Talkin’ ‘bout our Immigration

On August 26th, while reading the Daily News Record, my local paper, I came across an article entitled, “Mississippi Plant Raid Creates Hispanic Panic.” Although the title pretty well summarizes the events of the story, it catalogs a massive search and detention of illegal immigrants by federal officials. One question that went through my mind after reading this article was, “what makes this story newsworthy?” It stated that this was the largest raid to date, but size doesn’t necessarily imply importance. Now unlike many of the other actions of the federal government, I believe that the federal government has a moral and constitutional duty to protect and defend the borders of our country from those who try to penetrate them illegally. I think the answer to my question of newsworthiness is one of rarity. Honestly, how many times can you recall hearing of raids like this in either Mississippi, or any other state, for that matter? It’s difficult to recall them, isn’t it? Why aren’t they more common? Why don’t they defend our borders? Although certainly some blame rests with the INS and other related governmental organizations, far more should fall on the shoulders of our politicians.

If you will recall from the YouTube Republican Presidential debates back in late 2007, Rudi Giuliani was accused of running New York City as a sanctuary city during his tenure as mayor. In his defense, he argued that they rounded up and detained “every single illegal immigrant that New York City could find that either committed a crime or was suspected of a crime.” Did not Giuliani see the flaw in his own logic here? Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t being in this country illegally a crime in and of itself? Why would an additional criminal act be necessary to require some sort of consequences? As a public servant, wasn’t it Giuliani’s responsibility to uphold the law? Apparently others on the stage picked up on this double standard too as Mitt Romney countered, “…and the idea that they reported any illegal alien that committed a crime, how about the fact that people who are here illegally are violating the law? They didn’t report everyone they found who was here illegally.” Although I have a number of disagreements with the former governor of Massachusetts, I believe that he hit the nail on the head with this comment. Illegal means, and is, illegal. It is neither cruel nor capricious, but a provable fact. We must enforce our immigration laws uniformly across the board to all nationalities regardless of skin color or language.

Often politicians will say that illegal immigration is a problem, but it is too difficult to remove them all. Instead we should offer amnesty to the illegals that are presently here and prevent future border violations. This argument is flawed for several reasons. First, why should people who have knowing violated U.S. law be rewarded with citizenship? Certainly there are a number of deserving immigrants who are trying to enter our nation legally. In addition, I believe that aliens will always try to enter illegally. What sort of message does amnesty send to these people? Go ahead and invade our country instead of going through the legal process. We’ll give you citizenship sooner or later. Second, we tried amnesty back in 1986. Did it work? Let’s see…do we still have an illegal immigration problem today? Of course we do. We know it didn’t work back then, so what would persuade us to give it another try? It is an easy answer for politicians because it allows them the opportunity to more or less maintain the status quo and it is inexpensive. No one has to be sent out to capture and deport these aliens. Companies that violate the law aren’t held accountable. Labor costs in certain industries are kept low. Everyone wins…except of course for the vast majority of us who don’t break the law. However, if we remain silent and inactive, we are as culpable as the lawbreakers themselves.

So what can we as citizens of the commonwealth do about this issue? I highly recommend writing or calling your legislators. These people have been sent to Richmond and Washington to represent you and your concerns and it is high time we hold them to account. I say that if a politician does not uphold his or her constitutional responsibility to defend and protect our borders, then he or she does not represent us. That person is not worthy to represent either the Shenandoah Valley, or the great state of Virginia. A good number of our leaders and candidates stand with us, but others deceive us with their rhetoric and their inaction. Do your research, contact your leaders, and make your will known, not just at the ballot box in November of this year, but next year too, and every year until the problem is finally solved.

A Death in the Family

For those who have been keeping up with this blog you know that I have been trying to find out why VCAP’s website and phone number have gone AWOL for the past several weeks.  Well folks, I’ve finally discovered the fate of VCAP.  Yesterday, got an email from the director of VCAP, RobinDeJarnette, which read, ” I’ve moved out the country for a five month project and will be closing the PAC.”  Although this comes as disappointing news to many conservatives in the state, I know full well that political groups, like people, are born, grow, decline, and die.  However, like a youth killed in a tragic car accident, I cannot help but feel as if VCAP died before its time.  Although I was only nominally involved, I had great hopes for this PAC.  Now perhaps the death of VCAP will herald the rise of some greater organization or movement.  Although I would not consider myself an optimist, ideally, we all like to think that even death can give birth the some good.  As it no longer serves any purpose, I have removed the VCAP link from this site.

