Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Blogging will be very light this week....

Monday, December 24, 2007

Various state immigration enforcement laws could lead to "undocumented immigrants" going to more hospitable states as well as their home countries:

While some illegal immigrants are simply self deporting, others are moving within the United States to avoid federal immigration raids and pro-enforcement measures passed by a patchwork of state and local authorities.

Among them are undocumented immigrants in Marshalltown, Iowa, where Mexicans and Central Americans workers at a Swift & Co meatpacking plant were arrested during coordinated immigration raids across six states a year ago that netted hundreds of employees.

Moses Garcia, a U.S. citizen who came from Mexico 18 years ago and knew many of the families affected by the 2006 raid through his church and real estate work, said most of the workers have left to other states, not back to Mexico.

"They feel like they are not welcome here," Garcia said. "They go to Minnesota, Atlanta, Nebraska, California."

Sunday, December 23, 2007

After the murder of a policeman by an "undocumented immigrant," Scottsdale, AZ police are now checking the immigration status of all those they apprehend and turning over to federal authorities those in this country without proper legalization. (Via Drudge)
Are the reports about the "death" of "Christian Canada" a little exaggerated? Michael Valpy attributes this "death" to 60s feminism (and Hot Air's got this story as a headline), but some recent data may trouble the fundamental assumption of Valpy's piece. Some recent polls done for Project Canada 2005 suggest instead that organized religion may be enjoying a partial upswing in Canada since 2000. According to one study, weekly religious attendance in Canada increased from 22% to 25% between 2000 and 2005--the first time the Project Canada pollsters have noticed an increase since they started keeping data in 1975. Moreover, weekly attendance amongst 15-19-year-olds increased from 18% in 1991 to 22% in 2000. Some more interesting data about religious participation (or a lack of religious participation) here.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Huckabee campaign is now denying to John Hawkins that Huckabee's immigration proposal has a "touchback" component.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Malkin draws attention to the fact that the newly-signed energy bill that would ban the sale of incandescent light bulbs (with a few exceptions) as we now know them by 2012 in favor of florescent light bulbs. As Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA) boasts, "In this bill, we ban by 2012 the famously inefficient 100-watt incandescent bulb." Proponents of this measure argue that this ban would lead to lower energy consumption and a "healthier" environment.

As Malkin points out, this ban brings even further into focus some of the dangers posed by compact florescent light (CFL) bulbs--dangers that private and governmental agencies have yet to address fully. For many, the (relatively) high levels of mercury contained in florescent bulbs is perhaps the most striking environmental and public health risk. If bulbs break, they can release dangerous levels of mercury into the air around them. NPR has an interesting story on some of the attempts to cope with the mercury risks of CFL bulbs. Disposal of the bulbs can be especially tricky:

"The problem with the bulbs is that they'll break before they get to the landfill. They'll break in containers, or they'll break in a dumpster or they'll break in the trucks. Workers may be exposed to very high levels of mercury when that happens," says John Skinner, executive director of the Solid Waste Association of North America, the trade group for the people who handle trash and recycling.

Skinner says when bulbs break near homes, they can contaminate the soil.

The NIH has a summary of some of the health risks posed by mercury contamination:
Elemental (metallic) mercury and all of its compounds are toxic, exposure to excessive levels can permanently damage or fatally injure the brain and kidneys. Elemental mercury can also be absorbed through the skin and cause allergic reactions. Ingestion of inorganic mercury compounds can cause severe renal and gastrointestinal damage. Organic compounds of mercury such as methyl mercury are considered the most toxic forms of the element. Exposures to very small amounts of these compounds can result in devastating neurological damage and death. For fetuses, infants and children, the primary health effects of mercury are on neurological development. Even low levels of mercury exposure such as result from mother's consumption methylmercury in dietary sources can adversely affect the brain and nervous system. Impacts on memory, attention, language and other skills have been found in children exposed to moderate levels in the womb.
A CFL bulb that breaks in the home can lead to level of mercury for that room well over the safety levels established by authorities--and such a breakage can be very expensive to clean up.

There are even divisions within the environmentalist movement over these bulbs and their mercury level; some environmentalists think that such CFL bulbs shouldn't be purchased due to their high mercury content.

But there could be hope yet for incandescents: GE has announced that it hopes to introduce more efficient incandescents by 2012 that could meet future efficiency requirements.
A federal judge sounds skeptical about an attempt to stop Arizona's new immigration enforcement law from going into effect on January 1:
The legal effort to block what is widely considered the nation’s toughest law against employers who hire illegal immigrants may be headed for a setback in Arizona after a federal judge said Tuesday that he was not inclined to stop the law from going into effect Jan. 1.

Judge Neil V. Wake of the Federal District Court in Phoenix said he would issue a ruling by the end of the week. But he said that the business and civil rights groups that had challenged Arizona’s law had erred by not initially suing the county attorneys who will enforce the law, which he suggested protects the rights of law-abiding workers.

The hearing was part of a feverish legal effort to block the law, which penalizes employers who knowingly hire illegal workers by suspending their business license on a first offense and revoking it for a second.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The latest spending bill doesn't sound like it will be too helpful in forging a bipartisan atmosphere of trust for Congressional attempts at immigration reform--it changes some of the aspects of the border fence provisions passed last year:
The 2006 Secure Fence Act specifically called for "two layers of reinforced fencing" and listed five specific sections of border where it should be installed. The new spending bill removes the two-tier requirement and the list of locations.

Duncan Hunter (R-CA) and Steve King (R-IA) aren't happy with the changes, and Minority leader Boehner's already placing blame on Congressional Democrats--though Sen. Hutchison (R-TX) seems to be one of the motivating figures behind this change.

Monday, December 17, 2007

An interesting AP story on the role of immigration (and the way immigration intertwines with other issues) for the Republican presidential primary race.
A showdown (with video!) between Linda Chavez and Prince William Board of County Supervisors Chairman Corey A. Stewart over Prince William County's new immigration measures. Chavez raises doubts (mainly through insinuation) about the motivations of PWC. Stewart calls her an "illegal immigrant apologist" and brings up one of Chavez's pro-"grand bargain" columns from earlier this year.
Iowa Rep. Steve King endorses Fred Thompson. He emphasizes the "rule of law" as one of the reasons for backing Thompson.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Even though it doesn't go into force until January 1, Arizona's new immigration law already seems to be having an effect:

Businesses and immigration groups say they have already tallied some of the effects of the law.

Advocates for immigrants contend that, at a minimum, hundreds of people unauthorized to work have left the state or been fired. Some school districts have at least partly attributed enrollment drops to the law. Though the housing slump and seasonal economic factors make it difficult to pin down how much is attributable to the new law, illegal workers say employers are checking papers and are less inclined to hire them.

“They started asking everybody for papers one day, and those like me that didn’t have them were fired,” said Luis Baltazar, a Mexican immigrant who worked for a paving company until a few weeks ago and was soliciting work at a day labor hiring hall here.

Another immigrant, Jose Segovia, said work had plummeted in the past few weeks, more so than in the four previous Decembers he spent in Phoenix. “Some of my friends went back to Mexico,” Mr. Segovia said, “and I am thinking of going, too, if it doesn’t get better here.”

