Saturday, May 17, 2008

Tom Bevan raises some doubts about the notion that George W. Bush's "attack" upon Barack Obama at the Knesset (even though he never mentioned Obama or Democrats but merely criticized appeasement) is "unprecedented" (in that it was an American politician criticizing another American politician while on foreign soil). While some are calling this "political treason" and are suggesting that Bush be impeached over these remarks, are they completely unprecedented? Bevan notes that Bush has said a number of similar things against "appeasement" before, so they're not "unprecedented" on that count.

What about one American politician to be criticizing another on foreign soil (assuming Bush is criticizing Obama)? Just to refresh, here's what Bush actually said:

There are good and decent people who cannot fathom the darkness in these men and try to explain away their words. It's natural, but it is deadly wrong. As witnesses to evil in the past, we carry a solemn responsibility to take these words seriously. Jews and Americans have seen the consequences of disregarding the words of leaders who espouse hatred. And that is a mistake the world must not repeat in the 21st century.

Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: "Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided." We have an obligation to call this what it is -- the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history. (Applause.)

Some people suggest if the United States would just break ties with Israel, all our problems in the Middle East would go away. This is a tired argument that buys into the propaganda of the enemies of peace, and America utterly rejects it. Israel's population may be just over 7 million. But when you confront terror and evil, you are 307 million strong, because the United States of America stands with you.
We might compare these words of Bush with those of John Kerry speaking at Davos, Switzerland
in January 2007 (some video at Hot Air):

Kerry said the Bush administration has failed to adequately address a number of foreign policy issues, speaking during a World Economic Forum panel discussion that also included Iraqi Vice President Adil Abd al-Mahdi and Mohammad Khatami, Ahmadinejad's more moderate predecessor as Iranian president.

"When we walk away from global warming, Kyoto, when we are irresponsibly slow in moving toward AIDS in Africa, when we don't advance and live up to our own rhetoric and standards, we set a terrible message of duplicity and hypocrisy," Kerry said.

"So we have a crisis of confidence in the Middle East — in the world, really. I've never seen our country as isolated, as much as a sort of international pariah for a number of reasons as it is today."


Kerry criticized what he called the "unfortunate habit" of Americans to see the world "exclusively through an American lens."

He said a new approach could yet bring great benefits to the United States and other countries.

"I think if we did that more forcefully and effectively we could really change the dynamics of the world," Kerry said. "We should be less engaged in this 'neocon' rhetoric of regime change and more involved in building relations and living up to our own values so that people make a different judgment about us."

These are certainly attacks upon the present administration's policies and are more clearly focused on Bush than Bush's remarks seem to have been on Obama. Are these words by Kerry "political treason," too?

Of course, it seems--in the short term at least--to have been advantageous for Obama to pounce on these remarks: it gives an opening for the media, which seems to have tired of primary season, to enter general election mode, and it helps position Obama as the anti-Bush.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Malkin has some more details from Numbers USA about the Ag-Jobs amendment to the Iraq supplemental:
Rosemary Jenks (our Vice President, Government Relations) just called me after finishing reading the Iraq supplemental spending bill as it came out of committee. It would:

# Grant a three-year work visa followed by a permanent greencard to all illegal aliens who have been working as shepherds, goat herders and dairy herders.

# Grant a five-year work visa to the estimated 1.3 million illegal aliens working in other agricultural jobs — plus all of their families. There is no instruction on what happens after the five years.

# Grant a tripling of the maximum number of H-2B visas for lower skill, non-agricultural seasonal workers.

# Grant industries an extra 218,000 additional permanent green cards for skilled foreign workers.

Right now, it looks like the full Senate might be voting on this supplemental around Wednesday. Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) may be offering an amendment in the full Senate to strike this Ag-Jobs language.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Numbers USA is warning that Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) may be planning on trying to tack an agricultural worker "amnesty" onto the current Iraq funding supplemental.

UPDATE: Feinstein's amendment has been adopted by the Senate Appropriations Committee 17-12. The Hill has some details:
The Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday added to an Iraq spending bill a controversial provision to help pave the way for undocumented agriculture workers to win legal status, a move that may reopen the divisive immigration debate on the Senate floor.
The so-called Ag-Jobs amendment, sponsored by Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Larry Craig (R-Idaho), would create a process that allows undocumented workers to continue to work on farms. Without the amendment, Feinstein warned that the U.S. would lose $5-9 billion to foreign competition, tens of thousands of farms would shut down and 80,000 workers would be transferred to Mexico. The bill would sunset in five years.

Critics are denouncing this measure as "amnesty."
Numbers USA's offering some more details about this and other immigration-related amendments:
The copy of the amendment obtained by NumbersUSA indicates a maximum of 1.35 million illegal aliens, plus their families, could obtain "emergency agricultural worker status" for a five-year period. However, the amendment also provides for an adjustment of status, which paves the way for permanent legalization. The committee also adopted other immigration-related amendments, including one that drastically expands the H-2B visa program for non-agricultural seasonal workers.

This spending bill still needs to pass the Senate as a whole and then Congress as a whole and be signed. K-Lo's heard from an aide to Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) who says that Vitter will be putting forward an amendment to strike this Ag-Jobs language. A vote could be happening on this appropriations bill soon.
Malkin has some other information here. She also reports on this interesting seperate immigration-reform measure under discussion that may, among other things, seek to preempt local enforcement efforts.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Harold Meyerson assures us that, when Republicans refer to "America," they're really making a bigoted statement. So when John McCain says that he's running to be President of the United States of America, you know that he's really attacking the cultural other. Meyerson outlines two "America"'s (e.a.):

Now, I mean to take nothing away from McCain's Americanness by noting that it's Obama's story that represents a triumph of specifically American identity over racial and religious identity. It was the lure of America, the shining city on a hill, that brought his black Kenyan father here, where he met Obama's white Kansan mother. It is because America is uniquely the land of immigrants and has moved beyond a racial caste system that Obama exists, has thrived and stands a good chance of being our next president.

That's not the America, though, that the Republicans refer to in proclaiming their own Americanness. For them, "American" is a term to be used as a wedge issue, a way to distinguish their more racially and religiously homogeneous party from the historically more polyglot Democrats.
(Never mind the fact that the new Republican governor of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal, is himself the son of immigrants...)

Meyerson also claims that this bigoted appeal is the Republicans' only hope in the fall (since he believes that the voters don't agree and could never agree with Republicans/John McCain on any issue). Notice the neat little narrative sketched by this move: a potential loss by Obama in November would be the triumph of American bigotry! Thus, Obama's electoral victory and the success of American (if I can use the word "American") anti-racism are--conveniently for Meyerson and other Obama supporters--intertwined.

There's another alternative: Republicans could try to persuade Americans about the wisdom of their positions on certain issues. And the American people could even agree with them and vote for Republicans because of this agreement! But Meyerson, it seems, wants to discount the possibility of that debate.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A variety of charges lead to what is called the largest immigration raid in US history in Iowa--over 300 have been detained. A sample of some of the claims:

The Des Moines Register (a Gannett newspaper) reports that according to search warrants unsealed today, federal authorities had received information about alleged immigration violations for the past two years at Agriprocessors Inc. in Postsville. One source, a former plant supervisor, told agents the plant hired foreign nationals from Mexico, Guatemala and Eastern Europe. Around 80% were in the United States illegally, said a supervisor with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The source also reported that some employees were running a methamphetamine lab in the plant and were bringing weapons into the plant, which employs about 1,000. He said he was fired after he told his superiors.