Obama: This Election Is About Non-Americans
Maybe Obama has let that BBC poll of 22 foreign countries go to his head.
Now, more than ever, the Citizen Of the World candidate wants you to know his chief concern is for folks who don't technically constitute any part of his intended constituency.
Barack Obama spoke on Wednesday night about a subject that often gets short shrift on the 2008 campaign trail: immigration. The Democratic candidate made the speech to a crowd of Hispanic leaders at black-tie dinner capping the end of a Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute gathering in Washington.
After spending a few minutes talking about his opponent and his other policy proposals, Obama got his loudest cheers with these lines: "This election is about the 12 million people living in the shadows, the communities taking immigration enforcement into their own hand. They are counting on us to stop the hateful rhetoric filling our airwaves, and rise above the fear, and rise above the demagoguery, and finally enact comprehensive immigration reform."
So when Obama says, "This election is about you!" he's not talking about "you" per se.
PETA Solves Immigration Problem
Each year, several hundred billion aspiring illegal immigrants attempt to enter the United States surreptitiously via the underprotected Mexican border.
It's no surprise that non-Americans clamor to get in on the opportunities, opulence, and decadent convenience of modern American living. But researchers at the anti-eating think tank known as PETA may have found a surprisingly simple solution: remind northward migrants (salivating at the prospect of a quarter pounder in every pot) that meat is not only murder, it's suicide.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals plans today to announce an unusual marketing pitch to the U.S. government: Rent us space on the fence for billboards warning illegal border crossers there is more to fear than the Border Patrol.
The billboards, in English and Spanish, would offer the caution: "If the Border Patrol Doesn't Get You, the Chicken and Burgers Will — Go Vegan."
"We think that Mexicans and other immigrants should be warned if they cross into the U.S. they are putting their health at risk by leaving behind a healthier, staple diet of corn tortillas, beans, rice, fruits and vegetables," said Lindsay Rajt, assistant manager of PETA's vegan campaigns.
Of course it's a fool that looks for logic in the chambers of the malnourished heart, but if PETA really believes that the average Mexican emigrant faces a healthier outlook at home (where per capita GDP is 72% lower than in the U.S.), thanks to the relative scarcity of affordable meat and dairy products, why don't they all make a run for the border themselves?
(HT: The Corner)
Spitzer Scraps Illegal Immigrant Voter Registration Plan
New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer has decided to abandon a plan to issue driver's licenses to illegal immigrants, officials familiar with the decision told The Associated Press Tuesday night.
The governor is due to meet Wednesday morning with New York's congressional delegation, many of whom openly oppose the program. Debate over the issue also has spilled into New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential campaign.
The governor's office signaled to New York lawmakers Tuesday that Spitzer will say at the meeting that he is shelving the plan and that immigration is a federal issue to be handled by Washington, according to congressional aides who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because no formal announcement had been made.
Maybe this rare Spitzerian backpedal had something to do with the rookie Governor's re-election support dropping to just 25% just a year after he was swept into office in a 69%:29% landslide. Or maybe he just wants to spend more time explaining his status as Norman Hsu's highest-paid politician (with nearly three times as much direct funding as Senator Clinton).
Speaking of whom, I wonder whether Hillary still
supports, doesn't support, supports the illegrant immigrant licensing plan, now that even its architect has abandoned it.
Update: Allahpundit's called in the humpbot for a victory dance.
Update (11/14): *Chortle* This ought to get those poll numbers up. Nice work, champ. If there's one thing people like at Christmas, it's more taxes.
Update (11/14): Along with this fraud-inducing, vote-grubbing bathwater, Spitzer may also have thrown out a viable baby. From a press release put out today by 9/11 Families For a Secure America:
It's incredible. Governor Spitzer still doesn't get it.
Now he has broken his word to the , and to every New Yorkers concerned about terrorism, by withdrawing his solemn commitment to enter into the Real ID program. It is another slap in the face to 9/11 family members working to keep driver's licenses out of terrorist hands.
Real ID is an express recommendation of the . It is specifically designed to prevent terrorists from obtaining this powerful identity card, the very document used by the 9/11 terrorists to plan and execute their attacks.
Private Media Summit At Von Spitzer's Secret Lair
Hillary Swings, Misses, Runs Bases Obliviously, Waving Cap To Embarrassed Fans
Gov. Spitzer's Latest Awkward Pirouette In His Spastic "Dance Of a Million Mostly Democratic Illegal Votes"
Private Media Summit At Von Spitzer's Secret Lair
Governor Eliot Spitzer, presumably in a bid to rescue what remains of his once boundless political capital, squandered so breathtakingly quickly in the 10 months since he took office, is currently conducting a super secret press conference to discuss his thinly veiled plan to add hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants to New York's voter rolls.
Azi Paybarah at the Observer notes that an aide to Spitzer has objected to its characterization as a "secret press conference". It's merely an invitation-only summit with a select group of reporters (summarily excluding all major media outlets) and it's being held in an undisclosed location.
You know, I've said this before, but even though the scriptures claim New York doesn't elect a super villain as Governor until the 27th Century, I'm starting to wonder if we've jumped that gun.
(HT: Hot Air)
A Doomed Gambit
9/11 Families for a Secure America is offering $1000 to anybody who can get Hillary Clinton on record saying either:
1. I support Governor Spitzer’s plan to give driver’s licenses to illegal aliens; or
2. I oppose Governor Spitzer’s plan to give driver’s licenses to illegal aliens.
Immigration Reform School
Recent developments in Congress have made it very unlikely that the nation's immigration policies will be overhauled anytime soon. First, the Senate halted the ill advised Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act (the DREAM Act). Then, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer announced that the House of Representatives would soon begin to work a drastically reduced schedule. The Democratically controlled Congress has not only failed to pass the legislation it committed to a year ago, it hasn't passed the minimum bills need to operate the government.
Although an immigration policy solution is doubtful, this does necessarily prevent progress. Reducing the influx of illegal immigrants is one of the more challenging (and expensive) tasks, and curbing the demand for cheap labor is at the core of this problem. Since tough regulations on companies are on hold, I'm a big proponent of aggressively pursuing technology solutions in industries where manual labor is currently the predominate or desired mechanism. One example of such an application is machinery that can harvest crops currently dependent on handpicking.
So while it's hard to achieve political solutions, technology can help with the immigration problem. However, this tech-centric approach requires Congressional support. As a nation, we spend tens of billions trying to curb illegal immigration, spending a fraction of this amount to address the root of the problem is certainly appropriate. Since Congress still has not finalized the appropriation bill that would incorporate such a change, there is time to accommodate this approach.
Gov. Spitzer's Latest Awkward Pirouette In His Spastic "Dance Of a Million Mostly Democratic Illegal Votes"
Homeland Security has offered Spitzer a compromise plan that allows him to save a bit of face in his impressively brainless campaign to equip up to one million illegal aliens with valid New York licenses.
Basically, the plan calls for a two, or really a three-track drivers license program in New York: one for illegal immigrants or others who simply don’t want the other licenses which will cost a bit more; and another that will let citizens cross the Canadian border without a passport (that will soon be a requirement).
Thirdly drivers can choose to get a federally-approved Real ID license that will let them board airplanes and enter federal buildings without presenting a passport or other proof of citizenship.
Bryan addresses why, in spite of the superficial defanging the compromise seems to offer, the brainlessness remains impressive.
That’s a strange compromise. The first evidently means that NY drivers licenses will no longer be accepted as ID for boarding planes and the like. Spitzer has in effect destroyed NY drivers licenses as valid ID. That “extra cost” line means that US citizens will pay more for their Real ID drivers licences than illegal aliens will in the state of New York if they want to be able to use those licenses for ID purposes other than driving, as they routinely have up to now.
Having to pay more than illegal aliens so that you can maintain the same services you already had is going to make citizens happy? I don’t think so.
This is just like the DREAM Act, which would grant in-state tuition benefits to illegals, in effect giving them a cost break that citizens who live outside a given state can’t get. So once again, the government is making the up front costs of citizenship outweigh the up front costs of breaking the law.
Ace flips ahead in the playbill for a preview of the next act.
Yes, the fact that NY licensees were being devalued as ID for things like getting on an airplane was part of the outcry but at the heart was the very idea of providing legal instruments to illegal immigrants. This plan doesn't address that except it will cost more for citizens to get a service they already get while illegals pay the current lower price. How exactly is that going to make people less angry?
How long until some 'immigrants rights' group complains that illegals are being treated as 'second class citizens'?
We already know that asking to see any kind of ID at polling places is racist. So it doesn't so much matter if "undocumented" (an increasingly laughable misnomer) immigrants are carrying New York license version 1, 2, or 3, and/or a Real ID.
The extension of additional citizen privileges (at sub-citizen prices) to illegal aliens is more significant as a spoony sashay toward de facto full citizenship under the false guise of pragmatism than strictly as a documentation matter. Once the distinctions in citizenship become as blurred (and as shockingly racist, classist, and generally undignified) as "version 1-documented" vs. "version 2-documented", we should finally be ready to take that bold leap of looking the other way as we beckon non-citizens to begin voting en masse.
Michelle Malkin's gracing us with a liveblog of tonight's Republican debate, which - with a third of the event already on the board - appears to be a one-note-samba on immigration.
Head on over and just keep hitting Refresh.
Update: Hot Air's also got a spirited open thread going.
Richardson-Lopez Reminds World To Vote For Him Because of His Race
It's still not - per se - a qualification for the Presidency.
Elvira Arellano, an illegal immigrant who took refuge in a Chicago church for a year, was finally deported to Mexico on Sunday. Now a Mexican Senate committee has passed a measure urging Mexican President Felipe Calderon to protest this deportation with the United States. According to Mexican Senator Humberto Zazue:
We cannot remain quiet in view of this injustice and must ask for firm action from our authorities.
This cry of "injustice" comes from a country that deported 211,000 illegal immigrants in 2004. By comparison, the US, with three times the population, deported only 204,000 illegal immigrants that same year. Recall that Mexico grants citizenship to a mere 3,000 immigrants annually versus a generous 500,000 for the US.
Perhaps Mexico and its Senate can address some of their own immigration injustices before criticizing the policies and lawful actions of their northern neighbor.
Immigration Cloture Fails Big
We needed 40 votes to kibosh the undead, sovereignty-yielding shamnesty bill. Looks like we not only thwarted cloture, but did so with a full-on Senate Majority - 53 votes against, according to a preliminary count.
The final tally should be available here sometime after noon.
Update: Republicans who voted for amnesty:
More Democrats (15) found their way to the anti-amnesty side than did Republicans (12) to the anti-sovereignty side. Of that dirty dozen, only Lindsey Graham is up for re-election in 2008, meaning we ought to see an interesting Senate primary in South Carolina next year.
