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My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.
|More Evidence Of Republicans Deserving To Lose|
Rasmussen reports on a new poll that contains some obvious news for Republicans [courtesy The Corner]
Democrats currently hold a 12-point advantage over Republicans on a generic 2008 Presidential ballot. However, a third-party candidate focusing on immigration enforcement issues could fundamentally alter those political dynamics.
The latest Rasmussen Reports national opinion survey finds that 44% of Americans say they would vote for a Democrat if the Presidential Election were held today. Just 32% would vote for a Republican. Those figures are likely a reflection of unhappiness with the Bush Administration rather than a commentary on prospective candidates from either party.
The survey also asked respondents how they would vote if "a third party candidate ran in 2008 and promised to build a barrier along the Mexican border and make enforcement of immigration law his top priority."
With that option, support fell sharply for both major parties. The Democrats still come out on top with support from 31% of Americans. The third party candidate moved into a virtual tie at 30% while the GOP fell to 21%.
I'm not sure why this is so difficult. If the Democrats lose 13% to such a candidate, and the GOP loses 11%, that still leaves a 6% margin that's outside the normal party confines which is focused pretty directly on this one issue. It also seems to indicate that the combination of this immigration group plus recoving the GOP voters puts the GOP pretty darn close to the magical number of 50%.
I realize that polls are a bad way to guage making policy; but I also think that it's at the core of our process that the electeds represent, at least in some miniscule degree, the will of governed. So at what point does the GOP start listening--even a little bit?
Oh, yeah, that's right--two or three days AFTER the Democrats do.
Sadly I'm not sure the President has left himself any room for wiggle on this issue. Stick to his guns, and embrace a losing issue; change his mind, and he's an obvious and opportunistic flip-flopper. And he may actually be working from conviction on this one; but if so, he's done a piss-poor job of explaining the point, and by now he's lost any power to change the inertia of this issue.
Like I said once before, it's time for someone out there to take the lead on this.
|Believe Or Not, We're Actually Doing Pretty Good|
Popping out of a year-end rut, the economy zipped ahead at the fastest pace in 2½ years during the first quarter of 2006 as consumers picked up spending and businesses regained their footing.
Inflation looked tame, too, though the latest figures didn’t include last week’s oil-price spike. . .
Gross domestic product advanced at a 4.8 percent pace in the January-to-March quarter.
It's nearly unfathomable that the economy could be doing this well, and yet the poll numbers for the President are stuck in the 30s. And, of course, this is easily explained by one thing: $3/gallon gas.
So, from a political standpoint, is there any chance of changing the perception that gasoline prices are but one contrary indicator of an otherwise robust economy, and turning around the polls on that account? No. Probably not.
So, from a political standpoint, if you can't change reality OR change perception, what do you have to do?
You have to assign blame.
How about not a single new refinery built in the U.S. in 30 years; how about a refusal to allow drilling in ANWAR and off the continental shelf of California; how about a stubborn refusal to allow the building of nuclear reactors to mitigate our use of oil? And which side of the ledger can these sins be pinned on?
The Democrats, of course.
And which side of the ledger is winning this argument right now because they're the only ones in the game?
The Democrats, of course.
And which side will continue to reap political benefit from the unfathomable unwillingness of this White House to directly engage in confrontational debate about this issue?
The Democrats, of course.
If--and I'm thinking this is increasingly likely--the Democrats get control of Congress in November, it won't be because they've won over public opinion with a compelling platform and well-articulated arguments in support of it. It will be because the Republicans deserve to lose.
|Hoping for $100 a Barrel|
Yes, I know that seems, well, silly. But maybe it's time for a long view of things.
In 1860, the steam engine moved Amerians across the West, and was the power behind the American expansion.
But the steam engine was replaced by the internal combustion engine, which has been the force behind the last 100 years of American growth.
But now it's time to replace the internal combustion engine.
With what? I don't know.
But I do know that until it becomes painfully inefficient to continue using the i.c. engine, there will not be sufficient investment to motivate the private sector to create a replacement.
So here's my little plug for exorbitant oil prices--GO GET 'EM, OPEC! Because I want to shut the bastards down entirely, and the only way to do that is to end the usefulness of their product. And the only way that's gonna happen is when economic conditions create the necessity that is the mother of that invention.
Been pretty swamped for the past week or so, and since blogging happens at the same time of day as writing, well . . . Writing pays.
