Plucking the pluckers.

A mostly political Weblog.
June 18 2007 8:14 AM

Plucking the Pluckers

Do liberals still care about low-wage workers?

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Kausfiles Special Focus Zone: As a reader aid, items that do not concern "comprehensive" immigration reform will be specially marked in color. You may choose to skip these items.

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**** Alert: Non-Immigration Item****

Bob Shrum makes a good point in his book, No Excuses: Al Gore is "fun to sit and have a beer with"! You'd rather backslap with Bush? (It's watching Gore campaign that's painful.) ... 3:25 A.M.

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What Happened to the Left? I don't think the following statement by Sen. Kennedy--in the debate  on Sen. Dorgan's amendment to curtail the proposed "guest worker" program--has drawn enough attention:

"I would like the chicken pluckers to pay $10 or $15 an hour. They do not do it. They are not going to do it. Who are you trying to kid? Who is the Senator from North Dakota trying to fool?

These are the realities, the economic realities. No one has fought for increasing the minimum wage more than I have. But you have got realities that employers are not going to pay it." [E.A.]

Weren't Democrats (especially liberal Democrats) the people who wanted chicken pluckers--and others doing lousy jobs at the bottom of the pyramid--to be paid $10 an hour? Yet here we have the putative lion of liberalism declaring this modest goal (less than $3/hour above the new scheduled minimum wage) to be impossible. Employers just won't do it! They'll hire illegals instead. But what if the flow of illegals is curtailed--something Kennedy's immigration bill promises to do. Why not see if a tight labor market can boost wages above the new $7.25 minimum--instead of caving and providing employers with cheap temporary "guest workers" from abroad? If chicken pluckers organized and their union went on strike demanding $10 an hour, would Kennedy ask them who they were "trying to kid" (and support breaking the strike with "temporary" employees)? They told us in the '60s that Kennedy was the tool of the bourgeoisie!

Most of the vocal opposition to the immigration bill, so far, has come from the right. What's important, for the coming debate on immigration, will be the strength of opposition on the left. Does anyone on the Left think the Grand Bargain will on average improve the earnings of those Americans now making $6, $7, $8 and $9 an hour? Paul Krugman doesn't seem to. A year ago  he wrote  [$]:

[W]hile immigration may have raised overall income slightly, many of the worst-off native-born Americans are hurt by immigration -- especially immigration from Mexico. Because Mexican immigrants have much less education than the average U.S. worker, they increase the supply of less-skilled labor, driving down the wages of the worst-paid Americans. The most authoritative recent study of this effect, by George Borjas and Lawrence Katz of Harvard, estimates that U.S. high school dropouts would earn as much as 8 percent more if it weren't for Mexican immigration.

That's why it's intellectually dishonest to say, as President Bush does, that immigrants do ''jobs that Americans will not do.'' The willingness of Americans to do a job depends on how much that job pays -- and the reason some jobs pay too little to attract native-born Americans is competition from poorly paid immigrants.

Anybody else?

P.S.: Yglesias suggests it's "baffling" that I oppose "comprehensive" reform on the grounds that it will increase income inequality given that (in his characterization) I'm "the author of a book about why we shouldn't care about income inequality." That's a reasonable challenge to raise--I'll defend my position on inequality later. But I'm not talking about inequality here. I'm talking about wages at the bottom, and whether Democrats are going to endorse something that makes them significantly, measurably worse. 2:42 A.M. 

**** Alert: Non-Immigration Item****

Where's the Zip? My Slate colleague Daniel Gross writes a whole piece on how the Bush administration is blocking the Whole Foods/Wild Oats merger "to punish political opponents." But what political opponent? Is the target "liberals," on the grounds that the clientele of both chains are probably 95% Democratic? That's a pretty diffuse method of punishment--"Vote Republican or pay through the nose for sprouted wheat!" At other times, Gross makes it sound as if Bush is punishing some more specific enemy--yet the only victim he identifies is Daniel Gross of Slate, whose Connecticut town might be deprived of a Whole Foods outlet. This is paranoid. Maybe the Bushies are clean on this one. ... I mean, it's not as if Wild Oats' biggest shareholder is Bill Clinton's business partner and bachelor buddy who's also busy trying to buy up seemingly every available media property in advance of Hillary's 2008 run, right? ... Right?10:37 P.M.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Bush Blows Up His Party: Glenn Reynolds argues the Administration is wrong to think it's up against only the "right wing blathersphere." ...  2:12 P.M.

K-Lo has an update  on what is expected to happen to the immigration bill next week in the Senate. It seems that Harry Reid has figured out a way to run the place like the House. But it's not completely clear that there are 60 votes for cloture, and room for public pressure to change swing Senators' minds--or at least their votes. ... P.S.: See also Right Wing News' insider report, which notes why the key vote will be cloture--because the final vote will be familiar fool-the-yahoos Kabuki:

[T]he cloture vote to end debate will be the "real" vote on the bill because if debate is closed off, the bill is sure to pass. Then, what will happen is that the votes for the bill will be counted, and a few senators who are afraid that their election prospects will be jeopardized by a "yes" vote, will be allowed to vote against the bill. This enables those senators to tell their constituents that they voted against the bill, but it will still allow them to collect campaign contributions from lobbyists who have a better understanding of how things work, and know that the bill couldn't have been passed without their support. [E.A.]

I'm not sure this old trick works post-Web. Too many constituents are onto it. ... More Kabuki Check: Interestingly, Hawkins' source still thinks Reid still "would prefer to see this bill go away," and that "a lot" of Senators are voting for "a bad bill" with the hope and expectation that the House will kill it. ... 12:37 P.M.

Friday, June 15, 2007

I will end illegal immigration, secure our borders, and identify every non-citizen in our nation

is really code for "I support legalization." ... 4:52 P.M.

It's not just Rasmussen: First Read notes underpublicized results in the latest WSJ-MSNBC poll indicating public dissatisfaction with the immigration "grand bargain"--including disapproval of the very provisions many MSM outlets claim popular support for.

The latest NBC/Wall Street Journal has plenty of numbers suggesting that getting the immigration bill through the Senate -- and then the House -- won't be easy. In it, 46% believe immigration helps more than it hurts, while almost the same amount (44%) think the opposite. In addition, majorities oppose some of the Senate immigration bill's legalization provisions: 64% are against allowing illegal workers to receive an automatic work visa if they pay a fine, and 55% oppose allowing illegal workers apply for permanent residency if they return home to their counties and pay additional fines. [E.A.]

Only 20% called the bill an "acceptable compromise." 41% said it "makes too many concessions to illegal immigrants by allowing them to remain in the United States." ** ...  

P.S.: The stark conflict between the WSJ-NBC results on the legalization plank and the NYTand LAT results on the same plank demands a Mystery Pollster explanation. I suspect it will conclude that the answers to these questions (like the answers to welfare reform questions) are highly dependent on the way the queries are worded--words like "automatic," however accurate, will be a turnoff, while words like "start" and "path" and "apply" will be appealing. ... But the answer to the basic "do you support the bill" question does not seem sensitive to wording. If there's a single poll that's showed a majority supporting the actual overall bill, I haven't seen it. ... Update: Emailer R. says I haven't gone far enough:

Actually, can you find a single poll that shows a quarter of the population supporting it?

**--Another 20% said "it makes too many concessions to those who want illegal immigrants to have to return to their native countries." Which it does! The bill's "temporary" worker program, requiring a return home every two years and permanent return after six,  seems indefensibly harsh. I deny that this left-wing criticism of the bill translates into de facto support, or is incompatible with the right-wing criticism of the bill's legalization provisions. (You could want new, legal guest workers to have a path to citizenship but existing illegal workers to be treated less generously.) They're both criticisms of the bill. The NBC-WSJ question falsely makes respondents choose between them. ... N.B.: The first version of this post hideously misread the NBC-WSJ poll. I've cleaned it up. ... 1:49 P.M. link

Note: I am not single-mindedly obsessed with the immigration issue. This guy  is single-mindedly obsessed with the immigration issue. ... 1:03 P.M.

Only an angry minority supports the "popular" immigration bill?

Forty percent (40%) of American voters say that President Bush is doing a good or an excellent job on taxes. A Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that 39% say the same about his handling of the economy.

At the other end of the spectrum, just 15% say he is doing a good or an excellent job on immigration. [Emphasis and link added.]

Fifteen percent. That is getting down near the percentage who think their automatic garage door is sending them semaphore signals from outer space. ... Isn't this finding is flat incompatible with the idea that,  "A majority of Americans support our proposal," as John McCain asserted this week, or that it is opposed only by a "very intense minority" of conservatives? What has George Bush's handling of immigration been other than the pursuit of McCain's bill? ... Update: Alert reader C.W. notes thatsome of the disapproval of Bush probably reflects voters unhappy that he'd apparently (at the time) failed to get an immigration bill through, though he was campaigning for its revival. But another Rasmussen poll at about the same time showed only 20% wanted the Grand Bargain revived. ... 12:42 P.M.