Among Presidential candidates, Clinton, Obama, Biden, and McCain were all on the losing side. Only second-and-a-half tier candidate Sam Brownback voted on behalf of the American people (though it appears it may have been a last minute change of heart).
Update: Allah has laid out the chronology of the votes, thus separating the principled from the weasly, and finds Brownback's double-back to be the weasliest of all.
Isn't There an Empty Vault That Needs Opening?
You need to wade into this clip nearly 7 minutes before you get to the offending portion, but Geraldo Rivera actually makes the claim that we shouldn't deport illegal immigrants who are duly convicted of crimes on U.S. soil (not immigration crimes mind you, but unrelated crimes once they're here) because - now wait for it, wait for the insanity - that would mean we would've had to deport John Lennon if that policy were retroactively (and, I guess, posthumously) enforced. And we would've lost "those great ten years of John Lennon living in New York," Rivera laments.
QED. Game, set, and match. Well played, Gerald.
Blogger Immigration Poll
John Hawkins has published the results of poll of "right-of-center bloggers" about the Senate Immigration Poll.
Not surprisingly, the respondents (myself included) were overwhelmingly opposed to the legislation. Only one question truly split the pack.
3) Do you think it would be appropriate for the Republican leaders in the Senate, Mitch McConnell and Trent Lott, to resign their leadership positions if this bill passes?
Yes: 28 (56%)
No: 22 (44%)
View the full results.
"Bill Richardson Lopez" Joins the Surname Shuffle
In the heartland of America he is just Gov. Bill Richardson. But in big Hispanic states like California the Democratic U.S. presidential hopeful tells voters he is also a Lopez.
"California has a lot of Hispanic voters and they don't know I'm Hispanic," said Richardson, governor of New Mexico and son of a Mexican woman named Lopez.
It's hard to play identity politics if the electorate can't accurately classify you.
"I am saying 'It's Bill Richardson Lopez and I am one of you and I would like you to consider me, not because I am Hispanic but because I have the best program for the country'," he told Reuters in an interview late on Monday.
I like Richardson (a lot more than some of his opponents anyway). But two the two halves of statement are absurdly irreconcilable.
Strutting the candidate's ethnicity in this expedient if unorthodox way may be a new twist to the Lopez campaign, but it's not the first time he's pondered it. According to a 2005 Time article, donning the handle was suggested at the dawn of Richardson's political career as a way to curry favor with Hispanic voters.
When Bill Richardson first ran for Congress, in 1980, an adviser suggested he campaign as Bill Richardson Lopez, given that his mother was Mexican and in Spanish-speaking nations, the mother's surname is placed after the father's. "Too obvious," Richardson scoffed.
26 years later, the idea still hadn't grown on him. The September 2006 issue of American Profile gave Richardson another opportunity to sound off on the idea of campaigning as a Lopez.
His political advisers once suggested that he use the name Bill Richardson-Lopez because his mother's maiden name is Lopez. "I said, ‘That's not me,” Richardson says. "I try to be a mainstream American politician enormously proud of my Hispanic heritage, and I don't hide it. I feel strongly that if you are going to be representing the American people, you have to be part of the American mainstream.”
In the last 8 months, something must've changed.
U.S. Easing Restrictions On "Decrepit" Border-Crossing Canadians
A new plan would allow more than 600,000 of the old-timers, previously banned from the country because of biological concerns, to enter the United States each year.
State of the Union Preview
The White House has released its book of 2007 State of the Union Policy Initiatives, containing individual fact sheets on the 8 initiatives:
- AIDS: Leading The Worldwide Fight Against HIV/AIDS
- SPENDING REFORMS: Reforms To Spend Tax Dollars Wisely
- NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND: Building On Results: A Blueprint For Strengthening NCLB
- ENERGY: Twenty In Ten: Strengthening America's Energy Security
- HEALTH CARE: Affordable, Accessible, And Flexible Health Coverage
- IMMIGRATION: President Bush's Plan For Comprehensive Immigration Reform
- MALARIA: The President's Malaria Initiative Is Saving Lives
- STRENGTHENING OUR MILITARY
Update: The full text of the address is available in the extended entry.
January 23, 2007
9:13 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. And tonight, I have a high privilege and distinct honor of my own -- as the first President to begin the State of the Union message with these words: Madam Speaker. (Applause.)
In his day, the late Congressman Thomas D'Alesandro, Jr. from Baltimore, Maryland, saw Presidents Roosevelt and Truman at this rostrum. But nothing could compare with the sight of his only daughter, Nancy, presiding tonight as Speaker of the House of Representatives. (Applause.) Congratulations, Madam Speaker. (Applause.)
Two members of the House and Senate are not with us tonight, and we pray for the recovery and speedy return of Senator Tim Johnson and Congressman Charlie Norwood. (Applause.)
Madam Speaker, Vice President Cheney, members of Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow citizens:
The rite of custom brings us together at a defining hour -- when decisions are hard and courage is needed. We enter the year 2007 with large endeavors underway, and others that are ours to begin. In all of this, much is asked of us. We must have the will to face difficult challenges and determined enemies -- and the wisdom to face them together.
Some in this chamber are new to the House and the Senate -- and I congratulate the Democrat majority. (Applause.) Congress has changed, but not our responsibilities. Each of us is guided by our own convictions -- and to these we must stay faithful. Yet we're all held to the same standards, and called to serve the same good purposes: To extend this nation's prosperity; to spend the people's money wisely; to solve problems, not leave them to future generations; to guard America against all evil; and to keep faith with those we have sent forth to defend us. (Applause.)
We're not the first to come here with a government divided and uncertainty in the air. Like many before us, we can work through our differences, and achieve big things for the American people. Our citizens don't much care which side of the aisle we sit on -- as long as we're willing to cross that aisle when there is work to be done. (Applause.) Our job is to make life better for our fellow Americans, and to help them to build a future of hope and opportunity -- and this is the business before us tonight.
A future of hope and opportunity begins with a growing economy -- and that is what we have. We're now in the 41st month of uninterrupted job growth, in a recovery that has created 7.2 million new jobs -- so far. Unemployment is low, inflation is low, and wages are rising. This economy is on the move, and our job is to keep it that way, not with more government, but with more enterprise. (Applause.)
Next week, I'll deliver a full report on the state of our economy. Tonight, I want to discuss three economic reforms that deserve to be priorities for this Congress.
First, we must balance the federal budget. (Applause.) We can do so without raising taxes. (Applause.) What we need is impose spending discipline in Washington, D.C. We set a goal of cutting the deficit in half by 2009, and met that goal three years ahead of schedule. (Applause.) Now let us take the next step. In the coming weeks, I will submit a budget that eliminates the federal deficit within the next five years. (Applause.) I ask you to make the same commitment. Together, we can restrain the spending appetite of the federal government, and we can balance the federal budget. (Applause.)
Next, there is the matter of earmarks. These special interest items are often slipped into bills at the last hour -- when not even C-SPAN is watching. (Laughter.) In 2005 alone, the number of earmarks grew to over 13,000 and totaled nearly $18 billion. Even worse, over 90 percent of earmarks never make it to the floor of the House and Senate -- they are dropped into committee reports that are not even part of the bill that arrives on my desk. You didn't vote them into law. I didn't sign them into law. Yet, they're treated as if they have the force of law. The time has come to end this practice. So let us work together to reform the budget process, expose every earmark to the light of day and to a vote in Congress, and cut the number and cost of earmarks at least in half by the end of this session. (Applause.)
And, finally, to keep this economy strong we must take on the challenge of entitlements. Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid are commitments of conscience, and so it is our duty to keep them permanently sound. Yet, we're failing in that duty. And this failure will one day leave our children with three bad options: huge tax increases, huge deficits, or huge and immediate cuts in benefits. Everyone in this chamber knows this to be true -- yet somehow we have not found it in ourselves to act. So let us work together and do it now. With enough good sense and goodwill, you and I can fix Medicare and Medicaid -- and save Social Security. (Applause.)
Spreading opportunity and hope in America also requires public schools that give children the knowledge and character they need in life. Five years ago, we rose above partisan differences to pass the No Child Left Behind Act, preserving local control, raising standards, and holding those schools accountable for results. And because we acted, students are performing better in reading and math, and minority students are closing the achievement gap.
Now the task is to build on the success, without watering down standards, without taking control from local communities, and without backsliding and calling it reform. We can lift student achievement even higher by giving local leaders flexibility to turn around failing schools, and by giving families with children stuck in failing schools the right to choose someplace better. (Applause.) We must increase funds for students who struggle -- and make sure these children get the special help they need. (Applause.) And we can make sure our children are prepared for the jobs of the future and our country is more competitive by strengthening math and science skills. The No Child Left Behind Act has worked for America's children -- and I ask Congress to reauthorize this good law. (Applause.)
A future of hope and opportunity requires that all our citizens have affordable and available health care. (Applause.) When it comes to health care, government has an obligation to care for the elderly, the disabled, and poor children. And we will meet those responsibilities. For all other Americans, private health insurance is the best way to meet their needs. (Applause.) But many Americans cannot afford a health insurance policy.
And so tonight, I propose two new initiatives to help more Americans afford their own insurance. First, I propose a standard tax deduction for health insurance that will be like the standard tax deduction for dependents. Families with health insurance will pay no income on payroll tax -- or payroll taxes on $15,000 of their income. Single Americans with health insurance will pay no income or payroll taxes on $7,500 of their income. With this reform, more than 100 million men, women, and children who are now covered by employer-provided insurance will benefit from lower tax bills. At the same time, this reform will level the playing field for those who do not get health insurance through their job. For Americans who now purchase health insurance on their own, this proposal would mean a substantial tax savings -- $4,500 for a family of four making $60,000 a year. And for the millions of other Americans who have no health insurance at all, this deduction would help put a basic private health insurance plan within their reach. Changing the tax code is a vital and necessary step to making health care affordable for more Americans. (Applause.)
My second proposal is to help the states that are coming up with innovative ways to cover the uninsured. States that make basic private health insurance available to all their citizens should receive federal funds to help them provide this coverage to the poor and the sick. I have asked the Secretary of Health and Human Services to work with Congress to take existing federal funds and use them to create "Affordable Choices" grants. These grants would give our nation's governors more money and more flexibility to get private health insurance to those most in need.
There are many other ways that Congress can help. We need to expand Health Savings Accounts. (Applause.) We need to help small businesses through Association Health Plans. (Applause.) We need to reduce costs and medical errors with better information technology. (Applause.) We will encourage price transparency. And to protect good doctors from junk lawsuits, we passing medical liability reform. (Applause.) In all we do, we must remember that the best health care decisions are made not by government and insurance companies, but by patients and their doctors. (Applause.)
Extending hope and opportunity in our country requires an immigration system worthy of America -- with laws that are fair and borders that are secure. When laws and borders are routinely violated, this harms the interests of our country. To secure our border, we're doubling the size of the Border Patrol, and funding new infrastructure and technology.
Yet even with all these steps, we cannot fully secure the border unless we take pressure off the border -- and that requires a temporary worker program. We should establish a legal and orderly path for foreign workers to enter our country to work on a temporary basis. As a result, they won't have to try to sneak in, and that will leave Border Agents free to chase down drug smugglers and criminals and terrorists. (Applause.) We'll enforce our immigration laws at the work site and give employers the tools to verify the legal status of their workers, so there's no excuse left for violating the law. (Applause.)
We need to uphold the great tradition of the melting pot that welcomes and assimilates new arrivals. (Applause.) We need to resolve the status of the illegal immigrants who are already in our country without animosity and without amnesty. (Applause.) Convictions run deep in this Capitol when it comes to immigration. Let us have a serious, civil, and conclusive debate, so that you can pass, and I can sign, comprehensive immigration reform into law. (Applause.)
Extending hope and opportunity depends on a stable supply of energy that keeps America's economy running and America's environment clean. For too long our nation has been dependent on foreign oil. And this dependence leaves us more vulnerable to hostile regimes, and to terrorists -- who could cause huge disruptions of oil shipments, and raise the price of oil, and do great harm to our economy.
It's in our vital interest to diversify America's energy supply -- the way forward is through technology. We must continue changing the way America generates electric power, by even greater use of clean coal technology, solar and wind energy, and clean, safe nuclear power. (Applause.) We need to press on with battery research for plug-in and hybrid vehicles, and expand the use of clean diesel vehicles and biodiesel fuel. (Applause.) We must continue investing in new methods of producing ethanol -- (applause) -- using everything from wood chips to grasses, to agricultural wastes.
We made a lot of progress, thanks to good policies here in Washington and the strong response of the market. And now even more dramatic advances are within reach. Tonight, I ask Congress to join me in pursuing a great goal. Let us build on the work we've done and reduce gasoline usage in the United States by 20 percent in the next 10 years. (Applause.) When we do that we will have cut our total imports by the equivalent of three-quarters of all the oil we now import from the Middle East.
To reach this goal, we must increase the supply of alternative fuels, by setting a mandatory fuels standard to require 35 billion gallons of renewable and alternative fuels in 2017 -- and that is nearly five times the current target. (Applause.) At the same time, we need to reform and modernize fuel economy standards for cars the way we did for light trucks -- and conserve up to 8.5 billion more gallons of gasoline by 2017.
Achieving these ambitious goals will dramatically reduce our dependence on foreign oil, but it's not going to eliminate it. And so as we continue to diversify our fuel supply, we must step up domestic oil production in environmentally sensitive ways. (Applause.) And to further protect America against severe disruptions to our oil supply, I ask Congress to double the current capacity of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. (Applause.)
America is on the verge of technological breakthroughs that will enable us to live our lives less dependent on oil. And these technologies will help us be better stewards of the environment, and they will help us to confront the serious challenge of global climate change. (Applause.)
A future of hope and opportunity requires a fair, impartial system of justice. The lives of our citizens across our nation are affected by the outcome of cases pending in our federal courts. We have a shared obligation to ensure that the federal courts have enough judges to hear those cases and deliver timely rulings. As President, I have a duty to nominate qualified men and women to vacancies on the federal bench. And the United States Senate has a duty, as well, to give those nominees a fair hearing, and a prompt up-or-down vote on the Senate floor. (Applause.)
For all of us in this room, there is no higher responsibility than to protect the people of this country from danger. Five years have come and gone since we saw the scenes and felt the sorrow that the terrorists can cause. We've had time to take stock of our situation. We've added many critical protections to guard the homeland. We know with certainty that the horrors of that September morning were just a glimpse of what the terrorists intend for us -- unless we stop them.
With the distance of time, we find ourselves debating the causes of conflict and the course we have followed. Such debates are essential when a great democracy faces great questions. Yet one question has surely been settled: that to win the war on terror we must take the fight to the enemy. (Applause.)
From the start, America and our allies have protected our people by staying on the offense. The enemy knows that the days of comfortable sanctuary, easy movement, steady financing, and free flowing communications are long over. For the terrorists, life since 9/11 has never been the same.
Our success in this war is often measured by the things that did not happen. We cannot know the full extent of the attacks that we and our allies have prevented, but here is some of what we do know: We stopped an al Qaeda plot to fly a hijacked airplane into the tallest building on the West Coast. We broke up a Southeast Asian terror cell grooming operatives for attacks inside the United States. We uncovered an al Qaeda cell developing anthrax to be used in attacks against America. And just last August, British authorities uncovered a plot to blow up passenger planes bound for America over the Atlantic Ocean. For each life saved, we owe a debt of gratitude to the brave public servants who devote their lives to finding the terrorists and stopping them. (Applause.)
Every success against the terrorists is a reminder of the shoreless ambitions of this enemy. The evil that inspired and rejoiced in 9/11 is still at work in the world. And so long as that's the case, America is still a nation at war.
In the mind of the terrorist, this war began well before September the 11th, and will not end until their radical vision is fulfilled. And these past five years have given us a much clearer view of the nature of this enemy. Al Qaeda and its followers are Sunni extremists, possessed by hatred and commanded by a harsh and narrow ideology. Take almost any principle of civilization, and their goal is the opposite. They preach with threats, instruct with bullets and bombs, and promise paradise for the murder of the innocent.
Our enemies are quite explicit about their intentions. They want to overthrow moderate governments, and establish safe havens from which to plan and carry out new attacks on our country. By killing and terrorizing Americans, they want to force our country to retreat from the world and abandon the cause of liberty. They would then be free to impose their will and spread their totalitarian ideology. Listen to this warning from the late terrorist Zarqawi: "We will sacrifice our blood and bodies to put an end to your dreams, and what is coming is even worse." Osama bin Laden declared: "Death is better than living on this Earth with the unbelievers among us."
These men are not given to idle words, and they are just one camp in the Islamist radical movement. In recent times, it has also become clear that we face an escalating danger from Shia extremists who are just as hostile to America, and are also determined to dominate the Middle East. Many are known to take direction from the regime in Iran, which is funding and arming terrorists like Hezbollah -- a group second only to al Qaeda in the American lives it has taken.
The Shia and Sunni extremists are different faces of the same totalitarian threat. Whatever slogans they chant, when they slaughter the innocent they have the same wicked purposes. They want to kill Americans, kill democracy in the Middle East, and gain the weapons to kill on an even more horrific scale.
In the sixth year since our nation was attacked, I wish I could report to you that the dangers had ended. They have not. And so it remains the policy of this government to use every lawful and proper tool of intelligence, diplomacy, law enforcement, and military action to do our duty, to find these enemies, and to protect the American people. (Applause.)
This war is more than a clash of arms -- it is a decisive ideological struggle, and the security of our nation is in the balance. To prevail, we must remove the conditions that inspire blind hatred, and drove 19 men to get onto airplanes and to come and kill us. What every terrorist fears most is human freedom
-- societies where men and women make their own choices, answer to their own conscience, and live by their hopes instead of their resentments. Free people are not drawn to violent and malignant ideologies -- and most will choose a better way when they're given a chance. So we advance our own security interests by helping moderates and reformers and brave voices for democracy. The great question of our day is whether America will help men and women in the Middle East to build free societies and share in the rights of all humanity. And I say, for the sake of our own security, we must. (Applause.)
In the last two years, we've seen the desire for liberty in the broader Middle East -- and we have been sobered by the enemy's fierce reaction. In 2005, the world watched as the citizens of Lebanon raised the banner of the Cedar Revolution, they drove out the Syrian occupiers and chose new leaders in free elections. In 2005, the people of Afghanistan defied the terrorists and elected a democratic legislature. And in 2005, the Iraqi people held three national elections, choosing a transitional government, adopting the most progressive, democratic constitution in the Arab world, and then electing a government under that constitution. Despite endless threats from the killers in their midst, nearly 12 million Iraqi citizens came out to vote in a show of hope and solidarity that we should never forget. (Applause.)
A thinking enemy watched all of these scenes, adjusted their tactics, and in 2006 they struck back. In Lebanon, assassins took the life of Pierre Gemayel, a prominent participant in the Cedar Revolution. Hezbollah terrorists, with support from Syria and Iran, sowed conflict in the region and are seeking to undermine Lebanon's legitimately elected government. In Afghanistan, Taliban and al Qaeda fighters tried to regain power by regrouping and engaging Afghan and NATO forces. In Iraq, al Qaeda and other Sunni extremists blew up one of the most sacred places in Shia Islam -- the Golden Mosque of Samarra. This atrocity, directed at a Muslim house of prayer, was designed to provoke retaliation from Iraqi Shia -- and it succeeded. Radical Shia elements, some of whom receive support from Iran, formed death squads. The result was a tragic escalation of sectarian rage and reprisal that continues to this day.
This is not the fight we entered in Iraq, but it is the fight we're in. Every one of us wishes this war were over and won. Yet it would not be like us to leave our promises unkept, our friends abandoned, and our own security at risk. (Applause.) Ladies and gentlemen: On this day, at this hour, it is still within our power to shape the outcome of this battle. Let us find our resolve, and turn events toward victory. (Applause.)
We're carrying out a new strategy in Iraq -- a plan that demands more from Iraq's elected government, and gives our forces in Iraq the reinforcements they need to complete their mission. Our goal is a democratic Iraq that upholds the rule of law, respects the rights of its people, provides them security, and is an ally in the war on terror.
In order to make progress toward this goal, the Iraqi government must stop the sectarian violence in its capital. But the Iraqis are not yet ready to do this on their own. So we're deploying reinforcements of more than 20,000 additional soldiers and Marines to Iraq. The vast majority will go to Baghdad, where they will help Iraqi forces to clear and secure neighborhoods, and serve as advisers embedded in Iraqi Army units. With Iraqis in the lead, our forces will help secure the city by chasing down the terrorists, insurgents, and the roaming death squads. And in Anbar Province, where al Qaeda terrorists have gathered and local forces have begun showing a willingness to fight them, we're sending an additional 4,000 United States Marines, with orders to find the terrorists and clear them out. (Applause.) We didn't drive al Qaeda out of their safe haven in Afghanistan only to let them set up a new safe haven in a free Iraq.
The people of Iraq want to live in peace, and now it's time for their government to act. Iraq's leaders know that our commitment is not open-ended. They have promised to deploy more of their own troops to secure Baghdad -- and they must do so. They pledged that they will confront violent radicals of any faction or political party -- and they need to follow through, and lift needless restrictions on Iraqi and coalition forces, so these troops can achieve their mission of bringing security to all of the people of Baghdad. Iraq's leaders have committed themselves to a series of benchmarks -- to achieve reconciliation, to share oil revenues among all of Iraq's citizens, to put the wealth of Iraq into the rebuilding of Iraq, to allow more Iraqis to re-enter their nation's civic life, to hold local elections, and to take responsibility for security in every Iraqi province. But for all of this to happen, Baghdad must be secure. And our plan will help the Iraqi government take back its capital and make good on its commitments.
My fellow citizens, our military commanders and I have carefully weighed the options. We discussed every possible approach. In the end, I chose this course of action because it provides the best chance for success. Many in this chamber understand that America must not fail in Iraq, because you understand that the consequences of failure would be grievous and far-reaching.
If American forces step back before Baghdad is secure, the Iraqi government would be overrun by extremists on all sides. We could expect an epic battle between Shia extremists backed by Iran, and Sunni extremists aided by al Qaeda and supporters of the old regime. A contagion of violence could spill out across the country -- and in time, the entire region could be drawn into the conflict.
For America, this is a nightmare scenario. For the enemy, this is the objective. Chaos is the greatest ally -- their greatest ally in this struggle. And out of chaos in Iraq would emerge an emboldened enemy with new safe havens, new recruits, new resources, and an even greater determination to harm America. To allow this to happen would be to ignore the lessons of September the 11th and invite tragedy. Ladies and gentlemen, nothing is more important at this moment in our history than for America to succeed in the Middle East, to succeed in Iraq and to spare the American people from this danger. (Applause.)
This is where matters stand tonight, in the here and now. I have spoken with many of you in person. I respect you and the arguments you've made. We went into this largely united, in our assumptions and in our convictions. And whatever you voted for, you did not vote for failure. Our country is pursuing a new strategy in Iraq, and I ask you to give it a chance to work. And I ask you to support our troops in the field, and those on their way. (Applause.)
The war on terror we fight today is a generational struggle that will continue long after you and I have turned our duties over to others. And that's why it's important to work together so our nation can see this great effort through. Both parties and both branches should work in close consultation. It's why I propose to establish a special advisory council on the war on terror, made up of leaders in Congress from both political parties. We will share ideas for how to position America to meet every challenge that confronts us. We'll show our enemies abroad that we are united in the goal of victory.
And one of the first steps we can take together is to add to the ranks of our military so that the American Armed Forces are ready for all the challenges ahead. (Applause.) Tonight I ask the Congress to authorize an increase in the size of our active Army and Marine Corps by 92,000 in the next five years. (Applause.) A second task we can take on together is to design and establish a volunteer Civilian Reserve Corps. Such a corps would function much like our military reserve. It would ease the burden on the Armed Forces by allowing us to hire civilians with critical skills to serve on missions abroad when America needs them. It would give people across America who do not wear the uniform a chance to serve in the defining struggle of our time.
Americans can have confidence in the outcome of this struggle because we're not in this struggle alone. We have a diplomatic strategy that is rallying the world to join in the fight against extremism. In Iraq, multinational forces are operating under a mandate from the United Nations. We're working with Jordan and Saudi Arabia and Egypt and the Gulf States to increase support for Iraq's government.
The United Nations has imposed sanctions on Iran, and made it clear that the world will not allow the regime in Tehran to acquire nuclear weapons. (Applause.) With the other members of the Quartet -- the U.N., the European Union, and Russia -- we're pursuing diplomacy to help bring peace to the Holy Land, and pursuing the establishment of a democratic Palestinian state living side-by-side with Israel in peace and security. (Applause.) In Afghanistan, NATO has taken the lead in turning back the Taliban and al Qaeda offensive -- the first time the Alliance has deployed forces outside the North Atlantic area. Together with our partners in China, Japan, Russia, and South Korea, we're pursuing intensive diplomacy to achieve a Korean Peninsula free of nuclear weapons. (Applause.)
We will continue to speak out for the cause of freedom in places like Cuba, Belarus, and Burma -- and continue to awaken the conscience of the world to save the people of Darfur. (Applause.)
American foreign policy is more than a matter of war and diplomacy. Our work in the world is also based on a timeless truth: To whom much is given, much is required. We hear the call to take on the challenges of hunger and poverty and disease -- and that is precisely what America is doing. We must continue to fight HIV/AIDS, especially on the continent of Africa. (Applause.) Because you funded our Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, the number of people receiving life-saving drugs has grown from 50,000 to more than 800,000 in three short years. I ask you to continue funding our efforts to fight HIV/AIDS. I ask you to provide $1.2 billion over five years so we can combat malaria in 15 African countries. (Applause.)
I ask that you fund the Millennium Challenge Account, so that American aid reaches the people who need it, in nations where democracy is on the rise and corruption is in retreat. And let us continue to support the expanded trade and debt relief that are the best hope for lifting lives and eliminating poverty. (Applause.)
When America serves others in this way, we show the strength and generosity of our country. These deeds reflect the character of our people. The greatest strength we have is the heroic kindness, courage, and self-sacrifice of the American people. You see this spirit often if you know where to look -- and tonight we need only look above to the gallery.
Dikembe Mutombo grew up in Africa, amid great poverty and disease. He came to Georgetown University on a scholarship to study medicine -- but Coach John Thompson got a look at Dikembe and had a different idea. (Laughter.) Dikembe became a star in the NBA, and a citizen of the United States. But he never forgot the land of his birth, or the duty to share his blessings with others. He built a brand new hospital in his old hometown. A friend has said of this good-hearted man: "Mutombo believes that God has given him this opportunity to do great things." And we are proud to call this son of the Congo a citizen of the United States of America. (Applause.)
After her daughter was born, Julie Aigner-Clark searched for ways to share her love of music and art with her child. So she borrowed some equipment, and began filming children's videos in her basement. The Baby Einstein Company was born, and in just five years her business grew to more than $20 million in sales. In November 2001, Julie sold Baby Einstein to the Walt Disney Company, and with her help Baby Einstein has grown into a $200 million business. Julie represents the great enterprising spirit of America. And she is using her success to help others -- producing child safety videos with John Walsh of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Julie says of her new project: "I believe it's the most important thing that I have ever done. I believe that children have the right to live in a world that is safe." And so tonight, we are pleased to welcome this talented business entrepreneur and generous social entrepreneur -- Julie Aigner-Clark. (Applause.)
Three weeks ago, Wesley Autrey was waiting at a Harlem subway station with his two little girls, when he saw a man fall into the path of a train. With seconds to act, Wesley jumped onto the tracks, pulled the man into the space between the rails, and held him as the train passed right above their heads. He insists he's not a hero. He says: "We got guys and girls overseas dying for us to have our freedoms. We have got to show each other some love." There is something wonderful about a country that produces a brave and humble man like Wesley Autrey. (Applause.)
Tommy Rieman was a teenager pumping gas in Independence, Kentucky, when he enlisted in the United States Army. In December 2003, he was on a reconnaissance mission in Iraq when his team came under heavy enemy fire. From his Humvee, Sergeant Rieman returned fire; he used his body as a shield to protect his gunner. He was shot in the chest and arm, and received shrapnel wounds to his legs -- yet he refused medical attention, and stayed in the fight. He helped to repel a second attack, firing grenades at the enemy's position. For his exceptional courage, Sergeant Rieman was awarded the Silver Star. And like so many other Americans who have volunteered to defend us, he has earned the respect and the gratitude of our entire country. (Applause.)
In such courage and compassion, ladies and gentlemen, we see the spirit and character of America -- and these qualities are not in short supply. This is a decent and honorable country -- and resilient, too. We've been through a lot together. We've met challenges and faced dangers, and we know that more lie ahead. Yet we can go forward with confidence -- because the State of our Union is strong, our cause in the world is right, and tonight that cause goes on. God bless. (Applause.)
See you next year. Thank you for your prayers.
In a letter Monday, Mexican President Vicente Fox urged President Bush to veto the proposal that would establish 700 miles of fencing along part of the US-Mexico border. According to Fox:
This decision hurts bilateral relations, goes against the spirit of cooperation needed to guarantee security on the common border, creates a climate of tension in border communities.
US national security is a unilateral issue not a bilateral one. American citizens depend on and expect their government to control the people entering this country. A “spirit of cooperation” may be needed to secure the border but currently there is only one-sided cooperation, that is, the vast majority of cost and effort put into meaningfully protecting the southern border is shouldered by the United States.
Lastly, not building a fence in order to avoid “a climate of tension in border communities” would be ludicrous. Residents of border towns constitute an infinitesimally small number of national security stakeholders. Accordingly, border town relations will not drive any portion of America’s domestic security policy.
I hope that Mexican President-elect Felipe Calderon has a more pragmatic approach to border security than his predecessor does.
The Gaping Maws of Seaport Security
Security fences? Check.
Closed-circuit camera grid? Check.
Nationwide cargo data-crunching system? Check.
Ever since terrorists toppled the World Trade Center towers, U.S. seaports have been preparing for an attack.
But ports appear to have left at least one gaping hole in their security — a hole so big you could ride a truck through.
We did, several times.
Simply by riding along with truck drivers coming to drop off and pick up cargo, this reporter easily penetrated the security of ports in Los Angeles-Long Beach and Seattle, two of the nation's largest port complexes.
In the only instance where identification was sought, flashing an expired driver's license was all it took before a uniformed guard waved us through the gate.
Past that point, we had access to secure areas where cargo ships tie up under giant cranes and where thousands of containers move into and out of the United States.
Beyond cursory driver and rider checks and failing to inspect the sleeping compartments of entering trucks, a robust system of port security also requires adequate control of "empty" containers entering from the land side.
Longshore clerks used to open containers to check for stolen cars or stowaways. But today, they work from an office, using video cameras and scales that weigh the trucks as they roll through the gate.
Clerks say the weight can vary by up to 5,000 pounds before it raises eyebrows. "You figure you're going to have a thousand of these tonight, why stop this one?" said a clerk who asked that his full name not be used.
Terrorists could pack explosives in a container and bring it in as an empty, said Mitre, the Longshore security director.
"It's easy to lose 1,000 to 2,000 pounds in a container of that weight," he said. "You'll never know there's something in it."
So who's to blame for the apparent serious lapses in security and whose responsibility is it to shore it up? Pay close attention to this Three Card Monte-style buck passing.
Let's start with the port officials:
"If the terminal manager is satisfied that this person is OK to be on the port, that's the standard," said George Cummings, director of security at the Port of Los Angeles.
Port officials also say they lack funds to do much more for security, especially compared with what has been spent on airports.
A spokesman for the operator that runs both Seattle's Terminal 18 and Pacific Container Terminal in Long Beach said he didn't know what more it could do.
"We're doing exactly what's prescribed by the Coast Guard," said Bob Watters, vice president at SSA Marine.
Stephen Metruck, the Coast Guard captain in charge of Puget Sound, said that within the agency, "we pay enough attention" to land-side security. For instance, the Coast Guard spot-checks whether terminal operators are complying with their security plans.
"[The Port of Los Angeles terminal manager's] check is only as good as a California driver's license or a government-issued photo ID."
In April, the Department of Homeland Security announced it was moving ahead with a plug for the hole: a new identity card that uses fingerprint readers to verify a driver's identity. It is scheduled to be issued to 850,000 workers over the next two years.
But some say the required criminal background and immigration checks, combined with high driver turnover, will create a labor shortage that snarls the flow of goods into the United States.
Ah, it's a simple matter of immigration and labor policy. Well that should be easy enough to resolve.
The first wave of National Guard personnel have arrived in Arizona to alleviate strain on the Border Patrol. During their two-week deployment, these 50 members of the Utah National Guard will extend fences, improve gravel roads, and erect lighting near the border city of San Luis.
As long as Global War on Terror veterans are not being deployed in support of this new mission, I’m okay with the National Guard helping out with this necessary national security task. They do not have to be integrally involved in law enforcement duties in order to be helpful; they could operate unmanned aerial vehicles or fuse multi-source intelligence.
However, if these construction tasks are representative of how the National Guard will support the border protection mission then I have a suggestion: hire construction contractors. Let’s not put any more additional strain on military families than we must.
Class is in Sessions
I was quite certain that every politician has become bogged down in the issue of illegal immigration (versus immigration in general). But Senator Jeff Sessions has great things to say in regards to the Senate immigration bill:
I think we have made some progress actually in making this legislation better since it’s been on the floor. But the flaws are so significant and the issues that are important to immigration have been so little addressed in many key areas that we ought not to go forward. We should pull the bill and get a better one.
He continues making sense:
The bill does nothing to ensure that our nation’s future immigration policy reflects our country’s needs. Developed nations have reformed their immigration policies to prioritize high-skilled immigration over large scale low-skilled and extended family chain migration. This bill prioritizes low-skilled and chain migration over skill-based immigration, an approach we should reject.
Seems like we’ve heard that somewhere before.
If making sense on immigration is not your cup of tea, Senator Obama may be more your speed:
We need to strike a workable bargain with them. They have to acknowledge that breaking our immigration laws was wrong. They must pay a penalty, and abide by all of our laws going forward.
By the Numbers
Mexican President Vicente Fox is in the US for a few days discussing illegal immigration. A few statistics:
10 Percent of Mexicans living in the US
56 Percent of illegal immigrants that are Mexican
63 Percent of Mexican illegals who haven't finished high school
3,000 Number of immigrants that Mexico grants citizenship annually
500,000 Average number of immigrants the US grants citizenship to annually
$20,000,000,000 Amount of remittances from migrant workers to Mexico
Sen. Sessions Offers Border Fence Amendment
Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) has offered an amendment to S. 2611 which calls for 370 miles of triple-layer fencing and 500 miles of vehicle barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border. The amendment calls for construction of the border fence to begin immediately and for its completion within two years.
View the amendment [pdf].
Update: Senate votes 83-17 in favor of fence.
Following are excerpts from President Bush's televised immigration speech to be delivered this evening at 8:00 eastern.
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
ADDRESS TO THE NATION EXCERPTS
As Prepared for Delivery
On the President’s vision for comprehensive immigration reform:
“We are a Nation of laws, and we must enforce our laws. We are also a Nation of immigrants, and we must uphold that tradition, which has strengthened our country in so many ways. These are not contradictory goals – America can be a lawful society and a welcoming society at the same time. We will fix the problems created by illegal immigration, and we will deliver a system that is secure, orderly, and fair.”
On Border Security:
“Since I became President, we have increased funding for border security by 66 percent, and expanded the Border Patrol from about 9,000 to 12,000 agents. . . .we have apprehended and sent home about six million people entering America illegally.
"Despite this progress, we do not yet have full control of the border, and I am determined to change that. Tonight I am calling on Congress to provide funding for dramatic improvements in manpower and technology at the border."
On the Importance of a Temporary Worker Program to relieve pressure on the border:
“The reality is that there are many people on the other side of our border who will do anything to come to America to work and build a better life. They walk across miles of desert in the summer heat, or hide in the back of 18-wheelers to reach our country. This creates enormous pressure on our border that walls and patrols alone will not stop. To secure the border effectively we must reduce the numbers of people trying to sneak across."
On enforcing our laws:
“. . . we need to hold employers to account for the workers they hire. It is against the law to hire someone who is in this country illegally. Yet businesses often cannot verify the legal status of their employees, because of the widespread problem of document fraud. Therefore, comprehensive immigration reform must include a better system for verifying documents and work eligibility . . .
“A tamper-proof card would help us enforce the law – and leave employers with no excuse for violating it. And by making it harder for illegal immigrants to find work in our country, we would discourage people from crossing the border illegally in the first place.”
On the President’s opposition to amnesty:
“. . . we must face the reality that millions of illegal immigrants are already here. They should not be given an automatic path to citizenship. This is amnesty, and I oppose it. Amnesty would be unfair to those who are here lawfully – and it would invite further waves of illegal immigration."
". . . we must honor the great American tradition of the melting pot, which has made us one Nation out of many peoples. The success of our country depends upon helping newcomers assimilate into our society, and embrace our common identity as Americans. Americans are bound together by our shared ideals, an appreciation of our history, respect for the flag we fly, and an ability to speak and write the English language.”
On the tone of the debate:
“We must always remember that real lives will be affected by our debates and decisions, and that every human being has dignity and value no matter what their citizenship papers say.”
Gardyloo. Now that we're getting down to the brass tacks of amnesty, it's a little disheartening to hear that the President, while ostensibly opposing amnesty, very narrowly defines it as an "automatic path to citizenship". Right, of course no one has an automatic path to citizenship other than children born within our borders. Not legal immigrants, and certainly not illegal immigrants. But shy of automatic citizenship, there's a whole lot of "non-amnesty" amnesty left in play.
GOP Boon or End of the Party?
Either way, Hugh Hewitt is predicting tonight's prime time immigration speech by the President, in which he'll call for National Guard troops to help secure the U.S.-Mexico border, will have far-reaching implications for the cohesion and strength of the party.
Peel split the Tories over corn. Gladstone split the Liberals over Ireland. The Democrats split over the Civil War, and a hundred years later over civil rights, Vietnam and the Soviet threat.
Will the GOP split over border security? The answer will be in tonight's speech, which could be a huge boon for the president and the GOP, but could also be a disaster if the Adminsitration and Beltway experts refuse to take the base seriously.
PoliPundit is less ambivalent.
Tonight at 8 PM Eastern time, George Bush will commit political suicide on prime-time national TV.
His speech tonight will be the most lunk-headed political move ever made by a president of the United States. So be sure to watch; it’ll be one for the history books.
I'm not a line toer on Bush's immigration proposal. But while I disagree with the policy, the politics of tonight's address are more difficult to gauge (for me, anyway). Whenever there are cross-party and intra-party factions with complex overlapping and conflicting allegiances, to their wallets, their heritage, their parties, etc., I give the benefit of the doubt to the [unindicted] Architect when it comes to the political dynamics.
Hillary and Company had good reason to cheer when they thought Rove had been indicted. Taking him out of the picture would not be simply an emotional win for Democrats. The Bush-Rove machine is 5 for 5 and we have yet to see any evidence of it losing its efficacy when election days roll around.
So while I'm unhappy with Bush's take on immigration reform, I don't share Poli's fatalism or even Hewitt's ambivalence about the prospect of a party-wide chasm or Bush donning the political noose as a result of tonight's address.
Border-ing on Ridiculous
As far as I’m concerned, the immigration debate is heading in the wrong direction. Somewhere along the way, the debate shifted to focus solely on “illegal” immigration. While this is a certainly a component of the immigration debate, it is only a subset—and not even the most important issue.
Facing economic threats from emerging economic powerhouses, the US must continue to lead the technological charge. Technical research and development has been the recipe for economic growth (e.g., the “internet”). Currently, China and India can only replicate our technological masterpieces because they lack the indigenous expertise to create these wonders. However, that will not always be the case.
Other countries have been outpacing the US in production of engineers and technical professionals (see graphic below from Duke University's "Framing the Engineering Outsourcing Debate"). Every year tens of thousands of US-educated foreign nationals, who have earned technical PhDs in the US, are sent back to their countries of origin because they cannot gain American citizenship. If allowed to stay these intellectuals will undoubtedly contribute to US innovation in such emerging fields as nanotechnology and bioengineering, helping to maintain our top-spot among first world nations. So in the midst of an immigration debate, why not discuss offering US citizenship to every PhD-earning foreign national?
May Day NYC (Video)
Yesterday's May Day Boycott/Protest in New York was much as you might expect. Demands for immediate and unconditional amnesty for all illegal immigrants, pleas to fight American imperialism, plenty of unrelated diatribes about Katrina, Iraq, and Iran, and occasional unison-chanted threats like, "No justice, no peace!"
I've compiled a little video montage from my visit to the pre-march rally in Union Square. Within a certain radius of the central PA system, the audio came through as an unholy cacophony (in person, it was marginally less piercing, but my equipment was unequal to the task of taming it). In these segments, I've dubbed in some traditional march music to suit the occasion.
Today, the most holy day among Communists, Socialists, and anarchists, will be a bit more rancorous (and a bit less focused) than the usual May Day diet of pro-worker/anti-corporate demonstrations.
Nationwide work walkouts are planned as part of the Great American Boycott by illegal immigrants and their supporters, keen on showing why they want to become Americans by boycotting against America, attempting to shut down business and even critical infrastructure (including airports), and to show their love for this country by toting foreign flags, decrying U.S. border security as "racism", and demanding immediate legalization ahead of all legal petitioners in the immigration pipeline.
Here in New York, the message will be particularly muddled.
In New York City, the Million Worker March Movement and the Troops Out Now Coalition, which were planning a May 1 rally and march from Union Square, voted to support the immigrant rights movement and the “Great American Boycott” action.
This pro-worker, anti-working, patriotic, anti-American, anti-war, pro-immigration throng plans to march past the Tombs where transit union president Roger Toussaint was briefly jailed for his leadership of last year's illegal strike and to participate in a vigil for Toussaint. I wonder if anyone told them he received an early release several days ago.
Fox News is reporting that a group in New York in planning on creating a human chain to stop traffic in midtown Manhattan. If that kind of pointless and dangerous anarchy comes to pass, I suspect the NYPD won't hesitate to start slapping handcuffs and giving up close tours to the Tombs.
Elsewhere: Comprehensive coverage at Hot Air.
