Fred Barnes to GOP: Panic!

Fred Barnes to GOP: Panic!

Fred Barnes to GOP: Panic!

A mostly political Weblog.
May 21 2006 2:29 AM

Fred Barnes to GOP: Panic!

Plus--Coming soon: Hillary mini-balls

Bush Lies, Base Dies!WaPo's Weisman and VandeHei recount the successful attempt of Senator Hagel and others to get the Bush White House to scuttle conservatives' attempt to amend the immigration bill

to stipulate that the 200,000 low-skilled immigrants allowed to enter the country under a new temporary-worker visa would have to leave when the visa expired.

According to WaPo, the conservative senators argued, ineffectively, that

that Bush has always said he backs a "temporary worker program," not a permanent funnel of immigrants to the United States.


Actually, it's worse than that. In Bush's big May 15 speech, he said flatly:

And temporary workers must return to their home country at the conclusion of their stay.

Now it's been made clear that--according to the White House--temporary workers need not return to their home countries after all. Was Bush's speech statement just a lie? Was it a Clintonian weasel (technically accurate in the zen-tautological sense that their "stay" doesn't conclude until it concludes). ... P.S.: I happen to favor a path to citizenship for legal temporary workers from outside the country. (It's the illegal workers already inside the country I have problems with rewarding.) But if Bush didn't mean what he said, maybe he shouldn't have said it. Or does he have so much contempt for his own base--what Sen. Hagel, in a revealingly snotty outburst, called "the political lowest common denominator"--that he thinks he can con them with impunity? ... 1:48 P.M.

[A] national consensus has formed around what the president calls "comprehensive" immigration reform--that is, impenetrable border security plus earned citizenship and a temporary worker program. [Emphasis added] **


What nation is Barnes talking about? Mexico? Korea? El Salvador? ... P.S.: Barnes, unlike the fabled Times-reading left, isn't in a cocoon. He knows better--knows that if there's anything that hasn't yet come out of the bitter, divisive, etc., immigration debate it's consensus. He's just trying to panic conservative House Republicans into going along with Bush, on the grounds that Bush has been such a domestic failure--e.g., when his "lonely effort to reform Social Security last year flopped"--that a refusal to pass an immigration bill right now "would mark the end of the Bush presidency as an effective political force." But if it's really panic time, why not pressure Senate Republicans into passing a common-denominator enforcement bill?  That way Republicans would get (a) an achievement to take to the voters and (b) a mobilized base. The Barnes Panic Button only gets the GOPs (a), plus a frustrated base. ...

** That must be the same national consensus Sen. Martinez of Florida was appealing to in his 2004 campaign when he declared:

I support a plan that matches workers with needy employers without providing a path to citizenship. [Ital presumably added]

Now, of course, Martinez is pushing a "compromise" that features, at its center, just such a "path to citizenship." He tells Barnes the failure to pass this bill would be "handing the other side a win." ... 6:46 P.M. 


Sic Semper Cocoonis! A surprise for NYT readers, anyway:

Though the immigration issue was initially thought to favor Democrats since it could hurt Republican efforts to court Hispanics, some Democrats facing tough re-election fights in the fall are finding it cuts both ways.-- Carl Hulse, New York Times, 5/20

10:53 P.M.


Stanley Kurtz's NRO critique of a recent kf immigration post helped me clarify a couple of points--namely (1) why the current debate in Congress isn't like future debates and (2) why inaction on immigration would itself be a major substantive policy shift. See response to Kurtz below. ... 10:32 P.M.

Davis-Bacon--Back in the News! It's a harmonic convergence of kf enemies.  According to National Review's Kate O'Beirne, the Senate immigration bill:

extends Davis-Bacon "prevailing wage" provisions—typically the area's union wage that applies only to construction on federal projects under current law—to all occupations (e.g. roofers, carpenters, electricians, etc.) covered by Davis-Bacon. So guest-workers (but not citizen workers) must be paid Davis-Bacon wage rates for jobs in the private sector if their occupation is covered by Davis-Bacon. Presumably because Senate Democrats' union bosses thought this provision too modest, an amendment by Senator Barack Obama, approved by voice vote, extended Davis-Bacon wages rates to all private work performed by guest workers, even if their occupations are not covered by Davis-Bacon. [Emphasis added]

First take is that this provision will effectively price many guest workers out of the market, not only because it raises the legal guest-worker wage, but also because it makes them a magnet for wage-related litigation from annoyed construction unions who will claim that the guest-worker wages don't meet Davis-Bacon's government-set "prevailing wage" standards. ... A downside is that unions may now buy into the immigration bill because it extends Davis-Bacon's government setting of wages further into the private sector.  ... The legal guest worker program is relatively small under the Senate bill, remember. The huge influx into the United States is likely to be not legal guest workers but more illegals drawn across the border by the bill's semi-amnesty provisions, no? The Davis-Bacon provision, in one sense, simply guarantees that there will be plenty of employers who still want to hire them (because they'll be cheaper). ...  8:21 P.M.


