Friday, March 31, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

I was thumbing through the dead tree version of SI, which feature this year’s MLB preview. One of the stories names “20 to Watch” in major league baseball this season, including players and non-players.

One of those “to watch” is Anna Benson, wife of former Mets’ pitcher Kris Benson (now with the Orioles).

SI may have pulled the trigger too soon, as OTB reported yesterday: Anna Benson Files for Divorce.

Of course, I guess from pure soap opera-appeal, and depending on the nature of the divorce, Anna may continue to make more news than her soon-to-be-ex-husband.

(I may have now exhausted my baseball-blogging for the season).

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By Steven L. Taylor

Via the BBC: Dozens die in western Iran quakes

At least 50 people have been killed and 800 injured after several earthquakes in western Iran, local officials said.

The quakes, with magnitudes of up to 6.0, centred on remote villages between the industrial towns of Doroud and Boroujerd in the province of Lorestan.

About 330 villages have been damaged – some completely flattened, Lorestan’s disaster control committee chief said.

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By Steven L. Taylor

Via the AP/NYT: Iran Tests Missile Able to Avoid Radar

Iran on Friday successfully test-fired a missile that can avoid radar and hit several targets simultaneously, the airforce chief of the elite Revolutionary Guards said.

”Today, a remarkable goal of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s defence forces was realized with the successful test-firing of a new missile with greater technical and tactical capabilities than those previously produced,” Gen. Hossein Salami said on state-run television.


”This missile can simultaneously hit several targets, has near stealth capabilities with a high maneuverability, pinpoint accuracy and radar avoidance features,” Salami said.

Of course, that seems an odd topic for a press conference, leading me to wonder as to the degree to which Iran has such a weapon, or whether Iran has simply announced that it has such a weapon.

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Thursday, March 30, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

From the The Head Heeb we get the following political trivia question: outside of Israel, which country has the most Jewish cabinet?

Answer: here (and you’ll never guess).

If you want a hint, I can tell you it isn’t Iran.

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By Steven L. Taylor

Via WaPo: Cali Cartel Co-Founder’s Son Sentenced

A federal judge on Wednesday sentenced the son of a co-founder of Colombia’s Cali cocaine cartel to nearly 22 years in prison.

William Rodriguez-Abadia, 40, could serve less than the 21-year, 10-month term if prosecutors agree that his cooperation has been substantial in a case against his father and uncle.


Rodriguez-Abadia has agreed to forfeit more than $300 million in assets linked to drug profits.

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By Steven L. Taylor

What would be the economic impact if, by magic, we could cause all the illegal aliens to be beamed elsewhere?

Shockingly, according to a CSM piece (Immigration debate crux: jobs impact), experts disagrees.

Mostly the piece is interesting for the graphic on the left, which show the main areas of the economy in which illegal immigrants work, and estimates as to their numbers in it each area.

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By Steven L. Taylor

Via WWMT TV: Alabama court upholds suit against “Grand Theft Auto”

The Alabama Supreme Court has ruled to keep alive a $600 million lawsuit against the makers of “Grand Theft Auto.”

The suit blames the violent video game for the murders of three-person night shift at a rural police department.

I do not know any more about this case save what is in this very brief story. However, I have a hard time with any liability for a company producing pop culture (like the idea that certain rock music has cauased suicide, and so forth).

The people responsible for the deaths in this case are the people who committed murder–not the manufacturers of a video game.

(And, an interesting story given this week’s Boston Legal).

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By Steven L. Taylor

As noted in the previous post, the overall interaction between illegal immigrants and the national economy is far more complex than the general rhetoric on the subject tends to acknowledge.

From the April 5, 2024 edition of the NYT we have the following, which some of you may recall: Illegal Immigrants Are Bolstering Social Security With Billions

Since illegally crossing the Mexican border into the United States six years ago, Ángel Martínez has done backbreaking work, harvesting asparagus, pruning grapevines and picking the ripe fruit. More recently, he has also washed trucks, often working as much as 70 hours a week, earning $8.50 to $12.75 an hour.

Not surprisingly, Mr. Martínez, 28, has not given much thought to Social Security’s long-term financial problems. But Mr. Martínez – who comes from the state of Oaxaca in southern Mexico and hiked for two days through the desert to enter the United States near Tecate, some 20 miles east of Tijuana – contributes more than most Americans to the solvency of the nation’s public retirement system.

Last year, Mr. Martínez paid about $2,000 toward Social Security and $450 for Medicare through payroll taxes withheld from his wages. Yet unlike most Americans, who will receive some form of a public pension in retirement and will be eligible for Medicare as soon as they turn 65, Mr. Martínez is not entitled to benefits.

He belongs to a big club. As the debate over Social Security heats up, the estimated seven million or so illegal immigrant workers in the United States are now providing the system with a subsidy of as much as $7 billion a year.

While it has been evident for years that illegal immigrants pay a variety of taxes, the extent of their contributions to Social Security is striking: the money added up to about 10 percent of last year’s surplus – the difference between what the system currently receives in payroll taxes and what it doles out in pension benefits. Moreover, the money paid by illegal workers and their employers is factored into all the Social Security Administration’s projections.

