Friday, June 29, 2007

Truckers from Mexico Get to Pass GO

Little has been said about next month's change in policy that will allow Mexican trucks to roll across the border into the U.S. making deliveries anywhere in the country. U.S. truckers will now lose business to low-paid Mexican truckers who can drive trucks that don't have to meet the same emissions and safety requirements demanded of U.S. trucks, will not be required to submit drug tests in the U.S. as required of all other drivers, and can drive as many hours as they want without a break.
Having taken a number of trips well into Mexico and observed trucks held together with baling wire belching clouds of smoke swerving all over the road, it’s hard to understand why environmentalists and safety advocates aren’t out organizing protest marches. Despite administration officials’ assertions that some of these concerns will be managed in Mexico, I’m sorry, but that comforts me like a bed of nails.

And what about security? The National Transportation Safety Board, INS and Border Patrol already admit to being grossly understaffed now. How will they possibly control the increased traffic that will include drug and criminal smuggling along with imported tomatoes and lettuce.

From a purely highway safety perspective, this seems like a terrible idea. But in a post 9/11 world, it's unfathomable.
Not surprisingly, U.S. truckers, and Teamsters are up in arms. If only border security advocates knew...

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Beating a Dead Bill

It's been an interesting day to say the least. Before the vote was complete, Congressman Shadegg sent his detailed description of hypothetical catastrophies resulting from the Senate immigration bill posted on National Review Online. Shadegg continued to lead the charge against the bill from the House.

During the vote, Senator Kyl stuck to his guns all the way to the bitter end and supported the bill despite clear opposition presented through letters, faxes, emails, and phone calls by GOP activists from a variety of ideological perspectives. As issues go, this one was incredible in the way it united Republicans in Arizona. As solid as Senator Kyl has been—enjoying years of widespread support from his Republican base—he messed up this time and lost touch with the reality that he was supposed to be representing the state of Arizona in D.C., not representing D.C. to the state of Arizona. Whether or not he recognizes this, he seems to understand what now needs to be done. Here's an excerpt from the end of his post-vote letter today:

"Though the current legislation has been defeated, I’ll keep fighting for additional resources in upcoming appropriations bills for more Border Patrol agents, the construction of border fencing and other barriers, and improved technology along the border. I will urge the Bush administration to enforce those parts of the law that are enforceable in order to demonstrate to a skeptical public that our government is indeed committed to enforcing the law. I also intend to introduce legislation that will focus on enforcing immigration laws at the workplace and securing the border. Clearly, the American people want more enforcement before doing anything else."

Kyl completed his obligation to the President and his loyalty is shown to be without question. Now that it's over, he is showing his willingness to listen to his constituents.

Clearly, Shadegg gets it. Now, Kyl is responding to it.


Stunning defeat. I'm pretty much speechless at that result.

That is an eighteen vote turnaround from the last vote.

I don't expect Jon Kyl to marching in any parades next week. I honestly don't know what his next step is. He miscalculated badly on this.

The last week of parliamentary tricks and suppression has been an embarrassment no matter which side of the issue you come down on. Good to see that kind of behavior rewarded in kind.

Maybe we can get back to the introduction of bills in committee, actually writing the bills before you bring them to the floor, and allowing the other side equal opportunity to debate.

That's just me though.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Big Test on Senate Immigration Bill

Thursday morning at 10:50, after an hour of debate, we are told that a motion will be made in the Senate to close debate in order to vote on S1639. A "yes" vote on this motion would have the effect of closing debate and beginning a vote on the bill. A "no" vote will essentially kill it.

Since fewer senators seem to want to continue this painful exercise, expect more to shift sides and vote to kill it once and for all.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Senate Immigration Bill Final Death On Thursday

Today, the Senate voted to move the immigration bill (now S1639) forward to debate giving it one last gasp before the final death knell. Even though supporters provided four more yes votes than the 60 required, five Senators are expected to change their votes Thursday in the next round expected to kill the bill altogether when the Senate votes to end debate. A number of senators that were willing to allow debate have expressed opposition to the bill including Boxer, Bingaman, Menendez and Webb. Some have privately said they voted 'yea' this time as part of a deal, but that doesn't apply to Thursday.

Of course, it may not matter if by some miracle the bill makes it past the Senate. House Republicans already made their statement today voting 114-23 against it and House Democrats show no interest in allowing the S1639 hive into their chambers.

A stopped clock

Even a stopped clock is right twice a day. So, in tooting my own horn:

I previously surmised that Romney was waiting to jump all over the Wisconsin Right to Life v. The Federal Election Commission decision. Minutes after the opinion was delivered, we got this from the Romney camp:
"Score one for free speech. Today the Supreme Court reaffirmed the First Amendment by rejecting a key feature of McCain-Feingold. The law trampled the basic right of the American people to participate in their democracy. It also purported to reduce the influence of money in politics, but we now know that influence is greater than ever. McCain-Feingold was a poorly-crafted bill. Today's decision restores, in part, to the American people a right critical to their freedom of political participation and expression."

McCain responded:

"While I respect their decision in this matter, it is regrettable that a split Supreme Court has carved out a narrow exception by which some corporate and labor expenditures can be used to target a federal candidate in the days and weeks before an election.

"It is important to recognize, however, that the Court's decision does not affect the principal provision of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, which bans federal officeholders from soliciting soft money contributions for their parties to spend on their campaigns.

"I am grateful to the Bush Administration and all those lawmakers, both past and present, who have joined us in our efforts to put an end to the corruption bred by soft money. Fortunately, that central reform still stands as the law."

Additionally, in the last comments section, I made the following observation:

"In the coming few weeks, Edwards is going to wish everyone was talking about his hair."

Sure enough, here is a story discussing Edwards latest fundraising letter:

Edwards' defenders have tried to turn the tables on his critics for obsessing over a trivial matter, but even Markos Moulitsas Zuniga of Daily Kos, the most prominent of the liberal bloggers, has chastised Edwards and his campaign over the haircut blunder. While blaming the press for driving the story, Kos said the haircut "really was a disaster on way too many levels to completely ignore and shrug off."

With that in mind, why in the world would Jonathan Prince, Edwards' deputy campaign manager, have sent a fundraising e-mail that draws more attention to the haircut? Titled "Haircuts And Hatchet Jobs," the e-mail solicitation blasts "political mercenaries and the chattering class" for attacking the messenger in personal ways because they don't like his message.

"Like many of you, I've been with John since 2004," Prince wrote. "The same folks who are attacking him now went after him then. ... Last time they attacked his hair; this time it's his haircut. But it's the same sad game."

As a PR move, the pitch is foolhardy. It keeps the haircut story alive another day -- or week, or month. It's also questionable as a fundraising tactic. While the e-mail might motivate Edwards supporters to back their candidate with more bucks to fight his enemies, it also might make them think twice about bankrolling a candidate who can afford $400 haircuts.

The answer to this is simple. It is to deflect attention to his founding of bogus charities to make sure that his campaign staff is paid during the offseason. Look at the tone of this article, and imagine Mitt Romney or Fred Thompson had did this. Would the coverage have been the same?

Next prediction: cloture on the Immigration Bill occurs today by a narrow margin, and is defeated on the second vote after the "accepted amendments" are revealed.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Romney Camp continues to needle McCain

It appears that Romney has now passed the $1 million mark in Arizona, and issued a handy press release, which the the AP bit on.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has topped $1 million in contributions in Arizona, the home state of presidential rival John McCain, Romney campaign officials said Wednesday.

Sen. McCain's campaign spokesman Danny Diaz dismissed the announcement by the Romney campaign, saying McCain has raised more than twice that amount in Arizona.