Yes, John Edwards does seem like the obvious Dem presidential candidate to seize the gaping, near-irresistable opening and oppose the immigration bill, as MyDD's Tarheel--alertly flagged by Blogometer--argues. I was hoping for Obama. But Edwards is losing. He needs to make a move. And if you really care about incomes at the bottom of the distribution--which is what I thought Edwards' campaign was all about--then you can't not oppose this bill, I think. ... Tarheel notes that the immigration bill

is hugely unpopular.  Most americans outside the blogosphere heavily oppose it.  Union workers seem unhappy with it.  Americans (outside the blogosphere) instinctively don't believe in rewarding illegal behavior with citizenship.  This would bring lots of free press for Edwards and distinguishes him from others on the Democratic side.  I'm fairly certain this wouldn't lose any votes in Iowa or NH or SC.

11:24 A.M.

Lott Lashes Out! GOP Senate whip Trent Lott attacks"these talk-radio people who don't even know what's in the bill." The New York Times reports:

Comments by Republican senators on Thursday suggested that they were feeling the heat from conservative critics of the bill, who object to provisions offering legal status. The Republican whip, Trent Lott of Mississippi, who supports the bill, said: "Talk radio is running America. We have to deal with that problem."

At some point, Mr. Lott said, Senate Republican leaders may try to rein in "younger guys who are huffing and puffing against the bill."

[E.A.] a) 'Feeling the heat'! b) It's of course in the interests of the bill's backers to make it seem as if opposition only comes from "talk radio," and not, say, from the AFL-CIO--or from ordinary non-radio Democrats and Republicans, for that matter; c) Is that Rush you're talkin' about? d) Is Lott still smarting from the lack of support he got from the GOP grassroots after his appalling Strom Thurmond comments? e) Is he making a play for Strange New Respect? f) Wasn't it Lott who criticized as "not helpful" Bush's bashing of GOP opponents of the bill? I think it was. g) Isn't the obvious pro-bill strategy to let the opposition calm down, not stir it up? h) I thought it was John McCain who didn't know what was in the bill.  ...

Update:Instapundit sees a pattern ...

A year ago, Trent Lott was saying he was "damn tired" of PorkBusters, and now the GOP is all about fighting the pork. Difference? They lost an election by listening to him. Now what will they be saying after the next election?

Lott was on the verge of turning into an intriguing, nothing-to-lose, truth-telling character a while back. What happened? ... Possible answer: He is telling the truth--and the truth is he's one of "the plump complacent emirs of the one-party-state of Incumbistan," as Mark Steyn puts it. ...  2:34 A.M.

It's Back. It's Beatable. Given the revival of the immigration "Grand Bargain," William Rusher's Weyrich-like pessimism looks disturbingly prophetic:

The odds are better than even that the coalition [supporting the bill] will simply regroup, try again, and this time roll over the opposition like a Sherman tank.

The coalition is simply too powerful for anything as unfocused as mere American public opinion to resist for long.

In other words, what the Establishment wants, the Establishment gets. I'm not so sure. a) The Founding Fathers made it quite difficult to pass legislation--even popular legislation, and b) this legislation is not popular (politicians worried about keeping their jobs won't be as gullible as the MSM when it comes to tendentious polls). Opponents should be able to block the bill. For one thing, there's always the possibility that many Senators are supporting the bill now in the hope that it will be blocked later, allowing them to say they voted to solve a problem without having to live with their disastrous "solution." ...

P.S.: If the Establishment always got its way, affirmative action would not be on the ropes, sanctions against Cuba would have been lifted years ago, the SALT treaty would have been ratified, Nixon would have gotten his guaranteed income back in 1972, the entitlement problem would be under control, and Tim Russert would be more popular than Taylor Hicks. ...

One suggestion for opponents:Instead of phone call and email campaigns--the Senators all know by now that lots of people are angry--how about some street demonstrations? It worked in the '60s. The trick would be including Democrats, and keeping the protests so free of fringe elements, violence, and anything that could be characterized as anti-Latino prejudice that they couldn't be tarred by the media (which would be looking to pitch opponents as angry bigots). ... 1:39 A.M.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Fox is reporting an imminent agreement--significantly including Sen. Reid--to grease the skids for passage of the Senate immigration bill via a Fool-the-Yahoos addition of $4.4 billion in enforcement spending. ... I'm about to get on a plane and can't check to see if this Fox report is correct. But clearly this is no time to stop paying attention. ... 3:06 P.M.

"It's much better for your party to be dissatisfied with your candidates  than for the other party to be dissatisfied with your candidates" ... or dissatisfied with its candidates. 7:45 A.M.

A potential anti-comprehensive primary challenger to waffling Georgia Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss now says he won't run. I don't know what this means for the immigration bill, but it means something. ... 7:24 A.M.

The Hail Mitt Play? I don't quite understand why John McCain is picking a fight with Mitt Romney, given that there are two other GOP contenders who poll better than Romney nationally. Won't this tactic do for McCain what attacking Howard Dean did for Dick Gephardt? Tom Edsall's brutal HuffPo analysis discerns a desperate rationale, but also argues:

The McCain attack violates the GOP orthodoxy embodied in Ronald Reagan's 11th Commandment, "Thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican." If the tactic fails, the McCain campaign may be effectively over.

[E.A.] P.S.: If Republicans really favor McCain's legalization plan, as the LAT claims, why is he tanking again? [You almost had a nice little non-immigration item there--ed A gradual withdrawal is all you can hope for. During the recent weeks of kf's ... let's call it kf's "special focus" on immigration, the stats have held up. Until yesterday. Yesterday, they collapsed. I suspect this means readers think the debate is over and the immigration bill is dead. But it's not, and "the next few weeks are critical."] ... 12:22 A.M.

Reminder: Here's the argument that applies to the LAT poll showing (as do other polls) that majorities approve of allowing illegal immigrants to "start on a path to citizenship" if they pay fines, etc.. (Note also the Times' skillful use of gratuitous, comprehensivist-approved softening words "start" and "path.") ... Rasmussen's  argument against LAT-type questions is different, but not incompatible: he thinks the public is in fact willing to accept "paths to citizenship" as part of a compromise that would also secure the borders. But the public thinks the Senate bill won't secure the borders. ... In any case, the Senate bill itself was opposed 50-23% in last week's Rasmussen poll,   a finding reinforced this week.  The LAT could have countered Rasmussen by asking voters what they thought about the actual bill. They didn't. Why take chances? ... 12:12 A.M.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Don't Calm Down, Part XVIII: The latest from Roll Call [$]--

Senate conservatives have been warned by Republican leaders that they must either accept a series of largely symbolic floor votes on a handful of amendments to the immigration reform legislation or see themselves shut out of the process altogether when the chamber resumes work on the bill later this year, GOP lawmakers and aides said Tuesday.

What's so terrible about being "shut out of the process," if you oppose the bill? After all, if you make it better it might pass more easily. And if you can only offer "symbolic" amendments you can't even make it better. ... Also see Kate O'Beirne on the Establishment's Drive to Revive:

There is Senate speculation that there will be a resurrection of the immigration reform bill during the last week of June to increase pressure on dissenting Senators who would risk the wrath of colleagues by delaying the July 4th recess.

P.S.: Why the huge business push for legalization when the economy and the stock market are going great guns under the status quo? Here's a disturbing theory from one of Rich Lowry's readers:

Chertoff and Kyl both seem to have answered that question recently, Kyl in his Wall Street Journal interview and Chertoff on Fox News yesterday: because businesses are starting to worry about efforts to enforce immigration laws at the local level. One state in the vanguard of that effort is Kyl's (and McCain's) home state of Arizona, where the legislature has passed numerous laws (usually vetoed) on the issue, and where the public voted for Prop 200 back in 2004.

To me that says something far more ominous than that Congress is being disingenuous or naïve on the matter. Far from simple being empty promises, this amnesty bill is actually a blatant attempt to head off any attempts at enforcement at all.

It also means the current immigration debate isn't as important as obsessive bloggers have been making it seem. It's more important! And it's not important to the GOPs so much as the Dems--because it means business is acting now to avoid what it perceives as a coming labor shortage in which it will have to substantially raise wages at the bottom, altering the economic contours of the economy in favor of unskilled workers and their families. You wouldn't think that--whatever Republicans do--a Democrat like Harry Reid would really want to move a bill that would prevent such a dramatic, progressive shift, would you? ...

P.S.: You get paid less but you get a union card. Rep. Barney Frank acknowledges that the influx of immigrant workers is "bad for blue-collars," according to National Journal  [via Corner]. But, hey, Dems will compensate by increasing union power!

[I]mmigrants can help elect Democratic majorities, and "if [a Democratic Congress] were to significantly strengthen unions, then you would offset the negative effect on the income of workers," he said.

I was going to write a post about how this illustrates a clear difference between neoliberals and paleoliberals--neolib Clintonomists relying on tight labor markets to raise wages, paleolibs disdaining the market and relying on cumbersome inefficient union mechanisms to maybe, somehow replicate what the market could have achieved without them. But even the cumbersome inefficient unions of the AFL-CIO aren't buying  Frank's rationalization. ... 2:43 P.M.

Opposition to the "Grand Bargain" from the left--not the liberal left, the left left, described at PoliticalAffairs.Net. ... This is actually a highly-useful, detailed article on the lobbying push behind the bill.

