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“An Inconvenient Constitution”: Fighting Obama On Immigration Is Not Enough, GOP Wants To Sue Him Too

The House Republican caucus wants to sue President Barack Obama.

They say he isn’t living up to his constitutional obligations on a range of issues—and in particular, that he’s not faithfully executing immigration laws. They cite his Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, put into place by executive order in 2012, which halted deportations of people who were brought to this country as children—the so-called “dreamers.” There are roughly 1.1 million of them, according to the best estimates.

To gut that measure, along with parts of the Affordable Care Act and a grab bag of other administration policies, House Republicans crafted and passed what they are calling the “ENFORCE the Law” Act. It would create what amounts to a legal shortcut. House members could file a lawsuit against the president, and it would go directly to three-judge panel of a federal district court—and from there, could be appealed straight to the Supreme Court.

The measure is unlikely to become law, since Senate leaders have declared it dead on arrival. Even if they hadn’t, it might not survive a court challenge: Experts say it openly tampers with the constitution.

Still, the vote for ENFORCE is a statement, and one that directly violates the immigration principles Republicans outlined in January. At the time, the leadership professed support for a pathway to “legal residence and citizenship for those who were brought to this country as children through no fault of their own, those who know no other place as home.” But that was nearly two months ago—and ENFORCE represents the House’s first vote of the year on immigration.

It makes the vote Democrats have been demanding, on the reform bill that passed the Senate last year, seem a lot less likely. (And it’s not like prospects were good in the first place.) “It doesn’t require much to look at what House Republicans are doing today and question whether or not they’re serious about moving forward on comprehensive immigration reform,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said Wednesday. That’s a departure from statements that both the president and House Speaker John Boehner have made this winter, insisting legislative reform still stands a chance. Last month, Carney called a meeting about immigration between the two men “constructive”; Boehner called it “healthy.”

Republicans may have been trying to underscore a message with the vote: that Obama should not even consider addressing deportations with executive authority, as he did with DACA, and as immigrant-rights groups are demanding he do again. “If he stopped deporting people who are clearly here illegally, then I think any chance of immigration reform is dead,” Senator Lindsey Graham warned in February. But as the prospects for immigration reform dim, Obama may wonder why he’s waiting for the House to meet him partway.


By: Nora Caplan-Bricker, The New Republic, March 13, 2014

March 14, 2014 Posted by | Constitution, House Republican Caucus, Immigration | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Punish Them At The Polls”: Michigan’s Sweeping “Rape Insurance” Law Goes Into Effect

A new Michigan law forcing individuals or businesses to purchase costly additional insurance to cover abortion care went into effect Thursday.

The law applies to private health plans in the state, including plans secured through the state health exchange and employer plans. If a person does not purchase the additional insurance, then they will be forced to pay out of pocket for the procedure if they need to access abortion care. As it stands, very few insurance plans cover abortion care; the new law will likely further drive down the already tiny fraction of abortions covered by health insurance in the state, potentially putting the procedure financially out of reach for many people.

There were approximately 23,000 abortions performed in Michigan last year, and barely 3 percent of them were covered by insurance.

As Jessica Valenti at the Nation rightly pointed out at the time the measure first passed the Republican-controlled Legislature, eliminating insurance coverage for abortion will have devastating consequences for all people who need abortion care, which is essential and basic medical care. There is no hierarchy of “good” abortions or “bad” abortions. But pro-choice lawmakers in Michigan and much of the national coverage has focused on what many see as the most extreme feature of the law — its lack of exceptions for survivors of rape or incest.

The lack of exceptions has led many to call the law “rape insurance.”

At the time of the vote, Senate Majority Leader Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, said she was raped as a college student and couldn’t imagine having to face the additional trauma of such a law had she gotten pregnant. She asked her “Republican colleagues to see the face of the women they’re hurting by their actions today.”

“Thank God I didn’t get pregnant as a result of my own attack,” she continued, “but I can’t even begin to imagine now having to think about the same thing happening to my own daughters.”


