By Doug Porter
We are six years into the Obama administration. The dire predictions made for the United States of America by the prophets of the right have failed to occur. If this were baseball instead of politics, their batting average is so low they wouldn’t even qualify for the minor leagues. This is the kind of madness passing for normal in the GOP.
Yet somehow these very same voices continue to be treated as credible. A leading candidate for the highest office in the country says–with a straight face–that German Jews could have stopped the holocaust if they had a few real men with guns. Fox News finds some clown who agrees. And now we have a “debate,” based on a fantastical assumption.
Messages of fear continue to contaminate the political process, thanks to a press dependent on access and an ever-growing pile of Dark Money. According to an article in the New York Times, a mere 158 American households coughed up nearly half of all the money donated to 2016 presidential campaigns thus far. That’s more money–including inflation–than was spent on the entire 2000 presidential campaign.
Huckabee: Border Crossers Have Mayhem in Their Hearts
GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee was in town recently, strutting his stuff by the border and channeling his inner Trump on immigration, according to the Times of San Diego:
But in a comment echoing one made by rival GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump, Huckabee said of illegal border-crossers:
“They’re not coming to make beds and pick tomatoes. They’re coming to sell drugs. They’re coming to commit crime and to bring the mayhem that they have in their hearts upon the American people.”
The fact that two border cities (San Diego and El Paso) with more a half-million in population, according to Congressional Quarterly, have the lowest crime rates for their size in the country has apparently never been shared with Huckabee.
He also is apparently unaware of the research, cited by the Wall Street Journal, going back nearly a century showing that regardless of legal status, immigrants are less likely to commit serious crimes or be behind bars than the native-born, and high rates of immigration are associated with lower rates of violent crime and property crime.
The Benghazi Committee’s Monogrammed Glocks
There have been eight congressional investigations into the administration’s response to the 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya.
Four state department employees have been demoted or transferred. Several policy recommendations made. Period. End of story.
When House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy suggested the Benghazi current investigation was actually a political move against Hillary Clinton, the reaction among Republicans was denial.
Then the other shoe dropped.
Air Force reserve Major Bradley F Podliska, a former investigator for the House select committee on Benghazi told the New York Times and CNN this weekend he was unlawfully fired in part because he sought to conduct a comprehensive probe into the deadly attacks on the US compound, instead of focusing on Hillary Clinton and the State Department.
The current investigation has gone on for 17 months and cost taxpayers $4.5 million.
How ridiculous was it inside the committee? This ridiculous, according to the Times:
With the slow progress, members have engaged in social activities like a wine club nicknamed “Wine Wednesdays,” drinking from glasses imprinted with the words “Glacial Pace,” a dig at Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Democrat of Maryland and the committee’s ranking member, Major Podliska said. Mr. Cummings used the term to question the speed of the committee’s work. At one point, several Republican staff members formed a gun-buying club and discussed in the committee’s conference room the 9-millimeter Glock handguns they intended to buy and what type of monograms they would inscribe on them, Major Podliska said.
So the question here is: why would any news organization in their right mind consider any more stories about the supposed content of the Benghazi investigation?
Today’s Union-Tribune features a rewrite of the Times story telling us about the focus of the committee on Clinton’s emails (which was also the lede in the NYT story). Gone, however, are the gnarly details about wine clubs and monogrammed handguns.
Some Good News, Desperately Needed
On Saturday, California joined Oregon as the second state to automatically register citizens to vote when they obtain or renew driver’s licenses or state identification cards. The state’s voters 6.6 million unregistered but eligible voters retain the right to opt out, cancel or change party affiliation at any time.
The New Motor Voter Act (AB 1461), submitted by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, was opposed by Republicans in the legislature.
From the Los Angeles Times:
“It’s removing the first barrier to voting, which is registration,” said Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), the bill’s author, on Saturday. “It’s going to lead to millions more Californians being registered to vote, which means more people we can talk to.”
Voting rights activists, including CalPIRG Executive Director Emily Rusch, said the voter registration bill was much-needed medicine for a system that is ailing.
“A well-functioning democracy depends on the participation of its citizens,” Rusch said, noting that the registration gap is most severe for young people. Only 52% of eligible youth 18-24 were registered to vote before the last election.
Despite the verification safeguards built into the bill–which are much higher than current rules–Republicans are doing their best to spread the fear of ramped up voter fraud by making it easier for non-citizens to cast ballots.
Contrast and Compare: DC vs Sacramento
Let’s stop and count our blessings for a second. Despite all the things that didn’t get accomplished (too many) in this year’s legislative session, at least somethings got done.
For all the bellyaching we’re exposed to from conservatives desperately seeking to denigrate California, The Sacramento Bee’s editorial board’s comparison with what doesn’t happen in the nation’s capitol should stand out as an excellent tonic.
Centrist though Brown’s politics may seem from California’s blue-state standpoint, they no doubt strike much of the rest of the country as alarmingly progressive. All the more reason for the rest of the country to take note of the momentum here.
Power abhors a vacuum, and that’s what’s the federal government’s paralysis has created. Left to its own devices, California is filling that vacuum, one big, national issue at a time.
With every stroke of the pen, Brown and the Legislature have telegraphed a message to Congress: If you can’t work together, the rest of us will act without you. Lawmakers here aren’t without problems. Too many are far too swayed by campaign money. But as the legislative year closes, it’s worth noting that not everyone in this country has stopped believing that big ideas can happen and thoughtful governance can take place.
One Last Bit of Good News
California now has the most comprehensive laws on digital privacy in the nation.
The landmark Electronic Communications Privacy Act bars any state law enforcement agency or other investigative entity from compelling a business to turn over any metadata or digital communications—including emails, texts, documents stored in the cloud—without a warrant. It also requires a warrant to track the location of electronic devices like mobile phones, or to search them.
Also, from NBC News:
Nicole Ozer, technology and civil liberties policy director at the ACLU of California, said he hopes the California law becomes “a model for the rest of the nation in protecting our digital privacy rights.”
Adobe, one of the many tech companies backing the bill, agreed. “Hopefully, this action by California lawmakers will jump-start a much-needed debate in Washington on electronic privacy,” Mary Catherine Wirth, associate general counsel, said in a blog post
On This Day: 1933 – Some 2,000 workers demanding union recognition closed down dress manufacturing in Los Angeles. 1945 – Private First Class Desmond T. Doss was presented with the Congressional Medal of Honor for outstanding bravery as a medical corpsman. He was the first conscientious objector in American history to win the award. 1985 – Ricky Wilson (B-52s) died of complications from AIDS at the age of 32.
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