Thursday, September 18, 2008

Obama calls upon his supporters to "get in [the] face[s]" of those who are skeptical about him:

"I need you to go out and talk to your friends and talk to your neighbors. I want you to talk to them whether they are independent or whether they are Republican. I want you to argue with them and get in their face," he said.

"And if they tell you that, 'Well, we're not sure where he stands on guns.' I want you to say, 'He believes in the Second Amendment.' If they tell you, 'Well, he's going to raise your taxes,' you say, 'No, he's not, he's going lower them.' You are my ambassadors. You guys are the ones who can make the case."

But what does Obama's belief in the Second Amendment mean?

The Chicago Tribune has a story about the way Obama's campaign is using the internet to get in the faces of radio and TV stations that air the views (either on television shows or through advertisements) of certain critics of Obama.

Meanwhile, the campaign gets in the face of McCain in a Spanish-language ad that combines some (misleadingly out-of-context) quotations from Rush Limbaugh with attacks upon John McCain for having "two faces" on the immigration issue. Limbaugh accuses Obama of "stoking racism."

George Will urges McCain to argue that voters should support him for the sake of divided government. Interestingly, Will also believes that an Obama presidency with a Democratic Congress would lead to the reinstatement of the "fairness doctrine":
The 22nd Amendment will banish the president in January, but Congress will then be even more Democratic than it is now. Does the country really want there to be no check on it? Consider two things that will quickly become law unless McCain is there to veto them or unless -- this is a thin reed on which to depend -- Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has 40 reliable senators to filibuster them to deserved deaths.

The exquisitely misnamed Employee Free Choice Act would strip from workers their right to secret ballots in unionization elections. Instead, unions could use the "card check" system: Once a majority of a company's employees -- each person confronted one on one by a union organizer in an inherently coercive setting -- sign cards expressing consent, the union would be certified as the bargaining agent for all workers. Proving that the law's purpose is less to improve workers' conditions than to capture dues payers for the unions, the law would forbid employers from discouraging unionization by giving "unilateral" -- not negotiated -- improvements in compensation and working conditions.

Unless McCain is president, the government will reinstate the equally misnamed "fairness doctrine." Until Ronald Reagan eliminated it in 1987, that regulation discouraged freewheeling political programming by the threat of litigation over inherently vague standards of "fairness" in presenting "balanced" political views. In 1980 there were fewer than 100 radio talk shows nationwide. Today there are more than 1,400 stations entirely devoted to talk formats. Liberals, not satisfied with their domination of academia, Hollywood and most of the mainstream media, want to kill talk radio, where liberals have been unable to dent conservatives' dominance.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Mickey Kaus draws attention to a pro-"comprehensive" law blog post about the likelihood of "comprehensive reform" during a McCain presidency:
While there are a few areas of agreement between Mr. McCain and Democrats, immigration is the largest issue on which Democrats and McCain agree. While the current Republican Party platform is the most anti-immigrant one in memory, there were news reports that Mr. McCain, who has a long track record of being pro-immigration, tried to make it more immigration-friendly and failed. This is the issue on which he is most likely to stab his party's anti-immigrationist wing in the back both in his political interests and due to his own convictions (Mr. McCain had to fight his party's anti-immigrationists tooth and nail during the Republican primaries). We expect to see almost all of the original McCain-Kennedy bill become law during the first six months of a McCain Presidency. [E.A.]
Mark Krikorian also comments on this analysis.

UPDATE: (via Hot Air) In an interview with Univision, McCain seems to deny voting for any fencing along the southern border and continues to assert his belief in the value of a virtual fence. The interviewer brings up Obama's pledge to immediately introduce "comprehensive immigration reform" if he becomes president (italics added):
-Senator Barack Obama told us in an interview that he would present a comprehensive immigration reform to congress during the first year. Could you match that?

-Sure, I would do it in the first day, but I was the one who led, I was the one who led with Senator (Ted) Kennedy, a great political risk to myself. Senator Obama tried to kill it, because he was doing what the unions wanted. The unions in America do not want a temporary worker program, so Senator Obama came to the floor and had an amendment that would have basically killed immigration reform, because it was a fragile coalition between republicans and democrats. So, don't let Senator Obama get away with saying that he supports comprehensive reform, when he tried to kill it.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Though Obama has pressed the Justice Department to investigate his political opponents, DOJ doesn't sound too supportive of the idea. Malkin posts a report on the matter:

The Justice Department does not pursue criminal investigations of contributors to independent political groups, even when they give $1 million or more and even when their money is solicited based on an appeal to support or oppose a candidate, according to DOJ’s top election crimes official.

“You don’t see a whole lot of cases” where DOJ is looking at independent groups, said Craig Donsanto, the veteran director of the Election Crimes Branch in DOJ’s Public Integrity Section.

Donsanto made his comments Sept. 12 at a conference on corporate political activities in Washington, sponsored by the Practising Law Institute.

Asked directly during a panel discussion at the PLI conference whether he would approve of a case against a hypothetical contributor to a Section 527 group who gave a seven-figure donation based on a request to help or harm the prospects of a particular presidential candidate, Donsanto said, “No.

California's 3rd District Court of Appeal has ruled that the California law giving in-state tuition to "illegal aliens" conflicts with federal law. Eugene Volokh excerpts the key section of the ruling:

[T]he most significant issue [in this case] is whether California’s authorization of in-state tuition to illegal aliens violates a federal law, title 8 of the United States Code (U.S.C.) section 1623, which provides as pertinent:

“Notwithstanding any other provision of law, an alien who is not lawfully present in the United States shall not be eligible on the basis of residence within a State (or a political subdivision) for any postsecondary education benefit unless a citizen or national of the United States is eligible for such a benefit (in no less an amount, duration, and scope) without regard to whether the citizen or national is such a resident.”

The respondents argue the federal statute is not violated for two reasons:

1. Respondents say in-state tuition is not a “benefit” within the meaning of the federal law. For reasons we shall explain, we conclude in-state tuition, which is some $17,000 per year cheaper than out-of-state tuition at UC, is a “benefit” conferred on illegal aliens within the meaning of the federal law.

2. Respondents argue in-state tuition is not granted “on the basis of residence within a state” as required by federal law. Respondents point to the fact that in-state tuition for illegal aliens is based on a student’s having attended a California high school for three or more years and on the student’s having graduated from a California high school or having attained “the equivalent thereof.” As we shall explain, the three-year attendance requirement at a California high school is a surrogate residence requirement. The vast majority of students who attend a California high school for three years are residents of the state of California. Section 68130.5 thwarts the will of Congress manifest in title 8 U.S.C. section 1623.

This ruling revives a class-action lawsuit brought by out-of-state-residents attending state colleges and universities in California. This ruling can be appealed to the California Supreme Court. More on the lawsuit here.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Meanwhile, Obama pledges to maintain one policy from the Bush administration:

Obama said to the audience[,] “Well, I don’t know about you, but I think it’s time for a president who won’t walk away from comprehensive immigration reform when it becomes politically unpopular.”

