Today we want to bring you an update on what has been going on in the news both nationally and here in New Mexico. It was a busy week with the inauguration and the legislature arguing over, well, everything. Here’s some news and hope you all have a great weekend!
Inaugurations nowadays seem to get even more excessive and gluttonous every time.
Congressional Quarterly’s comprehensive “Guide to the Presidency” helpfully explains that “the only part of the inaugural ceremony that is required by the Constitution is the taking of the oath of office.” If only somebody had bothered to check, we could have wrapped it all up Sunday when Chief Justice John Roberts swore Barack Obama in for his second term, and spared ourselves an extra day’s worth of pomp, circumstance and dreadful poetry.
After his swearing-in, “Calvin Coolidge simply went to bed in 1925.” George Washington’s admirably brief second inaugural clocks in at 135 words. But modern presidents fail to appreciate that for presidential inaugurations, as with presidential activism, less is more. In his first inaugural, in 1993, Bill Clinton suggested that the ritual of presidential anointment brings hope and life to the world: “This ceremony is held in the depth of winter. But, by the words we speak and the faces we show the world, we force the spring.”
In his unsettling second inaugural, in the midst of two bloody and seemingly endless wars, an unfazed George W. Bush pledged America to “the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.”
Four years ago in his first inaugural, a newly anointed President Obama promised a transformational presidency that would “wield technology’s wonders” and “harness the sun and the winds.” He decried “the cynics” who dared to “question the scale of our ambitions, who suggest our system cannot tolerate too many big plans.”
This time around, the president seems not to have adjusted the scale of his ambitions downward. Columnist Steve Chapman summed it up on Twitter: “Shorter Obama inaugural speech: I’m a liberal. Deal with it.”
Would that it had been shorter. Though most of yesterday’s address was a high-minded word-souffle, light on specific policy prescriptions, several passages stuck out. For example: “We reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future.”
Read the rest the reason article here
Something else you might find interesting is the word cloud (most used words) of Obama’s 2013 inauguration address:
Women in Combat
Recently, the Pentagon announced it was removing a 19 year ban on women in combat.
WASHINGTON—Defense Secretary Leon Panetta signed an order Thursday striking down the two-decade-old rule excluding women from combat positions in the military, a move that will eventually open thousands of new jobs on the front lines.
The new policy recognizes that in modern warfare, everyone in a combat zone is on the front lines, Mr. Panetta said.
“There is no distinction that’s made between the sacrifices of men and women in uniform,” Mr. Panetta said. “They serve, they’re wounded and they die right next to each other. The time has come to recognize that reality.”
What exactly are these implications? There aren’t very many details on what specific jobs women will actually be able to serve in where they were previously excluded. Many officials have commented that most likely infantry and special operations units would remain closed.
As a former combat veteran myself, I don’t hold any particularly strong opinion on a woman’s right to be in a combat unit. However, there are practicality issues that would compel me to be against such a matter. As of right now, physical standards in the military are different for male and female. If females are going to be allowed in physically demanding units where they’ll be pit against enemy ground troops, they must be able to meet the minimum standards that male combat soldiers must meet. I’m sure there are many who can meet such standards, while others can not. Either way, you can’t have separate standards if we wish to maintain an effective fighting force.
Another issue that concerns me is pregnancy. There were many examples of women in non-combat supporting units who got pregnant right before a deployment, precluding them from being deployed with the rest of us. I am not saying they would or would not get pregnant on purpose to avoid a deployment, however, the issue remains that it does happen and would be severely crippling to a combat unit. Let’s say half an infantry platoon is made up of women. Before departure date for a deployment half those women get pregnant. 25% of the platoon is now out of commission before they even set foot in theatre! If men could get pregnant, it’d happen to them, too.
There are other arguments for and against women in combat. While I believe if women chose to maintain the necessary standards and make the harsh sacrifices male combat troops make daily, they should be able to accomplish their goals, I also believe there are social dynamics, biological dynamics, and questions of morality that make women in combat a complicated issue. What do you think?
It would seem President Obama will be using his political capital (apparently he still has some) to push his gun control agenda on the American people:
The Obama administration is bypassing Capitol Hill as it works to get gun-control efforts passed, with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden planning trips outside Washington to build public support.