"We've also done well raising money in Massachusetts," Diaz said. "Senator McCain has been elected and re-elected in Arizona time and time again."

Romney is expected to add another $175,000 after speaking to 250 supporters at a fundraiser Wednesday night in Gilbert, a rapidly growing town east of Phoenix.

Romney called McCain a "terrific senator and American hero" but he differed with McCain on a number of key issues.

I'm not positive what Team McCain's response will be, but I suspect outperforming fundraising expectations would be a good start. I actually think that McCain will meet his $10 million goal, and is lowering expectations to make hitting this number a larger victory.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Democrats Lukewarm on New Senate Immigration Bill

A new Democracy Corps poll suggests Democrats aren't any more excited about the new, improved Senate immigration reform bill than are Republicans. It's hard to imagine Harry Reid seriously pushing this forward under these conditions. If the President wants to leave a legacy, he should probably pick something else on which to do it.

An excerpt from the article:

A Democracy Corps poll by Stan Greenberg and James Carville, former advisors to Democratic President Bill Clinton, showed intense voter concern about immigration in battleground congressional districts. Voters were far more likely to support proposals that would tighten the border and stop illegal immigrants from getting government benefits than efforts to legalize the estimated 12 million people living in the country illegally, the poll found.

"We do not find very much voter support for the comprehensive Senate bill," the pollsters wrote. Even Democratic voters split -- with 47 percent for and 47 percent against -- after hearing a description of the Senate bill, while most independents and Republicans opposed it.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

House Challenges Senate with Border Security Bill

Thursday, the Senate is supposed to be ressurecting the new and improved immigration reform bill. But today, the House made a blatant attempt to further dampen the spirits of pro-amnesty senators by introducing the Secure Borders FIRST Act.

This bill goes after employers, illegal immigrant gangs, and identity theft as well as providing a controlled worker program.

Now why didn't the senators think of that?

DHS Ordered to Reinstate Agent Sipe

Our sources have informed us that the Merit Systems Protection Board has ordered the Department of Homeland Security to reinstate Border Patrol Agent David Sipe with full tenure and pay retroactive to April 21, 2001 as well as interest for that backpay.

Like agents Compean and Ramos, Agent Sipe had been prosecuted by U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton for shooting an illegal alien. The conviction was overturned when the judge discovered Sutton's office had engaged in illegal activities relating to the case including withholding evidence.

Even though Sipes was acquitted this past January after six years in prison, the Department of Homeland Security fought his reinstatement which resulted in the order.

CORRECTION: Sipe did not shoot an illegal alien. He whacked him over the head with his flashlight as I posted several months ago.

Romney Strikes Back

Things are likely to get worse for John McCain before they get better. In light of his dropping numbers due to his support of the Senate Immigration Bill, which looks to be dragged into the news cycle yet again, another significant speed bump is likely to appear.

In the next few days we should get a ruling from the Supreme Court on Wisconsin Right to Life v. The Federal Election Commission. This ruling is likely to strike down at least part of McCain-Feingold.

Barbara Lyons from Wisconsin Right to Life recounts part of the "judge talk" during the hearing:

We really have excellent attorneys and know they covered everything possible and we're very confident in them that they did the right thing and presented the arguments in a very coherent way that the justices would be happy about. I know that during oral arguments in April, Justices Breyer and Souter were agitated and apoplectic. They weren't happy about the situation at the time. What that means, I don't know. At one point, Justice Breyer said, "Well, why don't we just overturn the whole law?" At which point, Justice Scalia said, "Yeah, that's a great idea. Maybe we made a mistake in 2003."

If Breyer is sour on this issue, then supporters will have to hope for help from Samuel Alito, which is a tenuous straw at best.

A defeat for McCain-Feingold is something McCain can ill afford at this juncture. Not only is it a defeat for him personally, but it will help remind some that have placed McCain-Feingold in the background many of the unpalatable issues associated with it.

And don't think McCain will be able to get away with "no comment," as Mitt Romney, for one, has great plans to bring this issue to the forefront. As I previously noted, Romney tipped his hand to this in an earlier debate.

This, however, is not spur-of-the-moment opportunism, but something that has been in the works for quite a while.

Wisconsin Right to Life counsel is James Bopp Jr. For those not familiar with him, he is a well-respected Wisconsin lawyer specializing in tax law and right to life issues, and is a fervent Romney backer.

Note the date on that release, January 2007. Romney has been spoiling for this fight for a while now, and it appears that the time is nigh.

It will also be interesting to see if Fred Thompson, who helped McCain pass his Campaign Finance Legislation will also be affected at all by the Court's impending decision.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Why I hate China today

Next week is my son's third birthday. The third birthday is a favorite, because it is the point that you can start introducing your children to toys that Dad likes as well. Being a traditionalist, I actually asked my son what he would like for his birthday. With no hesitation, he told me, "James!"

For those of you with boys under the age of eight, you need no more explanation. For the rest of you, he is referring to a character in the resurgent "Thomas the Tank Engine" line of toys, books, and movies. Trains are quite big nowadays which brings me some measure of satisfaction as a father. Especially as I got to miss the dark days of Barney the Dinosaur altogether. Now if we could just get the Tinkertoy bandwagon rolling. . .

James is a unique engine that combines the snootiness of John Kerry with the physical stature of Ross Perot. His only redeeming quality in most cases is a gleaming coat of red paint, which for some reason is just about unique among the 50 some odd engines that inhabit the fictional isle of Sodor (Skarloey is close, but he is more of a Burgundy). My son already owns Thomas and Percy, who , although are made up of a sterner moral character, are a more common and pedestrian blue and green. For those of you appalled at the lack of depth at my son's Thomas collection, the balance is made up with an investment in Fisher Price's Geotrax sets which I consider one of the finest toys ever made for young children. If you are a parent or grandparent looking to score points with young boys, this is the way to go.

Anyhow, on the day my son lets me know about his desire to get "James" for his birthday, I see this:

Thomas The Tank Engine Recall Update- Thomas The Train Train toys are being recalled due to a possible lead poisoning hazard. RC2 Corp, in cooperation with the CPSC has recalled various Thomas The Tank Engine toys in a voluntary recall on June 13th, 2007.

The recall involves various Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway vehicles and wooden train set components sold at toy stores and other retailers nationwide from January 2005 through June 2007.

The recall involves specific wooden vehicles, buildings and other train set components. Surface paints on the recalled products have been reportedly determined to contain lead. Lead is toxic if ingested and is known to cause severe health problems.

Further articles point out that the lead based paint was manufactured and placed on the items when they were assembled in China. China has has a really bad 2007 thus far.

Just to be sure I checked at the local Toys R' Us for further clarification. They assured me that the recall was narrow in scope, and they had plenty of Thomas merchandise available.

Evidently only the red paint is lead based, and relatively few of the trains are red.I still have a wide variety to choose from.

Unfortunately, even though someone might be able to pass off the burgundy Skarloey as James to me, my son is far more sophisticated in his ability to differentiate the different trains. This would also defeat various repainting options, even if my talent were such as to make that a possibility.

And why, of all colors, did the Chinese screw up the color red?

I've got a week to come up with plan B.

New Poll; Presidential Race Musings

In a new USAToday/Gallup poll of 909 Democrats, Republicans and independents conducted last week Clinton shows up at 39% with Obama at 26%.

In the GOP race, Giuliani leads at 28% to McCain's 18%.