Mickey Kaus and Ann Coulter mix it up over which candidate for president is most likely to enact "comprehensive immigration reform." Both McCain and Obama seem thoroughly committed to some form of legalization, but who could make it happen?

Coulter lays out her case (e.a.):
Even assuming McCain were more likely to enact "comprehensive immigration reform" than Obama, the difference is between a 10% chance and a 9.99999% chance.

Meanwhile, Obama is more likely to jump-start Islamic terrorism by rapidly withdrawing from Iraq and insanely sending more troops to Afghanistan and bombing Pakistan. In a few years, it won't matter how many illegals we have -- they'll be forced to convert to Islam like the rest of us.

While McCain says he "got the message" and denies that he would push for amnesty "until the borders are secure," Obama says he would withdraw troops immediately from Iraq here,here, and here ; says he will send more troops to the black hole of Afghanistan here, here, here; and says he will bomb our ally Pakistan here, here, and here.

So to believe that McCain is a bigger threat to America than Obama is, Kausfiles has to take the position that McCain will do what he says he won't (sign an amnesty bill), and Obama won't do what he says he will (withdraw from Iraq, start a disastrous ground war in Afghanistan and attack our allies).

Kaus counters (e.a.):
I'd say the difference is more like a 50% chance of passing a semi-amnesty under McCain, compared with a 20% chance under Obama, who will have lots of other things to do and lots of Dem Congresspeople from swing districts he doesn't want to endanger. Amnesty is irreversible, remember, as will be many of its consequences (e.g., an incentive for more illegal immigration, plus a change in the electorate, creating pressure for further amnesties, etc.). ... Meanwhile I think Obama would, overall, put a damper on world terrorism by automatically and at least temporarily lowering the planet's anti-Americanism quotient, translating into fewer radicalized recruits with less tacit support from their neighbors. (Even John Kerry would have done that.) ... Will Obama want to go down in history as the President who snatched defeat from semi-success in Iraq? It's a worry, I agree! But it was much more of a worry before the perception sank in among voters that the "surge" has succeeded. ...
Mark Krikorian thinks that Kaus is more in the right with these numbers.
One question (on a point I haven't seen discussed too much): how would the Western-type Democratic senators (like McCaskill, Tester, Nelson, Baucus, Dorgan), who were critical in upholding the filibuster against last year's attempt at "CIR," vote for "CIR" under an Obama administration v. a McCain one. Would they back Obama on "CIR" for the sake of party unity during crucial votes? McCaskill in particular has been an early and vocal Obama supporter on the campaign trail...
Flow on, river! flow with the flood-tide, and ebb with the ebb-tide!
Frolic on, crested and scallop-edg’d waves!
Gorgeous clouds of the sun-set! drench with your splendor me, or the men and women generations after me;
Cross from shore to shore, countless crowds of passengers!
Stand up, tall masts of Mannahatta!—stand up, beautiful hills of Brooklyn!
Throb, baffled and curious brain! throw out questions and answers!
Suspend here and everywhere, eternal float of solution!
Gaze, loving and thirsting eyes, in the house, or street, or public assembly!
Sound out, voices of young men! loudly and musically call me by my nighest name!
Live, old life! play the part that looks back on the actor or actress!
Play the old role, the role that is great or small, according as one makes it!
--Walt Whitman, "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry"

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

I think this moment qualifies as a media train wreck. A live mic records some private conversation of Mike Murphy, Peggy Noonan, and Chuck Todd. TPM has the video. Here's the transcript:

Peggy Noonan: Yeah.

Mike Murphy: You know, because I come out of the blue swing state governor world: Engler, Whitman, Tommy Thompson, Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush. I mean, these guys -- this is how you win a Texas race, just run it up. And it's not gonna work. And --

PN: It's over.

MM: Still McCain can give a version of the Lieberman speech to do himself some good.

CT: I also think the Palin pick is insulting to Kay Bailey Hutchinson, too.

PN: Saw Kay this morning.

CT: Yeah, she's never looked comfortable about this --

MM: They're all bummed out.

CT: Yeah, I mean is she really the most qualified woman they could have turned to?

PN: The most qualified? No! I think they went for this -- excuse me-- political bullshit about narratives --

CT: Yeah they went to a narrative.

MM: I totally agree.

PN: Every time the Republicans do that, because that's not where they live and it's not what they're good at, they blow it.

MM: You know what's really the worst thing about it? The greatness of McCain is no cynicism, and this is cynical.

CT: This is cynical, and as you called it, gimmicky.

MM: Yeah.

How does it damage people? Let me count the ways....It risks unsettling Palin by suggesting that GOP supporters who publicly praise her in fact have deep private doubts about her. It adds significant nuance to Noonan's very supportive column on Palin in today's WSJ.

However, there is an odd turn in their discussion:

CT: I also think the Palin pick is insulting to Kay Bailey Hutchinson, too.

PN: Saw Kay this morning.

CT: Yeah, she's never looked comfortable about this --

MM: They're all bummed out.

CT: Yeah, I mean is she really the most qualified woman they could have turned to?

When John Kerry picked John Edwards as his running mate in 2004, did anyone think that his pick was "insulting" to Joe Biden, another male politician with considerably more time in public office than Edwards? (Of course, back in 2000, Tom Daschle was saying that 17 months in the Senate was more than enough "experience" for Edwards to run for president, so maybe Edwards gets some "experience" bonus.)

UPDATE: Noonan clarifies and contextualizes her remarks (e.a.):

When the segment was over and MSNBC was in commercial, Todd, Murphy and I continued our conversation, talking about the Palin choice overall. We were speaking informally, with some passion -- and into live mics. An audio tape of that conversation was sent, how or by whom I don't know, onto the internet. And within three hours I was receiving it from friends far and wide, asking me why I thought the McCain campaign is "over", as it says in the transcript of the conversation. Here I must plead some confusion. In our off-air conversation, I got on the subject of the leaders of the Republican party assuming, now, that whatever the base of the Republican party thinks is what America thinks. I made the case that this is no longer true, that party leaders seem to me stuck in the assumptions of 1988 and 1994, the assumptions that reigned when they were young and coming up. "The first lesson they learned is the one they remember," I said to Todd -- and I'm pretty certain that is a direct quote. But, I argued, that's over, those assumptions are yesterday, the party can no longer assume that its base is utterly in line with the thinking of the American people. And when I said, "It's over!" -- and I said it more than once -- that is what I was referring to. I am pretty certain that is exactly what Todd and Murphy understood I was referring to. In the truncated version of the conversation, on the Web, it appears I am saying the McCain campaign is over. I did not say it, and do not think it. In fact, at an on-the-record press symposium on the campaign on Monday, when all of those on the panel were pressed to predict who would win, I said that I didn't know, but that we just might find "This IS a country for old men." That is, McCain may well win. I do not think the campaign is over, I do not think this is settled, and did not suggest, back to the Todd-Murphy conversation, that "It's over."

