Commentary Magazine


Topic: immigration law

Arizona Immigration Law Hearing

This account by the Washington Post of the 9th Circuit hearing on the Arizona immigration law is revealing on a number of counts.

Judge John T. Noonan (whose own exacting questioning I experienced in law school some years back) didn’t think much of the Obama administration’s advocacy skills:

“I’ve read your brief, I’ve read the District Court opinion, I’ve heard your interchange with my two colleagues, and I don’t understand your argument,” Noonan told deputy solicitor general Edwin S. Kneedler. “We are dependent as a court on counsel being responsive. … You keep saying the problem is that a state officer is told to do something. That’s not a matter of preemption. … I would think the proper thing to do is to concede that this is a point where you don’t have an argument.”

That doesn’t mean the government doesn’t have other viable arguments in its attempt to overturn the Arizona law or that this issue is going to be settled by the 9th Circuit. (Certainly it’s headed for the Supreme Court.) But it does mean that the Obama Justice Department is doing a poor job of litigating.

Even more telling is this passage from the Post‘s report:

With Noonan, an appointee of President Ronald Reagan, so bluntly stating his views, legal experts said the government’s chances of having the injunction upheld may rest with the other two judges on Monday’s panel: Carlos T. Bea and Richard A. Paez.

Bea is also a Republican appointee and tends to vote with the court’s conservative wing, which could help Arizona’s chances. Paez is a Democratic appointee.

But Bea and Paez are Hispanic, and it is Hispanics who are most upset about the Arizona law.

What?! This is the wise Latino school of thought, the suggestion that these justices would vote their ethnicity rather than their conscience. The Post digs up a supposed scholar whom I’ve never heard of to opine: “‘Perhaps this is one area where Bea might not vote as a so-called conservative because he himself is an immigrant,’ said Arthur Hellman, a University of Pittsburgh law professor and an expert on the 9th Circuit.” Perhaps Hellman’s students should disregard the chazzerai they are being taught.

This account by the Washington Post of the 9th Circuit hearing on the Arizona immigration law is revealing on a number of counts.

Judge John T. Noonan (whose own exacting questioning I experienced in law school some years back) didn’t think much of the Obama administration’s advocacy skills:

“I’ve read your brief, I’ve read the District Court opinion, I’ve heard your interchange with my two colleagues, and I don’t understand your argument,” Noonan told deputy solicitor general Edwin S. Kneedler. “We are dependent as a court on counsel being responsive. … You keep saying the problem is that a state officer is told to do something. That’s not a matter of preemption. … I would think the proper thing to do is to concede that this is a point where you don’t have an argument.”

That doesn’t mean the government doesn’t have other viable arguments in its attempt to overturn the Arizona law or that this issue is going to be settled by the 9th Circuit. (Certainly it’s headed for the Supreme Court.) But it does mean that the Obama Justice Department is doing a poor job of litigating.

Even more telling is this passage from the Post‘s report:

With Noonan, an appointee of President Ronald Reagan, so bluntly stating his views, legal experts said the government’s chances of having the injunction upheld may rest with the other two judges on Monday’s panel: Carlos T. Bea and Richard A. Paez.

Bea is also a Republican appointee and tends to vote with the court’s conservative wing, which could help Arizona’s chances. Paez is a Democratic appointee.

But Bea and Paez are Hispanic, and it is Hispanics who are most upset about the Arizona law.

What?! This is the wise Latino school of thought, the suggestion that these justices would vote their ethnicity rather than their conscience. The Post digs up a supposed scholar whom I’ve never heard of to opine: “‘Perhaps this is one area where Bea might not vote as a so-called conservative because he himself is an immigrant,’ said Arthur Hellman, a University of Pittsburgh law professor and an expert on the 9th Circuit.” Perhaps Hellman’s students should disregard the chazzerai they are being taught.

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Obama’s Ground Zero Debacle

It would be hard to think how Obama could have done a worse job on the Ground Zero mosque controversy. He took a position objectionable to the vast majority of Americans, within 24 hours chickened out, and then sent his press minions forward to assure his base and the Muslim World and its American community (over which he fawns incessantly) that he really does think we must accept a mosque that will produce nothing but pain for his countrymen and a sense of vindication to those who incinerated 3,000 Americans. It’s bad policy, bad politics, and bad execution, with a side order of political cowardice.

On Fox News Sunday’s roundtable, Ceci Connolly explained the flip-flop-flip:

CONNOLLY: I do think that the president’s remarks on Friday night — we know from our reporting they were not off the cuff. Those were written in advance. They were prepared. They were disseminated. He gave thought to what he wanted to say.

And from all indications he believes what he said on Friday night that, yes, this is hallowed ground but that he has a strong feeling not only about religious freedom and tolerance but also about outreach to the Muslim community, which he has done from the very start of his presidency.

So I don’t think there’s reason to really doubt his believing what he said on Friday.

BAIER: Other than the statement on Saturday.

CONNOLLY: The statement on Saturday — I think what happened was he got a little bit spooked by the reaction, because immediately after he did that recalibration, as you put it, sort of off the cuff with that local reporter down in Florida, Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton said, “Look, we’re not backing off of Friday night.” And I don’t think that they are.

That’s created angst for Democrats, as Nina Easton observed:

Well, you’ve got to feel the pain of some of these independent conservative Democrats like Martin Frost, who said, “Can’t this president be more like a politician than a law professor?” And we know that now that — as Ceci said, he wanted to weigh in on this. He wanted to weigh in on these broad religious principles.

And you know, we cite the 68 percent of people opposing this. Seventy percent of independent voters oppose this. So this is going to — it’s an issue that was local and, by the way, where in the bluest of states, New York, members of the congressional delegation is basically nowhere to be found. No one wants to weigh in on this.

