The daydream act

Well, not quite the full dream, but hooray for Obama for implementing the daydream version of the Dream Act.  Fabulous timing for me, as today was bureaucracy day in my class and I was talking about how bureaucracies make policy and how presidents can directly influence policy by telling the political leadership what to do (within clear limits, of course).  I always like to give the example of telling the EPA to crackdown or lighten up enforcement on polluters.  This is very much the same basic principle, telling ICE to ease up on enforcement of a particular form of illegal immigrants.

This was also a great example of the modern dysfunctional Senate, as the DREAM Act actually passed the House and received 52 votes in the Senate in 2010, but that’s well short of the 60 required to break the Republican filibuster.

I think this is a great example where good politics meets good policy.  Cost/benefit-wise, this policy is a complete no-brainer.  We’re talking about giving legal status to people who came here as minors, through no illegal actions of their own and have proven to be the educated, upstanding citizens this country should always want, regardless of the unemployment rate.  Cost-wise, this is admittedly not fair to everybody else who may want to immigrate to this country, but if this is the most unfair thing we do policy-wise, I’ll take it.

Politics-wise, this should definitely boost the Latino vote and I don’t really imagine it losing Obama many voters who would have otherwise been inclined to support him.  It also puts Romney in a bit of a box.  The Republican base is clearly going to be calling for the harsh reaction that, so far, he has refused, engaging instead in very tepid criticism.

Lastly, Jon Chait reminds us that this isn’t just politics, but real lives at stake that will benefit in a very significant way:

 The most important thing is that some one million young people  will now have a chance to live their lives in this country free of the terror that their parents’ actions (actions borne of nothing worse than a desire for freedom and opportunity) will not expose them to the horrors of deportation. They may not be American citizens, but most of us consider them our fellow Americans, and can regard the measure of relief they now have gained with relief of our own, and joy.

Kurt Cobain is no Justin Bieber

A little out of my usual range here, but I just found this hilarious (via Jezebel):

Photo of the day

I’m really loving watching the Euro 2012 soccer tournament.  I only wish my schedule was more compatible with the games.  That said, this is summer and I am a professor so I’ve been watching a good portion of the first game while having lunch and then coming home early after my 2nd class to catch the latter part of the 2nd game.  I was pulling for Spain in the 2010 World Cup, but this time I’m definitely for Germany (Spain has had their glory now).  This is a really terrific set of Big Picture photos of fans at the games, etc.  I think this photo is my favorite:

Dejected Dutch fans after the Euro 2012 soccer championship Group B match between the Netherlands and Denmark in Kharkiv, Ukraine on June 9. The Netherlands lost the match to Denmark 0-1. (Geert Vanden Wijngaert/Associated Press).

And, because I’m also a Dutch fan, here I am sporting my own KNVB jersey on the occassion of Sarah’s birth:

Forensic science is neither

Alright, it’s forensic, but I do like that phrase.  Not much real science involved, though.  The only true science in forensics is DNA and that’s because it was actually invented separately by actual scientists instead of by non-scientists trying to catch bad guys.  Anyway, I recently watched a great Frontline on the topic of just how fallible so much forensic “science” is– even the vaunted fingerprints.  And, if that’s not enough, apparently a few hundred dollars and an open-book on-line test is enough go get you “certified” forensic examiner status to help make yourself an expert witness.  Really pretty disturbing all around.  Pro Publica also has a nice companion site looking at just how easy it is to make yourself a certified forensic examiner.

On a related note, one of the not-very-real forensic sciences out there is ballistics.  Does not work nearly as well as people think.  You know what actually would?  Laser micro-stamping on shell casings.

Identifying the firearm used in a crime is one of the biggest challenges for criminal investigators. But what if a shell casing picked up at a murder scene could immediately be tracked to the gun that fired it

A technique that uses laser technology and stamps a numeric code on shell casings can do just that. But the technology, called microstamping, has been swept up in the larger national debate over gun laws and Second Amendment rights, and efforts to require gun makers to use it have stalled across the nation.

“I think it is one of these things in law enforcement that would just take us from the Stone Age to the jet age in an instant,” said Commissioner Frederick Bealefeld III of theBaltimore Police Department. “I just can’t comprehend the opposition to it.”

Well, I can, sadly.  Of course, it’s the NRA.  Naturally this is the first step to just taking everybody’s guns away.  Forget about actually trying to solve more crimes.   In an interesting note, gun crimes are actually more difficult to solve:

Colin Weaver, deputy executive director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, said microstamping was needed because the difficulty of tracing firearms made gun crimes more difficult to solve than crimes that did not involve guns. An analysis by his organization found that from 2007 to 2009 in New York State, for example, 48.5 percent of aggravated assaults involving a firearm were solved, compared with 67.6 percent of aggravated assaults that did not involve guns.

Would be great if we could change that and make it least this one aspect of CSI a lot more genuinely effective.

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