Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Incredible Shrinking Obama Presidency, How Illegal Immigrants Are Like Customers

It's Been a Bad, Bad Month for Obama
Republicans aren't stupid.  Well, most of the time, at least.  Have you noticed how the noise over Benghazi has quieted down?  Sure, there are still Republicans repeating the talking points, but they are by and large beginning to realize what I have been saying for weeks - there is no real scandal there and the American people don't particularly care.

On the IRS scandal, which I believe to be real, the President is looking more and more out-of-control.  He has claimed that he found out about the scandal from the press accounts, in spite of evidence that higher-ups in the Obama administration knew of the issue last year.  The untenable nature of the President's position on this issue is clear to me - my greatest fear is not that he is lying and knew about the issue - my greatest fear is that he is telling the truth and that he is not in control of his administration.  Either way, Democrats trying to defend the scandal as not that big a deal should exercise some caution - poo-pooing the use of the IRS to cause problems for political opponents is tantamount to walking away from being the party of civil liberties.

The most chilling issue of all, in my opinion, is the investigation of reporters over leaks of classified information.  While I call this an issue and not a scandal, as it does not appear that there were any laws broken and the investigations were all conducted within the bounds of the law as it is understood, applying legal pressure to reporters for doing nothing other than listening to sources and reporting what they say is chilling.  Let me be fair - there are definitely times where national security concerns compel the government to go after those who work in government and leak classified information.  That is fair game.  But investigating reporters and seizing their records and e-mail for doing nothing more than reporting what is leaked to them is essentially criminalizing journalism.  There is good reason that all of the press, liberal, conservative and moderate are united against the Obama administration is simple - regardless of your political persuasion, if you are reporter, you don't like to see Freedom of the Press trampled upon.

The common thread between the IRS and AP/Fox News events is a disrespect for constitutional liberties - Freedom of Speech in the first case and Freedom of the Press in the second.  President Obama has a horribly weak record on civil liberties - he has extended the Patriot Act, used drone strikes on US Citizens, kept GITMO open (in spite of his half-hearted protestations that Congress has stopped him from closing it, he hasn't even released prisoners that have been cleared) and now used the heavy hand of the government to attempt to intimidate political opponents and journalists.

The man who promised the most open, transparent administration ever and to change the way that Washington did business is a long way from living up to his promises.

On Immigration and Internet Taxes
Millions of people ignore a clearly written law in the United States.  Everyone is in alignment that there needs to be reform of the law, but some protest that those who broke the law in the past shouldn't be given a pass or rewarded for their illegal activities.

Am I talking about immigration reform?  No, I'm talking about order stuff from

Sales tax laws are clear in every state that has a sales tax (New Hampshire and Delaware residents, you are off the hook) - if you order from, you must submit the sales tax that is owed on the out of state purchase to your local state government.  You thought internet sales were tax-free?  Wrong.  The law only states that in states where it doesn't have a physical presence that Amazon itself does not have to collect the tax on behalf of the state government.  You still owe it.  So if you are among the millions who have ordered from Amazon and not sent in your tax payment, you are a criminal.  You broke the law.  Should we come and throw you in jail for your crimes?

I explain all of this to debunk the notion of illegal immigrants as criminals.  Yes, in the technical sense, that word is true - entering the US illegally is a crime and a criminal, by definition is someone who commits a crime.  But that definition applies equally well to customers.  In fact, the reasons for breaking immigration laws are typically a lot more noble than the reasons for breaking our tax laws.  In the case of immigration, most illegal immigrants are breaking the law to provide food and shelter for their families.  in the case of Amazon, most people are breaking the law because they are too lazy or too cheap to pay an extra 5 or 6% on their purchase.

So let's get over this righteous indignation about illegal immigration and work on solving the problem.  And the solution has to involve a legal, dignified path for the 11 million already here without their papers.  Let's hope that conservative leaders like Marco Rubio, who has seen the light on this issue can convince enough Republicans to join him to make this effort happen - an effort that has the support of not just liberals and Democrats but Republicans like George W. Bush and John McCain.

It is time to bring people out of the shadows.

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