But among independent voters they really, really oppose this. What this has done is nationalize a sensitive issue. The president — it’s interesting. This is the third time where he’s — in the interest of what he sees in his world of inclusion and fairness and open-mindedness, he’s actually been very polarizing and divisive.

We start with his lawsuit against the Arizona immigration law. His — the health care reform’s been very divisive. And now this. And I think it’s going to really hurt the Democratic brand in November. It’s nationalized this issue.

As Bill Kristol deadpanned: “It’s never a good moment … when Bill Burton, the White House deputy press secretary, at 6 o’clock Saturday night — I mean, I worked in a White House that had some problems in ’91, ’92, as the first Bush administration wound down, somewhat losing some popular support, let’s say. And when you put out a statement that says, ‘Just to be clear, the president is not backing off in any way,’ I mean, ‘just … to be clear’ is not a good thing to begin with if you’re the press secretary. And ‘the president is not backing off’ is not really what you want your news — your explanation to be on Saturday night.”

This reinforces several bad themes for Obama. From the right, his critics have argued that he’s less than competent,  a charge that certainly was supported by a textbook “don’t ever do this” episode in presidential history. Conservatives have also asserted that Obama’s instincts are poor (both when it come in positioning the U.S. against adversaries and in his assessments of the voters’ deeply held beliefs). That too was underlined by Obama’s indifference to the mosque’s symbolism for jihadists and to Americans’ sensibilities. And then on the left, his formerly fervent base has grown exasperated with his equivocation and failure to wholeheartedly embrace their extreme wish list. Given episodes like this one, you have to admit that they too have a point.

But really, this is precisely what we should expect if we elect someone whose executive skills are negligible and whose views come straight out of the Ivy League left. Next time, maybe voters should pay more attention to the experience and values of the person they are electing to lead the Free World.

It would be hard to think how Obama could have done a worse job on the Ground Zero mosque controversy. He took a position objectionable to the vast majority of Americans, within 24 hours chickened out, and then sent his press minions forward to assure his base and the Muslim World and its American community (over which he fawns incessantly) that he really does think we must accept a mosque that will produce nothing but pain for his countrymen and a sense of vindication to those who incinerated 3,000 Americans. It’s bad policy, bad politics, and bad execution, with a side order of political cowardice.

On Fox News Sunday’s roundtable, Ceci Connolly explained the flip-flop-flip:

CONNOLLY: I do think that the president’s remarks on Friday night — we know from our reporting they were not off the cuff. Those were written in advance. They were prepared. They were disseminated. He gave thought to what he wanted to say.

And from all indications he believes what he said on Friday night that, yes, this is hallowed ground but that he has a strong feeling not only about religious freedom and tolerance but also about outreach to the Muslim community, which he has done from the very start of his presidency.

So I don’t think there’s reason to really doubt his believing what he said on Friday.

BAIER: Other than the statement on Saturday.

CONNOLLY: The statement on Saturday — I think what happened was he got a little bit spooked by the reaction, because immediately after he did that recalibration, as you put it, sort of off the cuff with that local reporter down in Florida, Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton said, “Look, we’re not backing off of Friday night.” And I don’t think that they are.

That’s created angst for Democrats, as Nina Easton observed:

Well, you’ve got to feel the pain of some of these independent conservative Democrats like Martin Frost, who said, “Can’t this president be more like a politician than a law professor?” And we know that now that — as Ceci said, he wanted to weigh in on this. He wanted to weigh in on these broad religious principles.

And you know, we cite the 68 percent of people opposing this. Seventy percent of independent voters oppose this. So this is going to — it’s an issue that was local and, by the way, where in the bluest of states, New York, members of the congressional delegation is basically nowhere to be found. No one wants to weigh in on this.

But among independent voters they really, really oppose this. What this has done is nationalize a sensitive issue. The president — it’s interesting. This is the third time where he’s — in the interest of what he sees in his world of inclusion and fairness and open-mindedness, he’s actually been very polarizing and divisive.

We start with his lawsuit against the Arizona immigration law. His — the health care reform’s been very divisive. And now this. And I think it’s going to really hurt the Democratic brand in November. It’s nationalized this issue.

As Bill Kristol deadpanned: “It’s never a good moment … when Bill Burton, the White House deputy press secretary, at 6 o’clock Saturday night — I mean, I worked in a White House that had some problems in ’91, ’92, as the first Bush administration wound down, somewhat losing some popular support, let’s say. And when you put out a statement that says, ‘Just to be clear, the president is not backing off in any way,’ I mean, ‘just … to be clear’ is not a good thing to begin with if you’re the press secretary. And ‘the president is not backing off’ is not really what you want your news — your explanation to be on Saturday night.”

This reinforces several bad themes for Obama. From the right, his critics have argued that he’s less than competent,  a charge that certainly was supported by a textbook “don’t ever do this” episode in presidential history. Conservatives have also asserted that Obama’s instincts are poor (both when it come in positioning the U.S. against adversaries and in his assessments of the voters’ deeply held beliefs). That too was underlined by Obama’s indifference to the mosque’s symbolism for jihadists and to Americans’ sensibilities. And then on the left, his formerly fervent base has grown exasperated with his equivocation and failure to wholeheartedly embrace their extreme wish list. Given episodes like this one, you have to admit that they too have a point.

But really, this is precisely what we should expect if we elect someone whose executive skills are negligible and whose views come straight out of the Ivy League left. Next time, maybe voters should pay more attention to the experience and values of the person they are electing to lead the Free World.

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If You Cannot Bring Back Hope and Change, Bring Back Bush

Unemployment remains officially at 9.5 percent (with the real rate higher). The stimulus is still dead. There is no budget to debate. The next big Democratic idea is a huge transfer of funds from the private economy to the government (by letting current tax rates “expire”). A commission is working on even more taxes. Two prominent Democrats in the most-ethical-Congress-in-history face ethics charges. An already wide enthusiasm gap between the parties is widening. 59 percent of Americans favor repeal of ObamaCare. (45 percent strongly favor repeal.) 71 percent believe the federal government is itself a “special interest group.” And the president refuses to hold news conferences, is suing a state for trying to enforce existing immigration law, has an obsession with golf during the worst-recession-since-the-Depression, and just issued a silent apology to Japan for the way World War II ended.

