Troy Davis was executed in Georgia. Twenty years ago, he was convicted of murdering Mark MacPhail, a 27-year-old police officer working nights as a security guard to support his young family. On the fateful 1989 evening, Davis, then 20, fired a handgun at a passing car, wounding a passenger. He later met an acquaintance, who was arguing with a homeless man. Officer MacPhail intervened when Davis started pistol-whipping the man. Davis shot MacPhail in the face and the heart. Over two decades, his death sentence became a cause célèbre for anti-capital-punishment activists (and reliables like Jimmy Carter) who, whenever the killer is black and the victim white, see conclusive proof of racial animus in the death penalty’s imposition. But Davis received a fair trial (the court actually suppressed important evidence against him), his case was exhaustively reviewed by state and federal courts, and clemency was denied by the governor after an independent review. Though some eyewitnesses recanted, the courts found them suspect — hardly enough to overcome the other witnesses and ballistics evidence tying the two shootings to the same gun. There have been capital cases where compelling demonstrations of innocence give us pause. This is not one of them.
The Federal Reserve’s latest attempt to manipulate interest rates in the service of higher economic growth — a trade of short-term for long-term Treasuries modeled on its 1961 “Operation Twist” — could be pronounced a failure on its first day. Stocks, oil, and gold fell while the dollar rose and the yield curve flattened: all signs that the Fed inadvertently took a deflationary step rather than a reflationary one. The chief contribution the Fed can make to the economy is to stabilize expectations about the future path of inflation and nominal income. If it adopted this modest conception of its role it would be less likely to twist itself in knots.
One would hope that, if there were a way to ensure that illegal immigrants stood no chance of gainful employment in America, it would be universally adopted. But such a system, E-Verify, exists, and has been repeatedly challenged: A bill to limit the program has just passed California’s legislature, and its use has been hindered elsewhere. Federal standards on immigration are inconsistently enforced, but this may be about to change: A bill sponsored by Rep. Lamar Smith, which looks likely to pass the House, would implement these standards across the nation. Weakening the prospects of employment for illegal immigrants would do far more than any fence to reduce the flow across the border.
That sound you didn’t hear over the last several months was the masses rushing to join La Raza (“The Race”), a Hispanic-supremacist “community activist” group, in boycotting Arizona for its supposedly harsh immigration-enforcement law. Sympathizers were asked to avoid traveling to Arizona, but tourism revenue increased; the group tried to get baseball’s All-Star Game moved from Phoenix, but nobody paid attention. So La Raza decided to declare victory and go home. The organization has ended its boycott, maintaining that it was a triumph “because it successfully discouraged other states from enacting similar laws,” though in fact four states have already done so, and two dozen more are likely to consider such measures next year. It all goes to show that “The Race” is not too swift — though they would have our sincere congratulations if they could succeed in persuading illegal immigrants to boycott Arizona.
A report from the Arizona Republic makes depressing reading. “Facing a possible civil-rights lawsuit, Arizona has struck an agreement with federal officials to stop monitoring classrooms for mispronounced words and poor grammar from teachers of students still learning the English language.” Monitors had found that some teachers had “unacceptably heavy accents that caused [them] to mispronounce words,” and that some used “poor English grammar.” (“Examples of concerns included a teacher who asked her English learners ‘How do we call it in English?’ and teachers who pronounced ‘levels’ as ‘lebels’ and ‘much’ as ‘mush.’”) In such cases, “state officials would suggest helping the teacher take additional English-language classes or work with a fluency coach.” Nobody was fired or lost pay. But apparently it would be a violation of civil rights to help poor kids assimilate. The federal government may have no accent, but it is frequently incomprehensible.