Friday, December 19, 2014

Hillary Clinton, Psychic

In late October, Alex Seitz-Wald wrote

Immigration activists repeatedly interrupted former secretary of state Hillary Clinton Thursday as she campaigned here for Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, who is running for governor as a Democrat....

So-called DREAMers, young, undocumented immigrants, have become a semi-regular thorn in Clinton’s side, heckling her at several events in recent months as she’s campaigned for Democrats and promoted her book. But Thursday’s interruptions were the largest yet, involving at least a dozen protesters affiliated with the group United We Dream interrupting her speech at least four times.

Mrs. Clinton explained to the crowd that as a U.S. Senator she had sponsored the DREAM Act, which passed the House but was stymied as the Senate failed to gain cloture.  But the bill became the basis of an executive order, issued by President Obama in June, 2012, which prohibited the deportation (upon meeting certain criteria) of young people brought illegally to the USA as children. (photo, from Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images, from the announcement by the man smart enough, among few others, to recognize the slippery slope he likely had created.)

It has escaped the attention of practically everyone that the former First Lady and Senator evidently has been ahead of the times on another aspect of immigration policy.  Politico reports

The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that Arizona must offer driver’s licenses to thousands of young immigrants who entered the United States illegally but were protected from deportation by a presidential order in 2012, The Associated Press reports.

In a 6-3 decision, justices denied Gov. Jan Brewer’s request for a stay on a circuit court ruling. Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas said they would have granted the stay.

The ruling upheld a previous decision from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that ordered a stop to Brewer’s executive action that would have kept 20,000 from getting licenses. The judge hasn’t yet ruled on the circuit court’s order, and it’s unknown when that would happen, AP reports.

It seems the- or a- battle over illegal immigrants being afforded drivers' licenses is an old one, or at least seven years old. For it was in late October, 2007, during a debate among Democratic presidential hopefuls, that this exchange took place:

MR. RUSSERT: Thank you, Brian.

Senator Clinton, Governor of New York Eliot Spitzer has proposed giving driver's licenses to illegal immigrants. You told the Nashua, New Hampshire editorial board it makes a lot of sense. Why does it make a lot of sense to give an illegal immigrant a driver's license?

SEN. CLINTON: Well, what Governor Spitzer is trying to do is fill the vacuum left by the failure of this administration to bring about comprehensive immigration reform. We know in New York we have several million at any one time who are in New York illegally. They are undocumented workers. They are driving on our roads. The possibility of them having an accident that harms themselves or others is just a matter of the odds. It's probability. So what Governor Spitzer is trying to do is to fill the vacuum.

I believe we need to get back to comprehensive immigration reform because no state, no matter how well-intentioned, can fill this gap.

There needs to be federal action on immigration reform.

MR. RUSSERT: Does anyone here believe an illegal immigrant should not have a driver's license?

REP. KUCINICH: Believe what?

MR. RUSSERT: An illegal immigrant should not have a driver's license.

SEN. DODD: This is a privilege. And look, I'm as forthright and progressive on immigration policy as anyone here, but we're dealing with a serious problem here, we need to have people come forward. The idea that we're going to extend this privilege here of a driver's license, I think, is troublesome. And I think the American people are reacting to it.

We need to deal with security on our borders, we need to deal with the attraction that draws people here, we need to deal fairly with those who are here; but this is a privilege. Talk about health care, I have a different opinion. That affects the public health of all of us. But a license is a privilege, and that ought not to be extended, in my view.

MR. WILLIAMS: Who else? Senator --

SEN. CLINTON: I just want to add, I did not say that it should be done, but I certainly recognize why Governor Spitzer is trying to do it. And we have failed --

SEN. DODD: Wait a minute. No, no, no. You said yes, you thought it made sense to do it.

` SEN. CLINTON: No, I didn't, Chris. But the point is, what are we going to do with all these illegal immigrants who are (driving ?) -- (inaudible)?

SEN. DODD: Well, that's a legitimate issue. But driver's license goes too far, in my view.

SEN. CLINTON: Well, you may say that, but what is the identification if somebody runs into you today who is an undocumented worker --

SEN. DODD: There's ways of dealing with that.

