Breaking Down President Obama’s Immigration Speech–20 Nov. 2014, Part II

Obama: Third, we’ll take steps to deal responsibly with the millions of undocumented immigrants who already had live in our country. I want to say more about this third issue, because it generates the most passion and controversy. Even as we are a nation of immigrants, we’re also a nation of laws. Undocumented workers broke our immigration laws, and I believe that they must be held accountable, especially those who may be dangerous. That’s why over the past six years deportations of criminals are up 80 percent, and that’s why we’re going to keep focusing enforcement resources on actual threats to our security. Felons, not families. Criminals, not children. Gang members, not a mom who’s working hard to provide for her kids. We’ll prioritize, just like law enforcement does every day….[purposely skipping portion] Now here is the thing. We expect people who live in this country to play by the rules. We expect those who cut the line will not be unfairly rewarded. So we’re going to offer the following deal: If you’ve with been in America more than five years. If you have children who are American citizens or illegal residents. If you register, pass a criminal background check and you’re willing to pay your fair share of taxes, you’ll be able to apply to stay in this country temporarily without fear of deportation. You can come out of the shadows and get right with the law. That’s what this deal is.

Breakdown: This is where the President steps into murky waters. On the one hand, he is appealing to the segment of America that uses the term illegal immigrant while, on the other hand, tries to mollify those that use undocumented immigrant. He says, “Undocumented workers broke our immigration laws.” Then he says, “Felons, not families. Criminals, not children.” According to Title 8 Section 1325, anyone entering the United States without proper inspection has committed a crime. It is a misdemeanor. He is correct in saying that they broke the law. That these immigrants do not have documents matters nothing.

Every person here that has either overstayed their visa or are considered “Entry Without Inspection” (EWI)–the technical term for crossing the border illegally–has a Federal Criminalcriminal misdemeanor on their record. If these people are expected to pass a criminal background check, they will fail. A misdemeanor is a misdemeanor. Adrian Peterson is suspended without pay for a misdemeanor. I do not wish to get into the argument of spanking or not spanking your child (switch or not), but want to point out that he is without pay until at least April 15, 2015 for a misdemeanor. A misdemeanor DUI is enough to cause you to not gain employment when your background is checked; your admission to a university, or scholarship could be withdrawn or not given. Source. According to a Time Magazine article, something as seemingly innocuous as a misdemeanor driving with a suspended license “can trigger the same legal hindrances, known as collateral consequences, as felonies.” Source.

In this light, not a single illegal immigrant would be able to pass a background check. The President acknowledges they committed a crime, but is that crime enough to warrant their denial to access to his plan?

If the answer is no, then is the President attempting to re-write a law that he says these immigrants broke? Is the Federal misdemeanor of EWI to be ignored? If so, what other misdemeanors are to be ignored? Should Adrian Peterson be reinstated immediately and his private life ignored? Should a person with a DUI be allowed to operate a bus for a local municipality?

If the misdemeanor issue was not messy enough, Obama then says, “Felons, not families.” According to U.S. Immigration law, anyone who was deported from the United States and then attempts to enter is guilty of a felony crime. How many of these parents fall into this category? How many fathers tried to come to the U.S., got caught, were deported, came back in and started a family? The question becomes complicated again. Which felonies are okay and not okay? Can we pick and choose which laws we are going to obey and not? President Obama would argue, from this speech, that we cannot just pick and choose. “We expect people who live in this country to play by the rules.” So, in this light, a misdemeanor is a misdemeanor and a felony is a felony. These immigrants cannot pass a simple background check.


Obama: Now let’s be clear about what it isn’t. This deal does not apply to anyone who has come to this country recently. It does not apply to anyone who might come to America illegally in the future. It does not grant citizenship or the right to stay here permanently, or offer the same benefits that citizens receive. Only Congress can do that. All we’re saying isgetoutofjail we’re not going to deport you. I know some of the critics of the action call it amnesty. Well, it’s the not. Amnesty is the immigration system we have today. Millions of people who live here without paying their taxes or playing by the rules, while politicians use the issue to scare people and whip up votes at election time. That’s the real amnesty, leaving this broken system the way it is. Mass amnesty would be unfair. Mass deportation would be both impossible and contrary it to our character. What I’m describing is accountability. A common sense middle- ground approach. If you meet the criteria, you can come out of the shadows and get right with the law. If you’re a criminal, you’ll be deported. If you plan to enter the U.S. illegally, your chances of getting caught and sent back just went up.