The poll has a couple of glaring weakness: It doesn't appear that the poll includes most likely voters. It also includes non-candidates which makes the results less reliable still. For example, when Gore is thrown into the mix, Clinton's lead drops significantly. Thompson, still undeclared, was included in the GOP results coming in second place and likely tainted the numbers for the big GOP 3 since he mostly takes votes from Giuliani and to a lesser degree, Romney.

On the Dem side: Obama has peaked and will begin to struggle as the end of summer approaches. I wouldn't even be surprised if Edwards passes him by the end of the year. Obama may end up a VP running mate with Hillary or ...

Hillary is as strong as ever and continues to build her machine complete with regional and ethnic accents.

Bill Clinton suggests Al Gore may enter the race if Obama slips far enough. He certainly has the money and the contacts, but wouldn't he be a bit too late to the party? Al would certainly take votes away from Hillary, but would mostly destroy what's left of Obama. Al says "no," but seems to be behaving "yes."

As for Republicans considered as candidates... Unfortunately for Fred, as popular as he is on conservative talk radio, he will struggle to get the necessary funding at this stage, won't be an aggressive campaigner, and is too late to the race. His popularity in the polls shows more of a lack of voter's full commitment to current candidates than support for Thompson as evidenced by a CBS poll that showed 57% of Republicans want better candidates. The fact that he gets most votes from Giuliani's supporters indicates he is less conservative on social issues than some have suggested which hurts Giuliani and helps Romney a bit. Does that mean he's out? No, he will stay connected, play in the debates, and may end up as a VP running mate.

Newt Gingrich is waiting until November 6 to make his announcement. Don't look for him to become a serious contender even if he takes the plunge. Newt carries too much baggage among the very conservatives who support him, not to mention everyone else. He may be interested in a VP opportunity, however.

Jeb Bush? Naaah... wrong time.

McCain's campaign is in trouble and McCain will be struggling to maintain parity in the polls by September. I would expect Guiiani to benefit by McCain's loss in popularity as well as Romney to some degree.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Senate Immigration Bill Hurts Blacks

According to labor expert Peter Cappelli from University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, African-Americans will be those most hurt by the Senate immigration bill.

He argues that despite the hype about a labor shortage, it really doesn't exist for any but the highest level jobs as evidenced by the fact that wages for most jobs have failed to keep pace with inflation—something that's been obvious to alot of people for many years. If employers really were desperate for workers, they would have to pay more and offer better benefits to attract workers. Even the somewhat recent demand for construction workers was short-lived and merely showed up as a bubble that has long evaporated.

Cappelli says that by using immigrants, whether legal or illegal, to increase the number of workers vying for available jobs, the people most injured by the practice will be the "poor and uneducated" who will suffer depressed wages and low employment. African Americans are particularly vulnerable according to his research citing a study covering the years 1960 to 2000.

This explains why at least two big groups oppose the bill: African Americans and organized labor.

A Faint Spark for the Kennedy-Martinez-Bush Reform Bill?

Harry Reid has announced he will allow the senate immigration bill to be brought up for debate based on President Bush's assurances that he has the 15 GOP votes necessary to move it forward. Bush believes that by promising to kick some money into more border patrol agents, money that's supposed to come from fines paid by illegals (really?), anti-amnesty Republicans will be placated. But that's really hard to swallow.

Bush and his advocate, Mel Martinez (who co-authored the bill with Kennedy), don't seem to get that the issue for most is enforcement. And until the President can assure Republicans that he is serious about reducing the number of illegal aliens coming in, and enforcing existing laws regarding illegal aliens already here, Republicans just aren't interested.
CNN confirms the disconnect in this statement:
Bush also said some opponents of the bill seem to "believe that we could just kick (illegal immigrants) out of the country."
"That's just totally impractical. It won't work," Bush said.

Based on the track record of enforcement the past several years, this comment explains alot.

No, the real issues remain unaddressed...the bill will remain in cold storage.

Pentagon Lobbies for Immigration Bill

I was surprised to hear on the radio that the DOD was lobbying in support of the immigration bill. Now I know why. Apparently, the army is having trouble reaching their target recruitment numbers, so they have great deal of interest in the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) provision that allows illegal aliens to join the military.

An interesting outcome of this is that under a Bush executive order that allows non-citizen enlistees to apply for citizenship within one day of service these illegals would be granted amnesty and a quick path to citizenship.

Read the press release from the DOD.

Deeper introspection of the AHCCCS issue

Sonoran Alliance has a post decrying the AHCCCS announcement that 52% of all Arizona births are now covered under the program. Most of the coverage I have seen both in the local blogs and on local talk radio have been very critical of this. There are, however, a few things that this blanket condemnation does not account for.

As someone who owns my own business, I have to provide my own health insurance, and I pay through the nose for it. There are many others in my shoes who do the same, and we make it work despite the sacrifice. Did you know that just about all of the insurance options open to those like me do not cover maternity? If I want to self insure, and have children I have exactly one option, University Physicians HealthCare Group of Arizona. That's it, like it or lump it.

My understanding of the program is not what it should be but I believe that University Physicians HealthCare Group is a subsection of HealthCare Group of Arizona which in turn is counted under AHCCCS enrollment. In other words, I am paying top dollar for an AHCCCS type program.

I do this because I have no other options. The insurance itself outside of Maternity benefits is atrocious. They probably spend more on certified letters telling me what they aren't going to cover than what they actually pay for. I'm also going to leave the silly legislatively mandated "bare period" alone for now as well.

That said, I can see why somebody in my situation may do what they could to qualify for AHCCCS, as there are very few options for maternity-covered insurance available.

I haven't delved far enough into the issue to offer any solutions, and it could very well be the case that the easy availability of AHCCCS is what is causing the dearth of other options. Until a method of providing said options becomes available, however, this issue is far from black and white.

Additionally, if any type of Universal Health Care becomes mandated, which I steadfastly oppose by the way, maternity coverage would be the easiest part to swallow. A healthy birthrate is vital to the needs and future of the country. We already fund childbirth through the Child Tax Credits which, last I checked, are something we fight for as Republicans. More children, being born healthy, is a fundamentally pro-life position as well. I can imagine that leaving no financial means for a family to pay for an unexpected addition could possibly lead to more abortions.

And finally, according to the site I linked above, HealthCare Group of Arizona looks to be linked to AHCCCS statistics. If this is the case, then the 52% is completely overstated. That would mean that baby Framer due in December would count under the 52%. I, and my pocketbook, can assure you that we are getting no free ride.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Happy Flag Day

Saved some outrage?

Meet the next Senate monster, Senate Bill S. 1419

"To move the United States toward greater energy independence and security, to increase the production of clean renewable fuels, to protect consumers from price gouging, to increase the energy efficiency of products, buildings, and vehicles, to promote research on and deploy greenhouse gas capture and storage options, and to improve the energy performance of the Federal Government, and for other purposes."

Here is the traditional storyline for why the bill will be opposed:

The bloated, pork-laden Energy Bill of 2005 was supposed to deal with energy issues for the foreseeable future. No such luck. This Energy Bill, S.1419, is far, far worse. It will raise energy prices, raise food prices, increase hunger, worsen appliance performance, make the roads more dangerous and bring back Carter-era gas lines and shortages just when we need them the least - after disasters. It's a horrendous concoction of every bad energy idea imaginable and will impact every family trying to make ends meet around the country. It's unbelievably stupid in its rehashing of failed ideas and do-it-yourself economics.

