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Cracker Squire


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Location: Douglas, Coffee Co., The Other Georgia, United States

Sid in his law office where he sits when meeting with clients. Observant eyes will notice the statuette of one of Sid's favorite Democrats.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Ex-Aides Break With Bush on 'No Child' -- Support for Opt-Out Proposals Grows

From The Washington Post:

Five years after they helped craft and implement the initiative, senior administration officials from Bush's first term are speaking out against the law with increasing boldness. The shift, combined with mounting criticism from both the political right and left in Congress, is causing supporters of the law to worry that it might not win renewal this year.

The rift among Bush's advisers mirrors a GOP intraparty struggle that erupted in March when 57 Republican lawmakers -- including Sen. Mel Martinez (Fla.), a former Bush housing secretary -- signed onto bills that would allow states to opt out of key No Child Left Behind mandates. The legislation, which the White House has criticized, draws on a proposal Bush himself made in early 2001 but quickly dropped.

Conservatives, some of whom supported the law only out of fealty to Bush, feel freer to speak out against No Child Left Behind now that the president's popularity has sagged and many parents and educators have complained about what they call onerous federal mandates.

Some conservatives were leery of the largest expansion of the federal role in education in a generation, but most wanted to support Bush in his first year, especially after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

"The president said, 'Jump!' and you said, 'How high?' " said a former senior education official who described the law as fundamentally flawed.

Many Republican lawmakers supported the Bush education plan because it proposed publicly funded vouchers for students to attend private schools. The original Bush plan also promised, "States and school districts will be granted unprecedented flexibility by this proposal."

But Bush dropped those ideas in negotiations with lawmakers, and the measure passed both houses of Congress in 2001 with overwhelming bipartisan support.

No Child Left Behind is not my favorite federal legislation.

Labor divided on immigration overhaul -- Opposition from labor could doom the bill’s prospects by putting pressure on many Dems to vote against it.

From The New York Times:

The threat that labor poses to the [immigration] bill has gone largely unrecognized in part because three prominent unions — the service employees, the farm workers, and the hotel, restaurant and apparel workers — have backed the legislation. But that support, advocates say, has been outweighed by opposition from the A.F.L.-C.I.O. and virtually all other unions, including auto workers, Teamsters, food and commercial workers, and construction unions.

“The labor opposition on this bill is extremely important,” said Tamar Jacoby, an immigration expert at the conservative Manhattan Institute. “For this bill to pass, we probably need 80 percent of the Democrats, if not more, to support it, and if unions are what pull them off the bill or make their support soft, that is a serious threat to the bill.”

Monday, June 25, 2007

State legislatures show that amnesty will be a tough sell in the U.S. House: Illegal Immigrants Targeted By States -- Impasse on Hill Spurs New Laws

From The Washington Post:

Frustrated with Congress's inability to pass an immigration overhaul bill, state legislatures are considering or enacting a record number of strongly worded proposals targeting illegal immigrants.

These laws limit illegal immigrants' ability to obtain jobs, find housing, get driver's licenses and receive many government services. They also empower state law enforcement agencies to inquire into an immigrant's legal status and hold for deportation those deemed to be here illegally. The idea is to make life so difficult for illegal immigrants that they will leave the state -- if not the country.

"Illegal immigrants will not come to Oklahoma if there are no jobs waiting for them," said state Rep. Randy Terrill (R), who wrote his state's law, one of the most sweeping in the country. "They will not stay here if there are no government subsidies, and they certainly will not stay here if they know that if they come in contact with one of our officers, they will be physically detained until they are deported."

At least 18 states have enacted laws concerning illegal immigrants. Most of the legislation is seen as punitive, and it reflects legislators' anger at the federal government's inability to seal the southern border and at provisions in the Senate bill that would allow the 12 million illegal immigrants already here a path to citizenship.

As the federal government ponders without taking action, many states are increasingly frustrated at having to provide expensive services for illegal immigrants. "The federal government has authority over who comes in this country . . . but the people who are responsible for helping them integrate and acclimate are state and local governments," Ann Morse, a policy analyst for the National Conference of State Legislatures, said in a statement on the group's Web site.

In January, the Virginia House of Delegates approved a far-reaching proposal to strip charities and other organizations of state and local funding if any of the money is used to provide services to immigrants who are in the country illegally.

Before they adjourned, Maryland lawmakers defeated a proposal that would have let illegal immigrants pay in-state college tuition. Lawmakers are still considering a measure that would place a 5 percent surcharge on wire transfers to Mexico.

"The view here in the hinterland is that Washington has abrogated its responsibility to deal with this issue," said North Carolina Rep. Bill Faison (D), who chairs the Agribusiness Committee.

Faison said North Carolina growers need immigrant workers in order to thrive, but passing legislation friendly to illegal immigrants is difficult.

"There are a lot of people here who would like to take every immigrant here and ship them home. But those same people are buying the houses that they build and taking their services. It's a schizophrenic view," Faison said.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

The 10th Congressional District Candidates' Message to Democrats.

From the AJC's Political Insider:

From the Whitehead corner:

“This [election] was absolutely, without a question, a rejection of the new Democratic House and Senate,” said [John] Stone, [Jim Whitehead advisor], in words that might have come from his old boss, Norwood.