The LAT 's Legacy of Responsibility Will Not Die:

Los Angeles Times headline:

2 Arrested in Homeless Life Insurance Scam

Sploid headline linking to this LAT story:

Hobo-Killin' Grannies

The substance of the Times's story's good and noir. Which headline would make you read it?** It's the proud Times "legacy" DNA in action! ... The DNA of Dullness! ... Friday Times-Bash Bonus: Beyond Borders reveals that the LAT's most-emailed story of the day ("A Job Americans Won't Do, Even at $34 an Hour") is an edifice of PC hackery! It's not a piece that pretends someone it quotes is "a regular citizen on the sidelines of the debate" when really they are a pro-guest-worker activist. It's a piece based entirely on someone it pretends is a regular citizen (and an "ambivalent" one at that) when really they are  a pro-guest-worker activist! ... See also Malkin, who has updates on this fast breaking landscape management story. ...

**--The grannies have not been charged with any killings, it should be noted. They were arrested "on suspicion of mail fraud." Somehow I think this little factual mismatch wouldn't have stopped a NY Post headline writer--or anyone with, say, an ounce of actual newspaperin' in their blood--from coming up with something more compelling than "Life Insurance Scam."

[Thanks to alert reader T.S.] ... 5:37 P.M. link

James Brady writes that Rupert Murdoch is throwing his media muscle behind Hillary Clinton because he "is a good handicapper and he smells a winner."

Just why people at the Times hadn't long ago figured this out, I can't say. Any assiduous reader of the New York Post over the last year or so could read into the paper's stories about Hillary Clinton--their placement, their number, their tone--a political sea change, a shift in coverage.

Coming soon: Hillary mini-balls! ... [via Romenesko6:58 P.M.

John Huey knows how to  lay it on thick: "Jim's been putting out a pretty good magazine." At least that didn't come off as condescending! ... 6:02 P.M.

Fencing Logic:  More miles = fewer deaths? The A.P. reports--

"We don't think you fence off the entire border," Snow told reporters aboard Air Force One. But, he added, "there are places when fences are appropriate."

The Senate was following the lead of the House, which passed a bill last year that would have constructed 700 miles of fencing.

Bush has talked repeatedly about building fences along the border in urban areas, but told CNN Espanol in March that "it's impractical to fence off the border."

If you put a fence only in "urban areas," doesn't that mean would-be illegals will seek to cross the border in more remote, rural areas, where more will die of thirst and exposure? Is that a humane result? We want to discourage desperate foreigners from even making the attempt, which means a fence in rural areas as well as urban areas, no? You could even argue a fence in rural areas is more "appropriate." (We have policemen to patrol urban areas. It's the hundreds of miles of desert where you need a fence.)

The logic of extension seems inescapable. The U.S., in this sense, is an attractive nuisance like a swimming pool. If you want to keep neighborhood children [or adults!] from using the pool, and possibly drowning, you don't partially fence it in. You completely fence it in. ... Full funding for full fencing! ... P.S.: Sure, Bush has said "it's impractical to fence off the border." But earlier this week he wasn't willing to flatly endorse even the 320 miles the Senate supported. Today he was. Give him time. He's caving fast! Nation-building in Iraq was a lot more "impractical." ... 5:19 P.M. link

New BushSpeech Poll--Sorry, JPod! John Podhoretz has been crowing  about a CNN poll showing that "79 percent of those who watched had a very favorable or favorable view of [Monday's] speech." But that's of those who watched. According to Scott Rasmussen's  day-after robo-poll of those who watched and those who didn't, only

Thirty-nine percent (39%) of Americans agree with President Bush's approach on the immigration issue. An equal number disagree, while 22% are not sure.

Just 60% of Republicans agree with the President on this issue. [Ital added]

But a) some of those who disagree may disagree because they believe Bush's plan is too harsh on illegals, and b) of all those polled, "[s]ixty-one percent (61%) favor an earned citizenship policy" for illegals who share a list of impressive attributes (paid a fine, speak English, etc.). ... Still, as Rasmussen notes, this support for "earned citizenship" isn't incompatible with the seeming popularity of an "enforcement first" approach. You could quite rationally be for enforcement first, "citizenship" later. You would especially take that position if you doubted Bush's border enforcement measures would work--as Rasmussen's respondents did:

[J]ust 35% believe the President's approach will reduce illegal immigration. Forty-seven percent (47%) do not.

Update:Mystery Pollster has looked up the reaction to other presidential addresses. The numbers show why JPod--who called the speech a "grand slam for President Bush"-- was so very, very wrong!

The positive reaction to the Bush speech (79%) was lower than what President's Bush and Clinton received in all but two of their last eight SOTU addresses, and the "very positive" (40%) score was lower than all eight.

Plus: Rasmussen's latest Bush approval numbers--the first to be based mostly on post-speech interviews--will be released at noon and will show Bush at 36%, his lowest robo-rating ever. Grand slam! 3:15 A.M. link

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Tony's Deal: Tony Blankley makes the (inevitable) pitch to House conservatives that they should cut an immigration deal now. He argues for "trading an otherwise inevitable de facto guest worker condition for a genuinely secure border and employer sanction regimen."

