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Obama’s immigration maneuver: This isn’t how it’s supposed to work

REUTERS/Jim Bourg
President Barack Obama addressing the nation Thursday night.

If anyone cares to know my reaction to President Obama’s televised speech on immigration Thursday night, here goes:

It was well written and well-delivered. For a guy who seemed to have lost his mojo in the arts of public speaking over recent months, he seemed warm and sincere. But so what?

The content was entirely predictable. Obama has been warning for months that he might, and then that he would, do exactly this.

The text did explain Obama’s moral justification for a new policy that will grant millions of parents who crossed the border illegally, who have been here at least five years, whose children are legally present in America because they were born here, and who register, pass a criminal background check and pay back taxes on wages they earned to come “out of the shadows” of their illegal status.

In other words, although they won’t become citizens unless they go through a much more arduous process, they don’t have to worry about being deported.

The policy seems humane and manageable. The new status won’t be available to recent or future illegal border-crossers. And, at the moment, most of the criticism is less about the policy itself than about what the (almost entirely Republican) critics view as an illegal, unconstitutional usurpation of Congress’ power to make the laws.

Obama claims that he has the authority to do this, although, awkwardly, he has said in the past that he would like to do it but lacked the authority. The question is whether this amounts to usurping the exclusive power of Congress to make laws or whether it is an exercise of something like prosecutorial discretion, which the leader of the executive branch does have.

On CNN in the aftermath, the very smart legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said that Obama had a good case that he was within his powers. I lean toward the argument that this is not the constitutional mechanism by which such action should occur, and, as I mentioned, Obama used to agree with that.

On the other hand, instead of holding their breath until they turn blue, congressional Republicans should figure out who has standing to sue so the question can be decided by the courts, which is how the constitutional scheme is supposed to work. I heard on Fox that the governor-elect of Texas, Greg Abbott, has offered himself as the plaintiff in such a challenge, but wiser heads than mine will have to determine whether he has standing. Texas is, I’m pretty sure, on the Mexican border (and used to be on the other side of it), but I’m not sure where that gets the gov-elect on standing to sue.

The other problem with a lawsuit is that the courts have generally tried pretty hard not to get in the middle of lawsuits between the other two branches of the federal government. (See the judicial doctrine of “political questions” and the euphonious issue of “nonjusticiability.”)

There was also a lot of talk about the Repubs, who will soon hold majority control of both houses of Congress, using their power of the purse to stop Obama from implementing his plan by cutting funds. But I’m not sure it takes much in the way of funding to continue not deporting someone (or millions of someones) whom the government has already been not deporting for at least five years.

Impeachment and removal of the president from office is a power the Congress certainly has but it will not be used here and any Republican who engages in loose talk of such an option will be made to sit in the corner. Yes, Ted Cruz, we are thinking of you.

Refusal to pass various budget bills and other must-pass legislation as a way of expressing Republican congressional pique also seems to be off the table for the present. “Must-pass legislation,” to a significant extent, refers to bills that if you don’t pass them, the government starts heading for shutdown. Top Republicans are over the idea that shutting down the government, or even threatening to do so, is a smart move.

Although the speech lasted only 15 minutes, the big broadcast TV networks decided not to interrupt their excellent entertainment programming to show it. But the all-news cable stations did and then analyzed it for the next few hours.

On CNN, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich called it a “Gruber speech,” by which, he said, he meant it was dishonest. The reference, in case you missed that memo, was to Jonathan Gruber, who was an adviser to Obama team in the creation of the Affordable Care Act and recently became famous on the right because he said that the law was intentionally misleading (for example, on what was a tax and what wasn’t) to slip the program past the “stupidity” of the American electorate.

Gingrich, by the way, suggested that his old congressional colleagues stop short of threatening a government shutdown, but declare a policy of aggressive non-cooperation with anything Obama wants, such as, for example, confirmation of his appointees.

On her eponymous MSNBC show, Rachel Maddow took up and expanded one of Obama’s points: that a comprehensive immigration reform bill passed the U.S. Senate by a filibuster-proof 68-32 vote, which included the support of 14 Republican senators, and would have passed the House, also with bipartisan support, but Speaker John Boehner never allowed it to come to a vote. This is maddening and obnoxious, but it is more of a distraction than an argument that because of Boehner’s blocking the bill, the president gained the authority to act on his own that he had previously said he lacked.

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Comments (109)

  1. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 11/21/2014 - 09:30 am.

    The elephant in the room, or on the border, is the tens of thousands of people that are already on their way North from every Central American country, assured of the warm welcome they think Obama has just extended them.

    And although he’s smarter than Gruber and won’t admit it, he did tacitly extend such a welcome.

    This is as cynical and self-serving an act as any President ever contemplated, much less carried out. And we can only hope that border states, such as Texas, can prepare themselves for the onslaught of new “Dreamers” that are converging on them right now.

    While I do believe Obama has overstepped his constitutional powers, more importantly I believe he’s violated his oath of office and cast a pall on it not seen since Richard Nixon’s pathetic good-bye wave.

    • Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 11/21/2014 - 10:14 am.

      Watergate much?

      “This is as cynical and self-serving an act as any President ever contemplated, much less carried out.”

      I don’t think that the executive action qualifies, when one thinks of Watergate, Iran-Contra, Nigerian Yellowcake, etc etc etc.

    • Submitted by Ken Bearman on 11/21/2014 - 10:19 am.

      Overstepped his constitutional powers?

      Republican politicians, candidates, supporters, and sympathizers keep saying Pres. Obama “overstepped his constitutional powers”. But they never say how he did that or what is unconstitutional about his actions.

      So, Mr. Swift, what is unconstitutional about what Obama said he’s going to do? Details, please.

      • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 11/21/2014 - 10:31 am.

        Allow me to quote Andrew McCarthy, who succinctly sums it up:

        “[Obama] is claiming not only the power to determine what immigration laws get enforced and which illegal immigrants get prosecuted — power he unquestionably has. He also claims the power to declare (a) that criminal acts are somehow lawful — that illegal aliens now have a right to be here — just because Obama has chosen not to prosecute them; and (b) that those who engage in this unprosecuted activity will be rewarded with benefits (lawful presence, relief from deportation, work permits, etc.), as if their illegal acts were valuable community service.

        That is an utter perversion of prosecutorial discretion and a blatant usurpation of congressional power.”

        • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 11/21/2014 - 10:46 am.

          Those are McCarthy’s words

          Not Obama’s

          • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 11/21/2014 - 11:48 am.

            I challenge you to identify where McCarthy’s version has gone astray of Obama’s verbatim speech.

            • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 11/21/2014 - 03:36 pm.

              Obama never claimed

              that ‘criminal acts are lawful’.
              There’s a difference between saying that acts are legal and that they will not be prosecuted.
              That’s what plea bargaining is about: a prosecutorial decision not to prosecute an illegal act.

              • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 11/24/2014 - 12:02 pm.

                With a stroke of his pen, not only has he decided not to prosecute, he says his plan makes people that have violated our immigration laws “right with the law”.

        • Submitted by jody rooney on 11/21/2014 - 11:16 am.

          So does this mean the House abused it’s

          funding powers by not passing balanced budgets? Since they are the ones who initiate tax bills are they putting the US at risk for default?