Breakdown: The murk gets thicker here, however, there are some truths that should be acknowledged: Mass amnesty would be unfair. Mass deportation would be both impossible and contrary it [sic] to our character. Mass amnesty would grant certain rights to people that as a society we would deem unfit for our nation–felons, gang member, etc. Mass deportation would be akin to herding cats and has the danger of also rounding up people who are in the U.S. legally.

Unfortunately, when the President says that it is not amnesty, it is. Amnesty is defined as:

1. a general pardon of offenses, especially political offenses, against a government, often granted before any trial or conviction.

2. Law. an act of forgiveness for past offenses, especially to a class of persons as a whole.

3. a forgetting or overlooking of any past offense.

Obama admits that these immigrants are breaking American law. Then we are giving them a means to “get right with the law.” We are forgiving their past offenses, especially if we are to ignore the misdemeanor EWI in their background check. But, the President is correct when he says that the real amnesty is our current system. Though we are not forgiving past offenses, we definitely are overlooking them. But this applies to both the immigrant and the employers hiring them.

One sentence in Obama’s speech leads to a possible conclusion that the President is not sure that his policy is even legal: Only Congress can do that. In this one statement, the President is admitting that Congress has the legal authority to write immigration law. Though he states that his policy is not intended to grant citizenship or right to stay permanently, there is little in either his speech or Senate Bill 744 that deals with people who opt out of the program.


Obama: The actions I’m taken are not only lawful, they’re the kinds of actions taken by every single Republican president and every single Democratic president for the past half century. And to those members of Congress who question my authority to make our immigration system work better or question the wisdom of me acting where Congress has failed, I have one answer: Pass a bill. I want to work with both parties to pass a more permanent legislative solution. And the day I sign that bill into law, the actions I take will no longer be necessary.

Breakdown: If the President is going to use the playground rule, “He did it, so can I” then he better use it correctly. Saying that previous presidents used Executive Orders to get things done is like lighting a short fuse on a bomb glued to your hand. Just because other fdr_signing_9066Presidents used an executive order does not make it a good policy. In 1942, FDR issued Executive Order (EO) 9066 which made it possible for the U.S. to send thousands of American citizens of Japanese decent into internment camps scattered throughout the American west. George W. Bush took the EO powers to frightening level with EO 13233 effectively throwing government transparency out the door, and Bill Clinton’s EO 13107 made it so the Executive branch could enforce UN treaties within America without Congress’ consent. This is what happens when one person rules unchecked.

Another problem with the President’s claim that other’s before him issues EO’s regarding immigrations is fraught with half-truths and distortions. If we go back a half-century there are three examples of a President using EO’s in dealing with immigration. In 1956, President Eisenhower used EOs to expand the Immigration and Nationality Act and the Refugee Relief Act whose quotas prevented adopted children of Americans working internationally to bring their children home with them. In the same year, Ike used a provision within the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act to grant close to 32,000 Hungarian war refugees temporary admittance into the United States. In 1960, he used the same law to aid Cuban refugees. None of these actions used EOs to create new laws, but worked within the bounds of ones already established.

One of the biggest issues with the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 was that it was intentionally vague on the status of mixed eligibility families. At the urging of Congress, Reagan used his EO powers to fix this problem for some 100,000 families. In 1990, George H.W. Bush used his EO powers to scrap the Reagan EO and created a means for not only the children ignored in the 1986 Act to be secured, but also the spouses of these people. Though somewhat similar, neither Presidential EO acted independently of Congress as President Obama is threatening to do. You can read more on these at FactCheck.org.


You can read Part III here

Advertisements

Breaking Down President Obama’s Immigration Speech–20 Nov. 2014, Part I

I thought I’d step away from focusing on the past to glean lessons for today and spend some time breaking down President Obama’s immigration speech given on 20 Nov. 2014. I am using the transcripts provided by the Washington Post.

color-anchor-babies-webAs a point of full disclosure, I am a child of immigrants. Technically, I am an anchor baby. My parents are here under their resident green cards. They moved to the United States because of an illness that my sister suffers. Doctors advised my parents to move my sister to a dryer, warmer climate in order to help her health. They settled in Los Angeles because my uncle immigrated a number of years earlier and they would have family nearby. Their other option was Australia. There were times I wished I was an Aussie.