In respect, let us observe a moment of silence.

Half of a Debate on Preemptive War

Good morning readers.

Recently I had the opportunity to contribute to a publication, the Freeman-Standard operated on the campus of my alma mater, The College of William and Mary. They asked me to participate in a point/counterpoint discussion. The topic concerns the subject of a preemptive strike/war. I was given the task of writing argument against preemptive war. Below is the article I have submitted. If you wish to read the opposing viewpoint, pick up a copy of the Freeman-Standard once it becomes available. I know that I will. I hope you enjoy it.

The Folly of Preemptive War

When considering the defense of our people and our soil, one school of thought proclaims that no options should be left off the table. They even go so far as to attempt to legitimize attacking our enemies (or our potential enemies) before they do us harm. Although it is true that by striking our foes first, we may be able to wipe out some portion of their offensive capabilities before they can be used against us, the prospect of preemptive war presents many troubling realities. First of all, we could enter into a scenario as offered in the movie The Minority Report. In this action-filled story of a futuristic police state, citizens are arrested and charged, but it is not for crimes they have committed, but rather crimes they are predicted to commit in the future. The moral dilemma in the film, as with preemptive war, is how can one be sure that these predictions will come to pass? All people and all states are capable of heinous deeds and thoughts, but not all players will choose to act upon them. Repeatedly using the doctrine of preemptive war, we will no doubt punish many guilty states, but what happens when we decimate an innocent one due to faulty intelligence or incorrect assumptions?

Secondly, if the government was allowed to use preemptive war as a justification for conflict, could not unscrupulous politicians use the pretext for personal or political gain? As Abraham Lincoln wrote in a letter on Feb. 15, 1848:
Allow the President to invade a neighboring nation whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion, and you allow him to do so whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary for such purpose, and you allow him to make war at pleasure. Study to see if you can fix any limit to his power in this respect, after having given him so much as you propose. If to-day he should choose to say he thinks it necessary to invade Canada to prevent the British from invading us, how could you stop him? You may say to him, “I see no probability of the British invading us;” but he will say to you, “be silent: I see it, if you don’t”.
Even though I hate to advocate it, without an actual attack by an enemy how can we reliably prove that our politicians are not motivated by something other than national security and defense?

Consider another example. Imagine a typical elementary playground. Suppose that one child has a deep fear of getting roughed up by the bully or bullies in the class. What should be his response? Relying upon the notion of preemptive war, one quickly resorts to a sort of Hobbesian state of nature where the child either takes the initiative and attacks the brute before he has a chance to attack him or, if he lacks the physical prowess necessary, recruits others to assist him in subduing this threat. For the sake of argument, let us assume that this attack is entirely successful and the bully no longer presents any future threat. Does the child now rest easy? Perhaps, but what happens if a new bully arises? Assume again that this thug is dispatched in the same manner. Unfortunately using this power of aggressive deterrence, although it solves some problems, it will likely give rise to new ones. With an inflated sense of power and importance, it is likely that the child will assert his newfound influence to seek out new and more powerful bullies or instead seek to mold the playground to best serve his interest or worldview. Suppose a kid is on the swings too long, or one is hogging the slide. What can be done? Won’t our empowered child seek to correct these imbalances, likely using the same proven tactics employed against the first ruffian? Alas, the use of preemptive force in these situations, although the child will likely assert their necessity till he is blue in the face, is simply unwarranted. The bullied victim becomes the new bully himself. Sooner or later the other children, witnessing our child’s gross abuse of power will act to punish him for his actions. Therefore he will become an outcast or be pounded into meek submission. Either way, he will likely be far worse off than he was when he lived with the mere threat of being harassed. Although using the guise of children, I believe that this example is quite apropos to the relation between nation states.

While the debate over preemptive war is a complex and wordy issue that could take pages and books to argue fully, I believe that these reasons stand as several valid complaints one could level against the practice. First, couldn’t the intelligence concerning capability or intention be in error? Second, isn’t it possible for some politician or group to seek brute force in order to achieve their own selfish gains rather than the safety and security of the people and their state? Third, wouldn’t the use of preemptive war lead to becoming embroiled militarily in trivial matters or arousing hatred, more enemies, and more frequent and uglier conflicts? I am certain that as Americans, we all seek ways to preserve and protect our lives and land from external threats, unfortunately the tempting tree of preemptive war offers little in the way of the fruit of long-term security, but is heavy laden with the seeds of future conflict and disaster.