However, I did say two things that I haven't said in public, either in speaking or in my writing. One is a vulgar epithet that I wish I could blame on the mood of the moment but cannot. No one else, to my memory, swore. I just blurted. The other, more seriously, is a real criticism that I had not previously made, but only because I hadn't thought of it. And it is connected to a thought I had this morning, Wednesday morning, and wrote to a friend. Here it is. Early this morning I saw Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, and as we chatted about the McCain campaign (she thoughtfully and supportively) I looked into her eyes and thought, Why not her? Had she been vetted for the vice presidency, and how did it come about that it was the less experienced Mrs. Palin who was chosen? I didn't ask these questions or mention them, I just thought them. Later in the morning, still pondering this, I thought of something that had happened exactly 20 years before. It was just after the 1988 Republican convention ended. I was on the plane, as a speechwriter, that took Republican presidential nominee George H.W. Bush, and the new vice presidential nominee, Dan Quayle, from New Orleans, the site of the convention, to Indiana. Sitting next to Mr. Quayle was the other senator from that state, Richard Lugar. As we chatted, I thought, "Why him and not him?" Why Mr. Quayle as the choice, and not the more experienced Mr. Lugar? I came to think, in following years, that some of the reason came down to what is now called The Narrative. The story the campaign wishes to tell about itself, and communicate to others. I don't like the idea of The Narrative. I think it is ... a barnyard epithet. And, oddly enough, it is something that Republicans are not very good at, because it's not where they live, it's not what they're about, it's too fancy. To the extent the McCain campaign was thinking in these terms, I don't like that either. I do like Mrs. Palin, because I like the things she espouses. And because, frankly, I met her once and liked her. I suspect, as I say further in here, that her candidacy will be either dramatically successful or a dramatically not; it won't be something in between.

Mickey Kaus does some reporting from the front lines of the Republican convention. McCain ally Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) still talks favorably about "comprehensive immigration reform":
I asked Sen. Graham how soon, in his first term, President McCain would declare the borders secure (which would let him to move to revive "comprehensive immigration reform"). Graham said "We'll know it when we see it," but emphasized that "comprehensive" reform was "still on the table" and seemed as much of an enthusiast as ever. "He will take that up," Graham predicted.** ... Later, in another WaPo chat, McCain campaign manager Rick Davis mentioned Hispanics as a battleground voter group, arguing that Republicans had to offer them something "other than a deportation center"--which is sort of offensive, when you think about it (as if Hispanic-American voters, who are by definition citizens, are illegals subject to deportation). ... Not just an appeal to ethnic identity politics, but a stereotyping appeal to ethnic identity politics, no? ...
He also notes the attempted political configuration that the McCain camp seems to be trying to offer:
(Remember the apparent formula is: 'McCain + grassroots vs. GOP Congress,' not 'McCain vs. grassroots + GOP Congress'--or, worse, 'McCain + GOP Congress vs. grassroots,' even though the last is more or less the real array of forces on immigration.) ...
The official GOP platform speaks out against "amnesty"--the Democratic platform advocates for some form of legalization--but, of course, the president is not bound by his party's platform.

Friday, August 29, 2008

It's Palin. McCain chooses Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate. The Obama team knocks Palin as "the former mayor of a town of 9,000 with zero foreign policy experience." Much of the right seems happy with the choice. The biggest anxiety among McCain supporters would seem to be worries about Palin's "experience" (or lack thereof) and the way that will play in the media; she was just elected as governor in 2006 and is a few years younger than Obama. But they also like her positions on social and cultural issues and her reputation as a reformer. She's also extremely popular in Alaska--a recent poll has her approval rating at 80%.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Obama campaign continues to push to shut down discussion of Obama's relationship with Bill Ayers. In an alert sent to supporters, the campaign attacks National Review writer Stanley Kurtz as a "slimy character assassin" and urges supporters to call a Chicago radio station to complain about giving Kurz air time on a program to discuss his research into the Annenberg Challenge:

--------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Obama Action Wire
Date: Wed, Aug 27, 2008
Subject: Chicago: CALL TONIGHT to fight the latest smear

[Name] —

In the next few hours, we have a crucial opportunity to fight one of
the most cynical and offensive smears ever launched against Barack.

Tonight, WGN radio is giving right-wing hatchet man Stanley Kurtz a
forum to air his baseless, fear-mongering terrorist smears. He's
currently scheduled to spend a solid two-hour block from 9:00 to 11:00
p.m. pushing lies, distortions, and manipulations about Barack and
University of Illinois professor William Ayers.

Tell WGN that by providing Kurtz with airtime, they are legitimizing
baseless attacks from a smear-merchant and lowering the standards of
political discourse.

Call into the "Extension 720" show with Milt Rosenberg at (312) 591-7200

(Show airs from 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. tonight)

Then report back on your call at

Kurtz has been using his absurd TV appearances in an awkward and
dishonest attempt to play the terrorism card. His current ploy is to
embellish the relationship between Barack and Ayers.

Just last night on Fox News, Kurtz drastically exaggerated Barack's
connection with Ayers by claiming Ayers had recruited Barack to the
board of the Annenberg Challenge. That is completely false and has
been disproved in numerous press accounts.

It is absolutely unacceptable that WGN would give a slimy character
assassin like Kurtz time for his divisive, destructive ranting on our
public airwaves. At the very least, they should offer sane, honest
rebuttal to every one of Kurtz's lies.

Kurtz is scheduled to appear from 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. in the Chicago market.

Calling will only take a minute, and it will make a huge difference if
we nip this smear in the bud. Confront Kurtz tonight before this goes
any further:

Please forward this email to everyone you know who can make a call tonight.

Keep fighting the good fight,

Obama Action Wire
Interestingly, it seems as though Milt Rosenberg's show invited the Obama campaign to send a spokesperson to counter Kurtz's claims--to be in the studio for the whole two-hour interview--but the campaign declined. So the show did offer a chance for a "rebuttal." Instead of taking that chance, though, the Obama campaign instead decided to mobilize its supporters to assail the radio station airing this discussion with complaints. Audio of Kurtz's appearance is here.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A behind-closed-doors fight happens over some of the language relating to immigration during the drafting of the Republican party's official platform:

Delegates were split into different subcommittees and it was in the national security meeting where members got into heated discussion surrounding the issues of amnesty and English as the official language of the United States.