My parents immigrated to the U.S. in 1970. They applied for immigration in 1969 and were told it was up to a seven year wait. That is, unless my dad volunteered for Vietnam. My dad was a Lieutenant in the Royal Dutch Air Force and said, maybe naively, “Okay.” They were then “fast-tracked” immigration, but when they arrived in the U.S., the military told my dad that only citizens of the U.S. could be officers and that he’d be a grunt. Before they arrived, my parents had to provide the United States government with a list of family and friends who were interviewed and asked questions regarding my family’s health and political nature. In the height of the Cold War, the U.S. wanted to make sure no one in my family had communist ties. With a family newly arrived and a daughter who was sick he ended up not serving. My family signed all the affidavits that said they’d not be dependent on the government for support, that they had medical insurance, and had a job or a sponsor that could vouch for a job in the near future. The government was even kind enough to give my mother a middle name since she didn’t have one–the letter “X”.

I will be using the term “illegal” to describe immigrants for no other reason than because in the world of black and white, legal and illegal, these immigrants–either the overstayers or the border crossers–are in violation of U.S. Immigration Law and broke the law, something that the President agrees to in this speech.

So, let’s break down the speech.


Obama: But today, our immigration system is broken, and everybody knows it. Families who enter our country the right way and play by the rules watch others flout the rules.

Breakdown: This line brings up one thing that we hear quite a bit: Immigration Reform. Really, the immigration system is not broken. We have laws on the books. “Immigration 800px-US-border-noticeReform” implies that these laws are broken and need to be fixed, reformed. This isn’t true. The President is bringing up the fallacy of immigration being broken. It is the enforcement of immigration laws that is broken. Whether it be companies hiring workers that do not have permissions/rights to work here, to the perceived blind eye to immigrants here in violation of the laws, or just the nomenclature around the immigration: Illegal vs. Undocumented. The second part is true. There are many, my family included, who abide by the rules. My parents just paid their $450/person to renew their legal residence of the United States. Since I’m an anchor baby, I say that they should ask that this money be reimbursed to them.


Obama: It’s been this way for decades. And for decades we haven’t done much about it. When I took office, I committed to fixing this broken immigration system. And I began by doing what I could to secure our borders.

Breakdown: In 1986, Congress put the Simpson-Mazzoli Immigration Bill on President Reagan’s desk. And, yes, to those who say, “Well, Reagan brought in 2 million illegal immigrants”, he did sign it. However, this was not an Executive Order. This was a C37895-16bipartisan bill sponsored by Romano Mazzoli (D-KY) and Alan Simpson (R-WY) and was worked through by the bipartisan Commission on Immigration (and here’s that scary word again) Reform. The hope behind this bill is best summarized by Sen. Ted Kennedy when he said, “This amnesty will give citizenship to only 1.1 to 1.3 million illegal aliens. We will secure the borders henceforth. We will never again bring forward another amnesty bill like this.” When the President says, “And for decades we haven’t done much about it” I wonder why. We were supposed to never have an amnesty bill again. It goes back to the notion that the laws are suspect. They aren’t. The enforcement of them is.


Obama: Today we have more agents and technology deployed to secure our southern border than at any time in our history. And over the past six years illegal border crossings have been cut by more than half. Although this summer there was a brief spike in unaccompanied children being apprehended at our border, the number of such children is actually lower than it’s been in nearly two years. Overall the number of people trying to cross our border illegally is at its lowest level since the 1970s. Those are the facts.

