people cross the border illegally in disregard of whatever policies are embodied in our laws. …

“Comprehensive” immigration reform serves the interests of politicians who like to be on both sides of a controversial issue, and it serves the interests of those foreigners who want to game the system in the United States, at the expense of the American people.

But it does not serve the interests of American society.

Marco Rubio is  a  particularly attractive spokesman for the “Gang of Eight,” he is well-spoken and a passionate representative of the immigrant community in Florida.  And he is being used to convince Republicans that this time, Democrats have promised, “promised,” that they really will secure the borders before they regularize the 11 million illegals now in the country.  Democrats lie as a matter of principle, and they cannot be believed at any time. They want lots of immigrants who will be dependent on the handouts big government can give them and reliably vote for Democrats. That trumps the immigrants contributions to America every time. Secure the borders first. Then we’ll talk.

Kind Words and Gentle Thoughts. That Will Fix Things. by The Elephant's Child

This video is from August 6, 2009. Not new, but it certainly demonstrates the problem. As long as we are unable to think clearly about terrorism, we will not solve the problem. I guess you could call political correctness a kind of worm in the brain, burrowing into every thought process and leaving a slimy trail of weakness, indecision, and misdirection.

This kind of sloppy thinking led to a failure to negotiate a status of forces agreement with Iraq, with the consequences that have followed our abrupt pullout. It has led to the mistake of setting a date for our withdrawal from Afghanistan, allowing the Taliban to wait until then to take over. It has led to attempting to impress the Afghans with our trust by depriving our own troops of weapons to defend themselves and costing more lives. We have lost far more of our troops under Obama than ever happened under George W. Bush.

And it’s the kind of thinking that deluded the administration to assume the Arab Spring was a democratic movement that would lead to peace in the Middle East and an end to terrorism. But the Arab world had no experience of democracy ever, and no idea how it was to work. What they have known forever is dictatorship, so a new set of dictators moved in.

Mr. Brennan is now the Director of the CIA.

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