Where’s the Leadership?

On “Face the Nation” today, Bob Schieffer repeatedly pressed John Boehner on whether or not he supports a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

Boehner wouldn’t answer!  Speaker of the House is supposed to be one of the most powerful positions in Washington, where you take a stance and work your will on your members.

His refusal to answer is a sad commentary both on Boehner personally and on the make-up of this particular House.

Boehner seems to be “leading from behind,” far, far behind.   You can barely see him way off in the distance.  Perhaps he’s searching for his testicles…

WTF, CIA?

The CIA is prohibited from doing domestic surveillance.

Yet, the NYT has a front-page story* about four CIA officers who were embedded with the New York City police.  In response to a FOIA request, the Times got a declassified executive summary of a CIA Inspector General report from December 2011 about this relationship, which apparently occurred between 2002 and 2012.  They say it isn’t going on now, but how the hell do we know who and what to believe anymore?

*  “C.I.A. Sees Concerns on Ties to New York Police,” Charlie Savage

If Only Jeb Had Done a Quicky E-Book

In the time lag between Jeb Bush’s finishing his new book and the thing getting published, many in his party became, if not enthusiastic about, at least resigned to, a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.  One of the most prominent flippers was Jeb’s fellow Floridian and mentee Marco Rubio, who has been working along side John McCain and Lindsey “Butters” Graham to get the Senate to approve a comprehensive immigration bill including such a path, knowing full well they will face tremendous resistance in the Tea-Party-heavy GOP House.

Now Jeb has upset the apple cart (or taco stand) by flipping away from the path to citizenship he has long supported, leaving Rubio, who just recently flipped the other way, thinking he was matching Jeb, mortified.  Jeb is giving comfort — and ammunition — to those in Congress who oppose the path, not to mention the monkey wrench he has thrown into some 2016 ambitions.

Jeb’s book just came out today, and already he is walking himself back toward the “path” he abandoned, saying he could support a path “where there isn’t an incentive for people to come illegally.”  When he wrote the book, Jeb thought he was flipping in a way that would clear away one obstacle (he still has his last name) to his running in 2016.  He thought he would make primary voters happy, but he’s made many powerful players in his party extremely unhappy with his disastrous timing.

The GOP has been trying to effect this change quietly, without calling a lot of attention to it, in a casual, oh-by-the-way manner as Sean Hannity has done.  Now Jeb has upset things not just by the substance of his position, but by putting an unwelcome spotlight on the issue itself.

Jeb’s book calls for a path to “permanent residency,” rather than a path to citizenship for those who came here illegally.  It’s interesting how some in the GOP, while constantly protesting that Obama is turning us into Europe, think it’s a wonderful idea to emulate Europe in this respect, where they have guest workers who have no way to become citizens, in effect a two-tiered society.

Since Europe doesn’t have our Constitution, guest workers’ children don’t become citizens if they are born in the country where their parents are working.  Here, either permanent residents’ children who are born here would be citizens or we’d need a Constitutional amendment preventing that.  Jeb says his lack of a path to citizenship would discourage illegal immigration, but it won’t work if their children would still be citizens at birth.  The prospect of your children being Americans would provide tremendous incentive to get yourself here, even if you know you’ll never become a citizen.

Keep walking Jeb — backwards — as fast as you can.

 

Here We Go Again

It’s been six years since the last attempt at comprehensive immigration reform died.  Even the very limited DREAM Act failed in 2010.  So now, with the GOP determined to do better among Hispanic voters, here we go again…

Eight senators have presented what Chuck Schumer calls a “bipartisan blueprint” for immigration reform.  The document is just a few pages, is very short on details, and is a long way from becoming a piece of legislation.  But the White House welcomed it, saying, “It’s a set of principles that mirror the president’s principles.”  Many in the more conservative House have already panned the thing as amnesty, but the House is currently working on its own proposals, so they too will have a plan soon.

Under the Senate plan, the border would have to be more secure before anyone got a more permanent status.

Illegals would be required to register, pay a fine and back taxes, and have a criminal background check, and then would be allowed to stay and work legally.  There would be an ultimate path to citizenship for those already here, but it would be a long and slow path.

For the GOP, just changing the rhetoric isn’t going to be enough.  It’s not the wrapping, it’s what in the package.  But changing their policies risks losing their base.  They’ve decided that it’s less damaging to give some on immigration than on other issues, like abortion.  They’ve decided it’s easier to go after Hispanic voters than African-Americans or women.  But the thing is that Hispanics aren’t as conservative as the GOP likes to think.  They don’t just flock to the GOP when you take immigration off the table.  When polled on abortion rights, for example, they tend to come out the same as non-Hispanics.

