Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Last Call

Kentucky Republicans are planning to put an even worse than Arizona level (and even more unconstitutional) immigration bill on Gov. Steve Beshear's desk, possibly as early as next week.

Senate Bill 6 was one of several filed Tuesday that is backed by GOP leaders, who have said they hope to pass the measure by the end of this week. Other bills filed Tuesday include a proposal to create a panel that would recommend changes to the state's tax system and bills to tweak state pensions and election laws.

Those who oppose the immigration bill — which would allow police to ask if a person was in the country legally — began to rally against SB 6 on Tuesday, saying it appears to be more onerous than Arizona's immigration law. A judge has issued an injunction halting parts of the Arizona law, including the part that allows police to stop people and verify their immigration documents.

Yeah, see, this law even if Dinosaur Steve signed it would never, ever make it past the judicial review stage. Directing law enforcement to determine the immigration status of all people they stop for a violation?  C'mon.  Why are these idiots wasting Kentucky taxpayer money on a law that can't be enforced under the Constitution?

Senate President David Williams, R-Burkesville, said Tuesday he would be open to hearing from anyone who has concerns about the bill.

Rev. Pat Delahanty, executive director of the Catholic Conference of Kentucky, said the Kentucky measure includes a provision that would allow law enforcement to arrest an illegal immigrant for trespassing. The punishment for trespassing could range from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class C or Class D felony.

"That was originally in the Arizona law, but it was taken out," Delahanty said of the trespassing measure. "It's not a deportable offense." 

The bill, filed by Sen. John Schickel, R-Union, also creates criminal charges for smuggling illegal immigrants and "aiding and abetting" illegal immigrants

First of all, what constitutes smuggling or aiding and abetting here?   Employing an undocumented worker?  Teaching an undocumented kid in school?  Selling them food at the grocery store?  Giving one a ride in your taxi?  Knowing living next to one as a neighbor and not ratting them out to ICE? 

Second of all, since when does Kentucky have an immigration problem?

It's impossible to say how many illegal immigrants are in Kentucky, although several studies have placed the number between 26,000 and 45,000. However, studies show that Kentucky has one of the smallest illegal immigrant populations. For example, California is estimated to have 2.7 million illegal immigrants compared to 45,000 in Kentucky, according to a 2008 Pew Hispanic Center study.

County officials have also expressed concern about whether the bill would add to the county jail and state prison population at a time when the state is looking to reduce prison and jail costs. But many county officials said this week that they had not yet seen the bill and could not comment on it. 

Sure, but Kentucky Republicans want to pass it as early as Friday for a problem that involves maybe 1% of the state population.

That's a good use of manpower for the state.  Awesome.  It'll get shot down instantly anyway.

But Kentucky Republicans think that's the most pressing issue in the state, the 1% undocumented worker rate, and not the state's 10.2% unemployment rate.


Feel Good Post Of The Day

Ted Williams is homeless, but he has a rare voice that has given him a new break.  After being discovered, pledges are coming in to donate suits, voiceover spots, and radio bits to help the struggling man get back on his feet.

You can watch the video here.  It made me smile, I hope you do too.  With the number of homeless and people in danger of being homeless on the rise, these little bits of hope go a long way.

[UPDATE]  Zandar here.  The NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers have offered Ted a job with the team's radio/TV crew.

Ted Williams became an Internet sensation after the Columbus Dispatch posted a video of him online. It took off. Millions of people watched it. His story is everywhere and job offers are rolling in. He was interviewed on The Early Show on CBS Wednesday morning.

During another interview on Columbus radio station 97.9, a spokeswoman for the Cavs called in and offered Williams full-time voiceover work with the team and Quicken Loans. The team also offered to pay the mortgage on a home.

“That’s the best deal ever!” Williams said.

A Cavs spokesman told NewChannel5 that the organization is trying to “tighten up their offer” and be more specific in the deal.

Now that's what I call job satisfaction.

[UPDATE 2]  Five gets you ten that before the end of the week, wingers will say this story is proof that we should cut unemployment benefits, food stamps, and other "welfare programs" because if we only did that, it would force the poor to perform in public, make viral videos, and get jobs and become rich and we would fix the economy and the country.