The National Immigration Forum and the DC umbrella group it initiated, the Coalition for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, were key players in this strategy. Behind them was the Essential Worker Immigration Coalition, which brought together over 40 of the largest corporate trade and manufacturing associations in the country, under the aegis of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. ...

These Washington groups supported all the compromise bills embodying the legalization/enforcement/guest worker tradeoff, beginning with the original Kennedy/McCain bill in 2005. The same argument was used to justify them all: "It's not possible to get legalization without including more enforcement and guest worker programs."

Note that the argument was not that 'it's not possible to have enforcement without legalization." It was the reverse. ... 9:22 A.M.

Failure Is An Option, Part XVIII: From The Hill, some hearteningly downbeat quotes on the immigration bill's prospects:

"It may be too little, too late," said Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) ... [snip]

 Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff suggested to reporters that if the Senate does not act "within the next couple weeks" the bill could be dead for the 110th Congress.

"As long as we can get the bill back up within a very short period of time, there is no harm done," said Chertoff, who said that the Georgians' funding plan was still on the table. "What we can't afford to do is let this languish beyond that period of time."

[E.A.] Update: But see other, more ominously optimistic takes. ... 2:00 A.M.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Fool the Yahoos II: Rich Lowry still isn't paranoid enough! He seems to think the call by undecided GOP senators Chambliss and Isakson

for an emergency supplemental bill to fully fund the border and interior security initiatives contained in [the Senate immigration bill]

shows that "democracy works"and they are coming around to sensible opposition to the bill. As Kate O'Beirne points out, the proposal seems much more like a transparent ploy to give these senators pro-enforcement cover so they can vote for the bill. I think veteran comprehensivist Sen. McCain even publicly suggested this maneuver. ... Democracy works, but for Senators eager to please business lobbyists, pander to Latinos--and who have secret contempt for their constituents--it will be a last resort. ...

P.S.: O'Beirne predicts anti-bill Senators "will insist that the additional funding produce measurable results before considering any sweeping reform." ...

P.P.S.: Noam Askew is paranoid enough! He suggests that Chambliss and Isakson are positioning themselves to support the bill if they can somehow avoid the voters wrath. ... Malkin, also appropriately worried, notes reports that McConnell and Lott are on the verge of flipping 15 Republican senators. ... Meanwhile, Paul Weyrich thinks opponents of the bill are up against  what Al Gore would call  "powerful forces":

In all of the years I have been here I never have known when the establishment really wants something that the establishment cannot obtain it. And the establishment really wants this bill.

It's no time to calm down. ... 5:02 P.M. link

Monday, June 11, 2007

Kos v. P.o.s.! Yahoos to the right, yahoos to the left. Blogometer's Conn Carroll notes that the recently elected Kos-style Dem candidates (Tester, Webb, Boyda) do not seem to be lamenting the immigration bargain's collapse. ... He also has Kos himself busting pompous Balz. ... Backfill: Fishwrap added McCaskill to the list  of anti-comprehensive netroots Dems. ... P.S.: On the right, even "yahoo"-bashin' Bill Kristol has bailed on the bill-- 

I would point fingers at the drafters of the bill. The more this bill was debated, the less able people were to defend it substantively. 

1:55 P.M. link

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The Fool-the-Yahoos Surge: Meetings have been held, tactics adopted, talking points synchronized. The new Bush counterinsurgency strategy to reverse the course of the immigration debate seems to have two components:

1) Exude confidence. "We are winning" ... sorry, that's what Bush said about the war in Iraq. Here's what his Commerce secretary said about the immigration Grand Bargain: "This bill is alive and well .... I have no doubt. This is going to go through ...."

 2) Stress all the enforcement provisions in the bill, while pretending you've gotten the message:

"I know some of you doubt that the Federal government will make good on the border security and enforcement commitments in this bill ... [W]e are now committing more resources than ever before to border security, doubling the number of Border Patrol agents, building hundreds of miles of fencing, and employing advanced technology, from infrared sensors to unmanned aerial vehicles. The bill builds on this progress by requiring that we meet border security objectives before certain other provisions can take effect."

--President Bush, President's Radio Address, June 8. [E.A.]

"Because I think a lot of people have concerns about security and our message is: 'We heard you. Take a look at what's going on with this bill.'"   ...

"If you take a look at the bill, it is the largest investment ever in border security. ... This bill says ... harsh punishments for employers." ...

"And furthermore, we have a mechanism now for knowing who the illegals are, where they are, whether they're working, whether they're breaking the law and if they're not working and they're not obeying the law, they get sent out." 

--White House Press Secretary Tony Snow, on various Sunday shows. [E.A.]

This is all in keeping with the Peggy Noonan view that the White House really does think its own GOP base is composed of yahoos who can be fooled with a little talk of enforcement.

kf Balking Points

1. If all these enforcement measures are so wonderful, why not enact just them and drop the questionable legalization part? Bush is holding the parts of the bill everyone says they want hostage to the parts he wants.

2. If we tried the enforcement parts first, then we wouldn't have to trust the federal government. We could make sure the measures work before we go ahead with legalization (and attract a new wave of legalization-seeking illegals).

3. The bill does require "that we meet border security objectives before certain other provisions can take effect." Unfortunately, legalization is not one of those "certain other provisions." Legalization is immediate under the bill.

4. "[I]f ... they're not obeying the law, they get sent out." Of course, most of them will be obeying the law ... because what was illegal will have been legalized! As for whether the government will actually get it together to send people home if, say, they've come illegally after the January, 2007 cutoff--well, again, let's see whether that "investment" in enforcement pays off.

Bonus BP:

5. If illegals "live in   fear" under the status quo, as we're told, then how is the status quo "silent amnesty"?

But I'm glad Bush mentioned the aerial drones! ...  10:16 P.M. link

Straight Fake Talk: In a video clip available on the NYT site, John McCain pretends to Iowans that he shares their anger that the border fence didn't get built. [Go 2 minutes into the clip] ... 5:05 A.M.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Google Alert Gold: RightWingNews'John Hawkins talks to a GOP Hill aide and gets some good-as-MSM tick-tock ** on how the immigration bill crumped last Thursday. Hawkins then asks the aide "why he thought so many Republicans had been supporting such an incredibly unpopular bill." Three reasons come back:

First off, there was what he referred to as the "Rovian School of thought," which says that passing this bill would capture the Hispanic vote for the GOP for decades to come.

But wait--I thought the Senators were doing it because  it was viewed as vital within policy circles! Don't disillusion me.

P.S.: RWN's source also explains why all those conservative amendments--the official sticking point in the deliberations--aren't insignificant:

The "Grand Compromise" crowd didn't want a lot of these amendments to be voted on because either some of the amendments would have been accepted and it would have killed the bill or alternately, they would have had to vote against common sense enforcement measures and made themselves look bad.

I still hope Sen. DeMint hangs tough and refuses any agreement to whittle down the list of amendments and go forward. Why make the Grand Bargaineers look bad when you can actually kill the Grand Bargain? ...

**--Hawkins doesn't ask what they ate, though. You always have to ask what they ate. ... 10:57 P.M.

"Immigrant Bill Hurts Martinez at Poll": Senate GOP Grand Bargaineer Mel Martinez's approval ratings have "plunged" from 48 to 37 percent approval in his state, Florida--an all-time low for him, reports the Orlando Sentinel. ... P.S.: Isn't Florida, with its large Hispanic population, supposed to be one of the more comprehensive-friendly states? Could a Democratic presidential candidate actually use the Bush immigration bill's unpopularity to win Florida's toss-up electoral votes in 2008? .. . [Thanks to emailer P.S.] 9:40 P.M.

Balzbusters!Politico's Roger Simon joins the backlash against pompous Dan Balz CW! Like Jacob Weisberg, Simon argues that, when it comes to "comprehensive immigration reform," failure is a pretty good option. ... P.S.: DNC chair Howard Dean says that in the recent midterms Republican "anti-immigrant fervor ... helped them in a few races"? Simon buried the lede--I thought the accepted lesson of '06 was that it didn't help the GOPs, or maybe even hurt them. But Dean should know. I defer to his expertise! Someone tell Sen. Kyl. ... 9:09 P.M.

Sorry, K-Lo: Republican Sen. John Kyl is still working to resuscitate his awful immigration "bargain," according to Politico.  I guess he hasn't "come home" after all. ... P.S.: Maybe he wasn't such a great "statesman" to begin with? Just a thought. ... 8:54 P.M.

Cocoon Chronicles: But All Our Sources Say It's 'Vital'! Shailagh Murray and Jonathan Weisman of the Washington Post say the "grand compromise" isn't dead yet--the "chief architects" are "confident that they could resurrect it." The WaPo reporters then declare:

Within policy circles, immigration reform is viewed as vital, addressing both the growing demand for workers and the social costs of an illegal underclass. [E.A.]

Well, there's policy circles and there's policy circles. How does this sentence--not just biased, but amateurishly biased!--get into the Washington Post? You could just as well have written, in 2002:

Within policy circles, toppling Saddam Hussein by force is viewed as vital, addressing both the threat of weapons of mass destruction and the need to establish a new dynamic in the region.