Here is the real power of opposition will actually come from:

Arguing power generated by giant windmill complexes "makes strip mining look like a decorative art," Sen. Lamar Alexander (R., Tenn.) led the rebellion for the Southerners. He complained that his state has very little wind power, except on mountain ridges, and gets 33% of its electricity and 7% from hydroelectric dams. It would be unfairly penalized, he said, because neither source is regarded as "renewable." To meet the target, utilities there would have to buy wind or solar generated electricity generated elsewhere, boosting costs to consumers.

Eleven environmental groups fought to save the "renewable portfolio standard," a measure designed to reduce air pollution that has passed the Senate three times previously, but each time was rejected by the House. "This one is a lot tighter than you'd like," said Marchant Wentworth, a lobbyist for the Union of Concerned Scientists, which has helped promote renewable energy mandates in 22 states.

But because those state measures vary widely, Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D., N.M.), chairman of the Senate Energy Committee, sponsored an amendment that would establish a uniform federal standard to require utilities to produce 15% of their electricity from wind, solar power or other "renewable" energy sources by 2020. That would be a big boost, since currently such sources supply between 2% and 3% of the nation's electricity.

"Renewable energy," however, is a term of art, defined by environmental groups. It excludes nuclear energy and hydroelectric power, although neither power source produces air-polluting emissions. Mr. Bingaman argued that reliance on more renewable energy would raise electricity prices by less than 1% and produce some savings by lowering the demand and the price of natural gas, which many utilities currently use to make electricity.

Keep in mind that this "Energy Bill" does not bring nuclear, hydroelectric, liquid coal, new refinery capacity, or any short term fixes to the table. That will end up being the deal breaker should these not be addressed, even if it comes in the form of a veto.

From Pelosi's "Ethical Congress"

If Pelosi's "ethical congress" and Giffords' "it's time for a change" commitments mean this, perhaps we can understand the 23% and 27% approval ratings they're getting in D.C.

John Boehner—“The earmark process outlined yesterday by Mr. Obey is a sham. Democrats are keeping earmark requests secret until after the House has considered appropriations spending bills, preventing us from debating earmarks on the House floor and subjecting them to scrutiny. They want the House to approve massive slush funds for secret earmarks — billions of dollars for whatever Rep. Obey and his colleagues to spend as they see fit.”

John Shadegg—"Earmarks in this body must now be disclosed because the Speaker said she would disclose them. That's all we are asking for. We are asking that they be disclosed so the American people can see them, so that our constituents can see them, and so on this floor we can debate them and discuss them. The good ones will pass, and the ones that are corrupt or inappropriate will fail."

William Jefferson has earned himself a95-page detail of indictments including 16 counts of fraud, bribery, public corruption, money laundering and racketeering.

And, some congressmen feel some crimes should pay...
John Shadegg—"Once again the House has failed to close the loophole that allows a Member of Congress to collect his pension even if he is convicted of a felony. Given the recent ethics scandals in Congress this is an outrage.

"My effort to strengthen this bill by prohibiting a corrupt Member from collecting his pension was not allowed. The American people deserve to know that Members of Congress, like Duke Cunningham, who abuse the public trust will still be able to collect their pensions even if this bill becomes law."

And the hypocrisy goes on...

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Gabby On The Hook

Arizona state GOP Chairman Randy Pullen pulls no punches with Gabby. Here's the latest from his GOP blog:


PHOENIX, AZ – “Gabrielle Giffords is being disingenuous with the people that elected her to Congress,” said Randy Pullen, chairman of the Arizona Republican Party. “Five months ago, Ms. Giffords talked about change and reform specifically on the earmark process. Today, Congressional Democrats like Giffords are turning their back on the voters who elected them. Once again, a Giffords campaign promise has turned out to be just an empty promise.”

Pullen Continued, “Fresh off their historic vote to pass the largest tax increase in American history, Democrats are now creating a secret slush fund for earmarks devoid of public scrutiny, with no oversight, and without accountability.

“It’s antics like this that have caused Congress under the Democrats to have record low approval ratings. Ms. Giffords ought to start representing the interests of the people who elected her and not the special interests and lobbyists in Washington. If she doesn’t start listening to her district instead of Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton, she’s going to find herself out of a job,” concluded Pullen.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Why the bill is staying dead

There are whispers that the Immigration Bill will be resurrected, don't believe any of it.

Behind the finger-pointing, the 10 senators who drafted the original, "grand bargain" immigration bill are meeting to whittle down a list of proposed Republican amendments to no more than 20 that would be brought to the floor in conjunction with an equal number from Democrats.

GOP aides predicted the bipartisan group will announce a deal as soon as Wednesday that likely would include proposals to raise the bar for security "triggers" that must be achieved before changes go into effect, restrict provisions that allow for chain migration of extended family members and counteract other approved amendments the bill's supporters call "deal breakers."

If senators can agree on an acceptable list of amendments to consider, Republican leaders say they will have the votes to proceed, and the bill can be returned to the floor and possibly passed before the July 4th recess. If not, the bill is likely dead for the year.

The Senate's Democratic leadership must close a 15-vote gap to get the 60 votes needed to move ahead and thwart any attempted filibuster.

If you read any article about the bill coming back that doesn't consult with Senator Byron Dorgan, it really isn't worth the paper it is written on. There are far more Democrats against the bill than there are Republicans that are for it. This fact seems to escape all of the reporting done on the bill. The bill was defeated by a large grouping of Democrats. Without them, the bill passes quite easily.

I would suspect the idea would be to get some Republicans to move in support of the bill to offset this, but can anyone name any likely candidates that would flop at this point? What benefit could there possibly be in this for anyone even wavering? There would be amendments, but none of them are going to strip the Z visa which is granted immediately and not subject to any "benchmarks." That is the major flaw, and this flaw makes up most of the substance of the bill. No window dressing will hide it, and it will doom any Republican that suddenly "gets religion" to the benefit of the bill.

The Democrats aren't going anywhere either. The last thing they wish to do is give Bush a stunning "come from behind" victory on this bill. He's down and they wish him to stay down. Not to mention the fact that this bill and the debate around it has driven down congressional approval ratings to the lowest point in more than a decade, and Harry Reid's personal approval to 19% just about half of Dick Cheney's 38%. He wants to move on, and he gets to decide.

Let me repeat, the bill is not going anywhere, and the immigration issue will be on the table for the 2008 campaign.

New Hampshire Poll Puts Romney on Top

A CNN New Hampshire Poll of 309 adults who say they plan to vote in the primary put Romney on top at 28%, Giuliani and McCain tied at 20%, and Thompson at 11%. That's quite a jump for Romney of 11 points while the other two front-runners slipped. Considering that once Thompson drops out (not that he's really in) those votes go to Romney who is picking up the conservative vote, this has to be great news for the Romney team.

Who do Bush Supporters Support?

An interesting analysis in Business Week tells us that in Bush's 2004 campaign, he enlisted nearly 1000 executives as financial supporters for his campaign. He classified them as Pioneers, those who raised or donated at least $100,000, and Rangers, those hitting at least the $200,000 mark. Of his Pioneers and Rangers, two-thirds are still sitting on the sidelines waiting to decide who to throw their money to. Of the one-third that have contributed, here is the breakdown of the number of Pioneers and Rangers supporting each candidate:


25 have contributed to Democrats including Clinton, Obama and Richardson

Another Victory for Voter IDs at the Polls

A law passed in Georgia, with provisions similar to Arizona's voter ID requirements, is likewise intended to prevent non-citizens from voting and other fraud. After having been struck down by a previous judge, the Georgia state supreme court took a strong stand in support of the law. According to the Philadelphia Daily News,
"The unanimous opinion reversed a judge's September ruling that the law posed an unconstitutional burden on voters. The high court said the plaintiff had no legal grounds to challenge the law...- AP"

Bush Attempts to Revive the Dead

Despite the death of the senate immigration reform bill, President Bush will be having a Tuesday luncheon with senators to attempt to revive the bill. Interestingly, Gingrich, who has flirted with the idea of joining the presidential race, and who has had little interest in the immigration issue, has now weighed in with a sharp statement blasting the president's efforts as a fantasy.