But I'm back.
Just a few quick hits for tonight.
--White House names Tony Snow as new Press Secretary. I cannot wait for the first couple daily briefings. It's about time the administration found someone articulate and pugnacious to go and make its case.
--Rove goes before grand jury again; apparently not a target of the investigation. Of course, you have to read down to paragraph seven of the Post article to learn that he's not considered a target, but, hey, take the victories where you can find them, eh?
--Dow Jones Industrial Average closes at a 6-year high. Of course, as long as gasoline prices float at the level they're at, no good economic news is going to get anywhere. Can we PUHLEAZE get some new drilling somewhere?!?! Alaska? The Gulf of Mexico? Off of California? More on this tomorrow (and it might surprise you).
--Colorado Avalanche on the brink of sweeping the number two seed Dallas Stars. I love the hockey playoffs. Right up there with the Final Four, the Masters, Opening Day, and The Super Bowl.
--United 93 opened in New York the other night, to at least one very strong review and reports of a silent, sobbing audience at the end. I'm glad that Paul Greengrass, the director, has treated this tragedy with honesty and simplicity. And, if I may be so snarky, I wonder how many of the Democratic leadership in Congress will be seen at the Washington premier on Friday; you, know, since most of them could find their way to the excrable Farenheit 9/11. Do they have the marbles to be reminded of the reality of that horror?
Relatedly, be sure to see this movie this weekend. The studio distributors are donating 10% of the ticket sales to the Flight 93 Memorial.
|Actions, Not Words|
Without much fanfare at all, the administration seems to be moving on a couple of pretty important issues.
First, from yesterday:
Federal agents raided a Colorado work yard and arrested 38 Mexican men - and 1,149 others nationwide - launching what the government cast as an aggressive campaign against employers who hire illegal foreign workers.
And then, from an hour ago:
The CIA has fired an employee for leaking classified information to the news media, an agency official said Friday. A federal criminal investigation has also been opened.
So in the last 24 hours, on two issues that the base is pretty riled up about--immigration reform and the ongoing, criminal resistance to the administration from within the bureaucracy--the adminstration has taken notable, direct action. No big Presidential presser, no big announcement from the White House podium, no rhetorical flourishes.
That's what the supporters of this President have come to expect, and is just the sort of thing that might start to reinforce the base coming into the mid-term elections.
Now, if we could just put an end to the "catch-and-release" approach . . .
And on the other end of Pennsylvania Ave, someone else found his spine on the two-week Easter break:
Majority Leader Bill Frist intends to seek Senate passage of immigration legislation by Memorial Day, hoping to revive a bill that tightens border security and gives millions of illegal immigrants a chance at citizenship, Republican leadership aides said Friday.
In a gesture to conservative critics of the measure, Frist and other Republicans also intend to seek roughly $2 billion in immediate additional spending for border protection.
Learn the lesson, Senator: act on this, don't just SAY you're going to act on this.
It would seem there are three HUGE issues waiting for the GOP returning from vacation--immigration reform (stalled by Senate dithering), tax-cut extensions (stalled by GOP infighting) and judges (stalled by Sen. Specter). Were the leadership to come back on Monday morning and announce that NOBODY LEAVES for the summer and the early campaigning until all three issues were solved (or, well, you know, moved on), it would go a long way towards bringing the base back and improving the GOP's prospects for the Fall. At the very least, make enough of a show to force the Dems into several high-profile filibusters, which makes them look churlish.
More inaction, on the other hand, would only JUSTIFY what appears to be an impending Democratic sweep into power.
You don't get to have power unless you know both what you want to accomplish with AND how to achieve that.
|Colorado Politics Update|
:The Beauprez campaign announces great fundraising quarter; chides opponent over taxes
Congressional District #7:
:O'Donnell Campaign gets the attention of a nationally syndicated conservative columnist; announces fundraising in excess of a quarter million dollars for the first quarter; draws the ire of the lefty blogoshpere (must be doing something right)
At the statehouse:
:Dems bang their heads against the wall once again; legislature bungles imminent domain curbs
|The Lessons We Teach|
Yes, there was another immigration march today.
This is actually starting to get to be too much--they've overplayed this hand, in my estimation. The first marches were a PR fiasco because of the Mexican flags; now, we're at a point where you have to echo the Governor in asking why they never have these marches on weekends.
