READER BOOK PLUG: Flanagan And The Crown Of Mexico. From reader John Reisinger, who writes: “Many people don’t realize that Cinco de Mayo commemorates the 1862 Battle of Puebla, when the Mexicans fought the invading French army to a standstill. Seen through the eyes of a reluctant Irish-American diplomat/spy, this epic but little-known struggle between the Mexican President Juarez and the foreign Emperor Maximilian is a fascinating look at what else was going on while we were embroiled in our Civil War.”
BILL WHITTLE’S VIRTUAL PRESIDENCY CONTINUES: “Imagine a country where not only are the borders secured by armed guards, but once you entered the country, if you even spoke about politics — at all — if you even mentioned anything politically, you would be deported. Imagine a country where everyone is required to be tracked all the time. Where all of these immigrants are constantly monitored. Imagine where the idea of immigrants even having a word on the internal politics of a country would be enough to get them deported.”
“I can imagine a country like that. That country is Mexico.”
ENERGY STATES TO FEEL UNCLE SUGAR’S SEQUESTRATION BLUES: Watchdog.org’s Rob Nikolewski reports that 35 states, including New Mexico, Colorado and Wyoming, have been told to expect a 5 percent cut in their federal mineral payments, thanks to sequestration. It’s real money, too, as seen in the $53 million hit for Wyoming and $26 million for New Mexico.
UNDESIRABLES, MEXICAN STYLE: Michelle Malkin documents Mexico’s harsh legal treatment of “undesirables”–i.e., illegal aliens. She asks “If such self-interested ‘nativism’ is right and good for the protection and survival of Mexico, why not for the United States?”
WHY DOESN’T THIS SURPRISE ME? US Border Patrol Uniforms – Made in Mexico.
WALTER RUSSELL MEAD: Time To Emigrate To Mexico?
Fears that America will be overrun by a mass of poor workers from Latin America are looking more and more like yesterday’s news. Birthrates in Mexico are falling, and the economic situation continues to improve. At 5 percent, Mexico’s unemployment rate is nearly three points below ours. In 2012, its GDP grew by nearly 4 percent, and foreign investors, encouraged by the turnaround, poured $57 billion into stocks and bonds in the first nine months. Forthcoming reforms in the telecommunications and energy sectors may also help those industries to boom. The country’s economic forecasts are so promising that the Financial Times has dubbed it the “Aztec tiger.”
This is good news. As the Mexican economy improves, immigration pressures will continue to abate. Who knows? If the trends continue, maybe we’ll even see southbound migrants outnumbering northbound ones.
Well, some say we’re already at net negative immigration. And the powers that be are hard at work, turning America from the kind of country people want to sneak into, to the kind they want to leave.
UPDATE: Jim Bennett emails: “If Canada, Australia, or New Zealand (all of which rank higher than the US on the index of economic freedom) were to refuse to enforce US student loan debt they might see a rush of bright talented young people from the US.”
AN EARTH-SHATTERING KABOOM: Finally confirmed: An asteroid wiped out the dinosaurs. “A team of American and European researchers have confirmed that the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction — the event that wiped out roughly 75% of the planet’s species, including almost every dinosaur — was caused by an asteroid impact in Mexico 66 million years ago. The Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction was the last great extinction event to occur on Earth, and is most notable for causing the diversification of mammals that eventually resulted in Homo sapiens.”
SOME GOOD NEWS: From Bullets to Bistros: the Mexico City Miracle.
WELL, TO BE FAIR, WHAT HAS THE LAW DONE FOR THEM, LATELY? Mexico’s Masked Vigilantes Defy Drug Gangs—And the Law.
A dozen villages in the area have risen up in armed revolt against local drug traffickers that have terrorized the region and a government that residents say is incapable of protecting them from organized crime.
The villages in the hilly southern Mexican state of Guerrero now forbid the Mexican army and state and federal police from entering. Ragtag militias carrying a motley arsenal of machetes, old hunting rifles and the occasional AR-15 semiautomatic rifle control the towns. Strangers aren’t allowed entry. There is a 10 p.m. curfew. More than 50 prisoners, accused of being in drug gangs, sit in makeshift jails. Their fates hinge on public trials that began Thursday when the accused were arraigned before villagers, who will act as judge and jury.
Crime is way down—for the moment, at least. Residents say kidnapping ceased when the militias took charge, as did the extortions that had become the scourge of businessmen and farmers alike. The leader of one militia group, who uses the code name G-1 but was identified by his compatriots as Gonzalo Torres, puts it this way: “We brought order back to a place where there had been chaos. We were able to do in 15 days what the government was not able to do in years.”
It’s not as pretty as the orderly function of a bourgeois liberal society. But that wasn’t among the options. . . .
UPDATE: A reader emails: “A miltia providing for the security of a free state? In the 21st century? But I was told that was crazy NRA talk.”
Of course, thanks to the Obama economy, net migration from Mexico is going negative. “The net migration flow from Mexico to the United States has stopped and may have reversed.” Soon they’ll want a border fence to keep Americans from leaving.
The new U.S. special operations command created to help Mexico combat drug traffickers was allegedly conceived, in part, to bolster President Obama’s reelection campaign, according to defense analysts reportedly involved in the effort.
I wonder if there’s a “Fast And Furious” tie-in.
Plus, a Nobel Peace Prize Update:
U.S. special operations forces and counterinsurgency specialists returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are poised to ramp up operations across the globe, focusing on countries like Mexico, as well as partner nations in Africa and South America.
These small bands of special forces experts will lean upon “innovative methods” learned in Southwest Asia to support local counterterrorism forces and expand American influence in those regions, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said at the time.
I’m sure if this were the Bush Administration this would be getting more play.
THEY TOLD ME IF I VOTED FOR MITT ROMNEY, WASHINGTON WOULD LOOK LIKE MAD MEN — AND THEY WERE RIGHT! Second-Term Exodus Leaves Zero Hispanics in Cabinet, Few on Dems’ Bench. “Forget all the caterwauling about women (a bit of which, admittedly, came from me). The impending departures of Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar leave President Obama’s Cabinet with zero Hispanics, setting off nervous tremors among Latinos and underscoring the inch-deep Democratic bench in that demographic. . . . The political irony of Obama’s situation has got to tickle Republicans. They may be having trouble winning the votes of minorities and women, but they are doing noticeably better than Democrats when it comes to diversity in the jobs that typically lead to bigger things. High on the GOP roster are two Hispanic senators (Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas) and two Hispanic governors (Brian Sandoval of Nevada and Susana Martinez of New Mexico).”
Maybe the Dems should ask if they can borrow some binders from the GOP.
BASED ON JUICE INSTEAD OF BLOOD: Victor Davis Hanson: The New Liberal Aristocracy. “Most are self-made multimillionaires who acquired their money through government service, finance, law, investment, or marriage. If the old-money liberals lived it up tastefully within their walled family compounds, the new liberal aristocrats are unashamed about living openly in a manner quite at odds with their professed populist ideology. . . . For liberal class warriors, golfing and body surfing in the tropical Pacific while staying at a zillionaire’s estate become needed downtime to prepare for the looming battle against 1 percenters.”
Tell it to Anthony Villaraigosa!
CHARLIE SHEEN: Mayor Villaraigosa Is Lying — He Partied With Me For Hours. “Charlie Sheen is calling out L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa … claiming he was flat-out LYING when he said he spent ONLY 3 minutes with the actor in Cabo — Charlie says the Mayor hung with him for hours, chatting it up and drinking with a bunch of hot chicks.” Hard to believe that about a straight-arrow type like Villaraigosa.
CHANGE: One Out of Every 6.5 Americans Is on Food Stamps. “The new all-time record number of recipients, 47.7 million (up from 31.6 million when Obama took office) exceeds the combined populations of Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming.”
From Woodstock Nation to Food Stamp Nation. Forward!
KARL DENNINGER: Obama’s Hypocrisy Problem On Guns.
You may choose to delegate this responsibility to others, as Mayor Bloomberg and President Obama have, but your right to life is not inferior to theirs. It is equal. President Obama has no more right to live than you do. You are his equal from the standpoint of what your creator, and his creator, endowed both of you with.
So we have established that you have the right to live, as does the President. And if the President has the right to defend his life with deadly force, and indeed the responsibility to do so, then, should it be necessary, so do you.
This debate should end right there. Up until all of these people in political office disband their police forces, their Secret Service details, throw down their own arms, armored cars, body armor and other defensive means of interdicting assault they have nothing — not even a moral argument — behind them in their demand that you disarm and become an intentional victim — no matter who you are.
