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The best time to threaten Obama is now

Everybody who wants something from Obama should threaten to withdraw their support and make the threat stick. It worked on gay marriage. Now it's working on immigration. From the Times:

Under the administration plan, illegal immigrants will be immune from deportation if they were brought to the United States before they turned 16 and are younger than 30, have been in the country for at least five continuous years, have no criminal history, graduated from a U.S. high school or earned a GED, or served in the military. They also can apply for a work permit that will be good for two years with no limits on how many times it can be renewed.

The policy change, announced Friday by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, will affect as many as 800,000 immigrants who have lived in fear of deportation. It bypasses Congress....

So, if it bypasses Congress, it could have been done at any time in the last three years, right?

Now is the time, since after the election it will be too late. Are you listening, AARP? NOW?

NOTE Of course, once the concession is granted, the question becomes, as it should become, "What have you done for me lately?"

UPDATE Adding, I have never found a good counter to the argument of the right that "it's illegal." If you accept the rule of law as a construct (which not all do) then you cannot argue that the banksters should be thrown in jail for breaking the law (as they should) and that illegal immigrants should not. You can argue for a higher morality, but then, that's exactly the same argument the banksters are making, right? ("Doing God's work.")

And you can argue for the obsolescence of the nation-state (so, no borders, hence no "immigration," and no law, because no enforcement body), which has the merit of consistency, but doesn't that leave us all in a dystopian, Snow Crash-like hell of humongous post-national corporations and warlords collecting rents with mercs? (To which both anarchists and libertarians will chorus "Of course not!")

All of which circles back to the idea that it seems, these days, that what the state is good for is exempting certain classes of individuals (not necessarily citizens, mind you) from the operations of the legal system, and that this is a very odd outcome indeed. One also thinks of the Quebec Surete declaring marches illegal under Bill 78 whereupon the marches proceed.

UPDATE Atrios points out, correctly, that anybody who wants to deport these kids is an asshole. What I'm trying to find, here, is a principled way of not being an asshole. Quite the existential position, though one, of course, not of relevance to personality- or party-driven politics.

UPDATE Media Matters has this to say:

In Fact, DHS' Exercise Of Prosecutorial Discretion Is Perfectly Consistent With Current Law

Which strikes me as logic-chopping, and tendentious logic-chopping at that. Push the logic as far as it can go, and the only reason to prosecute or not prosecute anybody is polling in an election year!

Again, Obama's decision has nothing to do with policy, justice, morality, humanity, or anything like that. If it did, the "prosecutorial discretion" could have been exercised at any point in the last three years. The sole and only reason Obama's not enforcing the law now is to win votes in an election. Is that really how we want the government to operate? What happens the jackboot's on the other foot and a Republican's deciding not to prosecute, say, laws against workplace discrimination or harassment? Or decides not to prosecute militiamen who shoot a few brown skinned people because then they win AZ? Now that Obama's openly set the precedent?

I support the outcome, to be clear, but there's nothing policy-oriented about the decision at all.

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Salmo's picture
Submitted by Salmo on

Simple decency is passe; our politics all about power. Therefore, it would be irresponsible, perhaps even immoral and a dereliction their obligations as a fiduciary, for the leadership of AARP and similar organizations not to threaten Obama now. Instead, AARP treated its membership to a big article about a "Social Security and Medicare Tune-up" in my most recent Bulletin (June 2012, Vol. 53 #12, pp 8 & 14). Saying that it is time for a "tune-up", and that these are 'big ideas" necessary to make it sustainable, AARP shows us once again that we are not its clients. The fact that this makes me crazy is probably a reflection of my many personal failings.

Submitted by lambert on

Lotta words in that post.

Hat, or rather waders, tip.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

nihil obstet's picture
Submitted by nihil obstet on

Immigrants, bankers. One picks my tomatoes, the other wrecks the society. Well, gee, I see a difference there.

