Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Last Call For The Jindal Solution

So remember after the 2012 elections when Louisiana GOP Gov. Bobby Jindal decided he was going to make himself a frontrunner for 2016 by pretending to be the "moderate voice of reason" that would lead the GOP out of the wilderness?  Among his seven suggestions last November for fixing the GOP:

Stop being the stupid party. It's time for a new Republican party that talks like adults. It's time for us to articulate our plans and visions for America in real terms. We had a number of Republicans damage the brand this year with offensive and bizarre comments. Enough of that.

That lasted, let's see, eight months.  Apparently Bobby's crash landed back in the badlands again with these offensive and bizarre comments.

Let’s stop defeating ourselves, get on offense, and go kick the other guys around. If you’ve followed the news over the past month, they are certainly asking for it. We are the conservative party in America — deal with it. We have a lot of dissenting voices. So what? Deal with it. The American public waxes and wanes. Fine. It will wax again soon enough. Deal with it, and start fighting for our principles instead of against them, so we can be in position to create the next wave.

At some point, the American public is going to revolt against the nanny state and the leftward march of this president. I don’t know when the tipping point will come, but I believe it will come soon.

Sure, because that worked so well for you in 2012, threatening to kick the other guys around.  And then we kicked your ass up and down the block, Roberto.

Because the left wants: The government to explode; to pay everyone; to hire everyone; they believe that money grows on trees; the earth is flat; the industrial age, factory-style government is a cool new thing; debts don’t have to be repaid; people of faith are ignorant and uneducated; unborn babies don’t matter; pornography is fine; traditional marriage is discriminatory; 32 oz. sodas are evil; red meat should be rationed; rich people are evil unless they are from Hollywood or are liberal Democrats; the Israelis are unreasonable; trans-fat must be stopped; kids trapped in failing schools should be patient; wild weather is a new thing; moral standards are passé; government run health care is high quality; the IRS should violate our constitutional rights; reporters should be spied on; Benghazi was handled well; the Second Amendment is outdated; and the First one has some problems too.

What we actually believe is that government can be a force for good, and it must be prevented from being a force for evil, but your small-minded worldview is exactly why most of us don't have very high opinions of the anti-science, anti-secular, Christian Taliban party.  See how this works?

This is a big reason the Republican party can't change. So many of its members have a warped vision of what liberalism is. They think it's something so mind-bendingly awful that they cannot fathom how voters could willingly choose it. It must be some mistake. And sooner or later, mistakes get fixed.

And if those mistakes don't get fixed through voting means, well, maybe it's time to resort to other, more permanent, more violent measures.  It's always 1861 in someone's mind....

The Vote's The Thing

The always awesome Lyle Denniston at SCOTUSBlog recaps Monday's Supreme Court decision in Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, where in a 7-2 decision, the Supremes declared that federal election law does indeed trump state law when it comes to the mechanics of voting.  But Lyle points out the larger issue in the decision:  when it comes to who is allowed to vote using those federal rules, states get to determine eligibility.

There is a customary rule that courts are to operate on the basic premise that, when Congress and the states act in the same field, state laws won’t be displaced unless Congress explicitly says they must yield.  That “presumption against preemption,” in technical terms, does not even apply to the joint enterprise of Congress and the states in regulating elections, according to the new decision.   Thus, in this one field, states do not get the benefit of the doubt when they pass election laws that appear to be, or are, different from what Congress has mandated.

If a reader of the Scalia opinion stopped at the top of page 13, the impression would be very clear that Congress had won hands down in the field of regulating federal elections.   But from that point on, there is abundant encouragement for what is essentially a states’ rights argument: that is, that the states have very wide authority to define who gets to vote, in both state and federal elections.

On the particular point at issue in this case — Arizona’s requirement of proof of citizenship before one may register to vote or actually vote — the Scalia opinion said that a state was free to ask the federal government for permission to add that requirement.   And, Scalia said, if that doesn’t work — either because the federal agency that would deal with such a request is either not functioning or says no — then a state would be free to go to court and make an argument that it has a constitutional right to insist on proof of citizenship as an absolute qualification for voting, in all elections.

The opinion seemed to leave little doubt that, if Arizona or another state went to court to try to establish such a constitutional power, it might well get a very sympathetic hearing, because that part of the Scalia opinion laid a very heavy stress on the power of states under the Constitution to decide who gets to vote.   Indeed, that part of the opinion said that the Constitution simply does not give Congress the power to decide who can qualify, but only how federal elections are run procedurally.

In other words, Wario Scalia has just opened the door to serious court challenges to federal election laws.  It's a decision that means the only reason Arizona can't force proof of citizenship in order to vote is because that has to be a national requirement, and that Arizona really, really should sue the federal government in order to make it so.

It also means that states are free to disqualify people from voting for various reasons, mostly through voter ID requirements.

If all of this gives you a headache, it's supposed to.  It's an argument that when it comes to federal elections, the how and when is done by the feds, but the question of who is up to the states and the states alone, and that Congress has no power to interfere in who a state allows to vote.

That bodes very, very badly for the days and weeks ahead in the other big voting rights case, Shelby County v. Holder, that will determine the power Congress has in the Voting Rights Act.  I'm more convinced than ever that Section 5 of the VRA will be toast, and that GOP-controlled states will do everything they can to disenfranchise millions in future elections.

Immigration Disintegration

Once again:  anyone who thinks what the Senate "Gang of 8" is doing on immigration isn't paying attention to the near 100% certainty that House Republicans will never let a real immigration bill pass.  First of all, if Orange Julius even considers the Senate bill, he's facing revolution.

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) warned Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) would face a conference revolt that could threaten his Speakership if he allows a House vote on the immigration bill presently being debated in the Senate.

Conservatives have been pressuring Boehner to adhere to the unwritten “Hastert Rule” — named after former Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) — that says no bill should come to the House floor unless it has the backing of a majority of a chamber's majority party.

Rohrabacher said if Boehner moves forward with a vote on immigration reform without a Republican majority, it would be a “betrayal” of his party.

Second, Boehner has already caved on Rohrabacher's threat.

House Speaker John Boehner is not going to bring a comprehensive immigration-reform plan to the floor if a majority of Republicans don't support it, sources familiar with his plans said.

"No way in hell," is how several described the chances of the speaker acting on such a proposal without a majority of his majority behind him.

Boehner, R-Ohio, does not view immigration in the same vein as the fiscal cliff last December, when he backed a bill that protected most Americans from a tax increase even though less than half of the GOP lawmakers were with him, said multiple sources, who spoke anonymously to allow greater candor.

Starting to get the picture?  Only an "immigration bill" awful enough to pass a majority of the House will even get a vote.  The Senate bill the Gang of 8 is trying to pass?  It will never get a vote.  Republicans will make sure immigration reform dies.

The plan is for the House to scare Senate Republicans into a bill that will never pass the Senate so they can blame the Democrats.  There are any number of poison pill amendments waiting to pass for just such a reason, like this one from Rand Paul:

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) will introduce a series of amendments to the Senate immigration reform bill that would position him for a potential Republican presidential primary bid, The Hill reported Tuesday.

Paul's most prominent measure would eliminate a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants while lifting a cap on guest workers, Senate aides familiar with the proposals told The Hill. Under that amendment, to be introduced this week, employers who demonstrate need would be provided with immigrant workers while the workers themselves would have to apply for permanent residency and citizenship according to the policies of their native countries.

The only question is how the Village will frame it, and how the people will accept it.


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