I've got even odds on it Jennifer Rubin, too (although the economic angle screams Megan McArdle or Reason's Matt Welch.)

Shake It Up!

The obligatory post midterm White House staffing shakeup is underway, with official news as early as Friday as to who stays and who goes.  Budget man David Axelrod long ago confirmed his departure, and he's just the first.

There will be major holes to fill, including Axelrod's. Officials have known for months that he would leave for Chicago later this month, and that former campaign manager David Plouffe would come in to assume a similar senior adviser role. Officials have also been scrambling to fill the hole left by Lawrence Summers at the helm of the National Economic Council. Yet there are many more: Both deputy chiefs of staff, Jim Messina and Mona Sutphen, are expected to leave, with Messina moving to Chicago to run the 2012 presidential campaign.

Another important vacancy is the director of the Office of Public Engagement: Tina Tchen, the last director, is leaving to become first lady Michelle Obama's chief of staff. And there is continued speculation that there will be an opening at the top of the political shop, although rumors that political director Patrick Gaspard will leave have circulated for months and not come to fruition.

Additionally, the senior adviser opening created by Rouse himself, when he assumed the chief of staff role, has yet to be filled.

On Tuesday, Vice President Biden announced that his longtime chief of staff, Ron Klain, will leave later this month, another major shift. "For 25 years, Ron Klain has been my friend and adviser," Biden said, underscoring how significant Klain's departure will be. "As my chief of staff in the White House, Ron has done an exceptional job of building my team, implementing my direction on top priorities and providing invaluable counsel."

In filling those six to eight holes, the White House could create even more vacancies still, if, as expected, they are filled with current employees. In Biden's office, communications director Jay Carney is on the short list to replace Gibbs, if he departs; the other leading contender is Bill Burton, now a deputy press secretary at the White House. Carol Browner is on the short list to become a deputy chief of staff, as is Phil Schiliro, officials have said. As insular as the Daley move might appear from the outside, one Democrat said, "all the other moves they will make will be much more insular than this." 

We'll see what happens when the dust settles.  The White House's major weakness has been messaging, so hopefully when all is said and done we'll have a White House ready to go on the attack when need be...and against this House GOP leadership, that's going to need to be every news cycle.

Besides, if you need to replace Robert Gibbs as White House Press Secretary, I understand this gentleman is available.

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

Hey look everyone, Jonah Goldberg decided his 2011 New Year's Resolution was to dredge up crapass failed conservative arguments from years ago, sign his name to them, and turn them into the teacher.

One irony, of course, is that abortion is actually the one area of public policy where there are at least two bodies — and two lives — in question and in conflict. Or at least that is the claim of many.

The only bodies in conflict in Jonah's universe are the gaseous, planetary ones he is often mistaken for. Cue cartoon sound effects as he gets another paycheck.  When the government actually forces women to get abortions, then Goldberg will have a point about the fascism of health care.  As it stands, it's the folks like Goldberg who hold zygotes more sacred than actual human beings who are the problem.  And it's not like the wingers want the little rugrat if the parents are say, undocumented immigrants who are giving birth on US soil.

Then the parents get rounded up like animals and the little tyke goes right over the wall, screw 'em.

Legal News: The Good, The Bad and The Stupid

The Good:

Cornelius Dupree Jr. is freed after DNA evidence exonerated him.  He spent 30 years behind bars, and is focusing on trying to keep a positive attitude now that he has been set free.

The Bad:

Councilman Reynaldo Dagsa took the last picture of his life... and captured the image of his soon-to-be murderer.  In this photo, his wife and children are gathered, and do not seem to be aware of the man holding a gun, mere inches from the children.  There are conflicting accounts as to whether the shooter has been arrested.

The Stupid:

New York (CNN) -- A man imprisoned for killing his mother-in-law in 2008 could soon inherit his victim's assets, valued at a minimum of $250,000, authorities said.

