Tuesday Mid-Morning Reads: Immigration Reform, Aaron Swartz Prosecution, and Much More

Barbara Stanwyk reading

Good Morning Everyone!!

The media talking heads are going on and on about the supposed “bi-partisan agreement” on Immigration reform. I’m not really clear on what policies have been “agreed” on, but frankly, I’ll believe it when I see it. TPM reports: Gang Of 8’s Path To Citizenship Is Still A Rocky Road.

While reformers are excited that a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants is the centerpiece of the Senate’s new bipartisan immigration deal, it’s still unclear just how accessible that path will be for the undocumented population.

Without the proper components, experts warn the Senate plan could be the beginning of a long process to bringing illegal immigrants fully into American society, one that could take not years but decades.

So what does the process involve?

Under the plan, undocumented immigrants would receive a probationary status if they pass a criminal background check, pay a fine, and pay any back taxes owed to the government. After that, they’d have to wait to apply for permanent residency – a prerequisite to citizenship – until after a series of border security measures go into effect.

None of the new border measures, which will be overseen by a commission of southwestern state officials and community leaders, appear too difficult to implement at first glance (although there are concerns as to how much power conservative state politicians would wield in the process). The big question is what comes next when 11 million newly legal immigrants apply for a green card.

According to the framework, these applicants will then be required to “go to the back of the line of prospective immigrants.” But for many of them, a clear line doesn’t actually exist at the moment. Individuals can apply for green cards through a number of categories, mostly based on having family already in the country or on their employment status, which experts say are inadequate to the task of absorbing so many immigrants at once.

Greg Sargent says that the assumption that conservative Southern governors will control the process because they will be the ones to certify that the border is secure is “not true.”

I’ve now got clarification from Senate staff working on the bill, and it turns out that the enforcement commission’s judgments will only be advisory, and are entirely nonbinding. Congress’ actions will not be dictated by what this commission concludes; neither will actions taken by the Department of Homeland Security. The citizenship process will be triggered by other means (more on this soon).

This is central to the debate. If this commission had the power to dictate when the citizenship process begins, it could endanger the entire enterprise by giving people like Jan Brewer veto power. Second, this enforcement commission is being seen as a major concession Republicans won in exchange for agreeing to grant citizenship to the 11 million.

So what did Republicans get in this deal then?

The concessions Republicans got in this deal — in exchange for agreeing to citizenship for 11 million — include beefed up border security, a new program designed to help employers verify their employees’ status, tougher checks on immigrants overstaying visas, and the need for undocumented immigrants to go to the end of the immigration line.

Meanwhile, President Obama will roll out his own, supposedly “more liberal” immigration reform plan beginning today in a speech in Las Vegas.

The Obama administration has developed its own proposals for immigration reform that are more liberal than a separate bipartisan effort in the Senate, including a quicker path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, people with knowledge of the proposals said.

President Obama is expected to provide some details of the White House plans during a Tuesday appearance in Las Vegas, where he will call for broad changes to the nation’s immigration laws. The speech will kick off a public push by the administration in support of the broadest overhaul of immigration law in nearly three decades.

Obama plans to praise the proposals laid out Monday by an eight-member Senate working group, saying they reflect the core tenets of the administration’s immigration blueprint developed in 2011, a senior administration official said.

But the president’s remarks also are likely to emphasize differences that could foreshadow roadblocks to passage in Congress at a time when both parties say there is momentum for a comprehensive deal.

Naturally, the wingnuts in the House will provide roadblocks galore for whatever plan the Senate approves. Read all about it at Politico.

mitchmconnell turtle

Politico reported yesterday on a possible collaboration between the Tea Party and Democrats in Kentucky to dump Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Big Democratic donors, local liberal activists and a left-leaning super PAC in Kentucky are telling tea partiers that they are poised to throw financial and organizational support behind a right-wing candidate should one try to defeat the powerful GOP leader in a 2014 primary fight.

The idea: Soften up McConnell and make him vulnerable in a general election in Kentucky, where Democrats still maintain a voter registration advantage. Or better yet, in their eyes: Watch Kentucky GOP primary voters nominate the 2014 version of Todd Akin or Richard Mourdock, weak candidates who may actually lose.

Interesting… Once again, I’ll believe it when I see it. Still, anything is possible. Plus McConnell is very unpopular in his home state according to the latest poll

With his re-election bid just a year away, those opposed to U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell outnumber his supporters 2-1 among Kentucky voters, according to the latest Courier-Journal Bluegrass Poll.