I agree that this is the deal that can be cut--in part because there seems to be nothing all that terrible about a legal guest worker program, as long as it draws its workers from those waiting in line outside the country (and not those who've jumped the queue and already snuck in). Guest workers aren't illegal immigrants, after all--and one way to discourage illegals is to give opportunities to legals. A flexible guest worker program could offer some insurance against a labor shortage, just in case border security measures actually work.

But on every other level, Blankley's analysis seems deeply flawed:

1) It's not at all clear Blankley's deal, which pointedly excludes a path to citizenship for existing illegals, would satisfy either the Senate, or President Bush's dream of being the Lincoln-like liberator of Aztlan. Blankley's compromise isn't really a compromise. It's a conservative victory, no?** That's fine with me (on this issue) but Blankley's being a bit deceptive in portraying it as the tough, bite-the-bullet outcome for his side.  A much more likely deal is one that involves some limited promise of earned citizenship, plus a lot of lawyer-written loopholes designed to make it a near-unlimited promise. Update: Certainly it would involve legalization, if not outright citizenship, for millions of current illegals-- a form of semi-amnesty.

2) Blankley foresees a trade that achieves a "genuinely secure border." But we don't know what will produce a genuinely secure border. Why not try the various methods--fence, high-technology, more guards, employer sanctions--and see if they work, rather than assuming they'll work (which they never have before). The "magnet" effect of any sort of promise of citizenship, however, can be counted on to increase the flow of illegals, and to produce that effect almost immediately. Doing nothing for a few years might well be preferable.

3) Arguing for a deal now, Blankley notes that "it is inconceivable that the November election will elect a congress more amenable to our cause. The next congress will have, if anything, more Democrats." It's true the next Congress will probably be more Democratic. But the next president will definitely not be George Bush, with his idee fixe of creating a path to citizenship on his watch. The question for conservatives isn't whether to wait until the next Congress. It's whether to wait until the next president. (Plus, if the House hangs tough this year, a lame duck legacy-poor president may be more amenable to an enforcement-only bill next year.)

If Blankley really thinks a "path to citizenship" is "reprehensible," the way to avoid it isn't to now encourage House conservatives to cut a deal. It's to encourage House conservatives to stop the Beltway momentum behind the citizenship idea by hanging tough. Once the semi-amnesty citizenship provision is dead, other deals might be possible.

**--Nearer to the election, maybe, senators might be afraid to vote against this deal--if no immigration bill has passed the Congress. But not now. Now no "earned citizenship" means no bill.

Update: Alert reader C.F. asks

If you care about social equality how can you stomach a guest worker program. ... Even a cursory study of guest worker programs in Germany and France demonstrate the likelihood of substantial inequality among the second class of non-citizens imported for labor, and the inevitability of profound problems as a result years later as the disaffected children of those immigrants grow up without any loyalty to the country that didn't afford equal rights to their parents.

Answer: I don't see why workers who came in legally under a guest worker program couldn't earn citizenship, with all attendant equal rights. The problem, again, is rewarding illegals with citizenship, not legals. If a foreigners can legally become a citizen after a few years of work, why would they then turn into "second class" citizens any more than any other foreign-born Americans? ...

Update 2: In response to Stanley Kurtz's criticism--1) I agree a "no amnesty" deal is possible under this president--even, in the fall, under this Congress--but first the semi-amnesty idea has to be defeated. Right now the various factions are like ethnic groups in Iraq--each thinks they might be the majority. The polls are inconclusive and contradictory. In this strength-testing phase, pleas for compromise and semi-semi-amnesty are misguided. They only encourage the citizenship/legalization faction in the belief that they are very strong indeed; 2)Defeating immediate semi-amnesty is itself a substantive policy shift, even if Congress passes no bill, because it sends an expectations-deflating signal throughout Latin America. That will by itself reduce illegal immigration. Kurtz, Blankley, and others write as if there is a building crisis that only a signed bill can resolve. But deflating the imminent-legalization idea is worth many, many miles of fence. It helps defuse the crisis more surely than any bill that's likely to pass before the summer. ... 4:12 P.M. link

I don't understand: What's the point of Radar Magazine if it can't zing Ron Burkle and his friends (e.g. Bill Clinton)? ... P.S.: Don't tell us Burkle has pledged not to interfere. He's been lecturing America on the evils of gossip. He's going to shell out millions and then do nothing when he has a complaint? ... 12:42 A.M.

Alternative Outcome Dept:N.Y. Post's  Deborah Orin--

"Bush's [endorsement of the Senate comprehensive approach to immigration] could become a useful example for Democrats to cite to paint House Republicans as extremists - a road to political disaster for the GOP in the fall." [Emphasis added]

That's another reason passing an enforcement-only immigration bill--with the felony provisions conspicuously removed--could look extremely appealing to Karl Rove in a few months. ... 9:55 A.M.

