Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Giuliani's Long-awaited Health Care Plan

Today, Rudy Giuliani announced his plan for cleaning up the health care system. Under his plan, each family gets $15,000 in tax credits with which to buy their own health insurance. If, after paying for premiums, the family has leftover tax credits, they can use them to pay for out-of-pocket expenses.

The plan has some merit. 1) If the system works, it would remove some of the burden for health insurance from employers who have been struggling to provide a reasonable benefit for employees in the face of sky-rocketing health insurance costs. 2) Using tax credits ensures that the money is spent for insurance and nothing else. The amount, $15,000, should be enough to cover most families depending on the plans they choose.
3) The program supports the medical savings account concept which encourages people to take responsibility for costs just as they do with any family budget item, thereby influencing costs by their purchasing decisions. It gives the consumer more power in the marketplace.
4) In the plan, leftover funds are also able to be rolled over year-to-year and used, as necessary, for medical expenses.

Some questions about the plan have yet to be answered such as how some people with prior conditions will be able to get into a plan. Once they leave an employer group plan, consumers are left to the whims of the insurance community who have been unwilling to allow even healthy individuals into their plans if they have been diagnosed with certain conditions in the past. Those who would be interested in an individual plan would most likely be employees with employers that do not currently offer affordable insurance. Insurance companies often refuse to insure consumers who have been without insurance, or, interestingly, those who have not seen a doctor within a year or two. Clearly, some changes or additions would have to be made to make this a workable program, but the concept certainly has promise.

One bit of information Giuliani has yet to give is his estimate of the cost to taxpayers for such a program—not a minor issue.

U.S. House Attacks Earmarks & Lobbyists

It's almost too good to be true. Despite wasting time debating and passing a resolution demanding the Japanese apologize again for World War II atrocities, House Democrats created a bill that has something to do with U.S. citizens. Finally, the House voted 411-8 to require Senators to publicize their earmarks 48 hours prior to a Senate vote. They would also have to declare that family members would not benefit financially from the projects. Obviously, this is not retroactive or there would be too few senators left to conduct business.

The bill also requires House and Senate members to disclose lobbyists who raise at least $15,000 for their campaigns within a six-month period or donate gifts, tickets to sporting events, meals, concerts, etc.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Hazleton Ruling "Bizarre"

Espresso Pundit scooped me while I tried to spend a few days making a living. But he missed a few interesting aspects of the issue. For one, the ACLU took the case for several illegal aliens living in Hazleton who represent a growing population of illegal aliens in the area estimated to number in the thousands or about 1 of every 10 in the city. The city has been funding their defense with donations, not taxpayer money.

The U.S. District judge, Munley, is a Clinton appointee. Here are some of his statements from Reuters: "Even if federal law did not conflict with Hazleton's measures, the city could not enact an ordinance that violates rights the Constitution guarantees to every person in the United States, whether legal resident or not." And from International Herald Tribune: Hazleton's law was at odds with current federal immigration policy, which he said avoids excessive enforcement against illegal immigrants so as not to jeopardize foreign relations. Hazleton, he said, failed to consider "the implications of the ordinances on foreign policy."

Mayor Barlett called the decision "bizarre," and Kris Kobach from the city's legal team complained about the judge allowing 10 illegal aliens to file anonymous depositions instead of testifying, a right not even granted to U.S. citizens. Kobach also took issue with the judge's position that people are not illegal unless a federal immigration judge rules that they are.

Considering this law was held up by an injunction a year ago and the injunction had no impact on other states or cities passing such laws, and the unusual bases for this judge's ruling, it's hard to see this ruling having much of an impact on similar laws passed elsewhere.

Border Security Advocates Heard in D.C.

After the Senate immigration reform bill failed, Jon Kyl publicly articulated his understanding that the public was asking for a commitment to border security before considering anything else, particularly amnesty. Senator Kyl stated that he heard the message and would respond.

True to his word, Kyl championed the Border Security First Act which provides $3 billion for more border security including more agents, surveillance equipment, vehicle barriers and 700 miles of fence along with funding to clean up the Basic Pilot Program database.

The bill passed on an 89-1 vote after a provision against sanctuary cities was removed.

In the meantime, the House on Wednesday voted to prevent the Bureau of Prisons from keeping former Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Alonso Compean in federal prison while they await their appeals.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Fred Thompson's Non-campaign Staff Shakeup

According to Time, Fred Thompson, who hasn't declared himself a GOP presidential candidate, is shaking up his technically non-campaigning campaign staff. Campaign manager, Tom Collamore is being replaced by former Michigan Senator Spencer Abraham and Florida GOP strategist Randy Enwright. The article suggests Thompson's wife is behind the staff changes. Obviously, if you're going to change staff, it's better to do it before the campaign than in the heat of the primaries, so the timing of this move makes sense even if the reasons are not clear.

