Political Animal


November 22, 2014 12:15 PM Understanding the Threat of a Confederate Insurgency

Rev. William Barber captured the moment we are living in by talking about a Third Reconstruction.

Doug Muder expanded on that idea with an article titled: Not a Tea Party, a Confederate Party. Muder’s point is that in order to understand the Tea Party today, we have to realize that  - unlike what our school history books told us - the south didn’t really lose the Civil War. Much like George W. Bush preemptively declared “Mission Accomplished” in Iraq, the Civil War didn’t end when Lee surrendered at Appomattox.

After the U.S. forces won on the battlefield in 1865 and shattered the organized Confederate military, the veterans of that shattered army formed a terrorist insurgency that carried on a campaign of fire and assassination throughout the South until President Hayes agreed to withdraw the occupying U. S. troops in 1877. Before and after 1877, the insurgents used lynchings and occasional pitched battles to terrorize those portions of the electorate still loyal to the United States. In this way they took charge of the machinery of state government, and then rewrote the state constitutions to reverse the postwar changes and restore the supremacy of the class that led the Confederate states into war in the first place.
By the time it was all over, the planter aristocrats were back in control, and the three constitutional amendments that supposedly had codified the U.S.A’s victory over the C.S.A.- the 13th, 14th, and 15th — had been effectively nullified in every Confederate state. The Civil Rights Acts had been gutted by the Supreme Court, and were all but forgotten by the time similar proposals resurfaced in the 1960s. Blacks were once again forced into hard labor for subsistence wages, denied the right to vote, and denied the equal protection of the laws. Tens of thousands of them were still physically shackled and subject to being whipped, a story historian Douglas Blackmon told in his Pulitzer-winning Slavery By Another Name.
So Lincoln and Grant may have had their mission-accomplished moment, but ultimately the Confederates won. The real Civil War — the one that stretched from 1861 to 1877 — was the first war the United States lost.

Let that one sink in for a moment. I’m still trying to wrap my mind around it all. That’s what happens when it turns out that a story you’ve been told all your life doesn’t really capture what happened. All the links to meaning that have been created by believing the story have to be re-examined as well.

Muder goes on the make the connection between the mindset of the insurgent confederates and today’s tea party.

The essence of the Confederate worldview is that the democratic process cannot legitimately change the established social order, and so all forms of legal and illegal resistance are justified when it tries…
The Confederate sees a divinely ordained way things are supposed to be, and defends it at all costs. No process, no matter how orderly or democratic, can justify fundamental change.

That is the sentiment we hear when both citizens and political leaders talk about “second amendment remedies” and rally round things like this:

I believe that - due to this country’s changing demographics - this confederate insurgency would have eventually surfaced even if we hadn’t elected our first African American president. But having done so, it has been released with a vengeance.

The basic right wing message we’ve heard for the last six years has been to challenge this President’s legitimacy. We’ve seen that in everything from the birther movement and charges that he’s somehow “un-American” to criticisms of Barack Obama that have never been leveled against a United States President (i.e., how much golf he plays, the fact that he takes vacations and that he signs executive orders).

Call me naive, but I don’t believe that all white Republicans buy into this insurgency. But their leadership has used this message of illegitimacy to undermine President Obama and convinced too many people that he is somehow a threat to the country. To the extent that they (and the media) have bought into the lies, they have given credence to a movement that is dangerous to our democracy.

I am reminded once again of something Derrick Jensen wrote in his book The Culture of Make Believe.

From the perspective of those who are entitled, the problems begin when those they despise do not go along with—and have the power and wherewithal to not go along with—the perceived entitlement…
Several times I have commented that hatred felt long and deeply enough no longer feels like hatred, but more like tradition, economics, religion, what have you. It is when those traditions are challenged, when the entitlement is threatened, when the masks of religion, economics, and so on are pulled away that hate transforms from its more seemingly sophisticated, “normal,” chronic state—where those exploited are looked down upon, or despised—to a more acute and obvious manifestation. Hate becomes more perceptible when it is no longer normalized.
Another way to say all of this is that if the rhetoric of superiority works to maintain the entitlement, hatred and direct physical force remains underground. But when that rhetoric begins to fail, force and hatred waits in the wings, ready to explode.

Change to our “social order” is coming, whether we like it or not. The traditions, economics, religion that mask our entitlement are being stripped away and the hate is becoming more perceptible. As a result, the confederate insurgency is threatening to explode.

