Criminal Justice

Compassionate Conservatism, My Ass

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In his final, telling acts of clemency, announced yesterday, George W. Bush commuted the prison sentences of two Border Patrol agents who were convicted in 2005 of shooting a fleeing, unarmed marijuana smuggler in the buttocks and then lying about the incident to cover up the crime. Jose A. Compean and Ignacio Ramos will now be released after serving less than three years of their sentences (12 and 11 years, respectively). "Border Patrol and law enforcement have no stronger supporter than me," Bush proclaimed a couple of years ago, when he first took an interest in the case. The New York Times notes that the sentences Compean and Ramos received "were driven by a mandatory 10-year prison sentence for the use of a firearm in the assault, a condition that irked supporters who said the men were required to carry a gun in their border duties."

There's no shortage of prisoners who were screwed over by mandatory minimum sentences, many of whom, unlike Compean and Ramos, are nonviolent offenders whose only "crime" was supplying a politically incorrect intoxicant to willing buyers. Here, for instance, is a guy who got 55 years for selling a pound and a half of pot because he happened to carry a gun for self-protection. Families Against Mandatory Minimums can tell you about many more victims of the rigid, draconian penalties spawned by the war on drugs. Yet Bush has granted clemency to just a few drug offenders, and the Times notes that his overall number of pardons and commutations, an even 200, is "the fewest of any two-term president in modern times." Bush's annual average, 25, is a bit higher than the 19 per year racked up by his one-term father. With that one exception, his average is much lower than that of every other president since James Garfield, who was assassinated four months after his inauguration. 

Dave Weigel discussed Compean and Ramos' crimes in 2007, the same year I noted Bush's pathetic clemency record. Katherine Mangu-Ward compared Bush's record to those of his recent predecessors in the November 2007 issue of Reason. I noted a couple of his drug offender commutations here and here.

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  1. What incredible motion design.

  2. “shooting a fleeing, unarmed marijuana smuggler in the buttocks”

    He he, buttocks. I can’t help it, that’s funny.

  3. The war on rugs must end, carpets are being given an unfair monopoly on flooring needs.

  4. Well, certainly, the War on Rugs is a major reason why we simply cannot get along with Iran.

  5. So who the hell is Reason going to bitch about now?

  6. Swordfish,

    The non-libertarian president and the almost-completely non-libertarian Congress. And the usually non-libertarian Supreme Court.

  7. The war on rugs must end

    Fuckin’ right! Uh, I mean, fuck you, this is my own hair!

  8. Are you implying that Pres. Bush would have been worth commending had he pardoned on average more prisoners than his predecessors? Presidential pardons cannot be relied on to stop the war on drugs. Even if Bush wanted to stop all mandatory minimum sentences for drug-related crimes he could not do this through his pardon power, but there is no reason to believe that he ever wanted to do that. Laws should be changed, not pardons granted. Bitching about not enough pardons in the context of the war on drugs is probably more ridiculous than McCain’s favorite approach to cut spending — fighting earmarks for bears’ DNA.

  9. I’m sure moronic talk-radio hosts around the country are celebrating this pardon, feeling justified in their xenophobic, pro-WoD views.

    Too bad they ignore the fact that neither the victim nor the belligerents should have been in this position in the first place…

  10. The officers “were driven by a mandatory 10-year prison sentence for the use of a firearm in the assault, a condition that irked supporters who said the men were required to carry a gun in their border duties.”

    So as they are required to wear the gun…they are equally REQUIRED to use it?

    That, as usual, makes no sense.

    Personal note: getting shot in the ass would be brutal. 1) There’s the threat of my boys getting blown off too (hey guys, think about a dick-related exit wound). 2)What’s the whole sittin’ situation?

  11. The anti-immigration wing of the libertarian movement is cheering this one. Yes unfortunately, they do exist.

  12. Compassionate Conservatism = big government, more regulation while talking about the power of “teh markets”.

  13. Jose A. Compean and Ignacio Ramos will now be released

    Has anyone checked on the immigration status of these two gentlemen?

  14. As a native of New Mexico, we always got a kick out of going through the Border Patrol Checkpoints (all non 4th amendment violating ones, natch) when the nice young man who looked like Pancho Villa’s cousing would lean into the window and ask “Ceetezeensheep?”

    Oh the long winter evenings flew by.

  15. And you must be the boy who makes the tea?

  16. Yes unfortunately, they do exist.

    Lonewacko?

    *ducks*

  17. Keep Dope Alive !!!

  18. New president. Move along now.

  19. The politics – the public politics, the politics they took into account when making this decision – of this case have a lot more to do with immigration than with drug prohibition.

    But excellent dissection of the WOD politics here, Jacob.

  20. I’m opposed to WOD and am for a rational immigration policy. (Sorry, W, you can’t have $10 a day jobs on one side of a foot deep river and $10 an hour jobs on the other side and hope to keep the poor brown folks on their side), but that doesn’t mean I take the word of a convicted slimeball over that of two men who at least work for a living. I wasn’t there, your weren’t there, but I gotta believe nobody with an IQ above 90 is crossing the desert with several hundred pounds of marijuana without some means of self defense. Unarmed? – not bloody likely!

  21. Garfield while actually shot in July, 4 months after his inauguration, managed to live another 2 months. He was taken to the Jersey shore, where doctors repeatedly inserted their unsterilized hands into his wound looking for the bullet. Alexander Graham Bell even tried a crude metal detector to locate the assassin’s bullet to no avail.

    Oh and Bush is a jerk. Good Riddance!

  22. I wasn’t there, your weren’t there, but I gotta believe nobody with an IQ above 90 is crossing the desert with several hundred pounds of marijuana without some means of self defense. Unarmed? – not bloody likely!

    So, what, the two convicted slimeballs who shot the guy also hid the fact that he had a gun? Just like they hid the fact that they discharged their weapons, right?

    All the same thing I guess. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.

  23. Could Reason be any more a useful idiot for the Mexican government than they are already?

    What exactly does Jacob Sullum know about this case? No, really, he should give us a detailed run-down of where he’s getting his information.

