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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.

Various and Sundry

The CBO Findings-A Window into Party Perception

Let me start by saying I haven’t read the CBO report which states the ACA’s impact on future employment. All I’ve heard is the spin from both sides and it’s the spin that fascinates me.

Liberals say the CBO finding is good news. It means people will no longer be shackled to jobs they hate for fear of losing their health insurance. Conservatives say the ACA will provide yet another nanny state disincentive to work, proven by the CBO projections. I ask what is the more realistic and optimistic view?

Let’s talk reality. To afford even a heavily subsidized insurance premium people will have to work. This notion of folks just sitting back and not working doesn’t jibe with the realities of day to day life. But let’s also consider the optimistic vs pessimistic view of the American people. For all their patriotic screams of his-boom-ba, conservatives seem to view the American people as shiftless lazy loafers who will use any excuse not to work. What else could explain their reaction to the CBO report?

We WANT an economy in which number of jobs exceeds number of job seekers. It leads to lower unemployment and greater incentive for companies to make jobs more attractive to an employment pool that can now afford to be choosy. What could possibly be bad about a population that works for the joy of it and not because their health insurance is not portable?

I have to ask my conservative friends when we talk about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, what about that last one do you not understand?

The Limits of Executive Power

Conservative leaders recently said they were reticent about going forward on immigration reform because they couldn’t trust the President to execute the law as passed. Normally I’d dismiss this as Republican excuse making but this time it made me stop and think. Obama has been explicit in his intent to do as much without Congress as possible. This makes any constitutionalist rightfully quake in their boots.

Here’s the catch. I believe our founders envisioned a Congress where matters were debated and progress coupled with compromise was achieved. I don’t believe they imagined the Boehner House, the least productive in recent history or the McConnell minority in the Senate making unprecedented use of the filibuster to stall legislation. What would they say is the obligation of the executive faced with the abject failure of the legislative?

I don’t share the sky is falling view of my more conservative friends. If Obama’s acts truly violate the constitution to a criminal extent then by all means he should be impeached. I believe in the long haul justice prevails. In fact a trial of Obama would be intersecting from this perspective.

From what I understand charges against Andrew Johnson were largely trumped up. Nixon faced impeachment for covering up a burglary. Clinton was tried for covering up a blow job. A trial of Obama would put to the test the true limits of executive power not involving petty crime and sexual scandal.

I’m not sure if Obama is overstepping his bounds. I am sure that Congress by neglect of their own duties has opened the door to greater executive authority. If they want to stop Obama they need to positively legislate, not simply oppose.

Why I’m (Almost) Through With MSNBC

Ahh I miss the old thrill I would get from a self righteous Keith Olbermannn speech. He could cover so much ground and scorch all the conservative patches of it. His only true obsession besides sports was his nemesis Bill O’Reilly. To watch primetime MSNBC the past few weeks you’d think the most vital issue in America today was New Jersey Bridgegate.

My conservative friends laugh at me and mock me because I considered MSNBC a fair source of commentary especially when compared to Fox News. Now they have every right to jeer. This Christie coverage is a transparent attempt to discredit the only credible rival to a Hillary Clinton 2016 candidacy. I’m not saying Christie’s record should not be scrutinized but the MSNBC coverage is way over the top.

Sadly, the network no longer stirs the fires in my political loins. I watch it now more for pure entertainment and by habit. There are nights when I’d just as soon watch the Food Network.

Enough About Hate Crimes

Let’s start with a simple thought experiment.

A black man is deliberately killed by a white man who hates black people.

A black man is deliberately killed by a white member of the NAACP.

Which black man is more dead?

This past week I heard yet another conjecture about whether the recent murder of a black man was a “hate crime”. I don’t remember the details and it doesn’t matter. The whole concept is absurd. It is based on the nutty liberal concept that you can legislate people into loving and accepting each other.

The surest way to turn a bigot into a bigger bigot is to self righteously lecture him about his beliefs. Hearts and minds don’t change via punishment. The hate crime distinction is actually counter productive in changing hearts and minds.

Intentional murder is intentional murder. Punish the crime. For the hate, you just have to wait for the bigots to die off and the younger generation to come along. We see examples of that progress every day.

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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