Still waiting to hear what kind of guns Rupert Murdoch’s and Mike Bloomberg’s security teams use. We pretty much know what Obama’s have to hand — and it’s a lot more than private citizens are permitted.
But there’s more:
But in truth it gets worse than that.
You see, our government has been running guns. Illegally running guns. Jaime Avila, in just one of many examples, purchased two rifles that were found at the scene of a federal agent shot near the Arizona-Mexico border. Our government knew Mr. Avila was illegally trafficking weapons to the Sinaloa drug cartel. Nonetheless, when his purchases were called into the BATFE for clearance the government intentionally approved the transactions despite knowing they were illegal.
Two of those hundreds of weapons came back over the border and were used to murder Brian Terry. Hundreds of Mexican citizens have been murdered with these guns in total — guns that our government illegally, intentionally and maliciously allowed to be delivered to this murderous cartel.
Mr. Avila’s sentence? 57 months in prison, or just under 6 years.
Two days before the Newtown Connecticut shootings.
Media outrage? Zero.
They feign independence, but they’re basically courtiers.
PHOTO ESSAY: Poor Little Rich Girls Of Mexico. “There has been a melodramatic pattern of saying these women are evil; they represent corruption; they represent 70 years of PRI rule. …”
RADLEY BALKO: In Which Harold And Kumar Go Into Hiding.
I was so very excited about all that sensible drug policy we were going to get out of President Obama in his second term. I mean sure, Obama had spent a good deal of his first term waging more raids on medical marijuana clinics in four years than Bush had waged in eight. And his administration defended DEA agents who point guns at the heads of children during drug raids. And his appointees continued to defend the carnage in Mexico as merely the consequence of good, sensible drug policy.
Sure. There was all of that. But there were also all of these progressive pundits who kept telling drug war reformers that they should go ahead and vote for Obama anyway . . . because they just knew, or at least they were pretty sure, or at least they had heard rumors, that maybe, possibly, Obama would turn the corner and show some leadership. . . .
You’d think that if Obama were going to “pivot,” simply leaving alone two states that overwhelmingly legalized pot and gave him their electoral votes would be the best place to start.
As for “bring some cases against low-level marijuana users….,” I think that means you, Harold and Kumar. Hope you guys aren’t dog people.
The Drug War is about control. Obama likes control.
NEWS YOU CAN USE: Do You Live In A Death Spiral State? “Be careful where you put your capital. Don’t put it in a state at high risk of a fiscal tailspin. Eleven states make our list of danger spots for investors. They can look forward to a rising tax burden, deteriorating state finances and an exodus of employers. The list includes California, New York, Illinois and Ohio, along with some smaller states like New Mexico and Hawaii.” Much more at the link.
WHEN PROFESSORS TALK RACE WAR.
But she needs to get with the times — as I said earlier, nobody’s worried about being overrun by Mexicans anymore, because what Obama’s doing to the U.S. economy will do more to stanch immigration from Mexico than any border fence.
WELL, GIVEN HOW THE GOP SUPER-PACS DID IN THIS ELECTION, THAT PRETTY MUCH GUARANTEES NOTHING WILL HAPPEN: New GOP Super-Pac Pushes Immigration Reform.
Anyway, what Obama’s doing to the U.S. economy will do more to stanch immigration from Mexico than any border fence.
SO IF WE DO ANY SORT OF BORDER-OPENING WITH MEXICO, IT SHOULD BE ON THE BASIS OF RECIPROCITY: How’s that looking?
BUT OF COURSE: Spending At State Dinners Soars Under Obama.
President Obama has spent far more lavishly on White House state dinners than previous chief executives, including nearly $1 million on a 2010 dinner for Mexico’s president, according to documents obtained by The Washington Examiner. Presidents have long used formal dinners to court foreign heads of state and to dish out fine food and wine to reward political, financial and show business celebrities and supporters.
But current and former government officials said the documents obtained by The Examiner point to an unprecedented upsurge in White House spending on such events.
The Obama extravaganza two years ago for Mexican President Felipe Calderon, which included a performance by pop star Beyonce, cost $969,793, or more than $4,700 per attendee, the documents show.
The Calderon dinner was held on the South Lawn in a massive tent adorned with decorated walls, hanging chandeliers, carpeting and a stage for Beyonce’s performance.
The dinner for the prime minister of India — which was famously crashed by Virginia couple Michaele and Tareq Salahi — cost nearly half a million dollars. Dinners for Chinese Premier Hu Jintao and British Prime Minister David Cameron were of the same level of extravagance.
A knowledgeable government official who made the documents available to The Examiner said the extravagant spending seemed unfair with so many Americans out of work.
HIGHEST EVER JUMP SUCCESSFUL: “Extreme athlete Felix Baumgartner landed safely on Earth after a 24-mile jump from the stratosphere in a dramatic, daring feat that may also have marked the world’s first supersonic skydive.,” AP reports. “Baumgartner came down in the eastern New Mexico desert minutes after jumping from his capsule 128,097 feet, or roughly 24 miles, above Earth.”
The previous highest, farthest, and longest freefall was made by retired US Air Force Col Joe Kittinger, who leapt from a helium envelope in 1960. His altitude was 102,800ft (31.3km).
Mr Kittinger, now an octogenarian, was on hand to witness the dramatic jump from the stratosphere. Indeed, he acted as “Capcom” – capsule communicator – throughout the ascent and descent, maintaining voice contact with the much younger man.
None of the new marks set by Baumgartner can be classed as “official” until approved by the Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI).
UPDATE: The first draft of the AP article quoted above had the altitude wrong; they’ve since corrected the figure, and I inserted the new lede above.
JOHN TIERNEY REPORTS: “Fearless Felix” Baumgartner To Try To Become First Sky Diver To Break Sound Barrier. “Felix Baumgartner, a professional daredevil, plans to step off a balloon-borne capsule 22 miles above Earth on Tuesday morning and plummet for five and a half minutes until opening his parachute a mile above the New Mexico desert. If all goes as planned, he will do a series of barrel rolls in the near-vacuum of the stratosphere and then plunge headfirst at more than 700 miles per hour, becoming the first sky diver to break the sound barrier.”
CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR: Univision: The untold story of what ‘Fast and Furious’ wrought in Mexico. “When a journalist for Univision asked President Obama last week why he hasn’t fired Attorney General Eric Holder over the ‘Fast and Furious’ gun walking fiasco, the reporter, it turns out, had an inside scoop that added urgency to the question. At 7 p.m. on Sunday, Univision says it’ll air a blockbuster investigation detailing the impact of the deeply flawed gunrunning investigation, which operated between Oct. 2009 and January 2011.”
I don’t think this operation was “botched” or “deeply flawed.” I think it worked as planned, except for the part about being caught. Still, even if you aren’t troubled by the too-close nexus with the Administration’s preferred gun-control narrative, there’s this: “In order to reach the target of the operation, which was identifying the drug traffickers who were using the guns, [ATF agents] were waiting for the guns to be used. And how are guns used in Mexico? Killing people. I talked to an ATF agent who said there was no other way to explain it.”
GARY MOORE on Mexico’s gruesome massacre era.
CALIFORNIA TO LET EARLY SPACE ADVENTURERS KILL THEMSELVES, AS LONG AS THEY ARE INFORMED ABOUT RISKS: As Katherine Mangu-Ward notes at Reason, Jerry Brown “signed a bill on Friday limiting the liability of private space companies:”
In this, California follows the lead of the federal Commercial Space Launch Amendments Act, which treats space adventurers more like scuba divers or paragliders than airline passengers. Space companies are still liable for harm caused to bystanders, but for the guys and gals who choose to suit up and ship out, informed consent is all that’s required.
So why is California going out of its way to offer a space-company friendly environment? The reasoning is right there in Section 1 of the legislation, A.B. 2243:
Over the past few decades, California has lost much of its human space flight industry to other states, such as Alabama, Colorado, Florida, New Mexico, and Texas.
I doubt many politicians in Sacramento watch the videos produced by PJTV’s Bill Whittle, but he mentioned that very point recently:
California, which once brought the world the X-1, the X-15, and the Space Shuttle – not to mention Star Trek and Star Wars — is more into going Back to the Future these days – rather than, you know, the actual future.
However, plenty of people in California are finding their own methods of reaching escape velocity, one way or another.
CALIFORNIA DREAMING, PART II: Eugene Volokh (guru of the Volokh Conspiracy), pointed out to me– correctly– that the Manhattan Institute’s study documenting the California exodus of 225,000 residents per year is more precisely described as “net domestic out-migration.” Translated: California’s population loss is “domestic,” meaning American and foreign citizens who live in California pack up and move to another State. The 225,000 figure does not include the continued in-migration to California of immigrants from foreign countries such as Mexico.