Are Conservatives Cheap Dates?  Bush immigration speech:

1) Eh. An uninspired attempt to buy off immigration conservatives with a temporary National Guard deployment and talk of "technologically advanced" border security. If conservatives are impressed by this, they're the cheapest dates around. This means you, Bill O'Reilly! (Tapscott notes that Bush made similar promises of a beefed-up border presence, including sexy allusions to "advanced technology," two years ago.) Update: Hugh Hewitt's interview with I.C.E. Asst. Secretary Julie Myers shows just how ephemeral the administration's commitment to a border fence is, despite the heavy teasing in Bush's speech. Myers: "I don't think we think that fencing is the best way to stop them on the border. I think the President's called for...if you build a fence, they build a tunnel."

2) At some points Bush seemed to have maybe watered down his enforcement-talk in order to appease pro-legalization lobbyists, including businessmen. Take this passage:

A key part of that system should be a new identification card for every legal foreign worker. This card should use biometric technology, such as digital fingerprints, to make it tamper-proof. A tamper-proof card would help us enforce the law and leave employers with no excuse for violating it.

And by making it harder for illegal immigrants to find work in our country, we would discourage people from crossing the border illegally in the first place. [Emphasis added]

How would creating an i.d. card for foreign workers prevent illegals, using forged documents, from posing as U.S. citizens? Why should employers require someone who seems to be a citizen to show a "foreign worker" card? (Presumably the idea isn't that employers will doubt the U.S. citizenship of any job applicant who looks "foreign.")

3) Central logical flaw:

An immigration reform bill needs to be comprehensive, because all elements of this problem must be addressed together or none of them will be solved at all.

Really? Can't you control the border--even adding a controlled guest worker program to relieve the pressure, if you think that will help--without dealing with the sensitive issue of how to deal with those who are already in the country illegally? Maybe that's not desirable (though I think it is). But there seems to be no logical policy reason they "must"be addressed together.

4) Various post-speech commentators seem to say that the Senate and House are badly divided, emotions run high, etc., so the result will be a compromise bill nobody likes. But our three-sided constitutional system isn't designed to produce compromise laws nobody likes when there are deep divisions. It's designed to produce inaction and Kabuki posturing. (The most obvious "make believe" Kabuki solution: the House passes its bill, the Senate passes its bill, they never agree on a common bill but all sides take credit for their clarion stands on the issue.)

5) "End of the line" con: Present and accounted for!

But approval would not be automatic, and they will have to wait in line behind those who played by the rules and followed the law.

For why this is a fraud, see Lawrence Lindsey's essay, discussed below.

6) Here's a new idea: "Exit amnesty" As described in a letter to VDARE, in an "exit amnesty," existing illegal immigrants would be told::

You have 60 days to arrange your affairs and leave. If you leave during this exit amnesty period and have committed no other crimes against the American people, you will suffer no penalty or recriminations. You will not be harassed or persecuted in any manner while you depart from our nation.  ...

If you leave voluntarily, you will be free to enter the U.S. in the future without prejudice or discrimination. You will be allowed to apply for lawful immigration to the U.S. in the future. However, you will be given no special privileges and will have to wait in line like every one else. And you will have to wait in your country not ours.

If you do not take advantage of our generous offer, and if you are caught after our amnesty ends, you will be banned from the U.S. for life. You will never be readmitted to the U.S. for any reason whatsoever. If you attempt to return to the U.S. after you are banned, you will be criminally prosecuted. [Links omitted]

A proposal that deserves to be considered as part of the policy mix! If not, why not? It might be appropriate, for example, for those immigrants "who crossed the border recently" and don't merit a path to citizenship even in Bush's "roots"-oriented scheme--that is, if Bush is serious about denying them legalized status. Or is the idea to wait until they've put down "roots" too? 1:45 A.M link

Polipundit thinks Bush's speech will awaken a sleeping giant! ... Amy Welborn prints an email from an L.A. reader who is not happy that Cardinal Roger Mahony, fresh from a major pedophilia scandal, had his priests interrupt mass to hand out pro-legalization post cards and get worshippers to mail them to Sen. Frist. The cards supported "comprehensive immigration reform" including a "path to citizenship." ... 5:19 P.M.

The 'End of the Line' Con: Former chief Bush economic adviser Lawrence Lindsey, who has three immigrant children and (as a market-oriented economist) presumably isn't unaware of the virtues of cheap labor, blows the whistle on the "end of the line" fiction being used to sell the Bush/Senate immigration reform:

Comprehensive immigration reform promises that people already in the United States illegally can apply for citizenship, but requires them to "go to the back of the line." But a key question is, the back of which line? The reform bill before the Senate doesn't require illegal immigrants to go back home--to, say, Hong Kong, to the end of the 10-to-15-year line there--to get a green card. Instead, it allows the current illegals to receive their green card immediately--having, in effect, jumped the line at the U.S. consulate abroad. Then, like other green card holders, they will be able to work here, collect government benefits like food stamps and Medicaid, and travel as freely as if they had a U.S. passport.

The line the current illegals will go to the back of is the citizenship line. Under the proposed law, current illegals, newly minted green card in hand, will have to wait six years, then get in line to apply for citizenship. But even after six years, they will be years ahead of many people who have gone through the legal process and are waiting overseas for a consular official to let them come here. Once those who have been playing by the rules all along get here, they too have to wait six years before getting in line for citizenship.

