Immigration Reform and Elections…what to do, what to do….

So, the understandable kerfuffle over the immigration bill in the Senate is coming to a head after the vote produced a 68-32 Senate majority for the bill.  The Republican Senators that vote for it are already catching major flak for supporting the bill, none more than (former) Tea Party darling Marco Rubio.  Just looking at the petition site calling for his recall, a one “Michael Jackson” from Illinois can be quoted in the following deep thought:

Rubio is lying. He is not a natural born citizen. Being born on U.S. soil does not make a person natural born. His parents did not become U.S. naturalized citizens until Marco was nearly 4 yrs old. He is native born at best and because of that cannot be VP or POTUS. Rubio has sold America a bill of goods just like Barry Obama. Wake up America, Rubio is lying about S744 and amnesty, just like he is about Barry not being a U.S. natural born citizen and likely not even a U.S. citizen. What a bunch of politicians lining their pockets with filthy lucre, but denying the real American citizens the truth and helping destroy our liberties.

Nevertheless, the reform will pass the Senate and head to the House where it is essentially dead on arrival.  Boehner already walks a fine line with the raucous Republican caucus in the House, and he won’t overstep his authority by forcing this bill (or some modified version thereof) down the chamber’s throats with Democrat support and a few scattered Republican votes as happened in the Senate.  Unfortunately, we’re likely to see a piecemeal approach that focuses on “border security” first and then, oh yeah, deals with whole “amnesty” issue by forcing everyone back to Mexico.  When the time comes, I for one will be casting some serious blame on House Republicans for failing once again to find some balls and make some tough decisions on a very tough issue.  Our caucus will suffer as a result, and we are only creating more problems for ourselves by not coming up with a comprehensive solution to the problem while the iron is hot.

BoehnerPartisan politics is dominating this conversation, and it needs to stop.  I know why the Democrats want this issue at the forefront.  They’re horrible on the economy, and people know it.  The more they bring other issues to front, the more they are insulated from a real discussion about their ridiculously poor understanding of job creation. That said, it doesn’t remove the importance of finding legislation that addresses this issue.  Furthermore, the more Republicans pony up and provide a good solution now, the more time they have to drive the conversation back to budgets, deficit spending, and taxes that the Democrats are sure to lose on.

Which makes it so frustrating that Boehner is taking the politically safe stance.  This concept of “border security” is the ultimately manifestation of that.  For all the talk of needing more, no Republican has provided any substantive discussion of what that means.  After doubling the number of border agents, building a fence along the southern border, implementing important biometric technologies and others, and even requiring businesses to use e-Verify as a process of screening employees, Senate and House Republicans are still upset.  Why?

I’m okay with the stance that the border security measures aren’t enough, but that criticism obligates Republicans in opposition to provide a reasonable and viable alternative.  Senators like Ted Cruz, amazing in their rhetorical flourish as they are, seem unwilling to demonstrate the intellectual strength needed to add substance to style.  That’s sorely lacking right now, and it’s making our party to suffer as a result.  Those Republicans not supportive of the bill have little leverage in finding modifications on the final version.  More importantly, we lack any reasonable claim to make modifications in the House that are aimed at genuine solutions as opposed to partisan posturing.

Furthermore, we’re only going to hurt ourselves if we continue to harp on “amnesty.”  There’s still no viable alternative provided by the Republicans here.  Stonewalling reforms isn’t going to stop the de facto status many of these individuals receive now.  After all, education and health care is already provided regardless of immigration status.  Also, the Obama Administration is already providing DREAM Act relief to young immigrants who have a very reasonable and viable claim to being more American than they are anything else – all without Congressional approval.  If our response is to simply say “NOPE!  No more!” then we are setting ourselves up for failure.  Again, viable alternatives are warranted.

I’m firmly okay with denying citizenship to any individual who came to this country illegally, especially if they were of age to know they were breaking the law at the time.  But, they’re not going back unless we spend billions rounding them up in a fashion I’d personally feel terrified about (government men and guns is not something I want roaming around the country on a crusade).  Sending them “home” is unrealistic in the fashion so many conservatives wants, so we need to come up with a solution that allows them to earn a spot in this country and take responsibility for breaking the law.  That’s not called amnesty; that’s called a solution.  Stringent requirements?  Yes.  Citizenship?  No.  I think that’s a fair solution that fleshed out people can buy into.

