Saturday, November 22, 2014


Immigration Band-aid

The President has used his executive authority to alleviate one of the worst parts of out faulty immigration system.  Basically, he has announced that there are certain rules regarding immigrants that he will not enforce.  The parents of children born in this country and attending schools here will not be arbitrarily deported.  Children born elsewhere of parents here legally will not be deported.  At least that's my understanding of it.

Is he breaking the law?  Well, yes.  He's refusing to enforce certain laws that he thinks are unjust.

Does he really have the power under the Constitution to decline to enforce certain laws?  Good question.  I don't know.  I do know that he is not the first President to refuse to enforce a law he didn't like.  There was another one, perhaps Andrew Jackson, who was so displeased with a decision of the Supreme Court that he said, "Justice **** has issued his decision.  Now let him enforce it."

Will there be a court challenge to Mr. Obama's policy regarding immigrants without papers?  You bet.  However, it will take time to find its way through the federal courts and end up in the Supreme Court.  Meanwhile, certain deportation laws will not be enforced.  Mr. Obama's policy may stay in effect until the end of his term on January 20, 2017.

Republican leaders are in disarray.  What Obama has done may split the GOP in two.  The more rational part really wants some sort of change, similar to what Obama has done.  The Tea Party part wants none of it.  Even with majorities in both chambers of Congress, Republicans will have to deal with the immigration issue rather than their financial program of cutting the tax rates on corporations and wealthy individuals, replacing Social Security with a tax-free savings system, and making some changes in the Affordable Care Act, such as eliminating financial support for poor people and getting rid of the employer mandate to provide subsidized health insurance to employees.  I look forward to two years of yelling and screaming but essentially nothing being changed, nothing being accomplished.  In effect, Mr. Obama has spiked the Republican cannons.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


Looking Back

Looking back through the archives of this Blog, I found that my first post was dated September 1, 2004.  Here is a copy of part of what I wrote at the time:

I am pessimistic these days. It appears that the voting public is more interested in dramatic lies told by the candidates or their surrogates about each other than in the important issues that are going to be settled by the coming election. The public is titillated at accounts that "perhaps" John Kerry told a few lies to get his medals and his purple hearts. The public would be equally titillated at an account of how George W. Bush really spent his time in Alabama while supposedly serving in the National Guard. The truth or falsity of such assertions are completely irrelevant to the qualifications of either man to be the President. They have nothing to do with the policies that either man would probably follow if he is elected (or reelected) in November. Nevertheless, these stories crowd out the more important issues that are to be settled next November, such as: 
Now, ten years later, we know who replaced Stevens, O'Connor, and Rehnquist on the Supreme Court.  We now have Scalia, Roberts, and Alito.  As a practicing pessimist, I groan that they are worse than the justices they replace as well as being a lot younger.  They'll be around for a long time.

We also know that stem cell research is getting off to a slow start in California.

Social Security is still under attack but so far it hasn't been privatized.

We are still bungling in Iraq.  We propose to bungle in Syria as well.  We've learned nothing from Iraq or Afghanistan.

I discard pessimism.  I believe that a Democrat will be elected President in 2016.  I think that voters in many states will come to realize that they can not trust their legislators to draw fair election district boundaries but will always skew them to favor the party in power in the legislature at the time when boundaries are redrawn and that some non-partisan scheme will be set in place to draw boundaries in the future.  It may be that a President will not have a cooperative Congress until the election of 2022.

Wait for my next "looking back" blog ten years from now.

Saturday, November 08, 2014


After the election, now what?

As a Social Democrat, my reaction to last Tuesday's election is somewhere between alarm and HARRUMPH!  Pundits have explained to the public that the voters were voting their dissatisfaction with the way things are.  The consensus seems to be that

  1. It wasn't that immigration reform wasn't passed;
  2. It wasn't that gay marriage has not become accepted everywhere;
  3. It wasn't a matter of "right to life" trumping "right to choose."
It wasn't any of those urgent issues, each of which affects only a small portion of the public.  It was an issue that affects almost everybody.  Although the economic news looks good, with more new jobs created every month, the average worker does not experience any improvement in his own pay or his standard of living.  All of the new prosperity seems to be going to the top one percent or so of the population.  Why should Joe the carpenter feel happy that Archibald the rich man is ten percent richer this year than last year?  Archibald is getting richer; Joe isn't.

This issue of the increased prosperity benefiting only the wealthy few has been discussed and presented and chewed to death without anyone anyone doing anything to change it.  What we hear is that in the good old days when Truman, Eisenhower, and Kennedy were President we had strong labor unions that saw to it that working people got raises to share in the increased prosperity.  Today labor unions are weak or moribund and wages are stagnant.  What can be done about this situation?

I don't have an original or clever idea to propose.  I suggest that we take a look at an idea that was proposed by a Liberal Republican President about the time that labor unions were losing their power to influence decisions about wages: the Negative Income Tax.  If your income is below the poverty line, you get an income tax refund big enough to get you at least up to the line.  Of course the whole idea wasn't adopted.  What was adopted was a small refund for low-wage workers.  Not a complete solution but better than nothing.  Also, it was proposed by a Republican President who was able, in spite of his inner liberal feelings, to pass himself off as a dedicated Conservative and earn the hatred of the opposition (Democratic) Party.  He was one of the two Liberal Republican Presidents of the twentieth century.  The other one was Theodore Roosevelt.

So, as a third generation Democrat, let me state loud and clear that I absolutely hate and despise the Negative Income Tax.  It's a Republican trick to confuse the public.  It's vile.  I shall ask my congressman to vote against it fifty times if it ever becomes law.

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