No, don't expect Newt to make a serious run for president. But he does still have influence, and one more prominent voice in opposition to the senate bill won't help bring it to life.

A "fantasy?" No doubt.

Monday, June 11, 2007

What Bruce Ash Means to So. Arizona

Thanks to Sonoran Alliance for reporting the victory of Bruce Ash as our newest national committeeman. We expected Bruce to get the nod. Now that it's official let's speculate about what it means for Southern Arizona.

Bruce Ash, as Paul Ash before him, is a long-time financial supporter of the party who has demonstrated that he can both boost the resources of candidates and raise substantial funds for the party—both sorely needed here. As a candidate for national committeeman (and almost-congressional candidate for CD8), Bruce enjoyed broad-based support among Southern Arizona activists. Although Bruce is not a new kid in town, he is certainly enjoying a new level of prominence in local politics. Bruce, who managed to remain unsullied from the nasty politics of the last election, now shows up as a leading figure and influencer in our neck of the woods.

What can we expect from Bruce? We expect Bruce will represent Southern Arizona interests for policy and direction at the national and state levels; We don't expect a repeat of last year's fiasco with Bruce in the seat. As a primary donor and fundraiser, combined with his committeeman seat, Bruce will find he has greater influence than in the past. No doubt, he will be looking to the county party to use funds with discretion to ensure success in the races of paramount importance to Southern Arizonans besides the presidential campaign: state legislature and congress.

We see Bruce Ash as a go-to guy for Southern Arizona who will take a no-nonsense approach to the direction of the party. Despite the few obnoxious holdouts from the past who continue to nip at the heals of progress, we expect that Bruce will stand on his own and provide important leadership and influence to keep the party moving in a positive direction.

Congratulations, Bruce!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Prediction still in play

My prediction from May 18th:

Things could, however, get much worse. It is very possible that the compromise could crumble. Should that happen, McCain would reap all of the blame and get no benefit for the bill passing. That would be disastrous and could possibly end his campaign. The last person you want in your corner when a "bipartisan compromise" goes bad in the arena of public opinion is Teddy Kennedy. Ask President Bush how long it took to remove the "No Child Left Behind" dagger from between his shoulder blades. Hint, it's still there.

Look at Harry Reid try to run away:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said that he wanted to revive what he repeatedly called "the president's bill," but the Senate sat as if gathered at a funeral.

Also, look at the media typecasting that is starting, and who's name is left off in the list:

It was a defeat for the bipartisan group that had been working on the compromise for three months; the presidential campaign of one from their ranks, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.; Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and the unpopular President George W. Bush, not necessarily in that order.

I don't suspect it will take long for Reid's name to drop off that list as well.

I'm not saying that you shouldn't work with Democrats, it is usually necessary and right. Sometimes however, you need to be aware of who you are trusting your political future to when things get tough.

Whining for Breakfast

There's nothing like the smell of Desperation in the morning. Harry Reid just tried to put off cloture until 5:00 pm, but Mitch McConnell objected, keeping Reid's original schedule. Reid then basically admitted that he didn't have the votes for cloture. He is either a great poker player, or just threw in the towel.

My favorite part of his remarks was when he related that during his trip home over the last week, there was no interest about immigration with those he spoke to, just about ending the Iraq War and gas prices. Must have spent that vacation in a basement in Searchlight.

Now Kennedy is on trotting out Napalitano's "If you build a 40 foot wall, they will just use a 41 foot ladder" tripe. I'd report more about what he is saying, but I cannot hear anything over the rotund Viking lady's libretto in the gallery.

Now we need to focus on the sequel.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Reports of the Bill Cheating Death seem to be Greatly Exaggerated

The Senate Immigration Bill looked to be made of teflon as it dodged Republican admendment after amendment, but if finally appears that Democratic Sen. Byron Dorgan's amendment finally winged it.
A proposed immigration overhaul narrowly survived several strong Senate challenges Wednesday, but it suffered a potentially deal-breaking setback early Thursday.

Shortly after midnight, the Senate voted 49-48 to end a new temporary worker program after five years. The vote reversed the one-vote outcome on the same amendment — offered both times by Sen. Byron Dorgan (news, bio, voting record), D-N.D. — two weeks ago. Six senators switched their votes, reflecting the issue's political volatility.

The temporary worker program is crucial to many business groups, and the bill's backers vowed to try on Thursday to undo the damage. Sen. Arlen Specter (news, bio, voting record), R-Pa., said he or his allies would slightly reword Dorgan's amendment and hope for a change of heart by one or more senators who "don't want to kill the bill."

Dorgan, who contends that immigrants take many jobs Americans could fill, said no one in the debate "is talking about the impact on American workers."

"There are a lot of people here who want jobs and can't find jobs, and find downward pressure on their incomes," Dorgan said.

The vote on his amendment brought a jarring close to a long day that, until then, had pleased proponents of the immigration bill, a priority for President Bush.
The interesting thing about this is that it looks like a coalition of Labor-supporting Dems paired with the few outspoken Republican critics of the Bill who turned the tables. There's your bipartisan support.

Anyway, I would suspect that the exact details of this vote will be important after tomorrow's cloture vote. If there were 49 votes for this measure, the 61 votes needed for cloture are unlikely to be there for Senator Reid. Look to him to withdraw the bill tomorrow evening after cloture fails, and the finger pointing and recriminations to begin.

I believe, as I did all along, that the necessary political will needed to pass this bill was never there, and this entire enterprise has just been one long opportunity to posture. It will be interesting to see who the winners and losers are in the fallout.

Lookit 'em Loopholes

Generally I do my best not to print press releases verbatim, as my wife, a PR graduate would have my head for being a sucker. I will break the rule today for Senator Jeff Sessions who has listed the top 20 loopholes in the immigration bill:

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) released a list of 20 loopholes in the comprehensive immigration bill today which reveals that the bill is fatally flawed and will not establish a functioning immigration system in the future.

The list of loopholes includes flaws effecting border security, chain-migration and assimilation policies. The list exposes the lack of serious attention given to ensuring that the legislation fixes America’s failed immigration system.

“I am deeply concerned about the numerous loopholes we have found in this legislation. They are more than technical errors, but rather symptoms of a fundamentally flawed piece of legislation that stands no chance of actually fixing our broken immigration system,” Sessions said. “Many of the loopholes are indicative of a desire not to have the system work.”

For example, one loophole in the “enforcement trigger” fails to require the U.S. VISIT system – the biometric border check-in/check-out system established by Congress in 1996, but never implemented – to be fully functioning before new worker or amnesty programs begin. Without the system in place, the U.S. has no method of ensuring that workers and their families do not overstay their visas.

Another flaw in the legislation prevents the benefits of merit-based immigration from taking full effect until 2016. Until then, chain migration into the U.S. will actually triple, compared to a disproportionately low increase in skill-based immigration. As a result, the merit-based system in the bill is only a shell of what it should have been.

A third loophole in the bill allows immigrants to avoid demonstrating a proficiency in English for more than a decade. Illegal aliens are not required to learn English to receive full “probationary benefits” of citizenship. Passing a basic English test is only required for the third Z-visa renewal, twelve years after amnesty is granted.
Sessions will highlight many of the loopholes contained in the list this week during Senate debate on the immigration bill.
A full list of the 20 loopholes is attached.