    Has he seen this?

    Over at patterico.com, they posted summaries of various court documents. If anyone wants to take an educated position on this, make sure you know the facts, both from these pages and all the others:

    peekURL.com/z4id7sc
    peekURL.com/zhr7qwy
    peekURL.com/z5qjxw6
    peekURL.com/zzhil7l
    peekURL.com/z2652n2

    And, the government admits lying about this matter.

    [Copied and pasted from comments left at another useful idiot’s site.]

  24. Sometimes I wonder if the Lonewacko posts are parodies, as his idiocy continues to astound me.

    Perhaps he should give up spamming H&R and see if he can be a fill-in host for Coast-To-Coast AM…

  25. Only in America–as Noam Chomsky has pointed house–are libertarians a right-wing market-worshiping cult. You fuckers have compassion for anybody remotely connected to the drug trade, but everybody else can suck it up under market discipline. Fuck you.

  26. I wasn’t there, your weren’t there, but I gotta believe nobody with an IQ above 90 is crossing the desert with several hundred pounds of marijuana without some means of self defense. Unarmed? – not bloody likely!

    Except for the fact that when Ramos and Compean were first asked if the guy had a gun, they said No. Then they were told they were being charged with crimes, and they jumped up and shouted, “Wait, did we say he had no gun? Our bad. He had a huge gun! He had a bazooka! He was flying a fighter jet! And riding a Tyrannosaurus Rex!” Whatever, guys.

    Since these agents initially lied to try to conceal the existence of the shooting, they aren’t entitled to the benefit of the doubt in their other statements.

  27. Point to grizzly, above.
    Presidential pardons are by their nature arbitrary, and contrary to the principle of the rule of law.
    I can’t really see the wisdom in libertarians supporting more use of presidential power to arbitrarily let off selected offenders who happen to have obtained political favor. In an ideal state the president shouldn’t even have that power. If anything, it should lie with the supreme court.

  28. and don’t forget about the inflatable Noam likeness used for interludes in Stevo’s bunk, there, Edweirdooo

  29. I was once sodomized by my drug dealer, so I have no compassion for people involved in the drug trade.

    And my dealer was a Mexican, so I’m with Lonewacko and hate Mexicans too. They took ur yobs!

  30. Only in America–as Noam Chomsky has pointed house–are libertarians a right-wing market-worshiping cult. You fuckers have compassion for anybody remotely connected to the drug trade, but everybody else can suck it up under market discipline. Fuck you.

    10 points for gratuitous Chomsky namedrop. 15 points for accusations of non-compassion. 10 points for saying libertarians worship the “market”. 30 points for being a whiny prick, 20 points for completely misrepresenting absolutely everything about libertarians.

    Rating: Experienced Lefty Trollsterbater. Roll a 7 or above on your d20 to level up.

  31. I secretly fantasize about being ass-raped by Nazis. it fulfills my longing for social order and discipline.

  32. I think this marks the first thread where I’ve been mocked by someone using my name.

    I have arrived.

  33. 10 points for gratuitous Chomsky namedrop. 15 points for accusations of non-compassion. 10 points for saying libertarians worship the “market”. 30 points for being a whiny prick, 20 points for completely misrepresenting absolutely everything about libertarians.

    Rating: Experienced Lefty Trollsterbater. Roll a 7 or above on your d20 to level up.

    This is such a typical libertarian post. Everything’s a number to you. There are no people. You like to rate people, because you instinctively want to objectify them and judge them, as a prelude to owning them. You don’t want to engage or encounter them in that ineffable space between thou and tu.

    You’ll be running your fingers over my teeth next. All libertarians are born slave-bidders.

    And those other people spoofing me are obsessed with sodomy, the archetypical libertarian sex act of dominance and selfish taking, without any gentleness or mutuality.

    Adding in the D&D reference in your post gives you extra nerd points, too. Although the last thing a libertarian needs is nerd points. Got any prog lyric references you want to add in there too?

  34. You’re doing even better this time around. Keep it up and you’ll be level 50 in no time. BTW, I can really tell the real one from all the fake ones. No one else puts this much thought into thoughtlessness. The rest of these fakers need to take some lessons from the pro.

  35. Hey I’m the real Lefiti!

  36. You damn libertarians don’t understand the value of the individual. You’re ruining your own worth by undermining the social function of names. Of course, that’s the only thing you care about is worth since you place a money value on everything. You prostitute yourselves with the very words you use.

  37. I’m Lefiti and so is my wife!

  38. RIOTS! RIOTS!

    Aren’t the darkies gonna get upset!? Come on! Race Riot! Katrina! 9/11! DISASTER!

  39. I see Reason is now thrilled that we have transitioned to BlackRule, and will soon endorse the coming specter of BlackSupremacy in conjunction with the MexicanGovernment.

    Also, I BlowChunks.

  40. I haven’t posted on this thread yet, and will be suing all my spoofers.

  41. Typical Libertarians, no respect for the bigoted beliefs of anti-immigrant racists. You whore yourselves out to the god of the Market for your own selfish desire for trinkets of hatred. And stuff.

    I’m telling Noam Chomsky!

  42. Ah, you gotta love it when Reason gives the benefit of the doubt to a Mexican felon instead of Border Patrol agents. And the whole “he was an unarmed drug smuggler” is total bullshit. Do you even know the history of the narco-terrorists in Mexico? Multiple analysts and intelligence agencies have stated that the collapse of the Mexican government may be imminent due to the actions of the police and judge-murdering cartels.

    To imply that this “unarmed drug smuggler” was some harmless loner peddling pot to wannabe hippies listening to Joan Baez albums in their shag carpet and lava-lamp bedecked apartments is asinine. Given the goings on in the area, it is much more reasonable to assume he is a member of some foreigner-kidnapping, judge-murdering, police-bribing narco-terrorist cartel. Including this guy, who is almost assuredly connected to those cartels, in the same story about a guy selling a pound and a half of pot, as if their is some equivalence, is pathetic. And some have the nerve to claim anti-illegal immigrant individuals are playing politics here? Give us all a break. You should stick to calling those who oppose the breaking of American immigration laws bigots and xenophobes like the posters above. At least it would be less disingenous.

