(CNN) -- Amid a number of bills filed in Texas that address the issue of illegal immigration, one, proposed by Republican state Rep. Debbie Riddle, stands out.
As proposed, House Bill 1202 would create tough state punishments for those who "intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly" hire an unauthorized immigrant. Violators could face up to two years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000.
But it is an exception included in the bill that is drawing attention. Those who hire unauthorized immigrants would be in violation of the law -- unless they are hiring a maid, a lawn caretaker or another houseworker.
New applications for U.S. jobless benefits fell by 20,000 to 368,000 in the week of Feb. 26, the lowest level in nearly three years, the Labor Department reported Thursday. The last time claims were that low was in May 2008. Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected first-time jobless claims to rise...
A few months ago, reader Danielle sent in this comment: "Only the conservatives is willing to hurt a myriad of people to further their political objectives for power. They are among the list of slimiest species on this kind of planet."
We published a tongue in cheek (we think) reply from sometime contributor, the perpetually brilliant JMyste. He began with this:
I have to agree with you, Danielle. The republicans are a slimy species: sapiens, I believe. As I am sure you would agree, though, not all sapiens on this type of planet are pure evil (just most of them). Other planets, of course, perhaps planets of a different type, may have species that would rival the sapien in its quest for sin (and by sapien, I mean conservative).
I know some conservatives who believe that taxes should be kept low and should be equal rather than progressive and that laws of God should be more prominent in our lives, and that people should be rewarded for maintaining self-sufficient lives where possible. That is mostly their concerns. Idiots!
As a member of the previously described sapien species, I do indeed acknowledge the truth and good behind minimally necessary taxation, belief and hopefully living as God has dictated us sapiens to live, and a rugged individualism to try and work and provide for ourselves, while looking out for those that are unable to provide for themselves.
Taxing anyone more than what is necessary for the government's fulfillment of constitutional duties ONLY is a sort of tyranny.
While a belief in God should never be imposed on individuals, how much better a world would we all live in now if people were to actually LIVE by the dictates Christ gave us to love one another as we love ourselves?
Lastly, work and being self sufficient, for those that are physically and mentally capable of doing so, provides a sort of purpose and dignity to one's self. Having others provide for one's self when one is fully capable of doing so, robs that person of dignity and enslaves him as dependent upon another for his sustenance and indeed his life.
Being a sapien, I suppose I am too dense to understand how these three concepts are bad and evil. If all people, whether Neanderthal, Cro-Magnon, or Homosapien actually took the efforts to give what was constitutionally necessary in taxes for the good of society, lived a loving life towards their fellow species of mankind as God has asked us to do, and work hard enough so as to not intentionally be a burden on our fellow species, would not this world be a better place?
If not, perhaps I need to evolve to a higher order of species in order to understand how I am wrong here.
On behalf of myself and, I suspect, most of those to the left of T. Paine, allow me to respond:
"Have you drugged your kid today?"
That's the bumper sticker on English teacher Tarah Ausburn's Prius that got her fired. (She has a total of 61 on her car.)
The high school teacher from Surprise, Arizona, refused to peel off the sticker after five parents at Imagine Prep High School complained and administrators ordered it -- or her car -- removed.
It comes from a human desire for justice, this flinty eyed moralism. Oddly enough, it comes to us in a they-have-it-coming attitude toward the varied misfortunes of others, generated by a wishful thinking: please, let them deserve their hardship. It comes to us in wishing for misfortune on those of whom we disapprove. They came to this country illegally. Those they choose to love are not as we were taught as children. They must be punished for challenging what we hold dear, for challenging us. For challenging God.
And it comes to us in public policy. The country was reckless, profligate, extravagant, spending what it did not have. For the world to be right, for the universe to be sensible, this shamelessness must have some consequence, some pain. Those who encourage bad behavior are as bad as, even worse than, those who have taken the low road: the poor, the jobless, the homeless or soon-to-be-homeless. The undeserving. Those who are not like us.
At the heart of it, at the core, this is what the denial of economic facts is all about. Economists say that sucking money flow out of the economy, just when a stuttering recovery is beginning to take hold, will be a job killer. Depending on which cuts will take place first, the number of new unemployed will be as many as 2.4 million, or as few as 700,000. Those who push for such policies insist, against all evidence, that they will create jobs. Those who follow economic theory say no. But there is a deeper, more intuitive truth at work. Pain must precede reward. Sacrifice, as must all virtue, will be rewarded. This is what a lifetime of teaching and experience has taught us.