But the Democrats think they have hit on a winning theme: blame Bush. The New York Times endorses the strategy in “In Search of a New Playbook.” Frank Rich writes that they should argue “Republicans – Worse Than Bush.”

The intellectual bankruptcy is remarkable. Less than three months before a national election, the Democrats cannot even argue “stay the course.” They are left trying to bring back the bogeyman to scare the kids.

Unemployment remains officially at 9.5 percent (with the real rate higher). The stimulus is still dead. There is no budget to debate. The next big Democratic idea is a huge transfer of funds from the private economy to the government (by letting current tax rates “expire”). A commission is working on even more taxes. Two prominent Democrats in the most-ethical-Congress-in-history face ethics charges. An already wide enthusiasm gap between the parties is widening. 59 percent of Americans favor repeal of ObamaCare. (45 percent strongly favor repeal.) 71 percent believe the federal government is itself a “special interest group.” And the president refuses to hold news conferences, is suing a state for trying to enforce existing immigration law, has an obsession with golf during the worst-recession-since-the-Depression, and just issued a silent apology to Japan for the way World War II ended.

But the Democrats think they have hit on a winning theme: blame Bush. The New York Times endorses the strategy in “In Search of a New Playbook.” Frank Rich writes that they should argue “Republicans – Worse Than Bush.”

The intellectual bankruptcy is remarkable. Less than three months before a national election, the Democrats cannot even argue “stay the course.” They are left trying to bring back the bogeyman to scare the kids.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

The local Pennsylvania media find Joe Sestak’s answers on earmarks to be all wet (“a vague, disingenuous attempt to polish his own credentials”): “The Democratic congressman and Senate candidate should work a little harder to reconcile taking campaign contributions from those benefiting from federal ‘earmarks’ (which direct money to be spent on specific projects) while claiming ‘a personal policy’ against doing so.”

As hopes for direct peace talks slip away, Hillary frantically “burns up the phone lines” to the players in the Middle East.

Obama’s approval ratings in Gallup continue to nosedive (45% approval, 49% disapproval).

A federal-court judge torpedoes the Arizona immigration law (a ruling certain to be appealed): “Judge [Susan] Bolton took aim at the parts of the law that have generated the most controversy, issuing a preliminary injunction against sections that called for police officers to check a person’s immigration status while enforcing other laws and that required immigrants to carry their papers at all times. Judge [Susan] Bolton put those sections on hold while she continued to hear the larger issues in the challenges to the law. ‘Preserving the status quo through a preliminary injunction is less harmful than allowing state laws that are likely pre-empted by federal law to be enforced,’ she said. ‘There is a substantial likelihood that officers will wrongfully arrest legal resident aliens.’”

Democrats are awaiting the November wave – so what’s the message for avoiding a wipeout? The other guys are wackos. This is the argument: “The Republicans want to be mayors of crazy-town. They’ve embraced a fringe and proto-racist isolationist and ignorant conservative populism that has no solutions for fixing anything and the collective intelligence of a wine flask.” How can the voters resist?

Al Gore is in hot water: “Before all the unpleasantness, the former vice president was mainly known as the planet’s premiere environmentalist and anti-global-warming crusader. He has been a bestselling author, Oscar-winning filmmaker, successful businessman and, lest we forget, the man millions still believe should have been sworn in as president in January 2001. But now the 62-year-old Gore is tabloid fodder—notorious as a ‘crazed sex poodle.’”

Obama’s plea that he really isn’t anti-business is being drowned out: “Republicans and business groups led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have driven home the message that the Obama administration is curtailing private-sector growth. They point to tax increases proposed by the White House as well as an uncertain regulatory environment brought about by massive reforms to the healthcare sector and Wall Street. Businesses are said to be sitting on $2 trillion in income but are not hiring, partly because of the administration’s policies, according to Republicans.”

The local Pennsylvania media find Joe Sestak’s answers on earmarks to be all wet (“a vague, disingenuous attempt to polish his own credentials”): “The Democratic congressman and Senate candidate should work a little harder to reconcile taking campaign contributions from those benefiting from federal ‘earmarks’ (which direct money to be spent on specific projects) while claiming ‘a personal policy’ against doing so.”

As hopes for direct peace talks slip away, Hillary frantically “burns up the phone lines” to the players in the Middle East.

Obama’s approval ratings in Gallup continue to nosedive (45% approval, 49% disapproval).

A federal-court judge torpedoes the Arizona immigration law (a ruling certain to be appealed): “Judge [Susan] Bolton took aim at the parts of the law that have generated the most controversy, issuing a preliminary injunction against sections that called for police officers to check a person’s immigration status while enforcing other laws and that required immigrants to carry their papers at all times. Judge [Susan] Bolton put those sections on hold while she continued to hear the larger issues in the challenges to the law. ‘Preserving the status quo through a preliminary injunction is less harmful than allowing state laws that are likely pre-empted by federal law to be enforced,’ she said. ‘There is a substantial likelihood that officers will wrongfully arrest legal resident aliens.’”

Democrats are awaiting the November wave – so what’s the message for avoiding a wipeout? The other guys are wackos. This is the argument: “The Republicans want to be mayors of crazy-town. They’ve embraced a fringe and proto-racist isolationist and ignorant conservative populism that has no solutions for fixing anything and the collective intelligence of a wine flask.” How can the voters resist?