  43. The market sucks because it objectifies people. Unlike the government, which provides us all with free social security, and even a number to go along with it.

  44. “Only in America–as Noam Chomsky has pointed…”

    Only in America could someone think citing a holocaust-denying, communist-loving, Pol Pot apologizing, “three or four million are going to die in Afghanistan” chicken little somehow bolsters their argument.

  45. Forget “conservatism,” please. It has been, operationally, de facto, Godless and therefore irrelevant. Secular conservatism will not defeat secular liberalism because to God both are two atheistic peas-in-a-pod and thus predestined to failure. As Stonewall Jackson’s Chief of Staff R.L. Dabney said of such a humanistic belief more than 100 years ago:

    “[Secular conservatism] is a party which never conserves anything. Its history has been that it demurs to each aggression of the progressive party, and aims to save its credit by a respectable amount of growling, but always acquiesces at last in the innovation. What was the resisted novelty of yesterday is today .one of the accepted principles of conservatism; it is now conservative only in affecting to resist the next innovation, which will tomorrow be forced upon its timidity and will be succeeded by some third revolution; to be denounced and then adopted in its turn. American conservatism is merely the shadow that follows Radicalism as it moves forward towards perdition. It remains behind it, but never retards it, and always advances near its leader. This pretended salt bath utterly lost its savor: wherewith shall it be salted? Its impotency is not hard, indeed, to explain. It is worthless because it is the conservatism of expediency only, and not of sturdy principle. It intends to risk nothing serious for the sake of the truth.”

    Our country is collapsing because we have turned our back on God (Psalm 9:17) and refused to kiss His Son (Psalm 2).

    John Lofton, Editor, TheAmericanView.com
    Recovering Republican
    JLof@aol.com

  46. You should stick to calling those who oppose the breaking of American immigration laws bigots and xenophobes like the posters above.

    Please cf Beancounter’s post at 7:55 above. It is inevitable that these laws, like the drug laws will be broken ad infinitum until some more rational laws replace them. THAT is the real problem.

    You could make masturbation illegal. People would masturbate anyway. Some small percentage of those people would be locked up for many years, or shot by the police, or whatever, while the vast majority went about their business. Libertarians would object to the treatment of those in jail for playing with their own junk, while others would say it needs to stay illegal or everyone would do it all the time, openly, in the streets, until nobody would work or be productive at all!

    And little tiny small guy featuring jr. sr. would say, “It’s not that I’m anti-masturbation, it’s just that it’s illegal and the law must be enforced.”

    Well I say that’s not an acceptable answer.

    /jerkoff.

  47. Dear John,

    There is no god.

    Sincerely,
    Brian.

  48. P.S.

    Stonewall Jackson’s chief of staff? And we defer to his authority because… why? Because he fought to advance the noble cause of slavery?

  49. compassionate conservatism? More like “dispassionate conservatism”. Good riddance, Dubya!

  50. Lefiti and Lonewacko,
    Sittin’ in a tree…

  51. On my blog I compare this case to the cases of innocent homeowners protecting their property. Some are willing to give the benefit of the doubt to anyone who wears a badge, but if you harm someone who wears a badge they will just assume that you are guilty. I think these two agents acted out of fear and their sentences were too harsh. I think Ryan Frederick and others also acted out of fear and should likewise be set free.

  52. I think Bill makes a very fair point. But I think it needs to be added that those who bear a badge, who are trained to respond on behalf of government authorities, have to be held to a higher standard than those of us who live under that authority.

  53. “Morpheus | January 20, 2009, 10:20pm | #
    There is no Lefiti.”

    The fool hath said in his heart, ‘There is no Lefiti’.

  54. Were they the ones whose side Gene Burns took? Or was that another case?

  55. “The anti-immigration wing of the libertarian movement is cheering this one. Yes
    unfortunately, they do exist.”

    don’t conflate “anti-immigration” with “anti-illegal immigration”

    i most definitely belong to the latter wing, and most definitely not to the former.

  56. “You could make masturbation illegal. People would masturbate anyway. Some small percentage of those people would be locked up for many years, or shot by the police, or whatever, while the vast majority went about their business. Libertarians would object to the treatment of those in jail for playing with their own junk, while others would say it needs to stay illegal or everyone would do it all the time, openly, in the streets, until nobody would work or be productive at all!

    And little tiny small guy featuring jr. sr. would say, “It’s not that I’m anti-masturbation, it’s just that it’s illegal and the law must be enforced.”

    this is a stupid analogy. you are comparing laws that protect our national sovereignty with a law against masturbation. brilliant analogy.

    the issue is this. our nation has the right to protect its borders. period.

    we are in the unenviable position of being next door to a blighted third world country. heck, if i was a poor mexican i would probably try to cross the border too. so frigging what? (otoh, if i was a rich mexican, i probably wouldn’t).

    there is nothing inconsistent with libertarianism (small “l”) and wanting laws enforced that protect our borders and sovereignty. (Drink!).

    there are few more elemental roles of federal govt. than protecting our borders. it’s not about going abroad and being the “world’s police”. it’s not about criminalizing what people do with their sexual organs, and it’s not even like drug laws that tell us what we can or can’t do with our own bodies. i’m against all those (federal certainly) laws.

    i also find it ironic that mexico has NO problem whatsoever with guarding its southern border and nobody calls them xenophobic and racist for keeping them “southerners” out. but we are supposed to just open our southern border and let anybody claim “home base” by violating our laws.

    “And little tiny small guy featuring jr. sr. would say, “It’s not that I’m anti-masturbation, it’s just that it’s illegal and the law must be enforced.”

    no, you are arguing a classic malum prohibitum argument (legally blonde anyone), which is stupid.

    i *am* anti-illegal immigration. not BECAUSE it’s illegal. because it violates our sovereignty. it’s wrong. it’s illegal because it’;s wrong, it is not wrong because it’s illegal.

  57. “don’t conflate “anti-immigration” with “anti-illegal immigration”

    i most definitely belong to the latter wing, and most definitely not to the former.”