SOME GOOD NEWS: Middle-class Mexicans snap up more products ‘Made in USA.’ “Trade between the United States and Mexico is surging, up 17 percent in 2011 to a record $461 billion, as Mexico vies with China to become America’s second-largest trading partner after Canada. China and the United States did $502 billion in trade last year. The growing middle class that is fast becoming Mexico’s majority is buying more U.S. goods than ever, while turning Mexico into a more democratic, dynamic and prosperous American ally. . . . While news about headless torsos, drug barons and illegal immigration dominates the headlines, and much of the Obama administration agenda south of the border has focused on law enforcement, economists say another story is one of roaring trade.”
REPEAL THE HOLLYWOOD TAX CUTS — STATE EDITION: Do Hollywood tax credits really help the economy? Capitol’s number crunchers wonder if proposed $200 million in subsidies could be used better elsewhere.
As Gov. Jerry Brown mulls whether to sign into law another round of subsidies for Hollywood production companies, the question that confronts him is how much each job on a movie set is worth to taxpayers.
In Massachusetts, lawmakers recently discovered a similar program was much more expensive than they thought. After years of subsidizing film productions without looking too closely at how that was helping the economy, state officials put it under a lens and found that taxpayers were spending as much as $300,000 to bankroll each position.
Other states that went in for a close-up after dispensing hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks found that every public dollar put into the film industry was generating a few dimes, or less, in revenue. . . .
“The state is using money it then can’t use for other things, like education, transportation and healthcare, which also create jobs and economic growth,” said Nicholas Johnson, vice president for state fiscal activity at the Center for Budget Policy and Priorities, a liberal think tank in Washington, D.C. “There is no accounting for what else the state could be doing with those dollars to provide economic growth.” . . . The Tax Foundation, a conservative think tank in Washington, noted in a review in April that the majority of studies not bankrolled by industry-affiliated groups or local authorities eager to attract productions have found the credit’s performance lackluster.
Government studies in Arizona, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Mexico and Pennsylvania concluded that every dollar invested in the tax credit was returning less than 30 cents in revenue, the foundation noted.
Their analysis raised the question of whether Hollywood firms that already enjoy numerous tax advantages should get another break and took aim at some of the “opaque” accounting maneuvers used by the studios.
“Forrest Gump,” one of the industry’s highest grossing productions, showed no profit on the books, the analysis noted.
“Perhaps the highest level of creativity in Hollywood,” it said, “is the creative accounting.”
Well, Eva Longoria wanted to pay more taxes. Her whole industry just may get the chance to fulfill her dream.
JOHN HINDERAKER: The most striking thing about Mitt Romney’s overseas trip has been the press coverage. “It has been hypercritical, to put it mildly. It started in England, where Romney’s observation that certain logistical issues relating to the Olympic Games were ‘disconcerting’–a judgment that has since proved resoundingly correct–was treated as a major diplomatic faux pas. . . . Then it was on to Israel, where Romney’s visit can fairly be characterized as triumphant. Without criticizing President Obama, he made it clear, in a ringing speech in Jerusalem, that his administration would be far friendlier to Israel than Obama’s. Romney’s speech was widely hailed in Israel as well as in the U.S., and probably enhanced his standing with many American Jews. Not to mention the fact that he raised $1 million from contributors with whom he met the next day. And yet press coverage has focused mainly on the Palestinian reaction to Romney’s pointing out that Israel’s “culture” has much to do with its prosperity relative to its neighbors, much as America’s culture explains its economic advantages over Mexico. The Palestinian objection was silly, and here is a news flash for American media: Romney isn’t angling for the Palestinian-American vote. Romney’s visit to Poland has been successful, too.”
You think the press is hypercritical now? Just wait until Romney is President. They’ll make up for their nonstop adulation of Obama by suddenly rediscovering the role of the press as watchdog. But increasingly, people are tuning them out.
CHICAGO VALUES: Chicago Is Deadliest Global City. “Chicago likes to compare itself to other world cities, so Ward Room thought it would find out how we rank in violence. It turns out no one can top us. Among what are considered Alpha world cities, Chicago has the highest murder rate — higher even than the Third World metropolises of Mexico City and Sao Paolo.”
How’s that super-strict gun-control workin’ out for ya, Rahm?
OPERATION FAT AND FURIOUS: Obama Pushes Food Stamps In Mexico.
ANDREW MCCARTHY: Fast And Furious Noose Tightens Around Justice Department. “Explosive reports are now surfacing that Justice Department officials clearly knew about the Fast and Furious ‘gunwalking’ tactic, in which the federal government — actually, a task force comprised of Justice Department agencies and led by ATF, a Justice Department agency — allowed upwards of 1400 illegally purchased firearms to be routed to violent Mexican drug gangs. This recklessness led, quite foreseeably, to the murder of at least one federal agent, Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, and probably a second, Homeland Security Agent Jaime Zapata. There are reportedly also scores of victims in Mexico.”
What I don’t understand is why, according to both Powerliners, the “gun control” theory requires the administration to have wanted to “increase bloodshed in Mexico”? Why increase? It requires more paranoia than even I’m able to muster to think that the Holder Justice department’s goal was to produce more violence and death (in order to grab headlines, etc.). Why isn’t there a far more plausible and mundane possible purpose: The administration wanted to document that the guns used in Mexican drug gang crimes–including violent crimes–came from the U.S.. There might be more crimes, there might be fewer. There could be less bloodshed, there could be increased bloodshed–but that wasn’t the point. The point was that gun controllers could argue that X% of the guns, or X number of guns, found at crime scenes were sourced from this country–whatever the overall level of crime. That would establish the factual basis for gun control the same way the Dartmouth studies and Atul Gawande’s articles allegedly established a factual basis for Obamacare. Entirely plausible, and not criminally evil! Just amazingly stupid.
Perhaps the most important factor in this shift is the collapse of the American construction industry, which has traditionally welcomed low-skilled workers. As construction work dries up, many immigrants are returning to their countries of origin, and others are deciding not to leave in the first place. Asian migrants, meanwhile, more frequently qualify for the higher paying, higher skilled jobs that are still relatively plentiful.
The immigration shift is also driven by demographic changes in Latin America, and especially in Mexico, where birthrates have fallen dramatically and the number of new workers entering the labor force will soon begin to fall, even as economic growth is creating more and better jobs. Mexicans who twenty years ago would have moved to America in search of opportunity now like their chances at home.
It’s good for diversity, too.
MICHAEL BARONE: America looks like Texas, not like California.
My prediction is that we won’t ever again see the heavy Latin immigration we saw between 1983 and 2007, which averaged 300,000 legal immigrants and perhaps as many illegals annually.
Mexican and other Latin birth rates fell more than two decades ago. And Mexico, the source of 60 percent of Latin immigrants, is now a majority-middle-class country.
Asian immigration may continue, primarily from China and India, especially if we have the good sense to change our laws to let in more high-skilled immigrants.
But the next big immigration source, I think, will be sub-Saharan Africa. We may end up with prominent politicians who actually were born in Kenya.
Continued domestic outmigration from high-tax states? Certainly from California, where Gov. Jerry Brown wants to raise taxes even higher. With foreign immigration down, California is likely to grow more slowly than the nation, for the first time in history, and could even start losing population. . . .
But Texas has been doing very well. If you draw a triangle whose points are Houston, Dallas and San Antonio, enclosing Austin, you’ve just drawn a map of the economic and jobs engine of North America.
Texas prospers not just because of oil and gas, but thanks to a diversified and sophisticated economy. It has attracted large numbers of both immigrants and domestic migrants for a quarter-century. One in 12 Americans lives there.
America is getting to look a lot more like Texas, and that’s one trend that I hope continues.
HOW’S THAT “SMART DIPLOMACY” STUFF WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? The Hill: Mexican official: Fast and Furious ‘poisoned’ public opinion of US.
The Mexican ambassador to the United States on Thursday said a botched gun-tracking operation by America “poisoned” public opinion of the United States for the citizens of its southern neighbor. . . . “Fast and Furious has poisoned the well-spring of public opinion in Mexico as it relates to the cooperation and engagement with the United States,” Sarukhan said.
It wasn’t “botched.” It was meant to do everything that it did — except get found out. The goal was to create a climate of opinion that favored gun control, and it’s ironic to see Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) still trying to put it to this use.