Al Gore is in hot water: “Before all the unpleasantness, the former vice president was mainly known as the planet’s premiere environmentalist and anti-global-warming crusader. He has been a bestselling author, Oscar-winning filmmaker, successful businessman and, lest we forget, the man millions still believe should have been sworn in as president in January 2001. But now the 62-year-old Gore is tabloid fodder—notorious as a ‘crazed sex poodle.’”

Obama’s plea that he really isn’t anti-business is being drowned out: “Republicans and business groups led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have driven home the message that the Obama administration is curtailing private-sector growth. They point to tax increases proposed by the White House as well as an uncertain regulatory environment brought about by massive reforms to the healthcare sector and Wall Street. Businesses are said to be sitting on $2 trillion in income but are not hiring, partly because of the administration’s policies, according to Republicans.”

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Conservatives Should Stay Smart

Some conservatives have latched onto the news that Tony West, the assistant attorney general for the Civil Division, is the lead lawyer on the Justice Department’s case regarding Arizona’s immigration law. West previously represented al-Qaeda terrorists and, as I have written about at length, thereby raised a thicket of ethical issues insofar as he now is in charge of Gitmo litigation. But the criticism of his role in the Arizona litigation is misplaced.

No conservative administration would have hired West, but the reason why Obama was wrong to do so is that it introduced a potentially crippling ethical issue with regard to terror cases and raised real concerns about how vigorously the administration would litigate on key national-security issues in which West’s sympathies clearly were with the detainees.

None of this has anything to do with the Arizona case. And as I previously argued, conservatives who are delighted by a 50-state onslaught against illegal aliens should rejoice that they can now test their position. So what  is their beef?

On this issue, some conservatives risk appearing unhinged as they rail against the latest scrap of news. When I explained to an otherwise sensible conservative that the Obama administration had a plausible and indeed potentially winning argument on preemption grounds, he snapped back, “The Constitution is not an suicide pact among the states.” This is simply nonsense. It’s bad for a system of immigration enforcement to be this wildly flouted, and we certainly need to secure the borders. But there is no national suicide remotely at issue, and opposing the Arizona law doesn’t mean you want America to drop dead.

It is this sort of hysteria and overheated blather that conservatives should be wary of. Political winds are blowing at the right’s back, but the quickest way to be knocked off course is to propound ill-conceived arguments and give voters the idea that conservatives are unsober and unserious. Let’s get focused, guys.

Some conservatives have latched onto the news that Tony West, the assistant attorney general for the Civil Division, is the lead lawyer on the Justice Department’s case regarding Arizona’s immigration law. West previously represented al-Qaeda terrorists and, as I have written about at length, thereby raised a thicket of ethical issues insofar as he now is in charge of Gitmo litigation. But the criticism of his role in the Arizona litigation is misplaced.

No conservative administration would have hired West, but the reason why Obama was wrong to do so is that it introduced a potentially crippling ethical issue with regard to terror cases and raised real concerns about how vigorously the administration would litigate on key national-security issues in which West’s sympathies clearly were with the detainees.

None of this has anything to do with the Arizona case. And as I previously argued, conservatives who are delighted by a 50-state onslaught against illegal aliens should rejoice that they can now test their position. So what  is their beef?

On this issue, some conservatives risk appearing unhinged as they rail against the latest scrap of news. When I explained to an otherwise sensible conservative that the Obama administration had a plausible and indeed potentially winning argument on preemption grounds, he snapped back, “The Constitution is not an suicide pact among the states.” This is simply nonsense. It’s bad for a system of immigration enforcement to be this wildly flouted, and we certainly need to secure the borders. But there is no national suicide remotely at issue, and opposing the Arizona law doesn’t mean you want America to drop dead.

It is this sort of hysteria and overheated blather that conservatives should be wary of. Political winds are blowing at the right’s back, but the quickest way to be knocked off course is to propound ill-conceived arguments and give voters the idea that conservatives are unsober and unserious. Let’s get focused, guys.

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RE: The Arizona Immigration Lawsuit

The Obama administration may be right on the law, but the politics of its lawsuit challenging Arizona’s immigration law are awful:

The suit could, of course, help boost turnout among Hispanic voters in key areas across the West. And stridently anti-immigrant rhetoric could turn off independent voters. Yet many foresee a midterm electorate featuring an energized Republican base — for whom the immigration issue has emerged as a priority — prompting moderate white Western voters who are concerned about jobs to decamp to the GOP at least in the short term, political observers said.

“This is a tough issue for Democrats,” said former Colorado Gov. Dick Lamm, a Democrat who is co-director of the Institute for Public Policy Studies at the University of Denver. “Politically, I just can’t think of any place in the West where this is going to play well.”

Obama started this whole political tangle, you will recall, when suddenly, with the election just months away and Hispanic support lagging, he decided to revive immigration reform as an issue. It was disingenuous from the get-go because there is no time for such an endeavor, and, in any event, he doesn’t have a bill he’s willing to propose and push through. So it’s fitting, really, as a matter of political karma, that he should get tied up in knots over a lawsuit, which exists only because states are so frustrated with federal inactivity on the issue that they’re trying out their own immigration legislation.

It seems that just about everything the Obama team tries winds up backfiring these days. I suppose governing really is different from campaigning.

The Obama administration may be right on the law, but the politics of its lawsuit challenging Arizona’s immigration law are awful:

The suit could, of course, help boost turnout among Hispanic voters in key areas across the West. And stridently anti-immigrant rhetoric could turn off independent voters. Yet many foresee a midterm electorate featuring an energized Republican base — for whom the immigration issue has emerged as a priority — prompting moderate white Western voters who are concerned about jobs to decamp to the GOP at least in the short term, political observers said.

“This is a tough issue for Democrats,” said former Colorado Gov. Dick Lamm, a Democrat who is co-director of the Institute for Public Policy Studies at the University of Denver. “Politically, I just can’t think of any place in the West where this is going to play well.”

