Saturday, February 2, 2008

Romney wins the GOP Maine caucuses by a sizable margin.
Robert Novak says that President Bush is upset by Romney's position on immigration.
Poll confusion: Rasmussen has a 30% McCain/30% Romney/21% Huckabee national poll; Gallup has a 44% McCain/24% Romney/ 16% Huckabee national poll. Various state polls also show considerable variation. Who's right? Time will tell....the numbers are changing fast and furious....
McCain plays the expectations game: says that the race for the GOP nomination may be over by Super Tuesday. Huckabee continues to attack Romney, saying that a vote for Romney may be "a vote for Hillary Clinton" and insinuating that Romney may have "bought" Sean Hannity's endorsement (H/T Hot Air). Romney's not giving up yet....
Some Arizona citizens challenge John McCain on immigration.
The New York Times reports on La Raza's new campaign, We Can Stop the Hate, which aims to curtail certain types of "hate speech." La Raza claims the use of "code words of hate"--which include mentioning fears that the Mexican government wants to reconquer the US Southwest and discussing the risk of disease and crime that "illegal immigrants" may present--as preparing for possible violence against "immigrant" (both legal and not).
In a speech at the National Press Club, La Raza president Janet Murguia seems to come close to advocating (if not outright advocating) some form of censorship:
Everyone knows there is a line sometimes that can be crossed when it comes to free speech. And when free speech transforms into hate speech, we’ve got to draw that line. And that’s what we’re doing here today. And we need to make sure that network executives will hold their people accountable and not cross that line.
She mainly seems to be calling for the owners of various broadcast outlets to monitor what their anchors and other talking heads say--which seems removed from government censorship. But, at one point, she does say that Pat Buchanan should be able to write as many books as he wants but he "should not have access to the public airwaves." Whether cable is considered part of the "public airwaves" or not, who is Murguia saying should prevent this access? Businesses or the government? The New York Times thinks she's advocating censorship ("Ms. Murguia argued that hate speech should not be tolerated, even if such censorship were a violation of First Amendment rights"), and Mark Krikorian implies the same thing. Could Murguia be pushing for government oversight over television outlets a la the "Fairness Doctrine"?
Ron Rosenbaum writes in defense of the incandescent light bulb.

Friday, February 1, 2008

While sneering at the "freedom equals light bulbs argument," Dan Niel laments the decline of the incandescent light bulb:
The passing of any technology provokes nostalgia. I’m sure someone bemoaned the rise of the push-button phone and eulogized the rotary dialer (What a beautiful sound, the “shickity-shick” of a well-spun number. . . .) But the Edisonian light bulb is a more fundamental thing—so much the proverbial better idea that it came to symbolize the eureka moment, the flash of insight, when it appeared over a cartoon character’s head. The fact is, how we light the world inevitably affects how we see the world. I predict we’re going to miss the soft, forgiving light of the incandescent bulb with its celestial geometry.

I predict a more harshly lighted future.
Of course, the rise of this "harshly lighted future" (compact fluorescent light bulbs), should it come to pass, will be primarily achieved through government coercion in the banning of contemporary-technology incandescents. The overtaking of oil lamps by light bulbs did not occur through government prohibitions but through the desires of the free market.

Meanwhile, the rise of CFL presents its own environmental challenges. One "green" consumer group estimates that the USA's use of fluorescent lamps could, if bulbs are not properly disposed of, lead to the poisoning of 20 million acres of water a year due to the mercury contained in florescent bulbs.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Washington Post has video of part of the immigration exchange between Clinton and Obama at tonight's Democratic debate. Obama at one point seemed to say that raising concerns about the "undocumented" displacing or driving down the wages of the native-born or legal immigrants is "scapegoating"; Clinton thinks that there are some economic implications for "illegal immigration." Hot Air has more about the debate over drivers licenses for the "undocumented."