Beyond the staff change soap opera, Thompson has stated he will postpone his decision to run (or not) until after Labor Day which gives him time to beef up fundraising before the big announcement. In the meantime, Thompson continues to hold his own at 2nd place in the polls in Iowa, South Carolina and Florida—not bad for someone not in the race.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Dems raise the white flag in Tucson.

The Democrats have been pretty confident lately. They took control of both houses of congress and made some stunning gains in the legislature. The Republicans are at war with each other over people illegally entering and living in the country. Add to that the fact that the moderates still do not much care for the social conservatives and you have a perfect storm for the Democrats. So one has to ask in a Democrat town in a Democrat year why did they not run a candidate for Mayor of Tucson, the second largest city in Arizona?

The absence of a candidate is glaring. Were they waiting for Walkup to lose support within the business community? The Republicans are not in 2nd place in Tucson voter registration, they are in Third Place, behind Other (independents and no party.) The Democrats have an almost 2-1 advantage over the Republicans. The Republicans that do live in Pima County mostly live outside the city and despite constant pleas from city candidates those outside Tucson do not seem very interested in working for candidates for whom they cannot vote. Quite a missed opportunity.

WakeUpArizona Caught Sleeping

Here's an interesting "gotcha" moment. A web site called wakeuparizona.net has been setup to counter the WakeUpArizona group, the group comprising a few irate employers committed to fighting the new Employer Sanctions Law.

In the meantime, Arizona Chamber of Commerce Director Glenn Hamer has announced the state Chamber will join wakeuparizona in challenging the law. Hamer's support for wakeuparizona flies in the face of the 6000 plus members of the state's largest chamber who support the law. However, his decision comes as no surprise as he was also a fundraiser in Maricopa county for losing CD8 candidate Steve Huffman last year working with some of the same businessmen now opposing the law.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Lisa James Running a PAC

Lisa James, former candidate for Arizona State Party Chairman, is now Chairman of the Arizona Majority PAC, formerly Proven Leadership for America, and originally Keep Congress Honest PAC. The PAC's stated purpose is to "ensure that our Republican Congressional candidates have the resources they need to emerge victorious in 2008."

For 2006, the PAC has raised $16, 010 with Don Diamond, Alan Heywood and Christine Olson each putting in $5,000. Chad Willems is the Treasurer and founder.

Democratic Debate

You can't begin to imagine how much it bothers me that Hillary Clinton is the least bad choice of all of the Democrats who have a chance at the nomination. She is the only Democratic candidate that looks to have at least one or two non-pandering stances on any of the issues, and thus the only one among the frontrunners that appears to be able to make a tough, controversial choice. Not so much an endorsement of her, but an indictment of Obama and Edwards.

I would suppose that being so far ahead in all of the polls helps her somewhat in being able to stand on principle at this point.

I have convinced myself, however, that if I ever see that coward Mark Warner, I will kick him in the shins.

Friday, July 20, 2007

LD 30 Races Get More Interesting

Now that Tim Bee has made his decision to challenge Gabby...pardon me...Gabrielle, and Jonathon Paton is stepping into the state Senate race, Frank Antenori will be announcing his run for the state House joining the rest of the crowd of candidates running in LD30. Frank has some ends to tie up before announcing, but expect something formal late August or early September.

Frank has been working hard to get things ready for this campaign, so he will be jumping pretty quickly out of the chute giving no advantage to those who have already announced. In fact, expect him to come in with a bang, so to speak.

The word on the street is that Frank Antenori and Sharon Collins will be the strongest candidates in the House race.

On the Democrat side, Nan Walden, Green Valley pecan grower, attorney and University of Arizona hired schmoozer is the rumored challenger to Jonathon Paton. Her impressive resume includes work with Senator Moynihan as an environmentalist. She is involved with a group that opposes employer sanctions for hiring illegals and tighter border security measures which seems contradictory to her environmental positions. (It may simply be a matter of priority for her.) She has been a vocal opponent of allowing the Border Patrol to install permanent checkpoints that would route illegals into areas where they would be easier to capture, which has raised the ire of the Border Patrol.

With Paton's strong reputation and Walden's anti-border security positions, it's hard to imagine Paton losing this race in conservative LD30, but Walden certainly will have the money to make it interesting.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

2008 Corporate Commission Race Begins

Rick Fowlkes from Mesa is the first to throw his hat in the ring for Corporate Commission in 2008. He ran as a Libertarian candidate the past two elections with a respectable showing in 2006. Now he is running as a Republican. His platform includes expanding the boundaries of the markets in which utilities are allowed to operate to allow for some competition and choice for consumers. He is opposed to mandates on utilities that restrict options for providing power to consumers (a good position in light of the California power shortage fiasco). Fowlkes owns a consulting engineering firm—his undergraduate degree is in civil/structural engineering and he has an MBA degree.

Rumors have been circulating that state legislator Marian McClure is also considering a run for the Corporate Commission although she has yet to file.