Black people are noticing. But too many white people are in denial about what’s really going on (including a lot of Democrats/liberals). We need to wake up! I’m not suggesting that everyone needs to support President Obama’s policies. But what I am saying is that we all need to recognize the threat posed by this confederate insurgency…and take on the task of working together to usher in a third reconstruction.

November 22, 2014 11:06 AM This Man Wants Us To Take Him Seriously

On the good side, unlike Michelle Malkin, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky doesn’t think the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War Two was sound policy. On the bad side, Sen. Paul wants us to take him seriously as a presidential candidate:

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) likened President Barack Obama’s decision to take executive action on immigration to then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s executive order authorizing putting Japanese-Americans in internment camps during World War II.

Paul made the comments on Friday, a day after Obama formally announced the executive actions, at the Kentucky Association of Counties conference in Lexington, Kentucky.

“I care that too much power gets in one place. Why? Because there are instances in our history where we allow power to gravitate toward one person and that one person then makes decisions that really are egregious,” Paul said. “Think of what happened in World War II where they made the decision. The president issued an executive order. He said to Japanese people ‘we’re going to put you in a camp. We’re going to take away all your rights and liberties and we’re going to intern you in a camp.’”

“We shouldn’t allow that much power to gravitate to one individual. We need to separate the power.”

As is his custom, Rand Paul doesn’t even have his history correct, since Congress passed Public Law 503 to help enforce FDR’s executive order that authorized the internment camps.

November 22, 2014 8:56 AM What Fair & Balanced Would Look Like

I am but a lowly blogger, bereft of my parents’ basement since they traded suburban bliss for the retirement home. My jammies are torn and frayed and I’m running dangerously low on Cheetos. Who am I, then, to take on the laborious task of countering the six trillion hours of media coverage that aired on the “Benghazi Scandal” with an equal and countervailing amount of coverage on the now established fact that it was ALL bullshit from the start? This is clearly not my job.

It won’t be anyone’s job, of course. But it should be. Any media outlet that lent credence to this “debate” ought to spend the next three-plus years publishing articles and airing pieces on the extent to which this was all a cynical and spiteful lie from the beginning. They should keep doing these pieces no matter how much it outrages and annoys their audiences. They should do it long after it has any potential to edify the public. They should beat it like a dead horse until people do parodies of the media for beating dead horses, and then should keep doing it for several years after that.

Every day should be Susan Rice Vindication Day. We should wake every morning to mockery of Darrell Issa and go to sleep each night to ridicule of Mitt Romney. This should go on until all decent people have long ago given up and stopped begging for it to stop.

And, sometime in late 2017, we will have reached Fair & Balanced coverage of the tragedy in Benghazi.

There is some irony in letting the Republicans’ House Select Committee on Intelligence settle this matter, since they have all the sincerity of a seasick crocodile. But there really is a case of “if even they admit that this was all a crock of crap” at play here.

And, given how seriously these charges were taken and the sheer volume of credulous coverage that was dedicated to them, the public will not internalize the actual truth unless and until they are subjected to a similarly ridiculous and seemingly superfluous amount of corrected media coverage and attention.

The media better get started, because I have better things to do.

November 22, 2014 7:34 AM Daylight Video

In honor of the death of the Benghazi conspiracy theories, I give you The Marines’ Hymn.

I do think that Charles Pierce is a bit optimistic. This parrot may be tired and shagged out after a long squawk, but it is probably a zombie parrot.

There is some sense in which the Benghazi conspiracy theories will and can never actually die.

November 21, 2014 6:02 PM Day’s End and Weekend Watch

I mentioned briefly a while back that I was working on a book (about the midterms, actually). Well, the deadline is screaming up, and I’ll probably take vacation days much of next week to deal with it, assuming we can line up some blogging help. More about that over the weekend or Monday.

Here are some remains of the day:

* Greg Sargent looks at possibility GOP hysteria over immigration action will deter eligible people for signing up. It’s a legitimate fear.

* Peter Beinart sees Obama in immigration action redeeming some of the faith progressives placed in him in 2008.

* Michael Kazin really, really wants Sherrod Brown to run for president.

* At Ten Miles Square, James Wimberly goes deep on design of data presentations.

* At College Guide, Daniel Luzer discusses the persistence of W.E.B. DuBois’ “talented tenth” theory of lifting minority communities by creating elite-educated leaders.

And in non-political news:

* Jon Voight to play Bear Bryant in upcoming movie.

That’s it for Friday. Martin Longman—and perhaps some new blogging talent!—will be in for the weekend.

Let’s close with the classic “Pa’al Norte” by Calle 13, with an English translation.