20 Loopholes in the Senate Immigration Bill
  • Loophole 1 – Legal Status Before Enforcement:
Amnesty benefits do not wait for the “enforcement trigger.” After filing an application and waiting 24 hours, illegal aliens will receive full “probationary benefits,” complete with the ability to legally live and work in the U.S., travel outside of the U.S. and return, and their own social security card. Astonishingly, if the trigger is never met and amnesty applications are therefore never “approved,” the probationary benefits granted to the illegal alien population never expire, and the new social security cards issued to the illegal alien population are not revoked. [See pp. 1, 290-291, & 315].

  • Loophole 2 – U.S. VISIT Exit Not In Trigger:
The “enforcement trigger,” required to be met before the new temporary worker program begins, does not require that the exit portion of U.S. VISIT system – the biometric border check-in/check-out system first required by Congress in 1996 that is already well past its already postponed 2005 implementation due date – to be in place before new worker or amnesty programs begin. Without the U.S. VISIT exit portion, the U.S. has no method to ensure that workers (or their visiting families) do not overstay their visas. Our current illegal population contains 4 to 5.5 million visa overstays, therefore, we know that the U.S. VISIT exit component is key to a successful new temporary worker program. [See pp. 1-2].

  • Loophole 3 – Trigger Requires No More Agents, Beds, or Fencing Than Current Law:
The “enforcement trigger” does not require the Department of Homeland Security to have detention space sufficient to end “catch and release” at the border and in the interior. Even after the adoption of amendment 1172, the trigger merely requires the addition of 4,000 detention beds, bringing DHS to a 31,500 bed capacity. This is far short of the 43,000 beds required under current law to be in place by the end of 2007, or the additional 20,000 beds required later in the bill. Additionally, the bill establishes a “catch, pay, and release” program. This policy will benefit illegal aliens from countries other than Mexico that are caught at the border, then can post a $5,000 bond, be released and never show up for deportation hearings. Annual failure to appear rates for 2005 and 2006, caused in part by lack of detention space, doubled the 2004 rate (106,000 – 110,000 compared with 54,000). Claims that the bill “expands fencing” are inaccurate. The bill only requires 370 miles of fencing to be completed, while current law already mandates that more than 700 miles be constructed [See pp. 1-2, & 10-11, and EOIR’s FY2006 Statistical Yearbook, p. H2, and The Secure Fence Act of 2004].

  • Loophole 4 -- Three Additional Years Worth of Illegal Aliens Granted Status, Treated Preferentially To Legal Filers:
Aliens who broke into the country illegally a mere 5 months ago, are treated better than foreign nationals who legally applied to come to the U.S. more than two years ago. Aliens who can prove they were illegally in the U.S. on January 1, 2007, are immediately eligible to apply from inside the U.S. for amnesty benefits, while foreign nationals that filed applications to come to the U.S. after May 1, 2005 must start the application process over again from their home countries. Last year’s bill required illegal aliens to have been here before January 7, 2004 to qualify for permanent legal status. [See pp. 263, 282, & 306].

  • Loophole 5 – Completion of Background Checks Not Required For Probationary Legal Status:
Legal status must be granted to illegal aliens 24 hours after they file an application, even if the aliens have not yet “passed all appropriate background checks.” (Last year’s bill gave DHS 90 days to check an alien’s background before any status was granted). No legal status should be given to any illegal alien until all appropriate background checks are complete. [See pp. 290].

  • Loophole 6 – Some Child Molesters Are Still Eligible:
Some aggravated felons – those who have sexually abused a minor – are eligible for amnesty. A child molester who committed the crime before the bill is enacted is not barred from getting amnesty if their conviction document omitted the age of the victim. The bill corrects this loophole for future child molesters, but does not close the loophole for current or past convictions. [See p. 47: 30-33, & p. 48: 1-2]

  • Loophole 7 – Terrorism Connections Allowed, Good Moral Character Not Required:
Illegal aliens with terrorism connections are not barred from getting amnesty. An illegal alien seeking most immigration benefits must show “good moral character.” Last year’s bill specifically barred aliens with terrorism connections from having “good moral character” and being eligible for amnesty. This year’s bill does neither. Additionally, bill drafters ignored the Administration’s request that changes be made to the asylum, cancellation of removal, and withholding of removal statutes in order to prevent aliens with terrorist connections from receiving relief. [Compare §204 in S. 2611 from the 109th Congress with missing §204 on p. 48 of S.A. 1150, & see missing subsection (5) on p. 287 of S.A. 1150].

  • Loophole 8 – Gang Members Are Eligible:
Instead of ensuring that members of violent gangs such as MS 13 are deported after coming out of the shadows to apply for amnesty, the bill will allow violent gang members to get amnesty as long as they “renounce” their gang membership on their application. [See p. 289: 34-36].

  • Loophole 9 – Absconders Are Eligible:
Aliens who have already had their day in court – those subject to final orders of removal, voluntary departure orders, or reinstatement of their final orders of removal – are eligible for amnesty under the bill. The same is true for aliens who have made a false claim to citizenship or engaged in document fraud. More than 636,000 alien fugitives could be covered by this loophole. [See p. 285:19-22 which waives the following inadmissibility grounds: failure to attend a removal proceeding; final orders of removal for alien smuggling; aliens unlawfully present after previous immigration violations or deportation orders; and aliens previously removed. This appears to conflict with language on p. 283:40-41. When a direct conflict appears in a statute, the statue is interpreted by the courts to the benefit of the alien.].

  • Loophole 10 – Learning English Not Required For A Decade:
Illegal aliens are not required to demonstrate any proficiency in English for more than a decade after they are granted amnesty. Learning English is not required for an illegal alien to receive probationary benefits, the first 4-year Z visa, or the second 4-year Z visa. The first Z visa renewal (the second 4-year Z visa) requires only that the alien demonstrate an “attempt” to learn English by being “on a waiting list for English classes.” Passing a basic English test is required only for a second Z visa renewal (the third 4-year Z visa), and even then the alien only has to pass the test “prior to the expiration of the second extension of Z status” (12 years down the road). [See pp. 295-296].

  • Loophole 11 – Earned Income Tax Credit Will Cost Taxpayers Billions In Just 10 Years:
Current illegal aliens and new guest workers will be eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit, a refundable tax credit designed to encourage American citizens and legal permanent residents to work. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that this loophole will cost the U.S. taxpayer up to $20 billion dollars in just the first 10 years after the bill’s enactment. To be consistent with the intent of the 1996 welfare reforms – which limited new immigrants from receiving public benefits until they had been legal permanent residents for five years – the bill should withhold EITC eligibility from amnestied aliens until they become legal permanent residents. Closing this loophole will save the taxpayers billions of dollars. [See p. 293 after S.A. 1190 was adopted, p. 307, p. 315, §606. All that is required for EITC eligibility is a social security number and resident alien status. Nothing in the bill’s tax provisions limit EITC eligibility. The issuance of social security numbers to aliens as soon as they apply for amnesty will ensure they are able to qualify for the EITC.]

  • Loophole 12 – Affidavits From Friends Accepted As Evidence:
Records from day-labor centers, labor unions, and “sworn declarations” from any non-relative (acquaintances, friends, coworkers, etc) are to be accepted as evidence that the illegal alien has satisfied the bill’s amnesty requirements. This low burden of proof will invite fraud and more illegal immigration – even aliens who are not yet in the U.S. will likely meet this burden of proof. DHS will not have the resources to examine whether the claims contained in the “sworn declarations” of the alien’s friends (that the alien was here prior to January 1, 2007 and is currently employed) are actually valid. [See p. 293: 13-16].

