Thursday, January 30, 2014
Obama's SOTU buries immigration up front without any detail
I'm inclined to say it was the least bad statement on immigration that he or George W. Bush have made in the SOTU addresses. It felt buried.
And despite the fact that the news media has been making it seem like immigration is about 60% of Mr. Obama's agenda for this year, he gave it only a perfunctory paragraph. Here it is:
"Finally, if we are serious about economic growth, it is time to heed the call of business leaders, labor leaders, faith leaders, and law enforcement – and fix our broken immigration system. Republicans and Democrats in the Senate have acted. I know that members of both parties in the House want to do the same. Independent economists say immigration reform will grow our economy and shrink our deficits by almost $1 trillion in the next two decades. And for good reason: when people come here to fulfill their dreams – to study, invent, and contribute to our culture – they make our country a more attractive place for businesses to locate and create jobs for everyone. So let’s get immigration reform done this year. Let's get it done. It's time."
Of course, we know the absolutely horrible things Mr. Obama would do under the term "immigration reform."
But it seems a good sign that he thought it would be harmful to his cause to tell Americans anything specific that he wants on immigration.
We had been told ahead of time that he would play nice with his immigration statement so as not to offend House Republicans who he is trying to win over. Still, I was a bit surprised -- and I think encouraged -- by his timidity.
Republicans picked one of the House's top party leaders -- Rep. Cathy McMorris Rogers (R-Wash.) -- to deliver the response.
Because many news media have practically declared the inevitability of House Republicans helping pass an amnesty this year, I was much more interested to hear what she would say.
Since she didn't really mention that many issues, it wasn't a good sign that she and her colleagues thought she should make such a big deal about immigration reform. Still, hers was also just a paragraph and more vague than specific:
"And yes, it’s time to honor our history of legal immigration. We’re working on a step-by-step solution to immigration reform by first securing our borders and making sure America will always attract the best, brightest, and hardest working from around the world."
But her rhetoric is vague enough that the Republicans at their Chesapeake Bay retreat Wednesday through Friday won't have to embarrass her or seem to reject her when they show no enthusiasm for the GOP leadership's definition of "imigration reform."
Back when I was a congressional correspondent sitting in the press box overlooking the SOTU proceedings, I took a lot of notes on how and when particular Members responded to parts of the speech. I had to depend on the camera feed for the TV networks, but I was intrigued with what I saw from the top 3 House Republican leaders during the President's immigration paragraph.
After his first sentence ending in "fix our broken immigration system," Vice President Biden quickly moved to his feet as did all Democrats in a pretty resounding ovation.
That certainly put Speaker Boehner in a tough position. He knew the cameras were on him. His corporate donors want him to give Mr. Obama what he wants. But Mr. Boehner also had earlier this morning seen a strong negative reaction from his Republican Members to the news reports about a possible GOP legalization plan. Does the Speaker rehearse his reactions ahead of time? What would he do on this one?
I was relieved that Mr. Boehner didn't seem to have the slightest inclination to stand the way leaders of the "other party" sometimes feel they have to when baseball, mom and apple pie are being lauded. Instead, Mr. Boehner gave a non-commital facial expression and slowly applauded while remaining seated.
The camera swung to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor who was giving a moderate applause while looking very serious. At the edge of the camera shot was the No. 3 House Republican Kevein McCarthy also being careful not to look too enthusiastic, despite recently saying that he looked forward to moving legislation that gives work permits and legalization to most illegal aliens.
It looked like maybe a half-dozen Republicans were confident enough of their constituents to stand with the Democrats in the ovation.
At the end of the President's immigration paragraph, there was more heavy applause. The camera caught Mr. Cantor not joining at first and then offering a pretty slow clap.
I'm not going to read too much into what the various body language tells us about where these GOP leaders stand but I think tells us worlds about where they think their constituency stands.
Some more Reactions to Obama’s State of the Union Address
“The president says that the economy is improving substantially. Sadly, the average worker does not believe that. As President Barack Obama enters his sixth year in the White House, 68 percent of Americans say the country is either stagnant or worse off since he took office, according to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.
“There is good reason for the pessimism. In 2007, 66 percent of Americans over age 16 either had a job or were looking for one. Today, that is down to 62.8 percent, the lowest labor-force participation rate since 1978.”
“In his meandering mess of a speech tonight, President Obama managed to completely gloss over the relevant facts regarding the failures of his signature health care law. Rather than admit the problems and apologize for them, the president chose to ignore the millions of Americans who’ve learned that even if they like their plan they can’t keep it, or even if they like their doctor they can keep him. Instead, he based his metric of success on the number of Americans signed up for Medicaid, an already overburdened and failing entitlement system which offers the false promise of care to millions of Americans.
“President Obama has made health care unaffordable for millions of citizens while needlessly disrupting our economy. At most, his health care exchanges are signing up 15 percent of the uninsured Americans they were supposed to enroll. And why? Because the American people are finding that the promises he made about bringing down the price of health insurance for individuals and families were complete and utter lies. If all the promises he’d made about Obamacare had come true, the president’s speech tonight would’ve been a victory lap. Instead, it’s a grim insistence that his broken policy will endure, despite how much it has hurt Americans across the country.”
“President Obama dares to say ‘research shows government preschool is a great investment’ just a few months after yet another highest-quality study shows it’s fool’s gold. The president apparently prefers only the poor-quality research that supports his agenda of saddling kids with debt while failing to equip them to pay it off.
“The president is quite bold to claim his micromanaging, dictatorial education policies are already improving student achievement when the statistics show his penchant for making laws without congress has slowed poor and minority kids’ achievement growth. The common core education standards and tests his administration has illegally pushed on schools still have no positive track record despite millions spent, and millions more to come.”