Paton to file for LD 30 senate

Our sources indicate that Representative Jonathan Paton will very soon file an exploratory committee for the LD 30 senate race. (The resign to run laws are likely the reason for an exploratory committee at this time instead of a candidate committee.) With news that Marian McClure is looking to run for the Corporation Commission Paton may have smooth sailing in the primary (more on the general later.)

Speaking of Representative Paton, there is an article in the Arizona Daily Star about his efforts to bring more openness to the state’s Child Protection Services. It is a sad reality that after a child has died there is no longer a justifiable expectation of privacy to warrant keeping the CPS file secret. Public review of the file may help legislators and the agency craft better policies to protect the state’s children in future cases. It also provides the public with the basic right to know how their government is operating.

The excuses for stonewalling made by the governor and other legislators is disappointing. Any sensitive information relating to future criminal proceedings or the privacy of other children could easily be protected by redacting that information from the report.

For more background see New questions arise on CPS ties to slain children.

Scarpinato at the Star has some more details on LD 30 and CD 8.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

U.S. House Hearings On Compean & Ramos Case

At the U.S. House hearings on the Ramos and Compean case, T.J. Bonner, president of the National Border Patrol Council testified in detail what happened at the scene of the shooting and the subsequent prosecution. Reading his statement demonstrates how truly bizarre this case is. Think about it...two agents shoot the smuggler they say pointed a gun at them. The smuggler gets away by fleeing into Mexico. There is nothing to suggest the smuggler isn't armed. Funny thing, when the prosecutor tracks him down and informs him that he is sending to jail the very agents who shot him, the smuggler claims he had no gun when he was shot. In other words, it's the known smuggler's word against two agents, and the smuggler has a chance to punish those who would otherwise arrest him. Is it possible that the drug smuggler has a credibility problem? Of course not. It's the agents who are guilty unless they can prove the drug smuggler had a gun that he carried home to Mexico.

Well, it doesn't sound like the House leadership is buying U.S. Attorney Sutton's version of events. According to the IBD, Diane Feinstein explained the purpose of the hearings was to "examine the facts of the Ramos and Compean cases, the appropriateness of the charges brought against them and the very heavy sentences they received."
The IBD also stated: As she noted in a letter to Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., requesting the hearings, "These men were given sentences that some individuals convicted of murder would not receive." Sentences, we might add, based on the suppression of evidence and the government's reliance on and coddling of a repeat drug-runner.

Likewise, Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn, California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein and other members of the Senate Judiciary Committee criticized the 12- and 11-year prison sentences: And they strongly questioned federal prosecutors' decision to charge the pair with using a weapon during the commission of a crime — a 10-year penalty that most often is used against drug dealers and other criminals, not law enforcement officers obliged to carry guns as part of their jobs. This really is a case of prosecutorial ... overreaction in charging," said Feinstein. She chaired the hearing, which was attended by the wives of the ex-agents and other relatives. The senators bored in on some of the case's most nagging questions: Why the drug smuggler, who had been driving a van with a million-dollar payload of marijuana, was given immunity to testify against Ramos and Compean; why the trafficker was given unfettered permission to cross into the United States after the agents were charged; and whether he used that border-crossing privilege to bring in another million-dollar marijuana haul just months after the February 2005 incident near El Paso. "The public sees two Border Patrol agents serving long prison sentences while an admitted drug smuggler goes free," Cornyn said, adding that he has "serious concerns about the judgment calls made during the prosecution of this case."

It would be hard to imaglne this hearing not helping the Compean and Ramos cases in the push for presidential pardons.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts in Iraq?

Wow! What a cool story! The U.S. troops in Iraq are bringing back the Boy and Girl Scouts. I have heard a little about how this is happening. Since it's hard to get safe places to meet, the kids are brought together in larger groups as one big troop, for instance, to learn knots, play sports, etc.—a nice diversion from living in a war-torn country.

U.S. House to Hear Compean & Ramos Case

H.R. 563 which requests congressional pardons for agents Compean and Ramos, now has 100 cosponsors. Tomorrow morning at 10am, (Tuesday, July 17th) the Senate Committee on the Judiciary will hold a hearing to “Examine the Prosecution of Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean.”

I'm not sure what it means to be given a "hearing." But it sounds like it would provide some hope for Compean and Ramos to get the pardons they have been seeking without having to wait for their appeals to go to court. I'm also not sure about the connection of this hearing to H.R. 563. Maybe someone more knowledgable will comment.

In any case, a mass email/phone campaign to House members is underway to support the agents. We'll update you Tuesday as we learn more.

Friday, July 13, 2007

The Misguided Few

According to Arizona Central, here is the group looking for someone that they can make an example of for supporting the Employer Sanctions Bill:
"The coalition, Wake Up Arizona!, counts Valley McDonald's franchiser Mac Magruder, Tucson car dealer Jim Click, former Phoenix Suns Chief Executive Jerry Colangelo and Meritage Homes Chief Executive Steve Hilton among its supporters."

