Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Last Call

Looks like Eric Holder and the DoJ are going to go after Arizona's immigration law after all.
Top Justice Department officials have drafted a legal challenge asserting that Arizona's controversial immigration law is unconstitutional because it impinges on the federal government's authority to police the nation's borders, sources said Wednesday.

At the same time, the government officials said, the department's civil rights section is considering possible legal action against the law on the basis that it amounts to racial profiling of Latinos who are legally in Arizona but conceivably could be asked to provide documents proving their citizenship.

U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. met Wednesday with 10 top police chiefs who object to the Arizona legislation and promised them he would act on the recommendations soon, a spokesman said.

The police chiefs urged Holder and the Obama administration, which has grave reservations about the Arizona measure, to stop the law. The chiefs said it would seriously hamper local police work if officers had to serve as border patrol policemen.

"He did say that the Justice Department is seriously considering what they would do and that could come very soon," said Chuck Wexler, the director of the Police Executive Research Forum, a think tank that helped bring the police chiefs together with Holder.
The sooner the better.  Take it to the courts.  Let the GOP go on record saying the law doesn't amount to racial profiling when it's struck down for doing just that.   After all, Latinos are rapidly becoming the next block of reliable Democratic voters.
Smart GOP strategists know this is a problem; the consensus is that Republicans need to capture AT LEAST 35-40% of the vote to win national contests. Yet looking at Republican primaries across the country, GOP candidates aren't looking at the long-term. In Arizona, John McCain is airing a TV ad declaring “complete the danged fence.” In California, Steve Poizner is comparing Meg Whitman to Mexico’s president in a TV ad criticizing her opposition to the Arizona law, while Whitman has a TV ad saying she “absolutely” opposes amnesty. And in Alabama, gubernatorial candidate Tim James says, “This is Alabama, we speak English. If you want to live here, learn it.” Pete Wilson is an important lesson here, says co-pollster Peter Hart (D): In presidential races from 1952 to 1988, Dems won California just once. After Wilson’s Prop. 187, Republicans haven’t come close to winning the nation’s biggest state. The next California could be Texas, and the GOP can't afford to have that big state become competitive.
Texas, Florida, California, New York and increasingly states like North Carolina and Ohio have growing Latino populations.  They see what the GOP is doing to them in Arizona.  They see that Republicans increasingly don't care about them either, more and more just want to deport millions and couldn't give a damn about Latino families, children, or communities caught in the collateral damage.

So thanks, GOP.  We appreciate you handing over the country to the Dems for the next couple decades.

The Tale Of McCain Unable

I actually feel sorry for John McCain after the long string of horrible decisions he's made, turning him from the GOP's post-Bush hope just two years ago into a bitter old laughingstock at the end of his political career now.  Today, he showed why Republicans will continue to get mauled in the polls as despite an overwhelming call from Americans to repeal DADT, John McCain vowed to filibuster the defense bill that the repeal is included on anyway.
Armed Services ranking member John McCain said Thursday that he would “without a doubt” support a filibuster if the bill goes to the floor with repeal language.

“I’ll do everything in my power,” the Arizona Republican said, citing letters from the four service chiefs urging Congress not to act before a Pentagon review of the policy is complete. “I’m going to do everything I can to support the men and women of the military and to fight what is clearly a political agenda.”
Keep in mind a solid majority of Republicans now support repealing DADT.
A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Tuesday indicates that 78 percent of the public supports allowing openly gay people to serve in the military, with one in five opposed.

"Support is widespread, even among Republicans. Nearly six in ten Republicans favor allowing openly gay individuals to serve in the military," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "There is a gender gap, with 85 percent of women and 71 percent of men favoring the change, but support remains high among both groups."
And yet poor John McCain has to run to the right of Teabagger primary opponent J.D. Hayworth, which means he feels he must be rabidly homophobic or he loses his job.

That's John McCain's GOP in 2010.

I Do Not Believe That Word Means What You Think It Means

"Libertarian", as in "Rand Paul is one."  Seems actual Libertarians here in Kentucky are pretty pissed off at him.
The state chairman of the Libertarians of Kentucky has disavowed statements by the party's vice chair, that suggest the group is considering running a real Libertarian candidate against Kentucky Republican Senate nominee Rand Paul.