Breakdown: In this piece, Obama is trying to take credit for something that isn’t really his doing–of course, this also depends on your perspective of how the President has handled the economy. In 2007, the U.S. fell into a deep recession. This recession made the job opportunities that illegal immigrants sought harder, or near impossible, to get. The sluggish economy made for a snail’s pace immigration to the U.S. One thing that it didn’t do, however, was turn the tide of migrants back to places like Mexico. One odd fact was that during the recession, families in Mexico were sending money into the United States. So, when Obama says illegal immigration is at its lowest levels since the 1970s and that those are facts, he’s right. But what he isn’t telling you is that these numbers have nothing to do with his immigration policies, but rather the impact the weakened U.S. economy had as a draw for immigrants to come to America. Source


Obama: Meanwhile, I worked with Congress on a comprehensive fix. And last year 68 Democrats, Republicans, and independents came together to pass a bipartisan bill in the Senate. It wasn’t perfect. It was a compromise. But it reflected common sense. It would have doubled the number of Border Patrol agents, while giving undocumented immigrants a pathway to citizenship, if they paid a fine, started paying their taxes and went to the back of the line. And independent experts said that it would help grow our economy and shrink our deficits.

Breakdown: Here’s a link to the Washington Post that highlights the “key provisions in the Senate Bill”. The President isn’t far off when he says that it isn’t perfect, but it was a step in the right direction. The fees that immigrants would have to pay are on par with what my parents pay to renew their green card. The idea of “back to the line” (illegal immigrants have to have been here for 10 years and all legal immigrants have to be processed before their application is processed) should appeal to even the strictest immigrant “reformer”. But there are flaws. Generalizations are bad. Generalizations in the hands of politicians are dangerous. The President’s bill stipulated that illegal immigrants would not be eligible for most federal benefits, including health care and welfare. What about aid given to groups like La Raza that would turn around and use their money as a form of welfare? The loopholes need to be closed. The word “most” needs to be erased and a clearly defined list of what can and cannot be received needs to be written. One issue with the bill is that it is still amnesty which we weren’t supposed to have. It flies in the face of law. It is understandable that we are dealing with people, but there is still a black and white line here. According the PEW Research Center 55% of immigrants in this country illegally are considered Entry Without Inspection which is a misdemeanor under Federal law. What the President is having issue here is what is and isn’t a misdemeanor. I will get into this more later. With regard to the President’s last statement here are the CBO’s numbers for Senate Bill 744. Economic Impact. CBO revised score after increased Border Patrol Amendment.


Obama: First, we’ll build on our progress at the border with additional resources for our law enforcement personnel so that they can stem the flow of illegal crossings and speed the return of those who do cross over. Second, I’ll make it easier and faster for high-skilled immigrants, graduates and entrepreneurs to stay and contribute to our economy, as so many business leaders proposed.

Breakdown: In this case, we need to look to the past: The Berlin Wall. In 1961, East Germany erected a concrete barrier with a lethal no-man’s land to isolate the small island of freedom buried deep behind the Iron Curtain. In 1961, prior to the Wall’s construction, 8,507 people escaped the GDR into West Berlin. After the Wall’s construction that numberGrenzdurchbruche_en fell to approximately 2,300 per year for the rest of the 1960s. As the NVA and Stasi studied escape attempts, the Wall’s weaknesses were further secured and the number that crossed in the 1970s fell to approximately 830 per year. By the 1980s, that number was reduced to 330 per year. Even something as formidable as the Berlin Wall proved to be porous. No matter the number of men and women patrolling the border, no matter how tall the fence, there will still be people finding a way over, through, or under the U.S. border. And we are talking about a concrete wall, patrolled by vicious dogs, with armed soldiers that had shoot to kill orders, not the fence we are trying to put up, and it was still imperfect. Proponents of increased border patrol presence will tout the numbers of apprehensions and deportations as a sign that additional spending and agents is a good thing. However, a 2010 Congressional Research Service report shows that this trend does not hold. Below is a graph from this report that illustrates that the population of illegal immigrants operates separate of apprehensions. If apprehensions were impacting immigration then apprehensions and the illegal population should decline together.

Screen Shot 2014-11-22 at 1.25.19 PM

As to the President’s second point, the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal-leaning, progressive think-tank, has this to say: “Immigration policies that facilitate large flows of guestworkers will supply labor at wages that are too low to induce significant increases in supply from the domestic workforce.” Source. This may not be a positive immigration plan in light of an economy that is still struggling to get college educated workers employment in the fields they studied in.


