Heterodox Views on Politics and Public Policy from Michael Blaine

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Hillary Takes On Shuster: In Defense Of An Independent Media

MSNBC'S David Shuster Discovers The Perils Of Covering The Clinton Campaign

David Shuster is (was?) a TV journalist I had grown to respect enormously for his mastery of the arcane details of the trial and conviction of White House lawyer I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby. When Shuster last week described the process of Hillary Clinton utilizing her daughter Chelsea to court anti-democratic "superdelegates" by using the verb "to pimp out," he employed a phrase that is colloquial yet quite apt. Hillary's subsequent bullying of Shuster's network - MSNBC - into forcing him to apologize on the air strikes a blow against independent media and reveals the presidential candidate's arrogance and propensity for authoritarianism. MSNBC and Shuster should have stuck to their guns, even if it meant forgoing the Clinton machine's advertising revenues.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

A Cock-and-Bull Story

Ready for Congressional Testimony

This week, after CIA director Michael Hayden admitted that his agency has tortured prisoners, the US Congress snapped into action by holding a hearing to question baseball pitcher Roger Clemens about his alleged steroid use. With this bold stroke, the "People's House" sent a clear message to the rest of the world: cheating in the highest professional ranks of the national pastime could have negative consequences, although we will still ask you for your autograph. Our elected officials proved that the beacon of democracy shines on.

But the story does not end there. As official government confession on torture sank in, civic groups raised a hue and cry for the humane treatment of . . . roosters. New York Mets pitcher Pedro Martinez and former San Francisco Giants pitcher and Hall of Famer Juan Marichal turned up in a YouTube video releasing cocks in a fight two years ago in the Dominican Republic. (For the record, Marichal's rooster killed Martinez'.) Notwithstanding that this activity is legal and wildly popular in the pitchers' native country, the president of the Humane Society declared that "(a)nimal fighting has no place whatsoever among those who presume to be role models for youngsters . . . It's animal cruelty, no matter where it occurs."

Although I'm sympathetic to the Dominicans' own cultural standards, the Humane Society's position is perhaps defensible. But until the American government repudiates wars of aggression; extra-territorial occupations; the murder of civilians, intended or otherwise; and torture, it stands to reason that whether or not baseball players attend a cock fight will have only a marginal impact on our kids. At one time in this nation it would have been obvious that the real issue is not defending roosters, but the universal rights of human beings. If American children see Congress focused on steroids while society's institutions wreak violence on humans, our country can hardly expect its youngest members to behave humanely.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

The Real Meaning of "Anchor Baby"

Just Wait Until They Get The Invoice For Their Share Of The Debt

"Each year, thousands of women enter the United States illegally to give birth, knowing that their child will thus have U.S. citizenship. Their children immediately qualify for a slew of federal, state, and local benefit programs. In addition, when the children turn 21, they can sponsor the immigration of other relatives, becoming 'anchor babies' for an entire clan."

--The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)

Many xenophobes and immigration demagogues in our country have latched onto the concept of the "anchor baby": the theory that a pregnant woman, always Mexican, would make the taxing trip North by land to give birth in America and thereby obtain US citizenship for her baby. The mother in this way obtains a foothold in our country and begins to enjoy all the wonderful financial handouts on offer. FAIR - quoted above - is possibly the most serious of the groups concerned about immigration into the US, but there is still another angle from which to view the issue: every American child, born to natives or not, is an "anchor baby" in the sense that he or she comes into the world with an economic anchor already around his or her neck.

The national debt currently stands at $9.2 trillion, and will surpass $10 trillion within just two years. Divide the current number by the US population of 300 million, and you get a static liability of $32,600 per person. In other words, every "anchor baby" born on US soil automatically is on the hook for that amount of money. The picture gets worse if you look at future obligations. In 2006, the Government Accountability Office estimated that each full-time worker in the US had an unfunded liability exposure of $400,000, meaning he or she would have to pay that much over a working life toward financing federal "entitlement" programs. How many mothers-to-be would continue into the US if they were handed those figures at the border?!! Given those shocking numbers, it seems we could use all the workers we can possibly attract just to dilute the burden.

Since our political "leaders" in Washington, DC, steadfastly refuse to run the nation's fiscal accounts on an adult basis (see how they are rushing to send us checks funded by the Chinese this election year under the guise of "economic stimulus"), I predict we will see a reversal of the "anchor baby" phenomenon: expectant American parents may want to abandon the US in order to have their children in a country that offers jus soli or birthright citizenship and also has its books in order. An obvious choice in this regard is Canada, which has run a budget surplus for over a decade and enjoys a declining national debt both absolutely and as a percentage of GDP. In short, it is a country where a baby can start life with a basically clean slate, free of financial anchors.