“It seems to me if there was a theme that ran through his talk, it’s that executive orders will fall from his pen like leaves from trees on a breezy day in late fall. Congress should grow a spine and remind the president that its job is to make the laws, and the president’s job is to see that the laws are faithfully executed. That’s why Congress is called the legislative branch of government and the presidency is called the executive branch.
“Apart from throwing a few crumbs to his base, President Obama produced nothing novel or interesting in his speech. But he did sadly reaffirm his commitment to a virtually Utopian society in which government takes the initiative on nearly all fronts. And that is plainly not in the spirit of what is distinctively American or just.
“I had hoped for some learning from the president — to the effect that the private sector is where solutions lie to nearly all our real problems. Government’s only role must be, as Jefferson said, to ‘secure [our] rights’ — not to train Americans for anything other than, perhaps, defending the country from potential aggressors. It is not the job of government to ‘give us a chance,’ since our form of government doesn’t include some monarch handing out favors to subjects.”
“From the SOTU, you’d never guess that we have a record low in number of people employed, record levels of debt, abysmal international standing in education, chaos in the Middle East, and millions losing their health insurance. But we’re going to the Olympics, finding natural gas (on private lands only), and planning (still) to close Gitmo (thereby upholding our constitutional ideals). Amanda in Arizona got health coverage, a small business opened in Detroit, and carbon emissions are way down (no attribution given to our dismal economy). All we need to do now is extend unemployment insurance, raise the minimum wage, and end gun violence. That last bit is one of a number of things Obama promises to do single handedly if Congress won’t cooperate.
“Now that ObamaCare has fixed health care, and reduced al Qaeda to a mere remnant, we can move on to fixing education.
“From the enthusiastic applause, it would appear that Congress is persuaded by this fantasy, though a few audience shots showed some dour-looking Republicans. They’re the ones getting blamed for ‘creating crises.’ Otherwise, all is well, and God bless America.
“How can anyone take this charade seriously?”
“Richard Nixon was called ‘Tricky Dick.’ Bill Clinton was called ‘Slick Willy.’ Perhaps Obama will be referred to as ‘Smoothie Barack’? The State of the Union Speech is theatre, a one-time performance, delivered for its quotability on wide range of issues, but almost instantly forgotten. All that remains of it is the memory of how smooth Obama’s delivery was because, if there is one thing he can do, it’s deliver a speech.
“What Obama delivered was a list of the same policies that have ill-served the nation. After five years, we know that what he cannot do is provide leadership sufficient to govern America. Foreign or domestic, his policies have been marked by failure.
“He made reference to the global warming hoax, saying ‘The debate is settled. Climate change is a fact.’ The debate is not settled. It has raged since the later 1980s when the hoax was introduced. Global warming is such a failed hoax it has had to be renamed climate change. He then referred to ‘carbon pollution,’ but carbon dioxide is not a pollutant. It is vital to all life on Earth. The fundamental truth remains of no importance to the president.
“On the long roster of issues he addressed, he placed an emphasis on putting Americans to work again, but that remains a difficult goal to achieve when his administration is scaling new heights in the production of regulations that choke the nation’s business community, from large corporations to small businesses. There was no mention of the Keystone XL pipeline which his own State Department estimated could produce 42,000 jobs.
“He advocated raising the minimum wage when all that will accomplish will be to reduce jobs and drive up costs to consumers.
“He dramatized Obamacare by using examples of people he said benefitted from it, but made no mention of the millions who have or will lose their healthcare plans and even their choice of a personal physician. He’s smooth, but he is also an accomplished liar.
“By the end of the week, it will be back to normal in Congress. The president will be ignoring it, issuing executive orders when he can. Sen. Harry Reid, the Democratic Senate Majority Leader, will continue to obstruct more than 150 pieces of legislation sent by the Republican controlled House to aid the economy and address other issues.
“Obama is a smooth talker, but talk is not enough. We were treated to a long speech, but one that had as little real substance to suggest its content will ever be fulfilled and, in many cases, that is a very good thing.”
UK: Catholics lean to Left as Anglicans go Right: Study finds how each denomination of Christianity is likely to vote
Catholics are more likely to vote Labour while Church of England worshippers most consistently back the Conservatives, according to new research.
Think tank Theos said they have carried out the first in-depth analysis into the relationship between religion and politics in Britain.
Catholics were found to be the most left-wing of Christian groups and more pro-welfare than Anglicans, who were said to be more authoritarian in their political values.
Non-religious people are most consistently libertarian, taking a strong line against censorship and are sceptical about management and the fair distribution of wealth.
Nick Spencer, Theos’s research director and co-author of the report, said that while there are clear alignments between religious views and voting, 'block votes' do not exist in Britain.
'Every five years or so, someone claims that this or that religious (or non-religious group) might swing the election,' he said.
'Politics isn’t like that, however, and this report shows that religious block votes do not exist in Britain as many claim they do in America.
'It does show, however, that there are clear and significant alignments between various religious and political camps, of which politicians should be aware.
'At a time when mass party membership, political ideology and party tribalism are at a low ebb, we should pay attention to the big political values that shape our voting behaviour.'
The report ‘Voting and Values in Britain: Does religion count?’ was based on data from the latest 2010 census.
Researches said non-Christian groups were harder to analyse because of small samples.
However, in 2010 Muslims tended to strongly vote Labour, as did Hindus and Sikhs to a lesser extent.
By contrast, the Jewish vote was more likely to go to the Conservatives and Buddhist to the Liberal Democrats.
All groups, irrespective of religion, rated the economy, immigration, the budget deficit and unemployment as their most important issues.
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Posted by JR at 1:55 AM