 

Click here for Part II–Breaking Down President Obama’s Immigration Speech–20 Nov. 2014

 

Why Do I Bother Reading Article Comments?

children-poop-kid-play-name-namecalling-bstn464l.jpgFor some reason, after reading a USA Today article about the upcoming midterm elections, I strolled over to the comments section. Now, normally, I avoid reading the comments only because I can’t afford the spike in heart rate and my computer monitor cannot take the verbal abuse I spew at it while reading the comments. But there I was, reading the typically partisan venom and the obligatory name calling and elementary school bickering from adults.

All I could think about as I read the banter, for better words, back and forth in the some 140 comments at the time was that there is a serious need to review history again.

So, here it is.

Blaming The Current President For Economic Issues

Most people are quick to jump on the policies of the current president for the problems that this country is facing. Case in point: Economics. Read through the comments and there are those on the left who blame G. W. Bush for the 2007-08 recession because he was sitting in office at the time. The right counters that the current unemployment and economic malaise is B. Obama’s fault.

Both groups are simply incorrect. Take the Great Depression as an example. No one can lay the blame for the Great Depression solely at the feet of Herbert Hoover because he was president in ’29. Just like no one can cast stones on FDR for the Depression, either.

Economic events in U.S. history take time to evolve. The Great Depression can be linked to events in the 1920s–buying on margin, speculative land deals–and I will even argue that the foundations to the Great Depression can be traced as far back as A. Lincoln’s Homestead Act in 1862 (By encouraging farming of the Midwest, we were setting the soil and the environment up for failure. The Dust Bowl of the 1920s was the culmination of this failure).

So, to lay the blame for our current economic issues on G. W. Bush or B. Obama is as ludicrous as blaming Herbert Hoover for the Great Depression. So please stop this nonsense.

There are few times when economic issues during a president’s term can be squarely placed on the president’s table. Case in point, the Roosevelt Recession of 1937-38 where FDR curtailed some of the New Deal programs and dropped the recovering economy into a downward spiral.

To those who are quick to blame either G. W. Bush or B. Obama for our current issues, be sure to understand that our current issues have a foundation many years prior to either of these men’s time in office. I wrote about the Clinton impact on the economy today in this article “Looking that the Ads–Okay Just One”.

What can be addressed, and what one hardly reads, are the current policies that are being enacted to fix the situation. In this case, I’d give a D- to both G. W. Bush and B. Obama for their handling of the economy. They both inherited an issue and either chose to ignore it or throw random money at it hoping that something would stick. In the case of B. Obama, I find it funny that the left views trickle down economics as a system of failure, yet with the bailout of GM and loans to companies like Solyndra I can see no greater form of trickle down.

But I Need To Blame The (Circle one: Republicans/Democrats) For Something

After the economy, foreign policy is the next forum for uncivil discourse on the internet. At foreign_policyfirst blush, this would seem to be a fair place to level an assault against the rival party’s behavior on an international level. They are the ones directing the events that are unfolding at this moment with regard to U.S. relations. However, there are issues that must be neatly navigated around here.

While the Iraq War is and will be plagued with issues, is best compared to the Vietnam War, and will be a massive blemish on the G. W. Bush administration (US News has a good opinion piece you can read here) there are arguments bantered by those on the left that hold absolutely no merit. Chief among them is that the United States was lied to about the motives for the war: Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Again, if we are to be objective about our criticism of the present, we must be aware of the past.

“It’s just the war and that lying son of a bitch Johnson and…” That’s Wesley, Jenny’s boyfriend, from Forrest Gump describing Lyndon Johnson. In reality, the Vietnam War was almost inevitable from the moment Truman issued his Containment Policy and Eisenhower gave the world the “domino theory.” Ike suggested that Southeast Asia was stacked like dominoes in a row, and should one fall (in this case to communism) then they all would leading to the “loss of Indochina, of Burma, of Thailand, of the Peninsula, and Indonesia following.” [Source: DDE News conference April 7, 1954]. That Kennedy and, later Johnson, would use this theory to support their activity in Vietnam, and ultimately Johnson’s decidedly misconstrued tale of the Gulf of Tonkin, is what truly matters in the study of current affairs.

That G.W. Bush had assembled a war hawk cabinet and a Vice President still reeling from his failure in Iraq years early was a large contributing factor to the declaration of war in Iraq. Had 9/11 not happened, there would have been other mitigating factors in our invasion of Iraq and the subsequent overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s regime. Whether for good or not, the United States has long been in the regime change business and it has continued with B. Obama and Libya and Egypt. But, I’d like to consider that there were other factors that allowed the Bush administration the opportunity to go at Iraq. What was their “domino theory”?