Some of these employers may be hiring illegal workers, others maybe just a bit paranoid. Jim Click, for instance, was quoted as saying "I've got my whole life invested in this business...What if my service manager turns his head, or fakes it (when hiring a worker)? I lose my license? Is that fair? I don't think so."

This is silly. Of course it's fair. Jim is a smart businessman. He knows that if his service manager was caught cheating customers, dumping solvents in the sewer, or otherwise breaking the law, Jim would be losing his license. He knows it would only make sense that breaking hiring laws wouldn't be any different.

The issue nobody is citing is the concern about the accuracy of the Basic Pilot System for checking workers' status. That would be my main concern having had to deal with the frustrations and risks of hiring green card workers and trying to be sure their documents were legitimate without getting sued by the worker for being cautious. That's what this group should be working to improve.

Unfortunately, for some it's more of a power game, and the same group that gave us Gabby Giffords will end up giving up more Republican seats to Democrats, state or federal, if they succeed. But I don't think they will. There's a reason the bill passed with a veto-proof majority, And there's also a reason why some of the largest Chambers are supporting the bill pushing the state Chamber back against this group. It's because most employers hire legal workers and expect their competitors to do the same. Employers' biggest concern is making sure compliance with the law is not unduly burdensome and that they will be in no danger of problems if they follow the law.

If this group is serious about making a contribution to the business community, they should join with the mainstream and help to improve the law, and use their resources productively instead of further alienating themselves from the GOP.

Could you become a citzen?

Interesting quiz from MSNBC.

Of course, the real test is much longer, and I do not believe it is multiple choice. Nevertheless, it was very interesting to see what is expected of naturalized citizens.

Oh yeah, and fess up to your scores in the comments section. I got 90%. Missed 8 and 19.

Zero What?

Last week's Northwest Explorer provided front page space for an article about Tyler Robbins. Tyler is the student that picked up a small pocket knife he found in the street on his way to school with the intent of giving it to the principal. According to the article, he pulled it out of his pocket before taking it to the principal and was caught by a staff member who promptly marched him to the principal's office where he was suspended for breaking the zero tolerance rule for knives. He wasn't suspended for waving the knife around irresponsibly, nor was he caught bullying or threatening someone. He simply pulled it out of his pocket.

Perhaps knives have been used irresponsibly, or threateningly, in this particular school. If so, I could understand the need for a policy cracking down on the inappropriate use of this little tool in the interest of student safety. But, instead of creating a sensible policy to address the problem, the district banned the tool entirely.

In the case of Tyler, when he came upon the knife, he had a couple of options. He could have left it there allowing the possibility that a less responsible, or younger, child would pick it up and hurt someone, a very likely scenario given the hundreds of children passing that way on their way to school. He could have left it there and reported it—a very impotent choice given the number of students passing by. Or, he could have picked it up and taken it to someone in authority who would know what to do with it. Of course, he could have taken it to school with the intent to do harm to someone else, but there is no evidence to suggest this was the case. So, we have to assume that Tyler was at least responsible enough to pick it up. (Remember, this is not a loaded AK-47).

Unfortunately for Tyler, instead of being taught a positive lesson about his decision to pick up the knife in the interest of protecting others, and doing the right thing with it by taking it to the prinicipal, he was punished and told that, in this case, doing the right thing was the wrong thing. In fact, the message was that he should have simply left the knife there despite the risks.

I am not at all against a policy to protect students when it seems necessary to do so. I do have a problem with "zero tolerance" policies that equate to zero thinking or zero common sense. Our principals are educated and intelligent enough to tell whether or not a child is creating a safety problem by bringing a pocket knife into the school, and deal with it appropriately. Likewise, they can tell the difference between shooting a real gun versus shooting a squirt gun, or accidentally falling on someone versus intentionally hitting them.

Those who advocate an either/or policy suggest either it has to be "anything goes" with no safeguards, or everyone has to be punished under any circumstance if seen with anything resembling the banned implement. The problem with this is that they are abdicating to a mere policy the responsibility of discerning and making tough decisions. And what does that teach the kids? It certainly doesn't teach responsibility and moral courage. And it doesn't help the kids to develop anything but disrespect for the authority that caused the resulting injustices, like Tylers. I think we can do better than that. And I think our school administrators should be allowed to do better than that. Common sense could go a long way in the educations of our children.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Jaw Dropping

Quote you won't see on Gabby Giffords' next frankenmailer:

"I will release all the earmarks as they get funded," Giffords said. "Just because I have a neighboring congressman who decides to do something, I don't necessarily feel pressure to do the same thing."

"I just don't think that releasing a list of earmarks is the best transparent way to explain to the people all the work that you're doing."

Entirely true, if by "I will release" you mean "bloggers will dig up," if by "all earmarks" you mean "the earmarks that are forced into the public domain" and by "best transparent" you mean "best way of hiding something inconvenient."

Ms. Giffords, how about you just show your work and let that be your best explanation? I'm pretty sure that this wasn't a part of the platform you ran on. Maybe change can wait until you get your fill at the trough, however.