November 21, 2014 5:24 PM The Siege of Ferguson Continues

So at the beginning of the week the governor declared a state of emergency and mobilized the National Guard. 100 FBI agents are arriving in the area today. One local school district has already canceled classes for next week. That’s all in anticipation of the high likelihood that a St. Louis County grand jury is going to refuse to indict Ferguson, Missouri policeman Darren Wilson for shooting Michael Brown to death.

I appreciate the responsibility federal and state authorities have for protecting public safety, and for local school board officials to keep kids out of harm’s immediate way. And I know some of the fears about what will happen in Ferguson are about “outside agitators.” But still: can’t we hear a little more about the circumstances under which so many people are so sure the “fix” is in, and that white folks in Missouri are closing ranks in solidarity with an admitted killer?

If there is definitive evidence Wilson did no wrong it should be immediately released and reasonable suspicions about its authenticity allayed as soon as is possible. But the whole “siege” mentality exhibited by police immediately after (and apparently preceding) Brown’s death clearly hasn’t gone away. And that’s a big problem, whether or not justice is being done in this particular case.

November 21, 2014 4:27 PM Jeb Bush Better Get Hip to the Outrage

I was looking at CNN’s roundup of Republican reactions to the president’s executive action on immigration and saw this one from Jeb Bush:

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush called Obama’s action “ill-advised” and said it “undermines all efforts to forge a permanent solution to this crisis” that should come from Congress.
“President Obama has once again put divisive and manipulative politics before the sober leadership and sound laws required of an exceptional nation,” Bush said in a statement. “It is time for Republican leaders in Congress to act. We must demonstrate to Americans we are the party that will tackle serious challenges and build broad-based consensus to achieve meaningful reforms for our citizens and our future.”

Hmmm. Unless I’m missing something, Jeb’s saying to his fellow-Republicans: “Pass a bill.” Where did I last hear that line….

November 21, 2014 3:50 PM Nevada’s Mouth-Runnin’ Rebel

When Nevada’s newly ascendent House Republicans decided to lift Ira Hansen to the speakership of their chamber, they clearly hadn’t gotten the memo on how Republicans are trying real hard not to project an image as troglodytes. Hansen, it seems, has said a lot of really crazy and offensive things right out loud via 13 years of op-eds in his local paper (running at least up until 2007, which isn’t a long time ago).

You can follow the link and sample some of Hansen’s sexist, racist and homophobic ravings over the years, but here’s the thing that grabbed me:

Hansen has said he keeps a Confederate battle flag on the wall where he writes his columns. “I fly it proudly in honor and in memory of a great cause and my brave ancestors who fought for that cause,” he wrote.

That helps explain his resentment of African-Americans:

He wrote that African-Americans are insufficiently grateful for being given their freedom: “The lack of gratitude and the deliberate ignoring of white history in relation to eliminating slavery is a disgrace that Negro leaders should own up to.”

Now regular readers know that nothing gets me going quite like neo-Confederate sentiments, particularly when (as with this bird and with former Sen. George Allen) it involves enthusiasts for the Lost Cause who did not grow up in its stomping grounds (Hansen was born in Reno; Allen used to tool around Los Angeles with confederate flag plates on his sports car).

But as Matt Ford points out at the Atlantic today, Hansen’s really lucky his rebel yells weren’t emitted a little closer to the event:

In 1864, a Nevadan man went on trial for murdering a Confederate sympathizer in public. “I want him convicted, and before I resign … I mean to pardon him,” proclaimed James Nye, the outgoing territorial governor, who would soon become the new state’s second U.S. senator. “If it be meritorious to shoot a traitor in South Carolina, it cannot be unpardonable to shoot one in Nevada.”

Hansen should probably find himself another line of work.

November 21, 2014 2:23 PM Lunch Buffet

I’m a little late here, but my wife and I had a sudden hankering for biscuits, and they only serve them so long.

Here are some midday treats I picked up while I was out:

* Distinguished Duke law professor Walter Dellinger calls argument that Obama’s executive action is a power grab “absurd.”

* Kevin Drum methodically goes through legal arguments against Obama’s authority and calls GOP rhetoric “playground silliness.”

* Greg Sargent argues that omission of protection for parents of Dreamers good example of care taken in drafting an executive action that’s on sound legal ground.

* Long-awaited House GOP lawsuit on Obamacare employer mandate finally filed.

* Really bad vibes between Senate Dems and White House over “torture report.” former think latter “slow-walking it” to death.