There are real world impacts to this, too.  Love him or not, Karl Rove knows numbers (I’ve heard people say in 2004 he could cite complex registration and turnout statistics for every zip code in the country) and how they impact election prospects.  Citing examples from Georgia should paint a very real picture of the fact that Republicans cannot rely on a Southern strategy anymore.  Just in terms of elections, Republicans are setting themselves up to lose and belie this image of “inclusiveness” we’re trying to portray.  Regardless of whether or not someone is a native English speaker, speaking out of both sides of your mouth is readily apparent.  In fact, many immigrants – legal and illegal – came to this country precisely because their own politicians did that for too long.  They want to find a home where they don’t suffer because of political ineptitude and mismanagement.

Secondly, and more importantly, we distract ourselves the more Republicans drag this discussion of immigration reform along through a piecemeal approach.  I’d like to think that most people, especially those in government, can work on multiple problems at once.  However, Congress will not make the budget and deficit a real priority in until other pressing problems are solved.  For all the talk of the sequester, we’ve moved onto something else the Democrats can use as a distraction and taken the platform away from real reform.  Those that claim too much immigration suppresses wages and economic opportunity are remiss to acknowledge that poor monetary controls, runaway budgeting, and heavy regulation has a much larger negative impact on job creation.

The Know Nothing Party provided a sizeable minority in American politics in the mid-1800s.  Opposed to immigrants and Catholics (hello Irish!) who took jobs away from “real” Americans, they provide a good historical example of what Republicans face today.  Many of those immigrants provided a very important cultural foundation for our society, and their contributions can certainly be seen if you’ve ever been in Chicago or Savannah during St. Patrick’s Day.  It goes deeper than that, though.  Many of those families went on to sponsor successful small businesses and a pioneering spirit that helped build this country into the mighty powerhouse it is today.  Republicans would do well to remember those days and how it contributed to our own creation as a party.  Know Nothings became irrelevant in politics because our Republican Party formed and provided deeper solutions to the pressing problems of slavery.  We need remind ourselves of that and provide some tangible solutions to the issue of immigration.

C.H.A.R.G.E. Senate Forum

If you followed the thread from the GAGOP State Committee Meeting last Saturday, then I’m sure you’re eagerly awaiting a similarly exciting thread from the C.H.A.R.G.E. Senate Forum this Saturday.  Unfortunately, I cannot attend.  If there’s one thing more exciting than early season forums, it is spending time in the thriving metropolis of Casper, Wyoming.  Actually, my family has relocated back to Wyoming.  Just to make it exciting, they have moved into the remote confines of Casper.  A whole three hours north of my old stomping grounds in Cheyenne, I cannot pass up the opportunity to attend this year’s riveting Nicfest.  Frankly, I don’t think anyone has lived until they have seen The Fishtank Ensemble live.  But, I digress…

The Senate forum is not likely the first chance that we’ve had as party activists to meet the candidates for Senate.  If you attended last weekend’s Proud to be a Republican event, you likely had a chance to meet Paul Broun, Karen Handel, or Jack Kingston (who I all saw there).  Each one of them had a noticeable presence at the GAGOP State Convention.  I’m not gonna lie here, my personal allegiance lies with Karen Handel.  For me, there’s something to be said for an elected official that is accessible and remembers who I am.  I don’t doubt there will be some policy disagreements, but I’ll have those with any politician.  I do know I’ll have the opportunity to hear her thoughts, though, and for her to take the opportunity to hear mine at some level.  But, I digress more…

This forum is early in the season.  Given that, the candidates’ messages are still unrefined to a large degree.  I don’t see much of a problem, but that gives the organizers a great opportunity to really direct some conversation towards necessary topics, and more importantly, ask for some specific understanding from the candidates.  Too often, these forums become a “I agree with my opponent…” or a race to the right on almost everything.  No doubt some of the candidates are prepared to do just that as their strategy.