Two delegates wanted to harden the language surrounding the issue of amnesty. The draft read, “We oppose amnesty.” But, delegates from North Carolina and Colorado wanted to include opposition to “comprehensive immigration reform” because they believe it is a code word for amnesty. This sparked a heated discussion between members with a delegate from Washington DC who said that the Republican Party is a “not a xenophobic party, not an intolerant party. We are a compassionate party that follows the rule of law and endorses federal law,” said Bud McFarlane. Kendal Unruh from Colorado, who wanted to include “opposition to comprehensive immigration reform” to the draft, seemed to take offense to that statement citing her missionary work and saying that she would “never have the label” of xenophobic “slapped on me.” She continued to press that the committee add the tougher language to stop “behind the door tactics” to prevent “amnesty” of illegal aliens.


After much debate the amendment was not adopted and the language will remain as, “We oppose amnesty” without a mention of comprehensive immigration reform.

The immigration debate continued when the topic of English being the “accepted” language of the country opposed to the “official” language of the United States. The draft stated that English is the “common” and “accepted” language. The delegates from North Carolina and Colorado again wanted stronger language to make English the “official” language of the country.

Sam Winder from New Mexico wanted to add language that welcomed other languages, but did state that English was the official language of the country. Disagreement between the two sides continued, but a compromise was agreed on and put into the draft.

H/T Hot Air

Angered by Obama-Ayers Ad, the Obama Campaign Raises the Specter of Legal Challenge: In addition to rallying Obama's supporters to write letters of protest to stations that air the "Know Enough?" ad, which connects Obama to 60s radical and bomber Bill Ayers, the Obama campaign now threatens legal challenges against both the group that finances the ad, the American Issues Project (AIP), and television stations that air the ad. The Politico has a roundup of some of the threats the Obama campaign has issued. The campaign's general counsel, Robert Bauer, has written to the Department of Justice, demanding an investigation of the group, its officers, and its donors. Bauer argues that the AIP is in violation of election laws and argues that, though it is registered as a 501(c)(4), it is doing acts outside the realm of 501(c)(4) rules.
The AIP has responded in their own letter to the Department of Justice, written by their counsel, Clita Mitchell. Mitchell's letter counters Bauer's charges that about the way it is organized and compares its operations to those of NARAL. NARAL is also registered as a 501(c)(4), and Bauer once served as counsel for that organization.
Bauer has sent two letters to station managers. One aims to refute some of the specific charges of the AIP ad. The other warns that airing this as would be "inconsistent with your station's obligations under the Federal Communications Commission regulations." Could this be a threat--that stations which air the ad could face some difficulty under an FCC appointed by a President Obama? Some see this as another example of Obama playing "Chicago hardball." Though Obama (or at least his press secretary) says that he does not support the return of the "fairness doctrine," many of his fellow Democrats do, including high-ranking Democrats in the House and Senate. Those kinds of increases in the regulatory power of the FCC could increase an administration's ability to use the instruments of regulation for political retaliation.

UPDATE: Bauer sends another letter to the DOJ, reiterating his request for an investigation of those associated with the American Issues Project and requesting the prosecution of AIP donor Harold Simmons. The AIP responds, calling the Obama campaign's letter "reminiscent of the kind of censorship one would see in a Stalinist dictatorship." The Politico has more.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Republican National Committee has put out a new ad (in Spanish) promoting John McCain's work in immigration "reform":

Title: "Commitment V. Rhetoric"

How do you know someone is a friend?

You know because they stand up and defend you when it is hard.

When Hispanics needed a friend in Congress during the immigration debate... Who stood up? Who spoke out?

John McCain.

Senator McCain worked with Republicans and Democrats alike to form immigration legislation.

And while the bill didn't pass, only McCain demonstrated a real commitment to reforming immigration in a way that honored our laws as well as our immigrants and traditions.

And Barack Obama?

Obama did not stand up. Obama did not speak out. And when the time came for him to do the right thing, he did not.

Obama supported measures designed to insert a deadly "poison pill" to kill the immigration legislation.

If Obama didn't even have the courage to stand up for immigrants, how can he claim to have the strength to change the way Washington works?

John McCain is ready to lead. Barack Obama is not.

There are a lot of vague charges and statements here. This ad seems to be conflating support of McCain-Kennedy-style immigration bills with friendship with "Hispanics." Does this imply that opponents of such bills are not "friends" of "Hispanics"? If so, it's pretty critical of many of McCain's fellow Republicans (and some Democrats) in the US Senate.

This ad's assertion is also troubled by the fact that the "Hispanic" community in fact has a variety of opinions about immigration and immigration reform and that there is considerable controversy within that community about some of the key provisions of bills like McCain-Kennedy. For example, according to a Pew poll last year, only 9% of "Hispanics" believe that there are too few immigrants (42% believe that there are too many), but most "comprehensive" bills would lead to an increase in the number of immigrants.

After biding his time, Barack Obama has picked Delaware Senator Joe Biden as his running mate. Many analysts seem to think that Biden would be able to fulfill the "attack dog" capacity of the VP candidate.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Wall Street Journal and Hot Air are picking up on some recent comments by Obama on a "single-payer" health care plan (as is found in Canada, for example):

“If I were designing a system from scratch, I would probably go ahead with a single-payer system,” Obama told some 1,800 people at a town-hall style meeting on the economy.

A single-payer system would eliminate private insurance companies and put a Medicare-like system into place where the government pays all health-care bills with tax dollars.


Obama’s health-care plan aims for universal coverage by offering a new government-run marketplace where Americans could buy insurance, mostly from private plans. He would offer subsidies to individuals and to small business owners that offer their workers coverage. His plan also would require that parents get insurance for their kids. And he aims to lower health-care costs to make coverage more affordable. His plan includes one small step toward single payer. His new marketplace would create a new government-run plan, like Medicare, to compete against the private plans.

But Obama repeated that he rejects an immediate shift to a single-payer system. “Given that a lot of people work for insurance companies, a lot of people work for HMOs. You’ve got a whole system of institutions that have been set up,” he said at a roundtable discussion with women Monday morning after a voter asked, “Why not single payer?”

“People don’t have time to wait,” Obama said. “They need relief now. So my attitude is let’s build up the system we got, let’s make it more efficient, we may be over time—as we make the system more efficient and everybody’s covered—decide that there are other ways for us to provide care more effectively.”

