Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Last Call For Immigration Deliberation

As expected, the Supreme Court will take up President Obama's executive actions on immigration this year, meaning it will become a major election issue starting in June.

The Supreme Court said Tuesday that it would consider a legal challenge to President Obama’s overhaul of the nation’s immigration rules. The court, which has twice rejected challenges to Mr. Obama’s health care law, will now determine the fate of one of his most far-reaching executive actions. 
Fourteen months ago, Mr. Obama ordered the creation of a program intended to allow as many as five million illegal immigrants who are the parents of citizens or of lawful permanent residents to apply for a program sparing them from deportation and providing them work permits. The program was called Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, or DAPA. 
The president has said the program was the result of years of frustration with Republicans in Congress who had repeatedly refused to support bipartisan Senate legislation to update immigration laws. In an Oval Office address just before Thanksgiving in 2014, Mr. Obama excoriated Republicans for refusing to cooperate and told millions of illegal immigrants, “You can come out of the shadows.” 
But the president’s promise has gone unfulfilled. A coalition of 26 states, led by the attorney general in Texas, a Republican, quickly filed a lawsuit accusing the president of ignoring federal procedures for changing rules and of abusing the power of his office by sidestepping Congress. 
In February, Judge Andrew S. Hanen of Federal District Court in Brownsville, Tex., entered a preliminary injunction shutting down the program while the legal case proceeded. The government appealed, and on Nov. 9 a divided three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, in New Orleans, affirmed the injunction. 
If the Supreme Court upholds Mr. Obama’s actions, the White House has vowed to move quickly to set up the DAPA program and begin enrolling immigrants before his successor takes over early next year. Democratic presidential candidates have said they will continue the program, but most of the Republicans in the race have vowed to dismantle it and redouble immigration enforcement.

For those of you who are thinking that SCOTUS would not deliver a body blow to executive branch power, recall last year's decision that effectively ended two centuries of presidential cabinet recess appointments, and has allowed Republicans to block filling executive positions until the president leaves office.

We'll see how oral arguments go, but I don't have too much hope here, not with this court.  The one bright spot will be heavy pressure on the next Congress to solve immigration, and a clear delineation between Republicans and Democrats.  Unfortunately, nothing will happen on immigration until Democrats get back control of Capitol Hill.

Water We Waiting For In Flint

As President Obama is in Michigan this week, the water crisis in Flint continues and a lot of fingers are being pointed. Flint resident Conner Coyne writes in Vox about what the media has gotten wrong about the situation in the city, and that the reality is that the stage for the humanitarian disaster here was set with the election of GOP Gov. Rick Snyder.

