The Upcoming Showdown

Well folks, it appears the 44th POTUS has not taken the expected lessons from the November 4th GOP victory. On the contrary, with no more elections to win and no more congressional seats to worry about (not including Mary Landrieu) Obama feels free to do what he damn well pleases. He’s dealing with continued opposition to the ACA and he’s taking a swing at net neutrality and the Keystone pipeline. But the most imminent battle is over immigration reform and this has the right apoplectic.

Obama is famous for favoring politics over ideals, no doubt one of the biggest let downs for his supporters. To focus on Obama’s motives (fairness, narcissism, power grab) is to focus on the wrong thing. This is a rare time when there is bipartisan recognition that we have a problem so the focus should be on the fix.

It seems completely reasonable to me when Obama cites congressional malfeasance on immigration. The Senate passed a bipartisan bill that House leader Boehner refused to put to a vote. Is government supposed to come to a standstill because one chamber refuses to do its job? (In fairness Harry Reid has sat on his share of bills too.) Obama has given numerous “warnings” that if Congress could not get its act together, he would take whatever executive action he could. Again the fact that it is expedient for him to act now is beside the point. We’re focusing on the wrong thing.

The solution must encompass:
1. Border security: Unless we want to be Cold War East Berlin, we need to recognize there are limits to what we can do here. We’re not going to build a wall with snipers ready to shoot interlopers. We should take reasonable steps here but with such a long border, breaches are inevitable. Some money allocated to border security is a good idea. Unlike conservatives, I don’t think this is top priority.

2. Conditions that encourage migration: This is a tough nut to crack as the ball is really in the court of Mexico and points south. To the extent that we can implement policies (perhaps trade policies) that improve the lives of folks in their native lands, we should.

3. Exploitation: We should vigorously prosecute business owners who hire undocumented workers.

4. Compassion: How can we as a civilized country tell people who have lived here for years and raised families here that they must summarily leave? This segment of the undocumented have become part of their communities and are loved not just by family but by friends. We must find a way to compassionately deal with this.

5. Fairness: Compassion aside, law breakers cannot be prioritized over those following the rules. Any path to citizenship must place lawful immigrants at the “front of the line”.

I honestly don’t think legislation or an executive order that encompasses these five principles is rocket science. I also don’t think that the world will come to an end if it takes an EO to move this forward. If Congress wants to act responsibly, they should pass legislation to supplant Obama’s executive action as soon as possible and not waste any more time whining about it.

What do you think? The bar is open.

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Reid Goes Black

STEREOTYPE ALERT: I hereby warn the reader that the observation in this post is based entirely on a stereotype. As a black man, I tend to dislike stereotypes but once in a while I find them instructive. My apologies in advance.

Rewind 32 years. The scene is a residence hall at Harvard University called Mather House. It is where I spent three of my four undergraduate years. The place is what I will call “the TV room”, a common area with a large screen TV mounted on the wall. About a dozen of us are assembled, paying attention in varying degrees to what is being broadcast. A nerdy white kid stands up and approaches the TV and says “can I change the channel?” After a second or two of silence, a very serious young black student glares at the kid and simply says “NO!”. The attempted channel changer sheepishly sits back down and the room stops cold with an uncomfortable silence. The decision has been made definitively. No discussion, no debate. I chuckled to myself about it at the time and still do to this day. Typical of most liberal arts colleges, everything was up for debate and the more lengthy the debate, on any subject no matter how trivial, the better. It was a by-product of being “intellectual”. And my brotha was having none of it.  It exemplified for me a difference between blacks and WASPs in particular that the former preferred to get down to basics while the latter preferred debate and back-and-forth.

Fast forward to 2013 and the government shut down (and debt ceiling) crisis.  After Republicans tried to tie the end of Obamacare as we know it to a continuing resolution to fund the government and keep it running, Democrats in the Senate essentially said “oh no you didn’t!” A loyal reader of this blog posted an excerpt of a story stating that the “no negotiation” strategy, while being mouthed by Obama, is really being enforced by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. In fact, according to this source, Democrats want Obama as far from the bargaining table as possible for fear of the concessions he might make. So Harry has taken control and he has not budged an inch.

Republicans have succeeded in making him look a wee bit reprehensible when he won’t even allow a vote on small resolutions that would fund the government piecemeal but at least offer some relief to those currently suffering. But Harry has been a rock. Perhaps a comparison to Israel is better than my white/black dichotomy? Israel refuses to negotiate with hostage takers and their basic stance is “kill them and then we will retaliate but we’re not cutting any deals with you.” Harry simply will not forgive the GOP for their Obamacare stunt and even though there is no longer talk of defunding Obamacare right now, it was this original stunt that poisoned any possibility for deal making. Reid is basically saying, “you came to play like a thug and that is how I am going to treat you.”

To further my original analogy, let’s not forget that Obama spent most of his youth among intellectuals, whether at prep school or Ivy League institutions. Obama has virtually no “street” in him at all. Reid on the other hand was raised by a laundress for a brothel and was an amateur boxer. The quiet demeanor hides an approach much more suited to the street than to the Senate.

As I think back to 32 years ago, all I can say is when Senator Ted Cruz and the merry band of lunatics he inspired in the House asked “can I change the channel?’, Harry Reid glared at them and decisively said “NO!”

Respectfully,
Rutherford

Insulting Voters — The GOP Leaves no Stone Unturned

200px-Wheelchair_symbol_mailto_02.svgDuring the just completed campaign season, the Grand Old Party managed to deliberately or accidentally insult virtually every voting block. They deliberately insulted women (running the likes of Todd Akin and Richard Murdock) and Hispanics (with Mitt’s self-deportation strategy toward illegal immigration). They inadvertently insulted a slew of minorities including veterans with Romney’s 47% statement.

Just when you thought the Republican party had run out of people to alienate, they’ve gone after the last remaining voting block, the often ignored American disabled. Last week the Senate was asked to ratify a United Nations treaty which would spread the laudable standard of our Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) around the world. When the time came for Republicans to promote the greatest advance in disabled civil rights to the world stage, they incredibly declined. They declined in spite of the fact that wounded war veteran and respected elder statesman Bob Dole was on the floor of the Senate, in his wheelchair no less,  to urge the body to ratify the treaty.

What was their reasoning? Pure insanity but I’ll use their words — they feared it would threaten US sovereignty. Former presidential candidate and full-time crackpot Rick Santorum (whose daughter is severely disabled) warned against ratification citing a fear that the U.N. would interfere with home schooling and other decisions revolving around child rearing.

I also oppose CRPD because our nation has been the worldwide leader when it comes to protecting the disabled. We should be telling the U.N., not the other way around, how to ensure dignity and respect for the disabled. — Santorum: U.N. Disabilities Treaty Would’ve Had Bureaucrats Unseat Parents

Ehhhhh, what the hell is Rick talking about? The treaty is patterned after our ADA. It seeks to spread our ADA standards to other countries. In essence, we are “telling the U.N., not the other way around.”

This is yet another chapter in the saga of the nutjob contingent of the GOP bringing shame to this venerable party. But there is light at the end of the tunnel. John Boehner has finally found a pair and is kicking folks off their preferred committee assignments based on past voting patterns. While that doesn’t help matters in the Senate it does give some hope that Boehner is going to grab control from House loonies where the Republicans have a majority. Now if Harry Reid can ram through filibuster reform, perhaps we can all “get our country back.”

Respectfully,
Rutherford

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