Immigration Bait and Switch
"The bosom of America is open to receive not only the Opulent and respectable Stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all Nations and Religions; whom we shall welcome to a participation of all our rights and privileges, if by decency and propriety of conduct they appear to merit the enjoyment." --George Washington
A group of eight senators -- four Democrats and four Republicans -- announced Monday their outline for immigration reform. A bipartisan group of House members is likewise working on a deal. On Tuesday, apparently unable to find a microphone in Washington, Barack Obama took a $1.6 million flight (not including other expenses) to Las Vegas to make his own case before immediately returning to the capital.
Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Michael Bennet (D-CO), John McCain (R-AZ), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) released their Bipartisan Framework for Immigration Reform, which has four prongs: 1. A "tough but fair path to citizenship ... contingent upon securing our borders"; 2. reform the current legal immigration system; 3. expand and strengthen the employment verification system to prevent the hiring of illegal workers; 4. and improve the process for admitting future workers. At first read, it sounds reasonable.
The sudden push is thanks to the election. Republicans are facing the fact of once again losing the Hispanic vote in a blowout and are looking for love in all the wrong places. But merely signing on with Democrat legislation isn't going to win the Hispanic vote for the GOP -- not when so many Hispanics in this country are low-income workers who believe in big-government redistribution.
Of course, Democrats are always eager to pretend to make a deal, only to make it so "comprehensive" and unpalatable in the end that the GOP rejects it and, voila, Democrats can scare voters about racist Republicans all over again. They're already signaling to their base that talk of enforcement is just smoke and mirrors to pacify the GOP base. As Chuck Schumer said, "We are not using border security as a block to a path to citizenship. [The trigger] will not be a barrier to giving citizenship to the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in our country."
Charlie Brown, Lucy, football.
And we've seen this movie before. In the 1986 amnesty (and similar legislation passed in the 60's and 70's), enforcement was promised and never delivered. So here we are, 27 years later, hearing the same promises -- legal status first in exchange for promised (if that) enforcement later. Schumer admitted, "On Day One of our bill, the people without status who are not criminals or security risks will be able to live and work here legally." Once illegals obtain even provisional legal status, it's game over, and the idea of it being "contingent upon securing our borders" is just window dressing.
The proposal includes some positive enforcement provisions, including better tracking of people entering and exiting the country, which would indeed be an improvement. Eight years after the 9/11 Commission highlighted this dangerous gap in security, it's certainly about time. Restricting the soon-to-be lawful probationary immigrants from receiving federal benefits is also good -- at least in theory. But does anyone think that the same nation unable to keep them out in the first place will successfully keep them off the public dole?
Advocating for the bill in a Las Vegas Review-Journal op-ed, Marco Rubio wrote, "It's not a good idea to have millions of people permanently trapped in an immigration status that keeps them forever at a distance from our society." It would be positive if legal status leads to true assimilation instead of cultural segregation. He added, "[W]hat we have now is de facto amnesty." He is correct, but only because of a lack of enforcement, and it doesn't mean amnesty should become law.
We believe Rubio, a likely presidential contender in 2016, is attempting to negotiate in good faith, looking for a workable solution in a Democrat-controlled capital. He isn't naive or disingenuous, and he promised to oppose the bill if what Schumer says comes to pass. One of his fellow senators, Texas Republican Ted Cruz, said, "To allow those who came here illegally to be placed on such a path is both inconsistent with Rule of Law and profoundly unfair to the millions of legal immigrants who waited years, if not decades, to come to America legally."
Ensuring that enforcement is front and center in a series of small packages is the way we should go. Reject the "comprehensive" approach that leads to all manner of ill conceived and ill-advised provisions that make matters worse, if they have anything to do with the subject at all. Physically controlling the border and clamping down on employment is critical, though it's sure to be thwarted by a lawless administration that has, for example, refused to complete the border fence mandated by 2006 legislation. (A fence might make it harder to traffic guns to Mexican drug cartels.)