Chairman Ken Moellman told TPM that those statements were "not an official communication or an official stance." However, Moellman did insist that Paul's views are not in line with those of Libertarians'.

The Associated Press reported today that Party Vice Chairman Joshua Koch "said the idea of fielding a candidate has been an ongoing discussion among Libertarian leaders in Kentucky and hasn't been an issue of contention internally."

"The reason why we would even consider running somebody in this race," Koch said, "is because we're not going to let Rand determine what a Libertarian stands for. I'm here to say Rand does not have the Libertarian ideology."
That's because Rand Paul is something called "A Republican."   Funny how that works.  Hey, Kentucky Libertarian Party, you want to run somebody against Rand Paul, you go right ahead.

A Matter Of Responsibility

As we wait to see if BP's Operation Mudball can stop this mess in the Gulf, let's not forget why there's a massive geyser in the first place.
Company executives and top drill hands on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig argued for hours about how to proceed before a BP official made the decision to remove heavy drilling fluid from the well and replace it with lighter weight seawater that was unable to prevent gas from surging to the surface and exploding.

One employee was so mad, the rig's chief mechanic Doug Brown testified, that he warned they'd be relying on the rig's blowout preventer if they proceeded the way BP wanted.

"He pretty much grumbled, 'Well, I guess that's what we have those pinchers for,' " Brown said of Jimmy Harrell, the top Transocean official on the rig. "Pinchers" was likely a reference to the shear rams in the blowout preventers, the final means of stopping an explosion.

Brown said in sworn testimony on Wednesday that the BP official stood up during the meeting and said, "This is how it's going to be."
And this is the result.  To save a couple bucks for the company, BP risked ruining America's Gulf coastline and costing taxpayers potentially hundreds of billions.  And this time, they rolled snake eyes.

Never forget.

On The Edge

In a stark reminder that the economy is nowhere near good, cities like Harrisburg, Pennsylvania are on the edge of survival and contemplating bankruptcy.
The possibility of a bankruptcy filing by the city of Harrisburg, Pa., the state capital, looms large these days—and it could be the first in a series, say some Wall Street traders.

Harrisburg, population 55,000, owes nearly $70 million in debt payments this year, and it's unclear where that money will come from. Harrisburg now has one of the lowest credit ratings of any municipality in the United States.

Harrisburg Mayor Linda Thompson told CNBC Wednesday that she had assembled a group of bond stakeholders, the city council and other interested parties to work out the crisis "so that we don't become the poster child of the world in terms of bankruptcy." 

Municipal bond underwriters are monitoring Harrisburg, which has struggled to contain the costs of financing a troubled incinerator project.
In 2003, the city borrowed $125 million to expand and retrofit its incinerator, which officials thought would make money for Harrisburg. The incinerator re-opened five years later, but it's turned out to be nothing but a money drain. 

On May 1, the city missed a $452,282 loan payment related to the incinerator. 

Raising taxes or selling assets, like real estate or parking lots, are options for Harrisburg. So is a restructuring plan—either inside or outside of bankruptcy. 

If Harrisburg does file for bankruptcy, it would do so under Chapter 9—which is employed by cities, but rarely. In one closely watched case, the city of Vallejo, Calif., has been in Chapter 9 since 2008.

The GOP plan is to take it out on "overpaid" city workers and cut their jobs.  After all, they work for the government, they must be lazy, evil, and stupid, right?  But Harrisburg's problems weren't caused by horrible, demonic unions or awful social programs that rewarded tax-dodging the problem is Harrisburg tried to make money off the city's trash incinerator.

It failed miserably.  Problem is, the "free market" didn't want what Harrisburg was selling -- excess trash incineration capacity -- and the incinerator itself was a toxic mess that had to be shut down.  And it's the city workers that have had to pay the price ever since.  When you're never allowed to raise taxes, only cut spending, you get to a point where you basically can never function.  Businesses are allowed to raise revenues by increasing prices.  Governments?  Sure as hell can't even think about that, or they're run out of town by an angry mob.

So cities like Harrisburg will continue to fall apart.

By The Time I Get To...Illinois?