UPDATE- For those who miss the last few weeks of telephoning Congressional Staff, ThinkRight has all of the phone numbers you need to state your concerns.

Unexplored aspect of a McCain decline.

Sorry I have been away for a while. I had a little work to do.

There has been quite a bit written about the recent misfortunes of the McCain Campaign, so I will not add a tremendous amount. As I had written earlier, 10 million in fundraising should have been enough to keep him in the game. I had not, however, a clue as to his burn rate.

It is my belief that McCain's flaw was in moving from "the girl who brung him" and attempting to recreate what worked for Bush in 2000. McCain's insurgent 2000 campaign was far more suited to him and his strengths. Releasing his new team and moving back to his old team should have happened long before now.

Iowa is a good example. A great portion of McCain's money was spent in Iowa where McCain did not campaign eight years ago. The same reasons that made Iowa a bad fit for McCain eight years ago still applied today, especially his lack of support for ethanol. Skip it and spend in New Hampshire and South Carolina. Romney dumped money into New Hampshire and it has paid off for him. I believe McCain could have got more from a smaller sum there if he hadn't been tempted by spending big on Iowa. Then he should have spent most of the rest in South Carolina. That's it. He wins those two states, his name recognition gets him the nomination, barring outside events. This probably would have been true in 2008 as well, for that matter.

And it goes without saying that recent legislative and world events harmed McCain. Thus the reason why very few sitting senators become president. Had McCain spent less on Bush staffers, however, he may have been able to better navigate these pitfalls.

Eight years should have been enough to find more Mike Hellons and other grassroots level activists to rely on rather than collecting higher priced Bush campaign hood ornaments. This approach would have certainly closed the feedback loop a little tighter as well.

All that being said, the aspect that I wonder about is if McCain moving back to his roots doesn't allow him to move back into contention, does that put Arizona back into play? From a state party standpoint that could be a good thing as it will assure a lot more candidate presence and spending which would increase state and state candidate coffers.

It should be interesting.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

2008 State Legislative Races Update

LD 26: Melvin & Hershberger are still the only filers. Despite Scarpinato's column in the newspaper a while ago suggesting Pesquiera is running again, our sources have cited multiple statements made by Charlene Pesquiera that she will not run again. Nevertheless, she has filed as an elected official to organize a committee to raise and spend money for constituent communications. This doesn't mean she is running, just that she isn't planning to disappear during the off-season. The only update we expect to make in this race is who will run for the Democrats.

Nobody has thrown their hat into the ring for LD 27, 28, 29, or 30.

LD 26: Still Marilyn Zerull and Trent Humphries on the GOP side. Lena Saradnik and Don Johnson from the Dems have not yet filed although at least one has signed up for Democrat campaign school. This race is probably pretty well set. The Democrats will not enter anyone else into the race (Lena is a given and they don't really have anyone else to run besides Don) and the Republican candidates have broad support. I don't expect a repeat of last year's primary with four candidates in the GOP primary.

Nobody has filed in LD 27.

LD 28 has only incumbent Democrat David Bradley filing to run for re-election.

LD 29 has Bruce Murchison, a Republican, planning a run. He could be a strong candidate with the right team.

LD 30 is getting interesting on the GOP side with David Gowen, Sharon Collins, and Doug Sposito all planning to run. Others are waiting in the wings for Jonathan Paton to file, and Tim Bee to officially announce his run for Congress. This could be the most interesting district to watch in the next election. We expect to hear something from Tim Bee in the next few weeks afterwhich we expect things to start happening...even more.

OOPS! Sorry, forgot to include LD25 in the districts with no candidates filing for state house or senate.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Arizona Employer's Sanctions Bill

For those still trying to get a handle on the new Arizona Employer's Sanctions bill signed into law last week by Governor Napolitano, here are the main points:

1) Identity fraud, including for employment purposes, is a felony.

2) Beginning January 1, 2008, every employer must verify eligibility of all newly hired employees through the federal Basic Pilot Program.

3) Anyone can file a complaint against an employer hiring illegal aliens. The Attorney General or County Attorney must investigate every complaint. It is a misdemeanor to frivolous complaint against an employer.

4) Assuming the complaint is legitimate, Attorney General or County Attorney must:
a. Notify federal immigration, customs and local law enforcement agencies.
b. File a lawsuit against the employer. (Courts are required to expedite the lawsuit.)

5) For a first offense of “knowingly” hiring an illegal worker:
a. The employer must terminate the illegal workers.
b. The employer will serve three years probation during which the employer must file quarterly reports documenting all new hires where the illegal workers were employed.
c. All employer licenses (uncluding business license) will be suspended unless within three days after the court order, the employer signs an affidavit stating that it has released all illegal workers and will not knowingly or intentionally hire illegal workers. If a second violation, all licenses are permanently revoked.