I don't remember reading that one. ... P.S.: The next WaPo sentence, of course, is "The public also generally supports the idea." See below for why this is b.s.--or see Rasmussen and Gallup. ... P.P.S.: I'd never work for an organization that would botch a big story as thoroughly as the Washington Post Company's flagship has botched this year's immigration bill coverage! ... Oh, wait. 1:58 A.M.

Friday, June 8, 2007

"Voters wanted an immigration deal": A quick word on those polls  MSM writers--e.g. Dan Balz--are using to suggest that the Senate thwarted the popular will in blocking "comprehensive immigration reform." I'd been puzzled myself by the consistent polls showing that a) the comprehensive bill itself was wildly unpopular,  yet b) --and these are the polls emphasized by the MSM--the controversial "earned legalization" planks, when they are described to voters, win majority approval.

But Mystery Pollster cleared it up for me. The key is the Gallup finding that only half of the public is paying much attention to the immigration debate. Those who are paying attention oppose the bill 30% to 11%, but 58 % "don't know enough to say."  On this basis, Gallup editor-in-chief Frank Newport calls those who oppose the bill a "vociferous minority"--apparently believing that if only more voters paid attention they'd endorse the bill, because when they're given the questions  describing various paths to citizenship for illegals who "have a job" and "pay back taxes," they mostly say yes.

The flaw in this "scientific research,"  MP points out, is that by Newport's own admission these are mainly voters who aren't paying attention and are hearing these terms for the first time, so "their reactions may vary greatly along with the text of the descriptions provided." If they react positively to loaded words like "job" and "pay taxes" when they first hear them, that's no guarantee that they'd endorse the Senate bill's provisions if they starting following them closely (and began to hear other terms, like "immediate legalization" and "sanctuary").

We simply don't know how the 58% would react if for some reason they started paying attention--though Gallup's own finding that those who are paying the most attention are the most lopsidedly (61% to 17%) opposed to the bill is hardly evidence that they'd support it. Indeed, when Gallup described to voters various alternatives, the most popular, at 42%, was "to require illegal immigrants to leave, to but allow them to return if they meet certain requirements over a period of time." That sounds a lot like--yikes--deportation, no?  Another 14% wanted flat deportation with no possibility of eventual return. 42+14=56.

Update: Matthew Yglesias talks about "[t]he objective social conditions militating in favor of reform." Wow, that brings back memories. ... 4:55 P.M. link  

Don't calm down: The White House says Bush is going to keep pushing the "grand bargain" in a Capitol Hill meeting next week.  This could mean he's planning a surge-like effort, or it could just be part of the gradual let-down-easy process in which he learns that it's not really about the amendments--the Senate is just not that into him. ...

P.S.: Sen. Salazar says the bill "may return in July,"  according to the Denver Post. Why? Because "'Failure on immigration reform is not an option.'"  ...

P.P.S.: At some point, won't the President and others involved (McCain, Lindsay Graham, Lott, etc.) realize that as long as they keep pushing the bill, even in the press, they keep the pain coming (even as they impress reporters with their bipartisan statesmanship)? As First Read points out, the big winner yesterday wasn't the conventional pick:

Oddly enough, the shelving of the immigration bill could actually help McCain. The less the issue is brought up, the better for McCain ... 

Right.  If the bill definitively dies, McCain might even collect those character points for sticking with his position. ... It's like the BMW Z4, which gets better-looking when you know that it flopped! [Can you pick an analogy that resonates with more than, say, three readers?--ed  I need to maintain my fragile coalition.]

Update: First Read suggests McCain handled the post-collapse immigration questions  well in Iowa today--in other words, he sounded like he was admitting likely defeat and pushing it into the closet of Past Lost Causes. But I could be overinterpreting. ...

More: O'Beirne hears  "the Republican leadership continues to press the reluctant Senators" for a deal that could enable cloture. ... 3:13 P.M.

George Borjas on what the Bush administration could have done to make progress on an immigration solution. ... [Hint: It's not "comprehensive."] 4:15 A.M.

Shailagh Murray reports   usefully on how four anti-comprehensive Republicans, including Sen. DeMint, switched votes to back the Dorgan anti-guestworker amendment that may have helped kill the immigration bill. But her story feeds two insidious memes that could propagate in the days ahead:

Bogus Meme #1: The vote-switchers were an obdurate minority frustrating the will of the majority through cynical trickery. Here's Murray:

But that's the Senate, where tactical voting is par for the course, and where a single disgruntled lawmaker -- or, in this case, four -- can run even the most artful compromise aground. [E.A.]

First, Sen. Dorgan, a Democrat, knew full well that if his amendment won it would probably derail the "grand bargain." Republicans had said that it would. Yet he pressed ahead, aided and abetted by Majority Leader Reid who as the vote was being plotted "tapped Dorgan on the back" and said "excellent," according to Politico's Carrie Budoff. This suggest that Dorgan, and maybe Reid, preferred "no bill" to the bill as grandly bargained.

Second, the bill did not fail after Dorgan's "killer" amendment. It failed on an ordinary cloture vote, in which all parties had been clearly warned by Reid that failure would mean withdrawal of the bill. Yet it couldn't even muster a majority, let alone 60 senators. Why did a bipartisan majority effectively vote to bury the bill? The Hill s Manu Raju offers an explanation that's  more sophisticated and plausible  than Murray's Disgruntled Saboteur theory:

Since the bill failed on a procedural motion, it gives both parties cover when trying to court the influential Latino vote in the 2008 elections.

That's how the Senate works, no? It excels in providing opportunities for lawmakers to engineer stalemates that kill legislation a majority wants killed while diffusing responsibility for doing so (or allowing reporters to blame "disgruntled" loners). ...

Update: But see K-Lo's anonymous Senate source, who says a) the cloture vote may have reflected majority sentiment less faithfully than I'm claiming; and b) it's not over. (Buried lede!) ...

Bogus Meme #2: Left and Right are totally strange bedfellows here. Sen. DeMint, reports Murray, dislikes the "comprehensive" bill because it includes "a path to citizenship for undocumented workers." (That's not how DeMint would describe it, probably.) And, says Murray,

Sen. Byron L. Dorgan (D-N.D.) does not like the immigration bill, either, but for entirely different reasons.

Entirely different reasons? Dorgan thinks the bill would "depress wages and lead to foreigners taking good jobs." And DeMint, presumably, thinks a "path to citizenship" would encourage more illegal immigrants, who would ... depress wages and lead to foreigners taking good jobs! They're both concerned about depressing wages. Bipartisanship! Murray reminds me of those radical feminists who insist that their reasons for censoring pornography are completely different from Pat Robertson's. No they're not.

P.S.: The Post really needs Edsall back. ... 3:11 A.M. link

Psst! The system worked: WaPo's Dan Balz--in a piece produced with stunning swiftness that nevertheless manages to incorporate every respectable, loaded, portentous goo-goo cliche available--argues that the "collapse of comprehensive immigration reform" represents

"a scathing indictment of the political culture of Washington"! ...

"another example of a polarized political system in which the center could not hold"!

"a political system that appears incapable of finding ways to resolve the nation's big challenges." [E.A.]

I prefer the alternative Boehner Hypothesis.

P.S.: Balz's piece is a near-Platonic example of the Neutral Story Line--a sweeping, seemingly profound and biting analysis that nevertheless doesn't offend anyone because it doesn't seem to be taking sides. But of course it does take sides. It takes the "bipartisan" side--simply assuming that "comprehensive immigration reform" is a good idea.

What if the bill's collapse represented

"a rare example of the political system appearing capable of finding ways to reject  half-baked, grandiose schemes of a reckless President"?

Not neutral! ...

P.P.S.: To support his scathing indictment, Balz says "Voters wanted an immigration deal ... ." I know a respected robo-poller who disagrees.

P.P.P.S.: The Post really needs Edsall back. ... 2:04 A.M. link

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Cloture fails, 50-45. Immigration bill pulled off floor by Sen. Reid. ... It can't really be about how many amendments Republicans get to offer. ... Alternative: Maybe it's about not being able to take the worst ideas from the left (instant legalization of illegals) and the right (second class guest workers), put them together, call it centrism, bask in fawning MSM coverage and ram it down the throat of voters who don't want it! ... P.S.: Sen. Feinstein says the problem is people "never understood the complexities of the bill." I don't think so! ...

Of course, the bill isn't dead. Just resting. There will be an instinctive, goo goo guilt-tripping MSM effort to induce its revival. ('The system isn't working ... bipartisanship,' etc.)** It could well come back. This is no time for gloating. ... O.K., maybe a little gloating:

"Backers of Immigration Bill More Optimistic Lawmakers Cite Sense of Urgency"-- Washington Post, last Monday.

As with the LAT's stories about California Gov. Gray Davis' growing confidence heading into his recall election, I don't think this story simply looks embarrassing, given subsequent events. I think it was BS at the time it was written. The Post's reporter was either willingly or (more likely) cluelessly spun by his pro-bill sources, ignoring the impact public opposition to the "grand bargain" over the recess was having.

"Why Amnesty Makes Sense"- Time cover story, released today.

Hmm. Maybe editor Rick Stengel wishes he hadn't switched to publishing on Fridays instead of Mondays. Not that the article isn't as timely and provocative as ever!

"I'm ... pessimistic about the chances of blocking the [Senate]immigration bill with so-called Killer Amendments"-- kausfiles, June 5  [E.A.]