Is John McCain a Conservative?

Author’s note: This post was written on March 30, 2008 and originally posted as is on the VCAP blog. Please see “What Happened to VCAP?” regarding its reposting.

This morning while reading the paper, I came across a letter to the editor from a Mr. Corbo. Presuming that this is the same Mr. Corbo that I know (and please pardon me if it is not), he wrote how he, as a conservative, would not be supporting or voting for John McCain in the general election. Now the Mr. Corbo that I know is a good man and put in many volunteer hours on behalf of Senator Allen’s reelection attempt in 2006, so that is why the name popped out at me when I saw it.

Let me start out by saying that I am fairly certain that as conservatives, Senator McCain was likely not our first, second, or even third, choice for the Republican nomination early in the process. Perhaps it was Mike Huckabee, or Fred Thompson, or Mitt Romney, or Duncan Hunter, or for a select few of us, Ron Paul, but not John McCain. But, leaving history in the past, here we are with John McCain as the Republican nominee and either Hillary or Barack on the Democratic side. As a result, some conservatives have embraced McCain, while others (like Mr. Corbo) have rejected him.

When it comes to voting, you should bear in mind that there are several different types of conservatives. First, we have the single-issue conservative. This conservative values one or two issues as key and will not vote for a candidate who does not agree on that particular policy. Second is the grocery list conservative who considers a handful of issues to be important and if a candidate agrees with most of these positions, he or she will get that voter’s support. Third, we have the strict Republican conservative who will always (or almost always) vote for the Republican candidate regardless of any specific issue positions.

Unfortunately in Mr. Corbo’s letter he does not address the specific issue or issues that make him unable to support Senator McCain. Should he happen to read this post, I would greatly encourage him to write back and express his particular grievances, not because I wish to debate him, but rather to seek understanding. There are several legitimate reservations I think some conservatives could make about John McCain, such as illegal immigration and campaign finance reform, and therefore it would be very helpful to know his particular reasoning.

Lastly, if you are a conservative who supports Senator McCain, feel free to comment as to why you support him, or if you are a conservative who opposes him, reply with reasoning likewise. If conservatives who think like Mr. Corbo make up a small percentage of the vote, then the Senator and his campaign would take little note, and I would project the election will go relatively well for him. However, if many are planning to dump the Senator, then it will be very tough for him to win, especially here in the Commonwealth. So if you are a fan for Senator McCain, or you despise him, respond here on VCAP’s blog this blog and let your voice be heard.

Update #1: The Mr. Corbo in question was the same person as the George Allen volunteer.

Update #2: Last weekend I attended a conference in Front Royal with about twenty-five other political activists. At one point, we were asked in a secret ballot, “Is John McCain a Conservative?” The result was a unanimous no.

Update #3: Despite my renewed efforts, still no word as to what happened to VCAP.

Nationalize This!

Last Tuesday, while traveling to Falmouth, I was driving behind a car that was labeled with several bumper stickers.  Although I cannot remember the exact wording of the first, it bemoaned the status of several coastal regions in North Carolina and insisted upon action.  The second was the now traditional blue Obama sticker.  The Obama sticker instantly made me realize that the other driver likely wanted the national government to get involved through some form of nationalization.  As many liberals suggest, if the government owns the property will the crisis be solved?

A fairly well known hypothetic situation that is relevant to this issue is the tragedy of the commons.  In this example, there is a parcel of land that has no owner and is available for public use.  For this example let us assume that it is a grazing pasture.  As no one has to neither pay for its use nor tend to the field, all the shepherds bring their flocks to graze at the communal pasture rather than use their own privately held lands.  Unfortunately, this overuse by all leads to an exhaustion of the grass and the field as a whole and therefore is becoming worthless.  What can be done to solve this problem?  For the believer in the free market, he would argue that one person should buy the land.  This idea is also known as privatization.  As the logic goes, certainly a person would treat his own property responsibly and would not allow it to become worthless.  He could lease out portions to help his neighbors and also create a profit.  On the other hand, the statist would say that the government should take the land. This idea is known as nationalization.  Controlled by the government, it could sell short-term or long-term rights to shepherds and share the profits with the community (minus the government’s take of course).  Bureaucratic regulation would ensure the field’s continued viability.  While one solution puts its faith in the individual and the market, the other chooses the government.