6) For a first offense of "intentionally" hiring an illegal worker:
a. Same as "a" above.
b. The employer will serve a five year probation and file quarterly reports documenting all new hires.
c. Same as "c" above except licenses will be suspended for a minimum of ten days. A second violation also gets all licenses permanently revoked.

7) "knowingly" hiring means that at some point from initial hiring process to later on, the employer knew about it and hired the illegal worker, or kept them on, anyway. "Intentionally" refers to making a concerted effort to employ illegal workers.

A couple of thoughts: The penalties seem quite reasonable, but the Basic Pilot program is a disaster. Considering that the Swift Meat Packers used it to absolve themselves of responsibility hiring illegals, it gives cause for concern. The identity fraud provision is long-overdue considering we live in the identity fraud capital of the country. I like the fact that courts have to expedite the process

Friday, July 06, 2007

Legislative District 26 Has a Field of Candidates!

We recently announced the two GOP candidates for state senate in LD26: Al Melvin and Pete Hershberger.

We now know the Republican state house candidates in LD 26:
Marilyn Zerull is a precinct committeeman very active in several GOP organizations on the northwest side. She has filed her papers and is well on her way to qualifying.

Neophyte Trent Humphries has also filed his papers. Trent is a newer precinct committeeman but not at all new to politics.

Where's the Beef, Leahy and Rockefeller?

In a couple of editorials this past week, the IBD editorial board raised some security concerns and hammered Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy for not poor, but no, performance. While Leahy argues about whether or not the President should be able to fire his appointed attorneys, threats to America's security continue to mount. Also not off the hook is Senator Rockefeller who oversees the Senate Intelligence Committee. Getting serious about securing our borders, supporting more secure temporary visa documents, and supporting law enforcement and the judiciary in shutting down terrorists should be the priority of the Senate, not whining about decades of executive employment practices as part of a political vendetta against the President.

Points of concern raised:
1) Iran is using Hezbollah to aid Shiite terrorists in Iraq in killing U.S. troops.
2) Iran's Revolutionary Guard has opened three terrorist training camps where groups of up to 60 Iraqis learn the arts of terrorism.
3) Iran's nuclear program is accelerating.
4) Iran has signed an arms deal with Hugo Chavez.
5) Iran-supported Hezbollahs are building a base in the jungles of South America for training terrorists and attacking the U.S.
6) Iran's leader, Ahmadinejad, is making deals with terrorist Sandinista leader, Daniel Ortega.
7) Since 2002, the U.S. state department warned Congress of al-Qaida and Hezbollah joint workings in South America.

When the housefire is beginning to rage is not the time to stop and criticize the decor. Let's get back to the fire-at-hand.

Caught In the Cookie Jar

The Bush administration has been relentless in going after corrupt corporate executives. It looks like some of that enthusiasm is being directed to execs involved in illegal immigration activities. According to HR Executive magazine, another illegal alien-hiring pair of executives got caught with their hands in the cookie jar. Mel Kay, founder and president of Golden State Fence Company and Michael McLaughlin, general manager pleaded guilty to knowingly hiring illegal aliens. This is the same company that once worked on the San Diego border fence back in the 1990s although they apparently weren't using illegal aliens in that project.

The punishment? 1,040 hours of community service and 3 years probation for the two execs plus $200,000 for Kay and $100,000 for McLaughlin in fines. The company will fork over a $4.7 million fine—quite a lot for a small company.

If the President wants a legacy, tackling corporate corruption is one that has momentum and certainly one that was long overdue. It may not be as big as the immigration issue, but if he continues to go after exploiters of illegal border crossers, he will have some impact on it just the same.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy Independence Day!

We hope all had a wonderful celebration of our nation's independence.

After listening on the radio yesterday to random citizens respond poorly to simple questions about the founding of our nation, I began to reflect a bit more deeply this year about what this holiday is all about. These respondents, including a school teacher, did not know what the holiday was about, from whom we gained our independence, which war it was that we fought to establish the nation, and who wrote the Declaration of Independence. It was sobering to say the least.

Well, at our house we celebrated the usual way enjoying some relaxing time off listening to inspiring patriotic music, watching a couple of patriotic movies about the birth of our nation, spending time with family, eating too much barbequed food and, of course, enjoying the fireworks. But this year, we read together a little about George Washington and his experiences at Valley Forge that led to the turning point in the war. And I was proud to know my children know something about the birth of the nation and what has made us successful.

As the day comes to a close, I find myself with a greater appreciation for all that was sacrificed and for all that was inspired to create what is truly a remarkable system of government established to ensure the freedoms we all enjoy. May we always appreciate, respect and uphold it.

God Bless America!!!

Monday, July 02, 2007

Looks like we got ourselves a primary

It appears that Pete Hershberger has filed papers to form an exploratory committee for the District 26 Senate seat.

Looks like a Heshberger-Melvin primary.

And yes, despite speculation by some, Hershberger is looking to run as a Republican.

In a nutshell. . .