But there's today; we know there's plans to walk out of classes on May 1st; and does anybody really think that these kids will be in class on Cinco de Mayo? I would schedule some serious extra credit opportunities for those days, if I were in those classrooms.
But then you get this little nugget way down in the reporting:
At about 9:30 a.m., 300 to 400 students who had assembled at Viking Park — including at least four North High School teachers joining in support — started marching south on Speer Boulevard, staying on the sidewalks. [emphasis mine]
I wonder if their administrators will have the fortitude to insist on them forfeiting their salary for today's little "civics lesson"? Probably not.
But more importantly, the message has just been delivered to these students that their success, their progress in life, their way forward in America, has more to do with protest marches than it does with their own education and striving for achievement. Can these teachers possibly have any credibility in the classroom now when they try to insist on individual effort and excellence? After today, the only assignments that would be authentic would be large-group projects, which, if memory serves, usually means the one or two kids who care about their grades do a ton of work while the other 6-10 kids sit around and plan their next protest.
And the politicians continue to dither about this issue. Sounds like a referendum waiting to happen.
|Too Much Material To Work With|
The WaPo does a profile of a lefty blogger in the Saturday morning rag. And here's how the article concludes:
Meanwhile, over on Eschaton, Dave is writing, "As a matter of fact -- I do hate Bush!"
On Rude Pundit: "George W. Bush is the anti-Midas. Everything he touches turns to [expletive]."
On the Smirking Chimp: "I. Despise. These. [Expletive]!"
And on Daily Kos and My Left Wing, the responses keep rolling in.
"Thank you, Maryscott."
"Thank you for the kick in the [expletive]."
"I wrote to my [expletive] so-called representatives."
"I also wrote to my [expletive] congressman to get off his [expletive] [expletive] and do the right [expletive] thing."
"You know what?" O'Connor says. "I did a good thing today." And for a moment, anyway, she isn't angry at all.
Yes, folks, this is the level of discourse on the "highly intellectual" Left. Eight expletives deleted, and a pat on the back.
So, why in the world is this in the Post? Because they've noticed that the Left is "angry", but David Finkel manages to somehow attribute that to the Right. Note:
What's notable about this isn't only the level of anger but the direction from which it is coming. Not that long ago, it was the right that was angry and the left that was, at least comparatively, polite. But after years of being the targets of inflammatory rhetoric, not only from fringe groups but also from such mainstream conservative politicians as Newt Gingrich, the left has gone on the attack.
Of course, he can't be bothered to mention even ONE quote to justify his assertion; and, of course, he fails to note that the Left was rather fond of the personal attack back in Reagan's era. But, of course, in his world, I'm sure it's simply accepted truth that the Right is the angry side and the Left is rational and reasonable.
I think we know better.
As MaryScott herself says
"I am this close to being one of those muttering people pushing a cart."
|Warning: Wandering Off The Reservation|
I don't know. Maybe it's just a lack of sleep; or perhaps that I finally just finished watching "The Exorcism of Emily Rose"; or perhaps this guy just scares the Hell out of me. But, at any rate, I'm about to bring your attention to things that, while I don't really buy into, do show a startling bit of similarity.
Let me just back that up a little more. I was raised Catholic, and I now attend an Evangelical Covenant Church--neither buys into the Eschatology thing, that it's possible to read into Revelations and predict the End Times. In fact, "It is not given to us to know the time and the place; [He] will come like a thief in the night" is one of the lessons my father taught that really stuck with me (though, perhaps, a bit syntactically challenged). So if it seems like I'm out of my depth, believe me, I'm also rolling my eyes at me.