In the poll of 609 registered voters, 34 percent said they plan to vote against McConnell — while just 17 percent say they will vote to give him six more years. Forty-four percent said they will wait to see who is running against him before deciding, and 6 percent said they are not sure.

The poll, conducted by SurveyUSA, has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points. It comes as groups on both McConnell’s right and left seek candidates to challenge him in the primary and general elections in 2014. McConnell, the most powerful Republican in the Senate as minority leader, is seeking his sixth term.

More information is coming out

about the over-the-top prosecution that probably contributed to the suicide of genius cyber-activist Aaron Swartz. Rolling Stone reports:

Swartz’s friends and family have said they believe he was driven to his death by a justice system that hounded him needlessly over an alleged crime with no real victims. “[He was] forced by the government to spend every fiber of his being on this damnable, senseless trial,” his partner Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman said at the memorial, “with no guarantee that he could exonerate himself at the end of it.”

Two zealous federal prosecutors handled Swartz’s case: U.S. district attorney Carmen Ortiz and assistant attorney Stephen Heymann. In the days after his death, writers, tech experts, and many of Swartz’s friends have called out Heymann and Ortiz for prosecutorial overreach. A White House petition demanding the removal of Ortiz garnered well over 25,000 signatures, reaching the level which guarantees an eventual response from the Obama administration.

Carmen Ortiz

Carmen Ortiz

Some of Swartz’s advocates believe the prosecution sought excessive punishment to set an example in the age of Wikileaks and Anonymous.

Declan McCullough writes at CNet that when Swartz’s case was being prosecuted by the Middlesex County DA’s office, there was no thought of sending Swartz to prison for what was essential a minor, victimless crime.

State prosecutors who investigated the late Aaron Swartz had planned to let him off with a stern warning, but federal prosecutor Carmen Ortiz took over and chose to make an example of the Internet activist, according to a report in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly.

Middlesex County’s district attorney had planned no jail time, “with Swartz duly admonished and then returned to civil society to continue his pioneering electronic work in a less legally questionable manner,” the report (alternate link) said. “Tragedy intervened when Ortiz’s office took over the case to send ‘a message.'”

The report is likely to fuel an online campaign against Ortiz, who has been criticized for threatening the 26-year-old with decades in prison for allegedly downloading a large quantity of academic papers. An online petition asking President Obama to remove from office Ortiz — a politically ambitious prosecutor who was talked about as Massachusetts’ next governor as recently as last month.

Ortiz no longer has a political future, and other abuses of power by her office are now coming out. Read more at the link. I posted links to more damning information about Ortiz in a recent post.

The Massachusetts Lawyers’ Weekly post by Harvey Silverglate is behind a paywall, but it has been republished with permission at Media Nation.

Aaron Swartz

Aaron Swartz

Silverglate writes:

The ill-considered prosecution leading to the suicide of computer prodigy Aaron Swartz is the most recent in a long line of abusive prosecutions coming out of the U.S. attorney’s office in Boston, representing a disastrous culture shift. It sadly reflects what’s happened to the federal criminal courts, not only in Massachusetts but across the country….

the palpable injustices flowing regularly out of the federal criminal courts have by and large escaped the critical scrutiny of the lawyers who are in the best position to say something. And judges tend not to recognize what to outsiders are serious flaws, because the system touts itself as the best and fairest in the world.

Since the mid-1980s, a proliferation of vague and overlapping federal criminal statutes has given federal prosecutors the ability to indict, and convict, virtually anyone unfortunate enough to come within their sights. And sentencing guidelines confer yet additional power on prosecutors, who have the discretion to pick and choose from statutes covering the same behavior.

This dangerous state of affairs has resulted in countless miscarriages of justice, many of which aren’t recognized as such until long after unfairly incarcerated defendants have served “boxcar-length” sentences.

Aaron Swartz was a victim of this system run amok. He was indicted under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, a notoriously broad statute enacted by Congress seemingly to criminalize any use of a computer to do something that could be deemed bad.

If you care about this issue, please go read the whole thing. Read Charles Pierce’s take on it here.

There have been some reports that Swartz had contacted Wikileaks’ Julian Assange and could possibly have been working with the organization, but it’s not clear what Swartz could have leaked to them. I can’t imagine Wikileaks being interested in distributing a bunch of academic journal articles that are already available to millions of people from numerous sources. Nevertheless, the Feds are so obsessed with Wikileaks and cyber-security generally that that could have led to their taking over Swartz’s case.

I have a number of other suggested reads that I’ll list  link dump style.