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 11/21/2014 - 11:58 am.

          Allow me to correct Mr. McCarthy, who follows the proud National Review tradition of getting even the simplest points wrong:

          People who are in this country illegally are not committing a crime. They have entered illegally, but their exclusion is a civil matter. This is why illegals may be deported without the due process afforded defendants in a criminal prosecution.

          • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 11/21/2014 - 01:11 pm.

            Allow me to correct you…

            “the most common crime associated with illegal immigration is likely improper entry. Under federal criminal law, it is misdemeanor for an alien (i.e., a non-citizen) to:

            •Enter or attempt to enter the United States at any time or place other than designated by immigration officers;

            •Elude examination or inspection by immigration officers; or

            •Attempt to enter or obtain entry to the United States by willfully concealing, falsifying, or misrepresenting material facts.

            The punishment under this federal law is no more than six months of incarceration and up to $250 in civil penalties for each illegal entry. These acts of improper entry — including the mythic “border jumping” — are criminal acts associated with illegally immigrating to the United States.”

            http://blogs.findlaw.com/blotter/2014/07/is-illegal-immigration-a-crime-improper-entry-v-unlawful-presence.html

            • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 11/21/2014 - 01:41 pm.

              No kidding

              Except that I never said illegal entry into the United States is not a crime. It is possible to be in the US unlawfully without having entered illegally (e.g. overstaying a visa).

              Prosecutions for illegal entry are rare, because there is little point in locking someone up if they are going to be excluded anyway. You might also ask a US Attorney sometime how much priority they give to misdemeanors.

              • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 11/21/2014 - 01:54 pm.

                LOL! You’re making the same argument Obama is making…We’re not going to prosecute it, therefore it’s not a crime. Unbelievable!

                The vast, overwhelming majority of the people Obama is using as his pawns in this debacle entered into this country illegally. They are guilty of a crime. Despite your “meaning of ‘is'” defense, you were mistaken. Those are the facts.

                • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 11/21/2014 - 02:24 pm.

                  No

                  LOL! You still don’t get it . . . The mere presence of a person in the United States without authorization is not a crime. If I am wrong, please tell me what section of the United States Code is violated when a person is in the United States illegally. I know, you cited the sections about illegal entry, but again, that is not the same thing. Check out the blog you cited (really, you should read things all the way through before you link to them). Furthermore, I did not say it’s not a crime if it isn’t prosecuted.

                  Just for fun, let’s see if you can tell me what the statute of limitations for a prosecution for illegal entry might be.

                • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 11/21/2014 - 03:39 pm.

                  Which Native American authority

                  gave your ancestors permission to immigrate?
                  Most of us are the descendents of illegal immigrants.

        • Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 11/21/2014 - 05:11 pm.

          Compared to what the President actually said. . .

          Nothing like quoting a biased pundit who succinctly misstates what the President actually said:

          Quoting in part:

          “Now here’s the thing: We expect people who live in this country to play by the rules. We expect that those who cut the line will not be unfairly rewarded. So we’re going to offer the following deal: If you’ve been in America for more than five years; if you have children who are American citizens or legal residents; if you register, pass a criminal background check, and you’re willing to pay your fair share of taxes — you’ll be able to apply to stay in this country temporarily without fear of deportation. You can come out of the shadows and get right with the law. That’s what this deal is.

          Now, let’s be clear about what it isn’t. This deal does not apply to anyone who has come to this country recently. It does not apply to anyone who might come to America illegally in the future. It does not grant citizenship, or the right to stay here permanently, or offer the same benefits that citizens receive -– only Congress can do that. All we’re saying is we’re not going to deport you.

          I know some of the critics of this action call it amnesty. Well, it’s not. Amnesty is the immigration system we have today -– millions of people who live here without paying their taxes or playing by the rules while politicians use the issue to scare people and whip up votes at election time.’

          Where does the President claim the powers McCarthy says he claims? Where does the President claim that “criminal acts are lawful”? Or that those who “engage in this unprosecuted activity will be rewarded with benefits (lawful presence, relief from deportation, work permits, etc.), as if their illegal acts were valuable community service”? I challenge anyone who wishes to argue that the President is acting illegally or granting amnesty to criminals to show what in his actual statement they claim is objectionable and explain why.

          • Submitted by John Appelen on 11/23/2014 - 12:19 am.

            Rewards

            “We expect that those who cut the line will not be unfairly rewarded. ”

            Now I regularly use this “cut in line” comparison, since that is my biggest problem with amnesty. Let’s say that someone over stays their visa or crosses the border illegally, well they have very blatantly “cut in line” in front of millions of people who want to immigrate to the USA via the legal process.

            They have made it into that big concert that everyone wants to attend. Now they may not have great seats, but they are wandering the floor enjoying that great music and atmosphere.

            Now let’s call Obama the head of auditorium security. He knows these people who “cut in line” are in his venue and that they are having a pretty good time, definitely much better than they would be if he kicked them out.

            So instead of finding them, kicking them out of the venue, and telling them to go to the back of the line. Which would allow for more legal immigrants to enter, he chooses to allow them to stay and enjoy the concert. Seems like a pretty good reward to me, for someone who entered illegally.

  2. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 11/21/2014 - 09:37 am.

    It ain’t Schoolhouse Rock.

    This isn’t the way it is supposed to work, but it is being made to work.

    And the fact is, politics are a part of the presidential actions.

    After a close election. In a lame-duck session of congress. Prior to the beginning of a 24 month presidential campaign. Doing what he can for a constituency important to him and his party. Forcing the Republicans to put-em-up or shut-up.

    If it’ put-em-up, then the differences between Democratic and Republican positions will be very clear, and crazy actions and statements by Republicans will be seen as, well, crazy. Or, if it is shut-up, deepening division in the Republican party between the angry and not-so-angry.

    All in all, it is a win for Obama, no matter how it plays out. And the noisier and untidy response by the Republicans, the better.

    And, as long as you bring it up, let the impeachment circus begin. We’ll see which party looks like an ass in the end.

    With this much harassment, lies, distortions and obstructionism over the past six years, I know exactly which two words my response would be.

    Play nice??

    Whatever for?

    • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 11/21/2014 - 10:22 am.

      “it is a win for Obama” Just so.

      Oath of Office, and will of the people be damned…

      • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 11/21/2014 - 10:49 am.

        Will of the people?

        It is very interesting that even though Obama was elected without your vote, apparently the only “will of the people” to be considered by the president is Thomas Swift’s will (or people of your opinion).

        You also seem to be under the misapprehension that elected officials are to be the stenographer of you or your viewpoints, even if they never held those views in the first place.

        It’s representative democracy–the elected official get to choose their actions during their term and you get to try to vote them out at every election.

        There should be no confusion on this matter after all these year.

        As for breaking an oath or violating the constitution, your opinion is not a replacement for the decision of a court.

        • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 11/21/2014 - 09:09 pm.

          Will of the people

          Most people by all polls do not think Obama should have done it. So yes, he ignored the will of the people and the law… for his own benefit.

          • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 11/22/2014 - 10:04 am.