By: Katie McDonough, Assistant Editor, Salon, March 13, 2014

March 14, 2014 Posted by | Abortion, War On Women, Women's Health | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Georgia Legislature Considers Repealing Basically All Gun Laws”: It’s Way, Way Too Hard To Procure And Go Everywhere With A Gun

This probably won’t come as news to Salon’s readers in the state of Georgia, but it turns out it’s way, way, way too hard in the Peach State for one to procure and go everywhere with a gun. So the state Legislature, keeping its eyes firmly fixed on the real issues that matter, is on the verge of remedying this grave injustice by eliminating seemingly every single law regulating firearms in Georgia (which, considering this is Georgia, might not be quite as much work as it seems).

According to a report in Mother Jones, state lawmakers may soon pass the “Safe Carry Protection Act” (HB 875), a law that would not only expand Georgia’s “stand your ground” law but would also:

-Remove the fingerprinting requirement for gun license renewals

-Prohibit the state from keeping a gun license database

-Tighten the state’s preemption statute, which restricts local governments from passing gun laws that conflict with state laws

-Repeal the state licensing requirement for firearms dealers (requiring only a federal firearms license)

-Expand gun owner rights in a declared state of emergency by prohibiting government authorities from seizing, registering, or otherwise limiting the carrying of guns in any way permitted by law before the emergency was declared

-Limit the governor’s emergency powers by repealing the ability to regulate the sale of firearms during a declared state of emergency

-Lower the age to obtain a concealed carry license from 21 to 18 for active-duty military and honorably discharged veterans who’ve completed basic training

-Prohibit detaining someone for the sole purpose of checking whether they have a gun license

As if all of that weren’t enough, MoJo reports that the bill would also so broaden the state’s SYG regulations that even a person using a gun he does not legally hold would be allowed to claim a SYG defense.

In response to the bill’s pending passage, Lucia McBath, the mother of Jordan Davis, the 17-year-old boy whose killer got off using a SYG defense, wrote a critical Op-Ed in the Savannah Morning News. “I believe Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, and the aggressive culture it fosters, is the reason my son is not here today,” wrote McBath. “Our legislature is looking to expand this dangerous law even further. Legislation here in Georgia, HB 875, would extend our state’s Stand Your Ground law to protect felons who kill using illegal guns.”

“The last thing our families need is for criminals to be shielded by this law,” she added.

More from MoJo:

The legislation passed the House overwhelmingly in February and moved to the state Senate, where it went into committee. But in a strategic move on Tuesday, House Republicans revised the bill and then tacked it onto a separate piece of legislation, HB 60, which would allow some judges to carry guns. The move accomplished two things: First, it allowed the bill to bypass committee and go to the Senate floor for an immediate vote because HB 60 had already been approved by both the House and Senate. Second, the revision did away with a provision that would have decriminalized carrying guns on college campuses—the bill’s supporters knew that the Senate had struck down a similar legislative effort at the end of last year’s session due to a campus carry statute.


By: Elias Isquith, Salon, March 13, 2014

March 14, 2014 Posted by | Gun Control, Guns, Stand Your Ground Laws | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Paul Ryan’s Worthless Attempt To Save Face”: Why He’s Still An Overrated Fraud

Beltway writers have recently tried to outdo themselves with breathless profiles of a “new” Paul Ryan, deeply concerned about the poor. I’ve warned repeatedly that Ryan’s views on poverty are just warmed-over Reaganism, and now we have proof. McKay Coppins’ piece “Paul Ryan Finds God” should have revealed that his God is no longer Ayn Rand but Charles Murray, the man who put a patina of (flawed) social science on Reagan’s lyrical lie, “We fought a war on poverty, and poverty won.”

But let me explain all of what it means to cite Charles Murray in 2014. Murray is so toxic that Ryan’s shout-out must be unpacked. First, Rep. Barbara Lee is absolutely right: Ryan’s comments about “inner city” men who are “not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work” are, in fact, “a thinly veiled racial attack,” in the congresswoman’s words. “Let’s be clear, when Mr. Ryan says ‘inner city,’ when he says, ‘culture,’ these are simply code words for what he really means: ‘black.’”