THE NEW AIDS OF THE AMERICAS: The Horror of Chagas Disease. “Like AIDS, the authors say, Chagas disease has a long incubation time and is hard or impossible to cure. Chagas infects up to eight million people in the hemisphere, mostly in Bolivia, Mexico, Colombia and Central America. But more than 300,000 of the infected live in the United States, many of them immigrants.”
OBAMA HATES GUNS (AGAIN): This is getting old, but here we go again. Fox news reports that President Obama is threatening to veto the DOJ appropriations bill that would halt a Obama-initiated ruler requiring gun dealers in the four U.S.-Mexico border states that border Mexico to report sales of multiple semi-automatic rifles to the ATF. According to the Fox report:
Several House Republicans have charged that the Obama administration had an anti-gun agenda when it carried out Fast and Furious, and are particularly wary of Attorney General Eric Holder, who once expressed the need to “brainwash” the American people into disliking firearm ownership.
They cite emails CBS News acquired in December, in which lead Fast and Furious Agent Bill Newell and ATF Field Operations Assistant Director Mark Chait discussed how to use the scandal’s aftermath to promote the long-gun reporting requirement for multiple sales.
Amazing how the Obama administration and progressives in Congress can take an embarrassing scandal (Fast & Furious) and try to use it to further their own anti-gun agenda, Second Amendment be damned. (That pesky Constitution keeps getting in the way– well, let’s hope, anyway.)
MEXICO, ALAS, has become one of the most dangerous countries in the world to work as a journalist. Three were killed this week alone for what they reported.
BRAVE NEW WORLD (IS HERE!): At the New York Post, Kyle Smith writes:
If Orwell’s “1984” is a cautionary tale about what we in the capitalist West largely avoided, Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World” is largely about what we got — a consumerist, post-God happyland in which people readily stave off aging, jet away on exotic vacations and procreate via test tubes. They have access to “Feelies” similar to IMAX 3-D movies, no-strings-attached sex, anti-anxiety pills and abortion on demand. They also venerate a dead high-tech genius, saying “Ford help him” in honor of Henry Ford just as today we practically murmur “In Jobs We Trust.”
In many ways the book, which was published 80 years ago this winter, has become sci-non-fi. It is still developing, taking on additional richness according to the times in which we read it.
“Brave New World” is a satire set in a unified and peaceful 26th-century “World State” in which a frustrated London loner named Bernard Marx feels unease with the serene functionality of the ingeniously well-ordered society around him. After a chance encounter on vacation, he brings to London a Shakespeare-loving “savage” named John from outside the tech bubble (he grew up untouched by modernity on an Indian reservation in New Mexico) who becomes even more distraught by what has happened to mankind.
And according to Slate, the world of Blade Runner isn’t too far off, either: “I (Robot) Thee Wed.” Although the photo that accompanies the Slate article is a reminder that the robot designers have an awfully big Uncanny Valley to cross first.
YES, BUT THEY WERE PROBABLY HAND-CARRIED THERE BY ATF AGENTS: ATF: 70 percent of guns found in Mexico come from US.
#NARRATIVEFAIL: Mickey Kaus: “Growing Latino Vote” Not Growing: “Psst! Don’t tell anyone, but according to RCP‘s Sean Trende the Hispanic share of the vote has been virtually stagnant (“almost perfectly flat”) since 2004. … Latinos are a rapidly growing part of the population, but actually turning out to vote is another matter. . . . Don’t tell this to mainstream reporters busily hyping the need for Mitt Romney to shift his positions in order to appeal to allegedly immigration-obsessed Latinos.”
Related: Mexican immigration to U.S. at a standstill: report. “The flow of immigrants into the United States from Mexico has come to a standstill and may have reversed, bringing a stunning end to a four-decade surge of newcomers from the country’s southern neighbor, according to a study released on Monday. The report by the non-partisan Pew Hispanic Center found that an influx that brought 12 million immigrants to the United States since the 1970s, more than half of whom came illegally, began to slow five years ago and may have reversed in the past two years.”
First time that’s happened since the Great Depression. How’s that Hopey-Changey stuff workin’ out for ya?
Also related: GOP Winning “War On Women:” “More voters think Mitt Romney and the Republican Party respect women who work outside the home than think President Obama and the Democrats respect women who stay at home, according to the latest The Hill Poll.”
BYRON YORK: MSNBC host condemns Romney to Hell.
Bashir’s sermon wasn’t the only Mormon-related message coming from Democrats and their allies in the press. That same day, Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer said Romney’s family “came from a polygamy commune in Mexico.” “I am not alleging by any stretch that Romney is a polygamist and approves of [the] polygamy lifestyle,” Schweitzer told the Daily Beast, “but his father was born into [a] polygamy commune in Mexico.”
It is true that Romney’s more distant Mormon ancestors did move to Mexico to escape a U.S. crackdown on polygamy, but it is also true that Romney himself (married 43 years) does not practice polygamy, his father did not practice polygamy, and his grandfather did not practice polygamy. Romney’s great-grandfather Miles Romney was the last polygamist in the line. And, just to point out one of the more unique features of this election, President Obama also has polygamy in his background.
In any event, the general election campaign is only a few days old, and voices on the Democratic side have already made hard-edged statements about Mormonism. Does anyone expect that to change as the campaign goes on?
Nope. Hate and bigotry is all they’ve got left.
UPDATE: A reader writes:
You say that “Hate and bigotry is all they’ve got left”
The problem for them as a strategy is that they are preaching to the choir.
They already have the base; the people who hate, the racists , the religious bigots, are already solidly on Obama’s side.
I have rarely seen such a divide where virtually all the racism and religious bigotry is found on the Left. The Right is made up of people you find at a typical Tea Party rally: well behaved, middle-American, working people who go to church and only want to live their lives in peace and raise their families.
Team Obama will lose, and they lose badly, both in the manner and the magnitude of their loss.
Let’s hope. You get more of what you reward, and America doesn’t need more racism and bigotry.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Andrew Piederer writes:
There is an aspect to this story that hasn’t been covered and has implications for future attempts to use Romney’s Mormonism as an attack vector.
I’m not sure what Martin Bashir was trying to accomplish by citing ‘Mormon’ scripture, but he succeeded in making himself look foolish by getting the citation wrong in the second instance (There is no Nephi 2:34–the verse he is looking for is 2 Nephi 9:34), and completely misunderstanding the context of both citations, which don’t refer to lying as an unforgivable sin worthy of ‘hell-fire’ , but a particularly egregious form of apostasy (becoming anti-Christ).
We see Democrats quoting scripture on a regular basis, and I’ve never quite understood why they do it. It clearly has no authority with the irreligious (mostly Democrat) and for those who are religious, the awkward and–let’s be charitable–’unconventional’ ways in which scripture is uses, marks them as ignorant and self-serving. Obama’s claims to Christian faith have suffered specifically from his use of scripture, which bear no resemblance to standard exegesis.
The bottom line is, ‘successful’ attacks on Romney’s Mormonism require being actually conversant with Mormon doctrines. Failing that, it’s better to stick with the Seamus the dog stories…
Not that those have worked out so well.
THE WAY THINGS ARE GOING HERE, THE FLOW WILL SOON GO THE OTHER WAY: Michael Barone: Net Illegal Immigration From Mexico Falls To Zero. “For some years I feared that Mexico could not achieve higher economic growth than the United States since our economies have been tied so tightly together by NAFTA since 1993. But in the past two years Mexico’s growth rate has been on the order of 5% to 7%. It’s looking like Mexico’s growth rate is tied not to that of the United States but to that of Texas, which has been a growth leader because of its intelligent public policies.”
SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER: Zimmerman family challenges Holder on New Black Panthers, says no arrests ‘based solely on your race.’ Personally, I think Holder is prejudiced against Latinos. But I may just be taking that impression from the general tenor of media coverage these days. . . .
UPDATE: A reader emails: “I would imagine AG Holder has a serious problem with ‘Latinos’. How else can we explain his total disregard for the countless Mexican (‘Latino’) lives lost to all those Fast and Furious guns that now arm Mexico’s bloody drug cartels he not only allowed to be sold, but is now fighting and blocking the Congressional investigation?”
HOW’S THAT SMART DIPLOMACY WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? (CONT’D): Obama Alienates Canada And Mexico At Three Amigos.
Energy has become a searing rift between the U.S. and Canada and threatens to leave the U.S. without its top energy supplier.
The Winnipeg Free Press reported that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper warned Obama the U.S. will have to pay market prices for its Canadian oil after Obama’s de facto veto of the Keystone XL pipeline. Canada is preparing to sell its oil to China.