Again, history doesn’t repeat itself, but the coincidences are stark.

Like Vietnam, the Iraq war was molded in infancy during a press conference of sorts. W. Clinton established a policy for containing–to borrow a Cold War term–Iraq and the Hussein regime’s weapons. In February 17, 1998, Clinton addressed the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Pentagon and outlined his policy on Iraq. At their essences, both addresses focus on the freedoms of people around the world; freedoms that we in the United States take for granted–speech, democracy, economy. Both Eisenhower and Clinton warn of threats to these freedoms and the necessity of the United States to protect these for both neighboring nations and for our own welfare. Eisenhower worries that the nations of Indochina will fall under a dictatorship and Clinton laments that “There is no more clear example of this threat than Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. His regime threatens the safety of his people, the stability of his region and the security of all the rest of us.” [Source: CNN Text of Clinton Statement on Iraq, Feb. 17, 1998].

Let’s look at how closely these two speeches mirror one another. The six quotes below were pulled from both speeches. Without looking them up, see if you can correctly identify the President who said each. (Parts of speech that would give away answers have been redacted).

Now, let me say to all of you here as all you know the weightiest decision any president ever has to make is to send our troops into harm’s way. And force can never be the first answer. But sometimes, it’s the only answer.

 

But it is different if we unite…. Our purpose is… to create the unity of free wills needed to assure a peaceful settlement which will in fact preserve the vital interests of us all.

 

I wouldn’t want to comment at too great a length at this moment, but I do believe this: this is the kind of thing that must not be handled by one nation trying to act alone.

 

But if we act as one, we can safeguard our interests and send a clear message to every would-be tyrant… that the international community does have the wisdom and the will and the way to protect peace and security in a new era.

 

It is against that background that we have repeatedly and unambiguously made clear our preference for a diplomatic solution.

 

But one thing: we are not going to overstep the line of prudence in keeping ourselves secure, knowing that the agreements we made have some means of being enforced. We are not simply going to take words. There must be some way of making these things fact and deed.

 

I promise that these six quotes came from both Eisenhower and Clinton. You can follow the links above to read them for yourself. That the similarities exist should have been a warning to us all that at some time we’d find ourselves enmeshed in a war in Iraq. Let’s see how you did: If you answered Clinton, Ike, Ike, Clinton, Clinton, Ike, you got the all correct. Both Presidents sought a unified front, either through our British and French allies or through the United Nations. However, both Presidents left open the opportunity for the use of force.

Just like the Domino Theory came back to haunt America in the 1960s, so to did Clinton’s “Promise to the Future” speech as I am calling it. The most damning part of it was Clinton’s continued use of Saddam Hussein’s nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons stockpiles.

If G.W. Bush lied about WMDs in Iraq, then this speech (and many others by W. Clinton) is chock full of lies also. To condemn one is to condemn the other. That the Obama Administration continued the war is no surprise. If G.W. Bush is “that lying son of a bitch Johnson” then B. Obama would be Nixon. Both took the war into different directions. Nixon with his secret Cambodia excursions and Obama with his secret drone wars. And in this, we see that foreign policy cannot be used as a true condemnation of a presidency; all presidencies are tied to previous generations.

I Have To Complain About Something

072808-nonsequiturWe all do. That’s just the nature of having an opinion. What needs to happen, however, is a greater understanding of that past before we are able to criticize the present. Many of the issues facing us today could have been avoided had we, the electorate, and our elected officials bothered to pay attention to the things that we’ve tried before. Consider it a Been There, Done That (BTDT) scenario. When you understand the past, your are more likely to accept the present–both the good and the bad–and you are more likely to accept that both parties have some culpability in the issues at hand.

However, if you still wish to complain and cannot be bothered to understand the past, then I would suggest the following for your rhetoric. Since everything offends everyone on the opposite side of the political spectrum, these options will further that divide:

1. You can borrow the line used to describe Lewis Cass in the 1848 election. He is a “pot-bellied, mutton-headed, cucumber.”