If we really mean "the back of the line," that should be behind everyone who is already in the pipeline to come here legally.

I thought the "end of the line" promise couldn't possibly be real. It isn't! ... Senator McCain, the "straight talk" expert who has beaten the "end of the line" phrase into insensibility while defending his legalization bill, might profitably be asked to explain its highly deceptive and fictional aspects. ... P.S.: Of course, if we allow those who come here illegally to gain a huge queue-jumping advantage over those who follow the rules, we create a large incentive for others to evade the rules and come here illegally.  We shouldn't expect, say, Bill Kristol to embrace this simple logic-- he's on record saying he doesn't really care if immigrants obey the rules, he's happy with the massive illegal immigration that followed the last big "reform."  But it's the sort of thing you'd think other Republicans, who claim to want to actually have enforceable immigration laws, would respect.... 2:36 A.M. link

In a cheap attempt to promote fratricidal strife, Adam "Ron-Brownstein-could-eat-me-for-lunch" Nagourney quotes my further-left brother Steve's blog post on Nancy Pelosi's Meet the Press appearance. Stephen Kaus is a trial lawyer and makes a good point many heavily-consultanted national politicians bizarrely ignore on TV:

Anyone who has seen a trial or a political debate knows that if you are to appear trustworthy, you have to answer the question. At least say, "I don't know," but for God's sake, say something that appears to be non-evasive. Ms. Pelosi does not do this. After Pelosi gave a list of Democratic programs, Russert asked her if the Democrats would repeal the Bush tax cuts to pay for all this and Pelosi simply refused to answer the question and went into a series of vague "everything is on the table" roundelays...

Afraid the other side will use the video clip of an honest answer against you in a campaign ad? Then embed a poison pill of propaganda in the middle of the sentence. Steve's suggestion: "[I]f we need to restore the taxes on the wealthy, like the President of Exxon-Mobil, to balance the budget, that is what we will do?" 5:06 P.M.

Remember those headlines last year about "Schwarzenegger's Star Dipping"  and "The Fall of Arnold." It now appears that the candidate most likely to assume the governorship of California after the voters' rejection of Gov. Schwarzenegger's much-ballyhooed reform initiatives is ... Arnold Schwarzenegger. Bill Bradley senses the shift in momentum. How'd Schwarzenegger do it? Largely by acting like a Democrat (including cutting a deal with the teachers' union). ... 12:35 A.M.

Sorry, Ron! A bill in the California Assembly to allow either party to a divorce to restrict public access to financial data--"widely viewed as a favor to Ron Burkle, a billionaire grocery magnate and financier, who is fighting to shield records in his own divorce"--has been placed in the "inactive" file, according to the Bee papers. Women's "advocacy" groups were opposed. ... This is only one reason the Burkle story is so not dead. [Thanks to alert reader J.P.S. of N.Y.!]3:06 P.M.

Robert Wright accuses me of enjoying it when Democrats get bad news. Well, here's some! Despite the Democratic lock on both houses of the California state legislature--or maybe in part because of the Democratic lock--the Democratic percentage of the state's registered voters has been steadily declining. Steve Bartin flags  Dan Walters' lede in the Sacramento Bee:

State election officials released new voter registration data late last month and they were bad news for Democrats.

The Democrats' share of the state's 15.6 million registered voters, 42.7 percent, is 2.5 percentage points lower than it was four years ago, 4.1 percentage points lower than it was eight years ago, and 6.2 percentage points lower than it was 12 years ago. There are, in fact, about 200,000 fewer registered Democrats than in 1994, even though the number of potential voters has risen by nearly 4 million since then and the number of registered voters is up by 1.5 million. [Emphasis added]

Walters thinks he knows why: "[T]he slower-growing _ but very populous _ urban counties along the coast are becoming increasingly Democratic, while the faster-growing inland counties are becoming increasingly Republican." But the urban counties are mainly filling up with immigrants--and they "are either ineligible to vote, or vote only scantily." ... The real growing group of voters--jumping from 10 to 18 percent in a decade--is independents. They're a sleeping giant! ... P.S.: Or maybe not so sleeping, as the former Democratic gubernatorial frontrunner, union favorite Phil Angelides, is about to discover. ...5:53 A.M.

'Metrics' from Iraq: Many are non-bad. ... [Via Insta] 2:14 P.M.

Comic  poll question of the day: Adam 'He's-not-biased-it-just-works-out-that-way'  Nagourney is back in business! Nagourney reports that the latest New York Times

poll found considerable opposition to the strict measures being pressed by conservative Republicans in the House.

About 60 percent of respondents said they favored the plan proposed by some Republicans in the Senate that would permit illegal immigrants who had worked in the United States for at least two years to keep their jobs and apply for citizenship. [Emphasis added]

But the poll did not test whether voters favored enacting the legalization plan over, say, not enacting the legalization plan. It tested the plan only against something nobody is seriously proposing, mass deportation. Here's the actual poll question  that produced the 60 percent result:

If you had to choose, what do you think should happen to most illegal immigrants who have lived and worked in the United States for at leat two years: They should be given a chance to keep their jobs and eventually apply for legal status OR they should be deported back to their native country. [Emphasis added]

Note also the usual benign qualifiers applied to the Times' favored policy--"chance" and "eventually."  ... 1:54 P.M. link

Pssst! Bush is still has a higher favorable rating** than Kerry! And, more surprisingly, than Gore. (At least according to the NYT poll's buried lede.) ...

**--I originally wrote "more popular," but--as several emailers and Mystery Pollster note--while Bush's favorable rating is, in fact, a bit higher than Kerry's or Gore's, his   "not favorable" rating is more than a bit higher. .... Still, those are amazingly bad "favorable" numbers for Kerry and Gore. Don't the losing candidates typically rise in the polls when the President who beat them gets in trouble? ... 1:09 P.M.

Fast and Sloppy Rules: The publisher of the Daily Gotham chastises the New York Times for failing to block her and other outsiders from posting to its unreleased New York politics blog:

You've overlooked what I would consider a huge detail in blog development : You never, ever leave the login permissions open while mired in testing and development.

"Testing," ... "development"? Wow. People actually do those things! And criticize others for not doing them! Sounds like creeping professionalism to me. ... Of the two modes of product launching--(1) Rational, systematic testing and development, with dry runs and mock issues before anything becomes public, or (2) Just start doing it and fix anything that sucks--I've always found that (2) is not only more fun, it's vastly more efficient. Dry runs are soul-killers. Nobody really puts their heart into a mock issue, and there's no substitute for feedback from actual readers. ... Approach (2) was preferable even for print publications, I claim. (That's how Newsweek'sCW Watch started, for example. The first few weeks were bad!) On the Web, where mistakes can be erased and problems fixed retroactively, it's not even close.** If the New York Times is being sloppy with its new blogs, that's a good sign! ...

**--The exception, illlustrated by the LAT's "wikitorial" experiment, would seem to be when any initial errors will be seized on by powerful enemies of innovation. A wikitorial was a perfectly reasonable thing for the Times to try--all the more reasonable because it seemed slightly crazy. When hackers managed to post child porn to the site, the entrenched Times bureaucracy and outside Times critics rose as one and said, "See!" The paper retreated, validating the idea that this was a horrible black eye. An alternative would have been to fix the security problem and let the experiment continue. The wikitorial would have survived or died a natural death due to disinterest--and we would have found that out much quicker than if the feature had been "tested" and "developed." It's the exception that proves the rule!

Just as often, it's critics who overreact to an initial, sloppy launch who wind up looking like fools. Remember when Nikki Finke, after the Huffington Post had been up for a few hours, wrote  that it was

the sort of failure that is simply unsurvivable. Her blog is such a bomb that it's the movie equivalent of Gigli, Ishtar and Heaven's Gate rolled into one.

Bush's Polls--The Simplified Model: John Podhoretz argues that the immigration and spending issues can't be causing the drop in Bush's poll numbers among Republicans because

he had the same immigration plan in 2004 and spent like a sailor in his first term and still had over 90 percent support during that election year.

That might go for spending, but not immigration. Bush wasn't actively pushing the immigration plan that year, was he? And it wasn't moving through the Senate.  And it wasn't on the front page. And there weren't giant media-hyped marches. Podhoretz can't bring himself to admit the obvious--that Bush's push for a "comprehensive" semi-amnesty immigration plan has been a disaster for him. Thanks presumably to Iraq and Social Security he was down to his base of 45 percent or so--and then he willfully did something that pissed off half of them. It seems pretty simple. ... P.S.: Byron York tries to complicate the picture, depicting a "three-step process." But he can't complicate it very much.

... Bush is losing support among those who have supported him for years. Why?

A look inside the latest numbers suggests several reasons, but it appears the president's stand on immigration is the biggest drag on his support among Republicans—even more damaging than the disapproval caused by rising gas prices.

Of several issues specifically covered by the Gallup poll—the economy, foreign affairs, the situation in Iraq, terrorism, immigration, and energy policy—immigration is the only area in which more Republicans disapprove of the president's policy than approve. And they disapprove by a significant margin: 52 percent of Republicans in the survey disapprove of Bush's immigration policy, versus 40 percent who approve. [Emphasis added]

Bush has lost support on other "issues" mentioned in the poll, but nothing like the seismic collapse on immigration. Can we really read a lot into, say, the relatively "high" Republican disapproval of Bush's handling of the economy--still only 26%? (71% approve.) If Republicans are disgusted with Bush over immigration, wouldn't you expect his approval across a whole range of seemingly unrelated issues to decline?

More: On RCP, Ryan Sager argues that a hard line on immigration hurts Republicans in Western swing states, and helps them only in Southern states they've got locked up anyway.  Problems with this thesis include 1) Sager seems to assume Bush had to make a big deal of immigration one way or another. He didn't. He could have kept it backburnered; 2) Bush's immigration-battered national poll ratings, however they're geographically distributed, are sapping his efficacy across the board every day and giving the press a club with which to beat him; 3) Even with Bush making immigration a big issue, Sager points only to three contested Western House seats where a hard line hurts Republicans. In none does he show that the issue is decisive, or that Republican candidates aren't able to soften their stand if necessary to fit their constituency. Are there no three contested seats elsewhere in the country--the Northeast, say--where a hard line is helping the GOP candidate? 1:49 A.M. link

Chuck Schumer can't act. But Bloomberg can! Who knew? 1:22 A.M.