Many national media reports would have you believe that the crisis began in April 2014, when the city started drawing its water from the Flint River. They'd also have you believe that the crisis was the fault of the locally elected officials who made a catastrophic decision, not to mention city residents who did not hold their leaders accountable. 
The stage was set on March 16, 2011, when Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed Public Act 4. This measure broadened an earlier law that provided an "emergency financial manager" for financially distressed cities and school districts. Under the new law, "emergency financial managers" became "emergency managers" with the power to cancel or renegotiate city contracts, liquidate assets, suspend local government, unilaterally draft policy, and even disincorporate. (It is worth noting that Michigan emergency managers have done all of these things except disincorporate, which was entertained by a manager in the city of Pontiac.) 
The need for an emergency manager was determined by a series of highly subjective criteria. Almost every city that got one was a poor, African-American-majority city devastated by a shrinking industrial sector: Flint, Pontiac, Detroit, Highland Park, Benton Harbor, and so on. 
Flint was one of the first cities to be assigned an emergency manager in 2011, and over the course of four years had four such managers. One of the first manager's first acts was to suspend local government, and this remained essentially in force until the departure of the last emergency manager in 2015. Even today, Flint is under the scrutiny of a "transition advisory board" that has veto power over any local decision, and that has frequently overstepped its professed limited mandate to assure fiscal restraint. 
Many Michiganders found Public Act 4 to be a violation of a strong state tradition of "home rule," and so overturned it by referendum in the 2012 election. But that didn't last long: the Republican-dominated state legislature immediately passed Public Act 436, which was almost identical, although it included a provision to pay the emergency managers from state coffers rather than local. Under Michigan law, a bill that includes an appropriation like this cannot be voided through referendum. 
Some emergency managers, true, delegated limited responsibilities to the mayor or to members of the city council, but they always retained (and used) their powers to void any decision with which they disagreed. This is the key point that early coverage by flagship newspapers like the New York Times and the Washington Post neglected to mention: From 2011 to 2015, Flint officials had noreal control over municipal policy.
For example, a Newsweek article from October 2015 was titled "Flint: The Cheapskate City That Poisoned Its Children." 
A New York Times article reports that "Flint's mayor, Dayne Walling ... had attended a 2014 event to celebrate the switch to the new water supply," without mentioning that the emergency manager who had actually signed on for the switch was also present at that event. 
A Washington Post article from last December doesn't even utter the words "emergency Manager." 
It's those two words — "emergency manager" — that differentiate Flint from all but a handful of cities around the country, and which made it particularly vulnerable to the kind of reckless oversight that led to our contaminated water.

Chris Savage and our good friends over at Eclectablog have been covering Michigan politics and Gov. Snyder's emergency manager disaster for years, so if you want to learn more about how Flint happened, it's a great place to start.

But let's understand that in the end, Gov. Snyder did this by putting an unelected and unaccountable emergency manager in place in Flint who chose to do this.

Dispatches From Bevinstan, Con't

The "Women Are Too Stupid To Understand Telephone Conversations" bill in the Kentucky Senate has passed overwhelmingly, and will now go to the state House where it is expect to sail easily to Gov. Matt Bevin's desk.

Women in Kentucky must have a face-to-face meeting with a doctor at least 24 hours before having an abortion under a bill that cleared the state Senate on Tuesday.

The Republican-controlled chamber approved the bill 32-5. Kentucky law has required women meet with a doctor since 1998. But since then, many doctors have discussed the procedure with women on the phone. The new bill clarifies that patients must meet with doctors in person.

Kentucky has just two abortion clinics, one in Louisville and another in Lexington, the state's two largest cities.

"You can see, have better understanding, watch body language," Republican Senate President Robert Stivers said. "When you have that type of personal interaction, I think (it brings) more to light what the implications of the decision are."

The bill updates Kentucky's "informed consent law." But critics, including Derek Selznick with the American Civil Liberties Union, call it "forced delay," saying it creates "needless obstacles for women, especially burdening those that live outside of Louisville and Lexington."

Republican state Sen. Julie Raque Adams of Louisville, who sponsored the bill, said the bill does not add cost because "a woman does not need to travel outside of her own community" to receive the information.
Adams said the language of the bill allows a doctor to designate someone to represent him or her at the face-to-face meeting. For instance, she said, a doctor in Louisville could designate a social worker or nurse practitioner to meet with patients in distant counties.

Well, she didn't need to travel at all to have an informed consent conversation with her doctor before, because of this great invention called a "telephone".  Hell, these days you can take telephones with you because they are "mobile".  But, apparently, without visual body language cues, women are too stupid to make decisions.

Oh wait, these days you can have things called "teleconferences" to actually see your doctor when you are talking to them.  In fact, telemedicine to help doctors reach patients in states with a lot of rural patients, states like, say, Kentucky, is on the rise.

But apparently the subject of abortion infantilizes both physicians and patients so that technology readily available for decades doesn't work and the meeting must be in person.

The notion that this is a needless hoop for women tto jump through?  Of course not, a woman proposed the bill, silly!

Welcome to Bevinstan, where women are too stupid to be allowed to use the telephone.

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