Online Opinion Outpost: Nov. 25, 2014

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The Online Opinion Outpost features opinions and commentary on the latest hot topics from national news sources. As much as you love hearing from The Universe, we thought you might like to hear from journalists around the nation.

Executive action

USA Today

President Obama probably thinks the statement he made Thursday night from the White House represents one of his finest hours.
Obama probably also thinks the plan is a winner politically. Naturalized citizens are the fastest growing voting bloc in the country. Many of them will applaud the president’s move and be turned off by Republicans’ howls of protest.

But Obama is doing the right thing in the wrong way. His plan — which will allow certain immigrants to avoid deportation for three years — amounts to executive overreach. And, as Obama himself acknowledged, an executive order is inferior to a more comprehensive, legislative fix to the many problems that plague the nation’s immigration system.

What’s more, by taking such broad action through executive order, Obama has set a precedent for future presidents. As hard as it might be for Democrats to believe, some day there will be a Republican president. And that president could use an executive order to suspend enforcement of laws such as the Obamacare tax penalty for not buying health insurance. If that president’s action seems excessive, or even autocratic, he or she will shrug off the criticism by pointing at Obama’s immigration order.

Erwin Chemerinsky and Samuel Kleiner, The Los Angeles Times

It is absolutely clear that Obama has the authority to decide not to prosecute or deport anyone he chooses. Prosecutorial discretion is an inherent part of presidential power.

The Supreme Court long has recognized that immigration and deportations are closely tied to foreign policy, which is uniquely in the domain of executive power and control. The executive discretion granted by the Constitution certainly includes deciding whether to bring deportation proceedings.

All of the Republican anger cannot obscure the legal reality: the president has the authority to decide to suspend deportations. Likewise, the facts support Obama. A cruel aspect of immigration policy is that it often separates parents, who are in the United States illegally, from their children who are U.S. citizens because they were born in this country.

It is estimated that there may be as many as 5 million parents in this situation. The irony is that Republican rhetoric for years has emphasized “family values,” but it is Obama who is acting in a profoundly pro-family way.

 

American Hunger Games
Van Jones, CNN

The latest installment of the epic “Hunger Games” series hit theaters this Friday, and it promises to be the year’s biggest blockbuster yet.

The real reason “Hunger Games” has captured public imagination is that its fictional world of Panem is, in so many ways, an extreme version of our own America.

It is a tale of how the worst of the 1 percent pull up the ladders of opportunity behind them and hoard wealth to such a degree that all of society is poorer for it. It is Occupy’s “We are the 99 percent” on Hollywood’s big screen.

In the 2014 elections, polluters spent more than $100 million to buy themselves a compliant Congress. This week, members of both parties have returned the favor by voting in favor the Keystone XL pipeline, which would put tar in our rivers and carcinogens in our drinking water.

Also, consider the Hunger Games’ District 11. After one of that district’s children dies in the “Hunger Games,” the mostly black region is the first to rise up in protest against the contest. The Capitol responds not by asking whether this cruel system makes any sense, or whether they simply erred along the way. Instead, they turn District 11 into a militarized police state.

Nonviolent protestors gather. Riot police stand by threateningly. Residents raise their hands in the air in a potent symbol of freedom. The police cracks down brutally.

It should look like science fiction. Instead, compare these images. It looks just like Ferguson.

We know that the “Hunger Games” is just a fantasy. But when its world feels so frighteningly real, we cannot help rooting for Katniss Everdeen to win.

 

Allegations against Bill Cosby
Eugene Robinson, The Washington Post

It is possible that all the women who accuse Cosby of sexual predation are lying, in the sense that anything not prohibited by the laws of physics is possible. But it doesn’t seem very likely.

Five women have come forward in recent days to charge that Cosby lured them on the pretext of mentoring their careers, plied them with alcohol and perhaps some unknown drug and forced them to have sex when they were unable to resist.

A 2005 civil suit by a Philadelphia woman alleging that Cosby sexually assaulted her — and offered her money to keep quiet about the attack — was settled out of court.

It is important to note that Cosby has never been charged with any crime. It is also important to note that statutes of limitations have run out on most, if not all, of the alleged attacks. It may be unfair, but a rape that goes formally unreported for too long is no longer legally considered a rape.

Is it fair to Cosby, then, that his alleged victims come forward now, knowing they will never have to prove anything in court? Cosby’s defenders should be aware that some of the women have spoken publicly before; the difference is that now they’re being listened to.

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