And from the Broun corner:

Broun’s campaign was rolling out the welcome mat for Democratic voters after Tuesday’s election.

“If Democrats want to stick their finger in the eye of the Republican establishment, sending Paul Broun to Congress would be one way to do that,” said Tim Echols, Broun’s treasurer . . . .

Bill Shipp on the 21st-century politics of race in a state that struggled for a hundred years to overcome the shackles of racist electioneering.

Bill Shipp writes:

Black voters will vote for black candidates.

In recent statewide primaries, black voters have supported such luminaries as Jesse Jackson for president and Denise Majette for Senate, even though neither had a prayer of winning their respective elections. As soon as Atlanta became a majority-black voting city, it tossed out progressive white Mayor Sam Massell and rolled Maynard Jackson into City Hall.

The current mayor, Shirley Franklin, warned recently that whites may have returned to the city in such numbers that they could recapture the mayor's office. She asked her constituents not to forget the past progress made by blacks in public office and suggested that they continue their support of black candidates. Such is the 21st-century politics of race in a state that struggled for a hundred years to overcome the shackles of racist electioneering.

Senator Kennedy and President Reagan on the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986.

Senator Ted Kennedy said: "This amnesty will give citizenship to only 1.1 to 1.3 million illegal aliens. We will secure the borders henceforth. We will never again bring forward another amnesty bill like this."

[Actually, almost 3 million illegal immigrants were granted amnesty under this legislation, and the amnesty was followed by an explosion in illegal immigration.]

President Ronald Reagan said: "Future generations of Americans will be thankful for our efforts to humanely regain control of our borders and thereby preserve the value of one of the most sacred possessions of our people, American citizenship."

Friday, June 22, 2007

Tom Crawford's thoughts on the recent 10th Congressional District election

Late Tuesday night when Paul Broun was leading James Marlow by only 32 votes, I did a post that said in part:

"Damn those other two Democrats who ran, and regardless of how it comes out, thanks Terry Holley for dropping out."

Tom Crawford's thoughts about the election are as follows:

The results of Tuesday's special election in the 10th Congressional District show that Jane Kidd, the Democratic Party's new state chairman, still has a lot of work to do in her efforts to rebuild the party as a viable political organization.

Democrats missed an opportunity to get one of their own into the July 17 runoff election because the party leadership was unable to accomplish the very basic task of "clearing the field" for their anointed candidate.

When congressman Charlie Norwood died in February and people began maneuvering to enter the race to replace him, Kidd and her cohorts wanted the party to unite behind one Democratic candidate and keep fringe candidates out of the election to maximize that person's chances of advancing beyond the primary.

The party settled upon its candidate, internet business executive James Marlow, and Terry Holley of Columbia County finally agreed not to get into the race and siphon off votes that Marlow would need in a heavily Republican district.

Democrats were unable to keep the field completely cleared, however. Two African American women, Denise Freeman and Evita Paschall, qualified as Democrats and effectively killed Marlow's chances.

Freeman and Paschall were fringe candidates who were unable to raise money and had absolutely no chance of winning the election, but they drew more than 4,300 votes combined, or about 8 percent of the ballots cast in Tuesday's election. Marlow finished less than 200 votes behind Republican Paul Broun in the race for second place and a spot on the runoff ballot.

If Democratic Party officials could have persuaded Freeman and Paschall to stay out of the race, Marlow would have been the only Democrat and likely would have garnered enough votes to finish ahead of Broun.

Of course, Jim Whitehead, the first-place finisher with more than 43 percent of the vote, could plausibly argue that he might have won the race without a runoff if not for the profusion of fringe candidates running as Republicans and Libertarians.

Bill Greene, Nate Pulliam, Erik Underwood, Mark Myers, and Libertarian Jim Sendelbach drew a combined total of 4,073 votes, or about 7.4 percent of the vote. If the GOP establishment had been able to clear them out of the field, Whitehead conceivably could have attracted just enough votes to cross the 50 percent plus one level.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

New Georgia Poll: 59% Oppose Immigration Bill

A recent InsiderAdvantage Georgia poll indicates that Republicans disapproved of the president’s proposed immigration reform bill currently under consideration in the United States Senate by a 51%-36% margin; Democrats disapproved by a 65%-18% margin; and Independents disapproved by a 62%-18% margin.

Sen. Johnny Isakson is right in being ahead of the curve on this one by advocating over a year ago that securing the border must come first.

It seems to me that even the most ardent advocates in the Senate by now should recognize that regardless of their personal beliefs, in order to get this legislation through both the House and the Senate with Mainstreet America behind it, it is going to have to be border security first as a prerequisite to any immigration reform.

Reduce, reuse and recycle Part II -- More for A Man Without a Party and Party Switcher Rep. Mike Jacobs

Tractboy1 enjoyed yesterday's post that was adapted from Sir Walter Scott's poem about a man without a country, and was about Rep. Mike Jacobs, former Democrat, who may well find himself to be a man without a party.

If you are a politician, it is important to have and identify with a party, a party with whom you are as much a part of as it is a part of you. This used to be the case with Mike; I know from having attended meetings with him on numerous occasions and party functions. Alas, for him it is no more.