What do bloggers know? I also thought Dems wouldn't endanger the bill by emasculating the provisions Republicans liked ("Majority Overreach"). But maybe the Dems, too, are not that unhappy to see the bill fail. [How can its failure help both Dems and GOPS? Isn't control of Congress a zero sum game?--ed It is. But incumbents also have an interest in keeping their individual seats--and that's a game both Dem and GOP incumbents and incumbents can win. They win it, in part, by avoiding votes that might anger lopsided majorities of voters! The conspicuous public opposition to the bill (not just from conservatives) over the past few weeks may have triggered an early onset of this useful self-preservationist instinct.

**--Update: That was fast. ... 6:37 P.M link

Hey, Republicans! I know a way to take that divisive issue of the "comprehensive immigration reform" bill off the table.' Kill it! On a muddled procedural vote! Before a weekend! ... See NR's argument. 2:17 P.M.

Politico's Carrie Budoff on how Dorgan got a "second crack" at his possibly deal-killing amendment. Note especially the suggestive final grafs. ... But Kate O'Beirne worries that

"the 'fix' is in,  with the compromise coalition and the White House fashioning some complicated amendment that will eliminate some conservative improvements, and fix the Dorgan amendment that jeopardizes GOP support."

12:25 P.M.

You can watch a live feed of the Senate voting on cloture for the immigration bill here. ... Update: Here is AP's latest. ... It looks as if there will be another vote later today. ... [Via RealClearPolitics] 8:54 A.M.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Dorgan ex machina? The Senate seems to have just approved a Dorgan amendment to "sunset" the guest worker program in the immigration bill after five years. Wasn't this same amendment considered a "deal breaker" when it was rejected a couple of weeks ago? ... I think it was. ... [Thanks to alert reader N.A.] ... Update: That could explain Drudge's headline. Or not! ... Update 2: AP indeed fingers the Dorgan amendment as causing trouble:

Sen. Arlen Specter ...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."

See also this fresher AP dispatch. ...Did WaPo's cheerleaderish Jonathan Weisman go home early? His posted story still says "Immigrant Measure Survives Challenges." By the time he wakes up, that will probably be accurate again. ... Vote switches: It looks like Bunning, DeMint, Dole, Enzi and Menendez switched to vote for the amendment while Coburn, Grassley and Whitehouse switched against it. Brownback went from not voting to nay, while Dodd went from yea to not voting. ...  P.S.: You'd think Sen. Coburn would be a potential insurance vote for the amendment. Doesn't he want to kill the bill? Same goes for Sen. Cornyn, who voted against Dorgan both times. ... Alternative outcome: Senate Republicans (e.g. Kyl, McConnell) are so in the tank on this bill they'll decide sunsetting the guest-worker program isn't a deal-breaker after all. ... 10:04 P.M.

P.O.S. Update: As expected and feared, the Senate bill "edges back from brink." Sen. Hutchison prepares epic sellout. But Sen. Chambliss says he's only "committed to the concept," not to the bill. ... Much chuckling and repulsive Senate bonhomie. ... See also LAT and  Novak. ... P.S.: Note that Novak says:

[T]he decision to combine border security with naturalization of illegal immigrants has always been the President's way of holding a national priority (security) hostage to a policy (legalization) that he views as desirable.

Doing nothing is an option. A popular option! According to a Rasmussen poll taken Monday and Tuesday, when people are asked to choose between "no bill" and the Senate immigration bill, they prefer "no bill" by a 49-32 margin. ... Support for the bill has fallen further over the past week--it's now opposed by a 2-1 margin, with 53% against it and only 26% supporting it. Maybe it's time for the MSM to stop pretending that it's only the "Republican base" that doesn't like this bill. ...

P.S.: Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Reid charged, "People are looking for excuses on the Republican side to kill this bill." I'm not sure that's true--and Reid's threat to pull the bill looks to be a negotiating ploy. But if it were true, it would be understandable! Welfare reform faced similar legislative obstacles in 1996. The difference is that voters supported welfare reform by a 2-1 margin. Only a conspiracy of elites could prevent it. This is the inverse situation: only a conspiracy of elites can foist Sen. Kyl's "grand bargain" off on the public. That may be harder to do these days (with, you know, the Web 'n all). ...

Update--It's not just the GOP "base": Gallup finds that Democrats oppose the bill by almost the same margin as Republicans.  Independents are the most opposed. ... Gallup adds that most voters still aren't paying enough attention to have a strong opinion. But "there is a core group of about one-third of Americans who are opposed to the bill, counterbalanced by only about one-tenth who support it." As Mystery Pollster notes, there's little reason to assume thatif more voters paid attention to the bill it would pick up support. ... To any pol, this is a picture of bill the public doesn't like. ... 10:17 A.M. link

More Killer Amendment  Strategy: Hit Employers Hard!Kf's quondam correspondent, the mysterious Mr. X (as I think I've called him) surfaces with some suggestions that echo the conclusion of the Killer Amendment Contest--namely that the most lethal immigration-bill amendments will separate the GOP's business conservatives from its social conservatives by targeting employers in a way that also appeals to Democrats:

[I]nstead of working the margins with burdens on employers of Z-visas immigrants, how about hard-nosed provisions that shift the burden of proof about employment eligibility from immigrants to employers... [snip] ... [H]ow about upping the fine for employing illegals to $100,000 per instance, making it illegal to employ anyone who hasn't been confirmed (instead of the current proposed system of making illegal to fire anyone until their appeals process is up) ... or even, my favorite, a fine that's enforceable on the spot if illegal immigrants are found on a work-site. (Let the employers appeal the fine after they've paid.)

It's not just a poison pill, but I think it's also good policy. ...

If you make it illegal to employ anyone until and only after they've confirmed their employment eligibility, even employers who don't presently have business models dependent on low-wage illegal immigrants (agribusiness, food service, hospitality,  etc.) would absolutely freak out because employees wouldn't be able to work while they're appealing mistakes in the system.

But why these make for great killer amendments is because [they] would unite the enforcement-first Republicans with the old-line Labor Dems together on one side against big-business GOP and open-border Dems.  That's the fault line of this debate to exploit.

Hit employers hard. Very hard.

[E.A.]

At the very least, tough anti-employer amendments would give labor Dems who'd like to kill the bill--but who might not want to leave many fingerprints--a way to accomplish their goal: they merely vote to make the evil, illegal-hiring employers bear their fair responsibility. It just so happens that this breaks apart the bill's core coalition. ... 2:45 A.M. link

Hey, President Bush, here's your domestic legacy! No need for that messy, divisive immigration reform business. ... P.S.:Eduwonk is only mildly impressed. He's probably right. Ignore him! Take a victory lap! ... 1:00 A.M.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Killer A's: I'm intuitively pessimistic about the chances of blocking the Senate "p.o.s."--I mean, "grand bargain"--immigration bill with so-called Killer Amendments. But maybe I just don't understand how K.A.'s work. This especially helpful email from reader M.G. on "poison pills" suggests that it's not completely hopeless:

A poison pill is an amendment that the ideological minority uses to defeat a bill that has majority support. They do this by creating an amendment that has the following conditions:

1) The vast majority of the ideological majority will reject the whole bill if it includes the amendment.

2) A large enough minority of the ideological majority will embrace the amendment, such that when combined with the minority, they form a new majority to pass the amendment.

3) The vast majority of the ideological minority favors the amendment either outright, or because they know it will kill the larger bill.

An example: the recent move toward D.C. voting representation in the House. The Democratic party supported it more or less down the line. The GOP opposed it. So the GOP introduced an amendment to loosen hand gun restrictions in DC. This resulted in the following:

1) The vast majority of Democrats would oppose the overall bill if the amendment passed.

2) The amendment would pass, because enough (a dozen?) democrats would be in favor of the hand gun loosening.

3) All of the GOP would vote for the amendment, either because they believed in it, or because they wanted to kill the overall bill.

The bill died, not because it was voted down, but because the Democratic leadership pulled it from the floor when they saw that the amendment would pass. THAT'S the key: when the leadership sees that a killer amendment is going to turn the majority of the majority against a bill, they won't allow the amendment to happen.  Instead, they'll kill the bill. In essence, it requires the majority of the majority to have the following preferences:

1) overall bill passes
2) no bill passes
3) overall bill passes with killer amendment

The problem with this "poison the majority" approach, as applied to the immigration bill, is that once the bill gets through the Senate, it will go to the Democratic House and a conference expected to be dominated by Dems--meaning that any changes the Democrats don't like can be taken out. The upshot is that it will be next to impossible to include an amendment that will make lots of Democrats vote against the overall bill now--to value option 2 over option 3 in the above example. They'll just figure any pill that's poisonous to them will disappear in conference.

A successful "killer amendment" would probably have to be one that makes the bill unpalatable to its Republican supporters, who are a minority of the majority. It would peel enough of them away from the bill on a cloture vote to leave it with fewer than 60 supporters. There would seem to be at least two kinds of such amendments.