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Some are saying that Bob Latta, elected to the House in a special election on Tuesday in Ohio, transformed a race in which he was pretty much tied with his Democratic opponent into one where he won a 14-point victory through a sudden focus on immigration and border security.
And the Politico has more on the influence of immigration in this election cycle.
New(ish) UK PM Gordon Brown has signed onto a new EU treaty that would radically reshape the EU power structure and, critics say, increase the power of EU bureaucrats at the expense of national sovereignty. Many say it's similar to the earlier EU Constitution, which faltered after a number of national referendums defeated it. So it seems like this treaty won't be up for national referendums except in Ireland. The Sun has a pretty critical article about the treaty, especially focusing on its implications for immigration policy:

The developments come despite an eleventh-hour bombshell that it means surrendering control of Britain’s immigration policy.

The warning was issued to the PM last night as he prepared to wave the white flag over our right to make our own laws.

It emerged tens of thousands of foreigners facing the boot from the UK will be winners.

They will get new rights to overturn decisions by Britain’s Immigration and Asylum Tribunal.

It means failed asylum seekers will be free to take their cases to the European Court of Justice in Strasbourg — giving the final say to unelected EU judges.

The Sun has more details about the effects of this treaty.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Squaring the Circle: The Politico reports on a questionnaire Obama/his campaign manager at the time filled out in 1996. Can these two claims mesh? One:
On handguns, his campaign said he has consistently been for “common-sense limits, but not banning” throughout his 11-year political career.
Two: But in this 1996 questionnaire, his campaign answered "Yes" (with no equivocations) to a question asking whether Obama would "support state legislation" that would "ban the manufacture, sale and possession of handguns." So did his campaign manager not understand her candidate's positions on the issues of "gun control"? Does his current campaign manager understand his positions on "gun control"? Some of the left are already swarming over this questionnaire and controversies about it. Clinton's people are definitely promoting it.

UPDATE: A questionnaire filled out by Obama (or his campaign) in late 2003 during his run for US Senate reveals more about his approach to "gun control" (e.a.):
While a complete ban on handguns is not politically practicable, I believe reasonable restrictions on the sale and possession of handguns are necessary to protect the public safety. In the Illinois Senate last year, I supported a package of bills to limit individual Illinoisans to purchasing one handgun a month; require all promoters and sellers at firearms shows to carry a state license; allow civil liability for death or injuries caused by handguns; and require FOID applicants to apply in person. I would support similar efforts at the federal level, including retaining the Brady Law.
So does he have an objection to banning handguns in principle? What's "politically practicable" can change with time, after all....
"Minuteman" founder Jim Gilchrist endorses Mike Huckabee. Malkin sputters. Hot Air brings up some quotes from Huckabee's past. Kaus wonders how "tough" Huckabee really is....

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Washington Times has some info on yesterday's Univision Republican debate.
NY Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D) is still suffering from low poll numbers. 51% of New York voters have a negative opinion of him and only 36% have a favorable view of him. A number that can't be encouraging to the governor: only 1/3 of Democrats currently want to reelect him.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

George Will has an interesting column on Republican challenges to "No Child Left Behind," particularly focusing on Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI)'s "Academic Partnerships Lead Us to Success Act of 2007," which would try to return more authority on education to state boards and local school districts.
Biden rising? In addition to this recent American Research Group poll showing Joe Biden overtaking Bill Richardson for fourth place among likely Democratic caucus goers (rising to 8%), Insider Advantage has come out with another poll suggesting that, of all Democrats, Biden has gained the most among South Carolina Democrats since July 2007 (an American Research Group poll also has Biden gaining--though not by as much). Real Clear Politics offers this breakdown:
Obama 26 (-2 vs. last poll, July 23-24)
Clinton 24 (-19)
Edwards 15 (+2)
Biden 10 (+6)
Richardson 2 (-3)
Biden hasn't yet seen these gains in IA and SC be translated into much growth in the national polls. The Washington Times has more on Biden's ambitions for Iowa.
A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit challenging Arizona's new immigration-enforcement law, but the legal fight isn't over:

In his ruling on Friday, U.S. District Judge Neil V. Wake wrote that the lawsuit was premature because there was no evidence that anybody had been harmed, and that the plaintiffs—a coalition of business and immigrant rights groups—were suing the wrong people.

The ruling said the law gives only investigatory authority to the governor and state attorney general, who were named as defendants. Wake said county prosecutors, who weren't defendants, actually have the power to enforce the law.

The plaintiffs had asked for a preliminary injunction blocking the law from taking effect. Farrell Quinlan, a spokesman for business groups in the suit, said they planned to file more information with the judge to answer what he sees as shortcomings in the complaint.

Alfredo Gutierrez, a spokesman for immigrant rights groups, said they plan to refile the lawsuit after Jan. 1, when they might be able to show damages caused by the law.

The law will go into effect on January 1. It would require employers to verify the legal status of their new hires.

(H/T: Malkin)

Friday, December 7, 2007

Some of the Democratic leadership sounds unhappy with Constitutional checks and balances:

“As an amateur student of constitutional history and as a member of Congress, I have come to the conclusion that the Senate was a historic mistake,” said Representative Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, the No. 4 Democrat.

And for some freshman lawmakers, who came to Washington hoping to do big things for the American people, the late-session circus has been disconcerting.

Centralize, centralize! (H/T Hot Air)

Yesterday, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) won the Senate Republican Conference chairmanship 31-16.
Huckabee unveils a new immigration platform. Krikorian's impressed; others are more skeptical.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Current market conditions and the failure of the "grand bargain" for immigration reform in the summer seem to be encouraging some of the (Brazilian) "undocumented" to return to their native country.
A lot of folks have been talking about this story in which Fred Thompson says that the US federal government should not be "tell[ing] you what to eat." This claim becomes more pointed when read in the context of Sen. Harkin (D-IA)'s proposal for the federal government to regulate what can--or cannot--be served in public school cafeterias: "a national ban on selling candy, sugary soda and salty, fatty food in school snack bars, vending machines and à la carte cafeteria lines." More details about the legislation:

The nutrition standards would allow only plain bottled water and eight-ounce servings of fruit juice or plain or flavored low-fat milk with up to 170 calories to be sold in elementary and middle schools. High school students could also buy diet soda or, in places like school gyms, sports drinks. Other drinks with as many as 66 calories per eight ounces could be sold in high schools, but that threshold would drop to 25 calories per eight-ounce serving in five years.

Food for sale would have to be limited in saturated and trans fat and have less than 35 percent sugar. Sodium would be limited, and snacks must have no more than 180 calories per serving for middle and elementary schools and 200 calories for high schools.

Coming back to Thompson:

Thompson, ever a fan of small government, said healthy living should be the responsibilities of families first.

"We shouldn’t be looking at the federal government in Washington first and working our way down, it ought to be just the other way around. With that, or whether you're talking about education, there's some things the federal government can't do," said Thompson.