The killer's wife legally inherited the fortune, and after her death he is next to inherit the money.  Once he gets out of prison, that is.  Still, 25 years time and coming out to a quarter million dollars is worth mention.  It sounds like a John Grisham novel come true.

Stupidinews! Lunch Edition

University of New Mexico Hospital reports a shooter on campus.  Details are still coming in, but at this time the reason why is not known.  CNN reports: A male suspect with a small silver handgun is at the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque, the university said on its website Tuesday. It described the event as "an active shooter situation."

Kathryn Aurora Gray of Fredericton, New Brunswick, may be the youngest person to ever spot a supernova.  At ten years old, she discovered a supernova after reading about a teenager who had found one.  Her father is an amateur astronomer, and encouraged her to try to find one of her own.

The day after his term as governor came to a close, Arnold Schwarzenegger started his day with a big fat parking ticket.  Come with me if you want to live.

A woman in Eau Claire, WI was sexually assaulted with a snake.  The two accused both can brag about a long history of crime, allegedly hit the woman over the head and continued to restrain and assault the victim.

Prop 8 Update: A Leg To Stand On

The 9th Circuit punted the Prop 8 decision to the California Supreme Court for some clarification on the issue of standing, that is do the groups defending Prop 8, representing the people of California, have the legal right to do so when the AG (Jerry Brown, now Governor) and the Governor (Ahnold) said they didn't want to defend the proposition at all?

Robert Cruickshank of Calitics lays it out.

So what does that all mean? Let me boil it down. Basically, California's constitution and various CA Supreme Court decisions in the last few decades have indicated that the initiative power is a right inherent to the people of the state, and does not stem from the Legislature. It sets up the people as a kind of fourth branch of government. And therefore, if the Governor and the Attorney General refuse to defend a proposition in court, that could essentially nullify the fundamental rights of the voters. Since ballot initiatives stem from the people, presumably the people - in the form of the initiative proponents - DO have standing to defend Prop 8 in court and to appeal it to the 9th Circuit in order to preserve the people's initiative power.

But because such a ruling would have a significant impact on future legal battles over California ballot initiatives, the 9th Circuit is deferring to the CA Supremes. The CA Supremes could say "yes, the proponents do have standing" or "no, they proponents do not have standing," or they could simply not respond at all. The first and third options are more likely, and based on the CA Supremes' longstanding (and I believe flawed) unwillingness to interfere with ballot initiatives, the CA Supremes will probably conclude that the Prop 8 proponents do indeed have standing to appeal.

In which case, the 9th Circuit would then rule on the issue of Prop 8's constitutionality. I am guessing that their ruling will be to uphold Judge Walker, otherwise they would just say Prop 8 is constitutional and moot the question of standing. 

But this is precedent-setting, so they are basically saying "Hey look, California, you need to settle this 'We the People' argument."  It's a necessary legal argument to resolve:  if the Governor and AG refuse to defend a ballot initiative, can a group representing the people of California do so in court?  Most likely the answer will be yes.

Down the road, that could be interesting for future ballot measures.  But for Prop 8, it means that once the question of standing is settled, I'd have to agree with Cruickshank here that the 9th Circuit will uphold Judge Walker's decision...otherwise there's no reason to worry about the standing to overturn Walker because...he'd be overturned, solving the standing question as a definite yes.

Now it's entirely possible they could send it back to the California Supreme Court, they decide yes on the standing, and then the 9th circuit decides to overturn Walker, but again that seems unlikely.

It's also entirely possible that the California Supreme Court could say that the Prop 8 groups have no standing, in which case things get real interesting, and Walker's decision stands.  It's possible that an immediate SCOTUS appeal would be made if that happened too.

However the most likely outcome seems to be that the CA Supreme Court grants standing, and then the 9th Circuit takes a chainsaw to Prop 8 as unconstitutional.

From there it goes to SCOTUS anyway, so.  We'll see.

The $100 Billion Question, Part 2

Me, early last week on Orange Julius's promise to cut $100 billion from the budget without touching defense, Medicare, or Social Security:

My guess is going to be those spending cuts are going to be a lot less than $100 billion, especially for anybody with 2012 aspirations.  Of course, that would explain why most of your 2012 GOP prospective candidates are out of office right now, but all the GOP House will be facing voters again in two years as well.