Obama's said things like this before about single-payer health care as an ideal system (witness this January 2008 dust-up between him and the Clinton campaign). While Obama isn't saying that he wants to immediately implement a single-payer system, he also seems to be indicating that he doesn't mind working towards that end; short-term political changes pave the way for other changes.
This focus on incremental change is a key theme of the Obama campaign, perhaps as a legacy of his community organizing. It also allows him to keep his options open for longer-term planning. Will he ultimately work to implement single-payer health care? Maybe. Would he work to ban handguns? Well, he thinks that banning them now is "not politically practicable." Circumstances can change, and, when you have the power of the presidency, you can change a lot of circumstances.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

It's tough being an incumbent (Republican) in Alaska: This USA Today story talks about the challenges faced by Republican senators across the country. It mentions how the recent corruption charges against Alaska Senator Ted Stevens have increased his seat's vulnerability to Democratic challenger Mark Begich. According to these poll numbers, it looks like both Stevens and GOP Rep. Don Young could be in significant trouble.
Alaska's primary elections occur on August 26. Right now, Stevens leads his closest Republican challenger, Dave Cuddy, 63-20, but he would also lose to Begich by 17 points; Begich leads 55-38. The upcoming elections might be tough for Don Young, too. He only leads his closest GOP challenger (Alaska Lt. Governor Sean Parnell) by about 5 points and would lose to Democrat Ethan Berkowitz by about 10: 51-41. Parnell, however, leads Berkowitz 46-41, so his defeat of Young in the GOP primary may improve Republicans' hopes of holding on to Alaska's only seat in the House.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

ICE announces a new program for "illegal immigrants": the opportunity to turn themselves in to ICE and "self-deport":

Rather than risk getting caught, turn yourselves in.

That's the latest government strategy in its ongoing effort to dramatically reduce the nation's ballooning population of illegal immigrants.

Scheduled to be unveiled next week, it was announced Sunday by Julie Myers, director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, in an interview with a Spanish-language television network.

Myers told the network that "Operation Scheduled Departure" will allow illegal immigrants without criminal records a chance to literally "self-deport" by turning themselves in to her agents.

She said the idea derived from a common complaint voiced by immigrant detainees: If given the opportunity, they'd rather just go home than be holed up in immigration prisons.

Under the new program, those still walking free will have the chance to walk into ICE offices, be processed and get a few weeks to arrange their affairs, pack their belongings and ship out of the country without being detained.

Some are doubtful about the effectiveness of this program and think that there isn't enough of an incentive for these "undocumented" to declare themselves. Ira Mehlman of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, thinks that one possible "carrot" could be allowing those who voluntarily leave to have the opportunity to re-apply for a legal visa once they arrive back in their home countries.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Juan Hernandez may be McCain's "Hispanic Outreach Director," but he seems to want to avoid contacting Newsweek, which has asked multiple times to interview him. The magazine wonders why he won't speak with them....

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Hot Air has a number of posts/clips up relating to the speeches of Barack Obama and John McCain at the annual La Raza convention. Both McCain and Obama support a form of "comprehensive immigration reform" that includes a mass legalization of the "undocumented" population, and both drew attention to this support in their addresses. Obama accused ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) of "terroriz[ing]" various communities but did not say how he, as president, would end this "terror." McCain said things mildly more supportive of ICE and border enforcement. He disagreed with an activist who said that the US should stop its "militarization" of the border (an activist who was praised by Obama). He again pledged that the border would be "secured" before he pushed for other aspects of his "comprehensive" plan.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Ben Smith cites some seeming inconsistencies in Sen. Mel Martinez (R-FL)'s statements on Obama on immigration "reform" now versus last year. McCain has a new ad up praising "people who are of Hispanic background" and their contributions to the US.

Monday, July 7, 2008

The Washington Post has a story up about an increase in interest in immigration law for law students.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy Fourth of July! Independence!

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security...

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Keeping "comprehensive": John McCain declares that "comprehensive immigration reform" will be his "top priority yesterday, today, and tomorrow."

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Supreme Court overturns the DC gun ban in District of Columbia v. Heller. The decision was 5-4: Scalia, Roberts, Kennedy, Thomas, and Alito in the majority with Breyer, Stevens, Souter, and Ginsburg dissenting. For analysis, see some of the usual suspects: SCOTUSblog, Volokh, and Hot Air. Here are some of the basic points of this decision, written by Scalia, as far as I can tell: the Second Amendment recognizes an individual right, and this right is subject to some regulation. The court doesn't lay out exactly what regulations are permissible but does find that DC's law crosses the line of Constitutionality. Since Heller's lawyers seemed not to quarrel with the notion of licensing, the court did not rule explicitly on that. Here's a relevant passage on the restriction of firearms:
Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose: For example, concealed weapons prohibitions have been upheld under the Amendment or state analogues. The Court’s opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms. Miller’s holding that the sorts of weapons protected are those “in common use at the time” finds support in the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons.
With its (admitted) numerous gray areas, this opinion would seem to pave the way for more lawsuits about the Second Amendment in the future.
One interesting point for further lawsuits in this area is whether the Second Amendment is incorporated into the Fourteenth Amendment to apply to the individual states as well as the federal government. The court doesn't rule on incorporation directly, but the role of incorporation is mentioned in a footnote about the nineteenth-century ruling of U.S. v. Cruickshank, which ruled that the Second Amendment was not incorporated into the Fourteenth:
With respect to Cruikshank’s continuing validity on incorporation,
a question not presented by this case, we note that Cruikshank also
said that the First Amendment did not apply against the States and did
not engage in the sort of Fourteenth Amendment inquiry required by
our later cases. Our later decisions in Presser v. Illinois, 116 U. S. 252,
265 (1886) and Miller v. Texas, 153 U. S. 535, 538 (1894), reaffirmed
that the Second Amendment applies only to the Federal Government.
So the court does mention precedent denying incorporation to the Second Amendment. However, Scalia may imply an avenue for incorporation in this observation near the beginning of the opinion:
The unamended Constitution and the Bill of Rights
use the phrase “right of the people” two other times, in the
First Amendment’s Assembly-and-Petition Clause and in
the Fourth Amendment’s Search-and-Seizure Clause.
These First and Fourth Amendment provisions have been incorporated into the Fourteenth Amendment (reversing Cruickshank's denial of incorporation to the First Amendment). Could the "right of the people" be used as a vehicle for claiming incorporation?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Speaker Nancy Pelosi says, according to one journalist, that she supports the return of the "Fairness Doctrine." So the top Democrat in the House and the number-two Democrat, Majority Whip Dick Durbin (also a prominent and early Obama supporter), support the "Fairness Doctrine." Congress made attempts before to codify the "Fairness Doctrine" into law in the 1980s and '90s, but Reagan and George H. W. Bush vetoed those laws. Would a President Obama veto a "Fairness Doctrine" bill? Or would he staff the FCC with commissioners who would reinstate the Doctrine? Perhaps he opposes the "Fairness Doctrine"? Obama avoided a cloture vote on the anti-"Fairness Doctrine" Coleman amendment last July and, as far as I can see, has not made a clear statement on the Doctrine yet.

UPDATE: An Obama spokesman denies that the Illinois senator supports the "Fairness Doctrine":

"Sen. Obama does not support reimposing the Fairness Doctrine on broadcasters," press secretary Michael Ortiz said in an e-mail to B&C late Wednesday.