Bloomberg: The Fed Is More Out of It Than You Thought It Was

HuffPo: Treasury Disregarded Own Guidelines, Allowed Executive Raises At Bailed-Out GM, AIG: Report

LA Times: A third of Barnes & Noble stores may close in next decade, report says

Alex Pareene at Salon: 3 reasons to be skeptical that immigration reform will pass /

Irin Carmon at Salon: Is abortion about women?

Time: Barbara Walters Has the Chicken Pox

CBS Crimesider: JonBenet Ramsey Case: Grand jury voted to indict parents in 1999, prosecutor refused to sign

USA Today: Iran says it launched a monkey into space (Video)

NYT: The Preppers Next Door – The Doomsday Preppers of New York

ABC News: Bigfoot: Is Mysterious Screech Sasquatch? (Hey, is Bigfoot really any weirder than the Tea Party Republicans? I don’t think so.)

So….what’s on your reading and blogging list today? I look forward to clicking on your links!


55 Comments on “Tuesday Mid-Morning Reads: Immigration Reform, Aaron Swartz Prosecution, and Much More”

  1. Owen says:

    Re: McConnell. AShley Judd is seriously thinking about running against him. That would be a MASSIVE boost to kill any money interests keeping him afloat.

  2. janicen says:

    Wow, you are keeping us busy reading some great stuff this morning!

    I have concerns about the back-taxes provision in that the immigrants who have come here illegally have, for the most part been here working for less than minimum wage. Will they also get back-wages? Will their employers be forced to pay the payroll taxes they dodged by hiring illegals? How are these back-taxes going to be calculated? It seems that it would be very difficult if not impossible to think that very many of the undocumented immigrants who have been living here on less than subsistence earnings would be able to pony up the back-taxes.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Those are good questions. I’m sure there are all kinds of crazy things that are going to come out of this. I wish they would just issue a blanket amnesty and start from there.

    • RalphB says:

      Those are the kinds of questions that Congress used to consider when passing legislation. I have no faith in the current members to realize that unintended consequences can even exist, let alone address them.

    • RalphB says:

      From stories at memeorandum, Obama’s plan is simpler than the Republican kludge with no interim step or trigger mechanisms. It also includes same sex couples which isn’t in the Gang of Eight plan. That probably means Marco Rubio has a way out of supporting it.

  3. bostonboomer says:

    Newtown first responders talk to the NYT.

    • janicen says:

      So disturbing. All over again.

      • HT says:

        That is so sad is too many ways. So many deaths and so many people traumatized by it. Those first responders have nightmares – not surprising in compassionate caring people. I hope they get the help they will need.

  4. RalphB says:

    Great post BB!

    CNN Parts Ways With Major Contributors

    Pundit power couple James Carville and Mary Matalin will not be continuing their contracts with CNN, according to FishbowlDC sources. In addition, Bill Bennett and Maria Cardona are also parting ways with the network, although CNN Espanol will keep Cardona on board.

    In other news, RedState‘s Erick Erickson will be foregoing his CNN contract and sources say he will be heading to Fox News.

    Depending on the replacements, the nation may gain political IQ points soon.

    • dakinikat says:

      Gosh, that’s good to hear. I can’t stand to watch CNN any more because of all their collective idiot political consultants that appear to know nothing but can talk loudly.

      • RalphB says:

        If I never see Carville or Matalin again, it will still be too soon. 🙂

      • ANonOMouse says:

        “If I never see Carville or Matalin again, it will still be too soon”

        Yep, that act is old. I think Carville is better without Matalin. He’ll likely show up in time for the next election.

        I read last night that after the Romney Fail Bay Buchanan has decided to quit politics and go into Real Estate Sales. Attention Home Buyers: BEWARE, Bay Buchanan does not know how to pick a winner.

    • janicen says:

      Erick Erickson barely qualifies for even Fox News.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Great news! Erick Erikson shouldn’t get any time in the mainstream media. And if I never see or hear Bill Bennett again, I’ll be very happy.

      • dakinikat says:

        Erick Erikson is going to replace Palin as the dumbest MFer on the channel with absolutely nothing intelligible to say.

      • ANonOMouse says:

        Erikson is even dumber than palin, that’s a major dumbness hurdle.

        • dakinikat says:

          I hate to do this but, it seems he is making a classy exit and some of what he writes here is interesting.

          http://www.redstate.com/2013/01/29/moving-on/

          I learned that I will never be competitive with Roland Martin on the fashion front, but he makes an excellent road trip companion through South Carolina. One of the most formative moments of my career at CNN was standing outside a hotel with Roland Martin and tourists began handing him luggage and keys as if he worked at the hotel — only because he was in a suit. His courteousness to the people when he did not have to be courteous and the fact that in the 21st century that’d happen at all really struck me profoundly.