2. If calling someone a cucumber seems too childish, you can always drag out their sex life as did the Polk supporters in the 1844 election. They claimed that Henry Clay had broken every single Commandment and had sex with whores. When Clay supporters demanded evidence, Polk’s camp merely said that the details were too scandalous to print.

3. Sticking with sex, you can accuse the opposition of pimping American girls as was the case with John Quincy Adams in the 1828 election. JQA was accused of pimping an American girl to the czar of Russia.

4. When sex becomes taboo, or the website moderators delete your posts, you can always just fall back on death. In 1800, Jefferson was declared dead by Adams supporters.

5. And if people realize that the object of your spite and malice is still living go after their parents. Back to the 1828 election and this time Adams’ supporters went after Jackson’s dead mother claiming she was a “common prostitute brought to America by British soldiers who married a mulatto and fathered Jackson”.

6. Those of you who feel you are above the personal attacks, you can always worry about the future: It was said that if Thomas Jefferson was elected he would usher in an America where “murder, robbery, rape, adultery and incest will be openly taught and practiced.”

For the rest of us, we’ll continue to keep up on the present by investigating the past.

*****

As always, From The Kitchen Cabinet encourages comments and feedback. Political discourse can only happen when two or more people talk, listen, and observe. Otherwise, its just tyranny of the mind.

Utile Dulci

Dawn broke in waves of sulfur. The horses could sense the anxiety. Bloody ford had cleared. It flowed crystal blue again. He stepped out of the tent. A stout forty bereft of a sickly youth. In a blue military coat and a blue polka-dotted handkerchief tied around his thick neck. His eyes flared an eagerness that had been kept in check.
The ground was hot. The plants were sweating in the early July morning. Roosevelt looked calm and cool.

He’d paced for the last two days: The fight was over, but he yearned for more. This war was his chance to become a gentleman. He was nothing but overdramatic. Even on the battlefield. He rose at sunup. Religiously. He cleaned his rifle, polished the bayonet, and saddled his horse. A ritual he’d begun in Texas, brought to Florida, and then to Cuba. He tightened his jacket. Straightened his handkerchief. Mumbled a missive about invading San Juan. A glance. Officer’s tents. Reminding himself he needed to spell it out for his superiors.

The newspapers had gotten America into the war. That there were men recording the events on their behalf was to be expected. Keeping tabs on their splendid little war. Recording the progress. Reporting the heroics. Infantry tripping over photographers in the musty trenches. Unwieldy cameras and tripods sacrificing themselves to the Spanish sniper. Roosevelt had seen them. He knew them. He courted them. A friendship rose between the Harper’s Weekly man and Roosevelt.

William Dinwiddie, the Harper’s man, stood beside Roosevelt at the foot of San Juan Hill. It was a friendship of convenience. Dinwiddie seeking a worthy story. Roosevelt seeking notoriety. Dinwiddie wasn’t a soldier. He was dressed like the rest. He followed them into the trenches. Ducked the Mauser rifle fire raining down from fortified positions atop the hills. Unlike his brethren in the trenches, he came armed with a notebook and camera. Roosevelt brought him along. Dinwiddie marched with the riders; riders who walked instead of rode. Riders who’s horses stayed in Florida. A cavalry that fought on foot.
–Don’t report, don’t report.
He repeated this mantra. At the sight of cavalry marching. At the sight of officers sniped before they could rally a charge. At the sight of hesitation. Of cowardice.

Leaning over the rails, watching the pallid blue water roll past the SS Yucatan’s black hull Dinwiddie and Roosevelt found a kinship. Dakota Territory. Roosevelt had built the Elkhorn Ranch to cure a western itch. The ranch was a failure. The cattle lost. He’d come back to New York with stories of capturing thieves and hard winters. He’d made both an enemy and a friend in a wealthy rancher. Marquis de Mores. He’d left New York an asthmatic and scrawny. He’d returned a barrel-chested, western-toughed. The itch never abated. Dinwiddie, too, had spent time in the Dakotas. A reporter. A photographer. Working for the Bureau of American Ethnology. He’d told Roosevelt of his days in the wilds stretching from the Dakota’s to southern Arizona photographing the Tohono O’Odham Indians. They spoke in longing phrases and romantic tones despite their rough-hewn facades. Dinwiddie had followed the charismatic man through the steaming jungles knowing a story would always surface.

