Up Close & Personal at the Border

Four members of the now-well-known Gang of Eight got to see border security in action during their trip to the Arizona-Mexico border on Wednesday.

As the senators toured the border, they watched as a woman climbed the 18-foot fence and was apprehended by Border Patrol.

Sen. John McCain (‘s assistant) even tweeted about it:

“What I learned today is we have adequate manpower but not adequate technology,” Sen. Chuck Schumer said at a news conference.

Sen. John Cornyn — fortunately, not a Gang of Eight member — seems to think the Rio Grande is the new Tower of Babel.

“A guy told me last night, he said we’ve got people coming across our place speaking Chinese, French and basically all of the languages in the world, coming through and across our southern border,” he told a Texas radio station.

Apparently the senator might be amenable to welcoming immigrants, but not if they don’t first learn to speak American. Heaven knows we wouldn’t want to live in a multilingual, multicultural society. (Why do you think we got rid of the Indians?)

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Junot Díaz — himself a bilingual darkie — stopped by The Colbert Report to urge its host to view the country’s 11 million undocumented immigrants for what they are: human beings.

“Every single immigrant we have, undocumented or documented, is a future American,” he told Stephen. “That’s just the truth of it.”

He has a point, Sen. Cornyn. And at least he said it in English.

Wild Wild Midwest

The assault weapons ban is dead. A ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines is probably dead, too.

Since the Newtown tragedy in December, 3100 people are dead due to gun violence — at least 76 of them in Chicago alone, the most in America by far.

So it was about time our hope-inspiring leader told us what he plans on doing to stem the bloodshed.

The president of course mentioned Hadiya Pendleton, the high-schooler shot a few blocks from the Obama home only a week after marching in the president’s inaugural parade.

President Obama warned of pro-gun groups that want to stall any gun-control legislation in hopes that “people will just forget about it.”

As Chicagoans, it’s impossible to forget Jonylah Watkins, the six-month-old girl shot down in Woodlawn on March 11. (The Chicago Reader‘s Steve Bogira has a great piece on what really killed Jonylah, besides a gun.)

But what about all the Hadiyas and Jonylahs and countless others across America bound to see their lives cut short due to America’s inability — or shameful unwillingness — to institute the reforms that might’ve protected them? When will we tell the NRA that its members don’t need military-style weapons and 100-round magazines to hunt white-tailed deer?

How many dead kids are simply too many dead kids?

No Mo’ DOMA?

While the Supreme Court displayed its mettle by hinting that it might pass a narrow ruling on Prop 8 — striking down the same-sex marriage ban on juridical grounds, without issuing a broad ruling on same-sex marriage across the country — some of the justices seemed more willing to sink their claws into DOMA, the federal law that restricts benefits to same-sex couples.

During oral arguments on Wednesday, the court’s three women shined.

The veteran of the three, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, gave a funny analogy for what DOMA was doing to the definition of marriage:

The major highlight came when Justice Elena Kagan pressed the attorney defending Prop 8.

Paul Clement argued that DOMA simply sought to reaffirming “the uniform treatment of couples in various states at a time when there where indications that some states might allow same-sex marriages.”

But Kagan fired back in her questioning, telling Clement that Congress wasn’t preserving tradition, but departing from it when it jumped into the marriage issue. “The only uniformity that the federal government has pursued is that it’s uniformly recognized the marriages that are recognized by the state,” she said. Congress’ foray into the issue in 1996 was so unusual that it “sen[t] up a pretty good red flag,” she said.

A short time later, Kagan read aloud from the House Judiciary Committee report on DOMA. “Congress decided to reflect and honor of collective moral judgment and to express moral disapproval of homosexuality,” she said, quoting the report.

“Is that what happened in 1996?” she asked to gasps, “oohs” and some laughter from many in the gallery who seemed to think she’d managed a rare Supreme Court “gotcha” moment.

Clement said he was not claiming moral disapproval constituted a sufficient basis for the law.

Hell, if female justices are going to be this badass, we should make all nine of them women.

[Photo: Thumbs & Ammo]

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