Which Goss exit story is more damaging to Bush: 1) The story the anti-Bush left is pushing, involving hookers and poker; 2) The story the Bushies are pushing, which is that Goss was a disaster Bush imposed on the struggling CIA for 18 crucial months? Sullivan says #1. Bloggingheads disagree. ... 2:36 A.M.

I take it back--Jonathan Klein really is a genius! His networks' ratings are down 38% in prime time, and he gets the LAT's TV columnist to focus on ... a  decline of half as much at competitor Fox! (Headline:"A ratings downer for Fox News.") Patterico is prosecuting  the case. ... P.S.: At least Klein didn't offer a memorably mockable excuselike "We're down because we had such a phenomenal year last year."**  ... Oh, wait.

**--Last year's excuse was "we haven't even started trying yet."   11:33 P.M.

Hayden, Trailblazer: I'm finding it hard to get suitably alarmed about the grave constitutional danger of an Air Force general taking over the CIA. Hosenball flags a more troubling issue:

In an exhaustive investigation published in January, the Baltimore Sun, the NSA's hometown newspaper, also raised questions about the NSA's management, during Hayden's tenure, of a major classified project called Trailblazer. This project was supposed to modernize the agency's entire system for processing and sorting out "Signals Intelligence" reports—raw, and later, evaluated intercepts of messages collected by the NSA's worldwide eavesdropping network. One intelligence expert told the Sun that Trailblazer was "the biggest boondoggle going on now in the intelligence community." An intelligence official familiar with the program told NEWSWEEK that Congressional investigators now believe that much of the money that was poured into the program was wasted, and that Hayden's successor at NSA has now "abandoned" significant elements of Trailblazer.

11:23 P.M.

Can't Get Enough About Third Parties:Mystery Pollster says he's "not convinced that immigration has yet become an issue of as 'paramount political concern'" as the issues that have historically produced third parties. That's almost certainly true. What MP overlooks, I think, is that the barriers to third party formation are dramatically lower than they used to be. It takes less, in the way of issue salience or personal ambition, to overcome them. .. . What, exactly--other than a first-mover advantage and often-negative "branding"--do the two existing parties have that can't be duplicated un a couple of months via the Internet, a few petitions and some lawsuits by a disaffected maverick or one of Lawrence O'Donnell's bored billionaires? If McCain doesn't get the GOP nomination, I wouldn't be surprised if he went the third party route. Heck, if Hillary doesn't get the Democratic nomination, I wouldn't be surprised. ... 8:59 P.M.

Which vehicle has more "domestic content"--that is, percentage of parts value from the United States and Canada--the Toyota Corolla or the new Chevy Tahoe? I wouldn't ask that question if the answer weren't the Corolla--with 75% domestic content, according to the Detroit Free Press' calculation. The new Tahoe has only 67%--25% of its content is from Mexico. ... I always figured inexpensive small cars like the Chevy HHR and Cobalt were in large part Mexican. I didn't realize GM's huge gas guzzlin' SUVs were heavily Mexico-sourced as well. Not that there's anything wrong with that! If you don't want unfettered immigration from Mexico then it makes sense to buy products that create decent jobs in Mexico. [Update: But see the WSJ's not-quite-convincing contrarianism  on this point.] Still, you have to wonder if the price of maintaining Big Three UAW assembly jobs in the U.S. is the outsourcing of more and more parts overseas.** Honda, by way of contrast, doesn't have to support the UAW and is able to source 75 percent of its Pilot and Ridgeline vehicles domestically. Some 80% of the Toyota Tundra is domestic. ...

P.S.: What's Wrong with the Wagner Act Unionism, Part XXVIII: The UAW is only now concluding a drawn out, teeth-pulling, plant-by-plant reduction in the elaborate work rules and job classifications  that have been built up over the decades. "One Chrysler official, who asked not to be identified, said changes included in the framework agreement are so significant that it is doubtful the union would have considered it five years ago." Non-union Japanese manufacturers' U.S. factories, in contrast, have never had such a cumbersome structure to dismantle. They've been building cars, not job categories. ... [ via Autoblog]

**--Many Corollas are in fact built by UAW workers at the quirky joint-venture GM and Toyota plant in Fremont, California. That doesn't change the general point that more heavily-unionized and work-ruled GM may face more pressure to use parts from cheaper-labor countries. 8:40 P.M.

OK, forget emo! Emo is so yesterday: Visionary CNN chief Jonathan Klein basks in another triumph: He proclaimed Anderson Cooper "the anchorperson of the future" and pushed out Aaron Brown to make room for him. The only problem is that  Cooper isn't attracting many viewers. [Klein never said he was the anchorperson of the present--ed There's your spin!] [ Via Drudge] 2:16 A.M. 

