By Doug Porter
Spurred on by President Obama’s inaugural promises and by GOP fears that the changing make up of the electorate will doom the party’s future, immigration reform legislation is likely to take a high profile in the coming weeks. The President is pushing for a comprehensive plan that he will announce Tuesday in Las Vegas; Republicans want piecemeal reform. From The Hill:
House Republicans have reshuffled their troops ahead of a high-stakes clash with President Obama over immigration reform, leaving reform advocates with a new glimmer of hope that an elusive resolution to the thorny issue is within grasp this year.
Fueling the push, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a rising star in the Republican Party, is advocating targeted immigration reforms that have already won the endorsement of conservative standard-bearer Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).
Sensing the shift in tone, Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), Congress’s loudest immigrant-rights advocate, gave up his seat on the Financial Services Committee this year in favor of a temporary Judiciary Committee spot that will bring him to the center of the debate. The outspoken Democrat had predicted the Republicans “would get religion” after the election numbers came in, and he’s scrambling to ensure Congress doesn’t fritter away the rare political opportunity to enact sweeping reforms.
Here in San Diego, the immigration issue has moved to center stage this week. A group calling itself the San Diego Table on Immigration Policy staged a press conference this week featuring local activist groups along with high profile local leaders, including Mayor Filner, City Councilman David Alvarez and labor leader Lorena Gonzalez. They’re promoting pathways to citizenship, a safer border and opportunities to allow legal migration into the U.S. and calling for legislative action to fix the current immigration system.
Meanwhile, the rightist gang that’s thus far blocked action on this issue is rallying its troops. From Talker’s Magazine, an industry publication aimed at talk radio aficionados:
The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) is organizing the radio row at which talk hosts from across the country will broadcast live for two days from Capitol Hill debating immigration reform while interviewing members of Congress, law enforcement officials, experts, activists and citizens who live along the border. FAIR says that since the spring of 2007 when “Hold Their Feet to the Fire” successfully helped defeat the McCain-Kennedy Amnesty Bill, the event has grown each year due to mounting public concerns about illegal immigration and talk radio’s expanding influence on the public policy process. The organization also states that with an illegal alien bill likely in spring, this year’s event is expected to be the largest yet with 60 or more hosts attending.
Notice they refer to yet-to-be-introduced immigration legislation as an “illegal alien bill”. FAIR has been named by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) as a hate group. FAIR was a central player in drafting Arizona SB 1070, a controversial law vehemently opposed by immigration reform groups.
Democracy Denied: The Republican Voting Plan to Seize Power
Some Republicans have come up with a creative way to win presidential elections: change the rules about how votes are counted.
The idea is to have GOP controlled legislatures change state laws so votes in the electoral college are divided proportionally (by Congressional district). What this does is guarantee that whom ever controls the House of Representatives controls the presidency. And given thegerrymandering (which GOP leaders have admitted to) that occurred after the last census, the control of the nation’s chief executive position is a lock for the GOP.
If last year’s election had decided according to these new Republicans plans, Romney would have led Obama by at least 11 electoral votes.
President Barack Obama led nationally by five million popular votes in 2012 and ended up defeating Mitt Romney by 126 electoral votes.
This idea isn’t some crackpot plot. It’s actually happening. From the Huffington Post:
On Wednesday, Virginia‘s Republican-controlled legislature became one of the first to advance a bill that would allocate electoral votes by congressional district. Last week, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus endorsed pushing through similar proposals in other states with Republican legislative majorities.
A Good Word for Public Libraries
The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project released a report yesterday with good news for library lovers who still value the pages of a real book. From the LA Times:
Based on “a survey of 2,252 Americans ages 16 and above” conducted between October 15 and November 10 of last year, the Pew report assures us that, even in the digital age, libraries continue to serve a variety of functions, with nearly 60% of respondents having had some kind of interaction with a library in the last 12 months, and 91% saying that “public libraries are important to their communities.”
As for the way these numbers break down, the vast majority of patrons (73%) still visit libraries to browse the shelves and borrow print books. In contrast, only 26% use library computers or WiFi connections to go online.
Attention Obamacare ‘Guinea Pigs’
I have plenty of issues with the sausage-making process that cranked out Obamacare, but I have a lot more issues with the status quo. Or even the concept that we could go back to good old days when you could show up at your doctor’s office with a chicken carcass to barter for healthcare.
But the barely disguised glee that the sore losers at our Daily Fishwrap take in pointing out Obamacare’s potential shortcomings makes me ill. From today’s paper:
To call Obamacare flawed is an understatement on the order of calling the Amazon River a tiny stream. The Affordable Care Act of 2010 is so fraught with internal contradictions that it sometimes seems designed to collapse the existing U.S. health-care system.
We suspect it won’t be long before millions of Californians wish their leaders weren’t quite so gung-ho about making them be the guinea pigs for Obamacare.
I don’t have to suspect. I know that UT-San Diego has a horrible record when it comes to prognosticating. And despite its faults (and all the attempts to subvert it), Obamacare (ACA) is the law of the land. Here’s one story about some good that it’s already doing:
My uncle is in the hospital, extremely ill. The first hospital he went to looked him over and sent him home. The second one admitted him, did some tests, and then told him there was nothing they could do and that he should go home to die. We assume the problem is that the insurance companies do not want to pay what it would take to help him.
My parents intended to hire a lawyer to fight the hospital and insist that they keep trying. But when I called to get details, I found that a lawyer was no longer necessary. My uncle has been provided with a patient advocate, thanks to the ACA.
Now, from what I’ve heard it is entirely possible that there is truly nothing that can be done for him. If so, we will at least have the comfort of knowing that he was sent home for the right reasons, that they did not deny him due to money. But if there is anything that they can do, Obamacare may save his life.