SEN. CLINTON: Well, but --

SEN. DODD: This is a privilege, not a right.

SEN. CLINTON: Well, what Governor Spitzer has agreed to do is to have three different licenses; one that provides identification for actually going onto airplanes and other kinds of security issues, another which is an ordinary driver's license, and then a special card that identifies the people who would be on the road.

SEN. DODD: That's a bureaucratic nightmare.

SEN. CLINTON: So it's not the full privilege.

MR. RUSSERT: Senator Clinton, I just want to make sure what I heard. Do you, the New York Senator Hillary Clinton, support the New York governor's plan to give illegal immigrants a driver's license? You told the Nashua, New Hampshire, paper it made a lot of sense.


MR. RUSSERT: Do you support his plan?

SEN. CLINTON: You know, Tim, this is where everybody plays gotcha. It makes a lot of sense. What is the governor supposed to do? He is dealing with a serious problem. We have failed, and George Bush has failed.

Do I think this is the best thing for any governor to do? No. But do I understand the sense of real desperation, trying to get a handle on this? Remember, in New York we want to know who's in New York. We want people to come out of the shadows. He's making an honest effort to do it. We should have passed immigration reform.

It should not be lost to history that Hillary Clinton, before hit at this debate with the question of drivers' licenses, had been the overwhelming front-runner and prohibitive favorite for the Democratic nomination for president. In the wake of the controversy Clinton's response engendered, she still was a strong, but not prohibitive, favorite.   And (warning: cliche ahead) the rest is history. There will be no Democratic criticism of a court ruling which is consistent with Clinton's apparent position in 2007.

Governor Jan Brewer's administration had requested the stay from the US Supreme Court because if he state prevails in its appeal to the High Court, the licenses would have to be pulled. Good luck trying to do that.

Good luck, too, if the case ends up before the High Court, given that it was corporatist Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is amusingly often referred to as the Court's "swing" vote, who denied the stay. Speculation would have it that Kennedy, hostile to practically everything progressive except same-sex marriage, would vote to uphold the ruling from the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals. The majority opinion, if it comes to pass, would be a fascinating read, particularly that thing about driving being a privilege, not a right.

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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Fear Of The Vote

Rush Limbaugh sounds nostalgic for the good old days. But don't believe him, although on Tuesday he longingly stated of European immigrants to the USA in the 1920s

Now, they wanted to be.  They wanted to become Americans.  They had to learn English. They learned American custom.  They became acquainted with American holidays.  They studied for citizenship.  All of this they wanted.  And it took that many years to assimilate.  

Don't believe him, because Rush added "There's not a person I know that wants to deport, try to round up 15 or 20 million people and send 'em packing.  It isn't practical.  It isn't going to happen."  So he wants illegal immigrants to remain but argues "these people" (who apparently are the "anti-American left")

don't want these people to ever be self-reliant.  They want these people to be voting as dependent incompetents.  The political powers that be that are trying to make this happen see a wave of potential registered voters who are unskilled and uneducated and will never be self-reliant. Therefore they are always going to need support from government.  They are seeking dutiful, respectful, appreciative dependents. 

This consistent with the immigration position Limbaugh has taken in the past, as well as the obsession he and most other conservatives have with vote fraud that doesn't exist.  Rush does not toe the Chamber of Commerce line. He doesn't want illegal immigrants to remain so they can mow his lawn or bus his table at a fine restaurant, or even because they would depress the wage scale, though that would be a collateral benefit.

They may stay as long as they don't vote (photo, below, of line at Florida polling place in 2012, from the official student newspaper of St. Petersburg College).  Beholden to psychological projection, Rush believes Democrats want "amnesty" merely to gain a whole raft of new voters, rather than because of a humanitarian impulse and instinct to help the downtrodden.

The Repub Party already has lost the political battle over illegal immigration.   That was displayed during campaign 2012 when GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney urged illegal immigrants to "self-deport" and in response to the firestorm which erupted, Republicans barely defended their candidate or themselves. Following a near-disaster at the polls that November, the GOP attempted an "autopsy" which suggested the Party "reboot" itself in an effort to woo Hispanics and others. After the President's recent executive order on immigration, a lot of huffing and puffing ensued but as Dana Milbank wrote at the time

There will be more spluttering and stomping and shouting about Obama’s illegal and unconstitutional activities, but pay no attention. In the immigration stare-down, Republicans have already blinked. Unwilling to squander their new majority and public support by risking a government shutdown, they are quickly falling in line behind symbolic protests.