However, it seems to me that this question is not only about the size of government but also how government should be organized. Should there be a top-down federal bureaucracy that decides what foods are healthy and that tells schools which foods they cannot sell, or should school districts be able decide what foods to serve? How much power should a federal regulatory body have, and how much detail should it go into? Thompson, in his approach to federalism, seems more skeptical about the value of this top-down approach and seems to have much more of an interest in allowing for a diversity of approaches to various problems/issues.
Quinnipiac's released a new set of polls of voters in Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. In addition to the presidential results, there are these immigration numbers showing significant majorities for increased enforcement (rather than legalization) amongst these voters:
19. Do you think immigration reform should primarily move in the direction of integrating illegal immigrants into American society or in the direction of stricter enforcement of laws against illegal immigration?

........................FL Rep Dem Ind

Intg immigrants 24% 15% 34% 23%
Enforcement 66 76 56 67
DK/NA 10 9 11 10

........................OH Rep Dem Ind

Intg immigrants 20% 11% 28% 20%
Enforcement 71 83 64 68
DK/NA 9 6 8 12

........................PA Rep Dem Ind

Intg immigrants 19% 9% 26% 25%
Enforcement 72 82 64 68
DK/NA 9 9 11 7
Interestingly, these polls show that political independents are, overall, least likely (compared to Republicans and Democrats) to vote for a candidate they otherwise agree with if that candidate holds views of immigration policy they disagree with.  2/3 of polled independents want further enforcement measures.
The White House writes to K-Lo about its immigration enforcement mechanisms:
...I just wanted to take a moment to update you and (and NR's readers) on immigration enforcement, specifically the No-Match rule.

DHS Secretary Chertoff announced today the Administration will pursue a dual track approach to address current litigation against the rule. As you will recall, in October San Francisco federal district court Judge Charles Breyer issued a preliminary injunction against the regulation, preventing the Administration from sending out a revised No Match letter to employers.

The new No Match Rule was one of the 26 steps President Bush announced in August to strengthen enforcement of our immigration system and would be a major step in preventing employment of illegal immigrants. (For information on the other initiatives, see the White House website:

To address the three concerns on which Judge Breyer based the injunction, DHS will soon issue a supplement to the No-Match Rule. The Administration hopes this additional rulemaking will further strengthen the rule, allowing the courts to let the rule to go into effect as soon as possible.

Second, the Administration is pressing ahead with an appeal to the Ninth Circuit – the Justice Department filed an appeal on behalf of DHS today.

The Administration is serious about enforcement efforts and is doing everything it can to get the No Match rule moving forward as quickly as possible.

All the best,


Kerrie Rushton
Deputy Director, Office Of Strategic Initiatives
The White House
Meanwhile, Mike Huckabee and Chuck Norris have a little conversation about immigration.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Hutchison's out of the race for Senate Republican Conference Chair: that leaves Burr (R-NC) and Alexander (R-TN). The Politico has more on the details of this race.
"Feiler Faster" Primaries? In addition to the "feiler faster thesis"'s application to the search for "outsider" status in the presidential primaries, could the search for the Anti-Candidate also be feilerized? A lot of pundits have talked about the search for the anti-Giuliani in the Republican primaries, but now, with the seeming "Huckaboom" could there also be a search for the anti-Huckabee? Over at Hot Air, the anti-Huckabee movement's already taking shape:
If trends continue, we’re looking at a soft-border tax-and-spend nominee in Huck. Why not a soft-border nominee [i.e. McCain] who’s good on the war and somewhat better than Huckabee on spending?
With rumors of Huckabee and Giuliani having a "nonaggression pact" flying, maybe Giuliani is hoping to pose himself as the anti-Huckabee and Huckabee as the anti-Giuliani so that they could seal off the race from other candidates. But aren't there plenty of areas (immigration, for example) where Giuliani and Huckabee overlap? And where other Republicans (e.g. Thompson, who seems to hold different views on both immigration and federal power than Huckabee) might offer a different course?

Monday, December 3, 2007

The Politico has an interesting story about how immigration and its politics may be shaking up conventional Democratic and Republican coalitions. It also has a survey of five races in which immigration may be a campaign issue: a Republican challenging a Democrat as "weak" on enforcement, a Democrat challenging a Republican as "weak" on border security, one Republican potentially challenging another (Chris Cannon, a famous proponent of "comprehensive immigration reform"), and a PA race in which Lou Barletta (R) (of Hazleton fame) may challenge a 20-year Democratic incumbent. Then, there's this interesting race:

Democratic Rep. Ciro Rodriguez, usually a liberal stalwart, was the only member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to back a tough-on-immigration proposal earlier this year.

That’s probably smart politics in a West Texas district that gave President Bush 57 percent of the vote in 2004.

But it could also come back to bite him politically in a district that is nearly two-thirds Hispanic. Rodriguez’s likely Republican opponent is self-funding businessman Quico Canseco, who wants tough enforcement measures to battle illegal immigration.
Canseco sounds very skeptical of the "grand bargain," and his website says this about "immigration" (which is at the top of his list of "issues"):
Immigration: We take great pride that our country is one of a few in the history of the world where people are trying to get in instead of out. We are a bastion of freedom and liberty composed of a population of immigrants from all over the world. The success of America is its constitution, its laws and its common language. When we begin to discard one or the other of these tenants of our society, we tear away the very fabric of what has guaranteed our national survival. As a nation, we must not condone illegal entry into our country. We must take all measures to secure our porous border, and to protect our nation’s sovereignty. America is a welcoming nation and it should continue to extend a warm welcome to those that want to enter in accordance with the laws, the rules and the regulations for entry. Those that do so otherwise disrespect our nation’s sovereignty and they must not benefit by their illegal trespass.
Hot Air has some clips up of George Stephanopoulos's interview with Mike Huckabee that touched on Huckabee's support for various programs to help the "undocumented" attend Arkansas institutions of higher education. It gets a little testy!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Mike Huckabee has said that he would sign a nation-wide ban on smoking in the workplace and has said that he has signed a measure in Arkansas that bans smoking in every workplace. Well, there's a cheap kind of gotcha moment (especially cheap because Huckabee even admits in this clip that that bars and restaurants don't count) in the fact that a number of workplaces are exempt:
The state still has a large number of businesses -- 394 -- that have opted out of the ban. The law allows smoking areas in certain businesses, including small hotels and motels, retail tobacco stores and businesses with fewer than three employees. The law also includes an exemption for bars and restaurants that don't admit people under 21.

Most of the exemptions granted -- 293 -- were for bars and restaurants. Others are mostly for small businesses and small hotels. Tobacco shops, nursing homes and the Oaklawn Park race track in Hot Springs and the Southland Park greyhound track in West Memphis are exempt under the original law and did not need to seek their own exemptions.
However, also interesting is the means used to enforce this smoking ban in Arkansas. The state is increasing its enforcement of this measure:
Arkansas health director Paul Halverson said the state in July dropped its policy of waiting until after multiple complaints have been lodged to inspect a business accused of violating the ban, which took effect last year. Now, the state conducts inspections after one complaint.

"What we did was move to a more aggressive position," Halverson said.

Since July 1, the state has conducted 74 inspections of 45 businesses accused of violating the smoking ban. In the first year of the ban, the state had only conducted 23 inspections, according to the Department of Health.

Legislators approved the ban during a 2006 special legislative session after then-Gov. Mike Huckabee backed it as a way to protect workers' health. Since the ban took effect in 2006, the state has received 665 complaints by phone and online.