    Consider yourself conflated.

  58. “i *am* anti-illegal immigration. not BECAUSE it’s illegal. because it violates our sovereignty. it’s wrong. it’s illegal because it’;s wrong, it is not wrong because it’s illegal.”

    Tell me, what on earth do you mean by “sovereignty”? It seems to me like you are appealing to the supremacy of the state, which I suspect will earn you no fans in these parts. Of course, it’s also possible that’s just racist code-speak.

    “i also find it ironic that mexico has NO problem whatsoever with guarding its southern border and nobody calls them xenophobic and racist for keeping them “southerners” out. but we are supposed to just open our southern border and let anybody claim “home base” by violating our laws.”

    They’re racist and xenophobic.

  59. “Tell me, what on earth do you mean by “sovereignty”? It seems to me like you are appealing to the supremacy of the state, which I suspect will earn you no fans in these parts. Of course, it’s also possible that’s just racist code-speak.”

    that’s just as odious and bogus as when lefties claim that those who are against racial preference are just exercising their racism.

    it’s the same race card bullshit that the left uses all the time.

    i don’t give a flying $#$%*$% about the race of the immigrant. also note that most mexican immigrants (legal or illegal) are white. white hispanic, but white. hispanic is not a race, it’s a cultural designation.

    regardless…

    sovereignty means just that. it means that our nation gets to decide who gets in and who doesn’t. it also means that foreigners have no automatic right to citizenry just because they broke our laws to enter our country.

    limited govt. means just that. but one of the few roles that is clearly an important role of the federal govt. is our borders.

    fwiw, one of my best friends is a canadian doctor (canadian citizen) who works here in the US and she goes through metric assloads of paperwork etc. she has no “right” to come here and work and she knows it. no foreigner does.

    similarly, if i go to a foreign country, i have no right to just plop myself down, say “home base” and demand they take me in as a citizen. that’s crap.

  60. The US has, what, 10 million illegal immigrants? Yet, lack of sovereignty doesn’t seem to me much of an issue, even though it’s presumably been so violated.

    “It’s illegal because it’s wrong” is one of the shittiest excuses I’ve heard in a while. Things should be illegal because they cause harm to person or property. Not because you deem them ambiguously wrong. There’s scant evidence illegal immigration does much damage. They don’t cross the border to steal jobs. They cross because Americans want to give them jobs. They don’t cause much real harm. And the only notable crime they’re associated with is crossing the border without the government’s consent. So why not just let government give consent?

    You’ll need to come up with a better excuse.

  61. If you want to limit government, get them out of the business of deciding what the labor market should have. Let the market decide, the way it does already, yet under the table, because government reserves the right to guide the market, even if unsuccessfully.

    I don’t want the nation to decide who I should hire to paint my house. That isn’t sovereignty. There’s another name for that kind of top down control.

  62. “The US has, what, 10 million illegal immigrants? Yet, lack of sovereignty doesn’t seem to me much of an issue, even though it’s presumably been so violated. ”

    it most definitely is an issue.

    “It’s illegal because it’s wrong” is one of the shittiest excuses I’ve heard in a while. Things should be illegal because they cause harm to person or property.”

    that is wonderful when talking about criminal law as applied to internal issues. as most criminal law.

    it’s not the metric we use when talking about issues of national sovereignty and border protection. what exactly do you propose? that we open our borders and let anybody in who wants in because it doesn’t cause “harm to persons or property”. seriously?

    let’s deal with reality.

    unless you are proposing fullly open borders with no laws or regulations regarding entry by anybody, then we both agree that there should be limitations.

    are you REALLY proposing that entering this country from another country should have no more regulation or restriction than entering bellevue after leaving medina?

    you are replying a civil law internal standard (Which i generally agree with in regards to crimes committed by a person upon another. iow, drug use should be legal, prostitution should be legal, etc.), in regards to an issue of HOW DOES A COUNTRY REGULATE WHO COMES IN AND WHO DOESN’T AND WHAT THEY HAVE TO DO TO STAY AND APPLY FOR CITIZENSHIP.

    and i don’t have to come up with an “excuse” to defend the fact that a country has the legal authority to protect its borders and protect its sovereignty. no “excuse” is needed.

    explain to ME why a country SHOULDN’T, considering that EVERY nation on earth DOES protect its sovereignty and its borders and its access to citizenship.

  63. In his final, telling acts of clemency, announced yesterday, George W. Bush commuted the prison sentences of two Border Patrol agents who were convicted in 2005 of shooting a fleeing, unarmed marijuana smuggler in the buttocks and then lying about the incident to cover up the crime.

    So fucking what? If nothing else, the guy was in the process of breaking into a country he had no business to be in. As far as I’m concerned, that’s all the justification needed to open fire.

    We don’t need any more people in this country. What we need is to get rid of a few. Guess which ones?

  64. “If you want to limit government, get them out of the business of deciding what the labor market should have. Let the market decide, the way it does already, yet under the table, because government reserves the right to guide the market, even if unsuccessful

    I don’t want the nation to decide who I should hire to paint my house. That isn’t sovereignty. There’s another name for that kind of top down control.”

    no, it’s an issue that the govt. has the right to deny persons entry into the country, to paint your house in the first place.

    as soon as they do (illegally), they are a criminal. the govt. doesn’t have the right to say you can’t hire a criminal to paint your house. but if that criminal has outstanding charges, the govt. DOES have the right to arrest that person and you are going to have to find another house painter.

    the market is an internal factor. borders are an external factor.

    the govt. doesn’t have the right to tell you who can enter your property. that’s your right. it’s your property.

    the borders are held by the aggregate- the people. and it is the right of govt., freely elected (nay , it’s the duty), to protect that border for all our benefit.

    as an individual, the primary agent responsible for protection of your property is you. you are also the “decider” as to access, ejection, and how you manage it.

    no individual owns the border. the responsibility thus falls on the national govt. it’s one of the few duties a national govt. SHOULD have

  65. “Only in America could someone think citing a holocaust-denying, communist-loving, Pol Pot apologizing, “three or four million are going to die in Afghanistan” chicken little somehow bolsters their argument.”