UPDATE: Scapegoating Then?: Mickey Kaus points out that Obama used (in 2006) to assert that a massive influx of the "undocumented" drove down the wages of some; he thinks there might be electoral reasons to avoid saying this now....
This kind of rating goes only so far, but, according to a survey of votes done by the National Journal, Barack Obama has the most "liberal" voting record in the US Senate, placing his record to the left of self-described "democratic socialist" Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). As Obama has missed a number of controversial votes, these ratings (which only consider the votes he did cast) may be partially misleading...
Parsing McCain's words: It seems as though McCain may have now said that he would oppose or at least vote against) the immigration bill that he had earlier support. See this Hot Air clip (around 30):

HOOK: Senator McCain, let me just take the issue to you, because you obviously have been very involved in it. During this campaign, you, like your rivals, have been putting the first priority, heaviest emphasis on border security. But your original immigration proposal back in 2006 was much broader and included a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants who were already here.

What I'm wondering is -- and you seem to be downplaying that part. At this point, if your original proposal came to a vote on the Senate floor, would you vote for it?

MCCAIN: It won't. It won't. That's why we went through the debate...

HOOK: But if it did?

MCCAIN: No, I would not, because we know what the situation is today. The people want the border secured first. And so to say that that would come to the floor of the Senate -- it won't. We went through various amendments which prevented that ever -- that proposal.

However, the CNN transcript offers a different transcription of McCain's response:
MCCAIN: No, it would not, because we know what the situation is today. The people want the border secured first. And so to say that that would come to the floor of the Senate -- it won't. We went through various amendments which prevented that ever -- that proposal.
"I would not" vs. "It would not." It sounds like an "I" to me (see around 00:34 or so)...Also, McCain could be being extra tricky: he "would not" vote in favor of the bill because, he believes, the bill would not come to the floor; you can't vote in favor of a bill that's never on the floor.

Still, McCain seems to have a very hard time saying clearly how he now feels about previous McCain-Kennedy immigration bills, and, just a few days ago, he seemed to say that he would sign McCain-Kennedy if it came across his desk as president. He mainly emphasizes instead that the bill won't come across his desk--without saying what would happen if McCain-Kennedy-like legislation did come across his desk.
Kaus wonders:
P.S.: I don't quite understand why McCain can't just say, "No." (He could then give the same little talk about securing the borders, etc.) Unless, of course, the real answer is "Yes." ...
The past of the future (or the future of the past): A Washington Post reporter claims that Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA)'s endorsement of Barack Obama was in part driven by anger over Hillary Clinton's discussion of political events of the 1960's:
Apparently, part of the reason why the liberal lion from Massachusetts embraced Obama was because of a perceived slight at the Kennedy family's civil rights legacy by the other Democratic presidential primary frontrunner, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.).

Sources say Kennedy was privately furious at Clinton for her praise of President Lyndon Baines Johnson for getting the 1964 Civil Rights Act accomplished. Jealously guarding the legacy of the Kennedy family dynasty, Senator Kennedy felt Clinton's LBJ comments were an implicit slight of his brother, President John F. Kennedy, who first proposed the landmark civil rights initiative in a famous televised civil rights address in June 1963.

One anonymous source described Kennedy as having a "meltdown" in reaction to Clinton's comments. Another source close to the Kennedy family says Senator Kennedy was upset about two instances that occurred on a single day of campaigning in New Hampshire on Jan. 7, a day before the state's primary.

I think the headline on this (Bill) Clinton piece is a little misleading: "Bill: "We Just Have to Slow Down Our Economy" to Fight Global Warming." Jack Tapper is saying that Clinton says we have to "slow down our economy"--and that " something of a contradiction there" in his talking about slowing down the economy and also talking about how "green" technology can create jobs. (As a side note, Tapper himself thinks " a full commitment to reduce greenhouse gases would slow down the economy.") However, if you look at a bigger portion of the speech, it seems as though Bill Clinton wasn't arguing in favor of slowing down the economy at all (or at least not explicitly arguing that way). Time for the (dreaded) "context" (emphasis mine):

"Everybody knows that global warming is real," Mr. Clinton said, giving a shout-out to Al Gore's Nobel Peace Prize, "but we cannot solve it alone."

"And maybe America, and Europe, and Japan, and Canada -- the rich counties -- would say, 'OK, we just have to slow down our economy and cut back our greenhouse gas emissions 'cause we have to save the planet for our grandchildren.' We could do that.

"But if we did that, you know as well as I do, China and India and Indonesia and Vietnam and Mexico and Brazil and the Ukraine, and all the other countries will never agree to stay poor to save the planet for our grandchildren. The only way we can do this is if we get back in the world's fight against global warming and prove it is good economics that we will create more jobs to build a sustainable economy that saves the planet for our children and grandchildren. It is the only way it will work.