            If you ever noticed

            We live in a republic (recite the pledge), not a democracy.
            That is, ours is a representative system where we elect people to make decisions in our name.
            If we don’t like those decisions we elect someone else the next time.
            We don’t decide everything by referendum — THAT would be pure democracy which is not our system.
            (‘Demos’ means mob in Greek — the Founders wanted to avoid mob rule which is why they set up a layered representative system).

            As for ‘his own benefit’ — if you can prove tangible benefit (not some sort of vague political atmospherics) resulting from his actions you might have a legal basis for impeachment.

          • Submitted by jason myron on 11/25/2014 - 07:49 pm.

            The “will of the people” Ilya?

            Why is it that you can consider it a mandate after winning a midterm election in which 35% of eligible voters turnout, but ignore the “will of the people” after the president is elected in 2008 and 2012 by significantly higher margins?

      • Submitted by Steve Hoffman on 11/21/2014 - 05:53 pm.

        Hardly ground-breaking

        Don’t you ever get tired of manufactured outrage? The legitimate news media have already picked up that FIVE of the last REPUBLICAN presidents also acted unilaterally, without congressional action, on immigration. Yes, all the way back to Richard Nixon. Or is it somehow worse because this time it’s President Obama? Yup, that must be it. IARIYAR.

        • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 11/21/2014 - 09:10 pm.

          None of other presidents did it for political gain, none did on this scale, none did it after Congress explicitly warned not to…

          • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 11/24/2014 - 09:16 am.

            None

            “None of the other presidents did it for political gain . . .”

            Honestly, there is just no reply that I can make to that statement. None whatever.

  3. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 11/21/2014 - 09:42 am.

    A canvas for ambivalence

    I’d much prefer that Congress do its job, pass the necessary legislation, and let whoever happens to be in the Oval Office find other things to do besides “executive action” on a fairly controversial topic. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. The Senate did its part, but Mr. Boehner, maybe reflecting his own prejudices, maybe simply bowing to the caterwauling on his right, saw to it that the requisite bill never became law.

    So, an issue that needed Congressional action was just sitting there. Our elegantly-written but often clumsy system doesn’t have a handy alternative if laws need to be written and adopted by the legislature, but the legislature isn’t doing what needs to be done. That provides Mr. Obama with the opportunity to take executive action, and since Republican predecessors have taken nearly identical action in the past, it’s going to be difficult for Republicans to make a court case singling out Obama when Reagan and Bush II did essentially the same thing. Hypocrisy is one thing, but really obvious hypocrisy is embarrassing.

    It strikes me as a one-time fix, which isn’t ideal, even in the best of circumstances, and I can’t say I’m enthused about this course of action (surprisingly, no one from the White House has called to ask me what I think the proper course of action should be), but to fall back on cliche, “not to decide is to decide.” If something isn’t done, then the status quo becomes the policy choice by default, and no one seemed happy with that scenario. Republicans had many opportunities to craft legislation that would have addressed the issue constructively. They chose not to do so.

    • Submitted by jody rooney on 11/21/2014 - 11:25 am.

      As always very well said Mr. Schoch

      What people like Mr. Swift seem to forget if the want government to change then the government needs to act. No action means no change and as you so articulately pointed out things that most citizens can agree need changing like perhaps our immigration policies just don’t get done.

      I would say there is no upside for Republican’s. My prediction is that debt will grow under their regime and serious issues won’t be addressed.

  4. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 11/21/2014 - 09:53 am.

    “A Republic, if you can keep it.”

    Newt’s reference to Gruber was essentially that it’s a good thing Americans are stupid and have no clue how the Constitution and the government are supposed to work or Obama would never have attempted this stunt.

    God save the king.

    • Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 11/21/2014 - 10:18 am.

      No…

      Newt’s reference to Gruber is an obvious progression of his love of tying people’s names he hates to a president he hates. Alinsky-style this! Gruber-style that! Food-stamp this! Teleprompter that!

      I still like the moon-base idea though, Newt.

    • Submitted by Ken Bearman on 11/21/2014 - 10:21 am.

      How the Constitution works

      How is the Constitution supposed to work, and how did Pres. Obama violate it? What’s unconstitutional about his intended actions?

      Details, please.

      • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 11/21/2014 - 09:11 pm.

        Here it is

        Constitution calls for separation of powers. Obama’s actions amount to “de facto” changing the law and therefore violate the Constitution. It is one thing not to prosecute someone and another to announce it for all to hear…

  5. Submitted by John Peschken on 11/21/2014 - 09:56 am.

    “declare a policy of aggressive non-cooperation with anything Obama wants, ”

    Isn’t this about what Obama has faced from the house for 6 years?

  6. Submitted by John Smith on 11/21/2014 - 10:42 am.

    I guess the politicians need more voters

    How else do you explain a party that does nothing but Political moves to keep them in power. Besides the President saying he can’t do what he did last night 22 times before, Harry Reid and him also said the following:

    Obama: “There’s no denying that many blacks share the same anxieties as many whites about the wave of illegal immigration flooding our Southern border — a sense that what’s happening now is fundamentally different from what has gone on before. Not all of these fears are irrational.”

    Reid: “Taxpayers simply cannot continue to sustain new populations the size of San Diego or the state of Nevada every year.”

    Obama: “If this huge influx of mostly low-skill workers provides some benefits to the economy … it also threatens to depress further the wages of blue-collar Americans and put strains on an already over-burdened safety net.”

    Reid: “Americans have sat freely around a bountiful dinner table. The table is becoming overcrowded. People are squeezing in and elbowing each other to get what they want. Unless changes are made, our dinner table eventually will collapse, and no one will have security and opportunity.”

    Obama: “Native-born Americans suspect that it is they, and not the immigrant, who are being forced to adapt.”

    As usual the inner city African Americans are getting the shaft cause last time I checked we haven’t solved poverty yet and we don’t have enough jobs. So let’s bring in millions of low skilled low waged workers and stress the social safety nets some more. But hey who cares about inner city kids they don’t appreciate good politicians and the professional left needs more voters since the american poor see the current education, welfare and social programs installed to benefit the politcans and not the actual needy.

  7. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 11/21/2014 - 10:50 am.

    The solution is simple

    All it takes is for employers (mostly conservatives, if you read the papers) to require proof of citizenship before hiring people.
    People cross the border illegally because there IS work here.

  8. Submitted by Jim Million on 11/21/2014 - 10:57 am.

    One half of the shell

    In the bifurcated issue of immigration, one half of the shell seems now separated from the other: Mr. Obama has successfully issued a proclamation that will likely stand legally, and most certainly stand popularly among those committed to realistic human facts on the ground. Republicans should simply let the Obama Doctrine stand in its specifically limited scope. They now have the the ability to address the other half shell come January.

    Border security has long been the other half of this mollusk, if you will. Republicans should use their full Congressional powers to enact very bold border security legislation come January, ignoring the “amnesty” canard, while using the great “power of the purse” to properly fund and build an effective border perimeter defense (fence, wall, whatever). That project is about national defense, not all about Guatemalan refugees and other peoples.

    By focusing on the other shell of immigration, the Republican Congress avoids the political traps set by last night’s proclamation. Let it stand, Republicans…and let those with legal standing (perhaps border states) challenge this fiat. If the states take on the legal actions, Congress can pursue the security solutions as both Federal administrator and State defender. Republicans can do everyone a long term service (even for Democrats, including Mr. Obama, who claim a concern for such security but offer little action) by building the second front in this campaign.