A photograph. He wanted a photograph. One of Roosevelt’s rabble–an Indian from Arizona–came. Gather your camera. A warm Caribbean gust carries a stifling din over the camp. There was always concern that the humidity would rot the leather bellows, and a replacement for his Rochester Optical was far away. As the soldiers meticulously maintained their weapons between fights, so did Dinwiddie with his equipment. –Better, he thought, than having a cheap paper bellow. The camera sat on a field table. Burnished mahogany. Polished brass fittings catching mid-day sun. A tripod to match the wood.
A legend. The stories were eagerly read by thousands across New England. Roosevelt leading the charge. Roosevelt dodging the snipers. The notion that the bullets found it offensive to assault his personage. Not that these stories have any truth. Roosevelt disobeying orders. Ordering a charge beyond his command. A legend is born in ink and words.
–Always, always, Dinwiddie reminded himself, find the power hungry and live in their good graces.

Atop Kettle Hill. Three different units. Dinwiddie surveyed the image before him: the 3rd Cavalry on his left, Roosevelt stood proud in the center beneath the U.S. flag surrounded by his 1st volunteer cavalry, and the 10th Cavalry on the right. Setting up the camera below. Capture the falling sun against the breasts of the men. The flag barely moving in the stifling stillness. Roosevelt stands victorious. The plate is exposed. Posterity captured.
–Another one, the Indian says, only the 1st.
–He’d want it that way, Dinwiddie told himself. Of course he would. Posterity doctored.

*********

The above piece was inspired by the word “doctor” from Studio 30plus (though it missed the deadline to post) and by the recent “selfie” that President Obama was caught in during Nelson Mandela’s funeral service.

I won’t reproduce the “selfie” here since I would suspect that many of you have already seen the photo, but that picture got me wondering what picture would define this current Presidency: The funeral “selfie” or Peter Souza’s photo of the President sitting in the Oval Office with the portrait of Lincoln, the Emancipation Proclamation, portrait of George Washington, and bust of Lincoln in the background. One photo seems authentic while the other more staged. Here is the Souza photo:

20131216-111241.jpg

Photographs have been widely used to manipulate our history, and I couldn’t think of a better occasion than the Roosevelt Rough Rider photograph to highlight this. There were two Dinwiddie photos taken that day, as illustrated in the story, but one has become iconically related to Teddy Roosevelt, while the other tends to be spartanly published. Here are the two Dinwiddie photos:

20131216-111525.jpg

20131216-111533.jpg

The first highlights Roosevelt and his Rough Riders. The second brings in all the units involved in the capture of Kettle Hill, San Juan. Roosevelt’s Rough Riders were not in the initial wave scheduled to assault Kettle Hill; they were reserve units until Roosevelt ordered his own charge. This is a little quibble in history. Yes, Teddy probably disobeyed orders. Yes, Teddy’s Rough Riders walked because they were hurried out of Miami for Cuba and had left most of the horses behind. Yes, there were men from the U.S.’s largest papers on the island. This is what matters the most; Roosevelt understood this fact and used it to his advantage. His larger-than-life persona bled through the ink printed in the nation’s papers catapulting him to the Vice-Presidency. Dinwiddie’s doctored photo was one of TR’s legacies to the Presidency. Through which lens will history view the Obama Presidency? A “selfie” or Souza’s?

About the title: Utile Dulci is one of my favorite Latin phrases. It means “the useful with the agreeable.”

Democrat Senators asks the President to Delay Obamacare; Fears election loss

20131107-152256.jpg

Washington–Fearing a loss in the upcoming midterm elections, sixteen Senators met with the leader of their party to discuss delaying the rollout of Obamacare. According to sources, the Senators told the President that they did what he asked for during the shutdown fiasco and now he owed them a favor. They helped the President distract the citizenry from the spying, Benghazi, and IRS scandals with the shutdown, and now they want him to fulfill his duty as party leader and assure that they will get re-elected next November. “We have to win re-election,” Senator Mark Begich (D, AK) said. “There’s a reason why we exempted Congress from the ACA, and if I don’t win re-election then I’m going to have to sign up for Obamacare. Do you think that any one of us wants to do that?” When pressed, the White House had no comment, but it is believed that the President doesn’t give a crap what they want.