Obama started this whole political tangle, you will recall, when suddenly, with the election just months away and Hispanic support lagging, he decided to revive immigration reform as an issue. It was disingenuous from the get-go because there is no time for such an endeavor, and, in any event, he doesn’t have a bill he’s willing to propose and push through. So it’s fitting, really, as a matter of political karma, that he should get tied up in knots over a lawsuit, which exists only because states are so frustrated with federal inactivity on the issue that they’re trying out their own immigration legislation.

It seems that just about everything the Obama team tries winds up backfiring these days. I suppose governing really is different from campaigning.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

You can’t parody Joe Biden if he’s going to talk this way: “My grandfather used to always say, ‘Joey, you have to have somebody to beat somebody.’”

You can’t get more blunt than this ad on Iran.

You can’t find any evidence of a “civil war” between conservatives in Gallup’s polling on Tea Party activists: “Americans who say they support the Tea Party movement share a common concern about government and its scope, particularly with regard to deficit spending. Their views do set them apart from those who are neutral or opposed to the Tea Party movement, but hardly distinguish them from supporters of the Republican Party more broadly.”

You can’t be seen with Obama if you’re a Democrat who wants to win in 2010: “PPP has polled on the impact of a Barack Obama endorsement in 5 key Senate races over the last month, and it’s looking more and more clear that there’s just about nowhere Democratic candidates would benefit from having the President come to campaign with them.”

You can’t miss the telltale sign that Obama is doing something unpopular: he says it’s all Eric Holder’s idea. “The White House has said the decision to challenge Arizona’s immigration law was out of its hands, left completely up to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and the lawyers at the Justice Department.”

You can’t expect the president to go, so David Axelrod will appear at a fundraiser for Tony Rezko’s banker, Alexi Giannoulias. Meanwhile: “Giannoulias’ camp released his income tax returns last Friday, which showed that the ex-banker paid neither federal nor state taxes in ’09. In fact, Giannoulias received a $30K tax return, which he promised to give to charity.”

You can’t be reading things if you want to be a cable talking head! On the lawsuit claiming that the Arizona law is pre-empted by federal immigration law, Dana Perino sanely suggests: “Perhaps we should do something novel like read the complaint before commenting … surely the administration would appreciate that courtesy?”

You can’t imagine it was a long speech: “Queen Elizabeth II of England addressed the United Nations for the first time since 1957 on Tuesday, paying homage to the organization’s accomplishments since she last stood at the famous green podium of the General Assembly.”

You can’t parody Joe Biden if he’s going to talk this way: “My grandfather used to always say, ‘Joey, you have to have somebody to beat somebody.’”

You can’t get more blunt than this ad on Iran.

You can’t find any evidence of a “civil war” between conservatives in Gallup’s polling on Tea Party activists: “Americans who say they support the Tea Party movement share a common concern about government and its scope, particularly with regard to deficit spending. Their views do set them apart from those who are neutral or opposed to the Tea Party movement, but hardly distinguish them from supporters of the Republican Party more broadly.”

You can’t be seen with Obama if you’re a Democrat who wants to win in 2010: “PPP has polled on the impact of a Barack Obama endorsement in 5 key Senate races over the last month, and it’s looking more and more clear that there’s just about nowhere Democratic candidates would benefit from having the President come to campaign with them.”

You can’t miss the telltale sign that Obama is doing something unpopular: he says it’s all Eric Holder’s idea. “The White House has said the decision to challenge Arizona’s immigration law was out of its hands, left completely up to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and the lawyers at the Justice Department.”

You can’t expect the president to go, so David Axelrod will appear at a fundraiser for Tony Rezko’s banker, Alexi Giannoulias. Meanwhile: “Giannoulias’ camp released his income tax returns last Friday, which showed that the ex-banker paid neither federal nor state taxes in ’09. In fact, Giannoulias received a $30K tax return, which he promised to give to charity.”

You can’t be reading things if you want to be a cable talking head! On the lawsuit claiming that the Arizona law is pre-empted by federal immigration law, Dana Perino sanely suggests: “Perhaps we should do something novel like read the complaint before commenting … surely the administration would appreciate that courtesy?”

You can’t imagine it was a long speech: “Queen Elizabeth II of England addressed the United Nations for the first time since 1957 on Tuesday, paying homage to the organization’s accomplishments since she last stood at the famous green podium of the General Assembly.”

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Gov. Bob McDonnell better get some decent staff. First, he leaves slavery out of a Confederate History Month proclamation, and then he hires Fred Malek without knowing that “in 1971 [he] compiled a list of Jews in the Bureau of Labor Statistics at the president’s request, an action that has been the subject of numerous articles and for which Malek has repeatedly apologized” or that Malek “recently paid a $100,000 civil fine related to his firm’s work with Connecticut’s pension fund.” Unforced errors will kill you in baseball and in politics.

Elena Kagan better reveal more about her judicial philosophy or a bunch of senators are going to oppose her nomination. After all, “senators, interest groups and the media [are trying] to piece together a portrait of the solicitor general’s views from scraps of speeches, scholarly articles and actions as a member of two Democratic administrations. Because Kagan, 50, has never been a judge and has not published a major work since 2001, her record lacks the ‘paper trail’ that other nominees in recent years have had. But it also seems at times contradictory, or at least ambiguous.”

Obama better be willing to send more than 1,200 National Guard troops to secure the border. Not even CBS News thinks it’s enough. “Some law enforcement officials along the border said they worry that Mr. Obama will repeat Bush’s mistake by limiting the troops to support roles, such as conducting surveillance and installing lighting, rather than letting them make arrests and confront smugglers. They also believe the scale of the force — one-fifth of the size of the one sent by Bush — is too small to make a difference along the length of the 2,000-mile border.”  I’m not in favor of the Arizona immigration law, but it sure did get Obama’s attention.