Headline of the Day

“Male Jurors More Likely To Find Fat Women Guilty, According To Depressing Study”

From the story up at Slate, by Katy Waldman:

“This month a team of Yale psychologists released a study indicating that male jurors—but not female jurors—were more likely to hand a guilty verdict to obese women than to slender women. The researchers corralled a group of 471 pretend peers of varying body sizes and described to them a case of check fraud. They also presented them with one of four images—either a large guy, a lean guy, a large woman, or a lean woman—and identified the person in the photograph as the defendant. Participants rated the pretend-defendant’s guilt on a five-point scale. No fat bias emerged when the female pretend peers evaluated the female pretend defendants or when either men or women assessed the guilt of the men. But when the male pretend peers pronounced judgment on the female pretend defendants, BMI prejudice reared up. …

“The study offers further depressing insights. Not only did the male pretend jurors prove ‘significantly more likely’ to find the obese female defendants—rather than the slim ones—guilty, but the trim male participants were worst of all, frequently labeling the fat women ‘repeat offenders’ with ‘awareness’ of their crimes.”

Pro-Life Murder

Like many all over the world, I am saddened and outraged by the death of Savita Halappanavar, who was killed in a Dublin hospital because of a refusal to treat her miscarriage, dooming her to die of blood poisoning.

In addition to anger at her death, I am angry at how it is being framed, as the denial of an abortion.  She arrived at the hospital with her fetus miscarrying.  There was no way to save this fetus, either inside her body or outside.  The fetus was doomed.  The issue was providing proper care for her miscarriage, so that she would not die as well.

If we start thinking and talking about basic, established medical care for miscarriages as “abortions,” simply by using this terminology, we are caving to the crazies.

In Ireland, they just unnecessarily murdered a young woman under the sick and twisted guise of being pro-life.  If it were up to Paul Ryan and others in the GOP who share his extremist views, the same thing would happen to American women.

Shameful, Disgraceful, Evil

From “No One in America Should Have to Wait 7 Hours to Vote,” Andrew Cohen, The Atlantic:

For example, what happened this weekend in Florida is simply unacceptable. According to a local election official interviewed by CBS News’ Phil Hirschkorn, the last “early voter” in line for Saturday’s truncated early voting in Palm Beach County finally got to cast a ballot at 2:30 a.m Sunday morning, which means that voter waited in line for more than seven hours. In Miami, another traditional Democratic stronghold, the wait was said to be nearly as long. On Sunday, voters all over the state were begging judges and county officials for more time to vote.

This is happening not because of a natural disaster or breakdown in machinery. It is happening by partisan design. Alarmed by the strong Democratic turnout in early voting in 2008, Republican lawmakers, including Governor Rick Scott, reduced the number of early voting days from 14 to eight. When the restrictions were challenged in federal court under the Voting Rights Act, a three-judge panel said they would have a discriminatory impact upon minority voters. But only five of the state’s 67 counties are covered by the federal civil rights law.

When the remaining restrictions were challenged in federal court, a George W. Bush appointee said there was no proof that the reduced hours would “impermissibly burden” minority voters. How many hours in line must a Florida voter wait before the burden upon her becomes an “impermissible” one? If Florida’s election officials, and its Republican lawmakers, and its state and federal judges, all were required to stand in line for seven hours to vote those long lines would go away forever. You know it, I know it, and so do those officials.

How about Ohio, another “battleground” state governed by partisan fiat. Its election rules are administered by a secretary of state, Jon Husted, who just a few years ago was the GOP speaker of the state house. Like their counterparts in Florida, Ohio’s Republican lawmakers sought to restrict wildly popular early-voting hours around the state. And again the federal courts blunted the impact of their new rules. So what has Husted done? He’s focused his energy this weekend ginning up ways to justify discarding provisional ballots cast by his fellow citizens.

These are just two recent examples. There are more. But they all have a few core things in common. In each instance, elected officials are making it harder for American citizens to vote and to have their votes counted. And in each instance, the partisan restrictions are designed to impact the elderly, and the poor, and students. The Constitution gives power to the states to handle elections. But what we are seeing is one party’s systemic abuse of that power to disenfranchise likely voters of another party.

Emphasis added.