      • RalphB says:

        Mouse, that’s really hard to be sure. Erickson may let his freak flag fly on Fox unlike CNN.

      • ANonOMouse says:

        Fox News, the place where the nutbags go to wither. Next stop for Erikson, return to obscurity.

      • peggysue22 says:

        Wow! That piece over at Redstate makes Erikson sound like a reasonable human being. Who knew???? I couldn’t help but read the commentary posts. I shook me back to reality, fast. :0)

      • RalphB says:

        Here’s an idea, from one of the comments, of what wingers consider news. 🙂

        Why can’t the Koch brothers and other conservatives pony up to buy CNN and run it as a NEWS source not an opinion program from daybreak to night?

      • ANonOMouse says:

        Here’s what happens to a Freeper who tries to quit the TeaNut Brigade at Free Republic.

        http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-bloggers/2982931/posts

        The comments are right in sync with the blowback heaped on Erikson.

      • ANonOMouse says:

        Erickson sounds like a man who enjoyed a paying job with the additional perk of working with decent people. If he lets his Freak Flag fly at Fox let me know because I don’t watch Fox.

  5. RalphB says:

    Jon Chait/NYMag: Hitler Alive and Well, Owning Liberal Magazine

    The Washington Free Beacon has a report, sourced to “Washington Free Beacon Staff,” that Chris Hughes is purging Jews from The New Republic. (Occasionally the Free Beacon publishes stories too embarrassing for any staffers to be associated with by name.) The sensationalism of the article is structured in hilariously descending fashion, with each successive addition to the story draining its plausibility until nothing remains at the end. But the Free Beacon’s report offers a helpful window into a social problem, in which millions of conservatives are held in a constant state of bug-eyed rage because they’re being manipulated for financial and ideological profit by right-wing pseudo-journalists.

    He’s done something to the Jews! Also free bacon may be involved. It’s confusing.

  6. peggysue22 says:

    I read the NYT ‘Prepper piece” and I’m really convinced that as a society we’re slipping into mass insanity.

    I attended a Homeowners’ meeting last week, where a new member raised the question of ‘contingency’ plans for our subdivision. He then went on a soliloquy about how the end was near and we should have plans in place to defend ourselves and neighbors. Should we, he asked, start stopping people coming in and out of the subdivision and requiring ID?? This all based on the fact that the anonymous poor, the underclass were going to start coming for our ‘stuff.’ It was just a matter of time.

    I, who am generally pretty quiet and conciliatory during these meetings, found myself in a heated exchange, saying this bunker mentality was unhealthy and counterproductive. The idea of sowing the seeds of fear, mistrust and panic is downright dangerous. I have no problem with people keeping extra supplies in in the event of storms or power outages. That makes good sense. But this paranoia is corrosive to a civil society. And this, as Charles Pierce would say, is all in the name of Freeeedom!

    I worry this mindset is far more widespread than we’d like to think. This was my first up close and personal brush with it and it chilled me. Fortunately, I had several members who came up after the meeting and thanked me for my comments. I think it’s important to remember that many of the online,TV types pushing this philosophy are making money on the fear. They sell the survival gear, the dried foods and filtration devices, etc. That was certainly the case with the Mayan prediction nonsense.

    Makes you wonder where all this is really going. How did we become so susceptible to this marketing mania? And afraid. Oh wait. It’s not the message, it’s the massage. [sigh]

    • RalphB says:

      The pessimists have taken hold of our society. Ruin and damnation is apparently all the rage, certainly among the right.

    • RalphB says:

      Oh and for how we got so afraid, just look at the propaganda propulsion after 9/11!

      • ANonOMouse says:

        Yeah, we got the propaganda up the wahzoo. I still have my plastic sheeting and duct tape

      • peggysue22 says:

        You’re no doubt right, Ralph. 9/11 and the continuous drumbeat since. I think a lot of these conspiracy theorists drive people over the edge when it’s all you’re listening to. And then, the rage merchants. Fox News, Rush and Beck whip people into a mindless frenzy. Coming face-to-face with it was a chilling reminder of how paranoid some people have really become.