"And guess what? The only places in the world today in rich countries where you have rising wages and declining inequality are places that have generated more jobs than rich countries because they made a commitment we didn't. They got serious about a clean, efficient, green, independent energy future… If you want that in America, if you want the millions of jobs that will come from it, if you would like to see a new energy trust fund to finance solar energy and wind energy and biomass and responsible bio-fuels and electric hybrid plug-in vehicles that will soon get 100 miles a gallon, if you want every facility in this country to be made maximally energy efficient that will create millions and millions and millions of jobs, vote for her. She'll give it to you. She's got the right energy plan."

It seems to me like Clinton was laying out various strategies for dealing with greenhouse gas emissions. One, which we could adopt, would be for the wealthy nations to choose to slow down their economies--except, as Clinton points out, that wouldn't work because other, poorer countries like the PRC and India would not stop their economic growth (and the growth of their greenhouse gas emissions). Another plan (the one Clinton supports) would be to find "clean, efficient, green" technologies that allow for both economic growth and environmental protection. Now, Clinton might be wrong about these choices and his proposed solutions might ultimately slow down the economy, but it seems to me that he's not arguing that we should slow down our economy. Indeed, he's explicitly arguing against that proposition.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Wyoming's legislature considers an immigration-enforcement measure. This news story alludes to a possible domino effect for the passage of state immigration-enforcement laws:
And when one state tightens its laws, nearby states apparently feel compelled to act as well to avoid receiving a flood of displaced immigrants.
Concerns are raised that some of the tax rebates of the new economic stimulus package may go to the "undocumented." Senators Baucus (D-SD) and Ensign (R-NV) pledge to change the bill to prevent such benefits going to the "undocumented."

UPDATE: Mark Krikorian has more details about tax policy and immigration.
McCain's victory in Florida is still bubbling through the blogosphere and beyond. The Corner's fighting over/intensely debating a possible McCain candidacy. Malkin's raising some sharp questions about McCain. David Brooks criticizes Romney and proclaims that "the big conservative issues [e.g. immigration and tax cuts] did not bark, once again." Hot Air offers a few thoughts. Stephen Hayes reports that McCain has said that he's not too interested in "reaching out" to talkers such as Rush Limbaugh. For his part, Limbaugh is now invoking the specter of 1976--citing "conservative" disappointment with Ford and Ford's subsequent loss in the general election.
Aspects of the right seem to be weighing the risks of a Republican loss if McCain becomes the nominee and the risks of a Republican victory if McCain becomes the nominee.
With Edwards dropping out of the Democratic race for president, the chances of a brokered Democratic convention seem radically reduced. Either Obama or Clinton is very very likely to receive enough delegates to claim the nomination.

UPDATE: However, superdelegates could still make the convention at least a little uproarious if neither Obama nor Clinton have a commanding majority of primary delegates. As this WaPo story points out, superdelegates can switch their allegiances at any time. With 800 superdelegates (and 2025 delegates needed to gain the nomination), there's still a fair amount of room for uncertainty.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Some interesting exit poll results for the Florida GOP primary in no particular order:
McCain relied on independent voters (or "independent voters"? UPDATE: see here and here) to put him over the top; he split Republicans with Romney 33-33.
Only 29% of Florida GOP voters support a "path to citizenship" for the "undocumented"; 46% of that 29% went to McCain.
Romney won a plurality of those voters who believed that either illegal immigration or terrorism was the most important issue of the election. McCain won a plurality of those voters who believed that either Iraq or the economy was the the most important issue. The economy is important to those who voted in the GOP primary: 45% of voters said it was the top issue.
The Crist endorsement seems important; a significant percentage of voters said it was influential.
On the age question, Romney won a plurality of voters age 25-39 and 50-64; McCain won those in their 40's and those 65+.
This Hill story has some details on John Edwards's potential strategy for a brokered Democratic convention. Edwards advisers say he'll have enough delegates to be meaningful:

Prince told reporters in a conference call that in “a worst-case scenario” Edwards would control 20 to 25 percent of the Democratic delegates heading into the convention. He predicted that Sens. Barack Obama (Ill.) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) would each have 35 to 40 percent of the delegates, well short of half the 4,049 needed to win the nomination.