    The Republican House will have the purse to pay for it, and the Republican Senate will have the power to enforce it. And they better do it well…no excuses this time.

    What could be a more bifurcated partisan solution? The Democrats own the compassion of immigration. The Republicans own the security of immigration. Neither party needs the other to make this bifurcation work.

    Tell me, friends, is this just too obviously simple? Well, yes, if all still want to fight rather than govern for the people of this country, for all people. If leaders can discuss all of this quietly in the Cloak Room, they might be able to neutralize their common irritants at their party extremities, and take credit for the solution.

    Is this possibly the pathway to some new “bi-partisan” governance?

    Republican voters should immediately push their leaders to do this. Democrat voters should immediately embrace their resident immigrant project and quietly support the Republican security project.

    Let’s all keep the practical interests of security in mind while embracing the practical facts of continental assimilation.

    We really don’t need to fight about this…do we??

  9. Submitted by Peder DeFor on 11/21/2014 - 11:06 am.

    New Limits

    I don’t want to put words in Eric Black’s mouth, but I’m guessing one of the reasons that he’s reluctant to support this type of executive order is because of the enormous precedent that it sets up. A future President could use this pardon power spin off to greatly influence things like tax policy. That’s clearly outside of what has normally been thought of as the executive sphere of influence, but we’re in new, uncharted territory here.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 11/22/2014 - 10:10 am.

      Excuse me

      Who has issued a pardon?
      That’s a specific legal act very different from a decision not to prosecute.
      If someone is pardoned, they have a permanent immunity from future prosecution from that act. In this case, it would be the President declaring that the ‘illegals’ were in the country legally.
      In this case, on the other hand, there is only a (very temporary) decision not to prosecute, which could be reversed at any time. No one is permanently off the hook.

  10. Submitted by Charles Holtman on 11/21/2014 - 11:36 am.

    The middle cannot hold.

    A nation can exist only if there is broad agreement on a basic set of values. Good faith disagreement on how to work toward those values, and reconciliation of those differing views, is the legislature’s role in such a nation.

    This nation no longer has an operative common set of values. A majority favors an enlightenment, freedom-based set of values (however informed or thoughtful, or not, it may be about the details). But a large plurality, by virtue of a decades-long appeal to its atavistic impulses by those who have wished to harness it electorally, prefers an authoritarian-based set of values and expresses its preference in those it elects to represent it. There is no longer a basis for good faith colloquy or reconciliation of views between these two positions. That is why our federal elected bodies are dysfunctional.

    At this juncture, any discussion of how the President should understand or use his powers – in any situation – needs to account for this context.

    More concretely, kudos, Mr. Black, on “euphonious”! A lovely onomatopoetic term if ever there was one. On the other hand, please add a “d” to “suppose” in the title. Really. No wonder our civilization is collapsing.

  11. Submitted by RB Holbrook on 11/21/2014 - 11:39 am.

    The Real Elephant in the Room

    Of course Republicans are in a high dudgeon over the President’s order. Is there anything he could do, short of self-immolation, that would not cause them to go off the rails? The party that tolerated the “unitary executive” under the second Bush administration is mad only because “their” President isn’t doing it.

    The real reason the Republicans are so upset is that they wanted to keep the issue quiet. GOP strategists have it in their minds that they need to appeal to minority voters, especially Latinos, in order to continue to win electoral victories. Many recent immigrant communities are in sync with the Republicans on social issues (ironically, the very issues the Party would prefer not to discuss right now), so they would seem to be a good fit. Unfortunately, there is a strong nativist faction in the Republican Party that hates the idea of immigration, especially by brown people. Right now, those people are quiescent, and the majority of the Party would prefer they stay that way. The President’s orders are just going to get the anti-immigration wing (hello, Rep. King–are you still around?) all worked up and screaming again. How will that look?

    The nativists may or may not be a majority, or even a substantial part of the GOP. They are, however, very vocal and not shy about making their voices heard. Good luck selling that one to new Americans.

    • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 11/21/2014 - 01:15 pm.

      Clarification

      48% of American citizens are in a high dudgeon over the President’s order.

      http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/immigration-reform/nbc-wsj-poll-nearly-half-oppose-executive-action-immigration-n251631

      • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 11/21/2014 - 01:24 pm.

        Oh, in that case . . .

        Which proves what, exactly? Apart, that is, from nothing?

        If you had read or comprehended the article to which you link, you would have seen that the survey in question was taken before the President’s speech.

      • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 11/21/2014 - 06:11 pm.

        Will of the people ? (Round #2)

        From your cited poll:

        63% of Democrats support the action by Obama

        11% of Republicans support it.

        Gosh, a politician doing something their supporters want? Shocking!! Carrying out the will of his supporters–what the heck is going on??

        and from the same article:

        (quote)

        The new NBC/WSJ poll also finds a majority of Americans (57 percent) favoring a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, and that increases to 74 percent when respondents are told that such a pathway requires paying fines and back taxes, as well as passing a security background check.

        In June 2013, the U.S. Senate — by a bipartisan 68-32 vote — passed legislation creating this pathway for undocumented immigrants, plus bolstering security of the U.S.-Mexico border.

        But the GOP-controlled House of Representatives declined to take up the legislation — or even to pass its own bill.

        And that is what has spurred President Obama’s decision to take executive action.

        (end quote)

        Hey, that’s 76% OF THE POPULATION that wanted the bipartisan bill that the Republican’s refused to even vote on (note the irony–a bipartisan bill that the Republicans refused to even bring up for a vote !!).

        Now who was denying the will of the people??

      • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 11/22/2014 - 02:52 pm.

        Facts

        See Factcheck.org
        http://www.factcheck.org/2014/11/obama-and-cruz-clash-on-immigration/

  12. Submitted by Anthony Walsh on 11/21/2014 - 12:03 pm.

    St. Ronnie said:

    Excerpt:

    We have a special relationship with our closest neighbors, Canada and Mexico. Our immigration policy should reflect this relationship.
    We must also recognize that both the United States and Mexico have historically benefited from Mexicans obtaining employment in the United States. A number of our States have special labor needs, and we should take these into account.
    Illegal immigrants in considerable numbers have become productive members of our society and are a basic part of our work force. Those who have established equities in the United States should be recognized and accorded legal status. At the same time, in so doing, we must not encourage illegal immigration.

    – President Ronald Reagan, July 30, 1981

  13. Submitted by Tom Christensen on 11/21/2014 - 12:25 pm.

    It is a moral issue cause by politicians

    The politician don’t know what to do with immigration because of their decades of inaction. This is a case where they should deal with it no matter the political consequences. If it is a major problem harming the country as the GOP claims, it’s their job to keep harm from happening in and to our country.
    For years politicians have turned a blind eye to America’s immigration problem because it benefitted their district. The Bush administration response to illegal immigration was always “THEY CAN COME BECAUSE THEY WILL DO THE JOBS NO ONE ELSE WILL DO”. This migration served to benefit the mega agricultural companies in places like California and Arizona, among others. Families came here, did the work, and had children (now American citizens). The pressure was put on the politicians, who had looked the other way for years, to do something about all the illegal Mexican people here. If we actually had a real border policy and enforced it we wouldn’t have this problem. Here we are with families made up of Mexican citizens and American citizens. You can’t morally send the Mexican family members home and leave the American citizens here which would break up the families, Remember this was caused by political inaction. Now the politicians finger point like they didn’t have any part in this, when they did. It is time to hold the politicians accountable. They created it, now fix it. It is time for the political claptrap to end and make meaningful changes to our immigration system. Guess what other presidents have used the executive powers of the presidency to shield immigrants from deportation, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Dang they are both Republicans. The hypocrisy of the GOP is showing.