It is a morally necessary pain. "We have a moral responsibility to address the problems we face," said House Speaker John Boehner this week. "Yes, this debt is a mortal threat to our country; it is also a moral threat." The fable of the ant and the grasshopper, one industriously saving and eventually prospering, the other heedless of consequence and starving, is not merely a practical guide. It is a morality play, a description of how the world ought to work. How the world must work if morality is to have any meaning. It is why, last August, Representative Boehner insisted that evidence should be disregarded. "I don’t need to see GDP numbers or to listen to economists. All I need to do is listen to the American people..."
And it is pain that will be rewarded. The deserving will benefit in the end. Eric Cantor (R-VA), refuted mainstream economists this week with this common sense, moral approach. "Like the gardener pruning the tree, we do not cut for the sake of cutting, but out of necessity. It’s the only way to restore economic health and free up the private capital necessary for new growth."
It is the Puritan in us that finds this approach appealing, and it is our faith that demands we believe it, regardless of the so-called "experts." This is how the world ought to work. This is how we, as a moral people, must force it to operate. Cut away the dead weight. Prune the unproductive.
In coming ages, when we as a society reach some sort of combined maturity, we may one day look back at the needless, foolish, suffering and embrace a new lesson:
Moralism is not morality. Prigs are not saints.
Responding to accelerating evidence of global warming, Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) yesterday was quoted on climate change, "There isn't any real science to say we are altering the climate or path of the Earth."
With similar reasoning, congressional leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) last week spoke against most mainstream economists. He proposed that extracting money out during a still rickety recovery from a near depression will result in stronger economic activity. "It’s important to recognize the link between cutting spending and growing the economy. Like the gardener pruning the tree, we do not cut for the sake of cutting, but out of necessity. It’s the only way to restore economic health and free up the private capital necessary for new growth."
Using identical logic in a very different context, Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi responded to increasing popular opposition, by insisting there are no protests going on in his country. "They love me, all my people with me, they love me all. They will die to protect me, my people."
As labor battles erupt in state capitals around the nation, a majority of Americans say they oppose efforts to weaken the collective bargaining rights of public employee unions and are also against cutting the pay or benefits of public workers to reduce state budget deficits, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.
In the film Heaven Can Wait, the owner of a national football team has suddenly become an ex-owner. He's out of the game. A friend commiserates.
"He got my team. The son of a bitch got my team."
"What kind of pressure did he use, Milt?"
"I asked for sixty-seven million," (pause) "and he said okay."
When reporter Jonathan Allen left Politico last year to work for House member Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) it quickly became apparent it wasn't working out. And Politico was hesitant to hire him back. Wouldn't his objectivity be compromised by his brief stint working for a Democrat?
They did rehire him, and he seems to have devoted himself to proving their concerns to be unfounded. Objectivity these days is often defined as finding the extremes, then coming down as exactly between them as possible, independent of available evidence. Poor Jonathan Allen has joined the mainstream ethic, maintaining evenhandedness to the point of downplaying, not to put too fine a point on it, facts.
For example, last April the head of the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, Doug Elmendorf, said publicly that the level of federal deficits are unsustainable in the decades ahead. He singled out Medicaid and Medicare costs as two culprits. His analysis pretty much cleared Social Security. He was also firm, very firm, about the recently passed Obamacare. Obamacare would bring down the deficit. Health Care Reform would help solve the problem. “I’m very comfortable with the numbers we released.”
Conservative bloggers and associated news sources seized on "unsustainable," forgot to include the "decades" part, and completely omitted anything about Obamacare bringing down the deficit. Pretty much everyone left out an important fact, that President Obama had said repeatedly about the unsustainable deficits that he did not intend to sustain them. They were to help us get out of the economic recession and keep unemployment from going sky high. Then he would submit budgets to bring spending back in line.
Intrepid reporter Jonathan Allen would clear it all up for us, right? Well, not so much. He led with "unsustainable" and said the President was not doing anything about it. There was nothing about the economy. Nothing. Sigh.
He did mention that Elmendorf was "very comfortable with the numbers we released" on healthcare. But any casual reader who tried to discern anything at all about those numbers would have to remain mystified. No mention that Health Reform would reduce the deficit.