Until now, NAFTA had shielded the U.S. from having to pay global prices for Canadian oil. That’s about to change.
Canada has also all but gone public about something trade watchers have known for a long time: that the U.S. has blocked Canada’s entry to the eight-way free trade agreement known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an alliance of the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Peru, Chile, and Singapore. Both Canada and Mexico want to join and would benefit immensely. . . .
Things were even worse, if you read the Mexican press accounts of the meeting.
Excelsior of Mexico City reported that President Felipe Calderon bitterly brought up Operation Fast and Furious, a U.S. government operation that permitted Mexican drug cartels to smuggle thousands of weapons into drug-war-torn Mexico. This blunder has wrought mayhem on Mexico and cost thousands of lives.
The mainstream U.S. press has kept those questions out of the official press conferences, while Obama has feigned ignorance to the Mexicans and hasn’t even apologized.
In short, the summit was a diplomatic disaster for the U.S. and its relations with its neighbors north and south.
It should have been the easiest, most no-brainer diplomatic task Obama faces.
Sadly, maybe it was.
THE NEW YORK SUN: Ex Parte Obama.
It’s been a long time since we’ve heard a presidential demarche as outrageous as President Obama’s warning to the Supreme Court not to overturn Obamacare. The president made the remarks at a press conference with the leaders of Mexico and Canada. It was an attack on the court’s standing and even its integrity in a backhanded way that is typically Obamanian. For starters the president expressed confidence that the Court would “not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.” . . .
It is outrageous enough that the president’s protest was inaccurate. What in the world is he talking about when he asserts the law was passed by “a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress”? The Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act barely squeaked through the Congress. In the Senate it escaped a filibuster by but a hair. The vote was so tight in the house — 219 to 212 — that the leadership went through byzantine maneuvers to get the measure to the president’s desk. No Republicans voted for it when it came up in the House, and the drive to repeal the measure began the day after Mr. Obama signed the measure.
It is the aspersions the President cast on the Supreme Court, though, that take the cake. We speak of the libel about the court being an “unelected group of people” who might “somehow overturn a duly constituted and passed law.” This libel was dealt with more than two centuries ago in the newspaper column known as 78 Federalist and written by Alexander Hamilton.
Obama must be expecting to lose. Because if he wins, this kind of threat will simply allow people on the right to argue that the Supreme Court’s decision was the result of intimidation, and deserves no deference by a new Supreme Court. And how will Obama’s feminist supporters feel, given that those all-important abortion and birth-control decisions also came from an “unelected” Supreme Court?
And if I were a Republican member of Congress I’d immediately introduce a proposed Constitutional amendment to elect all future Supreme Court justices in a national vote, with no input from the President. Just for fun . . . .
THE ALGAE THAT DIDN’T BARK: New York Times: U.S. Inches Toward Energy Independence. As reader Michael Costello writes: “Not one word about algae, windmills or solar panels.”
UPDATE: Prof. Stephen Clark writes:
Great article. Hope you savored these parts:
“The Bush administration worked from the start on finding ways to unlock the nation’s energy reserves and reverse decades of declining output, with Mr. Cheney leading a White House energy task force that met in secret with top oil executives.”
Remember the caterwauling about Cheney’s “secret meetings” with oil industry executives? Now we know what it was about: plotting a path toward energy independence. The horror!
“The Bush administration also opened large swaths of the Gulf of Mexico and the waters off Alaska to exploration, granting lease deals that required companies to pay only a tiny share of their profits to the government.
“These measures primed the pump for the burst in drilling that began once oil prices started rising sharply in 2005 and 2006.”
What? They managed to help transform an industry without lending anyone a gazillion dollars of taxpayer money? Who knew?
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Clark Taylor writes:
Adding onto Dr. Clark’s comments about the irony of Cheney’s secret meetings allowing for drilling to expand…
I keep seeing advertisements from Obama about how great it is that oil production started going up once he was in office. This means, the central advertisement for keeping Obama in office right now is … Cheney’s secret meetings with oil executives causing the economy to grow! Heh.
To preserve Dick Cheney’s legacy — Vote Obama!
Plus this reader email on gas prices:
If you choose to publish this, please do it anonymously.
I work for a company that does work for major refiners doing capital expansions. Something to keep in mind when we talk about gas prices is how much it costs refiners to get their facilities to make fuels compliant with EPA mandates. I am proud of the work we do to remove benzene from gasoline or sulfur from deisel, but it is expensive work. The cost gets handed right back to customers at the pump. If it is any consolation, you are getting a better quality product in terms of health and environment than you were when you were paying $1.50 a gallon.
I think I’d go for the buck-and-a-half gas. But it’s an important point that refining capacity matters as much as crude oil production.
MORE ON THAT MALIA-IN-MEXICO AIRBRUSHING EVENT:
Presidential administrations have long been protective of the first family’s minor children, and reporters in Washington have mostly observed the taboo on stories or photographs of them outside official and semi-official events. The ban on such coverage has existed through many administrations by informal agreement with the White House Correspondents’ Association, which represents the interests of journalists who cover the president.
Emphasis added by me, but thanks to the WaPo for the refreshing honesty. Meanwhile, I’ll just repeat that the Bush twins weren’t treated nearly so respectfully. The talk about decency, courtesy, and having kids of one’s own didn’t get the Palin kids much protection, either.
And I think that if we had a Republican in the White House, there’d be at least a little concern about the propriety of “scrubbing” stories from the Internet at the White House’s request.
UPDATE: Reader Matt Crandall writes: “What really bugs me is that the MSM never showed such decorum and willingness to airbrush when it came to things that might actually save lives. Like keeping mum on national security secrets during war-time, for example.” Indeed. But class loyalty trumps all for these people, and they see Obama as one of their own.
And reader Jeff Johnson snarks: “If Obama is so worried about Malia’s safety while she’s in Mexico maybe he shouldn’t have sold all of those weapons to the Mexican Drug Lords.” Good point!
CLAUDIA ROSETT: Mexico For Spring Break.
It’s not actually about the First Daughter, per se, who according to serially vanishing stories has been vacationing with a group of friends in Mexico — a country for which the State Department just last month issued a new warning to all U.S. travelers.
It’s about the judgment of the White House, which apparently deems there is “no vital news interest” to this story.
Let us set aside the obvious hypocrisy of a president who denounces the “1%” and calls for Americans to tighten their belts, while members of his own family summer on a Martha’s Vineyard estate, spend Christmas beachside at Oahu, and travel for fun to the ski slopes of Colorado, the luxury suites of Marbella, and now, scenic spots in Mexico. If that is the image Obama wants to cultivate, or those are the family pleasures with which he wishes to balance the rigors of his presidency, so be it.
Let us set aside, for the moment, the queasy feeling it brings, reminiscent of the air-brushed politburo photos of Mao’s China, to see news stories erased, one after another, at the behest of the White House.
Read the whole thing.
BIG EARTHQUAKE shakes Mexico.
ACCOUNTABILITY, LIKE TAXES, IS FOR THE LITTLE PEOPLE: New Mexico Cop on Paid Leave While Being Investigated for Raping Sex Workers.
#GOVERNMENTFAIL: DA had chance to nab fugitive teacher accused of sex crimes.
New questions have emerged over the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office’s handling of a substitute teacher wanted for alleged sex crimes.
The teacher, George Hernandez, was arrested by Huntington Park police in September 2010 for allegedly exposing himself to a girl outside a middle school. Detectives who searched his Inglewood apartment discovered a videotape they say shows Hernandez molesting a second-grader in a classroom. He was released on bail and fled the country.
Court records reviewed by The Times show prosecutors chose not to seek the extradition of Hernandez even when they learned of his whereabouts in Mexico.
The records contradict statements made this week by a deputy district attorney, who said the teacher would be extradited as soon as authorities could locate him.
It’s almost like they don’t want to get to the bottom of what’s going on in L.A. public schools.
HMM: Major Obama Donors Tied To Fugitive Who Fled To Mexico. “Two American brothers of a Mexican casino magnate who fled drug and fraud charges in the United States and has been seeking a pardon enabling him to return have emerged as major fund-raisers and donors for President Obama’s re-election campaign.”
SHOCKER: “Joyce Foundation anti-gun shills have ties to ATF brass. But remember, kids, if you think that the ATF allowing guns to be smuggled into Mexico was an attempt at ‘under the radar’ gun control, you’re just a lunatic.”
AND IT SEEMS TO BE WORKING: Law-Abiding Mexicans Taking Up Illegal Guns.
In Mexico, where criminals are armed to the teeth with high-powered weapons smuggled from the United States, it may come as a surprise that the country has some of the most restrictive gun laws in the world.
