URLs du Jour

2017-01-29

Moan. I suppose we have to talk about refugees and immigration, teed off by the reaction to President Trump's recent executive order that … did something about that, I guess.

  • David W. French at NR concerns himself with separating fact from hysteria. He does a noble (but not difficult) job in finding plenty examples of the hysteria. A welcome reality check on anyone who's shouting "Muslim Ban! Muslim Ban!":

    [… Y]ou can read the entire executive order from start to finish, reread it, then read it again, and you will not find a Muslim ban. It’s not there. Nowhere. At its most draconian, it temporarily halts entry from jihadist regions. In other words, Trump’s executive order is a dramatic climb-down from his worst campaign rhetoric.

    But French is not a mindless cheerleader:

    However, there are reports that the ban is being applied even to green-card holders. This is madness. The plain language of the order doesn’t apply to legal permanent residents of the U.S., and green-card holders have been through round after round of vetting and security checks. The administration should intervene, immediately, to stop misapplication. If, however, the Trump administration continues to apply the order to legal permanent residents, it should indeed be condemned.

    As near as I can tell, it's unclear whether (a) Trump's executive order was meant to apply to green-card holders and (b) whether it is being applied to green-card holders.

  • But, once we shed ourselves of the hysteria, is Trump's EO legal? Writing at the NYT, David J. Bier of the Cato Institute argues "nope"

    More than 50 years ago, Congress outlawed such discrimination against immigrants based on national origin.

    But, at NR, Andrew C. McCarthy rebuts: yup, is too.

    Let’s start with the Constitution, which vests all executive power in the president. Under the Constitution, as Thomas Jefferson wrote shortly after its adoption, “the transaction of business with foreign nations is Executive altogether. It belongs then to the head of that department, except as to such portions of it as are specifically submitted to the Senate. Exceptions are to be construed strictly.”

    Bier and McCarthy are recommended to those who enjoy debates over the applicability of Section 1152(a) of Title 8, U.S. Code as opposed to Section 1182(f) and Section 1187(a)(12).

    But for me, there is no better time to trot out the cliché disclaimer: I Am Not A Lawyer.

  • OK, hysteria and legalities aside, how about the remaining question: good idea, or not? The estimable Veronique de Rugy writes at Reason: "Taking In Refugees Is Good for America" She dismisses the terrorist-importing argument:

    Arguably, no act of terrorism has been committed in the last 40 years by refugees in the United States (though a tiny number of refugees have been arrested on terrorism-related charges, and depending on the precise definition of refugees used, the Boston marathon bombing or other incidents may count). And the long wait time and high costs of entering the country as a refugee make that an extremely inefficient way for terrorists to get in.

    She also acknowledges and rebuts various economic arguments.

    Arguing the other side: Roger L. Simon: "My Islam Problem and Yours".

    You can be a virtue-signaling moral narcissist and get all exercised about Donald Trump's executive order suspending visas from seven primarily Muslim countries for the next ninety days, but I have a question for you: what do we do about Islam?

    No quibbles for Roger about whether Trump's EO is a "Muslim Ban" or not.

This is the very definition of an overheated argument. There's a surfeit of finger-pointing, a dearth of good faith arguments for clear policy goals backed up by realistic assessments of risk and economic impact. You're either a slobbering Islamaphobe or a let-em-in oikophobic elitist who worries nobody will be available to trim the shubberies at the yacht club.

Worse: it's a fast-moving topic, and this post may be obsolete by the time you read it. Hey, I haven't checked recently, it may be obsolete as I'm typing it.

Personal

[Amazon Link]

I'm slowly but surely catching up in Lee Child's Jack Reacher series, a project started back in 2009. I've given up my quibbles and tergiversations about Dickensian coincidences and convenient revelations; these books are great fun.

A chance glance at the personal (note title) ads in a castaway Army Times newspaper in Seattle causes Jack to get in touch with a supervisor from his aforementioned MP days. Jack is jetted off to North Carolina, where he's asked to participate in a desperate manhunt. A sniper has taken a shot at the French president. A miss, and Jack doesn't care about that too much anyway, but there are indications that the attempt was a warmup for another assassination in a few days.

Again, Jack asks, why me? Well, it turns out one of the prime suspects was a gifted sniper Jack outwitted and brought to justice during his MP days. And now he's out, looking for work. Aha! This time it's personal! Off to Paris.

Jack brings his usual powers of observation, deduction, and lethal violence to bear on the issue. He is assisted by a female sidekick named "Casey Nice"; also teams up with agents from England and Russia. But, as is the case with every character in a Reacher book: you have to be skeptical whether or not they can be trusted. Things are never as they seem at first, and you have to sort through the numerous red herrings to find… what? The real herrings? I guess.

One character notes the combination of Reacher's vagabond lifestyle and his detective skills, and dubs him "Sherlock Homeless". Heh! That's very accurate.