"He considers this debate to be a distraction from the conversation we should be having about opening up the airwaves and modern communications to as many diverse viewpoints as possible," Ortiz added. "That is why Sen. Obama supports media-ownership caps, network neutrality, public broadcasting, as well as increasing minority ownership of broadcasting and print outlets."

H/T Hot Air, which is skeptical, considering some of Obama's other rhetorical moves over the campaign. I'll leave you with their exit question: "Anyone see President Obama vetoing a Democrat bill to revive Fairness?" Good wiggle possibility: not supporting is not necessarily vetoing...

This Politico story brings out an important aspect of the Obama money gusher (assuming this gusher doesn't keep slowing down) and Obama's wider plans. He is not only running for president; he is also trying to lay the groundwork for an enduring and far-reaching Democratic majority. This is what most presidents and presidential candidates try to do (Bush and Rove tried to do it), and Obama hopes to use any financial edge not only to build himself up but to support candidates further down the Democratic ticket. And he's reaching for more than a filibuster-proof Democratic majority in the Senate and an overwhelming majority in the House:
Barack Obama will focus his resources largely in 14 states George W. Bush won in 2004, his chief field operative said Tuesday, hoping to score upsets in places such as Virginia, Indiana and Georgia.

But winning the White House won’t be his only goal, deputy campaign manager Steve Hildebrand told Politico: In an unusual move, Obama’s campaign will also devote some resources to states it’s unlikely to win, with the goal of influencing specific local contests in places such as Texas and Wyoming.

“Texas is a great example where we might not be able to win the state, but we want to pay a lot of attention to it,” Hildebrand said. “It’s one of the most important redistricting opportunities in the country.”

Texas Democrats are five seats away in each chamber from control of the state Legislature, which will redraw congressional districts after the 2010 census.
Setting up local Democratic legislators in a strong position for the 2010 elections could pave the way for House redistricting very favorable to the Democrats in these states for the next decade.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Michelle Malkin has a roundup of details about a McCain event in which the Republican candidate for president again pledged to make "comprehensive immigration reform" a top priority. A reader sent along to Malkin this translation of a Spanish-language newspaper article about McCain's promises on the behalf of immigration "reform":

McCain said that it is completely false that [he] has abandoned his original commitment to fight for reform for the more than 12 million undocumented immigrants that reside in the United States and that includes the failed proposal of President Bush, to secure the borders first.

“This reform will be a priority in my administration because it is a convincing federal responsibility”, added the contender of the Republican Party. “We will undertake immigration reform and on the day after my inauguration, I will ask Congress to reconsider it, although I believe that first we have to secure our borders, set in motion a plan for guest workers that works and to focus on the issue of the undocumented in a humane and compassionate way.”

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Federal prosecutions for illegal immigration are increasing according to the Los Angeles Times:
In the widening crackdown, administration officials prosecuted 9,350 illegal immigrants on federal criminal charges in March, up from 3,746 a year ago and an all-time high, according to statistics released Tuesday. Those convicted have received jail sentences averaging about one month.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Mickey Kaus wonders about some of the electoral consequences of immigration "reform":

P.P.S.: According to The Hill, "Hispanic Democratic lawmakers" are warning:

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) must commit to helping illegal immigrants achieve citizenship or else risk losing the vital Latino vote in the general election ... [E.A.]

I thought the party line after the California primary was that it was a mistake to assume that Latino voters cared only about legalization. It seems to be practically all Latino politicians in Congress care about, though. ...

He also mentions a study exploring the ways in which multiple immigration amnesties in Spain may have lead to increased "illegal immigration."

SCOTUSblog has a number of posts on the Supreme Court's Boumediene v. Bush ruling. So does Volokh. Just keep scrolling...
An immigration-enforcement law is expanding its reach in Georgia.

Monday, June 9, 2008

President Bush signs an executive order requiring contractors with the federal government to check the legal status of their employees.

Monday, June 2, 2008

The Miami Herald offers an anecdote-heavy story about "illegal immigrants" deciding to leave the US due to new enforcement rules (and the execution of old enforcement rules). (Via Mark Krikorian)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

A Texas town's ban on renting to the "undocumented" is struck down by a federal judge:
Only the federal government can regulate immigration, U.S. District Judge Sam A. Lindsay concluded in his decision.

The city didn't defer to the federal government on the matter, violating the supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution, which allows for the federal government to pre-empt local laws, Lindsay said.

Bill Brewer, who represented apartment complex operators who opposed the rule, declared victory.

"It's a good day, not just for my clients," Brewer said. "It's a good day for people who are thinking clearly about what is the proper role of municipal governments in the immigration debate."

Representatives for the city said they had anticipated the outcome. The city has no plans to appeal the ruling because it has already stopped pursuing the ordinance and replaced it with another tactic.

"We're disappointed but not particularly surprised," Michael Jung, one of the city's attorneys, said.

The Farmers Branch council passed the ordinance last year. It would have barred apartment rentals to illegal immigrants and required landlords to verify legal status. The rule would have exempted minors and senior citizens from having to prove their immigration status or citizenship.

Families made up of both citizens and undocumented members would have been allowed to renew an apartment lease if they met three conditions: they were already tenants, the head of household or spouse was living legally in the United States, and the family included only the spouse, their minor children or parents.

The town has scrapped this policy and will be implementing a new one:

Farmers Branch has given up requiring landlords to verify immigration status and instead plans to implement a rule that would require prospective tenants to get a rental license from the city, which would then ask the federal government for the applicant's legal status before approving it.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The future of carbon trading? A British environmental committee has put forward an idea of personal carbon rations:

Every adult should be forced to use a 'carbon ration card' when they pay for petrol, airline tickets or household energy, MPs say.

The influential Environmental Audit Committee says a personal carbon trading scheme is the best and fairest way of cutting Britain's CO2 emissions without penalising the poor.

Under the scheme, everyone would be given an annual carbon allowance to use when buying oil, gas, electricity and flights.

Anyone who exceeds their entitlement would have to buy top-up credits from individuals who haven't used up their allowance. The amount paid would be driven by market forces and the deal done through a specialist company.

MPs, led by Tory Tim Yeo, say the scheme could be more effective at cutting greenhouse gas emissions than green taxes.

The Labour government doesn't oppose the idea in principle, either; it merely "warns it is 'ahead of its time'." Every purchase would be monitored and incorporated into this scheme, the news report says. George Monbiot, who is currently advocating a "citizen's arrest" of John Bolton, praises the measure's redistributionism: it "tends to redistribute wealth from the rich to the poor."

Some point out the difficulties of the program:

But critics say the idea is deeply flawed. The scheme would penalise those living in the countryside who were dependent on their cars, as well as the elderly or housebound who need to heat their homes in the day.

Large families would suffer, as would those working at nights when little public transport is available.

It would need to take into account the size of families, and their ages. There is huge potential for fraud.