    • Submitted by jody rooney on 11/21/2014 - 03:30 pm.

      Isn’t this the GOP modus operendi

      They complain about government spending but spend more money and run up more debt when they had control of both houses and the White House.

      They rail against abortion but again passed nothing when they were in the majority…

      Immigration is now bad and yet when they held both houses and the presidency…

      Government spending is bad – except when it buy equipment in your district….

      The Republicans don’t actually do anything other than cut taxes for the people who can most afford to pay piling debt on the middle class so that they have to work forever.

    • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 11/21/2014 - 09:19 pm.

      Who is to blame

      Mr. Christensen blames Bush, as always. Well, actually, President George W. Bush PUSHED for immigration reform but lost in 110 US Congress which was fully controlled by…. Democrats… He didn’t ONLY repeat Bush’s mantra; he said that was ALWAYS the Bush’s administration response to illegal immigration. This is factually incorrect. And it happened to be the Democrats who were the party of NO at that time (surprise, surprise).

      • Submitted by Tom Christensen on 11/22/2014 - 08:21 am.

        I understand you’re wanting to sweep Bush under the carpet

        “THEY CAN COME BECAUSE THEY WILL DO THE JOBS NO ONE ELSE WILL DO”. Those are Bush’s words not mine. You know as well as I do proposing something in politics is a political ploy so they can say they tried. There is a chasm between proposing and accomplishing. That is why congress has a stunning 8% approval rating. Now the GOP has two years to prove they can govern. It is going to be hard to get the word No out of their lexicon so they can govern. I bet your new leadership poster boy, Ted Cruz, will come up with some real quotes that can be used in the future.

  14. Submitted by Ann Spencer on 11/21/2014 - 12:28 pm.

    It’s not the best of all possible worlds

    I agree that executive action is not the ideal way to make immigration policy, though my guess is that it’s within the President’s constitutional authority in this case. The courts will decide that issue—that’s their job.

    But, ideally, the “loyal opposition” works with a President from the other party, confirming his/her appointees promptly and without fanfare if they are qualified and negotiating to include as many of their principles as possible in legislation. They do not unanimously, vociferously and reflexively oppose everything the President tries to do. “You say tomayto and I say tomahto” is not an effective governing philosophy. The Republicans in Congress have given Obama the choice of seeing nothing accomplished or acting on his own and he has chosen the latter. This is a direct result of their own deliberate strategy.

    They are taking a great risk in the intemperance of some of their reactions to last night’s speech. Their treatment of the first black President has already lost them any chance of making inroads in the African-American community for a long time to come. Now they risk writing off the Latino vote as well.

    • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 11/21/2014 - 09:22 pm.

      Losses

      It appears that Democrats have lost whites for now, based on this election results.

      • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 11/22/2014 - 01:38 pm.

        Turnout

        This election showed (once again) that low turnouts favor the (mostly white) Republican party.
        If by ‘for now’ you mean for the next year, you may be right.
        Enjoy it while you can.

        • Submitted by jason myron on 11/25/2014 - 02:44 pm.

          Low turnout?

          Try historically low turnout…35% of registered voters, which equates to 17% of the electorate ( or the America People) that republicans are claiming gives them an overwhelming mandate to continue their dysfunction.

  15. Submitted by Clayton Haapala on 11/21/2014 - 12:34 pm.

    In Minnesota..

    .. We don’t use the word “Gruber” to talk about taxes obfuscated as fees. We call that “Pawlenty”.

  16. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 11/21/2014 - 01:06 pm.

    I Can’t Help But Wonder At the Danger

    Our Republican friends are putting themselves, and ALL of us in by all their continuous expressions of outrage.

    His immigration action won’t make a shred of difference in how the Republicans treat him in the next two years. They Republicans were NEVER going to work cooperatively with President Obama, no matter what he did to try to make that happen,…

    and if he had been willing to play the fool for them, they would have just continued playing the game of Lucy telling Charlie Brown to kick the football she was holding for him,…

    over and over again,…

    on every issue,…

    while continuously expressing outrage at his failure to compromise with THEM.

    But the real danger is this: the Republicans have been crying “wolf” for so long, now, that everyone but their base (and the main stream media) has ceased to listen. If President Obama or any future Democratic president were to do something that really WAS egregious or clearly exceeded his/her constitutional authority, no matter how strongly the Republicans objected, the public would ignore them because they’d just be doing the same thing they ALWAYS do,…

    (and, of course, if it were a Republican President doing something egregious which clearly exceeded his/her constitutional authority, Democratic objections would be ignored by the main stream media while the Republican party leadership and the Republicans in congress would be featured as guests on all the news, public affairs and cable news network shows where they would be called upon to join in the celebration of that president’s bold and necessary action,…

    again).

    The party which has so continuously cried “wolf!” is rapidly rendering itself nothing but a white noise machine in the eyes and ears, the hearts and minds of the public. Whatever issue they’re hyping and harping on at this particular hour, it just gets lost in their stream of noise.

    It’s likely that even viewers of the weasel are burning out on a diet of nothing but constant outrage (and being spoon fed information which has so often proved, over time, to be false).

    The day is soon coming that when the general public hears the word “Republican” their gut level response will be the Shakespearean phrase, “…a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury signifying nothing.”

  17. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 11/21/2014 - 09:36 pm.

    What if

    A question to all who is so strongly supporting Obama in this action: How would you react when the next Republican president announces that he (or she) will not fully enforce some provisions of anti-discrimination laws and the cake makers in Colorado will be allowed to choose their customers? Or that he will not prosecute the wealthiest tax evaders because they already pay enough…Would that be OK with you? Mr. Defor is the only one who noted this here and that may be why Mr. Black doesn’t like this Obama’s action. Everyone else here is just so happy that they are blind to consequences.

    • Submitted by Charles Holtman on 11/22/2014 - 06:35 pm.

      I’m not observing many “happy” commenters here

      Just a lot of folks trying to figure out the least worst way for the nation to stagger through its real challenges when its capacity to govern itself for the good of the people has collapsed – due in part to the capture of both major parties by big money but in much greater part by one party’s scorched-earth battle against the entire notion of self-government.

  18. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 11/22/2014 - 10:16 am.

    If a Republican ran on these policy positions

    he/she would insure that there would not be a next Republican President.

  19. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 11/23/2014 - 08:57 am.

    Listen

    Like sooooo many our other problems in the US immigration continues to fester because republicans insist that magical thinking of some kind will resolve the issue. From climate change to Benghazi republicans refuse to deal with evidence in any kind of coherent fashion.