    Actually, he seems like a fairly beloved figure worldwide. Check youtube for the loving coverage he gets overseas.

  66. Somebody up there asked: ” 2)What’s the whole sittin’ situation?”

    Not good. According to his lawyer, the guy will never take a regular dump the rest of his life. No word about how it will affect prison sex for him.

  67. dunphy,

    You misunderstand the point of my analogy. I mean that our current immigration laws, by making *legal* immigration so difficult and time-consuming that it is nearly impossible for most people, while the economic reward of successful immigration is so high, we have guaranteed massive lawbreaking, which of course then further breaks down respect for said laws.

    I would argue the drug laws have the same effect, and that a ban on masturbation would be similar. To just say, “hey, I want to enforce the law” is to ignore the real problem, which is that the law is unenforceable without taking truly draconian measures that ought to frighten anyone who calls themselves “libertarian.”

  68. no individual owns the border. the responsibility thus falls on the national govt. it’s one of the few duties a national govt. SHOULD have

    This is actually pretty accurate.

    Somehow, however, you carry this positive statement of sovereign power to the normative conclusion that the national government can therefore violate the unalienable rights of travel, residence, and labor of any individual without cause. By what authority do you allow governments to reverse their derivative stature with respect to individual rights?

    Should the national government guard the border against foreign enemies? Yes. Should the national government guard the border against serious criminals or carriers of contagion? Probably.

    But the vast, vast majority of illegal immigrants are none of these. They are simply economic migrants trying to market their labor. The state has no legitimate authority to prohibit their travel, residence, or employment. It furthermore has no legitimate authority to prevent its own denizens from freely associating with whatever peaceful people they choose in whatever peaceful way they choose.

  69. the market is an internal factor.

    Do I gather from this that you are as rampant a trade protectionist as you are a labor protectionist?

  70. “Should the national government guard the border against foreign enemies? Yes. Should the national government guard the border against serious criminals or carriers of contagion? Probably.”

    100% agree. anything else strikes me as the government overstepping their ethical limits. If I am person A, and I want to interact with person B what right does the government have to restrict such behavior (unless one of the few exceptions MikeP stated above). How can one advocate a intrusive government but at the same time want the government to heavily regulate one of our most basic freedoms?

    One of several issues I had with Ron Paul and the Constitution party douche bags

  71. “as soon as they do (illegally), they are a criminal.”

    Yea….that strikes me as an unethical law. Similar to drug, prostitution etc…. and therefore is an immoral law. Claiming that “its the law” is not going to get you far. You have to defend the underlying ethical reasons. A law for the sake of being a law is meaningless and should not be enforced

  72. Since dunphy has so much respect for our laws, let me point out that our current law says that if a border patrol agent shoots his gun at someone and then covers it up, he goes to jail for 10 years.

    Where’s your respect for THAT aspect of our sovereignty, kemosabe?

    The people as a whole are sovereign. Not just the percentage of the people that are afraid of Mexicans. And although you may THINK that shooting people trying to flee apprehension at the border is the border patrol’s job, it’s not.

    So this whole “Wah, they were protecting our sovereignty” thing is a canard. Our sovereignty is expressed by our laws. They acted outside the limits of their authority under the law.

  73. dunphy,
    You have made clear how you are opposed to illegal immigration. But you fail entirely to persuade anyone that you are pro-immigration, as you say you are above.

  74. “We don’t need any more people in this country. What we need is to get rid of a few. Guess which ones?”

    Republicans and Democrats?

  75. It seems to me like you are appealing to the supremacy of the state

    That’s Dunphy; it’s what he does.

  76. “sovereignty means just that.”

    Oh, phew. Thanks for clearing that up.

  77. Lefiti is even more unhinged than usual today. I would not have guessed him to be pro-WoD.

    As for libertarians not respecting the individual — um … what does social democracy do again? Oh, yes. Sacrifice the individual on the altar of social “progress.”

    I bet Lefiti was gently caressed and made love to by his uncle. Who happens to be a Nazi.

  78. “You misunderstand the point of my analogy. I mean that our current immigration laws, by making *legal* immigration so difficult and time-consuming that it is nearly impossible for most people, while the economic reward of successful immigration is so high, we have guaranteed massive lawbreaking, which of course then further breaks down respect for said laws.”

    legal immigration (and.or legal presence by getting a visa etc.) is not easy. i will grant you that.

    but the argument that if we make X to difficult, we are responsible for people who break the law to do X anyway, is an argument i don’t buy in general, and not in this case in particular.

    i am all for making the process simpler and less bureaucratic. heck, that applies to most of what the federal govt. does. it doesn’t follow that i give illegal immigration a free pass because… darnit… legal immigration is hard.

    “I would argue the drug laws have the same effect, and that a ban on masturbation would be similar. To just say, “hey, I want to enforce the law” is to ignore the real problem, which is that the law is unenforceable without taking truly draconian measures that ought to frighten anyone who calls themselves “libertarian.””

    the law is not “unenforceable without taking draconian measures” unless you define making our border secure, and running citizenship checks on arrestees as “draconian.” i don’t.

    the point about the ban on masturbation and drugs (imo) is that while yes the former would be nearly impossible to enforce and the latter very difficult, that’s not really the point.

    bans on drugs and masturbation are wrong because of what they seek to ban, not because of the difficulty of enforcement.

    it’s cynical and wrongheaded to say that just because border and immigration enforcement is difficult, that it[‘s therefore unjustified and shouldn’t be done.

  79. “It seems to me like you are appealing to the supremacy of the state

    That’s Dunphy; it’s what he does.”

    when it comes to sovereignty, you are darn right.

    we don’t have the right to invade other countries just because we feel like it.

    similarly, illegal immigrants don’t have the right to invade our borders either.

    that’s what sovereignty means

    i believe in property right.

    govt. should have very minimal intrusion into what i do with my private property. it’s MINE.

    similarly, this country as a whole is OURS.

    nobody has the right ot invade , whether by individual action, or by aggregate. if they do so, we have the right to repel them

    same thing.