Law-abiding Mexicans who want a gun to defend themselves have no good options. Either they fight government red tape to get a legal permit, or they buy one on the black market.
After an outbreak of violence, one embattled community in northern Mexico called Colonia LeBaron has begun to ask if it’s time for the country to address its gun laws. . . .
The cold-blooded murders of Benjamin LeBaron and Luis Widmar galvanized the community, Julian LeBaron says. It prompted them to take a stance that is familiar to Second Amendment advocates in the U.S., but one that is taboo in Mexico.
“I think there would be less violence if there were more guns, in the sense that I could barge in here and do whatever I want, knowing that this guy doesn’t have a gun,” says Jose Widmar, the brother of slain Luis.
Today, if the gangsters return, the LeBaron colony is locked and loaded.
What’s really interesting is that the NPR coverage is surprisingly positive. And SayUncle comments: “Maybe ATF could walk some guns to the good guys?”
THE PRISON OFFICIALS SHOULD GET HARD TIME FOR THIS, BUT THEY WON’T: Man Held in Solitary Confinement 2 Years After DWI Gets $22M.
A man who spent two years in solitary confinement after getting arrested for DWI was awarded $22 million for suffering inhumane treatment in New Mexico’s Dona Ana County Jail.
Stephen Slevin was arrested in August of 2005 for driving while intoxicated, according to NBC station KOB.com. He said he never got a trial and spent the entire time languishing in solitary, even pulling his own tooth when he was denied dental care.
“‘[Prison officials were] walking by me every day, watching me deteriorate,” he said. “Day after day after day, they did nothing, nothing at all, to get me any help.”
Really, these guys should have to spend 6 years in solitary each. But, of course, all that happens is that taxpayers get stuck. Don’t respect these guys. They don’t deserve it.
UPDATE: A reader emails: “Who was governor when this guy was in stir? Just curious as that would seeem to be a black spot on that persons rep or something.” Nah, only if he were a Republican.
INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY: Media May Owe Arizona Gov. Brewer An Apology As Mexico’s Drug War Spreads To U.S. “Eighteen months ago, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer was excoriated for warning of spillover from Mexico’s war reaching our soil. Well, beheadings are becoming common now. Yet that war is still ignored.”
INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY: When Will We Awake From Obama’s Bad Green Dream?
The Obama administration promised a future with a clean, green economy. Instead, it’s left us with failed government “investments” in projects driven by politics rather than prudence.
While campaigning for the presidency in 2008, Barack Obama swore he’d create millions of green jobs.
“We’ll invest $15 billion a year over the next decade in renewable energy, creating 5 million new green jobs that pay well, can’t be outsourced and help end our dependence on foreign oil,” he said that fall.
Three years into the Obama presidency, the country has yet to see a wave of green-collar jobs. What it has seen is government pouring taxpayers’ money into pet projects that wasted the cash. A particularly sore example is Solyndra, which not only went bankrupt after taking in more than $500 million in taxpayers’ dollars, but also became the target of an FBI probe.
According to one analysis, at least 12 clean energy companies “are having trouble after collectively being approved for more than $6.5 billion in federal assistance.”
It’s like the whole thing was just a scam to bleed the taxpayers or something.
THE DRUG WAR — WHICH SIDE ARE WE ON AGAIN? U.S agents HELPED Colombian drug lord ‘The Rabbit’ to launder millions of dollars. “U.S drug enforcement agents secretly helped a Colombian cocaine supplier launder millions of dollars in drug proceeds so they could infiltrate cartels working through the Mexico border, it has been revealed. . . . They carried out wire transfers for tens of thousands of dollars, smuggled millions in bulk cash and even escorted a shipment of cocaine through Ecuador, Dallas and finally Madrid.”
GEN. MCCAFFREY on Mexico.
HOW’S THAT “SMART DIPLOMACY” STUFF WORKING OUT? Harper to Obama: I’ve got plenty of buyers for our oil. “Canada has patiently waited for Americans to help themselves improve our energy policy by installing a pipeline from Canada’s oil sands to our refineries in the Gulf of Mexico, but this week Prime Minister Stephen Harper signaled that their patience has limits. Speaking to CTV, Harper reminded the US that they have a very thirsty China as a potential customer, too.” This is why the “green” opposition is either incredibly stupid or just dishonest Saudi-shilling: The oil is coming out regardless of whether the pipeline gets built. The only question is whether it will come here, or go elsewhere.
UPDATE: Reader Nick Calapa writes: “What makes you think shipping Canada’s oil to China isn’t Obama’s preferred outcome?”
ANOTHER UPDATE: Prof. Stephen Clark writes:
In all seriousness, Obama’s punting on Keystone is inexplicable. Does the White House really think that a decision in favor of the pipeline would be that politically damaging – when they can wrap a favorable decision in a jobs creation agenda while pointing to a map like the one you linked to yesterday? As inexplicable as that is, for the life of me, I can’t understand why Republicans – especially presidential candidates – aren’t hammering Obama every single day on this issue.
If it were me, I might take a page from Cato the Elder and conclude every speech, no matter what the topic, with the sentence, “Furthermore, I think Keystone should be approved”. It might have an effect similar to that which Cato’s apothegm had on Carthage.
Well, I don’t give many speeches, but I am continuing to blog about it.
GUNS TO MEXICO, CONT’D: Video: US approved large escalation of legal gun sales to Mexico. “Remember when gun-control activists insisted that loose purchasing regulation of American firearms had led to a massive uptick in arming the drug cartels in Mexico? Advocates demanded action to curtail gun sales in the US, and the Obama administration responded with new efforts at the ATF and Department of Justice — including Operation Fast and Furious. Now it seems that the big spike in arms supply to cartels didn’t come from local gun shops at all, but from the US government approving a rapid increase in direct sales from manufacturers to the Mexican government, whose purchases got diverted to the cartels — a fact known to the Obama administration all along.”
MORE PROBLEMS FOR ERIC HOLDER: Gunwalker: Justice Dept. Violated U.S. Laws Beyond Those Being Investigated.
As we continue to watch the general uproar over the Operation Fast and Furious program, and specifically what Attorney General Holder knew and when he knew it, it needs to be noted that perjury is not the only apparent violation of law to have occurred.
I refer to the apparent violation of at least one (probably two) major U.S. laws by the Holder Justice Department. A few years ago, the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701, the follow-on to the Trading with the Enemy Act) was expanded in order to criminalize any transactions between U.S. entities — to include departments and agencies of the U.S. government — and all foreign drug cartels.
I am familiar with these prohibitive statues because several years ago, while serving as the senior drug analyst for the Senate Intelligence Committee, I was tasked to initiate and became the principal drafter of legislation which became known as the Kingpin Act (21 U.S.C. §§ 1901-08). The Kingpin Act is an extension of the highly successful IEEPA sanctioning program specifically targeting Colombian drug cartels. It expands sanctions authority against various drug cartel operations worldwide — including Mexico — which have been determined by the president to be threats to the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the United States.
A violation of any of the IEEPA sanctioning programs or the Kingpin Act carries stiff penalties, both criminal and civil, and potentially totaling decades in prison and tens of millions of dollars in fines. It is not necessary that an individual or governmental entity be shown to have “knowingly” violated any of these programs: it is illegal for any U.S. entity or individual to aid, abet, or materially assist — or in the case of Operation Fast and Furious, to facilitate others to aid, abet, or materially assist — designated drug traffickers. There are no exceptions within IEEPA programs for unlicensed U.S. law enforcement or intelligence agency operations.
Read the whole thing.
UPDATE: Ariz. congressman: Pressure to resign is getting to Eric Holder. It should be. “At least 300 Mexicans were killed with Fast and Furious weapons, as was U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry.”
ANOTHER UPDATE: DEA Laundering Money For Drug Cartels? “Unlike Fast & Furious, this doesn’t appear to be an operation designed primarily for domestic policy manipulation rather than law enforcement, but it does call into question the judgment of high-ranking US officials.” Can we just shut down ATF & DEA?
A READER POINTS OUT ANOTHER CHANCE TO PLAY “NAME THAT PARTY!” New York Times: Ex-Governor Is Said to Be Focal Point of Inquiry. “Bill Richardson, the former governor of New Mexico who ran for president in 2008, is being investigated by a federal grand jury for possible violations of campaign finance laws, according to people with knowledge of the inquiry.”
If you scroll down far enough you see this: “Some experts likened the investigation of Mr. Richardson to that of John Edwards, another candidate in the 2008 Democratic race.” But that’s as close as they get to identifying Bill Richardson as a major Democrat and Clinton cabinet member.