    Obama’s executive orders can be an imperfect solution to some of our immigration issues but imperfect solutions are all you have left when republicans refuse to do anything except pontificate about the morality of illegal immigration. We’ve needed sweeping reforms for over a decade but all we get from republicans are demands for more detention centers and better fences. Like Obama keeps saying: “Pass a bill”. Why haven’t republicans passed an immigration bill? Because they only thing they could muster would be draconian attacks immigrants and the leadership know that would be an electoral shot in their own foot. So they do nothing and attack Obama for doing something.

    President Obama is just doing his job, someone has to do it. Republicans seem to concluded that their only job is to attack Obama and paralyze the government.

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 11/23/2014 - 10:38 pm.

      Immigrants

      “draconian attacks immigrants ”

      Do you consider people who violate our borders or over stay their visa as “immigrants”?

  20. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 11/23/2014 - 09:01 am.

    Anyways, this IS how it’s supposed to work

    Executive powers are built into the Constitution as a safety valve to prevent government paralysis in the face of political gridlock, which is exactly what the republicans have created. It’s not the ideal but it’s all you have left when one party decides to paralyze the government and has the votes to do it.

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 11/23/2014 - 01:47 pm.

      Paralysis

      “when one party decides to paralyze the government and has the votes to do it”

      Technically it has taken 2 parties to paralyze the government. Either one can break the paralysis at any time. Of course that would not play well with their further from the center constituents.

      • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 11/23/2014 - 06:31 pm.

        All it takes is 41 votes in the Senate

        to effectively paralyze the legislative branch of government.
        Obama is testing how effectively this paralyzes the whole governmental system.

        • Submitted by John Appelen on 11/23/2014 - 10:34 pm.

          Or One Veto

          Soon I am guessing it will be just one veto that will bring government to a stop many times over the next 2 years.

          Will it then be Obama who is paralyzing government?

  21. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 11/24/2014 - 09:17 am.

    Paralysis and responsibility

    “Technically it has taken 2 parties to paralyze the government”

    Ya know it’s funny, ONE party brags about shutting down the government, claiming that no one even noticed. ONE party threatens to shut down the government if it doesn’t get what it wants. And ONE party always gets the blame when it shuts down the government. THAT party is not the democrats.

    Yet, defenders of that ONE party, who also happen share the pretense of personal responsibility, seem to think they can wear government shut downs and paralysis as badge of honor when they speak amongst themselves, and deny responsibility for paralysis and shut downs when the speak to a larger audience. Such people should know that they’re not fooling anyone.

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 11/24/2014 - 10:16 am.

      Perceptions and Reality

      Sometimes “doing nothing” is actually “doing something very important”.

      If progress and functional government is judged by how much taxes are raised, spending is increased and how many new programs/regulations are created, then I can understand why people are frustrated by the GOP.

      However since many people like myself see functional government as when taxes are reduced, spending is decreased and programs are consolidated / made more effective, I can see where the Democrats are the ones preventing progress.

      Perspective matters here. With regard to immigration, the GOP wants to lock down the border so no one can cross illegally. They also want to deport everyone who did cross illegally and make them go to the back of the line. Thus making it clear to the other ~6.5 Billion people in the world that the USA values the rule of law. We are happy to have millions of immigrants come to the USA each year, however they must stand in line with the other candidates.

      • Submitted by jason myron on 11/24/2014 - 02:01 pm.

        Sometimes “doing nothing” is actually “doing something very important” There you have it….the GOP political philosophy in a nutshell. Just kick the can down the road and hope the problem disappears.

        • Submitted by John Appelen on 11/24/2014 - 11:42 pm.

          Can Kicking

          I think can kicking is where the Democrats also excel.

          Let’s not strengthen the border, instead let’s give people who enter our country illegally a pardon. I wonder what that will lead to. (ie reward cutting in line)

          Let’s not increase payroll taxes rates, cut benefits, or change the programs so that the investments could possibly earn higher rate of returns. Let’s see what happens…

          Let’s not strengthen welfare work requirements and enforcement, let’s just increase funding/benefits and hope that people choose to work rather than collecting checks.

          etc…

          • Submitted by Sean Olsen on 11/25/2014 - 03:38 pm.

            More “moderate” nonsense

            You’re going to argue that the border is no stronger today than in January 2009? Despite the fact that there are about 20% more patrol agents?

            President Obama is the one who made a concrete proposal re: Social Security, changing the inflation basis used. How did Republicans respond? They ran ads against him, accusing him of cutting Social Security. So it’s hardly just Democrats kicking the can on that one…

            • Submitted by John Appelen on 11/25/2014 - 05:03 pm.

              Too little

              I agree that there are idiots on both sides… And they all are trying to buy our vote by giving out money that they first took from us. Remember one of my favorite articles.
              http://www.forbes.com/sites/warrenmeyer/2011/07/14/its-a-spending-problem/

              If this is correct, it looks like the headcount increase was from the Bush folks.
              http://www.wola.org/files/images/03_personnel.png

              By the way, changing the CPI calculation is a step in the correct direction. However it isn’t enough.

              • Submitted by Sean Olsen on 11/26/2014 - 08:42 am.

                Bob and weave

                “By the way, changing the CPI calculation is a step in the correct direction. However it isn’t enough.”

                If Republicans are going to criticize the President for attempting such a change and not pass such a proposal, then how is it not Republicans who are kicking the can down the road?

                • Submitted by John Appelen on 11/26/2014 - 08:49 pm.

                  Stereotyping

                  Some Democrats and Republicans refused to pass it and criticized the President for it, does that mean all Democrats and Republicans are kicking the can…

                  As I said above, their are can kickers in both parties.

  22. Submitted by Eric Paul Jacobsen on 11/24/2014 - 09:33 am.

    The Best Government We Can Get

    Our Republic is weak, and the Congress is dysfunctional. Sadly, this is by design. The aristocratic Founders were keen to defend their traditional privileges, including slavery, against “too much democracy,” so they made sure that no threat would come to their beloved institutions by way of any “hasty” legislation. So they created a process with one gas pedal, namely the House of Representatives, and two brakes, namely the President’s veto over Congress and the Senate’s veto over the House. The institutional paralysis only became worse when the wholly unconstitutional Senate filibuster was created, which gives a minority of Senators a third brake, a veto over the Senate majority.

    Don’t believe the sophomoric commentators who lament, like George Washington, that “our two parties just can’t get along.” In well-designed republics, there are three, four, and five parties that regularly participate at the national level, and no “failure to get along” causes any failure of legislation, even in republics that have no strong executive at all. The problem isn’t the fact that there are two parties with differing views. The problem is institutional barriers against our legislative process, barriers that grant small groups veto power over larger ones, barriers installed by aristocrats who wanted to defend their privileges against “too much democracy.”

    This aristocratic design causes two very serious problems. One is the need for a benevolent despot in the office of President in order to get anything done when the Congress fails to do so. The other is the very real danger that if we allow the Presidency to become despotic, a very evil man will one day take advantage of that.

