Matthew DesOrmeaux

Recent Posts From Matthew DesOrmeaux

“Bridgeghazi” may not be far off, actually

In the latest episode of Twitter-spawned outrage, Politico tweeted about the New Jersey bridge scandal with a #Bridgeghazi hashtag. It turns out Andrew Kaczynski of BuzzFeed had used it six hours earlier, and some random yahoo spawned it first on December 16. Regardless of who started it, the fury was swift and strong.

How could you compare the lane closure on a bridge in New Jersey to a terrorist attack that killed four American public servants? Seems crazy. However, the more you examine the details of the events and the responses to them, the more uncanny the similarities between the two events become.

Four Americans died in the attack on Benghazi, including two military personnel and the US Ambassador to Libya. It turns out someone may have died as a result of the bridge closure too. No, the New Jersey death isn’t directly attributable to the bridge issue, but a body count is a body count, and political foes will be sure to use it exhaustively going forward.

E-Verify is not comparable to voter ID

There are many thorny and complex issues in the immigration debate. In a lively Twitter discussion on Thursday, I was discussing work authorization, specifically E-Verify, the national electronic database whereby employers check prospective hires for work eligibility. Midway through this discussion, someone compared it to voter ID requirements, implying a consistent position would be to support both.

On its face this seems like a reasonable consideration. If you want to make sure people are legally authorized to vote, you should also want to make sure they are legally authorized to work, right? Upon futher reflection it becomes clear that these two measures aren’t really very similar, and arguments based on their comparison are dubious at best.

Voter ID is a requirement to access a public civic institution, but E-Verify is a mandate on private businesses. Employers have to screen every applicant for citizenship or work permit status before hiring them. One of the talking points of E-Verify opponents is that it makes every employer a de facto immigration officer and passes the buck of law enforcement to private entities. While actual border enforcement and maintenance of the E-Verify database would remain a federal responsibility, employers would face penalties, perhaps even worse than the unauthorized applicants themselves, for not using the system or violating it.

Free speech: Phil Robertson vs Melissa Harris-Perry

Melissa Harris Perry

Free speech prevents governments from censuring their citizens for words they say or write. Modern jargon has broadened it to mean freedom from any consequences whatsoever for spoken or written words. However, in our jaded, cynical world, the application of this concept is often first filtered through a partisan lens.

Recently Phil Robertson, one of the stars of a reality show on A&E, said some things in a magazine interview that offended people. A&E decide to suspend him (but have since reversed). The public discourse, specifically the socially conservative quadrant, erupted, and a new front in the culture wars was launched. Some argued that what Robertson said wasn’t offensive, so his suspension was unwarranted.

Regardless of my personal opinion, this is at least a defensible position. A person may or may not find something offensive, regardless of the objective fact that it offended others, and so not see the need for disciplinary action. Many instead invoked Robertson’s free speech rights. This is an untenable position from any angle. No one was sanctioned by the government, so no rights were violated. However, A&E also has free speech rights, employer rights, and contract rights, which precious few conservatives stood up for at the time.

Four years after Obamacare, fewer have health insurance

Trainwreck

Nevermind the cancelations, nevermind the mandates, nevermind the regulations. The primary goal of Obamacare was to extend health insurance to more people. Four years later, that has simply not happened. Why are we still playing this game?

A new Washington Post/ABC poll out Tuesday found that 82% of the country has health insurance, with 18% lacking coverage. That is 4% less than the 86% the same poll found had coverage in March 2010 when the bill became law. More of the country had health insurance in 1993 than they do now.

Historical Coverage

TX Senate: Steve Stockman will challenge John Cornyn

photo by Gage Skidmore

Monday was the last day to file to run on the primary ballot in Texas for the 2014 elections, and in typical dramatic Texas fashion, a last minute marquee matchup has emerged.

Rep. Steve Stockman, a long-time Republican in Texas politics elected to Congress for the second time in 2012, has filed to appear on the US Senate ballot and face two-term incumbent Senator John Cornyn. The narrative of Tea Party insurgent vs establishment moderate is already being squeezed through the media sausage factory. However, the reality of the race could be more complicated than that.

John Cornyn has been a US Senator from Texas since 2002, replacing the retiring Phil Gramm. He is “moderate” by no real world definition of the word. He has a 93% life rating from the American Conservative Union (ACU), 79% from FreedomWorks, 86% from Heritage Action (far more than the 67% Senate GOP average), 87% from Club for Growth, and 83% from National Journal.

Did Obama know Syria rebels also may have chemical weapon capability?

photo by Steve Rhodes

The Obama administration based much of their hurried march to war in Syria on the conclusion that the Assad regime was responsible for the attack, and indeed was the only faction with the capability to carry it out. However, a new report based on classified defense intelligence documents directly contradicts those conclusions, in turn questioning the entire rationale for the forestalled military intervention:

The Hersh article is based in part on a four-page secret cable given to a top official at the Defense Intelligence Agency on June 20, one of a group of intelligence community documents allegedly stating that jihadi rebel group Jabhat al-Nusra has the ability to make sarin gas. Sarin is the chemical believed to have been used in the Aug 21 chemical attack in Ghouta that crossed Obama’s “red line” and prompted the administration to push for a strike on Assad’s regime. The story is sourced mainly to intelligence and military officers and consultants.