Matthew Elliott of the Taxpayers' Alliance said the cards would be hugely unpopular. 'The Government has shown itself incapable of managing any huge, complex IT system.' he said.

Some are also criticizing this matter more broadly in principle, saying that it would offer too extensive an intervention into the economic lives of its citizens, and some are even calling it "totalitarian." Tim Yeo has a long history of advocating further government intervention in the daily lives of its citizens. For example, last year, he argued that the UK government should work to abolish domestic flights.
Will David Cameron and the other Conservatives also support this plan? Some think they will not.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

McCain reiterates his support for "comprehensive immigration reform" and pledges to make this reform a top priority of a potential first term:

After several of the business leaders complained about the difficulty in obtaining temporary H1B visas for scientists and engineers, something the Senate immigration bill was supposed to address, Mr. McCain expressed regret the measure did not pass, calling it a personal “failure,” as well as one by the federal government.

“Senator Kennedy and I tried very hard to get immigration reform, a comprehensive plan, through the Congress of the United States,” he said. “It is a federal responsibility and because of our failure as a federal obligation, we’re seeing all these various conflicts and problems throughout our nation as different towns, cities, counties, whatever they are, implement different policies and different programs which makes things even worse and even more confusing.”

He added: “I believe we have to secure our borders, and I think most Americans agree with that, because it’s a matter of national security. But we must enact comprehensive immigration reform. We must make it a top agenda item if we don’t do it before, and we probably won’t, a little straight talk, as of January 2009.”

So McCain emphasizes his opposition to local measures in order to deal with "illegal immigration" and, seemingly, piecemeal federal measures.
(H/T: Hot Air)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Reid pulls the AgJOBS amendment from the Iraq supplemental. But one immigration measure remains attached to the legislation. Via NumbersUSA:
The H-2B provisions still in the bill, which were sponsored by Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), would exempt from the annual cap of 66,000 any H-2B nonagricultural seasonal workers who were admitted during the previous three years. This could increase the annual number of H-2B workers to over 400,000 by FY 2011.

UPDATE: Reid has now also removed the H-2B provisions from the bill.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A group of ten senators writes a letter to Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) over the Feinstein/Craig Ag-Jobs measure. The press release announcing this letter:
U.S. Sen. David Vitter today joined fellow immigration reform-minded colleagues in a letter to U.S. Senate Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid expressing disappointment in the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee’s inclusion of the Feinstein AGJobs language to the Iraq War emergency funding bill and urging for the controversial provision to be removed. Vitter joined U.S Sens. Jeff Sessions, Charles Grassley, Tom Coburn, Johnny Isakson, Saxby Chambliss, James Inhofe, John Barrasso, Elizabeth Dole and Jim Bunning on the letter.

“The Democratic leadership is building a reputation for sneaking unpopular provisions that would never see the light of day as stand-alone bills into larger necessary pieces of legislation, like the Iraq War supplemental funding bill,” said Vitter. “When will the amnesty proponents learn that the American people want border security and enforcement as their immigration reform policy, not sweeping amnesty for millions of illegal aliens? I join my colleagues in urging the Democratic leader to remove the Feinstein AG Jobs provision.”

Vitter also announced that he will introduce an amendment today to strike that Feinstein AGJobs language from the Iraq War emergency funding bill.

“My clear and concise amendment will simply state that the immigration amnesty language should be removed. We need to fight this bad policy and raise the awareness of the American people,” added Vitter.

The letter pledges a "vigorous debate on immigration policy" if Feinstein/Craig remains in the bill.
NumbersUSA has a more detailed analysis of Feinstein/Craig. In order to qualify for the amendment's visas, a worker would somehow have to show that he or she had worked "863 hours or 150 work days (defined as 5.75 hours of work per “work day”), or earned at least $7,000 in agricultural employment between January1, 2004, and December 31, 2007." Workers would not, it seems, be required to pay back taxes on this money earned; they will only be required to pay taxes on the money earned once they've been legalized. Once legalized, workers may be joined by their family members. In order to maintain this legal status, visa-holders would have to work in agriculture at least 100 days a year. Feinstein/Craig visas are applicable for five years.
NumbersUSA also brings out another interesting aspect of this amendment. It claims that Feinstein/Craig would bring "virtually all immigration enforcement to a grinding halt": if passed, the legislation would allow any apprehended "illegal immigrant" 30 days to file an application for legalization (assuming he or she could make a "nonfrivolous" claim) and could not be deported until after this claim is adjudicated.
Ira Mehlman of FAIR reports on some of the details of the immigration-related measures attached to the Iraq funding supplemental, bringing out the numbers that may be involved in these amendments. He thinks at least 2 million individuals could have their statuses changed:
In one afternoon, the Appropriations Committee approved amnesty for 1.35 million illegal alien agricultural workers, and made available an additional 650,000 skilled and unskilled foreign guest workers over the next three years.
The 2 million figure does not include the dependents of the amnesty recipients or new workers who could be admitted under existing agricultural guest worker programs. Under the agricultural amnesty – written by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) at the behest of the California agricultural lobby – the spouses of amnesty recipients will also be authorized to compete with American workers for jobs in any sector of our labor market. Nor does it include the potentially unlimited number of new guest workers agricultural employers will be able to import under a “streamlined” H-2A program that requires the Department of Labor to issue visas within seven days of an employer’s request.

In addition to Feinstein/Craig, other immigration measures were tacked on to the Iraq supplemental for both "skilled" and "unskilled" workers (e.a.):
The Maryland fishing and tourism industries also want a ready supply of cheap foreign labor, and Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) was happy to accommodate by offering an amendment that exempts returning unskilled or low-skilled H-2B workers from counting against the caps for that category. (Never mind that there are fewer Maryland crabs to harvest each year, and that with the skyrocketing price of gas people may not be able to afford to drive to the Eastern Shore.) Over the next three years, the cumulative number of H-2B workers admitted could reach 432,000.

And while the Appropriations Committee was piling on goodies for the low-skill industries, they found time to take care of the lobbyists for the high tech industry as well. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Microsoft/Wash.) added a provision to “recapture” 218,000 visas for skilled foreign workers. These visas didn’t really “escape,” so much as they just went unutilized between 1996 and 2004, especially during the years immediately after the high tech bubble burst. But now high tech employers and labor contractors want those visas back, because foreign guest workers tamp down labor costs for the industry.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), a leading opponent of the "grand bargain," is mobilizing against the Feinstein/Craig amendment. (H/T Michelle Malkin)
Mickey Kaus outlines some of the political aspects of the Feinstein/Craig Ag-Jobs amendment. A few of his points:

a) Bad for McCain, right? Just when he's papered over his split with the right on immigration, this would reopen the wound. Maybe that's the Dems point. ...

b) Bad for Rahm Emanuel's swing-district Democratic first-termers who campaigned on tough-on-illegal-immigration platforms, no? If it ever comes to a vote, will they reveal to their electorates that it was all just a pose? ...

c) But not an unclever strategy, if you are a pro-legalization Congressperson and want to strike while Hispandering Season is at its height. ...

d) Presumably McCain is now honor bound to oppose this, having pledged to push legalization only after "widespread consensus that our borders are secure." (If he sticks to his word, it might actually wind up helping him in November, you'd think.)

e) Can you pass a big bill like this in a presidential election year? Well, welfare reform passed in 1996. The key difference? Welfare reform was overwhelming popular, virtually across the board. The fight was largely over who could claim credit for it. Congressmen weren't worried that someone might run an ad accusing them of making welfare recipients go to work.

f) Is this a tacit admission by the legalization caucus that a semi-amnesty might not be as easy to pass in the next president's first two years than you might think (given that all three contenders are formally pro-legalization). ...

