When Allies Are Worse Than Your Enemies

Back in college, I burned a lot hotter on a variety of political issues.  I would argue with about anyone, and often did.  The dinner table was almost always the venue for some political fight.  During those arguments, I quickly discovered something -- people nominally on my side of the argument were sometimes my biggest problem.  I remember any number of times telling some person to shut up and let me argue the point.  People email me all the time asking me to ban some idiot commenter trolling in opposition to all my posts.  I tell them I am much more likely to ban an idiot commenter nominally supporting my point than the other way around.

Which brings me to Eric Holder:

"I've just expressed concerns on the basis of what I've heard about the law. But I'm not in a position to say at this point, not having read the law, not having had the chance to interact with people are doing the review, exactly what my position is," Mr. Holder told the House Judiciary Committee.

This weekend Mr. Holder told NBC's "Meet the Press" program that the Arizona law "has the possibility of leading to racial profiling." He had earlier called the law's passage "unfortunate," and questioned whether the law was unconstitutional because it tried to assume powers that may be reserved for the federal government.

Rep. Ted Poe, who had questioned Mr. Holder about the law, wondered how he could have those opinions if he hadn't yet read the legislation.

"It's hard for me to understand how you would have concerns about something being unconstitutional if you haven't even read the law," the Texas Republican told the attorney general.

I have never been totally comfortable with the Democratic support of immigration anyway.  The party, particularly under this administration, seems to take the position that the government can be as authoritarian as it likes, as long as it does not discriminate racially in doing so.  This post hypothesizes that the Democrats' support for immigration is political rather than principled, a desire to create the next new underclass that can be exploited for political points, and I can't really disagree based on past history.

Readers know I support open immigration.  I see immigration restrictions as government licensing of who can and can't work (and who can and can't be hired) -- an intrusion Conservatives would likely reject in any other context.  Since I am opposed to immigration limits, I am opposed to giving government extra powers in the name of enforcement, in the same way I oppose, say, asset seizure laws originally aimed at enforcement of drug prohibition.

I acknowledged that the law is less onerous in its amended form (because, you see, I actually read the whole thing, here and here for example), but what the law's supporters fail to deal with in claiming the letter of the law will not be enforced in a racist manner is how even existing law is being enforced here in Phoenix by Joe Arpaio in a racist manner.  When Joe goes into a business, and handcuffs all the people with brown skin, releasing them only when a relative or friend races to the police station with a birth certificate, it is an ugly, un-American scene (here or here or here).  I would take supporters of the bill more at their word as to how the law will actually be used in practice if they were not the same people actively cheer-leading Joe Arpaio at every turn.


  1. astonerii:

    "I would take supporters of the bill more at their word as to how the law will actually be used in practice if they were not the same people actively cheer-leading Joe Arpaio at every turn."

    Sounds like the same argument you say other people use incorrectly. Well, they are wrong on this, so they are wrong on that. Particularly when wrong is more of a nuanced gut feeling sort of thing.

  2. dave smith:

    I am skeptical about the Democrats support of more open boarders, also. I don't think they are standing on priciple; I think they think it will get them votes.

    Generally, I think that Republicans who stand on principle should be for more open borders ("land of opportunity for anyone, rights coming from God and not the state, etc.) but they don't favor more immigration becuase they think it will cost them votes.

    No principle. No one cares about liberty or even good policy. Politicians only care about votes. (And, of course, dogs bark.)

  3. LoFlyer:

    Americans are pissed off at allowing open boarders and taxpayers have to pay for services available to criminally illegal or undocumented residents that are unavailable to middle class taxpayers. This is BS and it will be interesting to see how this plays out, the media as usual is against the majority of the consensus among American citizens. No wonder they are dropping like fly's. When you place ideology over profitably the end is near. Is the blog-masters support against Arizona for actually enforcing immigration laws based upon profitably or civil rights violations?

  4. Patrick:

    To all those who oppose the AZ law. 5 questions:
    Should we enforce federal laws as a general rule?
    Should we enforce federal immigration law? If "NO", but #1 is 'yes', why is immigration law special? Do you support non-enforcement of law in other areas?
    If a cop determines based on evidence that the driver of a car he stops (for driving violation) is an illegal alien, should he (a) IGNORE that fact or
    (b) enforce federal law and/or alert ICE?
    Should we deport criminal aliens who are arrested and/or in our jails, or should we release them to the community (where they dont have legal right to reside)?
    If Sheriff Joe did a bad job in enforcing shoplifting laws by rounding up youths hanging out in malls in attempts to catch shoplifters, does that mean
    we should not enforce shoplifting law anywhere in the state?