Obama’s gun control plans depend on many Democratic senators who come from states with strong weapons rights supporters, and the administration’s plans to bypass them and take the cause to the people marks a more aggressive strategy than Obama took in his first term of office, reports the Washington Post.
The president is mobilizing supporters through his former campaign committee, Organizing for Action, which will run grassroots campaigns to pressure lawmakers. Plans are also under way for Obama and Biden to meet with police, clergy, hunters, and others who back their proposals.
Of course with America being a society that highly values the right of citizens to own guns, obviously there was some pushback. Especially among sheriffs across the country.
A collection of sheriffs across the country have sent Congress and the Obama administration a message: If we don’t like your gun laws, we aren’t going to help enforce them.
As of Thursday, 90 sheriffs, many from rural counties, have pledged not to enforce laws they deem unconstitutional, according to a list compiled by the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, a Texas-based group that has “vowed to uphold and defend the Constitution against Obama’s unlawful gun control measures.”
Stories like this are popping up everywhere. Even here in New Mexico where sheriffs representing 30 of the 33 counties in the state and stood up for our right to bear arms. The current gun control vs gun rights fervor will doubtless be a hot topic in many state legislatures. Gun owners are definitely fired up as the NRA membership has sky-rocketed.
I know this story is a week or so old but if you haven’t seen the Reality Check video that went viral explaining the incorrect gun statistics claimed by Piers Morgan (in the now infamous Piers vs Alex feud) you should check it out. Ben Swann is one of the most objective reporters I’ve seen.
Debt Ceiling Deal
Looks like our political leaders got tired of the last debt ceiling fight and decided to just go ahead and kick the can down the road a few months right off the bat.
The House on Wednesday passed the “No Budget, No Pay Act,” a Republican bill that would effectively defuse the debt ceiling threat for several months.
The bill would let the Treasury Department borrow new money until mid-May. In exchange, the legislation would require lawmakers in both chambers of Congress to pass a budget resolution or have their pay withheld until they do.
The vote was 285 to 144, largely on the back of Republican support.
Read the rest of the article here
Of course the “No Pay” portion of the bill is just a bunch of the usual smoke and mirrors considering actually taking a member’s pay is a violation of the 27th amendment which prohibits changing congressional pay until the next election has passed. At best, their pay will be held in escrow until the next Congress, at which time they’ll probably be paid what was held.
Driver’s permits for Illegals, a compromise option?
The ABQ journal ran this story a couple days ago:
SANTA FE – Top Democratic leaders of the House and Senate indicated tentative support Monday for legislation that would grant a new driver’s permit to illegal immigrants In New Mexico but could not be used as legal identification.
The idea, spearheaded by Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, and Senate Finance Committee Chairman John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, is being discussed as a possible solution to a two-year legislative impasse on Gov. Susana Martinez’s push to repeal a 2003 New Mexico law allowing illegal immigrants to get state driver’s licenses.
House Speaker Ken Martinez, D-Grants, and Senate Pro Tem Mary Kay Papen, D-Las Cruces, expressed cautious and conditional support Monday for the alternative that would create a new driver’s permit for illegal immigrants but would not be valid as identification to board an airplane or enter a federal building, as required by the federal Real ID Act. Martinez and Papen, elected as the top leaders of their chambers this year, have opposed the governor’s push to repeal the license law in the past.
“It’s a concept I support,” Papen said. “It’s a concept that hopefully could move us forward, but I wont commit to anything until I see a bill.”
Speaker Martinez said he would rather address public safety concerns related to the illegal immigrant driver’s licenses by making changes to the current driver’s license law. “If that doesn’t necessarily carry the day, you can look at a two-tier licensure system,” he said.
“Look at that (idea),” Martinez said, “but make sure it’s meaningful to the immigrant community, (that) it’s not something they would be reticent to get.”
You can read the rest of the article here.
Governor Martinez said she might be able to jump on board this proposal.
Gov. Susana Martinez, in a potential change of course, said Tuesday that she would consider legislation to create a driver’s permit for illegal immigrants if the proposed permit card could not be used for identification or used to get a driver’s license in another state.
“If we have something that proposes that, and takes care of public safety, I’m certainly willing to take a look at it,” Martinez said Tuesday.
Public safety concerns previously cited by the Republican governor have centered on non-residents fraudulently obtaining New Mexico driver’s licenses for identification purposes.