Once the border is secure, or even simultaneously with working toward that, we can streamline the legal immigration process so that illegal entry is a less attractive alternative. On the other hand, suffering through another four years of Obamanomics will do plenty to cut off the flow of illegals. Think about it: Who wants to come here now?
Quote of the Week
"Illegal immigration is a curious subject: It is one of the few domains in which the authorities entrusted with enforcing the law feel obliged to negotiate the most concessionary terms and conditions with those who are breaking it, as though law enforcement were an embarrassing inconvenience. But the rule of law, national security, and economic dynamism are not mere pro forma matters -- they are in fact fundamental, a reality lost on our would-be 'comprehensive' immigration reformers." --National Review
The BIG Lie
"When it comes to border security, I think anyone who looks at this honestly will note the tremendous strides we have made in the past four years in protecting our borders. In fact ... our borders now are more secure than they have ever been in history." --White House Press Secretary Jay Carney
Actually, as we noted above, it's the Obama economy that has kept illegal immigration at bay.
Government and Politics
Obama/Feinstein: Obfuscation and Vilification
The Obama/Feinstein legislative assault on defensive weapons was formally introduced into the Senate this week, albeit without the bold registration requirements that Feinstein originally proposed -- registration being necessary in order to eventually legislate confiscation.
But the gun confiscators have no intention of relinquishing the momentum they shamefully constructed on the caskets of children -- using a genuine tragedy as fuel for an emotionally driven campaign to advance a politically disingenuous gun-control agenda.
Feinstein's bill begins, "To regulate assault weapons, to ensure that the right to keep and bear arms is not unlimited, and for other purposes." That pretty much sums it up.
Don't miss the rest of Mark Alexander's column.
Two quick notes about breaking news: A 14-year-old student opened fire in his Atlanta school Thursday, but was stopped by an armed school resource officer before anyone was killed.
In Turkey, a suicide bomber attacked the U.S. embassy, killing a security guard at a checkpoint. Where are the calls for capacity limits on suicide vests or bans on assault bombs?
Also, join the critical push for American Patriots across this great nation to pledge: "We, the People, affirm that we will support and defend Liberty as 'endowed by our Creator,' enshrined in our Constitution and empowered by its Second Amendment, against all enemies, foreign and domestic." Please take a moment and join the 36,000 of your countrymen who answered the call. Share it with your family, friends and colleagues via social media and email, as well.
This Week's 'Braying Jackass' Award
"[I]t is true that the vast majority of gun deaths in America are not the consequence of the use of an 'assault weapon.' But that begs the question of whether assault weapons have any real utility either in terms of any sporting or self protection needs." --Joe Biden
Because they are not generally used in crime, we should ban them. Got it.
Judicial Benchmarks: Obama Appointments Unconstitutional
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit ruled last Friday that Barack Obama's Jan. 4, 2012, "recess" appointments to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) were unconstitutional because the Senate was actually in session when those appointments took place, and, therefore, the president did not secure the required advice and consent of that body. The ruling also puts into question Obama's appointment under similar circumstances of Richard Cordray as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Because the ruling leaves the NLRB without a quorum, it immediately vacates an NLRB decision against Noel Canning, the soda bottler and distributor who brought the lawsuit upon which the Appeals Court ruled. Some 200 other decisions the NLRB has made since the beginning of 2012 are also in danger of being tossed out.
The court had some choice words about the behavior of the Obama administration for blatantly overstepping its constitutional boundaries. Chief Judge David Sentelle pointed out that the Constitution makes clear distinctions about what defines a recess and what defines a session: "[T]he appointments structure would have been turned upside down if the president could make appointments any time the Senate so much as broke for lunch," he wrote. Sentelle and other legal scholars who supported Noel Canning argued that the president only has the power to make emergency appointments during clearly defined recesses, and they must be reviewed at the end of the current session. He can't just postpone controversial or objectionable appointments until a recess and then push them through at his leisure.