From a Christian perspective--
Book of Ezekiel, 39:2-5: nations of the north attack Israel, to their destruction
Mahmoud Ahmedinijad: The Iranian leader has recently denied the Holocaust, called for the complete destruction of Israel,
Oh, and, then there's this: Iran has successfully enriched uranium
With a Catholic twist--
The Prophecies of Malachy:
the last four Popes are
--"Of the half moon"; Pope John Paul I served for only 34 days, from roughly one half-moon to the next (and, by the way, predicted his own death and Karol Wotyjla's ascension)
--"Of the eclipse of the sun"; Pope John Paul II was born on the day of a solar eclipse, and his funeral occured on the day of a solar eclipse
--"Of the Glory of Olives"; Pope Benedict XVI took his name to honor Benedict XV, who was famous for peace and reconciliation (admittedly this is a stretch, but he's only been Pope for a little while--he could see the reconciliation of Rome with the Eastern Church (??(you know, olive branch)))
--"Peter the Roman", who will see the destruction of Rome and the judgment day
In a speech on November 16th, Ahmadinejad spoke of his belief in the return of the Twelfth Imam. One of the differences between Sunni and Shi’ite Islam is that the latter, who dominate Iran and form the majority in Iraq, believe that Allah shielded or hid Muhammad al-Mahdi as the Twelfth Imam until the end of time. Shi’ites expect the Twelfth Imam, which Jews and Christians would recognize as a messianic figure, to return to save the world when it had descended into chaos.
And did I mention that Iran has enriched uranium?
Like I said, I don't really believe this stuff.
I'm just saying . . . weird.
|A Leadership Moment--An Opportunity|
With the resumption of nationwide immigration protests today, and the planning for a nationwide "Day Without An Immigrant" proceeding apace, it is very clear that the failure of the Senate to come up with a bill dealing with immigration will not make the issue go away.
So it's time for someone to demonstrate a little leadership.
And the winner gets . . . ? Front-runner status for 2008 Presidential Nomination!
Well, what about the House? you may ask. Yes, it's true, the House has passed the Sensebrenner Bill which makes illegals felons, and strongly ramps up border security.
But that's only half the deal. And, in fact, it could be smartly argued that the "felon" label is too much of a burden to assure passage.
Don't get me wrong--at least the House has acted. A far cry from the dithering in the Senate, and arguably the real reason this issue is on the table at all right now. As a catalytic event, the House version is like Fort Sumter.
But I think everybody knows that it's not going to be the final word. And, it's also pretty safe to say that the forces behind this bill--Sensenbrenner, Tancredo, et al.--will never be the guys on the national stage.
So all we're looking for is a little leadership to get something done.
What about McCain/Kennedy? you may ask. Well, it did address the other half of the equation--what to do with those who are already here--but completely failed to address the border and anything security related. I think smart politics may have been to pass this bill, get something to conference, and then wait for final judgement until we all say the conference report. But that was never really going to happen, especially since the Dems really don't want a solution at all--they want the issue. So as much as it was heartening to hear "they've reached a compromise", Democratic obstructionism (who ever heard of a bill with ZERO amendments?!) doomed that effort from the beginning.
So we are now accepting applications for leadership positions. Qualified candidates will display the following characteristics:
:cursory knowledge of the fact that Americans by a 2-1 margin want the following:
--a. someone to recognize that WE think this issue matters
--b. a closed border (build the damn fence!)
--c. a compassionate approach to the immigrants who are here already, which includes an opportunity for naturalization
:an ability to articulate a simple message about a solution which meets all three criteria the American people want
:an ability to hold the GOP caucus together long enough to either get a bill or to force the Democrats into a filibuster
:enough moxie to make this THE issue in 2006; force the Congress to forego a couple of vacation days until this stupid thing gets hammered out.
It just so happens that "Day Without An Immigrant" is scheduled for the week after Congress returns from Easter Vacation--maybe somebody could even show the political savvy to try to get something done by the time millions more take to the streets.
On the one hand, this is tailor-made for the President: he's been on the "soft" side of the issue for six years, but he's also shown to be pretty adept at "stealing" his opponents position when it serves him (remember the Department of Homeland Security?). He could easily come out and embrace the fence conditional upon a naturalization bill, and steal the middle ground of this debate right out from under everybody. Then he could call for a high-level "summit" of Congressional Leadership to get a working bill going before summer. Piece of cake.
Unfortunately, I think the White House has either completely lost its political compass (see "Katrina" and "Dubai"), or it has chosen to try to get Congress to do its job. Which, on the one hand, might be really smart--if someone in Congress can get this problem solved now, President Bush could embrace the idea (good for his numbers) and embrace the problem-solver (and annoint his heir-apparent).
Who are the likely candidates?
Bill Frist--who has said the Senate Majority Leader's Post is the worst place run for President from; well, Senator, how about let's stop being a Senator for a while and try being a leader?