Obama better pay attention to this poll: “Forty-five percent disapprove of the Obama administration’s handling of the spill while 35 percent approve.” And that’s the New York Times survey.

Obama better hope Democratic senators don’t pay attention to the polls: “A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 41% of U.S. voters now hold a favorable opinion of Kagan but 47% view her unfavorably, up from 43% a week ago and 39% just after President Obama announced her nomination. … With Senate hearings on Kagan’s nomination set to begin June 28, 36% of voters now favor her confirmation, but 39% are opposed. One-out-of-four (25%) are undecided.” For Democrats wanting to show their independence from Obama, why not vote no?

You better keep an eye on Chris Christie: “Governor Christie on Tuesday told a borough teacher to find another job if she did not feel she was compensated enough as he defended his state budget cuts and promoted a plan to cap annual growth in property tax collections. … ‘Your union said that is the greatest assault on public education in the history of the state,’ Christie said. ‘That’s why the union has no credibility, stupid statements like that.’” He keeps that up and they’ll be a “Draft Christie” movement in 2012.

Obama better knock off the self-pity — Americans don’t like whiners: Daniel Halper on Obama’s comment that this is the hardest year and a half of any president: “It shows his self-absorption and utter lack of a sense of history. … Obama’s whining is puerile. One does hope it’s been the toughest year and a half he’s ever had. He is the president, and it’s a job that requires a bit of work. But to treat the previous presidents with so little respect is unbecoming.” And this was the candidate with a “superior temperament.”

The Democrats better lock away Joe Biden and Richard Blumenthal: “Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday took an unexpected dig at Democratic Senate candidate Richard Blumenthal for misstating his military service record. … ‘I didn’t serve in Vietnam. I don’t want to make a Blumenthal mistake here,’ he said according to a pool report. ‘Our attorney general from Connecticut, God love him.’” I don’t necessarily see Obama sticking with Biden in 2012, do you?

Gov. Bob McDonnell better get some decent staff. First, he leaves slavery out of a Confederate History Month proclamation, and then he hires Fred Malek without knowing that “in 1971 [he] compiled a list of Jews in the Bureau of Labor Statistics at the president’s request, an action that has been the subject of numerous articles and for which Malek has repeatedly apologized” or that Malek “recently paid a $100,000 civil fine related to his firm’s work with Connecticut’s pension fund.” Unforced errors will kill you in baseball and in politics.

Elena Kagan better reveal more about her judicial philosophy or a bunch of senators are going to oppose her nomination. After all, “senators, interest groups and the media [are trying] to piece together a portrait of the solicitor general’s views from scraps of speeches, scholarly articles and actions as a member of two Democratic administrations. Because Kagan, 50, has never been a judge and has not published a major work since 2001, her record lacks the ‘paper trail’ that other nominees in recent years have had. But it also seems at times contradictory, or at least ambiguous.”

Obama better be willing to send more than 1,200 National Guard troops to secure the border. Not even CBS News thinks it’s enough. “Some law enforcement officials along the border said they worry that Mr. Obama will repeat Bush’s mistake by limiting the troops to support roles, such as conducting surveillance and installing lighting, rather than letting them make arrests and confront smugglers. They also believe the scale of the force — one-fifth of the size of the one sent by Bush — is too small to make a difference along the length of the 2,000-mile border.”  I’m not in favor of the Arizona immigration law, but it sure did get Obama’s attention.

Obama better pay attention to this poll: “Forty-five percent disapprove of the Obama administration’s handling of the spill while 35 percent approve.” And that’s the New York Times survey.

Obama better hope Democratic senators don’t pay attention to the polls: “A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 41% of U.S. voters now hold a favorable opinion of Kagan but 47% view her unfavorably, up from 43% a week ago and 39% just after President Obama announced her nomination. … With Senate hearings on Kagan’s nomination set to begin June 28, 36% of voters now favor her confirmation, but 39% are opposed. One-out-of-four (25%) are undecided.” For Democrats wanting to show their independence from Obama, why not vote no?

You better keep an eye on Chris Christie: “Governor Christie on Tuesday told a borough teacher to find another job if she did not feel she was compensated enough as he defended his state budget cuts and promoted a plan to cap annual growth in property tax collections. … ‘Your union said that is the greatest assault on public education in the history of the state,’ Christie said. ‘That’s why the union has no credibility, stupid statements like that.’” He keeps that up and they’ll be a “Draft Christie” movement in 2012.

Obama better knock off the self-pity — Americans don’t like whiners: Daniel Halper on Obama’s comment that this is the hardest year and a half of any president: “It shows his self-absorption and utter lack of a sense of history. … Obama’s whining is puerile. One does hope it’s been the toughest year and a half he’s ever had. He is the president, and it’s a job that requires a bit of work. But to treat the previous presidents with so little respect is unbecoming.” And this was the candidate with a “superior temperament.”

The Democrats better lock away Joe Biden and Richard Blumenthal: “Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday took an unexpected dig at Democratic Senate candidate Richard Blumenthal for misstating his military service record. … ‘I didn’t serve in Vietnam. I don’t want to make a Blumenthal mistake here,’ he said according to a pool report. ‘Our attorney general from Connecticut, God love him.’” I don’t necessarily see Obama sticking with Biden in 2012, do you?

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Flotsam and Jetsam

A couple of good questions (which should have been asked before the bill was passed): “Now that Congress has imposed new requirements on health insurance plans, regulators are trying to resolve another big question: Which plans must comply with the requirements? In keeping with President Obama’s promise that you can hold on to your insurance if you like it, the new law exempts existing health plans from many of its provisions. But the law leaves it to regulators to decide how much a health plan can change without giving up its grandfathered status. In other words, when does a health plan cease to be the same health plan?”