The White House will surely appeal to the Supreme Court. For its part, the NLRB is acting as if it's business as usual. "The Board has important work to do ... [and] we will continue to perform our statutory duties and issue decisions." In other words, courts are only to be obeyed when their decision agrees with the Obama agenda.
New & Notable Legislation
The Senate passed 64-34 an extension of the debt ceiling into May, matching last week's House-passed extension. The budget battles will continue over the ensuing months, as Democrats try to tackle the debt by taxing and spending more and Republicans put up token resistance before caving.
The Senate approved a $50.5 billion aid bill ostensibly for victims of Superstorm Sandy this week. Nine Republicans joined 53 Democrats in supporting the package. Ironically, this bill raises total spending on Sandy to over $60 billion and effectively wipes out tax collections expected this year from the fiscal cliff tax hikes. The bill then went to the president's desk, becoming the latest in a long line of spending resolutions that have no offset.
Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) tried to offer an amendment that would trim an amount from discretionary spending equal to the cost of the bill, but his colleagues would have none of it. His amendment was defeated because, according to Democrats, three-dozen similar disaster aid bills have been passed over the last two decades with no such offsets. Why should that be changed now? It's unclear exactly how much pork was included in the bill for states and programs that had absolutely no connection to the storm, but the bill was originally $17 billion.
From the Left: Menendez's Problem With Planes and Prostitutes
Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) is working hard to cover his tracks. The FBI this week raided the offices of Dr. Salomon Melgen, Menendez's travel companion and a major campaign donor. It's unclear if the raid was related to allegations that Menendez flew on Melgen's private plane to the Dominican Republic where he allegedly had sex with underage Dominican prostitutes. The senator denies these deeply disturbing allegations, of course, but, suspiciously, Menendez waited until after the raid to repay $58,500 for three flights to the DR. His chief of staff called the delay in repayment "sloppy" and "an oversight." Sure thing -- those flights just happened to slip under the radar until the FBI raided the jet owner's office. Either way, the timing is rather inconvenient for Menendez, who is set to become chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee now that John Kerry is headed to the State Department.
Income Redistribution: About That Stimulus...
"The U.S. economy posted a stunning drop of 0.1 percent in the fourth quarter, defying expectations for slow growth and possibly providing incentive for more Federal Reserve stimulus," reports the Associated Press. It's the first drop in GDP since 2009, though for all of 2012, growth was 2.2 percent, which was up from 1.8 percent in 2011. Meanwhile, job growth trudged along, with the economy adding 157,000 jobs in January and headline unemployment going up to 7.9 percent -- higher than January 2009, oddly enough. Real unemployment remained at 14.4 percent, as 169,000 Americans dropped out of the labor force, brining that number to 8.5 million since Obama took office.
Boy, the $800 billion stimulus and the Fed's repeated "quantitative easing" (read: bond buying and money printing) have worked magic! Nearly $6 trillion in debt to get the economy going again, and instead it's shrinking and unemployment is stagnant. Look for Obama to propose more of the same in his State of the Union address.
Of course, the so-called "recovery" is and has for four years been laughable, and the economy is stagnant and shrinking because of the explosion in federal spending. The trajectory is unlikely to change now that most Americans are taking home less pay thanks to Barack Obama's tax increases. But the White House, as always, is pointing fingers elsewhere -- namely at House Republicans. "Our economy is facing a major headwind, and that's Republicans in Congress," said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, adding that the GOP is to blame for sequestration and the debt ceiling standoff. "This is political brinkmanship that results in one primary victim. That's American taxpayers and the American middle class." Shameless.
Meanwhile, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, better known as "The Stimulus," included a provision that required the Obama administration to submit quarterly reports detailing the spending and progress of the $800 billion package. Yet the White House hasn't submitted any reports since summer 2011 when that report revealed that for every $317,000 in stimulus money spent, only one new job was "created or saved." The return on investment has grown progressively worse, so the Obama team decided that it was no longer politically expedient to keep the public informed about the abject failure of the much-lauded stimulus. We suppose that's why Obama is also disbanding his once-ballyhooed "Council on Jobs and Competitiveness." It's no longer politically useful.