John McCain--last chance; get this wrong, and not only will much of the "base" not vote for you in the primaries, but, if you do get the nomination, they will not come to work for you in the general
Jon Kyl--good same-state counterbalance to the ubiquitous McCain, and speaks pretty clearly on the issue
John Cornyn--has held state-wide office in a big border state, and as AG of TX, would have dealt with a lot of these issues
Or how about some dark horses.
J.C.Watts--why not? As an outsider to this debate he could have an extraordinary clarity of opinion
Colin Powell--his own parents were immigrants (Jamaica, if I'm not mistaken), and he still enjoys near-universal respect and approval
And there are probably a dozen others who could make this debate clearer, and actually get something useful done.
But there just aren't that many moments for people to step away from the pack. And since the White House has kinda botched a couple lately, SOMEBODY has got to step up and make it happen.
And, by the way, the list of Democrats who could vault overnight to national prominence by solving this issue is even longer than the GOP list. God help us all if we have to rely on them to solve this (luckily they show very little interest).
|Could Not Say It Any Better|
From MySandman (courtesy Hugh Hewitt):
Hamstrung for years by playing nice, it is time for the GOP to recognize that the Daily Kos, the Schumer hit squads, and rampant trash bin rummaging is here to stay. The GOP needs to recognize this, and get down and dirty, or they are going to lose elections, not because they are wrong on the issues, but because they don’t know how to scrap in a knife fight. Face it politics is not longer the gentlemen’s wrestling club it was in the 60’s…it is down and dirty, and the GOP needs to man up for the future.
Go read the whole post. Major Mike nails it.
|Current State of the Governor's Race|
Rasmussen has a new poll out today, polling the Democrat candidate for Colorado Governor, Bill Ritter, against both of the Republican candidates, Bob Beauprez and Marc Holtzman.
Note: while Rasmussen was remarkably accurate in predicting the result of the 2004 Presidention race, I have noticed that his track record on local races shows a bit more . . . margin for error. Also, it is only April. So take this poll for what it's worth in light of those two facts.
Salient numbers: Ritter v. Beauprez: Ritter 41%-40
Ritter v. Holtzman: Ritter 41%-36
Bad news? Hardly. As Rasmussen puts it:
In our February survey of this contest, Ritter was surging against the Republicans. Ritter then led Beauprez 40% to 33%, and led Holtzman 41% to 28%.
Still, keep in mind that it's early, that this is, essentially, a purple state, and that the GOP has a long primary season ahead of it which is already shaping up to be pretty divisive. My guess would be that the GOP candidates will both start to surge ahead as the news coverage tracks their primary, but then it will tighten considerably after Ritter starts spending his war chest in the Fall. In fact, this race could look exactly the same as it does now in late October.
At least I hope so. The governor's race is sure to have some effect on the state legislature, which really needs to go back to GOP control.
|01:02:03 on 04/05/06|
just 'cuz it's a once-in-a-century moment.
|Make Your Plans Early|
Set aside some time on one of these days: April 28,29 or 30--make it about 2-1/2 hours.
Why? you might ask.
Families of Flight 93, a nonprofit group that represents some relatives, has praised the movie, and Universal Pictures has pledged to donate 10 percent of the first three days of the film's grosses to the Flight 93 National Memorial.
The trailer seems to be evoking some very strong reactions, so I would expect the movie to be powerful.
|RE: Reality Check|
A very smart friend of mine, who is in the business of hiring and has had a number of immigrants working for him, has weighed in on my post from two nights ago.
While he disagrees with me about the volatility of the imigrant population and their willingness/ability to strike for better wages, the most interesting part of his correspondence is about the nature of the immigrant worker he has come across. The key points:
:most work very hard, often two jobs, for as long as they can to earn their goal
:most, once attaining their goal, which is buying their own house in Mexico, move back with their families
:anchor babies don't particularly change this scenario, though they do use American services while here
And then his prescription for solving the "illegal" problem:
:enforce current employment laws vigorously
:create a worker program that allows temporary work (say, 3-5 years) without possibility of citizenship
:don't allow "anchor baby" citizenship
These are all ideas for dealing with those who are already here, and also for future immigrants who come here. It would seem that any program associated with this begins with closing the border.
My friend is smart. He speaks from experience and from the reality within the business community, and he has changed my mind--a little bit. On reflection, this all seems SO common sense, and reflects what the polls see as the reasonable solution, that it makes me wonder why the hell the politicians struggle with this.
Oh, wait. . .