In fairness, Allen was writing for Politico, where too much factual content will violate a rigid standard of neutrality. One story that favors Democrats must be balanced with another for Republicans. One that looks good for liberals must be offset with one for conservatives. One for the fire brigade must be accompanied by one for the raging fire (Sorry, Mr. Churchill). If facts must be sacrificed, well, life is filled with little trade offs.
All of which provides a backdrop to Allen's most recent contribution to balanced journalism. Yesterday, he told of how limp wristed Democrats in the Senate had caved to hard nosed, tough congressional Republicans. The headline, "Republicans win round one of budget fight", fairly represents the report. It begins, "Democrats threw in the towel Friday..." An anonymous Democratic aide is quoted, "These guys are the worst at playing chicken that I’ve ever seen."
How did these tough Republicans do it? You have to click to the last part of the report to find out, so I'll tell you. Instead of the programs Republicans wanted to cut, they outsmarted the Democrats with a last minute shift. They attacked those programs "President Barack Obama has already identified for reduction or elimination" so "Democrats finally realized they couldn’t stand their ground. They backtracked — and quickly."
Yup. You have to dig through a lot of Jonathan Allen to get to it. But eventually you find what these tough conservatives did. They won by giving to their opposition those specific cuts the President and Democrats wanted.
It isn't often that we in Missouri get to laugh at legislators from Illinois. We are, after all, the state that last year told sawmills that they are no longer sawmills. They could choose to be called farms or flower shops. Sawmills no longer exist within the borders of Missouri. Missouri tax laws put the burden on individuals in order to give some special classes of businesses the same lower rates that farms get. You know ... like flower shops. So the renaming is to let sawmills get in on the con. The author of the bill, Representative David Day, explained, "In most cases government just needs to get out of the way and let the entrepreneurial spirit of Missourians flourish." So sawmills are no longer sawmills under the laws of Missouri, and the rest of us carry the load.
But we do have Illinois as a neighbor. A new member of the House of Representatives, Republican Bobby Schilling, last week gave one of the weirder interviews to News 8, WQAD out of Moline. It seems his area wanted, really wanted, a new rail system that would help the United States catch up to Europe. But the Republican leadership in the House ordered everyone to march in lockstep, and that meant everyone. Schilling insists he's really for the project. It's worthwhile. It will help the country. It will bring jobs to his area. But he had to vote against it.
He was sitting down with Channel 8 to explain his vote, but first he needed to blast the opposition. He has never made a secret of the fact that he really doesn't care for the Democratic Senator from Illinois, Dick Durban. "Any politicians out there that are lambasting me, specifically (Davenport Mayor Bill) Gluba and Durbin, calling me names and things like that, they would understand that this is just part of the negotiation." Negotiation? "If you look at the people who are complaining the most are the same exact people, such as [Durbin], who have gotten us into this mess." Okay, now that he's blamed Durban, who backs the rail system Schilling voted against, he explains how it all works.
"It's time to take a solid look. It doesn't mean that rail is gone at all. I mean, I don't know why they are trying to paint me as this huge bad guy. I don't believe that rail is gone. I mean, it was in there. I mean, they're unwilling to tell you that I voted for rail in one of the amendments." Got that? He was for it before he was against it.
He's met with key folks in the district, who explained to him why the area needs this project. and he's with them "almost 100 percent". So... "I'd be with it, yeah."
He points out the proposal, the one designed to make America's rail service competitive with that of the rest of the world, the one that will bring jobs to Schilling's district, helping to raise the nation from unemployment, is still alive. You know why? Because he can count on the fellow who is one of the enemy, the one he attacks whenever he can, to join Republican Senator Mark Kirk in acting responsibly. "Durbin and Mark Kirk aren't going to let a lot of this stuff flow through, and then it's going to come back and then we break it down on an individual basis." So we can count on Illinois Senators to undo the damage Schilling has done? That is his explanation? "You know, that's just how the process works."
The nation needs more of this sort of reasoning. He was for the rail proposal. It would help the nation. It would bring jobs to his district. It would help move the country away from recession. So he voted for, then against, the rail system in his district, the one he's almost 100% for. But he reassures everyone. They can count on the Senator he attacks all the time. Dick Durban will protect them. from. Schilling's. vote. against. them.
It's like a scream for help.