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“Arizona and the Southern Border”

Monday, May 3, 2010  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

The Monday morning column from Clark Judge:

Arizona and the Southern Border
By Clark S. Judge, managing director, White House Writers Group, Inc. (www.whwg.com)

This is a story about illegal immigration and why people in border states feel so strongly about it.

In March, I was in Los Angeles on business. After my meeting, a cab took me to the airport. My driver was a woman, well spoken, clearly affluent, and sad. She told me that she and her husband were Mexican by birth, though they had long ago obtained U.S. citizenship. She was driving at her family’s urging, to help her deal with her grief. Her son had been a cab driver. The night before he was to leave driving to become a police officer, he was murdered. A camera in the cab caught the act and led to the capture of the murderer, an illegal immigrant from Mexico. They had arrived at the destination. As the son waited for his fare, the murderer took out a gun and shot him in the head. [# More #]

The mother asked me, why do they allow people like that into the country? She had attended the trial. The murderer’s family members were all on welfare and selling drugs. She told me that when the verdict came down, decades in prison, he just shrugged. These people don’t care about life, she said, even their own.

There are two sides to arbitrary government. One is to adopt vague and sweeping laws and regulations that give authorities the right to do almost anything they please. I have argued in this space that many of the regulatory initiatives coming from the current administration look like moves in that direction, as do aspects of the health care initiative.

But the other side of arbitrary government is to adopt precise legislation and decline to enforce it. Our immigration laws fit in this second category.

There is nothing ambiguous about these statutes. We have an elaborate system of visas, national quotas, and green cards. It functions extremely effectively at keeping out high-tech engineers, potential entrepreneurs and others who would be considered odds on favorites to make outsized contributions to the nation’s strength and prosperity. From Ireland to India, annual immigration quotas can be filled within weeks or even days or hours of the start of each year.

But these same laws have been acting barely as speed bumps to the undocumented traffic across our southern border. The nightly flood of border crossers is reported to have driven ranchers in some places from their property. One Arizona border rancher was murdered recently by, it is widely believed, smugglers or illegal migrants. A former sheriff in a Texas border county told me several years ago that, in his experience, the U.S. Border Patrol showed little interest or aptitude for stopping the runs. Among the advantages of a federal system is that, if one level of government abdicates its responsibilities, another can step in (within limits) to fill the space. This is what has happened in Arizona.

The denunciations of the Arizona law coming out of Washington have missed how much of a national security threat the border situation represents. The stories of murders and citizens fleeing their homes are not just what policy types dismiss as “anecdotal” evidence. They go to the core of the issue.

A couple of years ago, a senior member of the Bush national security team described Mexico to me as “Somalia on our southern border.” Now hardly a day passes without more horrific tales of the war between the drug cartels and the Mexican government. In a recent ambush, an up-to-40-man commando team attacked an official’s motorcade with armor piercing weapons and grenades. Violence along the border has become so indiscriminate and severe as to suggest that the cartels are trying to gain effective control of long stretches of the border region. Whether or not that is their purpose, it cannot be that we allow the United States to become a safe haven for violent drug cartels or drug thugs on the lam.

During the later part of the Cold War, the Soviets showed an intense interest in fomenting revolution in Central America. One very likely reason was that they wanted to push unrest north into Mexico, ultimately to create chaos on our southern flank, forcing us to pull troops from Europe to deal with immediate pressures next door.

The Soviet Union is gone, but unrest is building. It may be that most illegals are seeking no more than what most of our predecessors sought here, a better life. But it is also true that the situation in Mexico today must surely tell us that not to get control of our border is insanely irresponsible. Arbitrary government is exposing the nation to a great danger.

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Luck Is Not A Strategy

Sunday, May 2, 2010  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

“We are very lucky” says New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg in the aftermath of the car bomb not exploding in Times Square.

We were very lucky in Detroit when the underpants bomber failed to detonate himself and the plane on Christmas.

The Gulf Coast is not so lucky as the incompetence of the Obama Adminstration saw the spill spread and spread before even a halting, confused response kicked in.

How long is Janet Napolitano going to stay at the top of the Department of Homeland Security?

An MSM replaying “Heck of a job Brownie” forced change on President Bush in the aftermath of Katrina, but that same MSM hasn’t raised the obvious questions about the Obama appointee in charge of stopping bombs from reaching the center of New York or Detroit airspace and oil spills from reaching the coast.