Regulatory Commissars: Imaginary Biofuels
The zealotry of Barack Obama's Environmental Protection Agency is causing the administration to lose a number of court cases. The most recent decision, by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, held that the EPA cannot punish the oil refiners for their noncompliance with the EPA's Renewable Fuels Standard, though it left the standard in place. The standard required cellulosic biofuels to be purchased by fuel refiners, importers and blenders and then blended into our fuels. Unfamiliar with these biofuels? You're not alone. Only about 20,000 gallons were ever produced despite EPA's outlandishly optimistic projections of 8.7 million gallons in 2012. Rudimentary mathematics is a skill continuing to elude the Obama administration -- the EPA's projection was overstated by roughly 99.77 percent. Scoring accuracy of about 0.23 percent is a spectacularly failing grade even for a Renewable Fuels Standard created by a Democrat-controlled Congress in 2007. Meanwhile, the EPA responded to the court ruling by nearly doubling the mandate for 2013.
Consistent with Obamacratic doctrine to misdiagnose problems and apply the wrong remedies, EPA is punishing the consumers required to buy a fictional product instead of the imaginary producers. In a way, EPA's biofuels fantasy isn't all that dissimilar to ObamaCare, which punishes the customers (both participants and non-participants) with outrageous taxes. We can only guess what further regulatory wonders the EPA will inflict before the Obama regime is forced to leave office.
Around the Nation: Pennsylvania Next in Line for Right to Work
With Indiana and Michigan becoming Rust Belt success stories of throwing off the shackles of closed shops, the commonwealth of Pennsylvania and its Republican majority government may prove the next battleground in Big Labor's decline on the American political landscape. But the Keystone State's union culture may prove a tougher nut to crack than those of other states. Besides the obvious threats and bluster from unions that dominate the cities, a number of GOP lawmakers were beneficiaries of union contributions. And Republican Gov. Tom Corbett is reportedly "lukewarm" to the prospect of Pennsylvania's becoming a right-to-work state.
The legislators who introduced the bill tout the job growth in right-to-work states compared to those with closed shops. And the time may be ripe for applying a crippling blow to Big Labor, as only 7 percent of the private-sector workforce remains unionized. Public-sector workers now make up the vast majority of union membership in America, and it's their dollars and volunteers that now provide the political muscle behind maintaining the status quo. The two most recent state converts, though, prove that victory over the unions -- and freedom from coercion so that workers may choose to join or not -- is possible even under the most unlikely of circumstances.
Illinois Suffers Credit Tumble, Postpones Bond Sale
The state of Illinois postponed a scheduled bond sale this week after its credit rating was downgraded to among the lowest in the nation; a ranking on par with California as the two most financially troubled in the union. Big Labor played a hand in this fiscal debacle. "Our problem," said Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford, "is that we have not substantively and fairly addressed the state public pension issue." The credit downgrade will cost the state's already-overburdened taxpayers an additional $95 million in interest on the $500 million bond sale.
While the purpose of the bond sale was financing school construction and transportation projects, it's the $96.8 billion of unfunded pension liabilities that concerns those who grade the state's financial situation. Moreover, the state has $9 billion in unpaid bills, according to state Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka.
Even though Democrats rammed through a "temporary" income tax increase in 2011, its expiration in 2015 looks more and more doubtful as the state searches for ways to quench its thirst for our money. Illinois has lived on a virtual credit card for decades, using bonds to put off making difficult choices required in the private sector. Current Gov. Pat Quinn and his predecessor Rod Blagojevich -- both Democrats, of course -- issued pension bonds, selling $15 billion worth of debt rather than addressing the issue with reforms.