Right after seeing these two bumper stickers, I drove on a section of Highway 33 that took me through the Shenandoah National Park.  And that brings up a related question.  Why is it a national park?  Why doesn’t the state of Virginia, or privately held groups, control the park instead?  Does the federal government have the constitutional authority to run parks?  Not surprisingly, one cannot find such powers granted in the Constitution.  Growing up in the Valley, I heard stories of residents who were forcibly evicted from their homes when the federal government took control of the land.  In my mind, with the exceptions of diplomacy and defense, the constitutional spheres of the national government, the only land under the control of the federal government should be on a small triangle on the far side of the Potomac.

The topic of nationalization brings us to another important issue, ANWR.  While many people, myself included, want to see drilling in the ANWR region in order to lower gas prices (at least temporarily), environmentalists want to preserve the area for the natural wildlife and flora.  Despite how you fall on this issue, it should not be of national concern.  Why should a Virginian who does not own the property, and hasn’t even set foot in Alaska, have any say as to what becomes with the land?  If the federal government didn’t hold the land, my thoughts and many others on the matter would be fairly irrelevant.  We need more privatization and less nationalization.  Nationalization is for quasi-dictatorships like Venezuela, Middle Eastern, and African nations, not us.  If a private citizen or company owned the land, what they did on their own property would be their own business (with a few obvious exceptions).  If Alaska owned the land as opposed to the feds, then it would be an issue for Alaska, her citizens, and lawmakers, not Congress and special interest groups from around the nation.  Whatever happened to the free market?  If we truly supported the concept of laissez-faire, one potential solution other than to give the land to Alaska to deal with would be to offer the land to the highest bidder.  Oil interests, environmentalists, and any other interested party could all make their offer.  Regardless of the outcome, it would finally settle the issue fairly.

One additional burning question is, why don’t our politicians advocate privatization over nationalization?  Don’t any of them, especially the conservative Republicans, hold to these values?  I think one can find a lot of similarities between today’s Republicans and Great Britain’s Tory party of the mid 1970s.  As we have laboured under a massive federal government that has bloated far beyond its constitutional limits for such a long time, too many have become accustomed to it.  They have bought into the neocon rhetoric that a massive government can be a good thing, provided that the Republican Party holds the reins.  Where is our Margaret Thatcher to restore some semblance of sound fiscal policy, with a tightened monetary supply, privatization, slashed government taxes, and spending?  We need reform now more than ever.  Unless we are willing to stand behind leaders who support the constitution and privatization, we shouldn’t expect any improvement.

Trouble Brewing

Good evening everyone. Sorry for the unannounced week off. Anyway, I wanted to share some news with you. About every week or so, I get an email from my local GOP Committee encouraging me to pick up my Goodlatte and McCain signs. It struck me as odd that they didn’t advertise Gilmore signs as well. So, this morning I called to ask about this omission. You know what I learned? Apparently they don’t have any Gilmore signs to give away. It seems that Harrisonburg, Rockingham County, and the rest of the Shenandoah Valley only have a handful of signs. Now in a Republican voter rich area like ours where many counties are easily 60%+ Republican, one would think that you would try to get as many voters as possible interested in the election. Unfortunately, the reason for this deficiency is not merely a stupid oversight. The news only gets worse. I have heard that the campaign has faltered heavily on fundraising. If they cannot afford to send signs here, I wonder how many other localities have been shorted as well. Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve seen a Gilmore sign since the convention.

Come on people, those who can afford it should put their money where their mouths are and votes were back in May. They said we should support Gilmore because he was more electable than Marshall. I know for certain that without funding, Jim Gilmore stands no chance of beating Mark Warner. None. The thought of a Republican getting blown out in the state of Virginia is ridiculous, but we are heading in that direction. Maybe too many conservatives have been disaffected and are sitting this one out. I tell you this, should Gilmore get buried in the election, you’ll be able to easily spot my car on the highway. It will be sporting a bumper sticker reading, “Don’t blame me. I voted for Marshall”, and maybe another reading, “See, I told you so.” Ugh. Six years of Mark Warner.

Senator Hagel’s New Party

Author’s note:  This post was written on March 23, 2008 and originally posted as is on the VCAP blog.  Please see “What Happened to VCAP?” regarding its reposting.

Recently, it has been reported that in Senator Hagel’s newest book, he calls for the creation of a new political party. Now I’m sure that as conservatives, we have all expressed similar thoughts, whether openly or not. As conservatives, in modern times, we mostly trend toward the Republican Party to advocate our views. Depending on what your most important issues might be: abortion, illegal immigration, gun rights, lower taxes, reduced government spending, the death penalty, education, welfare, or another issue, some candidates just aren’t want we had in mind. Some social conservatives are not fiscal conservatives and some fiscal conservatives are not social conservatives and, as a result, we sometimes fight each other. Neoconservatives will have a tough time supporting a Paleoconservative candidate and Paleos will not rally behind a Neo. The big tent mentality of the GOP can sometimes frustrate, but that is a result of our two party system.