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More on the Presidential Failure in the Gulf

Sunday, May 2, 2010  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

A shake-up in the chain of federal command underscores that the response of the Obama Adminstration to the calamity in the Gulf has been at first indifferent, then confused, and now panicky. The post below and Friday’s broadcast brought this email:

You are correct about the BP spill. The response has been grossly inadequate. This is inexplicable. The National Contingency Plan (40 CFR 300) and the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA 90) put the federal government in charge of an oil spill. Yes BP is the responsible party (RP) but the RP pays for the spill response. The NCP requires the use of unified command with the RP, the affected state and the federal On-Scene Coordinator (OSC) as the Incident Commanders. In this case the Coast Guard is the OSC. You don’t waste time pinning everything on the RP. The NCP requires one response organization and the RP is a part of that. You can’t separate the RP from the OSC. For the DHS Secretary to blame them shows her ignorance of the policies her own department is supposed to follow.

The type of things we’re seeing go wrong with this spill are the types of things that used to happen prior to OPA 90. This is simply inexcusable.

The C-130s will arrive shortly? Where are the USCG C-130s that USCG Air Station Clearwater has? They practice using dispersants and every big oil spill exercise has this as part of the scenario.

The Coast Guard has consistently underestimated the size of the spill. This is perplexing. The USCG oil spill training program emphatically says not to do this. In the Cosco Busan spill they did that and the Commanding Officer got fired Why they are doing this now is impossible to explain. Everyone knows not to do this.

Charles Krauthammer and I discussed the incompetence of the Obama Adminstration on Friday’s show. The transcript is here. Here is one key exchange on the delay of the C-1303:

HH: Let me play for you a little bit of Janet Napolitano today, one key line. I was watching it on JetBlue, so I got to watch the whole thing. And here’s one line that struck in my ear.

JN: The Secretary of Defense has approved a request for two C-130 aircraft to dispense oil-dispersing chemicals capable of covering up to 250 acres per flights, with three flights per aircraft per day. They are currently en route to the affected areas. The Coast Guard has requested additional assistance from the Department of Defense.

HH: Now Charles, if we assume that this matters, that it is an important thing that these C-130s are dropping oil-dispersing chemicals at a rate of three flights per days, and each one covering 250 acres, the second question is, well, where have they been until now?

CK: Right, and why only two?

HH: That’s the other question.

CK: I mean, only two. This is the disaster that’s going to be. And if you look at what the Exxon Valdez did, how it devastated the economy and the ecology at least for a decade or so in Alaska, and where they still find oil under the surface of the ground, this is going to be, if this goes along the Gulf Coast from the Mississippi to Florida, it’s going to devastate all those wetlands and all the economies, the fishermen, the tourism and all that, that depends on it. You’d want to get everything out there. I mean, you’d want to really deploy, and again, I think that is probably where the criticism is going to be…..

Read the whole thing. And Doug Ross has an illustrated timeline very much worth reviewing.

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Presidential Lassitude in Louisiana

Friday, April 30, 2010  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

British Debates

It finally dawned on the president and his team yesterday that the oil spill in the Gulf is a major crisis, but their 8-days too late response is still fumbling, bumbling and stumbling. The press conference today by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is sure to raise eyebrows if anyone listened closely. She remarked that two C-130s that are crucial to the dispersal of chemical dissolvent on the slick and which are capable of flying multiple msisins a day have been dispatched and should arrive shortly. Where, one wonders, have they been until now?

The MSM that jumped all over George W. Bush for failing to push aside the New Orleans and Louisiana officials in the aftermath of Katrina are allowing President Obama and his team an enormous pass for what has been a federal responsibility from the beginning. Secretary Napolitano’s wholly unnecessary reminders that BP is responsible and that BP and others will pay are transparent attempts to divert attention from the fact that, even though BP is at fault and indeed will be paying billions in clean-up costs and damages, this is a potential environmental and economic calamity, and the president and his team have been too busy denouncing Wall Street and capitalism generally to act with dispatch and purpose on this crisis.

The timeline is here. The slick had grown to 80 miles in length a week ago, and, as noted above, just today Secretary Napolitano announced that the military will send two C-130s to drop oil-dispersing chemicals at a rate of three flights per plane per day, with each flight covering 250 acres. We have to assume this is a very good thing, but we also have to ask why did it take more than week to get the planes assigned to the mission and why only two? What else is just now getting done that ought to have been begun a week ago?

There is no chance that the still-in-love-with-Obama MSM will be pressing the White House with the same sort of coverage and zeal for blame with which they pursued the Bush Adminstration in the aftermath of Katrina. But their complacency on the story like the president’s complacency on the crisis is so obvious it doesn’t even matter. The lassitude towards Louisiana and the Gulf Coast generally

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