Her comments Tuesday are in contrast to her position during the 2012 legislative session, when she warned she would veto any legislation that would allow illegal immigrants to drive legally in New Mexico.
Although, there hasn’t been any legislation introduced yet, proposals are being drafted. It seems like something that could be passed and signed by the Governor. This bill brings up some issues that I’m curious about from a logical stand point. While it appears to be legislation that pleases the Governor or those against drivers licenses for illegals, at the same time it gives the Democrat’s (or those who supported driver’s licenses for illegals) an out in their support.
In this two-tiered system, what happens is that all it does is separate the illegals from the legals in identification. There is no reason why a person who is eligible to get the regular driver’s license will opt to get the permit. Only those who can NOT get a regular license, due to their illegal status, will opt to get the permit (if they decide to come out in the open like that). Who’s to say at a later point these permits won’t be used as a way to identify illegals and apprehend those in possession of them?
And if a police officer pulls over an individual and that individual hands them this new permit, doesn’t the officer then know there is a good chance that the driver is an illegal immigrant? In which case, does the officer have the probable cause to further investigate this individual based on the type of identification he holds? It seems logical that anybody who holds these types of permits are illegal immigrants and as such are easily identified and can be deported.
If this is so, I don’t see illegal immigrants going out to get themselves these new permits since they’d probably understand how easily it would identify them. So essentially, this would be the same as eliminating driver’s licenses for illegals.
Whatever one’s position is on the issue of driver’s licenses for illegals, I think this is a roundabout way of eliminating the driver’s licenses for illegals (wether intentionally or not).
As we all know, the infamous New Mexico Spaceport has soaked up over $209 million from NM taxpayers. Its been an extravagant government-sponsored money pit. With that being said, the costs are sunk, we’re stuck with it, and the best course of action to take right now is to allow it to function and operate so as to encourage its success as much as possible. Due to certain liability issues, the spaceport has been at risk of being stalled out and being abandoned by Virgin Galactic.
Here is the Rio Grande Foundation’s take on the issue:
From day one, the Rio Grande Foundation has been critical of the use of $209 million of New Mexicans’ tax dollars to build a spaceport.
For starters, government has a shaky track record of betting on “the next big thing.” The spaceport is also a classic example of wealth redistribution from New Mexico taxpayers (arguably the poorest state in the nation) to wealthy businessman Richard Branson and the millionaires who plan to spend $200,000 to fly into space.
Despite all of this, the project was built and is now open. Thus, it makes sense to make it as successful as possible. Unfortunately, to date New Mexico’s Legislature has failed to pass a law that protects manufacturers, suppliers and anyone else who builds and maintains spacecraft from liability lawsuits. This law would cost nothing to change and will not impact any New Mexican who does not choose to fly into space.
New Mexicans have spent $209 million on the spaceport. The Legislature would be committing an act of legislative malfeasance by failing to pass these basic protections.
Luckily, it seems the legislature and the Governor might being coming to terms on settling for a limited-liability agreement, as reported by the ABQ Journal:
Democratic leaders said Tuesday that an agreement has been reached on limited-liability legislation for Spaceport America and predicted the contentious issue soon would be settled, but some Republicans said they hadn’t seen the deal.
The Democratic leadership said their announcement followed negotiations that began last summer between Virgin Galactic and the New Mexico Trial Lawyers Association.
A bill reflecting the agreement was expected to be introduced as early as today, and the Democratic lawmakers suggested it would have bipartisan support.
Republican leaders, however, didn’t attend the hastily called news conference.
Liability problems have been called a threat to the state’s $209 million investment in Spaceport America. (Associated Press)
“We haven’t seen the details of any deal yet,” said House Republican Whip Nate Gentry of Albuquerque. “We’re hopeful that, whatever it is, is something that will allow the spaceport to be successful.”
Republican Gov. Susana Martinez’s office was noncommittal. Her spokesman said she met with Virgin Galactic officials on Tuesday “and is hopeful that the final legislation that passes will lead to the company’s commitment to stay in New Mexico, and that it will lead to making New Mexico capable of attracting other space industry business.”
School Choice Week In Albuquerque New Mexico
The Rio Grande Foundation is a co-sponsor of a national event by National School Choice Week occurring in Albuquerque, NM:
We’ll close off this week’s Publius Digest with an interview of Paul Gessing, the President of the Rio Grande Foundation, discussing School Choice Week in New Mexico: