Congress' Fence-Gutting: Get the old gang back together one more time? Provisions buried in the huge omnibus spending bill about to pass Congress gut the program to build a border fence, according to Republicans--and they appear to have a point:
The 2006 Secure Fence Act specifically called for "two layers of reinforced fencing" and listed five specific sections of border where it should be installed. The new spending bill removes the two-tier requirement and the list of locations.
Defenders of the changes (i.e. Sen. Hutchison of Texas) argue that the Department of Homeland Security should have discretion to "utilize limited resources." But the whole problem is that nobody trusts President Bush's Department of Homeland Security. Or anybody's Department of Homeland Security, for that matter. Whoever is president, DHS will always have a bureaucratic bias toward expanding its budget by employing more DHS personnel--e.g. border patrol agents--and less cheap, inanimate fencing. They can't be expected to stand up to the businesses and local interests and ACLU lawyers and diplomats who hate the fence and will always lobby against it.
Shouldn't the old "yahoo" coalition from earlier this year reform and bombard the Capitol with phone calls to get the House and Senate to drop the fence-gutting language? I say yes. a) The project seems doable--Dem Congressman are trying to appear tough on border security and are unlikely to cling to the fence-weakening provisions, Spitzer-style and b) if they backed down, it would provide a valuable deterrent demonstration for future politicians who try to sneak border-weakening provisions past the vigilant yahoo community. ....
One problem is that a prominent border-control blogger, Michelle Malkin, is wedded to a silly idiosyncratic position that the fence is "gesture politics," as opposed to something the soft-on-illegals lobby (including Republican business interests) oppose precisely because it will actually work. ....
Update--It's on: Border-control group Numbers USA has sent out an "action" alert to its lists, ("Senate Vote this afternoon. Stop Congress from gutting the Secure Fence Act!") Doesn't seem like a lot of time if the vote is this afternoon, however. ... 12:09 P.M. link
Monday, December 17, 2007
It's come to this: Counterproductive overspinner Chris Lehane and his firm get $100,000 a month (according to S.F. Chronicle's Matier & Ross) to craft mindlessly combative sound bites for Hollywood studios in their dispute with the Writers Guild. Sample sound bit (after union president Andy Stern severed ties with Lehane):
"The real issue here is that Stern needs to do some explaining on how it is that he is fighting for people who make more than doctors and pilots against the interest of real working-class people (set workers and others who have been sidelined during the strike) - and less time punching at shadows."