And in non-political news:

* Bills-Jets game scheduled for Sunday in Buffalo moved to Monday in Detroit. Now that’s a snow storm!

As we break for lunch, here’s Freddy Fender (with Ry Cooder, who wrote the song, on guitar) performing “Across the Borderline,” with opening credits from the movie it was written for, The Border, a 1982 Jack Nicholson vehicle.

November 21, 2014 1:40 PM Lawlessness

After reading vague but menacing warnings about civil disobedience or even violence in reaction to the president’s executive action on immigration, Josh Marshall asked TPM readers for suggestions of what that might look like. He got an instant winner from a reader in Arizona:

My suggestion for what civil disobedience should look like is to move to Phoenix, trade their imitation Army rifles for shovels, and do a protest march through the residential subdivisions, pulling weeds as they go.
They should march into restaurant kitchens, offering to wash dishes for free. Or volunteer to man the drive through at any of a hundred fast food joints. Maybe ask a California cabbage farmer if they have anything needs harvesting. Those are the jobs illegal immigrants might be taking away.

This is not only funny and apt, but it also offers a reminder that the people shrieking about Obama’s “tyranny” really don’t have a lot of standing to complain. The people Obama provided temporary relief to last night about aren’t going to be receiving additional government benefits, but will more surely pay taxes. They aren’t taking away “American jobs,” and could now actually help boost wages for everybody.

As for the supposed offense to the Majesty of the Law that some opponents are shouting about, let’s don’t be fooled: it’s the status quo that is lawless, and not just because, as Obama emphasized last night, people who cannot be prosecuted effectively already enjoy “amnesty.” More fundamentally, a system with a 10.6 million-person gap between the number of undocumented and the number that can be deported is one in which the exercise of arbitrary power and regular injustices are guaranteed. Unless they are willing to bite the bullet and set up a regime designed to deport all these people, then it’s lawlessness they are endorsing—even and perhaps particularly if it’s designed to terrorize people into “self-deportation.”

November 21, 2014 12:55 PM Key Question in 2014 Results: Was Big GOP Win Caused by Cyclical or Non-Cyclical Factors?

So we’ve now had more than two weeks to digest the 2014 elections and look more closely at the numbers. I’m no big number-cruncher, and don’t have access to voter files or other data more sophisticated than exit polls, but my general take (articulated here and here) has been that the big GOP victory was the product of a number of things that happened to coincide in one cycle: a strongly pro-GOP midterm turnout pattern, a strongly pro-GOP “map” (at least for the Senate), a second-term midterm “drag” on the party controlling the White House, and negative perceptions of the economy that also hurt the party controlling the White House. I’ve conceded that individual candidates and campaigns may have won or cost a few contests, and it’s possible voter suppression (in the broadest sense of the term) may have mattered in a few places. I haven’t really come to grips with the idea that an entirely different Democratic message could have turned things around, but it’s possible, though very hard to demonstrate.

In any event, this week we’ve seen Sean Trende of RealClearPolitics demonstrate convincingly that the election wasn’t all about turnout demographics, and Harry Enten of FiveThirtyEight demonstrate convincingly that it wasn’t all about the map.

What these analyses suggest to me is that the real fault line in 2014 interpretation could wind up being between those who think the factors driving the results are cyclical—whether it’s turnout, the map, the stage of the presidency, or the economy, or more likely a combination of them—or non-cyclical. Sean Trende, for example, clearly thinks Obama’s unpopularity was the crucial factor in 2014, and will probably sink Democrats in 2016 as well, despite better turnout patterns, etc. It’s really hard to prove or disprove the transitive nature of approval ratings for two-term presidents to their wannabe same-party successors, because the sample set is so small. But I’m still betting 2014 was mostly a “cyclical” election, just like the last three. That does not mean Democrats are guaranteed victory, by any stretch of the imagination, but does mean the winds should shift and give them a shorter and straighter path.

November 21, 2014 11:54 AM Amazing Lifer

When I saw that Jason Zengerle of TNR had written a piece about Harris Wofford, I thought: “Oh, no! Harris died!” But fortunately, that’s not true. It’s a little unclear why Scheiber chose Wofford as the subject of an essay that’s part of TNR’s commemoration of its 100th anniversary, but it’s presumably because Wofford was near the center of action in American politics for what seemed like a century. Indeed, that’s what Scheiber writes about.