  • Loophole 13 – Taxpayer Funded Legal Counsel and Arbitration:
Free legal counsel and the fees and expenses of arbitrators will be provided to aliens that have been working illegally in agriculture. The U.S. taxpayer will fund the attorneys that help these individuals fill out their amnesty applications. Additionally, if these individuals have a dispute with their employer over whether they were fired for “just cause,” DHS will “pay the fee and expenses of the arbitrator.” [See p. 339:37-41, & p. 332: 37-38.]

  • Loophole 14 – In-State Tuition and Student Loans:
In-state tuition and other higher education benefits, such as Stafford Loans, will be made available to current illegal aliens that are granted initial “probationary” status, even if the same in-state tuition rates are not offered to all U.S. citizens. This would normally violate current law (8 U.S.C. §1623) which mandates that educational institutions give citizens the same postsecondary education benefits they offer to illegal aliens. [See p. 321: 8-31].

  • Loophole 15 – Inadequacy of the Merit System:
The “merit system,” designed to shift the U.S. green card distribution system to attract higher skilled workers that benefit the national interest, is only a shell of what it should have been. Though the merit system begins immediately, it will not increase the percentage of high skilled immigrants coming to the United States until 2016, 8 years after enactment. Of the 247,000 green cards dedicated to the merit based system each year for the first 5 years, 100,000 green cards will be reserved for low-skilled guest workers (10,000) and for clearing the current employment based green card backlog (90,000). From 2013 to 2015, the number of merit based green cards drops to 140,000, and of that number, 100,000 green cards are still reserved each year for low-skilled guest workers (10,000) and for clearing the current employment based green card backlog (90,000). Even after 2015, when the merit system really begins (in 2016) by having 380,000 green cards annually, 10,00 green cards will be reserved specifically for low skilled workers, and points will be given for many characteristics that are not considered “high-skilled.” For example, 16 points will be given for aliens in “high demand occupations” which includes janitors, maids, food preparation workers, and groundskeepers. [See p.260: 25 – p. 261: 20, p. 262, & The Department of Labor’s list of “occupations with the largest job growth” available at].

  • Loophole 16 – Visas For Individuals That Plan To Overstay:
The new “parent” visa contained in the bill which allows parents of citizens, and the spouses and children of new temporary workers, to visit a worker in the United States is not only a misnomer, but also an invitation for high rates of visa overstays. This new visa specifically allows the spouse and children of new temporary workers who intend to abandon their residence in a foreign country, to qualify to come to the U.S. to “visit.” The visa requires only a $1,000 bond, which will be forfeited when, not if, family members of new temporary workers decide to overstay their 30 day visit. Workers should travel to their home countries to visit their families, not the other way around. [See p. 277:1 – 33, and p. 276: 38-43].

  • Loophole 17 – Chain Migration Tippled Before Being Eliminated:
Though the bill will eventually eliminate chain migration (relatives other than spouses and children of citizens and legal permanent residents), it will not have full effect until 2016. Until then, chain migration into the U.S. will actually triple, from approximately 138,000 chain migrants a year (equal to 14% of the 1 million green cards the U.S. currently distributes on an annual basis) to approximately 440,000 chain migrants a year (equal to 45% of the 1 million green cards the U.S. currently distributes on an annual basis). [See pp. 260:13, p. 270: 29 – pp. 271: 17]

  • Loophole 18 – Back Taxes Not Required:
Last year’s bill required illegal aliens to prove they had paid three of their last five years of taxes to get amnesty. This year, payment of back taxes is not required for amnesty. The bill requires taxes to be paid at the time of application for a green card, but at that time, only proof of payment of Federal taxes (not state and local) is required for the years the alien worked on a Z visa, not the years the alien has already worked illegally in the United States. Though Senator McCain’s S.A. 1190, adopted by voice vote, claimed to “require undocumented immigrants receiving legal status to pay owed back taxes,” the amendment actually only required proof of payment of taxes for “any year during the period of employment required by subparagraph (D)(i).” Since the bill does not contain a subparagraph (D)(i), nor require any past years of employment as a prerequisite for amnesty, the amendment essentially only requires proof of payment of taxes for future work in the U.S., not payment of “back taxes.” [See p. 307, and p. 293 as altered by S.A. 1190, amendment p. 2: 19-20.]

  • Loophole 19 – Social Security Credits Allowed For Some Illegal Work Histories:
Aliens who came to the U.S. on legal visas, but overstayed their visas and have been working in the U.S. for years, as well as illegal aliens who apply for Z visa status but do not qualify, will be able to collect social security credits for the years they worked illegally. Under the bill, if an alien was ever issued a social security account number – all work-authorized aliens who originally came on legal visas receive these – the alien will receive Social Security credits for any “quarters of coverage” the alien worked after receiving their social security account number. Because the bill requires social security account numbers to be issued “promptly” to illegal aliens as soon as they are granted “any probationary benefits based upon application [for Z status]” (these benefits are granted 24 hours after the application is filed), an illegal alien who is denied Z visa status but continues to work illegally in the U.S. will accumulate Social Security credits. [See pp. 316:8 – 16, and pp. 315: 32-39]

  • Loophole 20 – Criminal Fines Not Proportional To Conduct:
The criminal fines an illegal alien is required to pay to receive amnesty are less than the bill’s criminal fines for paperwork violations committed by U.S. citizens, and can be paid by installment. Under the bill, an illegal alien must pay a $1,000 criminal fine to apply for a Z visa, and a $4,000 fine to apply for a green card. Eighty percent of those fines can be paid on an installment plan. Under the bill’s confidentiality provisions, someone who improperly handles or uses information on an alien’s amnesty application can be fined $10,000. Administration officials suggest that the bill’s “criminal fines are proportionate to the criminal conduct.” Why, then, is the fine for illegally entering, using false documents to work, and live one-tenth the fine for a paperwork violation committed by a government official? [See p. 287: 34, p. 317: 9, p. 315:6-8, & remarks made by Secretary Gutierrez on Your World with Neil Cavuto, 4:00 May 31, 2007]

I again apologize for the cut and paste. I will try to keep it to a minimmum in the future.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Next Deadline on the Senate Bill

It appears that Thursday will be the next important vote for the fate of the senate Immigration Bill. From Rueters:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he wanted to close debate on the bill by this week's end despite Republicans' objections, which could doom the fragile compromise legislation that backers say would help fix a broken immigration system through which millions of illegal immigrants have slipped into the United States.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said his fellow Republicans had a number of amendments they wanted considered before voting on the bill.

But Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said Republicans were stalling.

"What we have heard today are buzzwords for 'this bill is going nowhere,'" Reid said in a Senate floor exchange with McConnell.

Reid said he planned to set a Senate vote for Thursday on his motion to limit debate, and it was unclear with Republican objections that it would garner the 60 votes needed in the 100-member chamber to advance the bill toward passage.

Sen. Jon Kyl, an Arizona Republican who helped broker the bill, said cutting off debate "would be a big mistake" that could "risk the bill not passing at all."

Again, this NEEDS to be debated. If it is a good bill, it can wait a week or two before it is voted on and the ammendment process is finished. Debate the bill on its merits, and stop trying to ram it through as speedily as possible.