[Empahsis mine]

Here’s a graphic of the collection of funds from bad Social Security numbers from the piece and the basic explanation:

Since 1986, when the Immigration Reform and Control Act set penalties for employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants, most such workers have been forced to buy fake ID’s to get a job.

Currently available for about $150 on street corners in just about any immigrant neighborhood in California, a typical fake ID package includes a green card and a Social Security card. It provides cover for employers, who, if asked, can plausibly assert that they believe all their workers are legal. It also means that workers must be paid by the book – with payroll tax deductions.


Starting in the late 1980′s, the Social Security Administration received a flood of W-2 earnings reports with incorrect – sometimes simply fictitious – Social Security numbers. It stashed them in what it calls the “earnings suspense file” in the hope that someday it would figure out whom they belonged to.

The file has been mushrooming ever since: $189 billion worth of wages ended up recorded in the suspense file over the 1990′s, two and a half times the amount of the 1980′s.

The percentage of illegals contributing to this fund is remarkably high:

Social Security officials do not know what fraction of the suspense file corresponds to the earnings of illegal immigrants. But they suspect that the portion is significant.

“Our assumption is that about three-quarters of other-than-legal immigrants pay payroll taxes,” said Stephen C. Goss, Social Security’s chief actuary, using the agency’s term for illegal immigration.

All quite interesting, and a little sobering.

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By Steven L. Taylor

George Will, writing in WaPo (Guard the Borders — And Face Facts, Too):

Facts, a conservative (John Adams) said, are stubborn things, and regarding immigration, true conservatives take their bearings from facts such as those in the preceding paragraph. Conservatives should want, as the president proposes, a guest worker program to supply what the U.S. economy demands — immigrant labor for entry-level jobs. Conservatives should favor a policy of encouraging unlimited immigration by educated people with math, engineering, technology or science skills that America’s education system is not sufficiently supplying.

And conservatives should favor reducing illegality by putting illegal immigrants on a path out of society’s crevices and into citizenship by paying fines and back taxes and learning English. Faux conservatives absurdly call this price tag on legal status “amnesty.” Actually, it would prevent the emergence of a sullen, simmering subculture of the permanently marginalized, akin to the Arab ghettos in France. The House-passed bill, making it a felony to be in the country illegally, would make 11 million people permanently ineligible for legal status. To what end?


And in regards to the criminalization aspect of the bill–it seems to me that all that would do would be to add yet another level of bureaucratic difficulty to the enforcement of immigration law. If one is committing a felony, oughtn’t one be arrested, arraigned and throw in jail prior to one’s exit from the country?

Surely that would take an already broken process (we can’t adequately process illegal aliens who are caught as it is) and make it more complex. Further, wouldn’t it actually slow down the process of deporting illegals who have been found and arrested? It really makes no sense, aside from tickling the emotions of those who want the Congress to “get tough” on illegal immigrants.

BTW, Will also noted the following, that tends to get lost in the debate:

The president, who has not hoarded his political capital, spent some trying to get the nation to face facts about the bleak future of an unreformed Social Security system. Concerning which: In 1940 there were 42 workers for every retiree; today there are 3.1. By 2024, when all 77 million baby boomers will have left the work force, there will be only 2.2. And that projection assumes net annual immigration, legal and illegal, of 900,000, more than double the 400,000 foreigners who, under the terms of proposed Senate legislation, could come here to work each year.

While there is no doubt that there are serious costs associated with immigrants–legal and illegal, but the degree to which they are a clear net drain is highly debatable. For example, it is oft-said that illegals pay no taxes–this is hardly the case. Those who have falsified Social Security cards pay payroll taxes and even those who operate in cash-only activities pay sales taxes every time they purchase something, and property taxes when they pay the rent.

I note this not to justify their actions, nor to say that everything that exists with illegals immigration is benign–but simply to note that the situation is far more complex than the typical rant on the subject makes it out to be.

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By Steven L. Taylor

From the same NYT piece cited below (which is about the pending meeting of the chief execs of the US, Mexico and Canada), we have the following:

But it is borders that will provide the common theme for the summit meeting. Canadian officials hope to persuade Mr. Bush to ease new rules for travelers crossing the Canadian border into the United States.

The new rules would require Americans and Canadians entering the United States by air and sea from Canada to have a passport beginning Jan. 1. Travelers crossing the land border would need a passport or new travel identification card a year after that. Currently a driver’s license or birth certificate is often acceptable.

Since most Americans do not have passports, some Canadian officials, fearing a negative impact on tourism and trade, have suggested that Washington could make driver’s licenses and birth certificates more tamperproof. But it is difficult for Washington to tighten the border with Mexico without taking similar steps with Canada.

I wonder if a great debate about al Qaeda crossing the Canadian border will now erupt, or, even better, if there will be calls to militarize the frontier with the Great White North? I noted the other day that the security issue is a red herring in the current debate, so I expect that, on balance, the northern border will continue to be a footnote in the debate.

The debate–important as it is–over illegal immigrants/immigration in general from Mexico really isn’t about terrorism–although it has given an additional rhetorical layer to the debate.

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