A very belated apology: Ben Smith writes, “Richard Blumenthal’s defiance got him through his first day, but his most expansive apology yet — to the Courant — indicates both that the damage isn’t controlled, and that he himself thinks he has something to apologize for.” Sort of like Bill Clinton: apologize when you’ve exhausted all other possibilities.

A boffo suggestion: “Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner (N.Y.) called on the White House on Monday to detail conversations it allegedly had with Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) to try to convince him to drop his Senate bid. Weiner said that allegations that White House officials had offered Sestak an administration job in exchange for his dropping of his primary bid against Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) had become a growing political liability. ‘I think what the White House should do is, to some degree, say, ‘Here are the facts,’ Weiner said Monday morning during an appearance on MSNBC. ‘If there’s not a lot [to] what’s going on here, then just say what happened.’” Like be transparent?

A new stonewall in a long series of stonewalls (e.g., Fort Hood, Black Panthers): Reid Wilson writes that the GOP “is pleased” Sestak won since it can pummel the job-offer scandal. “GOPers have used the issue to raise questions about the WH’s honesty, transparency and ethics. … The stonewalling has gone to incredible lengths. On Thursday, Gibbs parried with reporters 13 times, refusing to address Sestak’s claims, referring to previous comments he made in March. The refusal to talk about Sestak at all has given GOPers an opening.”

An excellent inquiry: Bill Kristol on Fox News Sunday: “President Obama spent much more time talking about this immigration law in Arizona and spent much more time talking with President Calderon of Mexico about it than with the governor of Arizona, whom he’s never had the courtesy to call and say, ‘Well, would you like to make a case for the law to me — make the case to me for the law before I go around trashing it?’” Well, he didn’t get the facts before trashing the Cambridge police in Gatesgate either. He tends to avoid getting information from those with whom he disagrees.

A savvy political calculation (subscription required): “The House Democratic freshmen who rose to power riding then-candidate Barack Obama’s coattails are now eager to strut their independence heading into the midterms. Some rookies opposed Obama’s cap-and-trade climate change bill; others rejected his health care plan. But even those Members who backed all of the president’s signature initiatives are ready to show that they can win their first re-election bids without leaning on Obama’s star power. ‘You have to be an independent, no matter what,’ Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper said.”

A keen insight: “Despite his newfound prominence, Todd, like his colleagues, has limited access to the man he is covering. ‘Obama himself is the one who doesn’t like dealing with the press,’ he says, exonerating the White House staff. ‘You can’t even do shouted questions.’” Now he has to actually report on that, not just offer it to Howard Kurtz in a puff piece on himself.

A near-certain pickup for the Republicans: “Governor John Hoeven now has the support of nearly three-out-of-four North Dakota voters in his bid to be the state’s next U.S. senator. The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Voters in North Dakota finds Hoeven earning 72% support, while his Democratic opponent State Senator Tracy Potter picks up 23%.” Yeah, 72 percent. (Looks like the statewide House seat is a goner for the Democrats too.)

A vote of no-confidence: “Confidence in America’s efforts in the War on Terror has fallen again this month, and, following the unsuccessful terrorist bombing attempt in New York’s Times Square, more voters than ever now believe the nation is not safer today than it was before the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that only 31% now believe the United States is safer today than it was before 9/11, down seven points from last month and the lowest level of confidence measured in over three years of regular tracking.”

A couple of good questions (which should have been asked before the bill was passed): “Now that Congress has imposed new requirements on health insurance plans, regulators are trying to resolve another big question: Which plans must comply with the requirements? In keeping with President Obama’s promise that you can hold on to your insurance if you like it, the new law exempts existing health plans from many of its provisions. But the law leaves it to regulators to decide how much a health plan can change without giving up its grandfathered status. In other words, when does a health plan cease to be the same health plan?”

A very belated apology: Ben Smith writes, “Richard Blumenthal’s defiance got him through his first day, but his most expansive apology yet — to the Courant — indicates both that the damage isn’t controlled, and that he himself thinks he has something to apologize for.” Sort of like Bill Clinton: apologize when you’ve exhausted all other possibilities.

A boffo suggestion: “Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner (N.Y.) called on the White House on Monday to detail conversations it allegedly had with Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) to try to convince him to drop his Senate bid. Weiner said that allegations that White House officials had offered Sestak an administration job in exchange for his dropping of his primary bid against Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) had become a growing political liability. ‘I think what the White House should do is, to some degree, say, ‘Here are the facts,’ Weiner said Monday morning during an appearance on MSNBC. ‘If there’s not a lot [to] what’s going on here, then just say what happened.’” Like be transparent?

A new stonewall in a long series of stonewalls (e.g., Fort Hood, Black Panthers): Reid Wilson writes that the GOP “is pleased” Sestak won since it can pummel the job-offer scandal. “GOPers have used the issue to raise questions about the WH’s honesty, transparency and ethics. … The stonewalling has gone to incredible lengths. On Thursday, Gibbs parried with reporters 13 times, refusing to address Sestak’s claims, referring to previous comments he made in March. The refusal to talk about Sestak at all has given GOPers an opening.”

An excellent inquiry: Bill Kristol on Fox News Sunday: “President Obama spent much more time talking about this immigration law in Arizona and spent much more time talking with President Calderon of Mexico about it than with the governor of Arizona, whom he’s never had the courtesy to call and say, ‘Well, would you like to make a case for the law to me — make the case to me for the law before I go around trashing it?’” Well, he didn’t get the facts before trashing the Cambridge police in Gatesgate either. He tends to avoid getting information from those with whom he disagrees.

A savvy political calculation (subscription required): “The House Democratic freshmen who rose to power riding then-candidate Barack Obama’s coattails are now eager to strut their independence heading into the midterms. Some rookies opposed Obama’s cap-and-trade climate change bill; others rejected his health care plan. But even those Members who backed all of the president’s signature initiatives are ready to show that they can win their first re-election bids without leaning on Obama’s star power. ‘You have to be an independent, no matter what,’ Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper said.”