Kerry Confirmed, Hagel Next
John Kerry once testified that U.S. soldiers had "raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan," among other horrific crimes. That was, of course, in 1971 after his return from an unusually brief seven-month tour in Vietnam. True to form, Kerry in 2005 chastised American soldiers for "going into the homes of Iraqis in the dead of night, terrorizing kids and children, women." We have long called for him to be prosecuted for acts of treason.
Apparently, however, time really does heal all wounds, because this week the Senate confirmed Kerry as the next secretary of state by a jaw-dropping 94-3 vote. The three Republicans who opposed were John Cornyn and Ted Cruz of Texas, and Oklahoma's James Inhofe. Kerry promised to implement "President Obama's vision for the world," which is just one more reason why he should have been rejected.
To take Kerry's place in the Senate, Massachusetts Democrat Gov. Deval Patrick tapped his own former chief of staff, Mo Cowan, for the job. Cowan will serve as a placeholder until the special election in June. Cowan is black, so is he just a "token," or does that label apply only to black Republican senators like South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott? That's a rhetorical question, of course, but, obviously, Democrats couldn't allow the only black senator to be a Tea Party conservative.
The other cabinet position to be filled soon is secretary of defense, for which Obama nominated former Sen. Chuck Hagel. The hearing was little short of a disaster. Hagel seemed woefully unprepared to deal with questions about his previous statements on, for example, Israel and the "Jewish lobby," and he gave flat-out wrong answers about administration policy on major issues like Iran's nuclear program.
More to the point, Obama means to take the military down several pegs, and Hagel might be just the man to do it. The Army will bear the brunt of budget cuts, losing at least 75,000 soldiers and much equipment. The Marines will also face significant troop cuts. The Navy is coping with its smallest fleet since 1916, and the Air Force has never flown older planes. Hagel has described the military as "bloated," so it's unlikely he'll do anything to correct these problems. While Obama crows that a "decade of war is ending," he should use the opportunity to retool and upgrade our fighting forces, not further decimate them.
Warfront With Jihadistan: West Expands African Involvement
As Barack Obama's "decade of war" continues to end only in his mind, reality continues to intrude. France's drive against Islamists in Mali continues, and it appears that the French and their African allies are making significant gains. On Monday, French troops liberated the city of Timbuktu from the Islamist terrorists and Touareg rebels who have controlled the fabled city for 10 months. With this victory in hand, France may reduce some of its offensive operations. President François Hollande said that French troops might stop their northward advance, leaving their African allies to pursue the Islamists into their bases in the northern desert.
Interestingly, the U.S. military will provide aerial refueling for French attack jets and also plans to build a new unmanned drone base in Africa, allowing an expanded surveillance and strike capability against al-Qa'ida fighters and other militants in northern Mali. A U.S. defense official said three U.S. KC-135 tankers flying out of Morón Air Base, Spain, would provide the aerial refueling to French aircraft, including tactical jets and bombers. This operation is expected to last months. And two Obama regime officials said the Pentagon is eyeing the West African country of Niger as a possible Predator drone base. The drones would supposedly be unarmed, but they could be quickly armed if required. Of course, this development would substantially escalate America's involvement in the African war, coming soon after Obama declared an "end to war" in his inaugural drone last week. All of this looks suspiciously like an expansion of the same War on Terror that Obama and his leftist cadres have denounced almost from the start.
The 'Gay Leaders Ban'
An enterprising employee of the Boy Scouts of America leaked a memo regarding a proposal to abandon the organization's proscription on homosexuals serving in leadership positions. It is our assumption that leak was an end-run around a couple of board members who were going to bushwhack the national board with this proposal at their meeting next week. Needless to say, that memo set off a firestorm of protest from tens of thousands of rank-and-file BSA members and leaders from across the country.
Two members of the national board, James Turley (CEO of Ernst & Young) and Randall Stephenson (CEO of AT&T who is slated to become president of the BSA national board), are leading the assault against the current policy prohibiting homosexuals from serving in leadership roles.