Health officials said the number of inspections reflect initial inspections and some unannounced follow-up inspections of businesses.
Would a federal ban signed by Huckabee have the same enforcement provisions?

Saturday, December 1, 2007

A federal judge dismisses a court case challenging new immigration-related measures in Prince William County, VA.
Engaging in classic horse-race punditry (that is, wildly generalizing from a single incident for the sake of sensationalism): Could Oprah Winfrey's endorsement of Obama hurt Edwards--and not Clinton--the most (if it really hurts anyone at all...)? A NYT anecdote (e.a.):

Kate Anderson, 20, a student at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, said she loves watching Oprah and that she and her mother “religiously read everything she has to say” in her magazine. She said she likes Mr. Obama and while the endorsement is not the only reason, it is part of the reason.

“I think what Oprah stands for to me is a sense of moving forward and hope, which I think is what Obama has come to stand for,” she said. Ms. Anderson said she was torn between John Edwards and Mr. Obama, “and I still kind of am, but I’m leaning more towards Obama, and that’s because of both Oprah’s support and what I’ve seen of him.”

Sounds ironclad to me! Edwards himself talks a lot about "moving forward"...
The Hill has more on the struggle for Senate Republican Conference Chair. Some rumors: Lott backs Burr but McConnell backs Alexander, maybe? Will Hutchison drop out? Could Thune run for policy chair against Cornyn?
John J. Miller has an interesting interview with Daniel Walker Howe about Howe's latest book, What God Hath Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848. Howe offers some interesting comments about politics, technology, religion in nineteenth-century America. For example:
HOWE: Before I wrote this book I had never really grasped how often improvements in material terms fostered improvements in moral terms. The people who encouraged economic diversification and development in many cases also supported more humane laws, wider access to education, a halt to the expansion of slavery, even, sometimes, greater equality for women. The two heroes of my story, John Quincy Adams and Abraham Lincoln, both illustrate this. The economic development that they wanted to promote empowered the average person in all kinds of ways. It brought wider vocational choices and opportunities for personal independence. In today’s third world, improvements in living standards should similarly encourage democracy and respect for human rights. Adams and Lincoln both valued capitalism as a moral as well as material benefit, and they were right to do so. This is the most important thing I learned from the experience of writing the book.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Speaker Pelosi stands behind a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq and rejects any talk of a "compromise." Even as a growing number of Democrats are saying the "surge" is working, they are also saying the public attention is turning away from Iraq.
Thune (SD) declares that he will not run for chair of the Senate Republican Conference:

WASHINGTON, DC—Senator John Thune today made the following statement regarding the upcoming race for the Republican Conference Chairmanship:

“As the Chief Deputy Whip, I feel I would serve the Republican conference best by focusing my efforts on helping the Whip organization make a smooth transition and therefore will not be seeking the position of Conference Chairman. There are excellent candidates running for Conference Chairman and our conference will be well served regardless of who wins.”

Currently, Hutchison (TX), Alexander (TN), and Burr (NC) are running for this position.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Horse Race--Huckabee Struggles in Polling: In a recent batch of Survey USA polls, Mike Huckabee lags behind Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in hypothetical general election matchups in a number of key states--especially compared to how other Republican candidates would fare. These polls have results for hypothetical matchups of Huckabee, McCain, Romney, and Giuliani against Clinton and Obama; in many states, Huckabee does the worst of the four Republican candidates.
In Kansas, Huckabee lags 6 points behind Clinton (43-49). John McCain leads Clinton in that state by 17 points (55-38). Huckabee also lags 6 points behind Obama in Kansas (41-47).
Huckabee falls 14 points behind Clinton in New Mexico (39-53); McCain leads Clinton 48-45 there.
In Kentucky, every Republican candidate leads Obama--except for Huckabee (who trails him 42-44).
In Virginia, Huckabee does the worst of all Republican candidates, falling 10 points behind Clinton (40-50) and 12 points behind Obama (38-50).
Some of the Democratic leadership in Congress say they will continue to insist on a mandatory withdrawal timeline before passing a defense funding bill, but Rep. Murtha (D-PA)--who now thinks that the "surge" is working--wonders if there might be a possible "compromise" on this timetable and other aspects of defense funding.
Drudge and others are right now pushing this new study about the present immigration population put out by the Center for Immigration Studies. There's a fair amount of information in this study. Some key data points:
Immigrants account for one in eight U.S. residents, the highest level in 80 years. In 1970 it was one in 21; in 1980 it was one in 16; and in 1990 it was one in 13.

Overall, nearly one in three immigrants is an illegal alien. Half of Mexican and Central American immigrants and one-third of South American immigrants are illegal.

Since 2000, 10.3 million immigrants have arrived — the highest seven-year period of immigration in U.S. history. More than half of post-2000 arrivals (5.6 million) are estimated to be illegal aliens.

The proportion of immigrant-headed households using at least one major welfare program is 33 percent, compared to 19 percent for native households.

34 percent of immigrants lack health insurance, compared to 13 percent of natives. Immigrants and their U.S.-born children account for 71 percent of the increase in the uninsured since 1989.

Recent immigration has had no significant impact on the nation’s age structure. Without the 10.3 million post-2000 immigrants, the average age in America would be virtually unchanged at 36.5 years.

One thing that this study demonstrates is the acceleration of "illegal immigration." Of the total number of immigrants in the US, 1/3 are estimated to be "undocumented" but 50% of the post-2000 immigrants are "undocumented"--a significant increase.
According to this study the immigrant population in the US has grown 24% since 2000, and some states have seen massive gains in the percentage of immigration population since 2000. Georgia, Tennessee, and Alabama have some of the fastest growing immigration populations, growing 152%, 160%, and 143%, respectively, over the past seven years.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Politico has more info/speculation on the Senate GOP leadership races:

Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), clearly has the No. 2 spot vacated by Lott wrapped up without any opposition.

And even the Senate Republican Conference chairmanship may be less of a free-for-all than originally expected. The No. 4 and No. 5 positions within Republican leadership may also be determined without much of an internal struggle.

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) is being touted by several Republican offices contacted by Politico as the front-runner for the conference chairmanship, despite the entry of Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.). Alexander's office begs to differ, saying they're getting positive response from many Senate offices.

Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), a conservative upstart, has yet to officially enter the conference chairmanship race and may not place his name on the ballot if he doesn't have a clear shot at winning, according to several GOP aides.
Hot Air has video of the Giuliani-Romney immigration smackdown at tonight's Republican debate.
John Fund has an interesting column up about Speaker Pelosi (D-CA)'s refusal to allow a bill funding the FBI, NASA, and the Justice Department to go to conference because this bill includes an amendment that protects employers who require their workers to speak English on the job from federal lawsuits. In this column, Fund mentions a new group that is forming:
Next month, a new group called Our Pledge will be launched. Counting Jeb Bush and former Clinton Housing Secretary Henry Cisneros among its board members, the organization believes absorbing immigrants is "the Sputnik challenge of our era." It will put forward two mutual pledges. It will ask immigrants to learn English, become self-sufficient and pledge allegiance to the U.S. It will ask Americans to provide immigrants help navigating the American system, the chance to eventually become a citizen and an atmosphere of respect.