  80. “dunphy,
    You have made clear how you are opposed to illegal immigration. But you fail entirely to persuade anyone that you are pro-immigration, as you say you are above.”

    i didn’t realize i was compelled to do so. simply put, i support it. i believe we have plenty of space for more people, and that immigration should be encouraged.

    what do i need to do? the “i love immigration dance?”

    the point is that immigration and illegal immigration are entirely different things.

    the fact that they both involve people coming into this country is true. but they are not the same.

    consider rape.

    penetration w/o consent (or agaisnt consent in regards to married couples in my state) is entirely different than penetration w/ consent.

    the former is rape. the latter is sex.

    i am all for the latter. i am against the former. do i need to “persuade” you that i am all for sex?

    ok. if you look like kate beckinsdale, let’s arrange a meet. i’ll prove it to you!

  81. It’s ok for the border patrol to lie on an official report and break the rules, they were shooting a dirty Mexican. That’s what the attitude boils down to.

    Bush has the right to pardon them so I’ll lose no sleep over it. Actually I give Bush a little praise for only commuting their sentence. There convictions still stand. I would be surprised if they could ever get a LEO job again since the question of have you ever been convicted of lying on a report will dog them. They are cannon fodder for a defense attorney.

  82. “Since dunphy has so much respect for our laws, let me point out that our current law says that if a border patrol agent shoots his gun at someone and then covers it up, he goes to jail for 10 years.”

    wrong again. i have much disrespect for many of our laws. for example, i believe most drug laws should be abolished.

    the issue is not that i believe in the law because it is the law. i DISAGREE with many many laws.

    in the case of laws against illegal immigration, i agree with the law for the same reason i agree with other laws. not because they ARE the law, but because i agree with the rationale behind them.

    just because govt. has the right to criminalize X does not mean they should.

    i’m a libertarian. by definition, i disagree with a vast swath of laws that curtail liberty.

    when it comes to illegally entering this country, i agree with that law, yes. but your initial premise was false, therefore everything that follows is suspect. hth

  83. “It’s ok for the border patrol to lie on an official report and break the rules, they were shooting a dirty Mexican. That’s what the attitude boils down to.”

    actually, most of the disagreement stems from the sentence being overly harsh. some people think they should have not been punished at all, but i would think they are a minority.

    “Bush has the right to pardon them so I’ll lose no sleep over it. Actually I give Bush a little praise for only commuting their sentence. There convictions still stand. I would be surprised if they could ever get a LEO job again since the question of have you ever been convicted of lying on a report will dog them. They are cannon fodder for a defense attorney.”

    actually, you are wrong.

    they were convicted of causing serious bodily injury, assault with a deadly weapon, discharge of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence, defacing a crime scene, and a civil rights violation.

    regardless, they are convicted felons. they will never work in law enforcement again.

    the defacing a crime scene charge is the functional equivalent of lying in a report, i guess, but note they were NOT found guilty of filing a false report.

  84. in the case of laws against illegal immigration, i agree with the law for the same reason i agree with other laws. not because they ARE the law, but because i agree with the rationale behind them.

    If immigration law were effectively “any individual who is not a provable threat to the public safety can receive a visa for entry and reentry,” would you agree with the rationale behind that law?

    That law should certainly assuage your concerns about sovereignty. It also would support immigration, as you claim to do.

    Why then does immigration law as currently written — law that deprives the rights of free people to freely associate, trade, and travel — deserve your respect?

  85. By the way, since I can construct a law that (a) is completely in accord with state sovereignty and (b) would allow approximately 100% of present day illegal immigrants to freely enter the country, might I suggest that the problem you have with illegal immigration has nothing to do with sovereignty?

  86. “If immigration law were effectively “any individual who is not a provable threat to the public safety can receive a visa for entry and reentry,” would you agree with the rationale behind that law?”

    no. explained below.

    “That law should certainly assuage your concerns about sovereignty. It also would support immigration, as you claim to do.”

    i don’t “claim” to support immigration. i do support immigration.

    my belief is that there should be a burden on the potential immigrant to prove their worth, NOT on the govt. to disprove their worth.

    citizenship iow, to those not born within our confines or to our citizens is most definitely not a right. it’s a privilege.

    “Why then does immigration law as currently written — law that deprives the rights of free people to freely associate, trade, and travel — deserve your respect?”

    because i make a distinction between citizens and non-citizens.

    the govt. (especially in a quasi-welfare state) has all sorts of obligations to a citizen, and a citizen has some to its govt, which doesn’t apply to a non-citizen.

    i recognize nation-states as SOVEREIGN entities. i don’t have the “right” to plop myself down in france and declare “take me, i’m yours”. the same goes for those who want citizenship here.

    again, i see this as a fundamental function of govt (as opposed to much of the other crap the federal govt. does that is NOT its business) – to restrict entry into the country, and to have a process wherein applicants can APPLY for citizenship, not be automatically granted it.

    i also respect the right of other nations to do the same.

    it may be cosmically unfair that you don’t automatically get to be a US citizen if you were born in canada to canadian parents, and you are a citizen if born here, but govt. isn’t in the business of cosmic justice.

    simply put, if you weren’t lucky enough to be born a US citizen, then the burden is on YOU to earn it/apply for it.

    i just think we have a fundamentally different concept of what a nation *is*. i’m somewhat burkean in this regards, and my “little platoon” extends primarily to the nation’s borders and not beyond.

  87. simply put, if you weren’t lucky enough to be born a US citizen, then the burden is on YOU to earn it/apply for it.

    This might be a valid response if I were talking about citizenship. I wasn’t. I was talking about entry, travel, residence, and labor.

    I actually agree that citizenship is a privilege or entitlement, and that nations have the legitimate authority to grant citizenship as they see fit. That has nothing to do with the fact that a nation does not have any legitimate authority to prohibit people from freely associating with its denizens, or to prohibit people from using rights of way as needed to get to those associations with those denizens, without valid and specific cause.

  88. i just think we have a fundamentally different concept of what a nation *is*.