    We could avoid these problems by democratizing our legislative process, making it responsive to the people and not hobbled by minority vetoes. I would recommend campaign-finance reform and proportional representation first. I would restrict the Presidential veto to a proportional one (to cut programs proportionally, across the board, to avoid excessive deficit spending outside of a recession) and a constitutional one (to save the Supreme Court some trouble later). I would also either eliminate the Senate or reduce in its power (so that it would meet only to defend states’ rights and would have the power to nullify new federal laws only in those states whose Senators objected, while allowing the laws to take effect in those states whose Senators approved), while making it represent real people more accurately (two Senators per state is indefensible).

    In the meantime, I defend President Obama as very cautious executive who on VERY RARE occasions acts as a benevolent despot – like FDR and Abe Lincoln before him. Surely, Obama is much better than the dim-witted despot who was his predecessor, who misled his subjects into a disastrous war under completely false pretenses and completely disregarded the Eighth Amendment.

    I absolutely support Obama’s action on behalf of immigrants. Given the aristocratic structure of our Constitution and specifically our Congress, this kind of enlightened despotism is really the best government we can get. I am aware of how humble a statement this is.

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 11/24/2014 - 10:20 am.

      Shock Absorbers

      I have a different belief.

      The founding Fathers understood that people are fickle, emotional and prone to significant opinion swings. They wanted a government/society that could change over time, however they wanted to ensure it was done slowly and deliberately. Makes sense to me.

      • Submitted by Eric Paul Jacobsen on 11/24/2014 - 09:38 pm.

        Fix Structural Problems, Not Blame

        John Appelen said: “The founding Fathers understood that people are fickle, emotional and prone to significant opinion swings.”

        This is of course what we are all taught in schools. We are mistaken, however, at the beginning of the Twenty-First Century, to accept the Founders’ aristocratic attitude uncritically. In many respects, the Founders were intellectually ahead of their own time. However, when it came to defending their own privileges, they did not hesitate to disparage their own people as an unruly “mob.” When we repeat these disparagements, we breed distrust in democracy itself and blind ourselves to the means whereby it might be strengthened and made to work better for all of us. We also fail to fix real structural problems that I believe have astonishingly simple solutions. Instead, we fix blame, which is much easier, but does not move us forward.

        A healthier attitude is required to encourage progress. Since writing my dissertation during the late 1990s, I have admired the long-forgotten Austrian philosopher and sociologist Rudolf Goldscheid (1870-1931), who wrote the following bracing statement in 1911 (in a book called HÖHERENTWICKLUNG UND MENSCHENÖKONOMIE [Higher Development and Human Economy]:

        “Wir müssen uns abgewöhnen, das den Personen moralisch zuzurechnen, was von den Sachen ausgeht, und andrerseits aufhören, dort die Natur anzuklagen, wo die Schuld wirklich an unseren Institutionen liegt.”

        My own translation: “We must overcome our habit of holding people morally accountable for the effects of impersonal forces, and on the other hand, we must stop prosecuting nature when in reality the guilt lies with our own institutions.”

        My recommendations for structural change do not come from Goldscheid. They are my own, but were inspired by reflections upon Sanford Levinson’s excellent book, OUR UNDEMOCRATIC CONSTITUTION: WHERE THE CONSTITUTION GOES WRONG (AND HOW WE THE PEOPLE CAN CORRECT IT) – (2010).

        I would like to empower our legislatures to make laws, even bad laws, at a reasonable pace, rather than perpetually fail to get any work done at all, which permits each political party to make the never-ending, never-proven hypothetical claim that “our program would solve all of our problems, if only the other party would allow us to enact it.” I would like to empower our legislatures to make more mistakes, so that we would discover what their policies REALLY do. When a legislature makes a mistake, I would like it to be crystal clear who is responsible for it and must be voted out at the next opportunity. And I would like to make it easy for a legislature, after each new election, to correct the errors it made during the previous session. I believe my reforms, which are not radical at all when you look at how things are done elsewhere, would help to bring about these wholesome changes.

        If anybody should read this and feel justifiably alarmed at how the “mob” would amend the Constitution if given the chance right now, let me assure him or her that I do not expect or even wish to convene a new Constitutional convention any time soon. My wish is to advance reform proposals that I believe are worthy of everyone’s consideration, so that when the time comes to amend the Constitution (and God only knows when and under what circumstances this time will come), it will be amended well and not poorly.

    • Submitted by Jim Million on 11/24/2014 - 01:25 pm.

      “In well-designed republics…”

      So, somewhere there was a master plan our founders failed to use? That over-looked model was…?

      • Submitted by Eric Paul Jacobsen on 11/24/2014 - 02:36 pm.

        Look at Western Europe.

        There’s a place where the word “gerrymandering” is hardly ever used, because it understood to be a device used only in primitive foreign republics, such as the United States. It’s called Western Europe, where proportional representation is the norm. Proportional representation eliminates gerrymandering. It’s also catching on in places like Australia, where people are willing to look around at other political systems to discover what really works best.

        Read about it here:

        https://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/polit/damy/prlib.htm

        I marvel at how insular we US-Americans are. We are so hidebound by our own conviction of our cultural superiority that some of us easily assume that if there’s a better political system than our god-like Founders designed, then surely it must be found somewhere among their notes.

        Why does it not more often occur to us that we might learn something from other nations, many of which have studied our more than 200-year old political system and obviously improved upon it?

        • Submitted by John Appelen on 11/24/2014 - 11:33 pm.

          Democracy

          After reading some of the links, I still think our system is better at ensuring that the lower population areas get a say in government. Proportional representation seems to better support people who want a pure democracy. Of course, that means the majority rules with few shock absorbers.

          Iraq is an excellent if extreme example of what happens when the ruling majority does not need to deal with the views of the other factions.

          • Submitted by jason myron on 11/25/2014 - 06:58 am.

            Wow…

            the United States and Iraq….talk about false equivalence.

            • Submitted by John Appelen on 11/25/2014 - 12:39 pm.

              Leaps

              I am not sure where in the previous comments I compared the USA to Iraq… It seems you made a very large leap.

              I stated that Iraq is a place where pure democracy promoted some very big problems. Because the majority chose to reward themselves while disenfranchising the minority groups.

              • Submitted by jason myron on 12/01/2014 - 06:24 pm.

                No leap required.

                You just reinforced my comment. You’re attempting to equate the fragile “democracy” of a country located in a region that has been mired in civil conflicts for a thousand years with the so-called “disenfranchisement” of people who are still miffed that Obama was reelected and portray everything he does as dictatorial.

          • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 11/25/2014 - 04:55 pm.

            “Lower population areas”

            Why do “areas” get a say? Governments are instituted with the just consent of the governed, if Mr. Jefferson is to be believed. The dirt they are standing on does not have a voice.

  23. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 11/25/2014 - 08:20 am.

    Like I said…

    John writes:

    “However since many people like myself see functional government as when taxes are reduced, spending is decreased and programs are consolidated / made more effective, ”

    And again, you’re fooling a smaller and smaller number of people. This doesn’t work in Somalia and I don’t know why anyone would expect it would work here. The notion that less taxes produce magically efficient government and economic prosperity is simply magical thinking. And any rate, you can’t wear agenda’s like this as a badge of honor on one hand, and they try to share responsibility for paralysis and government shut downs on some other hand. Clearly, the belief that dysfunctional is functional is Orwellian dead end politically.

