Today's Blogs

Straddling the Border

President Bush sets out this week to push a policy of immigration reform he hopes will please several estranged interests; bloggers respond with predictions and advice. They also discuss a study showing the overall economic benefit of file sharing and a harrowing video of violence against Iraqi civilians.

Straddling the border:In trips to Tucson, Ariz., and El Paso, Texas, this week, President Bush hopes to build support for immigration reform. “The president’s plan pairs a guest worker program for foreigners with border security enforcement, an attempt to satisfy both his business supporters, who believe foreign workers help the economy, and his conservative backers, who take a hard line on illegal immigration,” the Washington Post reports.

“No doubt this is an effort to appear presidential and salvage some better poll numbers during the holiday season,” writes Copy Editor at news digest Edit Copy. At A Certain Slant of Light, however, committed conservative B. Austin Higgins says the president better be careful just how he panders. “If President Bush stubbornly broaches the subject of amnesty this week … and if he doesn’t squarely place border security in the forefront of his immigration-related proposals, there will be a firestorm within the ranks of conservative Republicans that will make the Harriet Miers’ brouhaha pale by comparison,” he predicts.

Formidable conservative Ed Morrissey, who thinks the initiative has been a long time coming, agrees. “Not all of this will thrill the Republican base. … The GOP doesn’t like the notion of Bush’s guest-worker program, but the open question of what to do with 10 million illegal aliens already inside the US requires some sort of reasonable answer,” he writes at Captain’s Quarters.

PoliPundit Jayson Javitz blames patron saint Ronald Reagan for the current predicament, which he believes stems from liberal immigration legislation passed on that president’s watch. “Dutch, if you’re listening, you were the greatest, but on that one you should have brought out the veto pen, Chief,” he says. “There will need to be some mechanism for more efficient deportations of criminal aliens. There will need to be some reality-based measure for dealing with the realities of the labor markets and the needs of small businesses.”

Juan Mann of Deport Aliens is even more militant on that point. “Real immigration law enforcement is arresting aliens, deporting them, and making sure they stay out,” he writes at The Immigration Blog, a Michelle Malkin subsidiary. “That means summary removal, not perpetual federal litigation. That means officers with guns removing as many interlopers and criminals as quickly and efficiently as possible.”

Read more about immigration.

File-sharing and intellectual property: Cambridge researcher Rufus Pollock has compiled a digestive summary of studies on the relationship between file-sharing and music sales. By his reading, one recent, quantitative analysis demonstrates that well-established artists suffer while less-established ones benefit from P2P networks; several other studies he cites suggest that the social benefits of file-sharing are three times the size of the costs incurred by the music industry.

Matthew Yglesias cheers the summary at progressive salon TPMCafe. “Record companies and their movie studio allies have managed to convince a shockingly large swathe of opinion that the purpose of intellectual property law is to prevent copyright infringement. In fact,” he counters, “the purpose is to advance the general welfare of society. Infringement should be defined, and the law should be enforced, in a manner designed to improve overall welfare. There’s essentially no reason to think that a hard-core crackdown on file-sharing programs would achieve that goal.”

Writing at the libertarian QandO Blog, Jon Henke thinks the general-welfare argument stinks of liberal hypocrisy. “In the liberal worldview, property rights exist to protect society, not individuals; laws should be enforced not because you should have rights, but because it’s good for society if government protects your rights,” he writes. “When push comes to shove for modern liberals, the raison d’etre of individual rights is the raison d’etat.”

At The Long Tail, Wired editor-in-chief Chris Anderson tracks what he sees as a market transformation, enabled by Internet retail, away from consumer reliance on a few leading brands and toward the niche alternative products available in the “long tail” of the supply curve. “For the majority of artists further down the tail, free distribution is good marketing, with a net positive effect on sales,” he writes.

Read more about the study here.

Contractor killers?: “A ‘trophy’ video appearing to show security guards in Baghdad randomly shooting Iraqi civilians has sparked two investigations after it was posted on the internet,” reports the London Telegraph. Bloggers are generally appalled by the video.

Some observers blame the outsourcing of military tasks to security contractors. The military “needs to be responsible for those things which are truly mission critical,” writes liberal firebrand Atrios at Eschaton. “And, when private companies are involved there needs to be oversight and enforcement. There should never be a situation, especially on the battlefield, when there is a tension between ‘the military notion of completing a mission irrespective of cost’ and the goal of private companies to earn a profit.”

“And so the circle—or spiral—continues,” intones contributor Hunter at liberal cantina Daily Kos. “For those with short memories, it was the alleged misconduct of armed contractors in Iraq that led to the killing and public display of four of them, hanging from a bridge … which led to two separate massive retaliatory assaults against Fallujah … which led to a widespread backlash in Iraq … which led to, among other things, a widened insurgency.” Liberal Eponymous also sees eerie parallels with Fallujah.

Read more about the video here.

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