During my years in Washington, in which I was perpetually on the periphery of what we called the “national service movement,” I encountered Wofford—who ran AmeriCorps for Bill Clinton after his Senate defeat in 1994—pretty regularly. And as such, I was the fascinated auditor some of those mind-bending only-Harris-Wofford-could-tell-them anecdotes that Zengerle recounts. As he talked about his role in securing MLK’s release from jail, I thought--Lord, how many people in the Clinton administration have personal memories of MLK from the perspective of the Kennedy/Johnston campaign?—and came up with no other names.

And as Zengerle notes, Wofford’s encounters with American political history didn’t end with Clinton: he was the guy who introduced Barack Obama the day the then-presidential candidate gave his famous “race speech” in Philadelphia.

Back in 1981, Wofford published a memoir of the sixties, with the predictable title, Of Kennedys and Kings. I would have to assume he’s working on the other decades now.

UPDATE: Yes, the Jason Zengerle disease strikes me again, as I once again (in the original post) attribute Jason’s work to Noam Scheiber. I swear I’m not doing this deliberately.

November 21, 2014 10:45 AM End of the Road

Like a lot of baby boomers, I’ve become distressingly familiar with hospital intensive care units in recent years: the constant contrast between banal routine and live-and-death drama, the dangerous rituals of a shift change, the gradual turnover in patients as some quietly die, the realization that recovery has become remote, the infuriating wait for “rounds” and the information you feel sure you are being denied. While some hospitals are undoubtedly better places than others from which to leave this life, it’s all part of a system that seems to revolve around denial of what it happening. And so I was very interested to read Phillip Longman’s review of a book about that culture of denial in American health care and American culture, and wish now I coud have read Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal: American Medicine and What Matters in the End several years ago.

We have a system for dealing with end-of-live events, says Gawande, a surgeon, in which those god-like figures whose “rounds” we await, the physicians, are poorly equipped to handle:

Doctors today know how to treat, if not cure, many specific conditions, such as colon cancer, high blood pressure, or an arthritic knee. But, writes Gawande, “give us an elderly woman with high blood pressure, arthritic knees, and various other ailments besides—an elderly woman at risk of losing the life she enjoys—and we hardly know what to do and often only make matters worse.”
Most doctors have not received any training that specifically prepares them to treat the kind of patients who are overwhelmingly becoming the most common. These are people who, had they been born even a few decades before they actually were, would have likely died from childhood infections or midlife coronaries, but who under modern conditions have survived long enough to be afflicted by multiple chronic conditions such as cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.

Yes, hospitals are increasingly utilizing “palliative care” teams that take over for the helpless docs, but often long after unnecessary pain (not to mention expense) has been imposed on dying patients and suffering family members—and that’s just with the patients lucky enough to have family members around to monitor care. As Gawande and Longman say, we need a system change.

One of the major contributions of this book is that Gawande manages to reframe end-of-life issues outside the normal, puerile terms of debate. He does not concentrate on the financial costs of heroic, high-tech treatments that only marginally extend life expectancy, though those costs are extensive. Nor does he engage directly with those calling for, or decrying, various forms of “rationing.” Rather, Gawande quite rightly shows how for the vast majority of us the real issue is entirely different: just how—in the face of a health care delivery system acculturated to and profiting from the overtreatment of its sickest, most vulnerable patients—do we and our loved ones get through to the end of life while avoiding painful, expensive, futile care we don’t want.

It’s really hard to imagine an issue that’s more certainly waiting for most of us at some point down the road.

November 21, 2014 9:34 AM Artificial Republican Unity on Immigration

The grand irony of the president’s immigration action is that it was to a considerable extent the product of intra-Republican disunity on immigration policy—yet it will unite the GOP in real and fake outrage.

For all the yelling and screaming about “Emperor Obama,” his action was temporary and could be instantly revoked by a Republican president or superseded by legislation from a Republican Congress. But Republicans are in complete disarray on the subject, though there is a distinct trend towards “deport ‘em all” nativism (though not the will to provide the resources necessary to “deport ‘em all,” which would make actions like Obama’s impossible).

At present, though, the Establishment Republicans who privately view their nativist “base” as a bunch of destructive yahoos can join with said yahoos in an orgy of recrimination, mooting their agreement with the substance of what Obama is doing even as they pretend they believe the procedure is the greatest threat to democracy since yadda yadda yadda.

So the appropriate response of progressives to what we’re going to hear over the next weeks and months is: What do you propose to do about it? Can Republicans agree on an immigration policy (no, “securing the border first” is not an immigration policy, but at most a component of one)? What should this and future administrations do in the face of a gigantic gap between the number of undocumented people in this country and the resources to deal with them? Is using the fear of deportation to encourage “self-deportation” what you want? And if you do want to “deport ‘em all,” then exactly how much money are you willing to appropriate for police dogs, box cars, whips, holding cells, and so on and so forth? Do you suggest we just suspend the Constitution and have us a good old-fashioned police state for a few years until we’ve deported 11 million people?