What, you thought our Deportation Nation was limited to the Grand Canyon State?
Eduardo Caraballo, a U.S. citizen born in the United States, was detained for over three days on suspicion of being an illegal immigrant.

Despite presenting identifying documents and even his birth certificate, Caraballo was held by federal immigration authorities over the weekend and threatened with deportation, according to an NBC Chicago report. He was only released when his congressman, Luis Gutierrez -- a vocal supporter of immigration reform -- intervened on his behalf.

Caraballo was born in Puerto Rico, making him a natural-born citizen of the United States. He moved to the mainland as an infant, and now lives in Chicago.

Last week, NBC reports that he was arrested in connection with a stolen car in Berwyn. Caraballo maintains his innocence. In any case, when his mother posted bail on Friday, he was not freed.

"Instead of being released, he was told by authorities that Immigration and Customs Enforcement was detaining him because he was an illegal immigrant," NBC reports.

Caraballo spent the weekend in the custody of federal immigration agents. When he presented them with ID and his birth certificate, he says officials were skeptical: "Because of the way I look, I have Mexican features, they pretty much assumed that my papers were fake."
Guilty until proven innocent.  That's the regime the GOP wants for Latinos.  Gotta prove you are a US citizen, and do it time and time again, onus is on you, not the government.  What's to stop the police from saying your papers are fake and deporting you anyway?  That's a hell of an implied threat.  You're Latino...what can you do about it?  Your word against ours, hermano.  And you lose.

You're naive if you don't think this is going on in police precincts all over the United States in 2010.  If you can't round up and deport millions, make being Latino in the United States such a terrible experience that they all want to leave, right?  That's got to be a hell of a thing, being a second or third generation Latino in the US and knowing that if the right people decide you've done the wrong thing, you're gone.

Nobody could have predicted that the GOP's purity campaign would result in stories like this.  Nobody could have predicted that Latinos are now flocking in huge numbers to the Democrats, either.

On Tenther Hooks

The Tenthers are back in the news, fighting the bad fight for states' rights against federal laws (while continuing to take as much federal money as possible.) This time they're combining their two favorite pastimes:  Obama Derangement Syndrome, and firearms.
Under the rationale that the federal government only has the power to regulate issues that affect inter-state commerce, they've been pushing legislation in states from Florida to Alaska that would exempt guns and ammunition made within the state from federal gun laws. The idea is "the latest crack cocaine for gun-rights advocates," says Peter Hamm of the Brady Campaign.

In seven states, bills have already been passed into law, and they've been introduced in 20 others. (Here's a state-by-state map of where things stand.)

In most cases, say experts, the laws won't have much practical effect, because very few of the guns sold in a given state -- not to mention the ammunition they fire -- were made in that state. They're also likely unconstitutional, according to gun control groups, since the supremacy clause makes clear that federal laws trump state laws when the two are in conflict. In Oklahoma, Governor Brad Henry, a conservative Democrat, recently vetoed the bill, saying it wasn't worth the cost of defending it in court because it would ultimately be struck down. Court challenges have already been launched in Wyoming and Montana. "We will take [the laws] seriously until the federal courts throw them out, as we presume," says Hamm.

But in the context of other recent conservative challenges to federal action, the effort seems as much designed to make a point about state sovereignty as to make guns more accessible. It's in keeping with the conservative challenge to the health-care reform law on similar grounds -- and even with the new suggestion from Arizona right-wingers that states can determine who is and isn't a U.S. citizen. 
Once again, you have to view this in the context of the larger battle:  there's a growing movement out there to invalidate as much of the federal government as possible while saying that states have the power to do whatever they want inside their own state.  If that means states have the power to ignore federal mandates and regulations, so be it...just as long at the feds continue to send federal taxpayer money collected from blue states to run red state programs for infrastructure, health care, and Social Security.

The hysterical thing is that the Republicans behind the Tenther movement are the same ones screaming that the feds haven't done enough to stop the oil spill in the Gulf or the immigration problem along the Mexican border.  Even better, at the national level the GOP is doing everything they can to block both raising liability caps on energy companies for oil spills, and any sort of comprehensive national immigration reform.

In other words, Tenthers want all the federal revenue, and then none of the federal oversight.  Republicans aren't serious about solving problems, just serious about pandering to voters with illogical and unsustainable wishful thinking.