The race could leave Obama and Clinton with nearly the same number of delegates because complex rules would divide delegates evenly among candidates who win more than 30 percent in the congressional districts that make up each state.
And there's a wrinkle for Democratic delegate rules--they're not necessarily bound to any candidate:
At the Democratic convention this August, delegates will be allowed to vote freely even if they are already pledged to a candidate, Wayne explained. But he expected that Edwards’s delegates would do his bidding.

Wayne said that Edwards’s delegates have been “hand-picked” because of their loyalty.
“That loyalty would probably extend to the convention, though Democrats have a rule that would not impose loyalty,” he explained.
Most experts predict that a brokered convention isn't very likely. But, after New Hampshire, the pundit class is increasingly embracing the slogan "Anything could happen."

Monday, January 28, 2008

In his State of the Union, Pres. Bush challenges Congress to "reform" immigration policy:

The other pressing challenge is immigration. America needs to secure our borders. And, with your help, my administration is taking steps to do so. We're increasing work site enforcement, deploying fences and advanced technologies to stop illegal crossings.

We've effectively ended the policy of "catch and release" at the border. And by the end of this year, we will have doubled the number of border patrol agents.

Yet we also need to acknowledge that we will never fully secure our border until we create a lawful way for foreign workers to come here and support our economy.


This will take pressure off the border and allow law enforcement to concentrate on those who mean us harm.

We must also find a sensible and humane way to deal with people here illegally. Illegal immigration is complicated, but it can be resolved, and it must be resolved in a way that upholds both our laws and our highest ideals.

Is this "lawful way for foreign workers to come here and support our economy" code for "guest worker program"? After all, we do already have plenty of ways for "workers" to come to this nation.

Mickey Kaus says it's OK to go after McCain for his connection with Juan Hernandez, and Michelle Malkin raises some questions about McCain's national finance co-chair and posts an email reporting a voter's exchange with McCain over Hernandez.
Barack Obama sounds like he's going to try to increase his support in California through a combination of policy promises/preferences and identity politics:
The Illinois senator is differentiating himself in three key areas: driver's licenses [for the "undocumented"], a promise to take up immigration reform his first year in office, and his background as the son of an immigrant (his father was Kenyan) and a community organizer in Chicago.
With 77% of Americans opposing drivers licenses for "illegal immigrants," some wonder how much this strategy will help Obama with voters...
Based on some anecdotal evidence, Arizona's new immigration-enforcement law seems to be increasing the wages of some as the "undocumented" leave the state:

Two out of three men who apply at Ironco, a construction firm that specialises in buildings and parking garages made with heavy steel, are Hispanic or foreign-born Hispanic, the company said.

Ironco has raised steel fitters' wages 30 percent from a year ago, according to Bailey. "We've raised wages, competing for a diminishing supply (of workers)," he said. "We?ve been on a campaign of quality improvement, training, scouring the waterfront, so to speak, for American vets, ex-offenders trying to find their way back into society."

So it seems as though, with this increased scrutiny, Ironco has turned its attention to US veterans and those with a criminal record and engaging in investment in developing the skills of individuals.
(H/T: Mark Krikorian)
McCain's motivations: Over at the Corner, inspired by former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA)'s criticism of John McCain, they're trying to find anecdotes of McCain's behavior behind the scenes at the Senate. One staffer's offering some specific details on McCain's cloakroom hostility to votes on English as a national language. These backroom anecdotes can be revealing in a number of ways. Will any other details come forward about McCain? The other candidates?

Sunday, January 27, 2008

McCain stands behind the "grand bargain"--said he'd sign McCain-Kennedy immigration bill as president.
Does Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) support Barack Obama in part because of Obama's work on the "grand bargain"? The Boston Globe thinks so:
Kennedy was also impressed by Obama's deep involvement last year in the bipartisan effort to craft legislation on immigration reform, a politically touchy subject the other presidential candidates avoided, the associate said.
Obama, who supports drivers licenses for the "undocumented," has pledged to push "comprehensive immigration reform" in his first term as president and called last year's debate over immigration policy "both ugly and racist in a way we haven't see since the struggle for civil rights." Will he use the same rhetoric if he becomes president?
"Comprehensive" "change" marches on....