Ryan denied that Wednesday night. “This has nothing to do whatsoever with race. It never even occurred to me. This has nothing to do with race whatsoever.” On Thursday morning, he issued a statement saying he regretted being “inarticulate” in trying to make his point.

A tip for Ryan: If the racial subtext of your remarks “never even occurred to me,” as you cite a writer who has been repeatedly charged with racism, who is categorized as a “white nationalist” by the Southern Poverty Law Center (I’m not sure I’d go that far), well, that in itself is a problem. As Murray himself told the New York Times about his landmark book “Losing Ground:” “A huge number of well-meaning whites fear that they are closet racists, and this book tells them they are not. It’s going to make them feel better about things they already think but do not know how to say.” Apparently Ryan is one of them, if we give him the benefit of the doubt and call him “well-meaning.”

But Murray proves you can embrace noxious racial stereotypes about African-Americans, and also hold contempt for a lot of white men, and women. He demonstrated that in his last book, “Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010.” Murray argues that white people have developed the same character problems that claimed African-Americans 50 years ago, which he outlined in “Losing Ground”: They prefer shacking up to marriage, they don’t go to church, they’re lazy and dishonest and enjoy the government dole. After all, the same percent of white children are now born to single mothers – just over 25 percent — as were black children back when Daniel Patrick Moynihan issued his alarms about “the Negro family.” And the reasons are largely the same: promiscuity, laziness, women who insist on equality – and lower IQ.

“Coming Apart” relies on the same ugly genetic fatalism and bogus notions of genetic differences Murray’s been peddling for years – this time among upper- and lower-income whites. In his awful book “The Bell Curve,” he relied on explicitly racist (and mostly discredited) scientists to argue that blacks and Latinos lagged behind whites and Asians in wealth and income because they had lower IQs, and the basis wasn’t centuries of oppression and deprivation but genetics. This time around Murray told his reviewers he was going to dodge the racial trap, and talk about white people. And again, he finds an IQ gap between the “cognitive elite” and lower-class whites that he says helps explain our winner-take-all society.

The other deeply offensive argument Murray makes in “Coming Apart” is that feminism helps explain the decline of work among lazy lower-class men. He approvingly cites Reagan-era anti-feminist George Gilder, author of the insane “Sexual Suicide,” who blamed women’s equality for letting women give up the job of civilizing men. “Gilder saw disaster looming as women stopped performing this function, a position derided as the worst kind of patriarchal sexism,” Murray noted. “But put in less vivid language, the argument is neither implausible nor inflammatory: The responsibilities of marriage induce young men to settle down, focus and get to work … George Gilder was mostly right.”

And again, the proof of Murray’s sexist theorizing turns out to be bogus geneticism:

There are genetic reasons, rooted in the mechanisms of human evolution, why little boys who grow up in neighborhoods without married fathers tend to reach adolescence not socialized to the norms of behavior that they will need to stay out of prison and hold jobs….[Liberals] will have to acknowledge that the traditional family plays a special, indispensable role in human flourishing and that social policy must be based on that truth.

All of that helps explain why Ryan thinks he can get away with insisting, “This has nothing to do with race whatsoever.” Rick Santorum pulled the same trick when he claimed he didn’t say “I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them other people’s money.” (It gets funnier every year that we were supposed to believe he said “blah people.”) Santorum, too, quoted Charles Murray and “Coming Apart” on the campaign trail, and even said explicitly that white people were coming to share the same “dependency” on government that had ruined African-Americans.

But it’s worth noting that even with all the evidence that Murray is now stigmatizing a lot of white people, Paul Ryan is still using dog-whistle racist language like “inner city” to share his concern about poor people lacking “a culture of work”. In denying any racism behind his remarks, he actually didn’t use the best evidence he could have mustered. He didn’t have the courage to say, “Hey, my boy Charles Murray thinks lower-income white people are lazy and shiftless, too!” But that would require insulting much of the GOP base. Ryan’s too ambitious for that.

