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This week... Ross Douthat says no to immigration reform... Jennifer Rubin says yes to eternal second-class status... the New York Times snickers at the long-labored over Republican health care plan vague guidelines... Maureen Dowd rolls her eyes at Rand Paul's attempts to smear Democrats with a scandal that's old enough to drive... Dana Milbank makes conservatives shiver by arguing that presidents should be able to run for more than two terms, and I purposely avoid every writer lazy enough to use a football metaphor in this week's column.

First up... dueling Republican opinions on immigration.

Ross Douthat says no to immigration reform, because those darn immigrants just keep on coming.

A reasonable compromise... would condition amnesty for illegal immigrants on substantial new enforcement measures, to ensure that this mass legalization would be the last. But the bills under discussion almost always offer some form of legal status before enforcement takes effect, which promises a replay of the Reagan-era amnesty’s failure to ever deliver the limits on future immigration that it promised.

A reasonable immigration compromise would also privilege high-skilled immigration over low-skilled immigration, given the unemployment crisis among low-skilled native workers and the larger social crisis that threatens to slow assimilation and upward mobility alike. But the House leadership seems to favor an approach that would create a permanent noncitizen class of low-wage workers and expand guest-worker programs — a recipe for looser labor markets, continued wage stagnation and fewer jobs for the existing unemployed.

So Douthat votes no immigration reform until the wall is ten miles high and only doctors get through.  OK... next.

Jennifer Rubin is optimistic about immigration. First, because Republicans have played this so well.

Every Democrat can read the Senate polls. With nine (Arkansas, Louisiana, New Hampshire, Michigan, North Carolina, Alaska, West Virginia, South Dakota, Montana) or more Democratic states in real jeopardy, this may be the final months of a Democratic Senate majority. If Dems want a deal and don’t want in 2016 to explain how eight years of the Obama presidency failed to produce immigration reform, they need to figure out how to make a deal.
See? It's Democrats who desperately need an immigration deal, not Republicans.  And besides, Republicans have it worked out.
The flip from citizenship to legalization allows right-wingers to get on board. ... Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). Yes, the most effective conservative policy wonk is obviously in the driver’s seat. If anyone can lead the House to pass a bill, he can.
See? Democrats are desperate for immigration, Republicans don't need it, and Ryan is leading it so you know it'll be good. You can see us moving toward a good compromise: one where only those with PhDs are allowed across the border, so long as they can never become citizens. Or have rights.  I'd almost vote for that... so long as the accepted classes of immigrants included some new opinion writers.

As for Rand Paul, well, he's got other things on his mind. Come on inside...

Maureen Dowd sets the wayback machine for 1998 to find the source of Rand Paul's outrage.

Fresh from taunting rival Chris Christie as “the king of bacon,” and declaring their feud “water under the bridge,” Paul turned his slingshot at a bigger target, the Big Dog himself, the gallivanting global statesman who is more popular than he has ever been, the master politician who has had to sell President Obama to America only a few years after he so vituperatively tried to turn off America on the whippersnapper and usurper.

With the passage of time and a cascade of fawning magazine covers, Bill Clinton’s image has evolved, leaving the repellent sexual scandals a pentimento in a new, more magnetic portrait.

Unruffled by the kerfuffle, Paul reiterated to me that he disdains the Democratic “hypocrisy within the party that wants to blame Republicans for somehow not liking women, that somehow we’re this party that has some kind of war going on, and they have as a leader and one of the most prominent fund-raising people in their party still to this very day, a person who seems in some ways to have his own private war on women.”

I'm going to stop right there. Because, really, could you have a better example of the rhetoric, logic, and finely honed wordsmithery that defines the modern GOP?

The New York Times tries to wave away the smoke and see what, if anything, remains of the "Republican alternative to Obamacare."

...the plan, which is hard to parse because it has not been put into precise legislative language, looks inferior in most respects to the existing law.

The plan would repeal the Affordable Care Act and substitute an alternative that would likely cover fewer uninsured people, raise premiums for many older adults, shrink Medicaid, cut back on subsidies for middle class Americans, scale back protections for people with pre-existing conditions, and allow private insurers to escape many of the consumer-friendly requirements now imposed on them.

It is a blueprint for what the Republicans hope to do if they capture the White House in 2016.