That’s a disservice to primary voters.  We don’t need to know what policies and principles the candidates agree on.  All five of them are conservative at some level.  Some more than others, but it’s like arguing over which color is more red – crimson or maroon.  Ultimately, that provides little insight.  We deserve to know substantive differences, and moderators of this forum will do well to avoid the easy questions and start focusing on serious disagreements when they start to appear.  This means less predetermined agenda and more flexibility, but it will do the attendees and subsequent second-handers well to know that conflict arose as opposed to an hour or two of nothing.

If it weren’t for the fact that my family really holds an elevated importance, I’d be eagerly attending this debate…er, I mean forum.  That said, I’ll happily attend the future debates…er, I mean forums.  Here’s hoping the wrinkles are ironed out, conflict is fostered, and we see some true difference come between the candidates.

Prosecutors in West Virginia Double Down on Stupidity

Recently, I posted about how a kid in West Virginia faced jail time because he didn’t essentially disagreed with his school’s decision about his shirt.  Well, just ensure the state is going to get his man, this follows from the Daily Caller:

The case of the rural West Virginia eighth-grader who was suspended and arrested in late April after he refused to remove a t-shirt supporting the National Rifle Association just keeps getting weirder.

According to local CBS affiliate WOWK-TV, the student, 14-year-old Jared Marcum, was back at the Logan County Courthouse on Monday for a hearing because prosecutors Christopher White and Sabrina Deskins were seeking an emergency gag order.

Huh?  Prosecutors want a gag order on the boy, his dad, and his lawyer?  Yes, they do, and probably because they know the more the public reads about this case, the more that the public will see the school and prosecutors are really overreacting.  Good job, guys.  You got your man…

What the Court Decisions Mean

First, I’m calling bull**** on the press conference outside the Supreme Court building.  If you’re trying to rhetorically justify your position by saying this is about “the children,” then you’re a moron.  Bone up and admit this is about you and what you want for your own life.  Nonetheless, that’s not the issue here.

Undoubtedly, religious conservatives will find fault with these decisions.  They’re wrong to do so.  Those that should be celebrating are the individuals who value the concept of federalism espoused in our Constitution (many of whom are the self-described social conservatives).  In both cases, the Supreme Court upheld essential part of that very concept.  In United States v. Windsor, the federal court correctly recognized that the federal government cannot deny benefits to certain classes of people properly recognized under State law.  In other words, if New York decides to recognize gay marriage and issue the benefits thereof, the federal government cannot discriminate against those couples in terms of how it applies its benefits given to married couples.  Social Security benefits are the first that come to mind here.

Again, should New York make that legal recognition for their own peoples’ relationships, the federal government is not entitled to deny benefits available to all other folks simply because it doesn’t agree with the State’s legal application of rights and liberties.  The concept essentially says that such legal classifications emanate from the States, not the Federal government.  That is the proper application if the Court is not entirely willing to remove the state (small “s”) from marriage altogether.

Here’s an important statement from the end of that decision:

The class to which DOMA directs its restrictions and restraints are those persons who are joined in same-sex marriages made lawful by the State. DOMA singles out a class of persons deemed by a State entitled to recognition and protection to enhance their own liberty. It imposes a disability on the class by refusing to acknowledge a status the State finds to be dignified and proper. DOMA instructs all federal officials, and indeed all persons with whom same-sex couples interact, including their own children, that their marriage is less worthy than the marriages of others. [Emphasis Added]

Look, the end goal here should be to remove the state (small “s”) from marriage and affirm its responsibility to provide a proper venue to adjudicate disputes between parties to contracts.  That is a radical position, admittedly, and one that will take years to build support for in the population.  That said, I’m okay with today’s decision for what it is – a removal of the Federal government from the definition of marriage and remittance back to the States to where it belongs.