Much of my family is Conservative. They have spent the last couple of years worried and whining over their perception of what the ACA would do. But here, their very first actual contact with the new system is helping in a way that they had never dreamed possible.
Hedgecock Watch: Hurry Up and Die Edition
This seems like an appropriate follow up to the above story… Local pundit Roger Hedgecock was at it again on Wednesday, trying to keep the Obamacare scare alive. Since blogger WCWatch is posting nearly daily on Hedgecock’s blovations at Daily Kos, I’ve decided to share these observations on a regular basis. Here’s the latest:
During his Jan.23, 2013 talk show on KFMB AM, Roger Hedgecock, the right wing ex-mayor of San Diego, said that the recent controversial comments by Japan’s finance minister about end-of-life medical care proves that Obamacare means “You old people, hurry up and die.”
Hedgecock said that because Japan has universal healthcare, and because their finance minister made controversial remarks about the costs and value of keeping elderly, dying patients indefinitely on life support, this shows the intent of Obamacare and “the final government end of the road for all of these promises about medical care. When they can’t afford their promises, you old people, hurry up and die.”
Hedgecock charged that Obama said to old people, “take your pill, go home, because we’re not going to care for you, that’s it, you’re done, you’re gone.” After not being able to find a clip of Obama actually saying these things, Hedgecock went on to advertise a “listener trip” to Canada — which, of course, has universal healthcare.
If you’d like to participate in an email campaign to let Roger’s advertisers know that you find this sort of slather offensive, send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The GOP War on Women Continues
A Republican lawmaker in New Mexico introduced a bill on Wednesday that would legally require victims of rape to carry their pregnancies to term in order to use the fetus as evidence for a sexual assault trial
The legislation, introduced by state Rep. Cathrynn Brown (R), would charge a rape victim who ended her pregnancy with a third-degree felony for “tampering with evidence.”
“Tampering with evidence shall include procuring or facilitating an abortion, or compelling or coercing another to obtain an abortion, of a fetus that is the result of criminal sexual penetration or incest with the intent to destroy evidence of the crime,” the bill says.
Third-degree felonies in New Mexico carry a sentence of up to three years in prison.
After media reports about this bit of legislative brilliance hit the wires yesterday, Rep. Brown quickly backtracked, saying her intent was to keep rapists from forcing victims to get an abortion to cover up the crime.
Riight. I didn’t know this was such a pressing issue.
A Really Big Opportunity for City Bike Riders
The governmental agency (SANDAG) charged with allocating resources (that’s money!) for various transportation projects is soliciting public input for ideas on making the neighborhoods of North Park, Normal Heights, City Heights, Kensington-Talmadge and others considered to be in the “mid-City” area more user friendly for bicyclists.
Recommendations on where SANDAG can best implement projects on the ground can be will be discussed next Wednesday, January 30, 2013 – 6:00 to 8:30pm at the City Heights Wellness Center (4440 Wightman Street, Suite #200 San Diego, CA 92105) RSVP by email:Bridget.Enderle@sandag.org.
Below is a map of the project’s preliminary study corridor and is one of the first of the Regional Bike Plan’s high priority projects to begin the planning phase.
Step One for Fixing San Diego’s Infrastructure
Regular readers of this column know that I rarely have much good to say about R-R-R-Republicans, but I’ve got to make an exception today.
San Diego City Councilman Mark Kersey released a proposed work plan for the City Council’s Infrastructure Committee yesterday. Kersey chairs the newly created panel, which will meet for the first time on Monday. Those of you who like reading this sort of thing can find it here.
It’s chock full of ideas that actually seem to make sense for San Diego. Among them is the suggestion that the city have a comprehensive approach to identifying and prioritizing needs, which are currently handled individually by departments. From a KFMB/CBS8 report:
“As we begin to emerge from our fiscal woes, we have to address cracked sidewalks, pothole-filled roads, broken storm drains and city facilities that are falling apart in our neighborhoods,” Kersey said. “We will be creating strategies to deliver projects faster, going into the communities to listen to their priorities, and developing a five-year plan to fix our long-neglected infrastructure needs.”
San Diego was unable to fully fund its infrastructure needs over the past decade because of its fiscal woes. City workers have picked up the pace in fixing up streets over the past two years, however.
Kersey will propose that the city properly catalogue its infrastructure needs, identify one-time financial investments to pay for those needs, establish the best management and fiscal practices, determine acceptable service levels and performance measures, hold community meetings to take public input, and come up with a policy that defines how a need becomes a project.
Wow. No hidden agendas. Just. Getting. The. Job. Done. What a concept.
On This Day: 1858 – Mendelssohn’s “Wedding March” was presented for the first time, as the daughter of Queen Victoria married the Crown Prince of Prussia. 1915 – In New York, Alexander Graham Bell spoke to his assistant in San Francisco, inaugurating the first transcontinental telephone service. 1961 – John F. Kennedy presented the first live presidential news conference from Washington, DC. The event was carried on radio and television.
Eat Fresh! Today’s Farmers’ Markets: Fallbrook (102 S. Main, at Alvarado) 10 am – 2 pm, Imperial Beach (Seacoast Dr. at Pier Plaza) 2 – 7:30 pm, Kearny Mesa (No. Island Credit Union pkg lot 5898 Copley) 10:30 am – 1:30 pm, La Mesa Village (Corner of Spring St. and University) 2 – 6 pm, Rancho Bernardo (Bernardo Winery parking lot 13330 Paseo del Verano Norte) 9 am – noon, Southeast San Diego(4981 Market St. West of Euclid Ave. Trolley Station) 2 – 6 pm
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