    One should point out however that John’s “beliefs” are those of current republicans, NOT conservatives. Furthermore, magical thinking may be losing it’s appeal amongst republicans. If newly elected republicans indeed go on to deliver more “nothing” to their rural constituents, and paralysis and shut downs to everyone else, they’ll find themselves out in the cold again come 2016.

  24. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 11/25/2014 - 08:25 am.

    Eric Paul

    It’s always tempting to look at someone else’s system with admiration, and it’s often well deserved admiration. The Western European model has it’s problems however, Italy and Greece for example.

    Maybe we can fix the gerrymandering problem with something a little less drastic than a complete constitutional re-write along proportional representational lines?

    • Submitted by Ken Bearman on 11/25/2014 - 11:52 am.

      Fix gerrymandering?

      “Maybe we can fix the gerrymandering problem with something a little less drastic than a complete constitutional re-write along proportional representational lines?”

      Such as what? As long as you have an election system where people elect one person to represent one piece of geography, most of the problems we have with election results* will continue to happen.

      * E.g., plurality winners; the “two party system”; lack of representation for large groups of voters (who voted for the loser(s) in a district).

      • Submitted by John Appelen on 11/25/2014 - 12:54 pm.

        Problems

        You mean like people in South Dakota, NorthDakota, Wyoming, Montana, etc having a significant amount of power in our government. (ie 2 Senators)

        You think it would be best for the urban centers to dominate America’s politics and our culture?

        To me it sounds like a good way to destabilize America. I have always found in my projects that collaboration provides a much better result than popular vote or benevolant dictatorships. It is slow and painful at times, but much better.

        • Submitted by Ken Bearman on 11/25/2014 - 05:15 pm.

          Constitutional gerrymandering

          Yes, the Constitution giving Senators to pieces of geography — states — is another problem of unrepresentativeness. But I was writing about something else: single-district-winner elections, which send people to the U.S. House, the Minnesota Senate, the Minnesota House, and most cities’ Councils.

          PEOPLE should be represented fairly, whether they live in cities, small towns, or rural areas. It’s not destabilizing to be either fair or representative in government.

          Unfortunately IMO, it’s very unlikely the Constitution will be amended to fix its gerrymandering. But that’s another issue.

          • Submitted by John Appelen on 11/25/2014 - 07:48 pm.

            Urbanites Rule

            To paraphrase, you think the people who live in the urban centers should control the country. The people who live in the rural areas should have almost no voice and be marginalized. The city folks could then control regulations, taxes and spending based on their perspective of reality.

            Do you truly believe that this wouldn’t cause significant strife in our society?

  25. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 11/25/2014 - 07:45 pm.

    Question still stands

    Still, no one defending Obama’s actions answered my question: How would you react when the next Republican president announces that he (or she) will not fully enforce some provisions of anti-discrimination laws and the cake makers in Colorado will be allowed to choose their customers? Or that he will not prosecute the wealthiest tax evaders because they already pay enough… Mr. Udsrand?

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 11/26/2014 - 09:46 am.

      The Next Republican President

      Been there, done that. Perhaps you have forgotten President Bush’s many signing statements? Or do they fall in the category of “it’s all in the past; you can’t keep blaming him for everything”?

      Incidentally, before you go to whatever source conservatives use for their “Democrats did it, too” trivia, I will say that I know that President Clinton issued more signing statements than President Bush, but his tended towards interpretations and statements that the law probably would be found unconstitutional by the courts. President Bush issued statements that he would not follow laws that he felt encroached on his power. I also know that President Obama to date has issued 28 signing statements.

      As far as the concerns of Colorado cake cookers, “choosing their customers” could amount to a violation of state, not federal, law. A President may fume about that all he likes, but there is nothing he can do about it.

      • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 11/26/2014 - 07:40 pm.

        Equality

        Sure Bush did it…. and was vilified by all Democrats. Where is consistency?

        And, in addition to some states’ laws, US DOJ investigates plenty of discrimination cases…

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 11/28/2014 - 08:55 am.

          Equality

          Passing lightly over the facts that I don’t know of too many liberals who are crazy about the president taking action the way he did, and that there seems to be a big difference between exercising discretion and saying “I’m not going to do it because I don’t want to,” why do conservatives insist on deflecting any criticism of one of their own with a “What about what your guy does/did? Why can’t you be consistent?”

          The US DOJ “investigates plenty of discrimination cases…” to see if there is a violation of federal law. There is no federal law that bars discrimination based on sexual orientation.

  26. Submitted by Jim Million on 11/26/2014 - 06:23 am.

    Ho-Hum, Beat the Drum

    By the way: Each State is represented in the U.S. Senate as a sovereign entity of equal standing. That’s why each State gets two Senators to represent its unitary interests with respect to the Federal government, regardless of population.

    The House of Representatives (get it?), well, represents the the interests of the People of the States; therefore, representation is based on population distribution. That’s why, among other powers, the “power of the purse” resides with the House.

    So, Wyoming and North Dakota are due their 2 Senators, but not as many Representatives as California.

    Should the popular leverage of the House get out of hand, the equity of the Senate is established to prevail against the tyranny of California against Wyoming, for example.

    And that’s the simple civics of the United States.

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 11/26/2014 - 08:37 am.

      I Agree

      That is why I think our system is better than many others, especially given the size and diversity. Everyone has some influence no matter where they live.

  27. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 11/27/2014 - 11:00 am.

    ILya’s Question

    “Still, no one defending Obama’s actions answered my question: How would you react when the next Republican president announces that he (or she) will not fully enforce some provisions of anti-discrimination laws and the cake makers in Colorado will be allowed to choose their customers? ”

    I keep pointing out the fact that reactionary conservatives, and many Libertarians and Republicans in the US simply don’t believe in Democracy on a very basic level. This response to Obama’s executive power and ILya’s question provide another illustration of my point.

    As Mr. Holbrook already pointed out, both republican and democratic presidents use executive authority, yet our republican friends only consider this to be dictatorial when a democrat, or just when President Obama does it.

    ILya want’s to know what liberals think when republican presidents use their executive powers and this illustrates the difference in mentalities. Unless republican presidents actually break the law, liberals don’t call for their impeachment or declare them to be “dictators”, because we recognize, they’re democratically elected presidents… we just don’t like what they’re doing or disagree with the policy. In a free country you don’t have to “like” or even pretend to like everything your president does, but just because you don’t like it, doesn’t mean the president has become a dictator or a “King”.

    Basically the republican mentality here is that their guy gets to be a dictator but the other guy doesn’t… the complaint isn’t about presidents acting like dictators… the problem is when the wrong president acts like a dictator. This struggle over who gets to be dictator betrays a very fundamental failure to either understand, or accept the democratic process. We don’t elect dictators, we elect presidents. This impulse to accuse Obama of acting like a dictator or King come from a place where believe in dictators, not democracy.

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 11/27/2014 - 05:39 pm.

      Pots and kettles

      Some Democrats accused Bush of lying, over reach, etc.

      Some Republicans accuse Obama of lying, over reach, etc.

      I think that is Ilya’s point. If it gets bad enough the court are there to resolve the issue.

      Just like the Ferguson Grand Jury…

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