This is a big challenge, but Our Pledge points out that the U.S. did it before with the Americanization movement of a century ago. It was government led, but the key players were businesses like the Ford Motor Company and nonprofits such as the YMCA, plus an array of churches and neighborhood groups.

I can't find out much about the organization, but I did find this announcement. It seems as though "Our Pledge" originated from a proposal made by members of the New America Alliance (which bills itself as an "organization of American Latino business leaders committed to leading the process of Latino empowerment and wealth-building")--but its board and membership does not seem confined to the NAA. Plenty of ("legal") immigrants presently have a "chance to eventually become a citizen"; does "Our Pledge" merely wish to reaffirm this principle in the abstract, or does it more concretely back "comprehensive immigration reform" and legalization of the "undocumented" as well?
The Washington Post has a helpful summary about some of the process of the upcoming Senate Republican leadership races.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A coalition of businesses and activist groups are coordinating against administration plans to issue Social Security "no match" letters for the employment of unauthorized individuals.
A (Republican) mayor of a Colorado meat-packing town who spoke out against the federal enforcement of immigration laws is surprised and disappointed to find himself losing his re-election bid.

Fred Thompson and the Limits of Power

Fred Thompson’s At that Point in Time, the memoir of his time serving as the minority counsel on the Senate Watergate Committee, reveals an interesting portrait of a man taking a first step into high politics and of the high-temperature politics of the early 1970s. Thompson’s involvement in Watergate is a very broad subject (one too broad to cover in a single blog post), and his memoir itself raises all sorts of questions of fact and motivation that are not fully answered (probably true of most–if not all–books on Watergate). Despite and perhaps because of this breadth of this work, I think it might be helpful to look at a single theme of At That Point in Time: Thompson’s approach toward limitation and power in the final chapter of this work.

Salon’s Walter Shapiro (a veteran of the Carter administration and hardly a hard-right hack) has praised Thompson’s memoir for having an honest uncertainty in dealing with the Watergate investigation and its implications for presidential power. In this memoir, Thompson chronicles–sometimes with surprising immediacy–the increasingly carnival-like atmosphere of Watergate: the public spectacle of the committee hearings (complete with a scornful laugh track and applause lines), the frenzy of reporters, the peddling and publishing of various half-truths and sly innuendos, the fervor behind the scenes. Finding himself in this civic hothouse, Thompson often returns to consider his own partisan tendencies, sometimes turning to this partisanship in a mood of aporia, sometimes turning to procedure as a way of anchoring himself in this flurry of partisan controversies, sometimes wondering how much his own political loyalties may have interfered with his pursuit of truth.

Even though Shapiro finds in Thompson’s narrative an “unflappable self-confidence,” I think that we can also see in this narrative a concern with the limitations of power and the implicit assumption of the potential for corruption in even the noblest political enterprise–that is, we can also see in this work limits on the confidence in power. This theme of limitation can be particularly seen in the final chapter, “The End of the Affair.”

In the wake of Watergate and the resignation of Nixon, Thompson does not assert a radical end to evil but instead reflects on the seeming persistence of evil:
It occurred to me that after such a national ordeal tribute would be paid to the boundless spirit of man and to the triumph of good over evil. But these were not my thoughts. More than anything else, I concluded, the experience taught me not that we had eradicated evil from the face of the earth, but that some things never seem to change. Lord Acton’s admonition about the corrupting nature of power is as valid today as it was when he said it, and as it has been for centuries before. The admonition does not apply to presidents alone; when the most powerful elements of the news media, the Congress, the intellectual community, and the judiciary unite in a holy crusade, some individual rights are inevitably sacrificed. Concern for fairness too often depends on whose ox is being gored.
It is often said that Vice-President Cheney gained a mission after Watergate: to restore further power and authority to the executive branch. Whatever the truth of this claim about Cheney, it seems that Watergate brought a very different principle to light for Thompson: the value of a diffusion of power.* For Thompson (and, no doubt, for many others), Watergate was a crisis of checks-and-balances for the country, but where Thompson may differ from some is in his insistence on how deeply and widely Watergate evidenced a breakdown in checks-and-balances–that not only the presidency could overthrow a diffusing balance but also Congress and the media. Moreover, he asserts the potential dangers to individual rights that might accrue in this unitary “crusade.” The dangers of unitary power may not be concentrated, then, in only the executive branch for Thompson; power, whether in the hands of a president or a legislative majority, can present its own corrupting temptation.

There is partly a tragic theme to Thompson’s memoir, studded as it is with the falls of various men–from White House staffers to Nixon to a member of the Watergate Committee itself (Senator Edward J. Gurney of Florida, who, within months of Nixon’s resignation, resigned from office due to a criminal indictment; Gurney was later found not guilty but was unable to revive his political career). This sense of the tragic informs Thompson’s skepticism about the value of unitary power: the seeming pervasiveness of the capacity for corruption can mean that any human power, even the strongest, could turn awry. As Thompson writes later:
There was little to rejoice about, I thought as I flew home, at least not without a quiet realization that human frailties seem to manifest themselves as much when men attempt to eradicate evil as when that evil itself is being inflicted.
Our right aims may not absolve us of our mortal frailties; even our strenuous efforts to undo wrongs, to right injustices, and to fight for the good might reveal some of our own limitations.

Thompson proposes a system of checks and balances as a way of coping with the temptation of vice. Though politicians often decry partisanship (even as they themselves make use of it for their own ends), Thompson now figures partisanship itself as playing a role for balance in government: seemed to me that the partisanship was itself part of the system of checks and balances–a system that will work, no matter how hard the fight, as long as certain rules are followed.
Rather than encouraging a unitary system that allows for an unlimited use of power (hopefully in the “right” way), Thompson seems more sympathetic here to a system that allows for diversity of the rancors of partisanship, that can incorporate various tensions and conflicts without itself collapsing. He does want “certain rules”–some scale or set of measures to balance these various competing parties–but he allows for play within these rules. Thompson does not propose ending partisanship or creating a politics based on the dissolution of parties; he is in favor of productively channeling this partisanship, of setting grounds for these debates between parties that will allow these debates to be most helpful to the nation as a whole. Put another way, we might see Thompson proposing a system not to eliminate conflicts–but to organize these conflicts. He asserts that “[c]oncern for fairness too often depends on whose ox is being gored,” but this political partiality need not nullify the concern for fairness, and this partiality need not render this concern for fairness without utility for the public good: each side can try its best, and some of the interests of the nation as a whole may be served by this jousting conglomeration of individual interests.

This belief in the persistence and utility of some political divisions can facilitate principles of politeness. In the condition of divided politics, you hope you can get along with your political opponents–because they’ll always be there! Perhaps shockingly for some activists out there, compromise and negotiation can also be effective tools to get what you want. Thompson’s mentor, Senator Howard Baker, seems to have understood the value of negotiation, and Thompson, at certain points in his memoir (see, for example, page 49), praises Baker for his attempts to conciliate in the committee, and the effectiveness of his “diplomatic negotiation that avoided confrontation.” Those who see the value in divided power might also be more inclined to be respectful of some of their civic opponents because these opponents play a crucial role of opposition; you can’t, after all, have a conflict without at least two sides. Instead of seeing their opponents monochromatically as opponents of “progress,” believers in a heterogeneous body politic can see their opponents as playing a necessary procedural role.