1. Majority Overreach: In this scenario, the Democrats flex their muscles and amend the bill to their liking in a way that loses them their Republican coalition partners. An example would be the current attempt to retain lots of family reunification visas and dilute or delay the shift to a skills-based system favored by Republicans a) The problem with this approach is the Dems know this and won't want to overreach. b) The ray of light is that some may find it impossible to explain to their constituencies why they voted against family reunification. They may prefer "no bill"--and an issue to run on--to having to make that explanation. (That might be why the pro-family-reunification amendments seem to be giving the bill's sponsors some trouble, despite factor (a)); c) The cloud obscuring the ray of light is that many GOP Senators seem quite willing to sell out even on family unification as long as they can appear to have obtained a compensating concession--e.g. sticking in a phony "touchback" provision that requires illegals to symbolically return to their home countries or even a foreign embassy before taking various steps on the road to citizenship.

An effective Killer Amendment of this sort would maximize possibility b and minimize possibility c. Perhaps the anti-bill conservatives could render the "touchback" sellout less plausible by teaming with liberals to make the requirements even more of a joke than they are now--which brings us to ...

2, Cynical voting: In this approach, Republicans who didn't like the overall bill would vote for a Democratic amendment, even though they didn't support the amendment, cynically knowing it would poison the bill for many of its Republican supporters. The problem that the cynical Republicans would have to justify their vote. You wouldn't think that would be a big obstacle, but it seems to be. The bill's opponents could have joined the Dems in phasing out the guest worker program, for example--allegedly a killer. But they didn't--not enough of them anyway. It lost by one vote. (If Sen. DeMint had cynically supported Dorgan's amendment, for example, it would have passed.) The trick here would seem to be devising an amendment that Republicans could at least plausibly claim to non-cynically support.

The best of these amendments would play on the division between business-oriented conservatives, who hate regulations and taxes on employers, and social conservatives with less economic concerns. One example might be reader R.M.'s suggestion for an amendment to make employers pay for any English classes that would enable a legalized illegal to get his or her Z-visa. Also: mandated paid hours off to attend those classes! Also: a special tax to pay for border security on any business that employs a Z-visa holder! The more expensive to employers, the better.

That's the most promising tack I've heard. But I doubt it will work either. Pro-business Republicans will figure they can get it taken out in conference, or that they can vote against the bill when it comes back to them. If the bill doesn't pass, I suspect it will simply be because too many senators decide there's too much heat and they'd rather not deal with it. ...

Tell me if I've got all this wrong. ...

Update: Kate O'Beirne's sources think the bill is still on track. ... And be sure you make it to the last paragraphs of this Politico piece. ... 5:30 P.M. link

I agree with the piece and with the arguments against the piece! Conor Friedersdorf criticizes my LAT piece (on the similarities between Bush's Iraq and immigration gambles) for failing to mention that

the Bush Administration sold the Iraq War dishonestly, and now it is selling "comprehensive immigration reform" dishonestly.

Criticism correct. I didn't want readers to think they had to believe that "Bush Lied" about Iraq to be alarmed by his immigration plan. And you don't have to believe that! But it's fun to see staunch conservative Iraq War supporters suddenly realize in retrospect that the BS media operation  Bush is using to sell his immigration project is the same BS media operation he used to sell the war. ...

Ezra Klein, meanwhile, has this reaction:

I'm a little puzzled, though, on why enforcement is so impossible. You can't drop migration to nothing, to be sure, but the utter pessimism as to its reduction strikes me as peculiar. It's also vaguely beside the point. If nothing can be done to lessen illegal immigration, than you just have to decide if you want more of the immigrants to be legal.

I don't think enforcement is impossible. (That's the WSJ!) What I doubt is that an effective enforcement system--both employer checks and actual physical barriers--can be put in place before the border is hit by a wave of new illegals attracted by the Bush plan's legalization provisions. That's what I mean when I say the Bush plan requires a "chain of events happening on cue." They won't happen on cue--just as the training of the Iraqi police hasn't happened on cue. Which is why we need to put the enforcement in place, and make sure it works, before we attract a new wave of illegals by declaring a semi-amnesty.** I should have made this central point more clearly. ...

P.S.: Making the bill's "trigger" real as some have advocated--i.e., requiring actual reduction in the inflow of illegals, rather than mere deployment of more border cops--won't solve this problem. The way the bill is structured, the "trigger" doesn't trigger the legalization. Legalization happens immediately (on a "probationary" basis)--and it's the legalization that will attract the new wave of legalization-seekers. If a "trigger" benchmark is hit two or three years from now, it's two or three years too late (and, indeed, the wave of newcomers will guarantee that an honest benchmark won't be hit). ... In fact, as Mark Krikorian points out, current illegals have a perverse interest in having the Z-visa "triggers" take as long as possible. As long as the "Z-visa" program remains un-triggered, they get to stay as "probationary" applicants. Once the triggers click, and the Z-visas start to be issued, the probationary applicants either have to pay up and get the visa or (in theory) leave. ...

**--Whatever you want to call it--and McCain used to call it "amnesty," back when he was a Straight Talker--the Senate's plan, even with its fines, still means that those who crossed the border illegally are being rewarded for that move. Indeed, they will have hit the jackpot--legal papers to work in America, and eventually become citizens, for a few thousand dollars. Others will try to hit the same jackpot. 12:30 P.M.

Pollster Scott Rasmussen's site seems to be overloaded at the moment, but eventually this link should take you to a poll showing that only 24% of Arizonans support the Senate immigration bill.  50 % are against it. Under the MSM Inverse Yahoo Courage Formula--in which legislation's presumed merit increases the more actual citizens oppose it while brave statesmen stand up to them--that means it must be a very good bill indeed. ...P.S.: I forgot to say that Arizonans are "on the front lines"! You always have to say Arizonans are on the front lines. ... 12:05 P.M.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Endangered Pander? McCain supports legalization of illegal immigrants, loses 5 points over the month among Hispanic Republicans in California, according to SurveyUSA. Fred Thompson blasts the legalization bill from the right and his support among Hispanics quintuples, putting him ahead of McCain (and Giuliani) among Hispanics. ... P.S.: These are Hispanic Republicans, of course. But they are not insignificant, making up 17% of "likely Republican Primary voters" in Survey USA's model. ... P.P.S.: McCain's loss (and Thompson's gain) was actually greater among Hispanics than among GOP voters generally. ... P.P.P.S.: You don't even want to see what happened among black Republicans. ...  8:52 P.M.

A Poll Number WaPo Omitted: In that recent ABC-Wash Post poll, mentioned by Jonathan Weisman in this morning's Kyl-side--spinner, only 29 percent approved President Bush's handling of the immigration issue, a "career low." ... 64% disapproved. Many of those disapproving are obviously people who believe Bush's approach isn't permissive enough. Still, the fall seems significant, coming in the middle of a week of righteous Bush moralizing in defense of his position. When people pay attention, he seems to lose ground. ... Bush's support on the issue among Republicans plunged from 61% to 45% in a month. ... See Gary Langer's write-up. ...

P.S.: Arizona's Sen. Kyl made sure he'd be able to sense "momentum building"  behind his bill by scheduling no public appearances  back home during last week's recess, according to the Christian Science Monitor. ...  6:08 P.M.

McCain Inaugurates the New Civility: President Bush recently said opponents of his immigration bill "don't want to do what's right for America."  McCain now takes it a step further, claiming those who disagree with him

would intentionally make our country's problems worse ...

[E.A.] ... 5:37 P.M.

I have an op-ed in the L.A. Times on the similarities between Bush's reckless Iraq gamble and his reckless immigration gamble. It's adapted and updated from arguments blogged here. ... 4:41 P.M.

The Fleecing of Sen. Kyl, cont.: National Review has more gruesome details of the Senate's "grand bargain" on immigration. It turns out that employers are specifically forbidden from requiring employees to pass the fancy new EEVS 'are-you-really-legal' check before going to work. Employers have to hire "blind" and then try to fire later, if they get a "nonconfirmation notice" from the government--after all appeals and "the period to timely file a petition for judicial review" has passed.

It's always harder to fire someone than it is to not hire them in the first place. Plus, it looks to me as if the system gives even new, post-2007 illegal immigrants a free shot to go to work. If there's a backlog in the agency checking the documents, they get to keep working. Then if, months down the road, their documents are rejected, they can just not show up for work one day and fade back into the 'shadows,' to try again later. Do you think the ICE is going to track them down? I don't.

That's a good deal, not for existing illegals--they don't have to worry about this at all, they'll be legalized!--but for future illegals, the ones still in Mexico and El Salvador, etc. who might want to come across the border in 2008 and thereafter. The bill's tough employer sanction system was supposed to deny them above-ground work opportunities, but it doesn't look like that will be the case.

Sen. Kyl's  courageous wonky negotiating toughness becomes more apparent by the hour! At some point you have to conclude that he was willingly fleeced. ... 3:10 P.M. link

Reminder: Democratic ex-Congressperson Brad Carson on why Democrats should oppose a continued influx of unskilled illegal immgrants. ... He's the Thinking Man's Lou Dobbs. ... 4:29 A.M.