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.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Hendrick Hertzberg has an interesting breakdown of the various ways of calculating the popular vote numbers of Clinton and Obama in the Democratic primary. According to one method, Obama's ahead by about 500,000 votes; according to another, Clinton leads by 121,000. The numbers vary due whether or not Florida and Michigan are counted, whether some caucuses are counted, and how the "uncommitted" votes in Michigan are counted (Obama was not on the ballot in Michigan--only Clinton was--so, even though Clinton won a majority there, there are hundreds of thousands of "uncommitted" voters who may have been favoring Obama). Hertzberg lays out one scenario in which claims about the popular vote could be muddled enough to give Clinton an opening to argue for her popular legitimacy:

I calculate that roughly another four and a half million people will vote in the remaining Democratic primaries. If Clinton wins these by the overall margin she piled up in Pennsylvania—i.e., around ten points, 55-45—she will net another 450,000 votes.

Here’s what that would do to the margins in our eight categories, in the order I’ve discussed them, starting with just the D.N.C.-approved primaries down to the two “corrected” (by me) Michigan-included ones:

Regular primaries:

Obama’s margin: 51,298

Regular + four caucus states:

Obama’s margin: 161,520

Regular + Florida:

Clinton’s margin: 243,474

Regular + Florida + caucuses:

Clinton’s margin: 133,252

Regular + Florida + Michigan:

Clinton’s margin: 571,783

Regular + Florida + Michigan + caucuses:

Clinton’s margin: 461,561

Regular + Florida + Michigan + uncommitted:

Clinton’s margin: 371,783

Regular + Florida + Michigan + caucuses + uncommitted:

Clinton’s margin: 261,561

In other words, Clinton would have a case. Obama would have one, too—he’d still be a little bit ahead in the popular vote according to to the rules everybody agreed upon in advance, and he would definitely be ahead in elected delegates. She would have a popular vote lead in all the count-Florida-and-Michigan categories. But neither candidate could any longer plausibly claim that he or she was unambiguously the people’s choice.

Of course, that presumes she can win by ten points in every state, and a ten-point victory doesn't seem too likely in North Carolina for starters....Based on his speculations, Hertzberg says that, for every point less than ten in Clinton's overall post-PA lead, Obama nets 45,000 votes. Timothy Noah's claiming that any hope of a Clinton win is a "fairy tale," but Hertzberg thinks that there's a possibility of a "rough" popular vote tie (and thinks that the popular vote will matter a lot) and seems to suggest that the race may not be over yet.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Virginia's Prince William County changes some of its policies for last year's immigration-enforcement laws. Now, instead of having police checking the immigration status of all those suspected of a crime, it will check the immigration status of only those arrested for a crime. (H/T Matt Yglesias)
David Freddoso draws attention to a report by scientists that places part of the blame for spiraling food prices on the embrace of food-based biofuels (like ethanol). This report suggests that a moratorium of food-based biofuels could cut corn prices by as much as 20%. A World Bank study has claimed that the 60% rise in corn prices can be traced to the US ethanol program. Some at the White House put a lower rate of influence for the biofuel program.
Lester Brown and Jonathan Lewis, associated with two prominent environmental groups, think that ethanol has provided limited energy benefit and significant environmental damage. They provide this statistic: the US last year "burned about a quarter of its corn supply as fuel," and, for this quarter, saw oil consumption drop by 1%. That's a lot of corn! Transferring corn to ethanol takes a lot of (coal-based) energy, and the extension of corn crops would itself entail certain environmental pressures, so it's unclear how much energy/environmental benefit is derived from ethanol mandates. They urge Congress and other government institutions to withdraw biofuel mandates. President Bush remains a strong supporter of ethanol.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Rather than engaging the main thrust of Michael Hirsh's essay claiming that the US has become a bastion of Southern intolerance, I'll instead make a cheap shot about a detail:
What does seem foreign to us today is the dedication to free thought and, even more, free moral choice that so dominated the correspondence between those two great minds [of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson]. When Jefferson, in his letter of May 5, 1817, condemned the "den of the priesthood" and "protestant popedom" represented by Massachusetts' state-supported church, he was speaking for both of them--the North and South poles of the revolution. Yet John McCain, even with the GOP nomination in hand, would never dare repeat his brave but politically foolhardy condemnation of the religious right in 2000 as "agents of intolerance." Why? Because we have become an intolerant nation, and that's what gets you elected.
Without wanting to take anything away either Jefferson or Adams or their intellectual seriousness, I think Hirsh's comparison is inapt. There's a big difference between a statement written in private correspondence between two ex-presidents (Adams was out of office for over sixteen years and Jefferson for over eight years by the time this letter was written) and a statement given by a presidential candidate on the campaign trail. It certainly wasn't very politically risky for Jefferson to attack Massachusetts religious laws after he'd left the highest executive office in the land (and some might see the "den of the priesthood" comment as not particularly tolerant, either).
And what did McCain say about the "religious right" in 2000? It doesn't sound like he condemned the "religious right" as a whole back then:
Neither party should be defined by pandering to the outer reaches of American politics and the agents of intolerance, whether they be Louis Farrakhan or Al Sharpton on the left, or Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell on the right.
He does call Robertson and Falwell "agents of intolerance," but are they the whole of the "religious right"? Maybe Hirsh thinks they are. Though, to be fair to Hirsh, McCain did reconcile with Falwell and did go to speak at Falwell's Liberty University, so McCain obviously has backtracked from that earlier statement.

Monday, April 21, 2008

TalkLeft has a roundup of polls on the eve of the Pennsylvania Democratic primary. Most show a Clinton advantage. According to Drudge, Clinton's own internals seem to put her about 11 points ahead.
UPDATE: Clinton's team is denying the existence of any such internal polls:
"I encourage you to try and get a copy of the poll," Wolfson said, "because no such poll exists." Wolfson called it an "obvious attempt" by someone to boost expectations for Clinton on the eve of the primary vote in the Keystone State.
Meanwhile, the Clinton campaign will try to downplay expectations. And so it goes...