As is commonly acknowledged, this process of checks and balances in the US government does not play out only between the various branches of the federal government but also between the federal government and state governments (and between state and local governments and federal and local governments). Thompson has recently defended his “federalism” as offering these fifty states as laboratories for policy and statecraft. This diversity of states can help us find better ways of doing things and avoid being locked into “bad” ways through forced federal order. (Though, of course, the states could do some pretty bad things themselves, so there’s a role for federal action and justice as well.) Thompson’s interest in channeling rather than dissolving conflicting interests itself has a long intellectual American heritage. Of the Founders, Madison is perhaps the best-known proponent of the liberal utility of the role of conflicting interests; his Federalist No. 51 asserts the value of conflicting interests both within the federal government and between the federal and state governments.

The closing reflections of At That Point in Time suggest that Thompson’s interest in divided power–and federalism–may not be mere opportunism or cheap sloganeering but an abiding theme of his approach toward politics. A lot can change in 30 years, and political ambition can cause men and women to embrace policies in one moment that they abjure in another, but, at that point in time, Thompson seemed sympathetic to limited and fractured power. Whatever value this analysis of this older book has (and I at least think that this work may be at least as revealing as Richard Nixon’s opinion of Thompson in 1973), this memoir perhaps suggests something of Thompson’s temper and reveals something of the intellectual pedigree of his “federalism.”

*A pedantic aside: Yes, strengthening the executive branch could be part of an attempt to strengthen the effectiveness of our Constitutional checks and balances; an absurdly weak executive branch (vis-a-vis the legislative and judicial branches) would not be able to check properly the other two branches. But still, Thompson’s memoir does not end on the note of the need to strengthen the presidency to restore a system of checks and balances but in considering the value of this system and the potential threats to it demonstrated in Watergate.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Martin Kady has a helpful roundup of names for various positions in the Senate Republican leadership race:
Minority Leader: Mitch McConnell (Ky.) – unchallenged

Minority Whip:

Current: Trent Lott (Miss.)
Potential candidates: Jon Kyl (Ariz) and Lamar Alexander (Tenn.)*

Senate Republican Conference Chairman:

Current: Kyl
Potential candidates: Kay Bailey Hutchison (Texas), Richard Burr (North Carolina), John Thune (South Dakota) , Jim DeMint (South Carolina)**, Alexander

Senate Policy Chairman:

Current: Hutchison.
Potential candidates: DeMint, John Cornyn (Texas)

Senate Conference Vice Chairman:
Current: Cornyn
Potential candidate: Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.)

* Alexander's spokesman said he is considering both the whip and conference job.

** Burr and DeMint, both first term conservatives, could pair off as a ticket for the conference and policy jobs.

UPDATE: Alexander has declared that he will support Kyl for whip; Alexander will run for Conference Chair.
The Washington Post recently did an interesting set of polls on the attitudes of voters in Maryland and Virginia toward immigration. While almost seventy percent of those polled believe that the federal government is not doing enough to deal with "illegal" immigration, there are also interesting and complicating divisions in some of these poll results:

In Virginia, where immigration emerged as a top issue in last week's General Assembly elections, almost two-thirds of respondents want local police to get involved in immigration enforcement by checking the immigration status of people they suspect of a crime and think may be undocumented, even if that meant fewer illegal immigrants would cooperate with authorities.

More generally, 48 percent of Virginians think immigrants, not just illegal immigrants, strengthen the country and 46 percent call them a burden. In Maryland, a bare majority, 51 percent, said immigrants are good for the country, while 42 percent said they are a burden.

The polls find the biggest differences in attitudes are within, not between, the two states.

In Northern Virginia, 63 percent of respondents said immigrants strengthen the United States, while far fewer, 41 percent, of those in the rest of the state said so. And even within Northern Virginia, where the influx of new immigrants has been steepest, there are widely divergent views. Almost seven in 10 in Fairfax County said immigrants help the country, but the number saying so in Prince William County was 49 percent.

There is a similar divide in Maryland. Half of Montgomery County residents said new immigrants have made their community better, far more than said so in Prince George's (32 percent) or Anne Arundel (29 percent) counties.

Other interesting statistics:

Among white Democrats, almost six in 10 said immigrants strengthen the country, while African Americans are evenly divided. White Democrats are also more likely than black Democrats in both states to say new immigrants have made their communities better places to live. Conversely, black Democrats are more likely to want their state and local governments to pass measures to address illegal immigration.

In Virginia, where more than half of all respondents reported having "a great deal" or a "moderate" amount of contact with new immigrants, 13 percent called immigration either the state's top or second-most important issue. Only 5 percent of Marylanders said the same.

Virginians in regular personal contact with recent immigrants were more likely to cite immigration as a major concern. And in certain areas that have experienced large influxes of immigrants in recent years, such as Prince William County, attitudes are particularly negative.

Some struggles over agricultural "guest worker" regulations:
Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) sent a strongly worded letter earlier this week to Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, objecting to an administrative attempt to loosen rules on companies that hire guest workers. The Department of Labor rejected Miller’s assertion that its interpretation is illegal.

At issue is whether agricultural employers can hire foreign guest workers without first doing multistate recruiting of U.S. citizens or other legal residents. Miller, chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, argues that the law is clear and that the agency must require recruiting. The Labor Department says not necessarily.

Immigration reform proved too difficult an issue for Congress to deal with this session; the squabble over the relatively small guest-worker program — known as H-2A — shows how tough comprehensive reform will be.

Friday, November 23, 2007

In today's column on Rudy Giuliani's approach to immigration, David Brooks brings up a 1996 Giuliani speech:
“I’m pleased to be with you this evening to talk about the anti-immigrant movement in America,” he said, “and why I believe this movement endangers the single most important reason for American greatness, namely, the renewal, reformation and reawakening that’s provided by the continuous flow of immigrants.”
So the "continuous flow of immigration"--and not, say, a tradition of liberty, a robust Constitution, or a vast continental expanse--serves as the greatest reason for "American greatness" for Giuliani?
(A side note: it seems that part of the debate about immigration in the US right now is not if there should be a "continuous flow of immigrants" but how big this flow should be.)

Also, it probably should be noted that, while Brooks is complaining about how Giuliani has run on immigration (since Brooks believes in the "moderate" path of "comprehensive immigration reform"), he is not complaining about how he thinks Giuliani would govern. And Giuliani still has run and still is running in support of legalization of the "undocumented"....Could Brooks be trying to appeal to the "yahoos" in slamming Giuliani for the way he has run on immigration while also trying to assure "moderates" that Giuliani will really support "comprehensive immigration reform"?