Today's WaPo story--"Backers of Immigration Bill More Optimistic"--would be more convincing if it had any non-backer of the bill admitting that there was "momentum building" behind it. As it stands, it reads like the press release Senator Kyl would have written before he went off to last week's recess. Of course the bill's "architects" are going to claim that senators were unfazed by the vociferous, mainly conservative opposition. They may be right, but if WaPo did more than buy their spin--if they even interviewed the other side--it's not evident here. ... P.S.: WaPo does provide some evidence that some objections from the left about the bill are mostly bluster--the head of the League of United Latin American Citizens basically admits as much. But did anyone really think that LULAC was going to try and bring down a bill it helped write? ... [via Drudge]

P.S.: I haven't forgotten the Killer Amendment Contest. ...

P.P.S.: AP reports on a possible amendment swap, in which Republicans would trade looser loosen limits on family immigration in exchange for an amendment to "toughen" the bill's version of the Pence "Touchback" Scam.   Sounds like a Fleecing of the GOPs--the only question being whether the GOP senators are actually quite willing to get fleeced as long as they can boast of a phony "toughening."  ...

Update:Wash Times says the important thing is how Sen. McConnell feels. ..3:15 A.M.

A few days ago I speculated that Bush had to take a prominent role as champion of the immigration bill, even if that hurt its chances, because his goal is to convince Latinos that he, a Republican, achieved the legalization of illegals. A friend points out that I didn't take the argument far enough: To really drive the Bush-as-Lincoln point home, Bush has to be seen as defending the bill against racist, anti-Latino opponents. That would explain why he has raised the race issue--e.g., "America must not fear diversity"-- even though it has served to enrage the opposition. ... 2:36 A.M. link

Right blogger Dean Barnett praises left blogger Steve Gilliard, who died Saturday at age 41. ... See also Kos. ... [via Instapundit] 1:55 A.M.

Paranoid's Corner: I haven't been watching Fox but judging from their immigration-free home page the eerie Fox blackout on anti-amnesty rabble-rousing is still in effect--and extends to Rupert Murdoch's print property, the New York Post (which you'd also think would be making a fuss about the Senate's bill). ... P.S.: And did that JFK terror plot really have to be broken up  the weekend before the immigration debate resumes in the Senate? I'm just sayin' ... P.P.S.: Murdoch may not be shutting down his conservative media empire's natural proclivities to please Bush. He may be shutting down his empire's natural proclivities to make them conform to his own proclivities, as evidenced in this 2004 WSJ article. Either way, its creepily dictatorial. ... I'm with Jack. ... 

Update: There was some discussion of immigration this morning on Fox. The segment I saw--on "Live Desk with Martha MacCallum"--seemed atypically balanced, even comprehensivist. We'll see if the network's bigger guns-e.g., Hannity--are allowed to go after the bill. Doesn't look like it. ... Update 2: Hannity & Colmes had a short-but-satisfying segment in the armpit of the broadcast, wedged between Bob Shrum and Paris Hilton. .. 1:39 A.M. 

Murdoch will take care of these guys: As apparent contrition for the obnoxiously smug, self-satisfied, cultishly conformist Wall Street Journal "editorial meeting"-- at which Paul Gigot's crew denounced fellow conservatives as not "even rational" and "foaming at the mouth" on immigration--the Journal editors had Heather Mac Donald on their TV show  on May 26--then basically rolled over while she calmly explained what was wrong with the bill.

The Journal is in an odd position in this debate, because while President Bush is busy promoting his immigration bill on the grounds that its enforcement provisions really will work this time--honest!--the Journal seemingly promotes the bill on the grounds that enforcement can never work. I especially don't understand the argument, made by Jason Riley in the televised meeting, that a program of legal guest workers will necessarily dramatically reduce the flow of illegals even absent effective border barriers.

The notion seems to be that if the economy "needs" 400,000 low wage workers, and you let in 300,000 legally, then only 100,000 will come in illegally. But that assumes it's only the demand side of the equation that determines the flow, which I don't think is how markets work. There's also supply--how many workers want to come here, given stagnation, droughts, recessions, etc, in their homelands--and wages, which match supply with demand. If 800,000 are interested in coming here, and 300,000 come in legally, the other 500,000 aren't going to necessarily stay home (assuming, again, border enforcement is futile). They're going to come and bid down twages--raising the number of workers U.S. employers want to hire. Eventually the wage will be so low that some of the 800,000 are discouraged and don't come.

The market might equilibrate at 500,000 (300,000 legals plus 200,000 illegals), or 600,000 (300,000 legals and 300,000 illegals) or 700,000, or anywhere in between. But it won't necessarily stop at the preexisting job "need" level set by government bureaucrats.

It's as odd to see the editorial champions of markets ignore how markets work as it is to see the leading advocates of supply-side thinking ignore the supply side. Do they really believe it? ... 1:19 A.M.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

How was your Memorial Day Recess? Sen.Lamar Alexander attends meeting of constituents concerned about the Senate immigration bill, is rescued by Army Delta Force rapid reaction unit. Just kidding! But a protective cordon was formed, apparently. ... [via Instapundit] 2:14 A.M.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

HuffPo Secret Menu:Eat the Press is not dead, it turns out. It's hiding, Gutfeld-style, under an innocuous house ad two screens down on the Huffington Post Media "vertical." ... P.S.: When do I get a vertical? 3:42 P.M.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Momentum slowing? Hillary sounds pessimistic on the chances for Bush's grand immigration bargain, reports Josh Gerstein of the Sun:

Mrs. Clinton said it was possible no comprehensive immigration bill would pass. She said the tech executives might need to seek a stand-alone measure to increase the number of "H1B" visas, which allow technology firms to bring workers to America from India, China, and other countries.

I hope she knows something. ... Maybe she's been eavesdropping on Sen. Chambliss. ... 2:28 A.M.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Noonan rips Bush: "He threw away his inheritance. I do not understand such squandering." 11:03 P.M.

Suppose Congress passes the Kyl-Kennedy-Bush immigration bill this year. And next year the voters elect as president Fred Thompson, or someone else who is skeptical of the benefits of putting mass legalization ahead of getting control of the border. Are the new "Z-visas" promised to illegals in the bill revocable by a future Congress? If they are, why would any rational illegal come "out of the shadows" to claim one (and make himself or herself eligible for re-illegalization)? ... P.S.: And why do I feel that these are the sorts of questions that would be answered in Senate hearings if the administration weren't trying to ram the bill through in a desperate bum's rush? ... 9:21 P.M.

Immigration insurrection: Blame the equipment! ... [via  Drudge] 7:50 P.M.

Hillary, Eavesdropper? Big Mama is Listening!Kf has obtained a copy of page 93 of the unreleased Gerth-Van Natta Hillary Clinton book, which describes how, during the '92 campaign, Hillary herself

"listened to a secretly recorded audiotape of a phone conversation of Clinton critics plotting their next attack. The tape contained discussions of another woman who might surface with allegations about an affair with Bill. Bill's supporters monitored frequencies used by cell phones, and the tape was made during one of those monitoring sessions."

Hmm. Phone-monitoring was a key investigative method of what notorious California-based Clinton-friendly private eye and problem solver? Just asking! ... P.S.: I'm not talking about Jack Palladino, who is explicitly mentioned in the footnotes as working for the Clinton team and would not have to be described as a "supporter." But of course, it could still be him, or any other "supporter." (Nor is it clear if the phones were being monitored in Arkansas or D.C..) ... I don't know how common cell-phone-monitoring was in 1992.  ... P.P.S.: Wasn't there a character in Joe Klein's Primary Colors who did this sort of thing? ... P.P.P.S.: Isn't it not so legal? ... See also this exegesis of the elements of a violation of 18 U.S.C. 2511 (1) (a). I'm not an expert, but it looks like a potential minefield for Hillary. Think what Patrick Fitzgerald could have done with the provision criminalizing  anyone who "intentionally uses, or endeavors to use, the contents of any wire, oral, or electronic communication" knowing it was obtained illegally. [E.A.] Maybe it all depends on what the uses of "uses" are! ... Did I bury the lede? ... 

Update: Actually, say the profs at the Volokh Conspiracy, it depends on whether they were cell calls or cordless calls! Gerth and Van Natta say "cell." I don't think Hillary can take much comfort in Volokh's analysis. ... 5:15 P.M. link

It looks like the Ron Burkle-Rupert Murdoch Pincer Movement to Control All Media for Hillary has hit another snag. ...[via Gawker] ... Update: But it's made an even bigger advance. ...[via Drudge] 4:26 P.M.

Weak point? Sen. Saxby Chambliss, one of Mark Krikorian's  and Michelle Malkin's "Amnesty Republicans," appears to bevulnerable to a challenge from an enforcement-first Democrat. The Democrat in question says: ...

 "Clearly, a lot of it has to do with Saxby not being in touch with Georgians, and the prime example is the immigration issue."

FYI, Sen. Chambliss' quick, handy email feedback form is here. ... 3:58 P.M.

Bush's Domestic Iraq, cont.: In today's WSJ, Jeb Bush and Ken Mehlman defend the Senate immigration bill [$] in part on the grounds that it will enable Republicans to capture the Latino vote. This is largely a fantasy, as Heather Mac Donald argues. Anyway, if the GOP has to move left in Western states to compete accommodate a Dem-tending Latino vote (as it almost certainly will, whatever happens) is that such a bad thing? If you move the GOP left you might get a more appealing GOP--the GOP of Gov. Schwarzenegger, for example. ...