Anything to serve as justification to hide their actual agenda.

The Paranoid (Joisey) Style

Gotta love New Jersey Teabaggers.  In the paranoid, know-nothing world they inhabit, politicians are king, and schoolteachers are the enemy.  Exhibit A, Gov. Chris Christie.
Governor Christie on Tuesday told a borough teacher to find another job if she did not feel she was compensated enough as he defended his state budget cuts and promoted a plan to cap annual growth in property tax collections.

He also told an 89-year-old former mayor she'd have to wait until next spring for a rebate she'd been getting for more than a decade in the late summer. And he told a parent that cuts to services, including the local library, are needed because "we are out of money."

A largely friendly crowd of about 150 people turned out in a church gymnasium to hear Christie deliver a half-hour talk that trashed greedy public employee unions and state laws that handcuff local officials trying to control spending.

He then opened the floor to questions. A few were softballs, including the declaration by Clara Nebot of Bergenfield that Christie is "a god" to her relatives in Florida.

But borough teacher Rita Wilson, a Kearny resident, argued that if she were paid $3 an hour for the 30 children in her class, she’d be earning $83,000, and she makes nothing near that.

"You’re getting more than that if you include the cost of your benefits," Christie interrupted.

When Wilson, who has a master’s degree, said she was not being compensated for her education and experience, Christie said:

"Well, you know then that you don’t have to do it." Some in the audience applauded.

Christie said he would not have had to impose cuts to education if the teachers union had agreed to his call for a one-year salary freeze and a 1.5 percent increase in employee benefit contributions.

"Your union said that is the greatest assault on public education in the history of the state," Christie said. "That’s why the union has no credibility, stupid statements like that."
Politicians are "gods".  Teachers who educate millions of students in New Jersey meanwhile are an "assault on public education".   You know, I vaguely recall an America where teachers were actually considered useful and beneficial members of society, certainly far more than politicians.  But not if you're a Teabagger.  The teacher might actually tell you something that you might not want to hear, like "facts" or "knowledge".  Since both are anathema to your average Teabagger, teachers are now the Enemy.

And that goes straight to the larger picture of how these guys operate.  Critical thinking, reasoning, problem solving?  That's for egghead elitists.  Real Americans catapult the propaganda and are never wrong because by God, they believe they are right.  So naturally anyone who might instill those dreaded "thinking" skills in the minds of America's youth have to be attacked.

We live in a country where millions of Americans think teachers are bigger scumbags than say, the Governor of New Jersey.  No wonder our children is not learning.

Mr. Potato Head

Idaho voters went to the polls last night to decide primaries, but the story here is the rather meteoric fall of one GOP candidate for ID-1, Vaughn Ward.  What should have been a cake walk for one of the more conservative Rocky Mountain states turned into anyone's guess as Ward has piled on the mistakes in the last month.
Meet Vaughn Ward. He's running in today's Republican primary in Idaho's 1st Congressional District. He's an Iraq War veteran. A former CIA operations officer. A fourth-generation Idaho native. Heck, Sarah Palin supports him.

And after this spring's disastrous, gaffe-filled primary campaign -- during which Ward declared that Puerto Rico was a country, apparently plagiarized fellow candidates and Barack Obama, campaigned on cutting federal spending while his wife's gig at Fannie Mae allowed Ward to go without an income, and re-released a six-month-old endorsement -- Ward may be able to add another title to his resume: Worst candidate ever.
The real strikes against Ward are the disturbing similarities in one of his speeches to that of Barack Obama:

And his insistence that Puerto Rico is a foreign country.

Suddenly, this guy looks like a complete ass. And as expected, Ward got his ass handed to him last night by the voters.
Top national GOP recruit Vaughn Ward on Tuesday lost his primary in Idaho after a series of missteps by his campaign, throwing the Republican Party's chances in doubt against top-targeted Rep. Walt Minnick (D-Idaho).

Ward was trailing state Rep. Raul Labrador (R) 48 to 39 percent, with 90 percent of precincts reporting. The Associated Press called the race for Labrador early Wednesday.
Potato Head, indeed.  Just because the economy is bad and there are lots of problems America faces today, doesn't magically make Republicans any more competent, folks.


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