And if Republicans actually have the guts to go against their “base” and take on comprehensive immigration reform, there’s this little matter of the bipartisan bill that’s been languishing in the House for seventeen months. John Boehner could at any moment bring it up and pass it with Democratic votes. Why isn’t that at least on the table?

These sort of questions should be asked early and often. There’s no reason for progressives to be defensive about Obama’s action. Republicans made it necessary. Let them tell us exactly what they would do if they were in power.

November 21, 2014 8:58 AM Three Takes on Obama’s Immigration Announcement

If you watched the president’s relatively brief statement last night announcing executive action on immigration, you probably saw a calm Obama straightforwardly presenting a decision, albeit somewhat defensively and (in his words more than his manner) a tad defiantly.

But it’s sure being perceived variably. The basic facts were nicely presented by Danny Vinik at TNR:

The move builds upon Obama’s 2012 executive action¬≠¬≠—the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program—that deferred deportation of 1.2 million undocumented immigrants, so-called DREAMers, and allowed them to work. To qualify for DACA, an undocumented immigrant had to be under the age of 30 and brought to the U.S. as a child before 2007. Around 700,000 people applied for DACA and approximately 600,000 received a two-year renewable grant of deferred status.
Obama’s new action has a few components. It creates a new program for entrepreneurs to come to the U.S., eliminates the Secure Communities program, and shifts law enforcement resources to focus on criminals and those who have recently crossed the border. But the most consequential (and controversial) changes to immigration policy are modeled on his 2012 move. Nicknamed DACA 2.0, it reforms the original program by eliminating the age limit and moving the year of arrival up to 2010. The White House estimates that another 270,000 undocumented immigrants will become eligible for the program. The government will also offer deferred status to undocumented immigrants who have been in the U.S. more than five years and who are parents of American citizens or lawful permanent residents. That will make approximately four million people eligible for the program. However, it does not include the parents of DREAMers, which many immigration activists wanted. As with DACA, the new action gives work authorizations to the beneficiaries.
“Deferred action isn’t a pathway to citizenship. It’s not a legal status. It simply says for three years, because you are not an enforcement priority, we’re not going to go after you,” a senior administration official said. “While we’re busy going after terrorists and criminals, if you come forward and submit yourself to a criminal background check—assuming you meet the other eligibility requirements—we’ll allow you to work and pay taxes, because we’re not going to prosecute you for this limited period of time.”
Those work authorizations may be the most important part of the program. It allows millions of undocumented immigrants to come out of the shadows, work for a fair pay and receive protection under U.S. law. Under the original DACA program, 61 percent of beneficiaries obtained a new job. Fifty-four percent opened their first bank account and 61 percent obtained a driver’s license. Families that otherwise would have been torn apart by deportations will be kept together. For the nearly all Americans, this action will have no effect whatsoever. But for those who are affected by it, their lives will improve significantly.

And that leads to a second take (via Suzanne Gamboa of NBC News):

Several months ago Janet Murguia, executive director of the National Council of La Raza,referred to Obama as “Deporter in Chief” as frustration built over the lack of action on immigration. But after the President’s speech, Murguia said it was a victory for common sense.
“I thought it was very compelling, very powerful and very reaffirming - this is a milestone moment for so many millions of American families who have lived in the shadows,” Murguia said on MSNBC.

Despite some disappointment that the action did not include the parents of “Dreamers” covered in the first DACA, the reaction among immigration activists and Latinos generally seems to have been overwhelmingly positive. I suspect we”ll hear more praise today from religious leaders, especially Catholic bishops (who quietly signaled support for the move back in September).

And then there’s the third take, exemplified by Ted Cruz, who is now, as in previous moments of ideological passion, become the de facto leader of his party (via The Hill):

“When, President Obama, do you mean to cease abusing our patience? How long is that madness of yours still to mock us? When is there to be an end to that unbridled audacity of yours, swaggering about as it does now?” he said, using the beginning of Cicero’s First Oration Against Catiline.

The ravings of conservatives on this action will probably eliminate the natural defensiveness (and in some cases, timidity) of Democrats on “controversial” actions. I know last night, even as Obama was speaking, I thought of the GOP reaction and said aloud: “Si se puede, jackasses!”

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