Die Gosserdammerung, Act II: Newsweek's identification of "Nine Fingers"--a Porter Goss aide who apparently played in a controversial, contractor-linked poker game with the CIA's #3, "Dusty" Foggo--actually jibes with Larry Johnson's surprisingly pro-Goss (and poontang-inclusive!) account  of Goss's departure.  Johnson argues that it was a Goss aide, not Goss himself, who championed Foggo's promotion to #3.. ... P.S.: But Newsweek says "the agency's problems may only get worse, and one reason is Foggo." Huh? Isn't it clear that Foggo won't be at the agency much longer? ... 5/8 Update: Already gone. ...  [link via TPM1:42 P.M.

Expat Power: I've always assumed that allowing Mexican-Americans to vote in Mexican elections was a terrible idea--assimilation, divided loyalties, and all that. Bill Mundell argues it's a great idea even from a purely U.S. perspective. Mexican expats, he says, are the "natural constituency" for the sort of U.S.-style economic reforms that might transform the Mexican economy into something offering enough opportunity to actually retain Mexican workers. Unfortunately, Mundell can't identify any of the three major candidates in Mexico's upcoming election as the sort of reform party he has in mind. ... Update: A fuller discussion of this topic, on video. ... 1:05 A.M.

More Fun With Third Parties: A Rasmussen robo-poll recently showed that "a 3rd party Presidential candidate with a pro-enforcement immigration agenda would theoretically end up in a virtual tie with a generic Democrat" and trounce the generic Republican.  Mystery Pollster speculated that Rasmussen's poll reflected more desire for the third party than desire for a pro-enforcement immigration policy.  Now, showing responsiveness to Web commentary rare in a pollster, Rasmussen has tested MP's hypothesis by duplicating his third-party candidate poll--except this time the candidate's agenda is "government-backed universal health care." The result: The "health care" third party tied for first with the generic Republican, with the generic Democrat trailing by 4 percentage points. Says Rasmussen:

The 28% support for the third party candidate is very similar to the 30% total received in the previous survey by the pro-immigration candidate. But, while the immigration candidate drew equally from both parties, the Universal Health Care candidate cost the Democratic candidate 18 percentage points while the Republican lost just six. [Emphasis added]

That still seems like a vindication of MP's hunch. But Rasmussen argues that

Because immigration cuts across the typical partisan and ideological lines, it may have more potential to shake up political status quo than other issues.

Which makes a certain amount of sense, doesn't it? The "third party" candidate Rasmussen sketched was really a super-Democrat, fighting for the votes on the left side of the spectrum. His party would either supplant the Dems or be absorbed by them. (In the meantime, it might elect Republicans.) A pro-enforcement immigration candidate, in contrast, could seize the center and at least potentially dominate politics until a Downs-approved 50-50 equilibrium was somehow restored. ... Suggestion: To measure the specific power of the immigration enforcement issue, test it against another potential centrist issue, like deficit-reduction, or trade restriction. I bet an anti-illegal immigration third party does better than an anti-trade third party.  ...

P.S.: Does Rasmussen's result mean an immigration enforcement/universal health care third party would win big? I'd vote for it! True, the number of Republicans alienated from the "immigration" party by "universal health care" might outnumber Dems attracted by that idea. But it might not--there are obviously a whole lot of Democrats attracted by universal health care. ...Update: See Thibaud's comments here. ...  12:40 A.M.

Today on television! I interview Newsweek's Jonathan Alter on the octopus-like bloggingheads.tvnetwork about his lively  new FDR book. ... The interview is mainly a Bush vs. Roosevelt grudge match, but I do  get around to asking Alterwhy we should be exalting the New Deal when the whole point of neoliberalism was that the New Deal isn't working anymore. Didn't Dem rethinkers proclaim "The New Deal is dead" after the 1972 demolition of the Pruitt-Igoe housing project in St. Louis? Alter's response surprised me, but it's clarifying. ... P.S.: I'd still argue the biggest problem with the New Deal's legacy wasn't the Democrats' rigid adherence to FDR's means but an inherent and ultimately short-circuiting ambiguity about ends (specifically, was the Democratic goal social equality or "more" income equality). 12:09 P.M. link

I Wouldn't Have Put It That Harshly Dept.: Former New York Times "public editor" Daniel Okrent, interviewed in New York Magazine,  on the NYT's emailin' machine  (and author of incomprehensibly angry and misguided  award-winning pieces about the auditing of the Earned Income Tax Credit)

The only person you really single out in the intro is business reporter David Cay Johnston, who started a campaign against you for being on a corporate board.
Yeah, he was very single-out-able. I didn't mention this in the book, but when I had my troubles with Johnston, one of the senior editors said to me, "There are three things you must understand about Johnston: He's a Pulitzer Prize winner, he's a unique talent, and he's an asshole." I'm convinced that at least two of those are correct.

Note to Johnston: If you have a reply of the same length, I'll print it. All responses on the record. Special rule for you! If you aren't willing to see it published, don't send it. ... 10:51 A.M. link


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. 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. 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. 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 ... [More tk]