    We need to be honest here. People oppose the AZ law not because law enforcement doesnt work, but because if we DID start enforcing immigration law ... IT WOULD WORK,
    and that discomfits those who want open borders.

    America has 1 million legal immigrants per year. A position of "land of opportunity" for lawful immigrants, in a system of laws that makes sure WE in the US controls the system, and not the most lawless among us control it ... that is the right approach. It is the ONLY real sound and moderate position. The longer we allow non-enforcement policies, the more difficult it is to regain control. We know this much: Amnesty made the problem worse last time and will make it worse next time.

  5. Ryan:

    Again Arrested Development is ahead of it's time. It managed to spoof Holder about five years in advance.


  6. Gordon:

    I don't want any more power given, or more correctly taken, by gov't at any level. So on that point and a host of others, I agree in principle with your stance on immigration. But how can we maintain our nation without some modicum of control of our borders? Sheriff Joe is a bit of a strawman. Of course I don't support all of his actions and methods. That does not mean that all borders should be completely open. We should raise the quota for legal immigration and in conjunction make a few modifications to our citizenship requirements (address the incentive to come here to give birth to "anchor babies" somehow). I sincerely struggle with this question because I distrust politicians at any level to handle this - or any other - issue competently, much less in the interest of their constituents, broadly defined.

  7. jdt:

    This is how I see immigration reform playing out.

    democrats doing it = huge bill full of usual crap democrats are always pulling for, paybacks for votes, etc, in the name of immigration reform.

    republicans doing it = huge bill full of usual crap republicans are always pulling for, paybacks for votes, etc, in the name of immigration reform.

  8. Jeffrey Ellis:

    "There’s nothing I like less than bad arguments for a view that I hold dear." — Daniel Dennett

  9. ADiff:

    The problem is two-fold. 1st the border is highly porous. This has been addressed to some degree in California and Texas, but to lesser degrees in New Mexico, and almost not at all in Arizona. 'Controlling' the border's not a technically challenging problem...but it is a very expensive one. So far the political will to spend the money to do so simply has not been present. That can change. But it doesn't have to. It can be done though, with Police, Federal officers and the military.

    The 2nd facet of the issue is visa violations. It's estimated that between a fifth to almost half of illegal residency results from simply over-staying a visa. Enforcement in this area is also very expensive...but it is do-able.

    Both have to be done if this issue is going to be addressed effectively.

    But one thing that will NOT solve the problem is passing legislation by appealing to xenophobia and racism, or by couching appeals for action in ethnically pejorative terms. That might be useful for 'working up the crowd' for politicians and such...but it's a real obstacle to effective action. The way, and the form, and the language, associated with SB1070 were its real problem. Beyond that it has some fundamental flaws (recognized by its authors and main supporters by language attempting to mitigate its worst aspects and impacts). Among these are making enforcement mandatory for police in Arizona. A bill that simply ALLOWS detention for suspicion of violation of immigration laws for subsequent processing by ICE bu law enforcement, when officers deem it appropriate, would probably have been sufficient...and given sufficient leeway to perhaps avoid perceptions of inevitable racial profiling.

    This could have been handled as a very innocuous piece of legislation, but the geniuses at the Copper Top had to let it turn into our very own version of Kulterkampf....

    ...although I rather suspect that was intentional, since playing to racial and ethnic prejudices has got to be among the oldest and, unfortunately, most effective, short-term rabble rousing tactic politicians can use to pander for political favor.....

    Lovely....just lovely....take a pretty much 'do nothing' law, and turn it into a 'race war'. Great job guys...great job.

  10. Steve W from Ford:

    "Readers know I support open immigration"

    What the heck do you mean by that? If there were a billion poor and relatively uneducated Chinese, Indians, Mexicans etc that could somehow get here and wanted in would you say " Throw the doors open, welcome?"
    If not, exactly how many poor, uneducated immigrants would you let in and if not all that wanted in, how does this differ from those opposed to unrestricted illegal immigration other than by degree?

    Just wondering.

  11. tehag:

    " it is an ugly, un-American scene"

    Certainly it is against our aspirations--people shouldn't be judged by the government by their skin color-- but not our practices. The older, more violent version is called "Jim Crow," the newer, less violent version is called "Affirmative Action."

  12. coyote little sis:

    I feel compelled to comment on my brother's self assessment. His propensity to argue is not an exaggeration. And it was not just in college. As my mother will attest, Warren has been arguing since he left the womb. And yes, he will tell folks to shut up. And no, he will not say it any nicer than that. But that is why we love him. Most of the time.

  13. Peter:

    Obama and holder are just going to have too easy a time showing the law is racist just by going after the sherif. On the bright side maybe it is one way to get rid of the over zealous sherif. Unfortunately I think the feds will do more to remove the law than the sherif.