THE HILL: Eric Holder Has A Gun Problem.
As the chief law enforcement officer Attorney General Eric Holder came out swinging in the first months of the Obama administration as he pushed to reinstate the assault weapons ban, pointing to the rising levels of violence in Mexico and increased presence of U.S. guns south of the border.
But nearly two years later assault weapons can still be bought and Holder has found himself at the center of a quagmire involving a botched gun-tracking operation that sent thousands of high-powered firearms to Mexico in the hands of known or suspected straw buyers for drug cartels.
Amid a plethora of Republican calls for Holder’s resignation, Democrats have silently indicated their support for the attorney general. Instead of taking him to task for Operation Fast and Furious, Democratic lawmakers have tried to draw attention to what they describe as the country’s weak network of gun laws.
In other words, they’re trying to stage a distraction. Let me be clear: I think it’s possible, and maybe even likely, that this operation was intended to provide PR support for the Administration’s gun-control program by putting traceable U.S. guns at Mexican crime scenes so that Holder could point to them as a reason for more gun control in the United States. (Other explanations — such as that this was a sort of Iran/Contra deal involving the U.S. Government deliberately arming one side in the Mexican drug wars, are even worse). Heads should roll, starting with Holder’s, but not ending there.
ATF GUNRUNNING UPDATE: Slain ICE agent’s family still searching for answers.
In the eight months since Jaime Zapata was killed in an ambush in Mexico that also wounded another ICE agent, his parents say they have been proud to see his life eulogized by top U.S. government officials and to see a highway, a road and even a boat ramp named after their son.
But they also have grown increasingly frustrated in their quest to get answers about his death. They want to know why he was in northern Mexico when he initially was told that his assignment was intelligence gathering in the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City.
They want to know more about the guns used in the attack, and whether any of them were tied to the U.S. government’s Operation Fast and Furious, which failed to track weapons that ended up in the hands of Mexican cartel members.
“I feel like I’m not getting the truth,” his mother said Friday in an interview with the Houston Chronicle.
I feel the same way. . . .
FASTER, PLEASE: Branson opens world’s first ‘spaceport’ in US. “British billionaire Richard Branson opened the world’s first-ever commercial spaceport in the New Mexico desert, the new home for his company, Virgin Galactic. . . . Branson last month said he hoped to launch a vessel into space within the next 12 months, which he said would kick off an era of commercial space travel.”
IT’S NOT JUST “GUNWALKER:” CBS: Don’t forget Grenadewalker, too. “ATF let thousands of grenades cross the border into Mexico at roughly the same time the Mexican drug cartels were using grenades to blow up a casino and kill dozens of people.”
“ARAB SPRING:” Egyptian Army Vehicles Run Over Coptic Protesters in Cairo.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Egypt Descends Into Chaos. “No-one appears in charge. Central bank foreign exchange reserves are down to just $19 billion, or four months’ imports, the Financial Times reported last week. . . . Egypt literally will run out of food. It imports half its caloric consumption, mainly wheat (although Egyptians eat less wheat than Iranians, Moroccans, Canadians, Turks and Russians). Egypt spends $5.5 billion a year on food subsidies. Its social solidarity minister wants to change the system (which subsidizes some people who can afford to pay more than the penny a loaf the government charges), but seems deeply confused. ‘We need to change consumer habits so that we are not consuming so much bread. In Mexico, for example, they rely more on potatoes. Why can’t we start shifting toward that?’ said Saad Nassar, adviser to the agriculture minister. Mr. Nassar seems unaware that Mexicans eat more corn than wheat or potatoes. This discussion would be comical if not for the fact that Egypt is about to run out of money to pay for any sort of food.”
As Roger Simon noted yesterday, the Arab Spring is a horror show.
ROBERT FARAGO: ATF Death Watch 100: Feds Fed Fast and Furious Firearms to the Sinaloans. “We don’t know the exact motivations for Operations Fast and Furious and Castaway; they must be multiple given the alphabet soup of federal agencies involved (by the ATF’s own admission). Nor are we clear as to why the U.S. Attorney’s Office let a machine gun modifier and bomb-maker (caught red-handed) walk from custody back into Mexico. But one thing we do know: the guns that the ATF let slip from surveillance ended-up in the hands of the Sinaloa drug cartel.”
FURIOUSLY UNRAVELING: The ATF’s Fast and Furious Gunrunning Scandal Keeps Getting Worse.
Hardly a week passes now without some revelation about the Obama administration’s complicity in what may yet turn out to be one of the worst and most lethal scandals in American history: Operation Fast and Furious.
In a classic Friday document dump — a sure sign of an administration with something to hide — the feds released to congressional investigators a month’s worth of e-mail correspondence in the summer of 2010 between Bill Newell, then head ATF agent in Phoenix, and his friend Kevin O’Reilly, a former White House national-security staffer for North American affairs.
What do you know? Among the e-mails was a photograph of a powerful Barrett .50-caliber rifle that had been illegally purchased in Tucson and recovered in Sonora, Mexico, raising the possibility of a second “gunwalking” program, this one called “Wide Receiver.”
Like Fast and Furious, the ATF-supervised scheme that saw thousands of weapons “walk” across the Mexican border for reasons no one in the Justice Department has yet satisfactorily explained, Wide Receiver was apparently a joint operation that also included the Drug Enforcement Administration, the FBI, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the IRS and the US Attorney’s office.
It’s likely there have been others, in such states as Florida and Indiana.
This calls for a special prosecutor. The Justice Department has already demonstrated that it’s too politicized to be trusted with an investigation like this.
MEXICO CITY CONSIDERS temporary marriages.
CITIZEN ANGER AT Tucson town hall over Fast and Furious gun-smuggling scandal.
This just might be the smoking gun we’ve been waiting for to break the festering “Fast and Furious” gun-running scandal wide open: the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives apparently ordered one of its own agents to purchase firearms with taxpayer money, and sell them directly to a Mexican drug cartel.
Let that sink in: After months of pretending that “Fast and Furious” was a botched surveillance operation of illegal gun-running spearheaded by the ATF and the US attorney’s office in Phoenix, it turns out that the government itself was selling guns to the bad guys. . . .
There are two possible explanations. The first is that the anti-gun Obama administration deliberately wanted American guns planted in Mexico in order to demonize American firearms dealers and gun owners. The operation was manufacturing “evidence” for the president’s false claim that we’re to blame for the appalling levels of Mexican drug-war violence.
If this is true, then Holder & Co. have got to go — and the trail needs to be followed no matter where it leads. For the federal government to seek to frame its own citizens is unconscionable.
A second notion is that the CIA was behind the whole thing, which accounts for all the desperate wagon-circling. Under this theory, the Agency feared the los Zetas drug cartel was becoming too powerful and might even mount a coup against the Mexican government. So some 2,000 weapons costing more than $1.25 million were deliberately channeled to the rival Sinaloa cartel, which operates along the American border, to keep the Zetas in check.
Of course, there’s a third explanation — that both scenarios are true, and that those in charge of Fast and Furious saw an opportunity to shoot two birds with one Romanian-made AK Draco pistol.
Time for a special prosecutor, who’s both fast and furious.
Yes, a special prosecutor is clearly warranted here.
BOB OWENS ON THAT ATF GUN-SMUGGLING SCANDAL: Gunwalker’s Body Count Grows, Along with the Obama Administration’s Cover-Up. “It seems like only a matter of time before administration officials face felony indictments for their role in Operation Fast and Furious.” And it looks like Rep. Issa will call for a special prosecutor. Key Issa quote: “The administration wanted to show that guns found in Mexico came from the United States.” Even if it had to send them there itself.
wo former law enforcement officers allege that they cannot get anyone to investigate allegations that the Mexican drug cartels have corrupted U.S. law officers and politicians in the El Paso border region.
Greg Gonzales, a retired Doña Ana County sheriff’s deputy, and Wesley Dutton, a rancher and former New Mexico state livestock investigator, said that instead of arrests and prosecutions of suspects, their whistle-blowing activities have resulted only in threats and retaliation against themselves. . . . The two whistle-blowers said that drug cartels have managed to obtain computer access codes to U.S. surveillance systems that let them see where and when Border Patrol agents are monitoring the border.
They also alleged that drug cartels have given big donations to politicians, which are unreported, to influence appointments of key law enforcement officers.
Read the whole thing.