Illegal, Not Irrational
Mark Krikorian at the Center for Immigration Studies has long held that history shows the rate of illegal immigration increases not only when amnesty is granted, but even the prospect of amnesty is debated by policymakers.
[Manager of a Mexican shelter for aspiring border crossers] Francisco Loureiro, said he has not seen such a rush of migrants since 1986, when the United States allowed 2.6 million illegal residents to get American citizenship.
This time, the draw is a bill before the U.S. Senate that could legalize some of the 11 million people now illegally in the United States while tightening border security. Migrants are hurrying to cross over in time to qualify for a possible guest-worker program - and before the journey becomes even harder.
Many migrants said they were being encouraged to come now by relatives living in the United States.
Many of the migrants also are being driven by a desire to get into the United States before the likelihood that legislators further fortify the border.
In light of this, wouldn't it make sense to enact some independent border-strengthening legislation before we take another crack at the ugly, protracted process of orchestrating a compromise on the guest worker/amnesty issues? The security implications are compelling to say the least. Moreover, John Hawkins recently noted the prospective political benefits of the GOP spearheading such a move.
-- The GOP would be the party that believes in respecting the law and the Democrats would be the party that believes in rewarding people for breaking the law.
-- The GOP would be the party sticking up for the jobs of poor Americans while the Democrats would be the party that wants to bring in foreigners to take jobs from Americans.
-- The GOP would be the party looking out for the American taxpayers, while the Democrats would be the party that wants to make illegals citizens so they can give them welfare and food stamps.
-- The GOP would be the party that puts Americans first, while Democrats would be the party for people who believe that foreigners should be given a leg up over Americans in America.
For now anyway, the terribly ill-conceived illegal immigrant amnesty "compromise" which seemed destined to lumber with bi-partisan support into fruition has been shelved.
See these'uns for thorough updates and analysis:
GOP Leaders Host Blogger Call
[Scroll for updates]
Later today, I'll be participating in a conference call with several GOP Congressional leaders to discuss key issues on the Republican legislative agenda.
The list of esteemed participants suggests the issue of border security might come up.
- House Republican Conference Chairman Deborah Pryce (R-OH)
- House Republican Conference Vice Chairman Jack Kingston (R-GA)
- Chief Deputy Majority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA)
- RSC Budget and Appropriations Taskforce Chair Jeb Hensarling (R-TX)
- Congressman Michael McCaul (R-TX)
- 5 Texas Border Sheriffs
If you have any questions you'd like asked, make with the commenting or e-mailing.
Watch this space for a snappy synopsis.
Update: The call has just ended.
Congressmen Cantor and Hensarling were unable to join, but the rest of the panel was assembled as advertised.
Chairman Pryce kicked off the call by highlighting some current legislative priorities of the House Republicans, including campaign finance reform, budget reform, tax reform, and national security. She introduced Rep. McCaul, who noted that these sheriffs had all recently testified at a Homeland Security Committee meeting about the growing violence and criminal element coming into our country through the Texas-Mexico border.
The sheriffs had some eye-opening stories and statistics.
As second (and basically last) line of defense behind U.S. Border Patrol, these men detailed their ongoing battle against sophisticated, organized, outstandingly well-financed and well-equipped narco/human trafficking cartels.
John Hawkins asked the sheriffs whether a physical wall would make their jobs easier. Sheriff Rick Flores of Webb County stressed the relative value of a "virtual wall" built from technological superiority, noting certain undesirable side effects of a border spanning physical wall (including interference with water flows).
Sheriff Arvin West of Hudspeth County explained that much of the inability to control the violence and illegal activity along the border owes simply to insufficient capabilities of law enforcement. I asked West what the most pressing shortages were (money, manpower, authority, technology, intelligence, etc.). West made it clear it came down to manpower and physical resources (funding and equipment). He noted Hudspeth County is 5,000 square miles in size (large enough to encompass Rhode Island), with 100 miles of Mexican border, yet he only has 12 deputies at his disposal. Congressman McCaul noted that there are counties in even worse shape, some with as few as 2 deputies. When that second line of defense is called to action, he explained, if they happened to already have two active 911 calls, they've got no one to send.
[Sheriff West's testimony before the Homeland Security Committee on February 27 is available here.]
Robert Bluey asked about Senator John Cornyn's recent discussion of Arab personal effects being found discarded along the border. While he was careful not to discuss any ongoing investigations, Rick Glancey (Executive Director of the Texas Border Sheriff's Coalition) indicated that if that's what we're hearing from our legislators, we can probably assume that's an accurate representation of what's happening.
All in all, it was an intriguing (if mildly distressing) opportunity to hear from several horses' mouths just what things are like along some of the most embattled stretches of our border. It certainly sounds like, from the sheriffs' perspectives anyway, by far the most significant threat is posed by these well-equipped, well-organized smuggling cartels, who are becoming more brazen about doing battle with U.S. law enforcement and who would presumably be qualmless about toting terrorists over the border.
The sheriffs and the lawmakers seemed to be in agreement that HR 4360 (the Border Law Enforcement Act of 2005), newly passed and awaiting a Senate vote, would get them a good part of the way from where they are to where they need to be in terms of manpower and funding.
Other bloggers on the call:
Tim Chapman, Townhall.com
Pat Cleary, NAM
John Hawkins, Right Wing News
Flip Pidot, Suitably Flip
Erick Erickson, Red State
National Journal's Hotline
Andrew Roth, Club for Growth
Robert Bluey, Human Events Online
Mary Katherine Kam, Hugh Hewitt
Tuesday's Quickest Hits
Today's 1-minute water cooler Cliffs notes:
- Bush Chief of Staff Andy Card resigns.
- Michigan blushes.
- "What Kind of Fool" does Hillary take Bill for?
- Amnesty, amnesty, amnesty
- Bernanke hooks thumbs in beltloops, prepares to hike.
- My occasional DC blogger event co-goer Rob Bluey appears on Fox News' "Big Story: Primetime".
(Ahem, Fox, for bookings please contact me at my booking e-mail.)
GOP Blogger Event at U.S. Senate
The Senate Republican Conference is currently hosting bloggers at a panel entitled "Securing America's Future". Topics are ranging from immigration to wiretapping to fiscal policy.
On the scene:
Hey, there they are! Look, they're all bunched together! Go get 'em! Round 'em up! Throw a big net around them!
Via Expose the Left:
Why aren't you grabbing them? Just block off a side street and they're cornered! Go, go, go!
Krazy Kossack Georgia10 has identified the group as "tens of thousands of Americans". Sheesh. Yes, I'm sure there are some confused American sympathizers in their midst, but I sincerely hope we haven't gotten to the point of calling illegal aliens "Americans". Is an American anyone on American soil, however lawlessly and with whatever intent? Were the 19 9/11 hijackers "Americans" during their stay?
Still, Georgia links to several aerial videos of the march, justifying the linkage.
Hillary Clinton's Not So Bad
It's just her policies and her personality that I can't take. Well, and her voice. And her carpetbagging proximity to me.
Case in point (as to her policies):
Speaking at a rally of Irish immigrants, Clinton criticized a bill the House passed in December that would impose harsher penalties for undocumented workers.
The House measure would make unlawful presence in the United States, which is currently a civil offense, a felony.
Clinton said it would be "an unworkable scheme to try to deport 11 million people, which you have to have a police state to try to do."
This is no way for a U.S. Senator from a border state to behave.
The senator also sent a four-page public letter to constituents outlining her views on immigration. In the letter, she shied away from specifics but said she does support allowing at least some of the estimated 11 million undocumented workers to earn citizenship.
Well, as a constituent, I eagerly await my copy (in the meantime, it's available on Clinton's Senate website). Clinton's statement spells out her stance pretty clearly.
... I do support providing undocumented workers with the opportunity to earn legal status in this country. For those who work hard, pay their taxes, continue to obey the law, and demonstrate a commitment to this country, the opportunity to eventually earn citizenship should also be available.
I think we call that "amnesty", Senator. And mightn't that serve as a compelling incentive for additional prospective illegals to cross the border illegally? Instead, wouldn't treating this rampant crime affecting our national security as, you know, a crime be a compelling disincentive?
(She also uses the egregious euphemism "undocumented" a staggering 16 times, including as a noun, as in "I oppose proposals that ... criminalize the undocumented.")
The following is excerpted from a Center for Immigration Studies report by James Edwards, published last month:
* The level of illegal immigration is severely masked by several amnesties that legalized millions of unlawfully resident aliens. The largest amnesty was the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, which legalized 3 million aliens.
* Amnestied aliens to date have been fully eligible to sponsor additional immigrants. This has contributed to the ranks of immigrants, both legal and illegal (and often both).
No more amnesties. America's experience with amnesties has shown that they only make things worse. Amnesties beget more illegal immigration. Even politicians' proposals of legalization prompt more illegal immigration. The only conceivable type of amnesty that could remotely be justified is a limited "exit amnesty." This would let illegal aliens leave the country, once and for all, without paying the full penalty due for their lawlessness (i.e., face criminal prosecution for immigration violations).
In short, amnesty is an atrocious policy, which not only masks the problem of illegal immigration by forgiving the violators (I know a surefire way to put an end to illegal homicide too, but I wouldn't recommend it), but also increases subsequent illegal immigration.
For a woman so doggedly attempting to hoodwink us into thinking she's a centrist who takes "a back seat to nobody when it comes to fighting terrorism and standing up for national and homeland security," this is a downright embarrassment. Or it should be.
Note to K.T. McFarland, John Spencer, and any other hopeful debroomers: this terrible lapse in judgment should be a serious political vulnerability for Clinton come November.
Summary of H.R. 4437 ("To amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to strengthen enforcement of the immigration laws, to enhance border security, and for other purposes.")
Can you rank the following by population size?
- Hong Kong
- Illegal immigrants in the U.S.
Answers in the extended entry.
- Illegal immigrants in the U.S. - 11.5 - 12.0 million
- Greece - 10.7 million
- Sweden - 9.0 million
- Austria - 8.2 million
- Switzerland - 7.5 million
- Hong Kong - 6.9 million
Unintended, But Highly Foreseeable Consequences
Officials in Tennessee have just learned the seemingly intuitive lesson that criminals tend to break the law.
Tennessee has ended its policy of issuing "certificates for driving" to illegal immigrants, citing federal investigations that uncovered applicants using fraudulent documents — and even bribing state workers — to obtain driving privileges, officials said Friday.
Bob Corney, a spokesman for Tennessee's Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen, said the governor's office was informed that immigrants were coming from other states to get the certificates, using forged residency documents. Last month, a former worker at a driver's license office was sentenced to two years in federal prison for issuing more than 40 certificates to unqualified immigrants, taking a $400 bribe for each fraudulent card.