“When the attack occurred al-Nusra should have been a suspect, but the administration cherry-picked intelligence to justify a strike against Assad,” Hersh writes.

Everyone’s ideas are racist except mine

There are a few ways that a policy gets to be called racist: it is intended to negatively affect one race over another, it results in a negative affect on one race over another regardless of intent, or it has historically been used to negatively affect one race over another regardless of present intent or eventual result.

The first two are justifiably used to disqualify certain policies; of course we shouldn’t enact things that are intended to or serve to foster racial discrimination. But the latter is used as a fallacious smear tactic almost exclusively against conservative and libertarian policies. If that’s how we’re going to debate, it’s long past time the historically racist origins of certain liberal policies got considered too.

Federalism gets a bad rap obviously because of slavery and Jim Crow laws. The mantle of states’ rights was used for a long time as a means to get away with any number of heinous injustices and atrocities. That is almost never the case today, yet one risks being labeled racist for suggesting it, whether the issue to which federalism is to be applied has anything to do with race or not.

Well, if the putative federalist in question is a Republican, that is. Democrats are free to cling to states’ rights when it is convenient without having to worry about similar ad hominem attacks. Even after President Obama’s hailed conversion on the issue of gay marriage, he maintains that states should be free to decide the issue themselves.

This is effectively the same position as most elected Republicans, yet he doesn’t get called names because of it. Even the President’s signature health insurance reform grants states tremendous discretion in how much of the law’s new bureaucracy to implement themselves. Has anyone called Obamacare racist?

Democrats In Name Only

Democrats

A frequent epithet thrown around on the right is “RINO!,” Republican In Name Only, meaning that the target calls themselves a Republican but isn’t ideologically or even tactically dedicated to the party’s platform. The irony is that the such intraparty purity tests distract from the real political target: DINOs, Democrats In Name Only.

Over the last few years, our friends on the left have become increasingly brazen about how little they value actual democracy. They may be called “Democrats”, but their latent fetish for (benevolent?) autocracy and fascism (minus the mass graves…mostly) belies the name. Just last night the President “joked” about eliminating the legislative branch of our government, and on cue his Volk brayed and whinnied at the idea:

Carney proves Democrats don’t actually care about immigration reform

It has long been joked that President Obama’s statements come with expiration dates, the half-life of which is rapidly decaying. We have a new example. Earlier this week at a Wall Street Journal event, he said that he would be open to a piecemeal approach to immigration reform.

“If they want to chop that thing up into five pieces, as long as all five pieces get done, I don’t care what it looks like,” Mr. Obama said. “What we don’t want to do is simply carve out one piece of it…but leave behind some of the tougher stuff that still needs to get done.”

Nevermind that this is how legislation was passed for the first nearly 200 years of our government’s history, this was seen as a huge concession. Even something as unified in our recollection as the New Deal was actually a series of bills and programs enacted over nearly a decade in the 1930s.

But apparently that approach is no longer viable in the age of the grand bargain and comprehensive reforms. Today White House Press Secretary Jay Carney simultaneously announced and enforced the expiration date on Obama’s previous statement on immigration reform earlier this week by declaring that the President wouldn’t sign any bill that wasn’t all-inclusive.

“In the end, this has to be comprehensive,” Carney told reporters during the daily White House briefing.

Brutal new poll for Obama, especially on the details

Quinnipiac University has released its latest poll of President Obama’s approval rating and opinions on various political issues of the day, and the results aren’t pretty:

American voters disapprove 54 - 39 percent of the job President Barack Obama is doing, his lowest approval rating in any Quinnipiac University national poll since he became president, as even women disapprove 51 - 40 percent, according to a national poll released today.

Perhaps even worse, for the first time in their polling, Quinnipiac finds a majority of voters (52%) think the President is not “honest and trustworthy”:

“Any Democrat with an 11-point approval deficit among women is in trouble. And any elected official with an 8-point trust deficit is in serious trouble.”

“President Obama’s job approval rating has fallen to the level of former President George W. Bush at the same period of his Presidency,” Malloy said.

President Bush’s party lost control of both the House and the Senate a year later, and with less favorable electoral maps to the opposition party at the time than what we’re seeing for next year’s elections.

As bad as the overall ratings are, the specific issue approval ratings are even worse. Ironically, after Fort Hood, Boston, the drone war, and NSA leaks, the only issue where Obama has a positive approval rating is terrorism. On every other issue, he is at least 15 points underwater:

Q-issues

Matthew DesOrmeaux

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married, father of two, atheist, libertarian, introvert.

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