The NY Times, today:

Many people knowledgeable about the federal budget said House Republicans could not keep their campaign promise to cut $100 billion from domestic spending in a single year. Now it appears that Republicans agree.

As they prepare to take power on Wednesday, Republican leaders are scaling back that number by as much as half, aides say, because the current fiscal year, which began Oct. 1, will be nearly half over before spending cuts could become law. 

 Called it.

While House Republicans were never expected to succeed in enacting cuts of that scale, given opposition in the Senate from the Democratic majority and some Republicans, and from President Obama, a House vote would put potentially vulnerable Republican lawmakers on record supporting deep reductions of up to 30 percent in education, research, law enforcement, transportation and more.

Now aides say that the $100 billion figure was hypothetical, and that the objective is to get annual spending for programs other than those for the military, veterans and domestic security back to the levels of 2008, before Democrats approved stimulus spending to end the recession.

Yet “A Pledge to America,” the manifesto House Republicans published last September, included the promise, “We will roll back government spending to pre-stimulus, pre-bailout levels, saving us at least $100 billion in the first year alone.”

Republican leaders have repeatedly invoked the number. On Tuesday the Web site for Representative John A. Boehner, the incoming House speaker, included a link to his national radio address on the Saturday before the midterm elections, in which he said, “We’re ready to cut spending to pre-stimulus, pre-bailout levels, saving roughly $100 billion almost immediately.”

Representative Paul D. Ryan, the Wisconsin Republican who will become chairman of the House Budget Committee, said in December that the goal was to cut “a good $100 billion.” At issue is so-called discretionary domestic spending, which is about one-sixth of the federal budget and does not include the more expensive and fast-growing entitlement programs like Medicare.

On Tuesday, aides to Mr. Ryan and Mr. Boehner blamed Democrats’ failure to pass the regular appropriations bills for fiscal year 2011 for forcing Republicans to reduce their goal to perhaps $50 billion to $60 billion. 

Those are still going to be nasty cuts.  But as I predicted, House Republicans aren't going to commit political suicide right off the bat and make massive cuts to law enforcement, public safety and education.

Well, actually, if they still plan to cut $50-$60 billion from schools, police, and firefighters then maybe they are simply planning to kill themselves less slowly.

Hey Tea Party, Orange Julius lied to you again.  Surprise!  How do ya feel?   Bonus wingnuttery from Patterico on that subject:

“Depressing” doesn’t begin to cover it. There really aren’t words for how absolutely infuriating this is. More and more, the temptation to leave the keyboard one is calmly typing on, and simply pound the fucking wall in frustration and dream of an armed insurrection . . . becomes something understandable rather than something we all know we should calmly denounce.

 "Dream of an armed insurrection".  He's mad that Social Security and Medicare aren't being cut...enough to pause just long enough over the violence card, longingly, and consider "what if".  Nice.  Release the Kraken, indeed.

Give It Up For Old School Values

Senate Dem message point man Chuck Schumer is on the attack, wondering aloud why gubmint health care hating Republicans aren't turning in their plan cards and forgoing their own snazzy federal health care plans.

He said: "It seems unfair that House Republicans want to deprive middle-class Americans of the same health care as members of Congress but to keep it for themselves."

Schumer cited as a positive example that of incoming-Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL), who is foregoing his Congressional health care benefits and will seek coverage for himself and his wife on the open market, despite her pre-existing condition. Walsh told CNN this morning: "I was sent to Washington to do what I said I was going to do, and this was a pledge I had out there for a year."

Schumer said of Walsh's pledge, "I don't agree with his views on health care, but at least he is being fair and consistent," and called for incoming House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) to encourage his members to do the same.

Little chance of that of course.  But it's good to see Schumer is already going on the attack against GOP hypocrisy.  They're going to need him and a lot of other Dems to take the offensive over the next two years.

It's a start.  Long way to go, but it's a start.


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