I once foolishly believed Murray’s equal-opportunity contempt for the poor and working class might wake up those struggling white folks that he and his Republican admirers disrespect. That didn’t happen, because outside of the rarefied confines of right-wing think tanks and the occasional Rick Santorum speech, they don’t talk about white people that way. The folks Murray – and Ryan – hold in contempt went big for Romney-Ryan in 2012.

But there’s one final reason that Paul Ryan’s hailing a “culture of work” and stigmatizing government assistance is particularly offensive. This is the same Paul Ryan whose family’s construction firm fattened itself on government contracts; who received Social Security survivor benefits after his father died and used that public money to put himself through college; who then went on the government payroll and has never done anything other than attack poor people while on the government’s dime; who makes $174,000 a year in taxpayer dollars while keeping himself camera-ready with his PDX90 routine (Paul Ryan shirtless is still one of the top prompts on Google); who enjoys $350 bottles of wine thanks to lobbyists; and then dumps on the lazy, immoral inner-city poor with gambling addict and fellow government assistance recipient Bill Bennett.

This is the guy to whom the GOP is outsourcing its anti-poverty policy. Maybe he can hook the “inner city poor” up to the gravy train he’s ridden his entire life.


By: Joan Walsh, Editor at Large, Salon, March 13, 2014


March 14, 2014 Posted by | Paul Ryan, Racism | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“When The Red Meat Gets Really Bloody”: A Reflection Of Actual Republican Priorities And Governing Philosophy

When I wrote about Rick Perry’s very well-received speech at CPAC representing the underlying radicalism that has become commonplace at conservative gatherings, I did so in part because we’ve all gotten too accustomed to the duplicitous game played by Republican pols who talk out of both sides of their mouths about very popular federal domestic programs like Medicare and federally guaranteed student loans. If they aren’t hinting they’d like to repeal them altogether, they’re often promising to defend them to the last ditch, like Paul Ryan so conspicuously did with respect to Medicare in 2012.

But to my surprise, at least one major Republican writer was disturbed by Perry’s rhetoric at CPAC: Commentary‘s Peter Wehner:

It is one thing – and I think very much the right thing – to argue for a more limited role for the federal government and conservative reforms of everything from entitlement programs to education, from our tax code to our immigration system to much else. It’s quite another when we have the kind of loose talk from the governor of the second most populous state in America.

I realize that some people will argue that what Perry is offering up is simply “red meat” for a conservative audience. It’s a (lazy) default language those on the right sometimes resort to in order to express their unhappiness with the size of the federal government. But words matter, Governor Perry is actually putting forth (albeit in a simplified version) a governing philosophy, and most Americans who hear it will be alarmed by it.

As a political matter, running under the banner of “Get out of the health care business! Get out of the education business!” hardly strikes me as the best way to rally people who are not now voting for the GOP in presidential elections. I’m reminded of the words of the distinguished political scientist James Q. Wilson: “Telling people who want clean air, a safe environment, fewer drug dealers, a decent retirement, and protection against catastrophic medical bills that the government ought not to do these things is wishful or suicidal politics.”

Wehner, of course, is not your typical conservative writer. In February of last year, he and WaPo columnist Michael Gerson penned one of the more serious post-2012 articles on the need for some serious rethinking of the GOP message and policy agenda, earning them a spot in Ryan Cooper’s list of “Reformish Conservatives” in the May/June 2013 issue of the Washington Monthly.

But still, with Republicans getting themselves all revved up for a big 2014 victory so long as they keep their message simple and stupid, it’s refreshing to hear at least one voice suggest there is long-term danger–or really short-term danger, since 2016 isn’t that far away–in Perry’s kind of rap. At some point, Democrats are going to figure out how to effectively make the case that the “red meat” speeches reflect actual Republican priorities far more than the “incremental reform” or even defense-of-the-status quo rhetoric GOPers aim at swing voters.


By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly Political Animal, March 13, 2014

March 14, 2014 Posted by | Republicans, Rick Perry | , , , , , | Leave a comment

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