What Would Lincoln Do?

How would President Lincoln have tackled immigration today?

We have, as a Great Nation, been blessed over the years with esteemed, well-educated and well-spoken leaders (some more than others). In pondering the present Administration, I thought it pertinent to peer into the past to see how other Presidents have dealt with immigration and border security.  I turned to President Lincoln first and read on his speech in Cincinnati on February 12, 1861, given to a group of Germanic citizens. In his words he says:

“…I hold that while man exists it is his duty to improve not only his own condition, but to assist in ameliorating mankind; and therefore, without entering upon the details of the question, I will simply say that I am for those means which will give the greatest good to the greatest number…In regard to the Germans and foreigners, I esteem them no better than other people, nor any worse. It is not my nature, when I see a people borne down by the weight of their shackles–the oppression of tyranny–to make their life more bitter by heaping upon them greater burdens; but rather would I do all in my power to raise the yoke than to add anything that would tend to crush them. Inasmuch as our country is extensive and new, and the countries of Europe are densely populated if there are any abroad who desire to make this the land of their adoption, it is not in my heart to throw aught in their way to prevent them from coming to the United States.”

Our Country is still new to the world. We are the land of opportunity and plenty. We have more than enough for the small numbers of refugees that have prompted the present crisis pitting the Administration (and alt-right and Evangelical Christians) against those of varying skin colors and holy texts.  It’s not about terrorism as these factions would have you believe, but it’s about being insular, less competition for resources (whether those be of the mind for the Christians or jobs for some or less diversity for others).  Who are we to further permit oppression, suffering and tyranny of others. We struggled in the right to beat tyranny from our shores only to welcome it for others and to sanction it for lands that are far from our shores.

America is a leader of nations and cannot do so by cowering in a corner. If we do not lead this world, others will. Nations across our Globe are in disbelief in what has become of our politics and they will, in my estimation, chose a more centrist and even-handed nation that can be a stalwart defender of the common beliefs of man.  Who are we, indeed, to make life more bitter for those in strife and suffering. This is not what my Bible taught me.

Silence

immigrants-cartoon

No One Was Left To Speak

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.  Martin Niemöller (1892–1984)

Don’t think for a minute that our fragile democracy cannot experience the type of political upheaval witnessed by Germany between World War I and World War II.  Democracies by nature are designed around openness of government and public input and discourse.  In order to have public discourse, however, you need to have a free and independent press.  It is in respect of the media that much hand-wringing and soul-searching need be done.

Our media has changed from that of an avenue of public notification to that of a business model reporting to shareholders and expecting profits at each quarter.  To this end, the high profile news tends to garner more attention and headlines rather than the menial aspects of government and therefore, in order to get your agenda put on the news, you must exhibit outrage and present dire, earth ending consequences for the media to latch onto it.  It is in supporting the feigning of outrage that has hijacked media and led to following clicks and tweets for our media outlets.  To this end, media has become a propagator of partisan beliefs rather than a forum for which proper discourse can be waged and real dialogue can be discussed about the problems facing America.

For now, Trump=clicks and cash, so they will report on what he says rather than what he should be saying.  They will blindly react rather than proact to properly guard the important social issues and governance inadequacies of the time.  Media should remember that they are the last line of defense for democracy.  This is the reason that they come first in our Bill of Rights.  I do hope media generally will shift its focus to what its proper role in this society and become democracy’s champion again.

Hearing Trump spout how the media is biased, corrupt, fails to be fair….this presents a clear attempt at ‘pre-couching’ for when he really screws up, which will happen often.  If the media is biased, then his dialogue would read something like ‘the media is blatantly biased against Trump and this report should be disregarded.’  Or as Trump suggested in his primary run that the media should be curtailed and subject to liable and slander laws.  Such an environment would serve no other purpose than to chill the import of our First Amendment and is thoroughly unAmerican.  I have a firm belief, that Mr. Trump is thin-skinned enough that he will curtail access to independent news outlets that report unbaised news and only allow access to those media outlets which prints ‘Trump acceptable’ news and thereby puppeting the news.  This is, in fact, occurring presently and likely is the reason we have had no press conference from Mr. Trump….he can’t control the media and should not be allowed to control.  In fact, his constant bellicose ramblings against the media should be trounced by the popular cry.

Why, as a free American, would you want someone to think for you…In the words of Earl Pitts, “WAKE UP AMERICA!”

Silence…

Government Taking by Tweet?

Can a statement by a government employee or even the President cause a taking?

Condemnation of lands and property by government action is an old concept rooted in premise that the sovereign can take private lands for the good of the public.  Our Bill of Rights to the Constitution ensures that the takee receive just compensation under due process of law.  But how about when the governments actions do not actually involve physically taking the land or property but rather such actions diminish the value of the property?  For instance, the government leaves your house alone, but excavates all around you. Obviously your property value is impinged in the picture to the right….but they didn’t take your property, right?

In such instance, the property is essentially rendered worthless.  For this reason, we have a body of law called inverse condemnation.  In such instances, the take of the property would be considered a “whole take” and the property owner would be entitled to full compensation.

Changing up the facts and modernizing this, can words by a government actor serve to inversely condemn property? I suppose that it depends upon several factors.  The only case discovered in the courts that involves such a question is Filler v. United States, 602 Fed. Appx. 518 (Fed. Cir. 2015). This case explored whether a neurosurgeon could sue for inverse condemnation based upon the comments of a government employee using a government computer during work hours to post comments about Filler’s use a specific drug in his practice as a basis for diminution of the value of his medical license and practice.  This Court ultimately dismissed this claim for failure to state a case upon which relief can be granted, but did hold that it had jurisdiction under the case through the Tucker Act “because Dr. Filler asserted a nonfrivolous takings claim that was not so “devoid of merit” or “insubstantial” as to undermine its jurisdiction.”  The reason the court indicated that there was no claim, however, was because Filler could not show that the employee was “acting on behalf of the government.”

President-Elect Trump loves Twitter and apparently loves to govern by 140 words or less.  His hastily worded statements have lasting effects.  Just in the last two weeks, Trump has commented on two government contracts that have substantially diminished stock prices.  See Lockheed Martin  and Boeing.Image result for image of boeing stock price after tweet

If I were a shareholder in these companies, I should have some recourse against these artificial manipulations of the stock price that is designed to do nothing more than leverage the government’s bargaining position.  If this is not inverse condemnation, it is an out right violation of SEC rules.

Be very careful when your government decides to hold your family or your property hostage so it gets what it wants.

Silence DuBlog