These wealthy corporate executives appear to be more interested in dictating BSA policy that comports with their corporate bottom line than with the mission of Scouting. Clearly they are completely out of touch with the grassroots BSA membership across the nation.
Our publisher, Mark Alexander, is both a Scoutmaster and member of his regional Executive Council. He is also the father of an Eagle Scout, and a younger son progressing toward the same rank. Responding to the controversy, Alexander wrote a "Letter to an Eagle Scout," addressing objections to the proposed policy raised by his son, now a Cadet at the Air Force Academy. That letter has been circulated to the BSA national board and staff, and published across the nation. You can read it here.
Climate Change This Week: Natural Fluctuations
"Is global warming less extreme than feared?" That's the question ecofascists now face after another embarrassing blow this week. The results of a Norwegian research project show that land and ocean temperatures have flattened since 2000. In stark contrast to predictions by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the Norwegian study now projects temperatures to rise by 1.9 degrees Celsius by 2050 -- 1.1 degrees below the IPCC's forecast of 3 degrees.
So what's their reasoning for the change? "The Earth's mean temperature rose sharply during the 1990s," says University of Oslo professor and project manager Terje Berntsen. "This may have caused us to overestimate climate sensitivity. We are most likely witnessing natural fluctuations in the climate system -- changes that can occur over several decades -- and which are coming on top of a long-term warming." How about that -- natural fluctuations.
Of course, the Norwegians' paper predictably discusses the complexity of manmade emissions and the challenge it presents in accurately predicting global warming. But the message here is simple: The writing on the wall is so blatantly obvious now that greenies should have no choice but to soften their projections of doom and gloom. But don't expect that to stop Barack Obama from calling for more draconian energy and economic measures. After all, we don't want to "betray our children and future generations." Forward!
Village Academic Curriculum: School Choice Week
The third annual School Choice Week took place this week, sparking thousands of events for parents, students, teachers and other choice advocates. School Choice Week also celebrates the many successes of school choice programs, most notably equalizing the playing field for children of low-income families. No surprise, there were no congratulations from the White House; in fact, there was no comment at all, for the very simple reason that school choice is historically part of the conservative agenda. And we thought leftists were all about "choice."
School choice is a beacon of hope in an education system that has continued to decline. For example, in both Washington, DC, and Milwaukee, students who participate in school programs are far more likely to graduate than their public school peers. Studies also show that their parents are far more satisfied with their children's education when they've had a say in how and where that education takes place. In fact, a major tenet of the school choice philosophy is to give voice to parental concerns and priorities, things normally proscribed by the educational bureaucracy. School choice's success, however, has made it a target of those on the Left who prefer to kowtow to teachers unions and fan the flames of class warfare. Teachers' unions give an awful lot of cash to Democrats, in large part to prevent choice and better education.
Everything is racist. The sooner we learn that, the better off we'll be, apparently. To illustrate sinister racism in the classroom, a Portland, Oregon, school administrator at a majority-minority district made an example of a lesson taught by a teacher involving a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. "What about Somali or Hispanic students, who might not eat sandwiches?" she asked. "Another way would be to say: 'Americans eat peanut butter and jelly, do you have anything like that?' Let them tell you. Maybe they eat torta. Or pita." The administrator is thus leading a re-education camp for teachers to disabuse them of their "white privilege" and help minority students achieve more.
Meanwhile, a Volkswagen ad for the upcoming Super Bowl has the Professionally Aggrieved seeing spots. The ad features a white guy from Minnesota encouraging his co-workers to lighten up and be happy -- all with a Jamaican accent. We come to find out that this is thanks to his Volkswagen, and the cheer spreads when he gives others a ride. Nothing brings out your inner Jamaican like German engineering. But we fail to see the racism here. Of course, if he'd been eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich...
Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis!
Nate Jackson for The Patriot Post Editorial Team