Now, onto Hollingsworth v. Perry.  The decision here is the absolutely correct one.  Standing is an important legal concept that defines who a proper party is to a lawsuit, and is important in helping the courts define whether or not they are the proper venue for adjudication of disputes.  An entire body of law is dedicated to defining this concept, both in terms of statute and case law, that guides our American jurisprudence.  That five justices on the Supreme Court who we would generally not look to as being agreeable in political persuasion came to this decision speaks volumes about its correctness.  From Chief Justice Roberts speaking for the majority:

Petitioners argue that the California Constitution and its election laws give them a “‘unique,’ ‘special,’ and ‘distinct’ role in the initiative process—one ‘involving both authority and responsibilities that differ from other supporters of the measure.’” True enough—but only when it comes to the process of enacting the law. Upon submitting the proposed initiative to the attorney general, petitioners became the official “proponents” of Proposition 8. As such, they were responsible for collecting the signatures required to qualify the measure for the ballot. §§9607–9609. After those signatures were collected, the proponents alone had the right to file the measure with election officials to put it on the ballot. Petitioners also possessed control over the arguments in favor of the initiative that would appear in California’s ballot pamphlets.

But once Proposition 8 was approved by the voters, the measure became “a duly enacted constitutional amendment or statute.”  Petitioners have no role—special or otherwise—in the enforcement of Proposition 8. They therefore have no “personal stake” in defending its enforcement that is distinguishable from the general interest of every citizen of California.

This is important.  Citizens do have a right to see their laws enforced equally and fairly.  However, we also empower our elected officials and bureaucracy to defend those laws in court viewed as important and letting die those that are not.  Simply put, our right to see laws enforced in a certain fashion manifests itself through our elections.  The federal government correctly recognized it does not have the authority and jurisdiction to force states to enforce State laws that its citizens demand it enforce, and properly failed to grant standing to those citizens.  That is an important limit on Federal powers and a recognition of State powers.

Two good decisions today from a legal standpoint.

Political Tidbits – June 26, 2013

Anthony Weiner Leads in Race for New York City Mayor

Everyone loves a weiner, although the type depends on who you ask.  If you ask me, there’s nothing more adorable than these weiners.  If you ask a plurality of New York City Democrats, they prefer another type – notably, the disgraced ex-Congressman type:

[Former Congressman Anthony] Weiner has the backing of 25 percent of registered Democrats, while City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, the early front-runner and a close ally of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, trails with 20 percent, according to Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal-NBC New York-Marist poll.

I’ll say this.  I’m happy I don’t live in New York, but I also don’t care that they choose to hire someone like this to run their city.  Sure, he’s an exposed liar.  Sure, he acted inappropriately using with his twitter account.  That said, I don’t care.  I live in Georgia for the exact reason that New York isn’t here (among other reasons).

Minnesota Legislator Plays the Race Card

I’ll vouch for the fact that twitter can cause problems if you don’t use it correctly.  That said, I’m not a state legislator in Minnesota.  That also said, I’m not a liberal state legislator that took to the twitterverse to call Justice Thomas a…well…I don’t really wanna say it:

Upon hearing that the Supreme Court struck down part of the Voting Rights Act, [State Rep. Ryan Winkler] took to Twitter to attack Justice Clarence Thomas as an Uncle Tom. ”#SCOTUS VRA majority is four accomplices to race discrimination and one Uncle Thomas. Marriage decision may blur Court’s backsliding,” he tweeted. He quickly deleted the tweet, but it was archived by Topsy.

So, the goal here is to protect ourselves against racist acts by using a racial epithet to describe an African-American justice on the Supreme Court – actually, the African-American justice on the Supreme Court.  Hypocrisy.

Abortion restrictions aborted in Texas by an unruly Senate mob

Texas had a special session conclude last night, and the Democrats did everything in their ability to kill a bill similar to the one that passed here in Georgia last year.  The fetal pain bill would have limited abortion to the first 20 weeks of pregnancy.  Democrats made their last stand in the Senate, apparently with success, on the heels of a filibustering Senator and a mob in the Senate gallery:

Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, spent most of the day staging an old-fashioned filibuster, attracting wide support, including a mention from President Obama’s campaign Twitter account. Her Twitter following went from 1,200 in the morning to more than 20,000 by Tuesday night.

I think Republicans might do well to leave this one be, although I know they cannot help themselves.  Texas may have the luxury, though, of debating social issues considering their economy isn’t exactly bad.  However, I’m still of the philosophy that being pro-life means something more substantive than whittling away at Roe v. Wade.  I think we can do more to ensure single parents have economic opportunity through lower taxes, school choice, and other options.