NEWSDAY EDITORIALIZES ON GUNWALKER: Shine a light on gun operation. “The probe into Operation Fast and Furious, a bungled investigation of gunrunning to Mexico from Arizona that may have contributed to the death of a U.S. Border Patrol agent, is revealing what’s seems more and more like a cover-up by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. . . . Holder has failed to answer the key question — what did the DEA and FBI know and when did they know it?”
IN AMERICA, WE HAVE ATTACKWATCH.COM. In Mexico, a deadly threat to ‘scandal mongers’ using social media.
ATF GUN-SMUGGLING UPDATE: Justice Department tells GOP investigators: Guns from “Fast and Furious” linked to three more murders in Mexico. “I’m thinking we should start a new sub-blog devoted to chronicling the bloodletting by Mexican cartels using F&F guns. We could call it ‘Attack Watch.’”
MARK TAPSCOTT: The Obama Energy Crisis As You’ve Never Before Seen It. “It’s been eclipsed somewhat in recent months by the continued stagnation of the economy and the increasingly loud Republican presidential nomination battle, but the energy crisis caused by President Obama’s Permatorium on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico is just as serious as it ever was. And it’s going to get worse if something isn’t done soon to lift the bureaucratic strangulation being applied to the oil and natural gas industries by Obama’s Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar.” You’d think by now that people would understand the importance of getting oil from someplace other than the Middle East.
ROGER SIMON: Notes from the Spin Room — Perils of the ‘P-word’. Plus this: “I wish Gary Johnson were the libertarian standard bearer. He may have his eccentricities, but the former New Mexico governor is at least a fun guy to have drinks with. When I met him, I almost wanted to start smoking joints again. Well, not quite. On a more general point, just who does decide who gets to be included in these debates? Why Santorum and Huntsman but not Johnson?”
Plus this: “Romney and Perry were fine. We should be so lucky if either of them replaced Obama tomorrow morning. I’d treat everyone to champagne from here to Ohio. Huntsman is another matter. For a while I sort of liked him, but then things started to roll down hill fast. His pretentious belief in man-made global warming as settled science is so silly you want to guffaw. And then there’s his isolationist foreign policy. Sorry. No sale.”
More here: “These questions were clearly fair game, but the phrasing and tone of the moderator made them seem far more akin to a scene from the Spanish Inquisition. Honestly, by the end of the evening I had lost track of the number of questions which were far less solicitations of opinion and policy than accusations. It was as if Brian Williams and company were looking for the candidates to apologize for being conservatives. As the night progressed, it became clear that the hosts would be severely disappointed.”
ANOTHER UPDATE: Jim Treacher: Perry vs. Everybody.
Plus, from Ann Althouse on Chris Matthews:
So Mr. Science there — the man whose leg felt a thrill when he heard Barack Obama — says “big, hard, bad” and “hard, bad” when he sees Rick Perry. I’d say Matthews is scared. He’s spewing emotion. But he would like us to believe he’s devoted to science! A burbling bundle of emotion attempts to embody seriousness about science. It’s absurd. . . . Let’s look at the transcript and try to inject a little reality into the Matthews word-mush. . . . Perry said he wanted accurate science and more science — especially when it is the basis for proposals that would have a “monstrous economic impact.” . . . Matthews, brought on to analyze the debate, seems barely to have heard what Perry actually said. He simply unleashed a torrent over words around the subject of science and tried to scare people — if anyone was still watching — about this yahoo monkeyman Perry.
I remember a couple of decades ago when Matthews was a respected commentator. Now I’m wondering why.
STORM SHUTS DOWN 60% of Gulf Of Mexico Oil Output.
NOBODY PROMISED IT’D BE PRETTY: Courts Uphold Right To Video Police, New Mexico Officer Makes Us Wonder If We Should.
BANG: New Mexico Governor Gets Perfect Score On Her Concealed-Carry Permit. “New Mexico’s pistol-packin’ governor is a sure shot. Gov. Susana Martinez received perfect scores on recertification for her concealed-carry permit over the weekend in Las Cruces. She scored 100 percent with both .38- and .45-caliber handguns, her staff said.”
ENERGY OBAMANOMICS: No Green Jobs, And Plenty Of Red Ink. “The unintended but easily predictable consequence of burning our food supply in our gas tanks is that grocery prices have skyrocketed. When the limited supply of farmland is diverted to ethanol, the demand for the remaining land goes up, so all food prices are affected. Simple economics. Food shortages are being felt around the world. When Mexico runs short on corn tortillas, you know there’s a problem.”
LUDDITE TERRORISM IN MEXICO: Nanotechnologists Are Targets of Unabomber Copycat, Alarming Universities.
A package bomb that injured two professors at a university here this month is the latest in a string of attacks by a new terror group inspired by the Unabomber. Its violent actions have put campuses across Mexico on alert and caused nanotechnology researchers worldwide to take precautions with their mail.
Nanotechnology was singled out as a target for the attacks in manifestos posted on the Web by the group behind the bombs, which calls itself “Individualities Tending Toward Savagery.” It has been linked to attacks in France, Spain, and Chile, and to a bomb sent earlier this year to a scientist at another Mexican university who specializes in nanotech. An analyst who helped identify the Unabomber—who turned out to be a former professor—says the posts show signs of someone well-educated who could be affiliated with a college.
The online rants credit the Unabomber as an inspiration.
Al Gore was unavailable for comment. And read this debunking of nano-fears by Freeman Dyson.
I think that’s supposed to be a counterpart to “Teabagger,” but it makes me think of something entirely different. “I’ll get you damn kids for this!”
GOING GALT? Reader Isaac Vavra emails: “I’m a 20 year old who works at a McDonalds and saved up enough money this year to travel throughout South America. I met a kid in San Jose, Costa Rica: He is in his 20′s, he got laid off from his job with Medicare, and is now living down here in Costa Rica. He says he has enough to stay for five years. He is collecting unemployment and just withdraws the money in Costa Rica.” Well, that’s one way to ride out the recession. I hear Costa Rica’s nice.
UPDATE: Various readers say it’s more like “going Mooch.” As Rand Simberg comments: “I’m pretty sure that no one living in Galt’s Gulch was collecting government unemployment checks.” And reader Brian Townsend writes:
I’ve been living in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, for some time and it is also nice. Don’t take too seriously the scary news reports about Mexico. They are true enough, but are about the border region and a couple of other states. This part of Mexico, home to a large expat community for nearly sixty years, is as safe as they come. Yes, you can come here and live cheaply. I came down here myself to escape high taxes and excessive government control of my life in Canada. Mexico is like going back in time to before government decided it had to take over your life for your own good. They are moving in that direction, but by the time they get there, Canada and the US will probably have had The Libertarian Revolution!
But in the meantime, I have to warn that Mexico (or wherever in Latin America) might spoil you: very pretty girls who will actually smile back at you, nice climate, relaxed tempo of life–after a few years of that, you may not find it so easy to fit back into the North American rat race!
MORE: Reader R.A. Rose asks if this is unemployment fraud: “I thought you had to be actively looking for a job to collect unemployment. I doubt if a job in Costa Rica fits the criteria.” In the Obama economy, you have to look where the jobs are, I guess. . . .
MORE STILL: Reader Richard Rollo emails: “I don’t believe the story about the young man collecting unemployment in Costa Rica. UI as it’s called in California requires that you be ‘available for work’ and that you are ‘actively seeking employment.’ It may be a dance without music these days but you’ve got to be at the dance. I suspect this individual is receiving Social Security Disability for the permanently disabled and just doesn’t want to tell his story to passing strangers. That’s my guess. UI? No way.”
More skepticism here. I’ll bet you can live okay in Costa Rica on SSDI, though.
ROBERT FARAGO: ATF Death Watch 53: The Truth Makes Me Nervous. “ATF green lighted gun sales to FBI informants (and known cartel associates) by complicit U.S. gun dealers, and then told ATF agents on the ground NOT to interdict the weapon as they flowed to Mexican drug cartels (the Sinaloas specifically) to suit the CIA and U.S. foreign policy. Gunwalker armed U.S. and Mexico’s favored cartel members with U.S. guns. The ends explain the means. At the very least, this theory (backed-up by sources I can’t disclose) should trigger a press investigation into U.S. policy towards Mexico’s narco-terrorists and their supporters (e.g. the U.S. and Mexican governments). Nope. The mainstream media continues to paint the ATF operation as a simple screw-up. Oops! We did it again.”
NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Anti-Nanotech Terrorism by “Individuals Tending Toward the Savage.” Treat them savagely.
Plus, from the comments: “I guess this is a positive sign for Mexico that they have an Institute of Technology that’s researching something that someone thinks is worth bombing. Another four years of Obama and it will be Mexico with the illegal immigration problem.”