I know this is going to be hard to believe, but the Kentucky House of Representatives actually thought out of the box for a change. On February 3rd, the House Committee on Labor and Industry passed HB 321, otherwise known as the E-Verify Bill, by a margin of 93 to 3 (the three nays were John Bell (D-23), Kelly Flood (D-75), and Mary Lou Marzian (D-34). The bill will now move to the Senate for approval (http://www.lrc.ky.gov/record/10RS/HB321.htm).
The bill’s aim is to curtail illegal immigration by eliminating its principal cause, employment. If the bill becomes law, contractors would face a five year ban from government contracts, and includes contractors who deal with local school districts. The bill’s lead sponsor is Bob Damron, a Democrat representing House District 39.
There are 14 other states that have similar legislation designed to eliminate employment of illegal immigrants while another 17 are either considering E-Verify or strengthening existing legislation. However, in rural states such as Kentucky, the main source of employment is in agriculture. Outlying counties such as Anderson, Warren, Barren, Fayette, Garrad, and Scott are the hardest hit by the costs of illegal immigration. Democrat Greg Stumbo (D-95) is considering introducing a bill that applies E-Verify to all employers in Kentucky, which would obviously make more sense (http://www.numbersusa.com/content/learn/illegal-immigration/map-states-mandatory-e-verify-laws.html). Stumbo is also the Speaker of the House.
As for the Arizona like SB1070, Kentucky Senate Bill 6, which would give police and other law enforcement authorities the power to question and detain individuals suspected of being the country illegally, is going nowhere. Senate Bill 6, which was introduced by State Senator John Schickel (R-11), came under a barrage of protests lead by the liberal leaning Jobs for Justice, as well as numerous churches, Labor unions and pro-amnesty groups. While supporters of the bill were present, the media, as expected, gave primary coverage to the bill’s opponents. However, from what I was able to find out, the Anti forces, anticipating Senate Bill 6, were out in front with their organizational efforts while the supporters of the bill were lagging far behind as if they expected to be given a fair hearing. I wonder what they were thinking?
According to a poll published by Pure Politics on March 2, 2011, support for the House Bill (the E-Verify bill) was 64% while support for Senate Bill 6 was only 25% with 12% giving no response or didn’t care (http://mycn2.com/politics/immigration-cn2-poll).
Meanwhile, other states such as New Mexico are moving ahead with their own versions of the Arizona’s SB 1070 to head off the problem before it becomes more a serious issue like it has in Arizona. With a poll approval of the bill of 85%, New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez signed into law SB 152 which would allow law enforcement to question and detain individuals here illegally. It would not allow law enforcement officials to stop someone solely on immigration status (http://www.dailylobo.com/index.php/article/2011/02/legislator_immigration_law_reeks_of_arizona).
In Colorado, a bill allowing law enforcement officials to report suspected illegals to prosecutors has passed its first hurtle in the Colorado State House. The bill, HB 1088, was introduced by Republican Mark Barker. The bill would also force bail bondsmen to forfeit the bond if the individual is deported. According to Barker, who originally withdrew and then reintroduced the bill, he wanted to change the language of the bill from “probable cause” to “reasonable grounds” in order to avoid possible legal challenges when determining legal status. The bill will face another vote in the House before moving on to the Senate (http://denver.cbslocal.com/2011/02/24/colorado-house-oks-bill-to-report-illegal-immigrants/).
So, while other states move ahead with pro-active legislation, Kentucky continues to muddle along. Nevertheless, HB 321 is a good start. Hopefully Stumbo or someone else will step up to plate and put forward some more expansive legislation to do the job that SB 6 could have done.
From the Middle East to the Midwest
In case you haven’t noticed, gas prices are skyrocketing (and welcome back to earth by the way). Oil prices on the open market are setting near record highs at $104.00 a barrel. Truly black gold. To compound matters is the most of the oil producing countries are facing internal instability, which is a politically correct way of saying the people are tired of being on the short end of the oil stick. Most of these nations are ruled by autocratic royalty, principally installed there by their former colonialist masters like Great Britain and France. Others are ruled by maniacal tyrants under such misleading names as “People’s Republic” with titles like “President” or “Great Leader” living in worlds apart from their struggling citizens.