Whoulda thunk it, eh, Tennessee? Not to mention the fact that any program or facilitation like this that makes illegals' stay here in the U.S. more palatable only adds more incentive to illegal immigration. I'm glad this program has ended, but it should have been killed on its merits, not because it was abused.
The illegals pushing false documents were breaking the law well before they defrauded this asinine program.
Border Vigilance: It's Not Just For Mexico Anymore
Mass illegal border crossings are all the rage here in the northeast as well.
A series of early morning raids in Toronto, Windsor, Detroit and New York City has broken up an international human smuggling ring, the RCMP said today.
Police are alleging that migrants from China, Korea, Albania and Eastern Europe arrived in North America and were then smuggled across the border hidden in trunks of autos, on rail cars, in the backs of transport trucks and on small boats.
Canadian authorities, bless 'em for helping us out, got the focus of the problem a little mixed up.
“There was a complete disregard for the safety of these migrants who paid thousands of dollars to a gang for the 'privilege’ of being treated worse than cattle,” said RCMP spokesman Insp. Glenn Hanna.
Yes, Canada, that's tragic news for those illegal migrants. But isn't the primary problem here the threat posed by potential neredowells who, for mere thousands of dollars, get the privilege of illegal entry into the United States?
Imagine... for less than the price of a cup of coffee (every day for a few years), you can sponsor a deserving terrorist. Every month, you can track the progress of your terrorist through threatening video and audiotapes, as he celebrates his holy jihad against your western oppression.
This slug of arrests is at once en- and discouraging. By all accounts, it was a very successful operation, but it also points just out how easily and regularly people are slipping through our porous northern border.
“We have no idea who were coming over,” said Stephen Murphy, the U.S. attorney for the eastern district of Michigan. “There could have been drug dealers, terrorists and God knows who coming in those boats, cars and trains.”
Must PC TV
So tonight was the first time I've watched the entirety of Must See TV since... well, college I guess.
I have to say I don't remember the good old days being so fiercely political. True, there was Lloyd Braun, can-do consultant to Mayor Dinkins. And Elaine and Poppy did once engage in a heated abortion debate. But the constant political intrigue coursing through the current lineup is astounding.
Here's a rundown, in case you too have been neglecting your Thursday night duties lately.
8:00: "Will & Grace"
Topic: Immigration law
Takeaway: Facilitating illegal immigration is sweet and romantic, especially when the aspiring illegal is Taye Diggs.
Side note: Debra Messing got her start in Must See TV politics playing Jerry's anti-dentite girlfriend in a courageous Seinfeld episode.
8:30 "Four Kings"
Topic: Party affiliation
Takeaway: Republicanism is a dirty, shameful condition best kept deep inside where no one can see.
Corollary: Especially when you live in New York.
9:00: "My Name Is Earl"
Topic: Right to die
Takeaway: They faked us out with an oil lust vignette at first, but then it turned out be run of the mill to-intervene-or-not-to-intervene with the chronically suicidal.
Horror of horrors: "To intervene" won out.
9:30: "The Office"
Topic: Sexism; equality in the workplace
Takeaway: Men are pigs. Stoopid pigs.
Extra Credit: Bonus points for dabbling in oil prices, class warfare, and unionization.
Thanks for a fun night, Must See TV. I'll be sure to comply again in another 8 years.
Liveblogging the State of the Union
Watch this space for a liveblog of tonight's State of the Union Address...
9:00 Chief Justice Roberts files in with Associate Justices, including that up-and-comer Sam Alito.
9:05 Fox News reports Cindy Sheehan was detained in the gallery above the chamber when unfurling a banner. Blogs for Bush on the matter. FNC reports Sheehan was someone's guest, perhaps Rep. Lynn Woolsey's.
9:08 Unexplained delay as Bush is kept in a holding room outside the chamber. Because of the Sheehan fracas? ... Ah, here he comes. ... Clapping ... Clapping ... Intro by Hastert ... Clapping ...
9:15 The state of our union is... "strong. And together we will make it stronger."
9:20 Echoes of the second Inaugural:
Dictatorships shelter terrorists ... and seek weapons of mass destruction ... Democracies replace resentment with hope ... and join the fight against terror ... We will act boldly in freedom's cause ... The advance of freedom is the great story of our time.
9:25 A nice dig at Presidential and military detractors:
Hindsight alone is not wisdom. And second guessing is not a strategy.
9:30 More on the theme of seeding worldwide democracy:
Elections are vital, but they are only the beginning ... Now the leaders of Hamas must recognize Israel, disarm, and work for lasting peace ... Liberty is the future of every nation in the Middle East. Because liberty is the hope and right of all humanity. The regime in Iran sponsors terrorists in the Palenstenian territories and that must come to an end. The nations of the world must not permit the Iranian regime to get nuclear weapons.
Speaking directly to the people of Iran, Bush expresses his respect and compassion for them and speaks of his desire to become the "closest of friends with a free and democratic Iran."
9:35 On to brass tacks. Bush urges reauthorization of the Patriot Act. He cites precedent set by previous Presidents for the Terrorist Surveillance Program.
If there are people in our country talkin' with al Qaeda, we want to know about it. Because we will not sit back and wait to be hit again.
9:37 Cut to Senator Clinton, clapping what looks like a very sarcastic clap.
9:40 Bush argues for keeping America globally competitive and refers to economic centralization (read: a business-unfriendly, taxy federal government) as "protectionism" and "isolationism" for the severalth time. This was a theme and a specific phraseology we'd been advised the President would hammer home. I like it.
Second Congressional urging: Make the tax cuts permanent.
9:43 And a third (this one on earmark reform): pass the line item veto.
9:45 Bush refers to "two of my Dad's favorite people" about to hit retirement age... "me and President Clinton." Notes that Congress did not act on his social security reform last year. Now Hillary (and her side of the room) are clapping a very genuine clap (Hooray for obstructionism!). Yet entitlement spending is a problem "That. Is. Not. Going. Away." replies Bush. The right side of the room replies with an ovation of their own.
9:48 A fourth legislative urging: pass medical liability reform this year.
9:50 And now on to energy policy... Bush announces the Advanced Energy Initiative. Lots of benchmarks and alternative energy sources, but nothing terribly innovative.
9:52 Bush also announces the American Competitiveness Initiative. More acronyms, more benchmarks.
9:53 Here are the full remarks as prepared for delivery, just arrived courtesy of the the RNC.
9:56 Bush recognizes Justices Alito and Roberts. He does it graciously, but firmly, and I'm glad he didn't omit such nods for fear of seeming gloaty.
10:03 Parting comment:
Before history is written down in books, it is written in courage. Like Americans before us, we will show that courage and we will finish well. We will lead freedom’s advance. We will compete and excel in the global economy. We will renew the defining moral commitments of this land. And so we move forward – optimistic about our country, faithful to its cause, and confident of victories to come.
Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless America.
There is a better way.
Rewind. Repeat ad nauseum.
Length of Address: 50 minutes
Interruptions for Applause: 61
Most Potent Quotable: "America rejects the false comfort of isolationism."
Best Instalexicon Entry: "Terrorist Surveillance Program"
Best Soundbite: "We love our freedom. And we will fight to keep it."
(in Bush's I'm dead serious tone)
- Reauthorize the Patriot Act
- Make the tax cuts permanent
- Pass the line item veto
- Pass medical liability reform this year
The general tone was often conciliatory and at times, even reminiscent of leftward rhetoric (e.g. green energy initiatives, swelling government programs). The right elements were in there (the four legislative urgings, the tough talk on Iran, unabashed pride in the success of economic policies, reiterating the grand vision of the second Inaugural address), but they were underrepresented in a 50 minute speech in which they should have been front and center. That said, the President's overall passion, toughness, and eloquence were decently in force. These addresses are largely pageants in leadership; tonight, Bush cut a sufficiently strong leadership profile as to make the speech a success. But there were missed opportunities to do the job more convincingly by staying more on his own message, something this President is typically a master at.
Blogs for Bush, The American Princess, Weapons of Mass Discussion, Publius Rendezvous, The Washington Patriot, Daily Perspective, Conservative Blogger, Right Wing News, Captains Quarters
Ever notice how certain euphamisms and mealy-mouthed double speak have a knack for sneaking into the political lexicon when no one's looking?
I've long scratched my head about the sanitized misnomer "undocumented immigrants" to capture (no pun intended) everyone from murderous sleeper cells to run-of-the-mill illegal aliens. But lately it's "extended debate" that's stuck in my etymological craw.
Say what you mean. "Filibuster". "Obstruction". Or very least "stalling".
Catching Up With POTUS
President Bush gave a policy speech on immigration today. Miss it? Me too.
I'm all for free trade, but this is a little embarrassing.
This Thanksgiving, I'm Giving Till It Hurts
[This post is all sticky throughout Thanksgiving Day.]
- Thank you, Mr. President.
- Thank you, Laura Bush.
- Thank you, Presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
- Thank you, Ohio.
- Thank you, Fred Thompson.
- Thank you, Porkbusters.
- Thank you, Fox News Channel.
- Thank you, Senate Republican Conference.
- Thank you, House Republican Conference.
- Thank you, Mike Bloomberg.
- Thank you, NYPD.
- Thank you, Wichita Police Chief Norman Williams.
- Thank you, CEA Chairman Glenn Hubbard.
- Thank you, Alan Greenspan.
- Thank you, Peter Drucker.
- Thank you, Coach Charlie Weis.
- Thank you, Merck.
- Thank you, J.J. Abrams.
- Thank you, Christopher Nolan.
- Thank you, XM Channel 166.
- Thank you, Scott Ott.
- Thank you, Tylenol 8-Hour.
- Thank you, Six Apart.
- Thank you, Seth.
- Thank you, Wikipedians.
- Thank you, readers.
- Thank you, linkers.
- Thank you, Karol.
- Thank you, Bruce Willis.
- Thank you, Minutemen.
- Thank you, London Police.
- Thank you, Australian Federal Police.
- Thank you, Belgian State Security Service.
- Thank you, Albania, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, Estonia, Georgia, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, South Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Mongolia, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, United Kingdom, and Ukraine.
- Thank you, America's servicemen and women.
- Thank you, America's fallen heroes.
Senate Blog Row Wrap-Up
The Senate Republican Committee put on a stellar program today. Made possible largely thanks to Conference Chairman Rick Santorum (PA), a panel of bloggers was given unprecedented access to a number of Republican Senators, who graciously indulged our questions on a variety of topics ranging from Alito to Zarqawi.
Mary Katherine Ham, Hugh Hewitt
William Beutler, Hotline
Justin Hart, Right Side Redux
Bill McCarthy, Defend Democracy
Pat Cleary, National Association of Manufacturers Blog
Orin Kerr, Volokh Conspiracy
TigerHawk, TigerHawk Blog
Tim Chapman, Townhall.com Capitol Report
Gerard Vanderleun, American Digest
Ed Driscoll, Open Source Media
Flip Pidot, Suitably Flip
(Please let me know if you know of anyone I didn't catch on my list.)