    That may be so. You seem to grant the “right” of a nation to violate individual rights without cause — a “right” it could not possibly accrue from its citizens.

    I grant the government no such authority.

  89. “That has nothing to do with the fact that a nation does not have any legitimate authority to prohibit people from freely associating with its denizens, or to prohibit people from using rights of way as needed to get to those associations with those denizens, without valid and specific cause.”

    then we agree. i am free to associate with non-citizens as i please. ever heard of a phone, the internet, etc?

    my issue is with our BORDERS and with citizenship. NOTHING prevents association. it prevents ENTRY, RESIDENCY, and citizenship.

    as soon as somebody illegally crosses our border, or overstays their visa- they have committed a crime. you STILL have a right to asosciate with them. but govt. has the authority to detain them for the crime.

  90. “That may be so. You seem to grant the “right” of a nation to violate individual rights without cause — a “right” it could not possibly accrue from its citizens.

    I grant the government no such authority.”

    what individual rights do i allegedly grant authority to the govt. to violate?

    here’s a hint. there is no individual right to enter the US without permission.

  91. there is no individual right to enter the US without permission.

    Of course there is.

    Most basically, an individual has the right to do anything that does not infringe on the rights of another individual. An individual’s crossing the border between Mexico and the US has the same impact on others’ individual rights as an individual’s crossing the border between Oklahoma and Kansas.

    Or do you hold that an individual does not have the right to cross between Oklahoma and Kansas without permission? If so, why not? If not, how is that any different from crossing the national border?

  92. “Of course there is.

    Most basically, an individual has the right to do anything that does not infringe on the rights of another individual. An individual’s crossing the border between Mexico and the US has the same impact on others’ individual rights as an individual’s crossing the border between Oklahoma and Kansas.”

    except again, this isn’t about individuals. it’s about sovereign nations.

    iow, your opinion is a nice platitude but it is neither common sensical nor is it “the law”.

    fwiw, if an individual damaged govt. property that would also “not infringe on the right of another individual”. it is, and still should be illegal.

    *if* i accepted your premise that the only justified laws are those that proscribe behavior that “infringes on the right of another individual”, then i would agree with you.

    corporations, nations, etc. are not individuals. but they have rights and authorities too.

    “Or do you hold that an individual does not have the right to cross between Oklahoma and Kansas without permission? If so, why not? If not, how is that any different from crossing the national border?”

    the difference is, as i’ve already said, one of sovereignty and the concept of nationhood.

    any state has the right to extend additional constitutional right (mine does) vs. the federal constitution, enact criminal laws THAT DON’T CONFLICT WITH RIGHTS UNDER THE FEDERAL CONSTITUTION, etc.

    but states do not have the distinction that nations do. states cannot, for instance, issue currency, or do any host of other things that are the purview of the federal govt.

    border policy is a NATIONAL issue because national borders are what seperate NATIONS. again, see sovereignty.

    states are not autonomous. we have a republic. a certain war was fought over the “right” of states to break away after all.

    states also don’t have citzens. they have RESIDENTS. on is not a “citizen” of oklahoma. one is a CITIZEN of the US. that means one has rights and obligation that apply in ANY state.

    again, you do not understand the concept of a nation, and of sovereignty if you can ask such a question as to what is the distinction between a state and a nation.

  93. corporations, nations, etc. are not individuals. but they have rights and authorities too.

    They have only rights that accrue from rights of the individuals within them. They have no authorities that conflict with anyone else’s rights.

    the difference is, as i’ve already said, one of sovereignty and the concept of nationhood.

    You have yet to justify anything in sovereignty or nationhood that allows the collection of individuals known as a nation to prevent people who are no threat to them from traveling, residing, or laboring whereever they can find agreeable terms.

    again, you do not understand the concept of a nation, and of sovereignty if you can ask such a question as to what is the distinction between a state and a nation.

    I fully understand the difference between a state and a nation. That is why I offered that example.

    You need to tell me by what authority do you allow sovereignty to trump individual rights at the national border but not at an internal border?

  94. Incidentally, I grudgingly accept that the US has the sovereign power to disallow travel between Oklahoma and Kansas without permission. I simply think such an exercise of power would be illegitimate.

    Do you believe the US, given the necessary Constitutional amendment, has that sovereign power? Do you think it would be an illegitimate exercise of its sovereign power?

  95. “You need to tell me by what authority do you allow sovereignty to trump individual rights at the national border but not at an internal border?”

    that begs the question. it assumes there is an individual right to enter a sovereign nation without permission.

    there is no such right.

    i realize you THINK htere is such a right.

  96. that begs the question. it assumes there is an individual right to enter a sovereign nation without permission.

    Not quite.

    It assumes that people in general have the right to travel as they wish. It assumes that governments have parted out the planet so that he might travel into a national border.

    It then asks what is so special about that border that the nation’s sovereignty trumps the individual’s right to travel.

    Individual rights are fundamental. Government powers are derived. How did the government get to decide that its powers supersede the individual’s rights in this case? What or who gave it that authority?

  97. mike, make a private property analogy. many on the left diminish or even deny the importance or validity of private property.

    i don’t.

    you don’t have the right to travel ON my private property. it’s MINE.

    public property, otoh, is owned by everybody – the CITIZENS of the nation.

    it is NOT owned by non-citizens.

    govt. derives it’s power from the consent of the governed. in the US, that’s the electorate. WE control our borders. it’s OUR country. we elect representatives to impose our collective will.

    a non-citizen only has the right to enter OUR property when we give them permission.

    it’s an analogy i would think you might grok.

  98. Two points of disagreement…

    public property, otoh, is owned by everybody – the CITIZENS of the nation.

    First, I’ll accept that explicitly federal and state owned lands are owned by the citizenry. But the whole of the nation not in private hands is not “owned” by the government in any way analogous to property. The government exercises dominion over it. It can’t legitimately violate individual rights on it.

    WE control our borders. it’s OUR country. we elect representatives to impose our collective will.

    That collective will has no more right to violate individual rights without cause than the distinct individuals have. Furthermore, not only did I not cede any such authority to the government to impose my will on others, the government is doing a very poor job of imposing my will at that.