It appears that Kyl is getting softer in support of the bill. He will not support the addition of just about any of the Democratic-sponsored resolutions, but he wishes them debated and voted on. This is a shrewd move and I hope that any Kyl critics out there will give him credit for it. If they aren't defeated by senate vote, they could easily be added in the conference committee. And should any of the bad amendments pass, the deal is off, by Kyl's earlier admissions. That should prove to be a headache for Reid, as he must now pressure Democrats to make sure the Democratic amendments are defeated.

Personally, in the end, I don't think he can do it, which is why he had hoped to limit debate.

The CBO Breaks Down the Immigration Bill

Nobody really likes to cite the Congressional Budget Office unless it agrees with what they think. Their latest study provides some very important points for the discussion, however.

The Washington Post provides a quick roundup of the financial impact.

The Senate's embattled immigration bill would raise government spending by as much as $126 billion over the next decade, as the government begins paying out federal benefits to millions of new legal workers and cracks down on the border, a new Congressional Budget Office analysis concludes.

Law enforcement measures alone would necessitate the hiring of nearly 31,000 federal workers in the next five years, while the building and maintenance of 870 miles of fencing and vehicle barriers would cost $3.3 billion. Newly legalized immigrants would claim nearly $50 billion in federal benefits such as the earned income and child tax credits, Medicaid, and Social Security.

The cost of the enforcement measures are easily dwarfed by the cost associated with the extra federal benefits that would be provided as a result of the legislation.

Interestingly, I did not see the numbers in this report outlying the costs associated with the hiring of any bureaucracy needed to register, monitor, and assimilate 12 million illegal immigrants into the general population. Assuredly, this could not be accomplished with the pieces currently in place, even with the addition of 1000 border patrol agents. Come to think of it, I have not seen ANY analysis of what would be required in this area. This should be a tremendous red flag about the quality of the bill, as it is central to the plan having any type of success at all. Without a realistic hard look at these details, it is hard to believe that the authors of the bill are operating in good faith, or are serious about implementing ALL of the provisions of the bill.

The Washington Times has the other half of the story:

The Senate's immigration bill will cut annual illegal immigration by just 25 percent, and the bill's new guest-worker program could lead to at least 500,000 more illegal aliens within a decade, Congress' accounting arm said yesterday.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said in its official cost estimate that many guest workers will overstay their time in the plan, with the number totaling a half-million in 2017 and reaching 1 million a decade later.

"We anticipate that many of those would remain in the United States illegally after their visas expire," CBO said of the guest-worker program.

In a blow to President Bush's timetable, the CBO said the security "triggers" that must be met before the guest-worker program can begin won't be met until 2010. Mr. Bush had hoped to have those triggers -- setting up a verification system, deploying 20,000 U.S. Border Patrol agents and constructing hundreds of miles of fencing and vehicle barriers -- completed about the time he leaves office in January 2009.
If these estimates are correct, the bill is nowhere near as "comprehensive" as we were led to believe. I would certainly welcome a war over the definition of "comprehensive" over the definition of "amnesty" as I feel it is far more helpful for the direction of the overall debate.

Of further note in the article is the following:

Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona, the top Republican in the negotiations for the grand bargain, yesterday laid out the "killer" amendments he said will break the grand bargain and cause him to have to oppose the bill: creating a separate employer-sponsored system of up to 300,000 new green cards; giving temporary workers a path to citizenship; and changing the dates or definitions to allow broader family migration.

Mr. Kyl said if any of those passed, "I certainly would not support the legislation, I would do everything I can to get it defeated."

The calvary could certainly use someone on that lead charger, Jon. I understand your earnestness in trying to solve the problem. This bill, however, in not anything approaching what you or any of its sincere reporters were led to believe. And you just don't have to take the activist's word for it anymore.

UPDATE-- That's embarrassing!! Indeed, there is an outlay made for additional federal bureaucracy:

To accommodate the sharp increase in applications for immigration services and documentation that would result from S. 2611, DHS would need to expand its document-production facilities, enhance its computer systems, and hire new employees to process applications. S. 2611 would authorize the appropriation of such sums as necessary for those actions. Based on information from DHS, CBO estimates that the department would require funding of about $800 million in fiscal year 2007 for one-time costs relating to facilities and computer systems. For this estimate, we assume that the costs of new personnel would be covered by fees collected for the new applications.

So 800 million for computers, then everything else would be paid by fees. I hope that someone didn't have other plans for those fees and penalties. It still seems a bit evasive to me. The "authorize the appropriation of such sums as necessary for those actions," without any idea what those costs will be, scares me, quite frankly.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

What We are Missing

I have long been skeptical that blogging would ever overcome mainstream journalism, at least in the short term, as far as obtaining hard news is concerned. I am slowly starting to come around to the proposition.

Read this article by Michael Yon. I do not care what your current feelings on the war in Iraq are, you will learn more from this article about what is actually going on than an entire year's worth of articles from any media outlet. This is news. Seeing something like this demonstrates the open wound that this country is suffering due to a true lack of journalism.

It is interesting that as the old media moves from true journalism to punditry, there is just the opposite occurring in the new media in many cases. Indeed, in many areas the only difference is the lack of funding for bloggers. Imagine what could happen if you gave Tedski or Greg Patterson a salary to pursue blogging full time. Sure each have their biases, but they are up front, and each is far more entertaining and informative than any of the current political reporters when a story hits in their realm of understanding. I would guarantee that the political establishment would have a lot more to fear, and that is always a positive.

For now, however, it is nice however to get an occasional glimpse of what is possible, and be excited for a day when informative, accurate, original, and detailed reporting makes its ultimate return. May it get here sooner than later.

Reason #2143 why Rio Nuevo Bites. . .

You know that there is something wrong when we can spend probably millions on a fort tucked into the downtown that few will care about, but we allow the crown jewel of the downtown area, the Simply Convenient Sandwich Shop to cease operation? Where was the needed grant for keeping that place open? Downtown is officially dead to me!

Did you see?

I have wanted to post on both of these issues, but I'd be fooling myself if I thought I was going to get around to it. Fortunately others did the heavy lifting for me:

1. The Michael Medved speaking engagement. It was well worth attending, and had very good attendance. I'd estimate somewhere between 800-1100. I took notes, but it looks like X4mr did a very good job with his notes as well.

You know Medved was fabulous when X4mr and I are both in agreement with what was covered.

2. I noticed that there was a stir of excitement about Raul Grijalva’s appearance on the Colbert Report among the center-left portion of the local blogosphere, and then nothing but crickets after it took place. For those wondering why, ThinkRight AZ is all over it.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Kevorkian Gets A Rest With Immigration Reform Bill

Is S1348, the Senate immigration reform bill still breathing? Not by much. We’ve already heard about the lack of confidence voters have that security provisions will be enforced. Some of the still-glaring holes show up below:

1) There is nothing to ensure that those who overstay their visas—hence, becoming illegals—will be deported, or that anyone will be watching to be sure it no longer happens.
2) Illegal aliens get legal status (probationary) complete with social security card, and protection from deportation, as soon as the bill passes.
3) Illegal aliens not interested in citizenship can simply continue to work on probationary status with no sunset provision.
4) So-called “triggers” are fairly meaningless as outlined by Senator Grassley in his statement read on the floor of the Senate.

A sign that death is at the door is that opponents are now turning their attention to the House. They wouldn’t be moving this direction unless they could see the stars aligning in their favor. This bill is gasping its last and few will be willing to commit political suicide to support it. The idea that the Senators from border state Arizona support it, and therefore so do the voters, has been turned on its head with the resulting backlash. Even Dr. Kevorkian, just released on good behavior, will see no need to assist this one.

Don’t be surprised if S1348 gets tabled and never comes to a vote...and Senator Kyl makes the motion.