P.S.: There's something obnoxiously managerial and thuggish in declaring, as Bush and Mehlman do, that

"Doing nothing is not an option."

Yes it is. It usually is. The whole structure of our Constitution--which makes it very difficult to pass new laws--is based on the premise that doing nothing is not only an option but often the best option. For one thing, doing nothing let's you postpone a decision until you come up with a more prudent plan. Or a more prudent President. ...

P.P.S.: Isn't "doing nothing is not an option" what these same people said in the 2002 sales campaign for the Iraq War? Doesn't "doing nothing" look like a pretty good option, in retrospect? ....

Spelling is an option too! It's Sen. Johnny Isakson, not "Isaacson." ... He sells out to the Bushes and this is the respect he gets! ...

Bull---t Reminder: Bush and Mehlman say

Until and unless security improves on the border, the temporary worker program and "Z" visa provision for three-year work permits will not be implemented.

But under the bill illegal immigrants would immediately be legalized as "probationary" Z-visa applicants, before any of the border-security "triggers"are met. That's why yesterday's Fred Barnes proposal  to toughen the "triggers" (which currently hinge on deployment of resources, not actual improvement in border security) is a scam too.  The "triggers" don't trigger the legalization. It happens anyway. (And you don't have to pay the fine first either.) ...

Closer: Doing nothing is an option--but not the only option! And hope is not a plan! If you want to do something, here is that Senate contact list again. ...   12:33 P.M. link

Hey there, gorgeous! I've been vetted!Presidential candidateGov. Bill Richardson has defended his rep against those  "so far"-unfounded  rumors by saying "The Kerry people vetted me for vice president." They did! Here's Kerry campaign strategist Bob Shrum:

Richardson's prospects were shadowed by alleged womanizing. Publicly reluctant, he coveted the publicity of being considered, but withdrew before the process was finished.

11:21 A.M.

Wonkette, Asleep at Switch: Headline on The Politico's "Mike's 'Must Reads'"--

P.S.: We think we know a distinguished lawmaker who might help! ...  10:51 A.M.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

That just means we're more courageous! A new Scott Rasmussen poll finds that the Senate "comprehensive" immigration bill is still unpopular--48% against, 26% for. As he notes, if it were popular Bush wouldn't be running around talking about the need for "courage." ... P.S.: Only 16% believe it will reduce illegal immigration. ... P.P.S.: You can, of course, eliminate the pollster middleman and contact your senators directly. Most of them foolishly provide handy email forms. Here's a contact list. ... 9:22 A.M.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

"Strange New Respect" is Tom Bethell's term for the love showered by the MSM on conservatives who move to the left. So what's the term for when the MSM pretends that conservatives are showering love on a veteran liberal for helping them move left? Strange New Respect by Proxy? In any case, here it is. ... 11:57 P.M.

Today, President Bush said his comprehensive immigration plan makes it "more likely we can enforce our border."Only "more likely"? Why the doubt? After all, the bill specifically provides for "4 Unmanned Aerial Vehicles"  for the Southern border! And illegal immigrants don't get the new Z-visas until those unmanned aerial vehicles are deployed! That's one of the "enforcement benchmarks" Bush boasted about. ... P.S.:OK, actually the illegals become legal immediately, as "probationary" Z-visa applicants. But ... hey, the bipartisan authors of the "grand bargain" didn't stop at three unmanned aerial surveillance craft. They have four! Sen. Kyl is one tough negotiator. ...

Update: Mark Steyn reacts to Bush's criticism of those who only look at "a narrow slice" of the bill:

Speaking for myself, I'm not looking at "a narrow slice of it" but only at its first and most important consequence: The conferring of instant open-ended legal residency and employment rights on just about anybody on the planet who wants them under a visa that, while technically "probationary", will in practice be all anybody ever needs because (aside from its other benefits) it removes any possibility of deportation. After that's gone into effect, the "narrow slices" and "little aspects" in Section 739(f) won't matter.

P.S.: Isn't Bush actually hurting his cause by raising the visibility of the immigration bill over the Memorial Day recess? I thought they were trying to sneak this thing in under the radar, with Fox doing its part by virtually banning the subject. ... What's more, have any of Bush's recent efforts at road-show salesmanship--regarding Iraq, or Social Security reform, or the 2006 mid-terms--had any success? I don't think so. Why then, has Bush made himself conspicuous defending the immigration "grand bargain." Answer: Because one of the insane, Chalabi-esque fantasies behind this bill is the idea that it will produce more net Latino votes for Republicans. In order to establish this hitherto nonexistent GOP bond with Hispanics, Bush must cast himself as the Man Who Legalized the Illegals. He needs his Abe Lincoln moment, or else all his reform has done is added millions of voters from a traditionally Democratic immigrant group to the rolls. Hence, he has to become a prominent defender of the bill even if that makes the bill less likely to pass.

P.P.S.: The "instant" nature of the legalization seems also calculated to produce a Lincoln moment, a day of joyous emancipation, dancing and celebration in Aztlan that will be remembered in future decades. Why else rush the process by letting legalization precede the "triggers" and allowing only one business day for a background check? ... 3:16 P.M. link

ETP RIP: Is HuffPo's Eat the Press really dead? Arianna? I liked Eat the Press--it had its own quirky style. ... [This item isn't about comprehensive immigration reform--ed Sorry.It won't happen again.] ...1:17 P.M.

Linda Chavez: 'Status Quo OK!' Even Linda Chavez--after she's through  declaring that opponents of Bush's semi-amnesty are all anti-Latino racists **--goes off-message by admitting thatnot passing an immigration bill, and leaving the "problem" unsolved, wouldn't be so bad:

The status quo -- largely turning a blind eye toward the 12 million illegal aliens who work, pay taxes and keep their noses clean, while stepping up border enforcement and selective internal enforcement -- may not be the worst possible outcome in the current debate on immigration reform.

Yep. ... Next, supporters of legalization will start admitting that "amnesty" is an accurate word! ...

**--That is not really an overstatement. Here's Chavez:

But we need to quit pretending that the "No Amnesty" crowd is anything other than what it is: a tiny group of angry, frightened and prejudiced loudmouths backed by political opportunists who exploit them.

It's good to get this sort of comprehensivist venom out in the open, so society can combat it. ...

P.S.: If they're playing the "racist" card already--and it's not just Chavez, I'm told even O'Reilly was echoing this talking point--doesn't that mean they sense they might be in trouble? ... 12:39 P.M.

Beats "sex": "Immigration" is #1 on the New York Times "most searched" list, measured over the last 24 hours and over the last 7 days. ... To readers and editors who tell me I haven't been posting enough on this popular subject, all I can say is, "I hear you." ... 12:14 P.M.

82_horizontal_rule

Bloggingheads--Bob Wright's videoblog project. Gearbox--Searching for the Semi-Orgasmic Lock-in. Drudge Report--80 % true. Close enough! Instapundit--All-powerful hit king. Joshua Marshall--He reports! And decides!  Wonkette--Makes Jack Shafer feel guilty.  Salon--Survives! kf gloating on hold. Andrew Sullivan--He asks, he tells. He sells! David Corn--Trustworthy reporting from the left.  Washington Monthly--Includes Charlie Peters' proto-blog. Lucianne.com--Stirs the drink. Virginia Postrel--Friend of the future! Peggy Noonan--Gold in every column. Matt Miller--Savvy rad-centrism. WaPo--Waking from post-Bradlee snooze. Keller's Calmer Times--Registration required.  NY Observer--Read it before the good writers are all hired away. New Republic--Left on welfare, right on warfare!  Jim Pinkerton--Quality ideas come from quantity ideas. Tom Tomorrow--Everyone's favorite leftish cartoonists' blog.  Ann "Too Far" Coulter--Sometimes it's just far enough. Bull Moose--National Greatness Central. John Ellis--Forget that Florida business! The cuz knows politics, and he has, ah, sources. "The Note"--How the pros start their day. Romenesko--O.K. they actually start it here. Center on Budget and Policy Priorities--Money Liberal Central. Steve Chapman--Ornery-but-lovable libertarian. Rich Galen--Sophisticated GOP insider. Man Without Qualities--Seems to know a lot about white collar crime. Hmmm. Overlawyered.com--Daily horror stories. Eugene Volokh--Smart, packin' prof, and not Instapundit! Eve Tushnet--Queer, Catholic, conservative and not Andrew Sullivan! WSJ's Best of the Web--James Taranto's excellent obsessions. Walter Shapiro--Politics and (don't laugh) neoliberal humor! Eric Alterman--Born to blog. Joe Conason--Bush-bashing, free most days. Lloyd Grove--Don't let him write about you. Arianna's Huffosphere--Now a whole fleet of hybrid vehicles. TomPaine.com--Web-lib populists. Take on the News--TomPaine's blog.  B-Log--Blog of spirituality!  Hit & Run--Reason gone wild! Daniel Weintraub--Beeblogger and Davis Recall Central. Eduwonk--You'll never have to read another mind-numbing education story again. Nonzero--Bob Wright explains it all. John Leo--If you've got political correctness, he's got a column. Gawker--It's come to this. Eat the Press--Sklarianna & Co. are like Gawker if Gawker actually believed in something. ... [More tk]

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