Archive for May, 2006

Immigration: A Historical Perspective (May 29, 2006)

Posted in Immigration on May 29, 2006 by

“They keep coming across our borders.  Each wave brings another wave of illegal immigrants flooding our shores.  They demand our social services.  They take our jobs.  They refuse to speak our native tongue.  They wave their flag.  Worst of all, they undermine the rule of law.  They are changing our very way of life.”  Chief Esperanza of the Pax tribe in the area later know as Billy Penn’s Hunting Grounds discussing Americas first illegal immigrants (1776). 

Presidential Signing Orders (May 22, 2006)

Posted in Bush, Law, Politics on May 22, 2006 by

High school civics classes teach us that the legislature passes laws, the executive implements laws, and the courts interpret laws.  Legislative bodies pass the laws and provide “legislative intent” that accompanies the actual language in the legislation itself.  Presidents in recent years have been trying to create “executive intent” by appending a “presidential signing order” to the legislation when it is signed.  The p.s.o. provides the Presidents spin on the legislation.  The President is giving direction to executive agencies such as Health and Human Services, Environmental Protection Agency, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Labor, etc. to shape the interpretation of the legislation.

The various courts in the country employ a variety of tests to determine “legislative intent.”  To date, courts do not resort to “executive intent” to construe a law.  To date, law students are not taught to divine “executive intent.”  In the future, courts could be induced to resort to an analysis of the presidents twist.

The likely effect of a p.s.o is much more subtle and pernicious.  The p.s.o. directs an agency to undertake a different interpretation of a law than the legislature intended.  As an agency administers a law over the years, the agency’s interpretation becomes a generally accepted standard.  In a case, Udall v. Tallman, 360 U.S. 1, 16 (1965), the United States Supreme Court held:  “When faced with a problem of statutory construction, this Court shows great deference to the interpretation given the statute by the officers or agency charged with its administration.”  The same is true of the administrative regulations adopted to implement a statute.  “When the construction of an administrative regulation rather than a statute is in issue, deference is even more clearly in order.”  Thus, the p.s.o. exercises an indirect but nonetheless potent impact on the interpretation of a law.  A president who aggressively stacks the judiciary with ideologues and then redirects the interpretation of laws via p.s.o.s will have a far greater influence for many more years than an executive who merely signs legislation without comment.

There is nothing in the Constitution to incorporate the intent of the executive at any time.  Each incoming president may find it necessary to issue a series of revised presidential signing orders to reflect the current “executive intent.”  An incoming president may need to assemble a transition staff charged with redirecting the practice of the bureaucracy.  The first one hundred days of an administration may be marked not by new legislation but by new spin on extant legislation.  An incoming president could issue a report a week for each executive agency.

[Phillip J. Cooper author of By Order of the President:  the Use and Abuse of Executive Direct Action discusses presidential signing statements in more detail.]

Himno Nacional Americano – The National Anthem in Spanish (May 15, 2006)

Posted in English Language, Immigration on May 15, 2006 by

The National Anthem in Spanish?  Americans should be proud that the National Anthem is translated into and sung in foreign languages.  They are singing our song in their language.  The song celebrates a flag.  Our flag.  That is an ad man’s dream.

American English should be the official language of the United States.  Spanish should be the second official language.  We in the Americas (North, Central and South) should do business and pleasure in both English and Spanish (and show deference to French and Portuguese along the way).  All signs, owner’s manuals, bill boards and beer ads should be presented in both languages.  No real man resorts to the instructions, but a real man can maintain his manhood by resorting to the instructions in another language.  It may be all Greek to him, but at least his manhood is intact.  “?Hey Larry, what’s a destornillador?”

Communication and transportation are key to economic growth and development.  Communication requires more than a network of telegraph lines and cell phone repeater towers.  A common language makes communication easier, more efficient.  A thousand languages and the thousand cultures that gave rise to the languages in the Central and South Americas were vanquished by the Spanish (with the assistance of the Portuguese, Dutch and English).  At this time, the Spanish language is one of legacies of the terror of colonialism.  A positive and promising legacy.  A common means of communication allows someone in Tierra del Fuego to communicate with someone in Bahia de Los Angeles.  Those citizens living in the City of Angels should learn how to communicate with others in Bogota.  Americans should be as eager to learn Spanish as most immigrants are to embrace English.

Sobre tierra de libres, la bandera sagrada!

The Housing Anti-Terrorist Act 0f 2006 (HAT Act) (May 8, 2006)

Posted in Foreign Policy, Housing on May 8, 2006 by

The housing stock for the next half century is under construction today.  Americans are building Taj Mahals they will not be able to own or heat or cool.  Today’s McMansions are typically constructed with 2 inch by 4 inch wood studs rather than 2 inch by 6 inch wood studs.  A 2 by 4 house is insulated with R-11 insulation whereas a 2 by 6 house is insulated with much warmer R-19 insulation.  The higher the R value, the greater the insulation value.  In addition, a 2 by 6 house with a generous nailing pattern is more likely to resist earthquakes which are predicted to surface in unexpected places in the near future.

The country is acquiring much of its energy from unfriendly regimes.  We as a country must reduce the funding of our enemies.  Proper house construction practices should be part of the war on terrorism.  The market should be the starting point of every economic debate.  The market is failing.  Government involvement, the ending point of every economic debate, is necessary.  In the past, housing construction companies were local enterprises.  National companies such as Pulte Homes and Tull Brothers are among the larger builders.  They should be enlisted in this campaign.  One builder may be reluctant to take the lead because there is an added cost with benefits that may not be immediately apparent to the consumer.  All of the builders may be willing to follow one set practice.  This single simple practice would produce tremendous positive long term consequences for the country.       

[Next consideration – Converting cargo containers into cottages] 

May Day (May 1, 2006)

Posted in Law, Society on May 1, 2006 by

May 1 is May Day.  This is Law Day, a day to reflect on our heritage of liberty, justice and equality under the law and to celebrate the rule of law in a democracy.  Hundreds of years ago in England, a homeowner behind on his (not her) mortgage could pay the arrears on May 1 and avoid a foreclosure.  This is also International Workers Day.  Workingmen of the world unite and celebrate their rights.  This is also Labor Day in Mexico.  Hispanics are laboring this day by boycotting work and business in support of the first National Day Without Immigrants.  Today is also “Mission Impossible” Day in the United States, a day of mourning to decry Emperor Bush’s proclamation: “Mission Accomplished.”  That it isn’t.  Busy day.