Thursday, June 11, 2015

Marco Rubio's Scandalous Extravagance

Michael Ramirez is probably the best political cartoonist in the field today. After the New York Times disgraced itself this week by trying to turn the accumulation of a number of traffic tickets, a home with an in-ground pool, and the purchase of a modest fishing boat by Florida GOP senator and presidential candidate Marco Rubio into a major scandal, Ramirez illustrated the utter mindlessness of the Times' effort with this:

It really is true that a picture is worth a thousand words. In this case, the unspoken words of Ramirez's cartoon describe the sheer tendentiousness and untrustworthiness of the New York Times' political reporting.

Here's a picture of Rubio's "luxury boat." For comparison sake, this craft cost $80,000. John Kerry's yacht cost $7 million. I wonder how many stories the Times did on Kerry's extravagance when he ran for president in 2004.

For a picture comparing Rubio's home in Florida with that of, say, Hillary Clinton's humble bungalow on Chappaqua, visit the story linked to above.

Deals Done in Secret

It's distressing that the Obama administration, which boasts that it's the most transparent in history, is negotiating and presenting to Congress a trade bill they refuse to let the American people see. It's distressing that such a bill has passed the Senate (controlled by Republicans, no less), and it's distressing that the House (also controlled by the GOP), which will vote on it as early as tomorrow, may pass it.

Regardless what's in it, as a matter of principle no legislation should be voted on by any member of Congress that the American people are given no opportunity to review. Word should go out to every member of the House of Representatives that anyone who votes for this secret trade bill will forfeit the support of that voter in the next election.

But as bad as voting for a bill that hasn't been publicly debated is, it turns out that things are even worse. Thanks to Wikileaks we learn that this bill would greatly increase Mr. Obama's authority to control, or decontrol, immigration, essentially nullifying existing immigration law. Breitbart has the story:
Discovered inside the huge tranche of secretive Obamatrade documents released by Wikileaks are key details on how technically any Republican voting for Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) that would fast-track trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal would technically also be voting to massively expand President Obama’s executive authority when it comes to immigration matters. The mainstream media covered the Wikileaks document dump extensively, but did not mention the immigration chapter contained within it, so Breitbart News took the documents to immigration experts to get their take on it. Nobody has figured how big a deal the documents uncovered by Wikileaks are until now.

The president’s Trade in Services Act (TiSA) documents, which is one of the three different close-to-completely-negotiated deals that would be fast-tracked making up the president’s trade agreement, show Obamatrade in fact unilaterally alters current U.S. immigration law. TiSA, like TPP or the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) deals, are international trade agreements that President Obama is trying to force through to final approval. The way he can do so is by getting Congress to give him fast-track authority through TPA.

TiSA is even more secretive than TPP. Lawmakers on Capitol Hill can review the text of TPP in a secret, secured room inside the Capitol — and in some cases can bring staffers who have high enough security clearances — but with TiSA, no such draft text is available.

Voting for TPA, of course, would essentially ensure the final passage of each TPP, T-TIP, and TiSA by Congress, since in the history of fast-track any deal that’s ever started on fast-track has been approved.

Roughly 10 pages of this TiSA agreement document leak are specifically about immigration.

“The existence of these ten pages on immigration in the Trade and Services Agreement make it absolutely clear in my mind that the administration is negotiating immigration – and for them to say they are not – they have a lot of explaining to do based on the actual text in this agreement,” Rosemary Jenks, the Director of Government Relations at Numbers USA, told Breitbart News following her review of these documents.
There's much more at the Breitbart link. Thankfully, the House Democrats are strongly opposed to this bill and there may be enough Republicans willing to buck their leadership to do the responsible thing and demand that the bill be given a thorough public airing. I never thought I'd say this, but thank goodness for those House Democrats. Gosh, thanking Wikileaks and Democrats in the same post; I need to go lay down.

If you're so inclined you can go here to find your representative's phone number to register your concern.