So how about a new party devoted to always supporting the conservative way then? Well, if one hopes to create a new third party, I would highly recommend against it. Why, might you ask? The reasoning is quite simple. Our system works to prevent the creation, success, and sustainability of third parties. Our elections consist of single member districts typically with a plurality of the votes needed to take office. Therefore, he or she with the greatest vote totals in the first round of voting wins. With all due respect to our Libertarian and Constitutional party friends, when was the last time a new party enjoyed considerable and long lasting success in national elections? Answer: the 1860’s with the formation of the Republican Party. What was the difference between the GOP and other new parties? The Republicans formed after the splintering and dissolution of the Whig party that existed prior. They didn’t look to become a third party, but rather a new major party.

Now say that the Conservatives rise up and challenge the Republican Party with the creation of their own party. What will happen? Well, in the short term at least it should ensure success of the Democratic Party. As the traditional Republican vote will be split between the Conservative and Republican parties, the Democrats can make inroads into swing and Republican leaning areas. No longer needing 50% +1 of the vote, they can now achieve success in regions where they only capture 40% of the vote assuming an even split between Conservative and Republican. (The Democrat gets 40%, the Conservative gets 30%, the Republican gets 30%, and the Democrat wins.) Think it can’t happen? Here are a few historical examples of third parties or independents altering the course of the election. Consider the presidential election of 2000. I am convinced that if Ralph Nader had not run, Al Gore would have won the state of Florida and, as a result, the election. If just 538 of Nader’s 97,488 votes swung toward Gore, he would have won. Or how about the 1994 Senate race in Virginia, where Chuck Robb beat Oliver North 46% to 43% with former Republican turned Independent Marshall Coleman claiming 11%? Or the divisive Presidential election of 1912 where the defection of former President Theodore Roosevelt and his short lived Bull Moose Party took such a great percentage of the vote to allow the election of Woodrow Wilson?

I believe that unless we adopt a new political system (like proportional representation) we will always have two major parties and that any new party will ultimately result in one of several outcomes. It will either: replace one of the two major parties (rare), run in a few races lose and then die out (common), or run in a few races, shift one of the two major parties to adopt some or all of it’s platform and then disappear (also common), continually run but never make much success at least nationally (also common). While the second or fourth results would only serve to weaken the conservative movement, only the other two would be of any benefit. So, unless a conservative party could either achieve the first or third set of results, with all due respect to Senator Hagel, I would highly recommend against the creation of a new party. Sure, as a conservative, I would always like to see the most conservative candidate in office, but the reality of the political process forces coalitions of the two party variety.

Now, if, as Rush Limbaugh had stated during the primaries, the nomination of Senator McCain does indeed destroy the Republican party, then some party will, by necessity, need to come into existence to fill the vacuum and then might an even more conservative party take shape.

What happened to VCAP?

Although I assume that a fair number of readers of this blog know of the Virginia based organization VCAP, for those who don’t let me fill you in.  VCAP stands for Virginia Conservative Action PAC.  They are located in Richmond and, as their name indicates, support conservative politics and politicians.  If you visited their site, you might also know that if not for VCAP this blog would likely not exist, as I had my first taste of blogging with VCAP as a guest columnist.  For some reason, at the beginning of the month of April, the VCAP blog suffered some sort of major error, which made posting additional articles impossible.  It was if it was permanently frozen in time.  As I found I enjoyed blogging, I developed this site several months later with the assistance of the Jeffersoniad crowd.  Several weeks ago, I tried calling VCAP, but their number was no longer in service.  Today when I went to their website, it was no longer there and their blog was gone too.  Does anyone know what has happened?  Are they in major reorganization or have they disappeared entirely?  Inquiring minds want to know!

What does this mean to this blog, The Virginia Conservative?  Rest assured that we will press on, but, as to avoid the potential loss of my earlier posts on VCAP, I have decided to repost a few of them here.  Although a number of them involve slightly out of date topics, I still think they have some value and do not want to see them lost forever.  I hope you enjoy them.

If you have any clues to the mystery of the disappearing VCAP, please tell me.

Onward conservative soldiers!