Mike, who once enjoyed his native land that comprised his House District, now, just like the Man Without a Country, will be regarded as a deserter who has been cast away by the locals to go wandering on a foreign stand, the foreign strand of the Philistines.

And since Tractboy1 seemed to enjoy Sir Walter Scott, I have one more line from this Scotish author to share that is especially apropos when discussing Rep. Jacobs, this being that most relevant and favorite line of all of us:

"Oh what a tangled web we weave,
When first we practise to deceive!

(Sir Walter Scott's Marmion, Canto VI, Stanza 17.)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Reduce, reuse and recycle -- A Man Without a Party (or if you prefer), An Ode to Party Switcher Rep. Mike Jacobs.

While waiting for the Marlow returns, let's put a spin on -- make that turn into poetry -- today's event in the Georgia legislature:

Breathes there the man with soul so dead,
Who never to himself hath said,
This is my own, my natural group!
Whose heart no longer within him burns,
As home his footsteps he hath turn'd
From wandering on his self-made coup?

If such there breathe, go, mark him well;
For him no longer his District's raptures swell;
High though his ego, once his proud name,
Boundless his statewide publicity as wish can claim;
Despite the countless press, perceived power, and pelf,
The wretch, concentred all in self,
Living, shall forfeit fair renown,
And, doubly dying, shall go down
To the vile dust, from whence he sprung,
Unwept, unhonored, and unsung.

Adapted from Breathes There a Man, from The Lay of the Last Minstrel, Cando VI, Stanza 1, by one of my favorites, Sir Walter Scott, the Scotish author.

Damn -- There'll be a runoff in the 10th Congressional District, but will Marlow make it? This could be like the Marshall and Barrow 2006 elections.

According to the Georgia Secretary of State Web site, some 94% of the precincts have reported, and it is tight, very tight. Jim Whitehead leads with 43.7% of the votes counted, with James Marlow at 20.5% (10,813 votes) and Republican Paul Broun at 20.4% (10,781 votes).


Damn those other two Democrats who ran, and regardless of how it comes out, thanks Terry Holley for dropping out.

Despite Bush’s Promises, Georgians Remain Skeptical About Immigration Bill

From The New York Times:

If President Bush thought he could win support for a comprehensive immigration bill by promising to secure the border and step up law enforcement, he would be dismayed by the reaction here.

“It’s all window dressing,” said Mark A. Johnson, a real estate lawyer in this fast-growing suburb of Atlanta. “We don’t believe the government has the will to enforce any of these promises. Everybody can see the folly of it, everybody but the politicians.”

The storm raging around the bill shows no sign of abating despite reassuring presidential words about strengthening border security.

Reagan W. Dean, a Georgia state employee, said: “Maybe it is possible to secure the border. Maybe it is possible to establish an employee identification system. But I don’t have any confidence that it will be done.”

It really upsets me to find out that my government says, ‘Yes, we can secure the border, we can detain illegal aliens, we can take all sorts of actions to enforce the law, but we will do so only if Congress provides legal status to those who are here illegally,’ ” Mr. Dean said.

Louis S. Hunter, a pollster and political analyst based in Atlanta, said, “Congress and the president are completely out of touch with how people here feel about illegal immigration.”

Jane V. Kidd, chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Georgia, said: “This is not a partisan issue in Georgia. A small percentage of Democrats are supporting the bill as it stands, but a majority of Democrats and Republicans in the state do not like it.”

Mr. Dean, the state employee, . . . said: “. . . I frankly see this legislation as assisted suicide, for America, for the Republican Party and for all the individual politicians who support it.”

People here say they believe that Mr. Isakson, a resident of Marietta, shares their concerns. More than a year ago he insisted on “border security first,” as a prerequisite to “any immigration reform.”

Monday, June 18, 2007

Walter Jones' headline: "Signs Point To Whitehead, Marlow In Runoff In The 10th District"

Walter C. Jones has an article in InsiderAdvantage Georgia with the headline "Signs Point To Whitehead, Marlow In Runoff In The 10th District."

I hope the signs he sees are accurate, and that this time tomorrow evening I am saying "How sweet it is!" In Douglas we get several Atlanta stations, but none from Augusta. No problem, as I assume the Secretary of State's Office will be posting election returns as they come in.

Marlow's causing a runoff election that would be held on July 19 would be news, big news. Not just for the Democratic Party of Georgia, but for the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, as this is the first election in the election since Democrats won control of Congress last year. If we have a runoff, prepare for some kind of attention being shown in and on this election.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

10th Congressional District race -- Potential harbinger of next year's congressional campaigns.

Shannon McCaffrey of the Associated Press writes:

In what could be a harbinger of next year's congressional campaigns, Iraq and immigration have dominated the special election to replace deceased Republican Rep. Charlie Norwood in northeast Georgia.

The election on Tuesday is the first congressional contest since the Democrats won control of Congress last year and it will be watched closely for any clues it might provide to the high-stakes 2008 elections. A strong Democratic showing in the GOP-leaning district could spell more trouble for Republicans next year as the war in Iraq continues to loom.

The state Democratic Party has taken the unusual step of endorsing [James] Marlow, although there are two other lesser-known Democrats running . . . .

[W]hile the district is heavily Republican, it is not as much so as it used to be. That's because in 2005 state lawmakers redrew congressional lines to make the neighboring district of Democratic U.S. Rep. John Barrow more competitive for a Republican. Republican lawmakers took liberal Athens out of Barrow's district and placed it in Norwood's. Despite the move, Barrow narrowly won re-election last year.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Political Insider thinks immigration bill will pass in the U.S. Senate.

I have been on the road a couple of days, and just saw that the AJC's Political Insider on Friday morning noted:

"We’re betting that both Isakson and Chambliss — despite their strong roles in the negotiations — will vote against the bill, and that it will still pass."

Although we know that -- with the number of amendments that may be offered by each party having been agreed upon -- Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority and minority leaders, respectively, have agreed that the immigration bill will come back, I think it is a bit to early to call the outcome.

If certain of the amendments that will be offered are approved, it will pass. If they do not, I think passage is far from certain in the Senate. And regardless, passage in the House will come about only if securing the border is made not only to appear but to be paramount.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Immigrants' plan to march & Newton's 3rd law of motion (for every action done by a force, there is an equal & opposite reaction by another force).

In a story with with the headline "Immigrants Try to Revive Stalled Bill," The New York Times reports:

As President Bush pressed lawmakers to get immigration reform back on track, immigrants across the country were marching, praying, writing lawmakers and hitting the road for Washington in a desperate push to revive the stalled measure.

A case can be made that they ought to go heavy on the praying and lighten up on the marching and hitting the road for Washington. This is an emotional issue that draws much fire. I suspect the more marching and rallies that mainstreet America sees on television, the more anti-immigration calls will pour into Washington as they did last week.

Americans give the Republican Party their most negative assessment in the two-decade history of the Wall Street Journal/NBC survey.

Today the Wall Street Journal reports the following based on a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll:

By 52% to 31%, Americans say they want Democrats to win the presidency next year.

Americans give the Republican Party their most negative assessment in the two-decade history of the Journal/NBC survey, and by 49% to 36% they say the Democratic Party more closely shares their values and positions on the issues.

The party's woes can be partly traced to the political decline of President Bush. His approval rating in the Journal/NBC survey has fallen to its lowest ever, 29%, while 66% of Americans disapprove of his performance.

The poll hardly brings reassurance for the Democrats, who control both the House and Senate. Amid political gridlock on domestic issues and inconclusive debates over Iraq, the approval rating for Congress stands lower than Mr. Bush's, at 23%. Just 41% of Americans say their representative in Congress deserves re-election, comparable to levels before Democrats swept Republicans out of power in November.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Blue Dogs Take Aim At Record Deficits -- In Ideological Divide, Conservative Democrats Seek Fiscal Discipline

From The Washington Post:

Conservative Democrats in the House are challenging their own party to do more to balance the federal budget and restrain government spending, highlighting an ideological division among Democrats that could play a big role in the party's 2008 presidential campaign.

The Blue Dog Coalition, a band of more than 40 House Democrats committed to fiscal discipline, plans to introduce legislation today that would impose caps on some spending, enshrine pay-as-you-go rules in federal law and authorize automatic spending cuts to enforce them. The group also wants to amend the U.S. Constitution to require a balanced budget and to create an array of budget provisions that would focus more attention on what it sees as pork-barrel spending.

The three bills would go beyond budget rules so far enacted by the new Democratic majority, which has adopted a blueprint for balancing the budget by 2012.

[T]he beliefs of many conservative Democrats, whose numbers swelled in Congress after last fall's election, [helped] the party regain control of both the House and Senate. Cleaning up a fiscal situation that has included record deficits and trillions of dollars in new debt was an important part of the party's message in 2006, said Rep. Allen Boyd (D-Fla.), a Blue Dog leader, and he added that Democrats abandon it at their peril.

"If you're saying it's okay to do new projects without knowing how we're going to pay for them, that's wrong," Boyd said. "We need to act now and not saddle our children and grandchildren with the burden of these huge debts. We've been selfish about this long enough."

Democratic strategists said the battle between balanced budgets and pressing social needs has long divided the party. Deficit reduction was a stated Democratic priority through the 1990s, when a Democratic Congress enacted laws to cap discretionary spending and to require any increases in mandatory spending, such as Social Security or Medicare, to be made up through budget cuts or tax increases elsewhere. After Bill Clinton moved into the White House in 1993, he worked with Republican congresses to produce multiple balanced budgets, the first in a generation.

But lawmakers' appetite for spending restraint collapsed during the surpluses of the late 1990s. After President Bush took office, Republican enthusiasm for big tax cuts combined with a demand for increased spending related to the 2001 terrorist attacks -- as well as a new Medicare prescription drug benefit -- to replace the surpluses with record deficits.

With even many Republicans furious about the pace of federal spending under Bush and the Republican Congress, Democratic candidates last year cast themselves as a more responsible alternative. After taking control of Congress, House and Senate Democrats quickly restored pay-as-you-go budget rules that had been allowed to expire in 2002. Those rules required that spending increases or tax cuts be offset dollar-for-dollar so as not to raise the budget deficit. But last year's measures did not cap discretionary spending or write the rules into law, as the Blue Dogs propose to do.

This spring, Democratic leaders in both chambers beat back requests from the liberal wing of the party for billions of dollars in new social spending, approving a five-year budget blueprint projected to achieve balance in 2012.

Earmarks: Most lawmakers vote to preserve one another’s pet projects rather than risk challenges to remove their own.

Excerpts from an article from The New York Times about earmarks (federal money for local projects that helps endear lawmakers to constituents):

Under pressure from Republicans, the Democrat, Representative David R. Obey of Wisconsin, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said that this year all earmarks and their sponsors would be listed in The Congressional Record a month before they come up for final approval.

Lawmakers and the public can raise questions, sponsors can defend their projects, and the Appropriations Committee will make final decisions.

Mr. Obey warned that he would bar earmarks completely if Republicans attacked individual projects to score political points.

At the beginning of the year, Democrats passed rules intended to make representatives more accountable by requiring for the first time the disclosure of which lawmakers requested each earmark.

Republicans, still smarting from Democratic accusations of earmark abuse under Republican control, hammered the Democrats as not keeping their promise to open up the process.

“It sounds like Mr. Obey has created a complaints department, not an open and deliberative process that guarantees accountability for the American taxpayer,” said Representative John A. Boehner, the Ohio Republican who is minority leader.

Wouldn't it be great if the Democrats took a major, progressive step forward and said henceforth, no more earmarks. They now soak up more than $64 billion a year on local rather than national projects. And on something this important, rather than being debated in Congress, the final decision on each earmark is made by the handful of leaders of a House and Senate conference. It's crazy.

As noted in 12-23-06 and 1-6-07 posts, earmarks figured prominently in some recent Congressional bribery scandals, and have also become cherished instruments of political power, used by party leaders to reward or punish members and by incumbents to buy good will among their constituents. Some lawmakers treat their share of this money as personal accounts to dole out to constituents or, in many cases, campaign contributors.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Why the Immigration Bill Failed

Long but worth reading. From RealClearPolitics:

It's still an open question whether the Senate immigration bill once hailed as a "grand bargain" returns to the Senate floor this week or fades forever from public and political consciousness. But before they try to resurrect this or any other immigration bill, President Bush and the senators who supported this failed effort would be well-advised to heed the opinion of the people who have elected them.

A New York Times/CBS poll taken May 18-23 found that 69% of Americans believe that illegal immigrants should be prosecuted and deported; 82% of those surveyed said the federal government should be working harder to "keep illegal immigrants from crossing into this country." And according to a Rasmussen poll, by a two-to-one margin (60% to 28%), Americans set a higher priority on gaining control of the nation's borders than regularizing the status of illegal immigrants, while 75% opined that it's very important for the United States to "improve border enforcement and end illegal immigration."

At its heart, the bill was profoundly out of step with public opinion. In fact, it's remarkable that any legislation with so many elements so at odds with prevailing opinion among Americans was ever given much of a chance at passing. Perhaps that's why the bill's proponents, who long believed that they had a winner on their hands, came in for a rude awakening by week's end. But there were also plenty of other reasons for the legislation's collapse.

The bill was flawed on its merits. For much of the past three weeks, Americans have had a tutorial on the substance of the immigration bill, and many came to dislike what they saw. From providing permanent temporary visas within the space of a business day to all comers before January 1 - including those from "countries of interest" well-known for their terrorist ties - to the "triggers" that could be largely certified without any meaningful improvement in border security, the bill's opponents identified the significant dangers and disadvantages hidden in the bill.

Other controversial provisions included the elimination of the EB-1 visa, designed to facilitate the entry to the U.S. of those with exceptional gifts, skills or talents, and (especially for those on the left) the creation of a guest worker program unacceptable to labor unions. In fact, the more its provisions came to light, the more that even long-time self-described "liberals" on immigration like Bill Kristol came to oppose the legislation.

The rollout of the bill was misguided. Like Athena springing full-grown from the head of Zeus, the immigration bill arrived directly on the Senate floor as the product of negotiations between a select group of senators. It bypassed the normal Senate committee system, which allows for both a deliberative and orderly process for the consideration of legislation, and the full airing of amendments. What's more, it's been reported that Senator Ted Kennedy admitted that special interest group La Raza was offered a veto over the bill's provisions - before many other senators even had seen them. The closed-door drafting and special interest input only raised suspicions that the bill was being shoved down America's throat - concerns that were heightened when the bill's supporters presented the legislation insisting that it be "debated," voted upon and passed within the space of a week.

The attitude of the bill's proponents was counterproductive. It's quite possible that the immigration bill would still be alive and kicking had its supporters treated opponents more respectfully. Republicans are used to being accused of all kinds of bigotry by their Democratic counterparts, but it was insulting (and infuriating) for Republicans who raised concerns about the bill in good conscience to be characterized by a President of their own party as lacking the will to "do what's right for America." Others, such as Republican presidential hopeful John McCain and Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, repeatedly insinuated that those who opposed the bill did so from unworthy and bigoted motives. Worst of all, none of the bill's supporters paid its opponents the courtesy of addressing their concerns substantively and respectfully. Instead, they took the low road and in doing so, only hardened the will of their opposition.

Key amendments were voted down. Those who objected to the legislation did so in large part because they suspected that the bill's supporters were not serious about securing the border and enforcing the immigration laws already on the books. Their reservations were justified when a majority of the Senate defeated common sense amendments.

For example, Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman presented a measure that would have prohibited "sanctuary cities" and states from passing laws preventing law enforcement from sharing information about illegal aliens with the federal government. An amendment offered by Senator John Cornyn of Texas would have ensured that members of terrorist-related organizations, known gang members, sex offenders, alien smugglers who use firearms and felony drunk drivers were either barred from the U.S. or prohibited from obtaining any immigration benefit. When these measures and others like them were voted down, it only reinforced the sense that the bill's proponents were more interested in legalizing immigrants than in enforcing the law or protecting the American people.

Process was elevated over substance. Ironically, some senators who might otherwise have supported sensible, bill-saving amendments refused to do so because they believed it would undermine the spirit of their "Grand Bargain." From the time when the legislation was first presented to the American people, the public was treated to elevated disquisitions from some of its negotiators, who praised themselves lavishly and let it be known that they had basked in the perfumed and rarified air of bipartisanship.

Amid their self-congratulation, they missed an important fact. Although Americans may applaud the concept of bipartisanship, the truth is that they didn't send representatives to Washington to engage in a "bipartisan process." Rather, they elected them to pursue certain policies. The "grand bargainers" - especially on the Republican side - became so enamored of the process of bipartisan negotiation that they lost sight of the reality that "progress" doesn't so much consist of following certain procedures as it does of achieving certain policy objectives.

Given the number and the magnitude of the mistakes made by the immigration bill's supporters, the bill's resilience could actually be understood as a testament to the power of elite Beltway thinking. And contrary to many of the assertions of the failed immigration bill's proponents, real immigration reform can be achieved - but it will have to reflect the wishes and convictions of the American people, rather than focusing on the priorities, prerogatives and preoccupations of a small circle of the Beltway elite.

In Journey Home to Mexico Grave, an Industry Rises

From The New York Times:

As debate rages in Congress over a proposed immigration law that would provide a path to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants and temporary working visas for hundreds of thousands, the reverse journey of the dead suggests that for many Mexicans the sojourn to the United States, legal or not, is meant to be temporary.

Home — at least in death — is south of the border.

In Mexican immigrant neighborhoods throughout the United States, collection boxes to help pay for the repatriation of a body are placed in grocery store windows.

For illegal immigrants, some of whom pay $2,000 to $3,000 to be smuggled across the border through the Arizona desert, the return trip in a coffin can be more expensive than the journey into the United States.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Grass Roots Roared and Immigration Plan Collapsed

From The New York Times:

The undoing of the immigration bill in the Senate this week had many players, but none more effective than angry voters like Monique Thibodeaux, who joined a nationwide campaign to derail it.

Mrs. Thibodeaux, an office manager at a towing company here in suburban Detroit, became politically active as she never had before. Guided by conservative Internet organizations, she made calls and sent e-mail messages to senators across the country and pushed her friends to do the same.

“These people came in the wrong way, so they don’t belong here, period,” Mrs. Thibodeaux, a Republican, said of some 12 million illegal immigrants who would have been granted a path to citizenship under the Senate bill.

Christopher Sabatini, senior director of policy at the Americas Society/Council of the Americas, which follows Hispanic immigration, described the bill as “born an orphan in terms of popular support.”

“You got the sense of a deafening silence from the supporters, and the roar of the opposition,” Mr. Sabatini said.

For Mrs. Thibodeaux and others on her side, the immigration debate was a battle for the soul of the nation because it seemed to divert taxpayer-financed resources to cater to foreigners who had not come to this country by legal means.

The bill’s opponents also objected to how it was handled, with the huge measure negotiated behind closed doors between White House and Senate lawmakers, without any hearings or other public input.

Mrs. Thibodeaux said the immigration bill worried her like no other political issue. She believed it would reward undeserving immigrants who do not speak English and would soon become a burden on public services that Americans need in a time of economic uncertainty.

Her strong feelings about the immigration issue came gradually, she said. A nephew who works as a house painter had trouble finding high-paying work because of competition from illegal immigrants. Some Mexican teenagers hassled her on the street, seeming to mock her because she walks with a cane. She spotted immigrants shopping with food stamps at the grocery store.

Mrs. Thibodeaux said she favored orderly legal immigration, but did not think illegal immigrants should benefit from American generosity.

Tom Crawford: Dale Cardwell can lift a huge burden off the Democratic Party’s shoulders.

Tom Crawford of Capitol Impact writes:

DeKalb County CEO Vernon Jones . . . so far has danced around reporters’ questions as to when he was ever going to “officially” announce his candidacy. Jones, to put it politely, is a major headache for Democratic Party officials.

As a prominent African-American politician, however, Jones could scare away better candidates who would run a more credible campaign. Democrats thus faced the real possibility of having a nominee at the top of the ticket next year who would draw even less than the 38 percent of the vote amassed by Mark Taylor in last year’s race for governor. Cardwell . . . can lift a huge burden off the Democratic Party’s shoulders by forcing Jones either to make a formal declaration of his Senate candidacy or do what many political observers have figured all along he will do: run against 4th District Congressman Hank Johnson of DeKalb County.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

If Wash. D.C. can't produce a solution to immigration, what hope is there on health care, energy independence, or Medicare and Social Security?

Dan Balz writes in The Washington Post:

The collapse of comprehensive immigration revision in the Senate last night represents a political defeat [and] a scathing indictment of the political culture of Washington.

The defeat of the legislation can be laid at the doorstep of opponents on the right and left, on congressional leaders who couldn't move their troops and on an increasingly weakened president and his White House team. But together it added up to another example of a polarized political system in which the center could not hold.

[T]hose far removed from the backrooms of Capitol Hill, what happened will fuel cynicism toward a political system that appears incapable of finding ways to resolve the nation's big challenges.

If Washington cannot produce a solution to the glaring problem of immigration, they will ask, what hope is there for progress on health care, energy independence, or the financial challenges facing Medicare and Social Security? Iraq is another matter entirely.

The collective failure of the two parties already appears to have stimulated interest in a third-party candidate for president in 2008 whose main promise would be to make Washington work.

"The reality is most people are just desperate to see a solution. If this goes down, the opposition is not offering an alternative, and that means the problem is still an issue," said Pete Brodnitz, a Democratic pollster. "We're in a period where people are looking to see leadership and progress."

Public opinion suggests an electorate open to, but by no means wildly enthusiastic about, comprehensive change that provides the 12 million illegal immigrants a path to citizenship, but only if there is an effective border security plan in place.

Immigration -- This agreement was reached bet. a handful of senators. That should not be considered a substitute for deliberation by the full Senate.

From The New York Times:

The leaderships of both parties kept their distance from the start. Mr. Reid, Democrat of Nevada, was ambivalent about the policy and political merits of the approach. Mr. McConnell, his counterpart, found himself caught among diehard Republican opponents, lawmakers open to persuasion and a president eager for a victory.

The creation of the bill, too, was highly unorthodox. Even participants in the private negotiations that led to the so-called grand bargain say their very approach created problems, producing contentious legislation embraced by the participants but met with skepticism by other lawmakers, the public and groups like organized labor and conservative research organizations.

“This agreement was reached between a handful of senators,” said Senator Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, one of the Democrats who balked and voted against limiting debate. “That should not be considered a substitute for deliberation by the full Senate.”

Reid's motives on the immigration bill have been a question mark from day one.

I entitled a 6-6-07 post "Reid says he will seek to end debate on immigration bill -- I hope he will reconsider." The post noted: "This is a big mistake for Reid to seek to invoke cloture this week. The bill did not go through any committee, and debate is a helpful part of our legislative process. I hope Reid will reconsider. This is the closest yet we have been to getting legislation that has a chance to pass."

But what I was thinking but didn't say is alluded to in the following quote from an article in The Washington Post. Maybe Reid got just what he wanted.

From Saturday's The Washington Post:

Reid's motives have been a question mark from day one. Spokesman Jim Manley said his boss was prepared to support the immigration bill on final passage. But advocates had their doubts, given Reid's determination to limit debate, and the green light he gave to one of the bill's Democratic critics to twice offer an amendment to end a guest-worker program after five years. Supporters of the immigration bill viewed the measure, which passed on the second try, as a poison pill.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Reid says he will seek to end debate on immigration bill -- I hope he will reconsider.

According to The Washington Post, Senate majority leader Harry Reid is going to force an end on the debate of the pending immigration bill, leaving the fate of the legislation in question. Reid said the Senate would vote Thursday on whether to limit debate, a process that requires 60 votes to succeed. He said he would pull the bill if he failed to get the necessary votes.

This is a big mistake for Reid to seek to invoke cloture this week. The bill did not go through any committee, and debate is a helpful part of our legislative process. I hope Reid will reconsider. This is the closest yet we have been to getting legislation that has a chance to pass.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Emory University political scientist says Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate is in the wrong party.

In a June 3 post I questioned whether Dale Cardwell, who on June 2 announced that he would be a Democratic candidate in the 2008 race for U.S. Senate, was going to conduct his campaign as if he were running for the Democratic primary or for the general election.

Then in a June 4 post I noted that although Cardwell apparently was going to run as a populist, he would be better off in 2008 running as a moderate Democrat.

Today, June 5, I read in the AJC's Political Insider that Alan Abramowitz, the Emory University political scientist, believes Cardwell is in the wrong party.

“Democratic primary voters in Georgia are . . . not going to support someone who wants to abolish the IRS and who basically supports the war. He’s in the wrong party,” Abramowitz said.

This is getting more interesting by the day.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Dem. candidate for U.S. Senate Dale Cardwell apparently to run somewhat as a populist. In 2008 running as a regular moderate Democrat would work.

From the AJC's Political Insider:

“You need to know that most of your elected officials no longer work for you,” Cardwell said. “They’ve been busy looking for the special interest groups that fund their campaigns and send them on fancy vacations all over the world.

“This may be our last chance to take our government back. This may be our last chance to elect an outsider who will stay an outsider,” Cardwell said.

The former investigative journalist declared himself pro-choice, anti-IRS, pro-Second Amendment, opposed to the current immigration reform bill, and in favor of a tougher line on Iraq and its government.

Cardwell said he was not in favor of withdrawing from the [Iraq] region. He wants the Iraq government held to benchmarks. “If they fail, we will redeploy our troops, but we will never surrender a security perimeter, a beachhead if you will, that we’ve earned with the blood of American lives,” he said. “We’ll maintain a base, we’ll make it safe from insurgents, and we’ll use that base to launch attacks against al-Qaida.”

But withdrawing would lead to chaos, he said.

He spoke of abolishing the IRS, and replacing the current system with something more “simple.” Whether the so-called “fair tax” or a flat tax, Cardwell said he hadn’t decided.

Cardwell said he’s in favor of a tougher immigration reform bill, and demanded the immediate construction of a wall across the southern U.S. border.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Dem. candidate for U.S. Senate picks an usual "first" campaign issue -- immigration. Is he running for the primary or the general election, or both?

This weekend the AJC's Political Insider informed us that there is a new Democratic candidate in the 2008 race for U.S. Senate, Dale Cardwell, who on Friday ended an 11-year stint as an investigative reporter at WSB-TV.

The first issue he mentioned to the Political Insider was the immigration reform bill now before the U.S. Senate, and hammered out with the assistance of both Senators Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson.

According to the Political Insider, Cardwell called it an "amnesty" bill that’s aimed at satisfying corporate interests. "Georgia has to be freed from this illegal invasion that’s holding down salaries,” he told the Political Insider.

Welcome aboard DPG Executive Director Matt Weyandt. We look forward to working with you and Chair Jane Kidd.

In a 4-29-07 post I discussed the first meeting the Democratic Party of Georgia had following the January election of Jane Kidd as its Chair. That meeting was held on April 28. In that post I noted that all in attendance agreed that Jane was up to the task of leading our party forward.

Privately I shared with the Chair that I hoped she would disregard the unjustified moaning and groaning from the usual few about the amount of time it was taking to select a new Executive Director. Time was not our enemy, and she should take as much time as she needed to come up with the best she could find.

What exciting news to learn from our Chair this past week that she has found that person, and that the Executive Committee has approved the selection of Matt Weyandt as the party's new Executive Director in charge of overseeing our party staff and managing the day-to-day party operations.

Matt is a native Georgian and a graduate of the Atlanta Public Schools and Emory University. In 2001 he worked on the finance staff for Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin's first campaign, and just last year served as Finance Director and Deputy Campaign Manager on Jim Martin's campaign for Lieutenant Governor.

Welcome aboard Matt Weyandt! We look forward to working with you and Chair Jane Kidd.

Thompson offers a preview of the themes he is likely to emphasize in a presidential campaign.

From The New York Times:

In a preview of the themes he is likely to emphasize in a presidential campaign, Fred D. Thompson tossed some red meat to Republicans [during a speech in Richmond, Virginia] Saturday night, assailing the immigration bill in Congress and warning of a mushroom cloud he said radicals around the world were waiting to see rise over the United States.

The speech was both a call to arms and a declaration to conservatives that he is one of them. Mr. Thompson paid homage to Barry Goldwater as his political inspiration. He denounced the so-called death tax. He took a swipe at Democrats for what he said was hanging out a “surrender” sign in the war in Iraq.

“Believe it or not, we still have many friends around the world,” Mr. Thompson said. But he said those friends needed convincing “that this is a battle between the forces of civilization and the forces of evil and we’ve got to choose sides.”

He was short on specifics, offering instead a broad conservative approach toward smaller government, lower taxes and a bigger defense budget.

It was his views on immigration that brought the diners to their feet with sustained applause.

“You’ve got to secure the border first before you do anything else,” he said, adding, “This is our home, and we get to decide who comes into our home.”

Wall Street Journal opinion writer: “What conservatives and Republicans must recognize is that the White House has broken with them.”

From The New York Times:

President Bush’s advocacy of an immigration overhaul and his attacks on critics of the plan are provoking an unusually intense backlash from conservatives who form the bulwark of his remaining support, splintering his base and laying bare divisions within a party whose unity has been the envy of Democrats.

It has pitted some of Mr. Bush’s most stalwart Congressional and grass-roots backers against him, inciting a vitriol that has at times exceeded anything seen yet between Mr. Bush and his supporters, who have generally stood with him through the toughest patches of his presidency. Those supporters now view him as pursuing amnesty for foreign lawbreakers when he should be focusing on border security.

Democrats have their own serious differences on immigration, with many worried that the Senate plan is too punitive. Others who are closely allied with labor are fearful about the impact on job opportunities, and still others oppose any plan that allows illegal immigrants to earn citizenship. But the Democratic divisions have been all but lost in the loud and volatile clashes among Republicans.

Mr. Bush’s comments to federal law enforcement trainees in Georgia on Tuesday, in which he took the rare step of going after conservative critics in terms usually reserved for Democrats, has charged the Republican ferment, specifically his suggestion that those opposed to the plan “don’t want to do what’s right for America.”