      • HT says:

        Granted that 9/11 was a wake up call however it was a wake up to all the turmoil in the rest of the world caused by global economics and imperialism. Why do these conspiracy people thing that everyone is out to get them. I understand that Fox, Rush, Beck are instigators for sure, but don’t these people have an ounce of common sense? I just do not understand their thinking. It takes me back to “The Russians are coming, the Russians are coming” – loved the movie BTW, however that was made almost 50 years ago, built on the success of Doctor Strangelove and was a parody on the paranoia of that era. Why is this still happening when the internet allows people to learn about the world. I just do not understand.

  7. mablue2 says:

    Did any of you see Paul Krugman on Joe Morning Starbucks yesterday? I really found the discussion fiscinating: Somebody who actually know what he’s talking about and a bunch of crackpots, bent on inflicting pain on the less fortunate with their “entitlement cuts” fetish.

    http://video.msnbc.msn.com/morning-joe/50613650/#50613650

    • RalphB says:

      Wow, “How many times does he have to be right?” seems like an appropriate question. Of course it doesn’t matter to the Very Serious People.

      • mablue2 says:

        Notice that none of these people even bother to talk about the current unemployment.

        None of these cut-entitlements-now-fetishists has an argument for this “the long term deficit is about to kill us” argument.

        Krugman asked what would happen if we didn’t deal with what Medicare costs in 2025 today, no answer.
        Mika mentioned an eventual “downgrade”. PK reminded her that tha last one was actually good for us. (Mika whay oh why, the ridiculous golabal warming analogy? Yikes!)

        If I heard Simpson-Bowles one more time, I’m gonna be violent!

        • dakinikat says:

          The Villagers are so frickin’ ignorant when it comes to economics and finance … you wonder if they actually manage to hold on to any of that salary they make

      • RalphB says:

        mablue, we are on the exact same page. By the way, I blame a lot of this unholy garbage on Pete Peterson and his unending flow of money.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Krugman was on Talk of the Nation today too trying to convince people that austerity doesn’t work. Used the example of Great Britain. People still don’t get it. I don’t know how Krugman keeps getting up every morning to argue with idiots.

        • dakinikat says:

          I bet his stint on Rachel was a breath of fresh air. All the rest of the villagers are worse than students in freshmen econ because they come in with completely wrong shit in their head and try to tell the teacher he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

      • ANonOMouse says:

        I really enjoyed him on Rachel and it looked like Rachel enjoyed him too! She should bring him back on regularly.

  8. dakinikat says:

    More Republicans getting down to their crazy agenda …

    South Dakota Law Would Disqualify Hilidays/Wkends from Abortion Waiting Period http://shar.es/CAUQa

    AlterNet ‏@AlterNet

    Arkansas Republicans Would Jail Doctors Who Perform Abortions After Just Six Weeks Of Pregnancy: http://www.alternet.org/arkansas-republicans-would-jail-doctors-who-perform-abortions-after-just-six-weeks-pregnancy?akid=9987.1085969.PdAmZv&rd=1&src=newsletter785378&t=7

    and John Kerry just confirmed by the senate as SOS

    • RalphB says:

      With Kerry confirmed, I’ll cross my fingers for Barney Frank to get the temp appointment,

    • HT says:

      Another area that I do not understand. What is it about some (?) right wing politicians that they are obsessed with making statements and laws that pertain only to one gender – females = women/mothers/wives/daughters/neices/aunts/grandmothers etc. Aren’t there really important areas they should be learning about and concentrating on – things like governing everyone regardless of race, orientation, gender and making things better for all? My mother was a victim of this kind of thinking but my body is mine and my daughter’s body is hers – no one else gets to make a decision that affects us but ourselves. Time for these dinosaurs to wake up and smell the roses because they are starting to piss off a whole bunch of the reformers of the 60/70/80’s who have been dormant for too long.

  9. RalphB says:

    Josh Barro makes a convincing case.

    bloomberg: Sorry, Ramesh Ponnuru. Conservatism Is Doomed.

    My colleague Ramesh Ponnuru, responding this month to a piece I wrote in November, says that I am all wrong: It is possible to construct a viable conservative agenda that addresses middle-class concerns. If Ponnuru has laid out conservatives’ best agenda for the middle class, they are even more hopeless than I thought.

    Ponnuru focuses on two policy ideas: a health-care reform that wouldn’t actually help the middle class and a tax policy idea that conservatives wouldn’t endorse.

  10. bostonboomer says:

    Virginia electoral vote-rigging bill has failed.

    A Republican bill to reapportion electoral votes by congressional district instead of a winner-take-all system failed in Virginia on Tuesday, according to Chelyen Davis of the Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star.

  11. BB, I have been forgetting to tell you…I love the Barbara Stanwyck picture.