Law doesn't, and shouldn't, carry in itself a moral imperative. It's what the governing body sets as guidelines for behavior and prescriptions for consequences for not following the guidelines. I will have a moral commitment to a law if I think it's a good and necessary guideline for the society -- so if I think that procedures to protect borrowers and depositors are important to a functioning society, I'll want to see fraudsters punished. If I think that immigrants do not hurt my society, I'll actually have moral objections to the government hurting them. My commitment to laws on subjects I know little about will reflect my commitment to the society itself -- if I think the law has been adopted and implemented through valid processes, I'll accept "It's the law" as a solid argument it its favor until I know more.

Remember, virtually everybody breaks the law, as Attorney General Robert H. Jackson noted in 1940 in his famous speech on The Federal Prosecutor: "With the law books filled with a great assortment of crimes, a prosecutor stands a fair chance of finding at least a technical violation of some act on the part of almost anyone." And so Jackson advises, "What every prosecutor is practically required to do is to select the cases for prosecution and to select those in which the offense is the most flagrant, the public harm the greatest, and the proof the most certain."

Trying to counter the right on the "It's illegal" argument is probably a waste of time. A lack of proportion, of judgment, seems to characterize most of the right. I don't think they would understand Jackson's criteria -- the most flagrant, the greatest public harm, the most certain proof. When they disagree with someone, they'll cling to the technical violation, insisting that the person they disagree with should be punished because what they did is 'ILLEGAL"!!!

The short form of this comment is -- real policy making belongs in the community.

Submitted by lambert on

Sure... Which moves to single payer how, for example.

It's like suddenly there's no API any more.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

nihil obstet's picture
Submitted by nihil obstet on

but most people want single payer. I'm saying that "Single payer isn't the law. ACA is the law," is not a valid reason that all of us should support the ACA. I was meandering on about the issue of apparent inconsistency in believing that the government should prosecute the bankers for violating the laws on fraud, but should not prosecute undocumented children for violating the laws on U.S. residency. I guess I thought I was just stating a truism of democracy, that the governing authority is legitimate insofar as it commands the assent of the governed, as opposed to a right wing more authoritarian view that a law issued by the governing authority is legitimate in and of itself.

RanDomino's picture
Submitted by RanDomino on

An extremely large health insurance cooperative, maybe. Or even forget about insurance and let's start a whole network/system of cooperative hospitals and clinics. Why bother asking, or even hoping, for such a thing to come from the government? And it will be indisputably under popular, rather than bureaucratic or oligarchic, control (which will probably be enough for it to be declared illegal...). The same model can be applied to education, food, housing... Yes, we can't do it now; but we could if we were organized. And implementing these things in small ways with organization in mind is a great way to build capacity and organization to the point where revolution is something that lives and breathes.

Submitted by hipparchia on

UPDATE Adding, I have never found a good counter to the argument of the right that "it's illegal." If you accept the rule of law as a construct (which not all do) then you cannot argue that the banksters should be thrown in jail for breaking the law (as they should) and that illegal immigrants should not. You can argue for a higher morality, but then, that's exactly the same argument the banksters are making, right? ("Doing God's work.")

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[#196]

Submitted by lambert on

Here's the difference as I see it:

Somehow, the concept of the President committing "civil disobedience" boggles my mind. The case is different. Also, in civil disobedience the protester accepts the possibility of a penalty; that's why it's civil. So is the President now going to prosecute themselves? How does that work?

UPDATE Adding, 800,000 (is it?) seems awfully close to flipping exceptions to rules. I wouldn't be so appalled at the implications (not, again, at the outcome) if we were talking Jefferson and the Louisiana Purchase. But we aren't. We're talking Obama, who already destroyed the rule of law by privatizing 500 years of land title with MERS, for example. And no due process etc etc etc. We're not in slippery slope territory here at all; we're rapidly rolling down the hill.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Submitted by lambert on

... that law enforcement is now driven by electoral politics. Not as to policy, but as to cases. And not as an exception. But as the rule.

Of course, that assumes we have the the rule of law, which we don't. So I guess this is just a second-order consequence of the primary systemic failure.