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving one and all! From Lincoln's first Thanksgiving proclamation:

No human counsel hath devised, nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the most high God, who while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American people. I do, therefore, invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that, while offering up the ascriptions justly due to him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation, and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity, and union.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case and, potentially, declare whether it believes the Constitution guarantees an individual right to bear arms. Instapundit has a roundup. Some think that Justice Kennedy could be a deciding vote (and a vote against the notion of an individual right to bear arms). Certainly, Kennedy was a crucial swing vote in the 5-4 (Scalia, Rehnquist, O'Connor, and Thomas in the minority) Kelo v. New London opinion, which declared that increased tax revenue and the prospect of economic development were really "public uses," so a municipality has the power to take your home or business via eminent domain and assign it to a developer who, they think, might be able to raise the tax/economic base of that property and the area around it.
Malkin has an interesting (and slightly older) post up on some of the debates about immigration and citizenship during the founding of the USA.
Jonah Goldberg has an interesting post up on the relationship between necessity and morality in light of technological developments. However, I don't think (and I don't think Goldberg is implying) that technological progress can always obviate moral problems and that inventive "breakthroughs" will always lead to the categorization of more things as "immoral." Though Goldberg emphasizes the way in which the development of technology helped make child labor less necessary and, therefore in the eyes of many, more immoral, we can also look at the example of the cotton gin. I don't know exactly how true this theory is, but many historians believe that the invention of the cotton gin in the 1790s helped perpetuate the institution of slavery because it made the plantation system more efficient and increased the commodity value of a slave. Even as this system may have seemingly become more efficient, opposition to the slavery system also grew. (And eventually the slave system may have impeded technological progress in slave-holding states, so, ironically perhaps, a piece of technology may have ultimately retarded technological progress in a wider sense due to the radical cheapness of labor in and the agrarian emphases of the plantation system.) So the relationship between technology and moral progress is not always so clear cut. As Goldberg says at the end of his post, it is a very interesting topic...

Monday, November 19, 2007

A member of the City Council of Des Moines, Iowa is considering putting forward a proposal to make that city a "sanctuary city." If this policy and debates about it get more coverage, I wonder how it could affect the presidential campaigns there...

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Centralization of power, baby! Yglesias reports on a breakfast in which Speaker Pelosi implies that she may be against the filibuster. Yglesias himself does not approve of the filibuster (calling it a "horrible prop of status quo bias"). With hopes that Democrats will control the House, Senate, and presidency in 2009, are some "progressives" gearing up for a fight to eliminate the filibuster? Especially if Democrats number fewer than 60 in the Senate...kind of like the way Republicans, when they controlled House, Senate, and presidency in 2005, talked about eliminating the filibuster for judicial nominees...Do members of a temporary majority really want to weaken their position when they become a minority again (and, so far at least, every majority has become a minority--just ask George Allen!)? I thought the US Senate was intended to have something of a "status quo bias" or at least a moderating one (and it seems as though many opponents of the filibuster aren't in favor of moderating public passions)....

Friday, November 16, 2007

A "focus group" didn't find Obama's "answer" on giving licenses to drive to "illegals" very satisfying.
A federal judge is currently evaluating Arizona's recently passed immigration enforcement measures. Some proponents of these measures have boasted that, if AZ's laws are upheld, similar ones could spread to other states.
Krikorian points out some attempts by Democrats in the House and Senate to strengthen immigration enforcement.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

In the face of collapsing approval ratings and high levels of public opposition, Gov. Spitzer (D) of New York backs away from his plan to offer licenses to the "undocumented."

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Following the lead of New Haven, CT, the Supervisors of San Francisco have voted to offer city ID cards to residents regardless of immigration status.
Walter Witherspoon, a South Carolina member of the RNC, is considering running against Sen. Lindsey Graham in the Republican primary for US Senate.
Tensions in the Democratic caucus over bilingualism.
In Iowa, it sounds like Romney might be going after both Huckabee and Giuliani on "illegal immigration."
It sounds as though some are considering introducing laws based on Oklahoma's immigration-related HB 1804 in other states:
"With the success in Oklahoma, there's been just a fallout of people calling and e-mailing and wanting to know how we did it in Oklahoma," said Carol Helm, founder of Immigration Reform for Oklahoma Now.

In recent months, Helm has advised citizen groups from Kansas, Nebraska, Montana, California, Alabama and New Jersey about immigration enforcement campaigns.

Last week she was in Florida meeting
with a congressional delegation.

She also said anti-illegal-immigration efforts are also under way in South Carolina, North Carolina, Utah, Missouri and Tennessee.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

NY Gov. Spitzer (D) doesn't sound too optimistic about his plan to offer licenses to the "undocumented":

"We'll work and see where things go," said Spitzer, noting several times "it's a tough issue."

At one point, as he continued to defend the plan, he said, "as of now I think it's the right idea from a security perspective."

"The way policy gets created, you put out ideas. Most of them we've succeeded in implementing," he said.

"Sometimes you put out an idea and there isn't so much support and you try to persuade people and you see where you go. This is the way the world works."

Spitzer's Homeland Security director, Michael Balboni, originally conceded to The Post yesterday that while the administration is "not there" in terms of pulling the plug on the plan, "after all the things that have gone on, you'd have to be completely tone deaf not to pay attention. There are lots of discussions going on."

(Via JammieWearingFool.)

Friday, November 9, 2007

Thompson, Romney, and Giuliani have agreed to participate in the Univision Spanish-language debate in December. McCain, Paul, and Hunter had already agreed, so they'll be there, too. Huckabee and Tancredo are not currently confirmed to attend.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

House Democrats--to the surprise of some--are putting forward another mandatory-withdrawal-from-Iraq bill.
In the wake of HB1804, further immigration-related measures are proposed in Oklahoma:
The author of the state's immigration bill said Wednesday he will file legislation seeking to make English the official language in Oklahoma and to give law officers the right to seize assets, such as a vehicle or a home, when used to transport or house illegal immigrants.
The Politico reports on some Democratic strategies for the 2008 Congressional elections.
$3 Billion No More: Earlier this year, the Senate vote 95-1 to include $3 billion for increased border security in a defense bill. In the closed-door negotiations, the $3 billion has now been removed from the final version of this bill. Some senators had a press conference about this removal of defense funding:
“It is outrageous that the leadership yanked this critical funding from the final bill,” said Dole. “The Senate spoke loud and clear on this issue, and now a select few have decided to ignore the number one lesson learned from the Senate’s failed immigration bill – that Americans simply don’t have confidence that their government is serious about securing our borders and enforcing our laws.”

The $3 billion would fund border security and enforcement measures, including 700 miles of border fencing, 45,000 detention beds, and training and tools for local law enforcement to handle criminal illegal aliens. As a result of Dole’s leadership, North Carolina is the first state in the nation to have a statewide partnership and plan for sheriffs to coordinate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. This plan, which is in its early implementation stages, will ensure that North Carolina sheriffs can readily access the tools that they need to identify, apprehend and remove undocumented aliens who have self-identified themselves by committing crimes.

Dole took part in a press conference today with Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), Jim Demint (R-S.C.), Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), Mel Martinez (R-Fla.) and Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.).
There's some more information here. Sen. Graham says he's thinking of ways to try to add the $3 billion back to the bill. One wonders who was behind this removal....

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Sen. Schumer (D-NY) doesn't seem to give a very clear answer on whether he supports Gov. Spitzer's plan to offer licenses to the "undocumented."
Rasmussen has a new poll up: 77% of Americans oppose drivers licenses for the "undocumented."