Rush Limbaugh, clothing his opposition as realism, opposes deporting illegal immigrants, As with the restoration of diplomatic relations with Cuba announced Wednesday, the GOP has lost the political war and therefore has nothing positive to recommend and no policy except to oppose Barack Obama.

And so it is now that Rush Limbaugh says keep 'em here, but don't allow them to assimilate and become citizens. If they aren't afforded the rights and privileges of Americans, including the right to vote, they can stay as long as they want,  There is a reason the title of Limbaugh's segment is "Conservatives Don't Hate Immigrants!" They don't hate immigrants. They hate voters.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Sensitive Souls

On Monday, Talking Points Memo reported

A Cleveland police union has demanded that the Cleveland Browns football team apologize for a player who wore a T-shirt before Sunday's game protesting the police shootings of two black people.

Browns wide receiver Andrew Hawkins wore a shirt reading "Justice for Tamir Rice And John Crawford III" during pre-game warmups. Rice, who was just 12 years old, died last month after a Cleveland police officer shot him when he mistook the boy's toy gun for a real weapon. Crawford, 22, was shot dead by police in August at an area Wal-Mart while he was holding an air rifle.

Cleveland Police Patrolman Union President Jeff Follmer sent local TV station WEWS a statement after Sunday's game that called for an apology from the NFL team.

"It's pretty pathetic when athletes think they know the law," the statement read, as quoted by WEWS. "They should stick to what they know best on the field. The Cleveland Police protect and serve the Browns stadium and the Browns organization owes us an apology."

Perhaps we're getting overly sensitive, even- dare I say- politically correct.  Fortunately, the Browns' organization that night, in one of their few wise moves over the past 15 years, defended their "players' rights to project their support and bring awareness to issues that are important to them if done so in a responsible manner."  Extra credit: the team knew not to cite a right to "free speech," for the First Amendment applies to government but not to private entities.

Before the Browns' response was widely reported, Digby commented

The only right way to deal with this is to say nothing. This self-righteous defensiveness just exposes them as the kind of thin-skinned, unprofessional authorities with little regard for citizens' constitutional rights that has people up in arms in the first place. Failing to treat the police with the respect they believe they deserve is not against the law. At least not yet. 

At least not yet.  A year ago, the Huffington Post had recalled

In June, for instance, a 20-year-old man named David Castellani was allegedly hit, clubbed and kicked by a group of five police officers outside an Atlantic City nightclub, CNN reports. Castellani, whose family has filed a lawsuit against Atlantic City police, also alleges that a sixth police officer allowed his police dog to attack him.

"It's definitely the worst thing that's ever happened to me in my life," the college student told the outlet of the incident, which was captured on surveillance video. (Watch it below.)

According to, K-9 officer Sterling Wheaten, one of the police officers allegedly involved in the attack, has been the "subject of more than a dozen internal affairs investigations and 21 civilian complaints of misconduct." He has also been sued on several occasions for alleged assault or the use of "excessive force," the report notes.

In December, Wheaten was found guilty of assaulting a 39-year-old man in 2008. The court determined that Wheaten should pay him $250,000 in compensatory damages, writes.

As the video above indicates, Castellani evidently was assaulted because he was yelling at police after he was removed from a casino for being underage.  (He was charged with resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, and aggravated assault on a canine and in turn filed a suit of his own).

There are at least two morals to this story.  White men are not immune to violent overreaction by police departments. Additionally, the the police-community relationship has been deteriorating for quite some time, but under the radar, brought to the fore only by the killing of Michael Brown Jr. by then-police officer Darren Wilson.  As horrid as the loss of life of young (disproportionately black) men has been, it is little more than the tip of a larger problem, one highlighted by the personal offense taken by Cleveland police to a small, largely symbolic, and tasteful protest of the death of a twelve-year old boy.

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