This will probably be the last thing I post on the failed immigration bill, but I couldn't let this Arizona Star Opinion Piece go without comment. If you want a real reason why the bill failed, look at how it was being defended and pushed. This piece of "journalism" demonstrates all of this succinctly. Short and facts and sound argument it relies entirely on emotionalism and venom. Certainly not the way to win a consensus. Here is my rebuttal of the piece:

By the end of last week, every politician who could get to a phone or a computer was eager to let the world know how disappointed he or she was over the death of the immigration bill.

Those were the people, like Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., who had made a valiant but unsuccessful effort to create an immigration bill that would lure hard-liners from the far right and far left into the center.

Mr Portillo, and I assume that this is Mr. Portillo, should go ahead and list the names of the politicians “disappointed” about the death of the Bill. Last I checked the vote was 53-46 which would signal to me that a majority of the Senate wasn’t really all that broken up about it.

Indeed, Senator Kyl’s own valiancy should be called into question during the second iteration. He surely voted for the bill, but his advocacy became subservient to Graham, Lott, and the administration. That would possibly be a result of seeing the damage his fellow deal makers were taking back home. That Randy Pullen gets around.

That didn't happen. Narrow-mindedness won the day. Anyone who sees this as a victory for America is living in a fantasyland.

Wow, an editorial masterpiece! As someone deliciously points out in the comments section, “Narrow-mindedness” isn’t even a word. Three sentences in and he is already resorted to name calling. Do you think that just maybe this might have been part of the problem in the first place? In the lack of solid evidence or argument to support the immigration bill, this seemed to be the preferred method of convincing America. Here’s a hint, you want to pass a six hundred page law that drastically changes the status quo, it is your job to convince the people. It is not your opponent’s duty. If you cannot do this, your law deserves to lose on it’s merits. Accusing others of narrow-mindedness is not a defense.

Arizona Republican Party Chairman Randy Pullen reflected the views of many of the critics when he declared that the defeat of the immigration bill was "a great day for Americans in general and the grassroots of the Republican Party."

The Minuteman Civil Defense Corps called the death of the immigration bill "a small but significant victory . . . in the fight to secure our nation's borders."

It is questionable whether either Pullen or the militia reflects the views of most Republicans or most Americans. Certainly their views are opposite of those expressed repeatedly on the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal, which is arguably the most conservative mainstream newspaper in the country.

What is questionable is the editor’s evidence that somehow most Republicans or even Americans were for the Bill. If support appears in the Editorial section of the Wall Street Journal, it must be insanely popular. I wonder if the editors would hold that to be true of all issues that the Wall Street Journal editorial board writes about? I’ll hold them to it.

Now, for those who do not live in a “fantasyland” here is actual polling evidence to back up claims of the Bills unpopularity:

Dem Poll finds Tepid Support for Immigration Bill
Bush Sinking Along with Immigration Bill
Just 22% Favor Stalled Immigration Bill

In fact the only supportive polling that I ever saw was polling that culled out some favorable points out of the Bill and asked about them. Unfortunately, the bill didn’t actually work that way.

There is no question, however, that both Pullen and the militia reflect an opinion consistent with that of the John Birch Society, which says, "The problem facing the nation along the southern border with Mexico is not so much immigration as invasion."

For those who missed the previous MINUTEMEN!!! association, Mr. Portillo throws in MILITIAS!! And THE JOHN BIRCH SOCIETY!!! for added effect. I don’t remember any of those groups being part of the larger debate, but whatever. . .

By extension, this view holds that those here illegally are nothing more than criminals, regardless of how long they've been here or what their achievements have been or how much they have contributed to the U.S. economy.

If “by extension” means, “please wait while I construct a suitable straw man.” Please check the number of Democrats that voted against this Bill. I’ll play their silly game, however. Very few view those hear illegally as “nothing more” than criminals, but what part of illegal is hard to understand? If “contributing to the US economy” is all that is needed to justify illegal action, then we better free everyone jailed on account of Enron (my straw man is bigger than yours). And it is not like those employed illegally are some type of Peace Corps operation to improve America’s economy. They are here to make more money than they could back home. Obviously laudable in terms of achieving more for their families, but not enough on its face for America to obviate many of its current laws to accommodate them. It is the job of the Bill supporters to make a sufficiently convincing case for this. They did not.

But those who cheer the death of the immigration bill in effect cheer the death of progress. The bill's defeat does nothing except maintain the status quo, which is precisely what the critics were fighting against. By a roll-call vote of 46-53, those who were unhappy with the bill basically shot themselves in the foot.

Ahem, that would be 53-46 AGAINST which is not at all insignificant.

Failure to adopt a comprehensive immigration law will not result in a protective bubble over the United States, nor will it lead to a long line of buses carrying 12 million illegal residents out of the country.