Monday, November 5, 2007

Some say the border fence is "working." (H/T Hot Air)
Lobby, Lobby: The Hill reports that Sen. Feinstein (D-CA) has announced that she will not introduce AgJOBS as an amendment to the farm bill. Meanwhile, it seems as though some corporations have (to the disappointment of the unions) so far successfully fought off a measure that would require companies to label the country of origin for processed foods. Sen. Brown (D-OH) may be trying to revive this measure:

The AFL-CIO argued that safety measures must keep pace with the rising imports of processed foods. The union’s letter cited reports from January and March of this year by the Food and Drug Administration that found shipments of Hershey’s Kisses, believed to be contaminated by salmonella, were refused entry at the border with Mexico.

Harkin also received a letter from the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM), an AFL-CIO affiliate. The union’s letter brings up a June 2007 Consumers Union poll in which 92 percent of Americans said they wanted to know where their food was produced.

U.S. food manufacturers have continued to shift operations to low-wage countries, the union said.

“Thousands of BCTGM members are losing their jobs as a result of this shift in production,” reads the letter.

Both letters asked Harkin to fold a bill by Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) into farm policy that requires origin labeling for processed foods. But Brown’s language did not make into the bill, according to Gibson.

The Ohio Democrat is not expected to offer it as an amendment to the farm bill either, according to one of his aides.

Gibson hopes to build a coalition of consumer advocacy groups and family farm organizations to push for Brown’s bill once the Senate finishes with farm legislation.
Geraghty wonders how much immigration might play a role in tomorrow's state elections in Virginia.
As the fate of an extension of a "guest worker" plan for certain seasonal workers seems in doubt, others wonder if an agricultural "guest worker"/legalization package could become part of the upcoming debate on the farm bill in the US Senate.
The Center for Immigration Studies has a new report on farm labor in the US. The report's skeptical about the claims of a "labor shortage" in farming. Some key details:
  • The average farm worker makes $9.06 an hour, compared to $16.75 for non-farm production workers.
  • Real wages for farm workers increased one-half of one percent (.5 percent) a year on average between 2000 and 2006. If there were a shortage, wages would be rising much more rapidly.
  • Farm worker earnings have risen more slowly in California and Florida (the states with the most fruit and vegetable production) than in the United States as a whole.
  • The average household spends only about $1 a day on fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Labor costs comprise only 6 percent of the price consumers pay for fresh produce. Thus, if farm wages were allowed to rise 40 percent, and if all the costs were passed on to consumers, the cost to the average household would be only about $8 a year.
  • Mechanization could offset higher labor costs. After the “Bracero” Mexican guestworker program ended in the mid-1960s, farm worker wages rose 40 percent, but consumer prices rose relatively little because the mechanization of some crops dramatically increased productivity.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

I've been hearing that some folks in D.C. are paying attention to what's happening now in Oklahoma: an immigration measure (HB1804) went into effect November 1 and has already survived some legal challenges. Among other things, this bill makes it illegal to knowingly transport one of the "undocumented" (under certain circumstances with some exceptions), requires certain forms of documentation to prove a worker's legal status, and requires proof of legality for access to certain public benefits. The Tulsa World has a page dedicated to this bill and the public debate over it. Some reports indicate that "thousands" may have fled even before this law took effect, and certain business claim that they are already beginning to notice "shortages" of "illegal" workers. Some of the employer-verification requirements will go into effect July 1, 2008.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

The Washington Post reports on how Democratic candidates for president may find themselves forced to speak in more depth about immigration policy, and the Post thinks that such speech could present some challenges for them.
Has there been a (minuscule) shift in public opinion? According to Rasmussen, Giuliani and Thompson are now tied with Obama in polling support--this is the highest Thompson has so far scored against Obama. Meanwhile, some on the right are sharpening their knives after Clinton's recent debate answer about supplying licenses to the "undocumented."

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

James Carville's Democracy Corps has a new polling report up that touches upon what the public feels discontent about--and it has some interesting statistics the role of "illegal immigration" and trade policy in the public's anxiety (see pages 7-13). (Via Yglesias, who thinks public unrest over "illegal immigration" is founded upon an "erroneous conviction" and, he implies, xenophobia as well.)
Hot Air has an interesting clip up from the recent Democratic presidential debate; it seems people are still trying to figure out where Hillary Clinton ultimately stands on NY Gov. Spitzer (D)'s plan to grant driver's licenses to the "undocumented." She sounds like she's basically in favor of it--though she seems to be avoiding endorsing it explicitly. Chris Dodd sounds like he opposes plans to offer such licenses to the "undocumented." Barack Obama seems to think that granting licenses is the "right idea":
Obama: I think that it is the right idea, and I disagree with Chris because there is a public safety concern. We can make sure that drivers who are illegal come out of the shadows, that they can be tracked, that they are properly trained, and that will make our roads safer.

That doesn't negate the need for us to reform illegal immigration.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Rudy Giuliani doesn't sound like he likes local and state governments making provisions to enforce immigration laws--and doesn't sound too keen on workplace enforcement, either (e.a.):

WASHINGTON - Responsibility for stopping illegal immigration belongs to the federal government and not to cities, states or businesses, Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani said Tuesday.

Giuliani told small-business owners he would not punish them for unwittingly hiring illegal immigrants.

Federal officials are "trying to put the responsibility for this on employers, on city government, on state government," the former New York mayor said during a conference call arranged by the National Federation of Independent Businesses.

"The simple fact is, nobody but the federal government can stop people from coming into this country illegally, and the federal government does a very bad job of that," Giuliani said.

He said no other presidential candidate will solve the problem.

"If you elect a Democrat, they're just going to open the borders, and more illegals are going to come in," he said.

"And if you elect one of my (Republican) opponents, they want to crack down on cities and states, and they want to crack down on businesses, but they don't want to solve the problem," he said. "If I become president, in a very short while, you will not be able to walk into the United States without identifying yourselves."

Giuliani says he would build a fence along the U.S.-Mexico border that includes high-tech monitoring to detect those trying to enter the U.S. illegally. He also calls for hiring more border patrol agents.

Legal immigrants should be issued a tamper-proof, federal identification card, he said, "and if something is wrong with that card, it's the federal government's responsibility, not yours."

He seems to be emphasizing border enforcement above all.
Sen. Chambliss (R-GA) still sounds like he could be vulnerable to a Democratic challenger. One recent poll puts his approval rating at 52%, and another poll might have an especially troubling result for the incumbent:
An InsiderAdvantage / Majority Opinion survey conducted Oct. 24-25 of 400 registered voters in Georgia indicates that a rematch of U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss versus former Sen. Max Cleland, who lost to Chambliss in 2002, might be the Democratic Party’s strongest hope for reclaiming the Senate seat.

The poll asked voters which candidate they favored if given a choice between Chambliss and Cleland.

The results:

Chambliss - 36 percent
Cleland - 24 percent
Undecided - 40 percent

The survey showed some interesting numbers, said InsiderAdvantage CEO Matt Towery, noting that while white voters were decided at a rate of nearly 71 percent, African-American voters were undecided at a rate of 73 percent. Similarly, he said, 73 percent of all Republicans were decided, with Chambliss receiving almost all of that vote, while 47 percent of Democrats remained undecided.

Chambliss still leads Cleland by 12 points--but, with 40% undecided, a lot could change.