Anything goes! (Including the example I gave: An AZ governor in an election year decides not to prosecute some militiamen who murdered some brown people. Or a D mayor in an election year decided not to proscute some cops who crippled and blinded some occupiers. I do know, just to preempt here, that we have a very imperfect system. But what ought to be the exception, the failure, Obama just flipped into the rule, the normality. As with everything else.

"I have today decided to halt all enforcement of the Clean Water Act to create jobs for Americans" [and because I need bribes from Big Coal, just like I need votes from Latinos.] Show me the distinction.

And no, it wasn't always that way.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Submitted by hipparchia on

So is the President now going to prosecute themselves? How does that work?

i'd have said the president risks impeachment by the legislature, or removal from office by the voters [or the vote-buyers], rather than prosecution by some other sub-branch of the executive branch.

Submitted by lambert on

because part of civil disobedience is agreeing to accept the penalty of the legal system.

You propose other forms of penalty, which like saying vandalism is like civil disobedience because it the penalty is the disapproval of neighbors, and also proves my point, that the rule of law was dissolved into a case-by-case struggle based on political power.

Which is fine, I suppose, if I'm a real estate developer seeking a variance. 'Twas ever thus! Not so fine when the code enforcement officer isn't of my party (although a "gift") will make it right, which is where we're headed.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Submitted by hipparchia on

i agree with you that obama has pretty much made a mockery of "the rule of law."

pretty much, i agree with your statement: I support the outcome, to be clear, but there's nothing policy-oriented about the decision at all.

but this?

If you accept the rule of law as a construct (which not all do) then you cannot argue that the banksters should be thrown in jail for breaking the law (as they should) and that illegal immigrants should not.

oh, barf. refusing to enforce (or follow) a bad law is not the equivalent of refusing to enforce (or follow) a good law, whether you're a peasant, a protester, a police chief, or a president.

Submitted by lambert on

Surely the power relationships matter, here?

You're really saying that if a peasant breaks the law, that's the same as a king breaking the law? You can't be serious.

Leave aside the jurisprudential aspect, even, it's ridiculous on the level of sociology, and even morality.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Submitted by hipparchia on

You're really saying that if a peasant breaks the law, that's the same as a king breaking the law?

no.

you appeared, in your original post, to be asserting that (1) a king refusing to enforce a bad law was the moral equivalent of a king refusing to enforce a good law, and (2) a king refusing to enforce any law, bad or good, automatically means there is no rule of law.

i consider both of those to be stupid assertions, but if that's not what you were originally arguing, then either i misread your original post, or you wrote it badly.

beowulf's picture
Submitted by beowulf on

I'm no fan of illegal immigration. If Congress took this issue seriously they'd have built a double fence line running from San Diego to Brownsville and mandated every employer use E-verify to check Social Security numbers. Of course they don't because the money is on the side of them not taking it seriously. Its like Cambridge economist Ha-Joon Chang said:

“Wages in rich countries are determined more by immigration control than anything else, including any minimum wage legislation. How is the immigration maximum determined? Not by the ‘free’ labour market, which, if left alone, will end up replacing 80-90 per cent of native workers with cheaper, and often more productive, immigrants. Immigration is largely settled by politics. So, if you have any residual doubt about the massive role that the government plays in the economy’s free market, then pause to reflect that all our wages are, at root, politically determined…”
http://books.google.com/books?id=qUqoS7M...

If you think wages are too high, then yes you too should be on the side of open borders... For the rest of us, I'd just point that the new policy applies only to those who came here when they were younger than 16. Its not really a child's fault if his parents moved him across the border to live. If anyone should be offered amnesty, those who had no choice whether to cross the border would seem like the most worthy applicants.

Incidentally, that distinction (having no say in whether they'd cross the border) is the rationale the Reagan Administration used to grant amnesty to Georg Gartner, the escaped German Army POW who finally turned himself in 4 decades (!) after jumping the fence. If we can give a break to a veteran of the Afrika Korps (he did become a US citizen three years ago), I suppose we could give the same break to young people who didn't choose to come here either and who have the additional qualification of never having fought for Rommel against the US Army.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georg_G%C3%...

How's that for a counter to the " but its illegal" argument? :o)