  99. Just to clarify…

    Do you believe that the US has the sovereign power to prohibit travel between Oklahoma and Kansas without permission? You might argue that it must go through the niceties of an amendment, etc., but does the government fundamentally have the sovereign “right” to do so?

  100. “First, I’ll accept that explicitly federal and state owned lands are owned by the citizenry. But the whole of the nation not in private hands is not “owned” by the government in any way analogous to property.”

    yes it is.

    “The government exercises dominion over it. It can’t legitimately violate individual rights on it.”

    which says nothing about who owns it.

    the govt. can’t violate individual rights on govt. property OR anybody’s private property. iow, your point makes no sense.

    the city streets you drive on are (for example) publically owned.

    “That collective will has no more right to violate individual rights without cause than the distinct individuals have. Furthermore, not only did I not cede any such authority to the government to impose my will on others, the government is doing a very poor job of imposing my will at that.”

    you are still pretending there is an “individual right” to enter private property. there ISN’T.

    similarly, there is no individual right to enter the nation as a whole. it’s the same frigging thing. you keep referrring to this made up individual right that you think guarantees a right to enter another country’s borders that you are not a citzen of.

    there IS no such right for the govt. to violate.

  101. Libertarianism – the right wing of the Screw Americans First coalition!

  102. there IS no such right for the govt. to violate.

    And what of the border between Oklahoma and Kansas? Can the government, if it so chooses, prohibit travel across that border without good cause?

  103. you are still pretending there is an “individual right” to enter private property. there ISN’T.

    I have done no such thing. You are the one who imagines that the dominion of a nation is its private property.

  104. “And what of the border between Oklahoma and Kansas? Can the government, if it so chooses, prohibit travel across that border without good cause?”

    not to my knowledge.

    (good cause would include parolees etc.)

  105. Why not? All it would take would be a Constitutional amendment. Then it would be a simple exercise of national sovereignty.

  106. I’ll get to the point…

    Your argument is based on sovereignty. Sovereignty, however, is not a normative concept: It is a positive one. Sovereignty is nothing but the ability of a state to do whatever it wants within its dominion.

    You might think this is something like the rights owners have over property, but it isn’t. It only appears analogous because the US is a relatively free country, so the sovereign actions that the US takes are, for the most part, inoffensive to individual rights.

    Because sovereignty is a positive fact rooted in the monopoly nature of government, arguments based on sovereignty do not distinguish between a liberal republic and a dictatorship. There is nothing about sovereignty per se that makes the sovereign actions of the US any more or less right than the actions of North Korea.

    Therefore, arguing that immigration of peaceable people can be restricted because of sovereignty is equivalent to arguing that movement across the border between Oklahoma and Kansas can be restricted because of sovereignty — or to arguing that everyone whose last name starts with ‘C’ can be arrested and executed, with due process of course, because of sovereignty.

    There has to be some argument beyond sovereignty. Sovereignty is not enough.

  107. mike, being argumentative for the sake of being obnoxious is boring. anything would, by definition, be constitutional given a constitutional amendment.

    that has exactly ZERO to do with this discussion.

    if you have given up pretending that one has a right to freely enter any country one wants, because it’s an “individual right”, then at least that’s progress.

    you, as an individual have the right to control access to your property.

    govt. as a representative of the people has the right to restrict the non-people (people who AREN’T citizens ) from entering our (collective) property.

    while in a hippy granola feel good peace love and vegetable rights way, one does have the “individual right” to wander the earth, ignoring borders and sovereignty, i prefer to live in a real world.


  108. Therefore, arguing that immigration of peaceable people can be restricted because of sovereignty is equivalent to arguing that movement across the border between Oklahoma and Kansas can be restricted because of sovereignty — or to arguing that everyone whose last name starts with ‘C’ can be arrested and executed, with due process of ”
    course, because of sovereignty”

    it most definitely is not “equivalent”.

    and sovereignty is just a word. i have explained to you why EVERY NATION ON THE FACE OF THE EARTH has and does enforce the right to control its borders. so stop obsessing over a single word, and get the CONCEPT.

    you have failed to come up with any reason why one has an “individual right” to cross another nations’s border w/o permission.

    there is no more fundamental authority that a nation holds than the right to control immigration.

    you don’t have the right to enter another country. they may give you permission. just like you may give permission for somebody to enter YOUR property.

    extend the same rights to nations that you extend to individuals. the right to control access to their property from outsiders.

  109. you have failed to come up with any reason why one has an “individual right” to cross another nations’s border w/o permission.

    I hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. – That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men.

    Individuals are primary. Governments are derivative. Individual rights are fundamental. Government powers (not rights) are derived.

    Individuals do not need to justify their rights to governments. Governments need to justify that their powers and the exercise of them do not violate individual rights.

  110. and that’s still not an answer.
    govt’s are derived. and our govt. through our elected representatives enacted laws to protect the commonweal, by enforcing immigrations laws.

    again, the “individual right” to enter the US w/o permission is still your fanciful fiction.

    our govt. is protecting ALL our rights, the rights of its citizens to be free from invasion.

  111. and our govt. through our elected representatives enacted laws to protect the commonweal, by enforcing immigrations laws.

    And half a century ago certain state governments through elected representatives enacted laws to protect the commonweal, by enforcing laws that prevented the mixing of the races.

    Just because a government can do something or does do something doesn’t mean that it should do it. Sovereignty is a fact. It is not an argument.

    again, the “individual right” to enter the US w/o permission is still your fanciful fiction.

    The individual right to travel is the natural state of things. When a government puts up a border and prohibits passage across it, it is taking away that preexisting right, and it is obligated to justify that taking.

  112. A friend of mine just started a blog called Prison Nation and her inaugural post was about exactly this issue: http://prisonnation.wordpress.com/2009/01/20/can-bushs-clemency-bring-attention-to-federal-sentencing-laws/

    It’s strange to me how so-called law-and-order conservatives can both simultaneously decry the treatment of these men and advocate for mandatory minimums. Their principles go right out the window as soon as you pick the immigration itch.

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