Please, Republicans. Please run on this plan.

Chris Cillizza doesn't throw Michael Grimm off a balconey, but does throw him an anchor.

If you feel compelled to threaten to throw a reporter off a balcony, it’s best to do so off-camera.

Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.) must have missed that part of “How to Act Like a Member of Congress” class, because after President Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday night, he was caught threatening a New York TV reporter for — brace yourself — asking a question. A question, specifically, about an ongoing Justice Department investigation into whether Grimm’s campaign solicited and accepted donations from foreign nationals. ...

Michael Grimm, for forgetting that the camera is always watching, you had the worst week in Washington. Congrats, or something.

Dana Milbank should have saved this one for October, because it would make a perfect Halloween horror story for Republicans.
As I sat in the House gallery Tuesday night, watching President Obama give his State of the Union address, I found myself wishing we could repeal the 22nd Amendment limiting presidents to two terms.

... it’s a wish that future presidents, and future Americans, don’t have to endure the sort of farce we experienced Tuesday night: a president’s term effectively finished three years before it ends.

Yes, Obama remains commander in chief, and he apparently plans to sign so many executive orders that he’s going to have to ice his fingers. But his “I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone” strategy of executive action that he outlined to Congress means he is abandoning anything resembling a serious legislative agenda for the rest of his tenure. That’s by necessity: His standing is diminished by the fact that he can’t run again, the race for his successor is beginning and the opposition knows it can run out the clock on his presidency.

OK, all those Republicans who are so anxious to repeal something. Turn your eyes on the 22nd Amendment. Four more years!  Hell, why not eight?  Boo!

Leonard Pitts has a few words for the co-founder of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

I admit, I’d have thought a guy like you had little to complain about. But that was before you wrote that tear-jerking Jan. 24 letter to The Wall Street Journal revealing the pain, the oppression, the abject sense of vulnerability and fear, that go with having a net worth equal to the GNP of some developing nations.

In your letter, you decried the “rising tide of hatred” you’ve experienced at the hands of progressives waging “war” against your people. Your examples were heart-rending. You mentioned popular anger over rising real-estate prices. And “outraged” public reaction to dedicated buses ferrying tech workers to their San Francisco-area jobs. And the people who have called your ex-wife, novelist Danielle Steel, a “snob.”

Oh, the humanity.

There are, you said, parallels to Nazi Germany and its treatment of another oppressed minority, the Jews. “This is a very dangerous drift in our American thinking,” you warned. “Kristallnacht was unthinkable in 1930; is its descendant ‘progressive’ radicalism unthinkable now?”

You’re right. How could we have missed it? Calling Danielle Steel a snob is exactly like that turning point on the road to Holocaust when anti-Jewish riots broke out across Germany, 7,500 Jewish homes and businesses were vandalized, 30,000 Jewish men were sent to concentration camps, 91 Jews were killed and the Nazis, blaming the Jews themselves for the carnage, fined them about $400 million in 1938 U.S. dollars.

You’ve been criticized for what you wrote, but we both know the only thing wrong with it is, you didn’t go far enough. You didn’t mention how one day the rich may be forced to stitch yellow dollar signs to their clothing or have their net worth tattooed on their forearms.

Being forced to pay taxes for the upkeep of schools your children wouldn’t be caught dead attending? That’s exactly like slavery.

I invite you to print out a copy of Pitt's letter and tack it onto the door of the nearest corporation. God knows, we need a reformation.

Jeff Hecht says it may be time to be jealous of the neighbors. The distant, distant neighbors.

Earth may be our home, but another planet even cosier for life could be orbiting the star next door. A detailed analysis of what might make planets suitable for life says that Alpha Centauri B, the star closest to our sun, would be the perfect star to host a "superhabitable" planet – a world of islands, shallow seas and gentle slopes, where the conditions needed to support a diverse array of life forms would persist for up to 10 billion years. But the near-paradise would come at a cost to visitors from Earth: the pull of gravity would be about one-quarter stronger than on our home turf.
Well, if it's going to make me weigh more, then I'm not going. I'll just have to wait for Richard Attenborough to make Blue Better-Than-Earth to watch those alien mega-whales.

Originally posted to Devil's Tower on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 10:43 PM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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