Remember the “liberation” of Kuwait? It was better known as the First Persian Gulf War or Operation Desert Storm, though Operation Desert Shield was aimed at removing Iraqi forces from Kuwait. Saddam Hussein invaded oil rich Kuwait under the pretext that it was in actuality a “disputed” province which properly belonged to the “people of Iraq”. In truth, Hussein wanted control of the oil fields and direct access of the Persian Gulf and shipping lanes. The Hitler-wannabe thought the West would do nothing due to the costs and time factor of mounting an invasion. He wasn’t concerned about his Arab neighbors. He had already cowered them (the Arab mindset seems to appreciate and respect force or at least its threat of it).
Anticipating Western (especially American) sensibilities, the royal Al-Sabah family of Kuwait promised political reform (especially for women and Christians, who would actually be allowed to practice their religion with a minimum of interference from the state authorities. Hussein, in what has to be one of the top three military blunders of all time (the other two being Napoleon’s and Hitler’s invasions of Russia), allowed Western troops almost six months of military buildup. Secondly, his generals planned a stagnated front war similar to the earlier war between Iraq and Iran.
Had Hussein agreed to maintain (or increase) oil production at current or lower prices, it’s doubtful there would have been any serious resistance to his occupation of Kuwait other than the usual empty rhetoric of the impotent United Nations. Given the proximity of his military forces to Saudi Arabia and the other regional oil producers, a little implied threat would have ensured their cooperation. The Kuwaiti royals would have found a comfortable exile in one of the neighboring capitals. Of course, that’s now a matter for War Colleges and historians to examine.
In the end, Hussein was militarily neutered and Kuwait was liberated. Of the new freedoms promised by the royal family, few have been implemented. Women were given the right to vote and participate in politics in 2005 by a narrow vote of 35 to 23. Freedom of religion for non-Moslems and freedom of speech are still sketchy. Such then was the first global resource war. There will be many to come, except these may pit Western nations against each other while facing another, mightier threat in the form of China and India.
Tunisia was the first to accomplish its revolution, followed by Egypt. Both countries had a minimum body count. The media seems to make big copy over 10 or 20 dead. Revolutions are bloody affairs. Those in power never willingly relinquish it. In revolutions and coups past, thousands dead were not unheard of. In a regional known for its brutal strongmen, individuals like Hosni Mubarak deserve some praise. He could have made things much worse. However, men like Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi are more typical.
Gadhafi came to power in the usual fashion, by military coup. Another Hitler admirer, he quickly allied himself to the more militant Mideastern factions. He was hosted (and protected) on numerous occasions various terrorists and terrorist organizations like Carlos “The Jackal” Ramirez who masterminded numerous terrorists operations during the 1970’s; Black September which was responsible for the Munich Massacres (which Carlos also had a hand in); Abdul Abbas, the hijacker of the Achilles Lauro; and of course, Yasser Arafat, who was head of the PLO. Gadhafi, anxious to try his hand at state supported murder, sponsored the downing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, resulting in the deaths of 270 individuals in 1988 and the earlier bombing of a discotheque in Berlin in 1986. Of course, all the while, he continued to drift further and further from reality and the brutality of regime only increase until it reached its present boiling point.
The Libyan dictator now faces uncertain domestic military support (he’s allegedly ordered the murder of some bomber pilots who refused to attack civilian populations). As a result, he has hired Algerian mercenary pilots and gunmen to kill his own people and destroy oil production. If he can’t have it, no one will I suppose.
So, what will be the outcome? Well, first, there’s no doubt that this psychopath’s days in power are limited. Pressure is on for the US or other nation to provide military support in the form of equipment and/or tactical intelligence. At present, the situation is at a stalemate with rebel forces controlling the Eastern part of the country where most of the oil wells are located. Even if Gadhafi survives, his reign will remain highly unstable. It will only be a matter of time before there is either another better organized attempt or Gadhafi is assassinated. Meanwhile, the pro-democracy revolution continues to spread across the Middle East into Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Oman, and Bahrain. It’s only a matter of time before it makes its way to Saudi Arabia and Iran. The more unstable the region becomes, the more you can expect to pay at the pump. Oil executives don’t need much of an excuse to bump up prices (and profits).
With the increased instability in the Middle East, as well as the dwindling supplies (most oil producing nations have either reached or passed oil producing peak capacity. The US passed theirs in the 1970’s), coupled with the developing super-nations like China and India, as well as lesser third world countries, we can only expect demand to dramatically increase as we also must cope with climate change. We, and I mean America, has to get serious about finding alternatives to oil and gas. We will never totally replace either, but we can, and must, lessen our dependence on petroleum derived energy through solar, wind, hybrid, water, and nuclear power. Until that day comes, you better get used to the idea of $5.00 and higher prices at the pump.