I'm in the process of chewing through my notes and working up a more thoughtful wrap-up, but I'd be remiss if I didn't also comment on our special behind-the-scenes tour of the Senate Republican Conference nerve center/communications office in the Hart Office Building (that's yours truly at right, in one of the SRC studios; photo by TigerHawk).
I'd already been duly impressed by the innovative ways the party has found to leverage alternative media channels. But the SRC operations are really taking things to new heights. In addition to being slathered in dark and shiny technology (not unlike the WOPR room from WarGames, only less 80's), but a swarm of terribly clever people are crawling around the joint, monitoring dozens of video feeds on integrated wall displays, mixing sound and video footage for web distribution, designing those flashy visual aids you see Senators using as Floor exhibits, and otherwise optimizing the 2-way flow of information among Senators, their constituents, and everyone in between (which I guess is called "the media").
Watch this space shortly for the fleshed out wrap-up of the Blog Row proper. In the meantime, please enjoy the several prior entries below, posted live (and thus somewhat hastily) during this groundbreaking event.
First the House, then the Senate... it's been an exciting month to be a conservative blogger. Could there be a Presidential Blog Row in the cards?
Previously: House Blog Row Wrap-Up
A Bad Time for Fast and Loose Immigration Control
Ongoing unrest among non-assimilated immigrants in France and yesterday's takedown of a large suspected terror cell in Australia serve as visceral reminders of the importance of border security.
Setting aside the issue of what constitutes informed, responsible immigration policy, it's likely we can more readily agree on whether and how to enforce existing immigration-related controls and practices within our own bureaucracy. The fact that such controls are apparently so out of whack is therefore all the more disturbing.
According to an October GAO report investigating instances of "visa malfeasance" at Department of State immigration posts, noncompliance "with required supervisory oversight" was found at 6 of 11 posts.
From the Highlights (pdf) of GAO-06-115 (a report to the Chairman, Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives):
Issuing a U.S. visa to a foreign citizen in exchange for money or something of value is a crime that can facilitate entry into the United States of unqualified persons, including those who may wish to do our country harm. Internal controls make it difficult for an employee to commit visa malfeasance without being detected, but, despite these safeguards, visa malfeasance does occur. GAO examined (1) State’s internal controls to prevent nonimmigrant visa malfeasance and if they are being implemented and (2) visa malfeasance cases from 2001-2004 and factors cited by State and the Department of Justice (Justice) that contributed to visa malfeasance and affected investigations and prosecutions.
Worse still is the woefully inadequate data acquisition and analysis effort currently in place to curb the problem.
The Bureau of Diplomatic Security substantiated 28 visa malfeasance cases between 2001 and 2004 involving U.S. employees. The suspects were fired, chose to resign, or were arrested. State investigators could not tell us how many opened cases were referred to Justice for possible prosecution because they had not been routinely collecting that information. In fact, their case records did not permit investigators to identify malfeasance trends or consular managers to identify internal control weaknesses needing attention.
Additionally, investigators can not obtain U.S. search warrants to search consular officer’s offices or residences overseas. Justice and State are discussing the possibility of pursuing legal changes and other means to address these constraints.
Further: Read the full GAO report.
[Openly trackedback at The Political Teen]
Home Sweet Home
Well, it's been a long, weary, and intermodal trip from Washington back to New York, so with my apologies, I'm going to have to defer further distillation and elaboration from my notes on today's Blog Row at the Capitol (see following several posts if you don't know what I'm on about).
Pictured are Reps. Eric Cantor (VA), "Judge" John Carter (TX), and Mike Conaway (TX).
Funny, I hadn't noticed them arriving alphabetically...
Suffice it to say the whole rowdydow was a runaway success and I am wholly impressed with the way the Republican Party (as embodied by the RNC, the House Republican Conference, individual Members' offices, and other organizations) is making such effective use of the medium. They're tapping into power of the b'sphere in ways a thousand screaming Vermonters could only dream.
For the record, attendees (with Blog Row posts linked when available) included:
William Beutler, Hotline
Matt Margolis, GOP Bloggers/Blogs For Bush
Eric Pfeiffer, National Review’s The Buzz
Tim Chapman, Town Hall
Mary Katherine Ham, Town Hall
Justin Hart, Right Side Redux
Ian Schwartz, Political Teen
Kevin Aylward, Wizbang
Pat Cleary, RedState/NAM
Flip Pidot, Suitably Flip
Sorry to anyone I missed!
Topically speaking, we hit tax policy, fiscal discipline, pork, Iraq, Harriet Miers, social security, pork, political blogging, hurricane relief, homeland security, pork, government fraud, waste, and abuse, the possibility of a 3rd Bush Supreme Court nominee, and the midterm elections.
It was, in a word, engrossing.
The cadre of Representatives that stopped in was nothing short of astounding (especially as there was a vote going on). I have to admit in the hubbub of it all, I missed a couple of the introductions. Thankfully, the exceptional event organizers followed up with official rosters, pictures, statements, and more. For posterity, I give you the 23 blogophilic Representatives in attendance:
OH-15 IN-6 CA-26 TX-8 GA-1 L-25 GA-11 NJ-05 TN-7 NM-2 IN-2 UT-3 CA-3 MN-6 FL-13 SC-4 AZ-2 TX-11 TX-5 SC-2 TX-31 VA-7
Self, you've just attended the first ever exclusive GOP Blog Row live at the United States Capitol. What are you going to do now?
I'm going to Disney World.
No, seriously. Next post will be from the Grand Floridian.
Meantime, click on the post extension link below for Conference Chairwoman Pryce's statement published after the conclusion of the event.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Sean Spicer or Andrea Tantaros
October 20, 2005 PHONE: 202-226-9000WASHINGTON,
House Republican Conference Hosts First Ever ‘Blog Row’
DC—Today, House Republican Conference Chairman Deborah Pryce (R-OH) issued the following statement after the first ever Blog Row:
“Today House Republicans welcomed eleven bloggers into the Capitol in what was the first of many communication events directed at the blogosphere.” said Pryce. “I am always excited about opportunities to reach out directly to constituents, be it through a podcast or a conference video posted to our website. Today’s event is just another example of how House Republicans are taking our policies and plans for this Congress directly to the American people.”
“Bloggers serve a wonderful purpose in today’s twenty-four hour, blitz and glitz media world. They have the ability to report the stories behind the stories and empower the American people to really think about the news they take in from mainstream media. Today, I thank the Blogging community for helping House Republicans get our message of strong fiscal policies directly to the internet and the American people.”
During the first ever Blog Row, Members were able to take questions and provide in depth answers while bloggers posted comments and summaries throughout the entire two and a half hour forum. The House Republican Conference reached out to bloggers nationwide, with eleven able to attend the event and post live from the Capitol. Today twenty-three Members spoke at “Blog Row’ on everything from belt tightening in the budget to the recent elections in Iraq.
Feds Nab 5th in Lodi
Yet another Al-Qaeda suspect detained in Lodi, California:
An official with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement confirmed that Mohammad Hassan Adil, 19, was detained Wednesday for immigration violations. He is the son of Muhammed Adil Khan, who recently was taken into custody for immigration violations.
"He's being held on administrative immigration violations," Virginia Kice, an immigration spokeswoman, said of the son. Kice declined to elaborate.
Once authorities have had a chance to elaborate, it'll be interesting to hear why the suspects weren't already detained for these immigration violations.
10 Steps to a New, More Presidential You
By now, it's not newsworthy (or even particularly good conversation) that we are a nation of immigrants. My family immigrated, your family immigrated, Ward Churchill's family immigrated. The less-spoken corollary to this, of course, is that we are (at least largely (or at least ought strive to be)) a nation of legal immigrants.
Mark Krikorian, Director of the Center for Immigration Studies, has a spectacular cover article in the May 23rd issue of National Review, outlining a straightforward and comprehensive 10-step plan for turning the tide against illegal immigration in the U.S.
Happily, the political mainstream finally seems to have developed an overdue sincerity toward this issue, in recognition of the unparalleled national security risk posed by a lax immigration scheme. What Krikorian brings into sharp relief, however (beyond the luminously reasoned road map he lays out), is the unparalleled political magnitude of the issue, particularly with regard to the 2008 Presidential election.
Despite receiving a grade of F from Americans for Better Immigration, Hillary Clinton has been one of the most vocal ostensible proponents of overhauling and strengthening immigration control, presumably because she recognizes not only the escalating collective attention trained on the issue, but also the failure to date of the current administration to adequately undertake such an overhaul.
I had the opportunity to attend a lecture given by Krikorian a couple months back (while he simultaneously appeared on O'Reilly – omnipresence apparently being among his talents) and have been frustrated ever since that I didn't take notes. Thankfully, the NR piece has redeemed my poor diligence. Absent their respective expositions are Krikorian's "10 steps for a successful Presidential candidate":
1. Unambiguous commitment to enforcement
2. No Hobson's choice
3. Take amnesty off the table
4. No illegal workers
5. Work with states and localities
6. Document security
7. Check in/check out
8. Streamline legal immigration
9. "Temporary" visas
10. Actively discourage dual citizenship
The overarching thrust is to migrate the structure of incentives, enforcement, and consequences to one that tilts the equation toward a gradual, steady reversal of the problem, rejecting the two primary, unsuccessful fixes attempted in the past – mass roundups and mass amnesty.
The road map succeeds in outlining an utterly achievable, enduringly sustainable methodology for handling the issue – a singular distinction, to my knowledge. But the most cunning insight may be Krikorian's read that, from a political standpoint, nothing short of the next Presidential administration hangs in the balance.
A Dog Wagged?
Not only did the Minutemen succeed in casting fresh light on our persistent and dire border crisis, they demonstrated techniques for dealing with it that were so effective, they may now be implemented by the U.S. Border Patrol. Chris Strohm at GovExec.com writes about a new CBP initiative that is considering making use of citizen patrols on a permanent basis.
[Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Robert] Bonner said CBP also is evaluating the effectiveness of using citizen patrols in a more formal way. He referred to the Minuteman Project, which set up citizen camps along a 23-mile stretch of the Arizona-Mexico border in April to observe and report illegal activity.
Minuteman organizers claim their efforts helped the Border Patrol apprehend 335 individuals illegally trying to enter the country, and deterred others who would have tried.
"The actions of the Minutemen were, I believe, well motivated," Bonner said. "There were no incidents, there were no acts of vigilantism, and that's a tribute to the organizers and leaders of the Minuteman Project."
His comments marked some of the highest praise the Minutemen have ever received from the administration.