Two current Washington controversies highlight, to the extent that most rational citizens require, the bizarre disconnect between many in Congress and the American people. Of Fences and Felonies and Political Suicide

Two current Washington controversies highlight, to the extent that most rational citizens require, the bizarre disconnect between many in Congress and the American people.

First is the Senate version of an illegal immigration bill, the amnesty bill that dare not speak its name.  From its principal provisions to details which are still being analyzed and unintended consequences that cannot be accurately predicted, it is a new low in legislative garbage, seriously responsive or responsible in almost no aspect, compounded deception in the extreme.

The border security provisions started out bad and ended up worse, with even the much-discussed border fence now conditioned on consultations with various levels of the Mexican government.  It gets worse, with the so-called penalties that must be paid for illegals to move to citizenship seeming like a fire sale of entitlements and, in the case of job rights, making them more equal than citizens. 

If there is any real punishment in the bill, it is for immigrants who have spent years fulfilling the requirements for legal citizenship, for those still waiting respectfully in line, for citizens who wouldn't cross a street against a light much less a border against the law, for employers who play by the rules. 

Doing citizenship right is no match for "rights" that are proclaimed rather than earned, certainly no match for the martinets of the Senate who apparently hear not the discontent of their constituents, liberal and conservative alike.  This is not an issue of traditional ideological splits in the population, not that you would get that from polling or senatorial posturing.  You will get it in any bar, liquor or coffee, in almost any town.

The tragedy of the illegal immigration mess is that no comprehensive legislation should now be needed at all.  If existing laws had been enforced for the two decades those laws have not been enforced, then the problems of illegal immigration would never have reached the proportions they have.

It is now up to House conferees (not yet appointed) to either fix the Senate disaster or kill the bill outright.  Neither outcome is yet predictable, but, regardless, a bipartisan bloodbath for incumbents is growing in odds daily.  Unfortunately, two-thirds of the Senate, not up for re-election, will escape that first fusillade of discontent gone wild.

The illegal immigration issue is at least serious, with serious, long-term consequences for the country.  The other issue of disconnect is just silly, an example of excess political testosterone if there ever was one.

We refer, of course, to the aftermath of the judicially-approved FBI search of the congressional office of Representative William J. Jefferson (D-La.).  If you are reading this, you likely know the details, amply elucidated almost everywhere.  This one, too, represents bipartisan madness, but the Democrats have mostly let their Republican counterparts take the lead.  Why not?  They volunteered.

The argument, started by Speaker Hastert (R-Ill.) but parroted by way too many others, is that the search was unconstitutional and a violation of separation of powers, with all manner of folderol and claptrap pilled on top like ersatz whipped cream.

The constitutional argument is as bogus as they come, inviting but one question:  What part of the felony exception in Article I, Section 6 of the Constitution do you not understand?  It is unquestioned that Congressman Jefferson is being investigated for multiple felonies, and most of us out in the hinterlands don't hide 90 big ones in our Hungry Man frozen dinner boxes.  Even if we're innocent until proven guilty.

While separation of powers issues might entice us when we sense clear and present danger to the Republic, that is nowhere in evidence here.  The danger to the Republic is for any elected official anywhere to indicate on any issue that he, she or collectively they are above the law that must govern us all.  Forget the details, forget the nuances.  That's what is being communicated in its barest essence.  All who are doing so, for whatever motivations, should seriously question whether they're in the right profession before their constituents do it for them.

June 1, 2006
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