Nor would passing this bill. Enforcing the laws already on the books, and avoiding this mess of a bill, however, could possibly keep that 12 million from reaching 20-25 million is short order. Please see 1986 immigration bill for further detail. It is up to Bill proponents to show how passing this Bill is good for anybody outside of illegal residents, firms that hire illegal residents, and Democratic politicians wishing to inflate their voter totals. Here’s a hint, calling those who need convincing names is not a good place to start. An “out of the shadows” reference is due in 3.. 2.. 1..

On the contrary, maintaining the status quo means the estimated 12 million undocumented workers will continue playing a game of cat and mouse with immigration authorities. The rejected bill would have set up a system for bringing those people out of the shadows. Amnesty was not a gift without strings; certainly it led to citizenship, but it was a difficult and cumbersome process. It was not carte blanche.

Thank you for at least identifying Amnesty by its proper term, now we just need to work on the “undocumented” euphemism. Honestly, that is a step forward. And yes, the Z visa program was pretty much Carte Blanche. That was the killing point of the whole bill. Remove the Z visa and this bill passes quite handily, at least on the Republican side. But there I go assuming the editorial board has actually read the bill. I’m disappointed that we couldn’t get a 51 foot ladder reference here.

The bill that died addressed that issue, as well as the need for beefed up border security. Voting to allow the bill to proceed by ending debate were 33 Democrats, 12 Republicans — including Kyl and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. — and independent Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut. Voting to block the bill by allowing debate to continue were 37 Republicans, 15 Democrats and independent Bernard Sanders of Vermont. One senator, Tim Johnson, D-S.D., did not vote.
Kyl's theory is that the bill's failure was part of the larger voter backlash. A significant number of Americans, he says, lack confidence in the government's ability to secure the border, issue passports and take care of emergencies like Hurricane Katrina.

"Conservative activists," Kyl said, have "a very firm view that the government is unable to get anything right." Those activists had "a huge impact" on the Senate vote, he said.
Kyl may be right, but it seems to be the most positive spin possible to explain the influence of a bunch of fear-mongering, do-nothing pontificators who have been polluting the airwaves all year.

Jon Kyl is exactly right on the money. And this supposed “bunch of fear-mongering, do-nothing pontificators who have been polluting the airwaves all year” happen to be his constituents by a very large margin. And it appears that the “do-nothing” pontificators seem to accomplished what your pitiful editorial board could not. Just an observation.

Now they've achieved their goal, which means Congress will not revisit the immigration issue until after the 2008 presidential election.

That’s entirely up to Congress. Perhaps they could try submitting a bill through committee, giving it a proper debate, and not depend upon unfinished legislation (which cannot be debated), parliamentary tricks, and a rushed timeline to attempt to club down any possible objections. This is especially true if you are depending upon Harry Reid, who looks a lot like Jeff Sessions’ rented mule.

In the 12 days that ended on Wednesday, 11 bodies were found in the desert between the Mexican border and Tucson.

Oh, and did I forget to mention the non-sequitur emotional appeals? The same 11 would have died had the bill been signed. It is quite plausible to argue that more would have died due to an influx of migrants who wanted to take advantage of the Bill’s provisions.

How many more will die before Congress musters the courage to act on an immigration bill that includes a humane process for regulating the flow of foreign workers into the United States?
We've heard all the critics who say such laws already exist, of course, but it doesn't take a genius to see that those laws are not working.

I would invite the author to show me the provision in the Bill that “includes a humane process for regulating the flow of foreign workers into the United States.” As far as I could tell most of the benefits occur for those who are already here, unless you can get onto the “chain migration” route. There may be provisions for new labor to enter, but they are at a significant disadvantage to those who are already here illegally, almost to the point of being laughable. The CBO estimated that the bill would only discourage illegal immigration by 25% even if all the requested enforcement measures were administered in good faith.

And, indeed, critics DO say that the laws exist, but they are not being enforced which lies at the crux of the entire argument. At some point promising MORE enforcement options when little to none have been enforced to date becomes a lot like trying to pay off your real house with Monopoly money. If there was a sustained, good-faith effort to enforce existing law, immigration reform or even amnesty could not be stopped. I would probably be an advocate. I believe, however, voters are tired of “I would gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.”

A new approach is needed that includes a guest-worker program, tighter border security and a way to legalize those who are here and have proved themselves worthy of citizenship.
Every member of Congress knows that is needed. However, it is revealing that even a bipartisan effort led by Kyl, a staunch conservative, and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., a staunch liberal, was unable to build a consensus.

The immigration vote was one that will cost us dearly until more reasonable voices make themselves heard.

There is no grand law that states that all provisions of a better immigration plan need to be contained in one bill. That is just idiotic. Now if you want to argue that there are parts of a plan that are better hid in a 600 page document because they are boondoggles or would be wildly unpopular if scrutinized on their own, then, yes, I would agree.

And the self-styled “more reasonable” voices were heard. Indeed a vast majority of the media fell into this category. Its just that their arguments weren’t and still aren’t convincing. Bummer that whole media monopoly thing didn’t work out for you like you planned.