A keen insight: “Despite his newfound prominence, Todd, like his colleagues, has limited access to the man he is covering. ‘Obama himself is the one who doesn’t like dealing with the press,’ he says, exonerating the White House staff. ‘You can’t even do shouted questions.’” Now he has to actually report on that, not just offer it to Howard Kurtz in a puff piece on himself.

A near-certain pickup for the Republicans: “Governor John Hoeven now has the support of nearly three-out-of-four North Dakota voters in his bid to be the state’s next U.S. senator. The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Voters in North Dakota finds Hoeven earning 72% support, while his Democratic opponent State Senator Tracy Potter picks up 23%.” Yeah, 72 percent. (Looks like the statewide House seat is a goner for the Democrats too.)

A vote of no-confidence: “Confidence in America’s efforts in the War on Terror has fallen again this month, and, following the unsuccessful terrorist bombing attempt in New York’s Times Square, more voters than ever now believe the nation is not safer today than it was before the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that only 31% now believe the United States is safer today than it was before 9/11, down seven points from last month and the lowest level of confidence measured in over three years of regular tracking.”

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Race Profiling in Immigration Enforcement

In several important posts, Roger Clegg, who heads the Center for Equal Opportunity, lays out the case (or one of them) against the Arizona immigration law. Comparing the use of race in admissions with immigration-enforcement profiling, he writes:

In both instances, the government is treating people differently because of skin color or what country someone (or someone’s ancestors) came from. Constitutional problems aside — and they are considerable — in an increasingly multiethnic and multiracial society, it is untenable to have a regime that sorts people by race and ethnicity, and treats some better and others worse on that basis. … I have also written that an exception should be made in the terrorism context: Law-enforcement officials are entitled to be cut some slack when they are trying to stop mass murder and win wars. But I have stood by my earlier position that the costs of official racial discrimination are not justified just because the police may think it gives them an edge in fighting street crime.

And it is certainly not justified when the target is suspected not of mass murder, not of dealing drugs, but of nothing more than coming to this country (yes, illegally) to find work and a better way of life for himself and his family.

In short, even if it is constitutional, it is bad policy to use race (or extend such latitude to law-enforcement officers) in matters that don’t involve life and death. Clegg notes that the law was actually amended so that, “on its face at least, it bans racial profiling.” But in practice, there is real concern that race will be the overwhelming factor on which the police rely to identify, stop, and check for proof of citizenship.

To be honest, part of this debate turns on how serious a problem you consider illegal immigration to be. Clegg continues, distinguishing routine immigration enforcement from the war on Islamic jihadists:

The problem of illegal immigration from Mexico is not really that kind of enterprise. It’s troublesome to say the police can identify a Mexican (or Italian, etc.) by appearance, and I’m uneasy letting the government define a problem in narrowly racial terms and then claim that it is entitled to consider race in combating it. This is like a police department saying that it is concerned about black drug dealers (they are the ones selling the drugs in its jurisdiction), and so it will target blacks. But most importantly, all this really goes again to the permissibility of considering race as a matter of law, and doesn’t answer my concerns about the divisiveness of this sort of discrimination as a matter of policy.

Clegg, who is a fearless opponent of racial preferences and quotas, sounds an important warning. Conservatives who chastise liberals for reliance on race to achieve their desired social ends (a more inclusive society, narrowing gaps between rich and poor) should be very wary of  supporting race for ends conservatives favor. Opposition to the Arizona law both on this basis and on preemption grounds isn’t, frankly, the politically popular position, as poll after poll has shown. Still, it’s a principled one for those who want to maintain the concept that only in the most dire circumstances should the state classify citizens by race. For those who claim that illegal immigration is just such a problem, I can only respectfully disagree. We have real life-and-death enemies, and the vast number of illegal immigrants don’t fall into that category.

In several important posts, Roger Clegg, who heads the Center for Equal Opportunity, lays out the case (or one of them) against the Arizona immigration law. Comparing the use of race in admissions with immigration-enforcement profiling, he writes:

In both instances, the government is treating people differently because of skin color or what country someone (or someone’s ancestors) came from. Constitutional problems aside — and they are considerable — in an increasingly multiethnic and multiracial society, it is untenable to have a regime that sorts people by race and ethnicity, and treats some better and others worse on that basis. … I have also written that an exception should be made in the terrorism context: Law-enforcement officials are entitled to be cut some slack when they are trying to stop mass murder and win wars. But I have stood by my earlier position that the costs of official racial discrimination are not justified just because the police may think it gives them an edge in fighting street crime.

And it is certainly not justified when the target is suspected not of mass murder, not of dealing drugs, but of nothing more than coming to this country (yes, illegally) to find work and a better way of life for himself and his family.

In short, even if it is constitutional, it is bad policy to use race (or extend such latitude to law-enforcement officers) in matters that don’t involve life and death. Clegg notes that the law was actually amended so that, “on its face at least, it bans racial profiling.” But in practice, there is real concern that race will be the overwhelming factor on which the police rely to identify, stop, and check for proof of citizenship.

To be honest, part of this debate turns on how serious a problem you consider illegal immigration to be. Clegg continues, distinguishing routine immigration enforcement from the war on Islamic jihadists:

The problem of illegal immigration from Mexico is not really that kind of enterprise. It’s troublesome to say the police can identify a Mexican (or Italian, etc.) by appearance, and I’m uneasy letting the government define a problem in narrowly racial terms and then claim that it is entitled to consider race in combating it. This is like a police department saying that it is concerned about black drug dealers (they are the ones selling the drugs in its jurisdiction), and so it will target blacks. But most importantly, all this really goes again to the permissibility of considering race as a matter of law, and doesn’t answer my concerns about the divisiveness of this sort of discrimination as a matter of policy.

Clegg, who is a fearless opponent of racial preferences and quotas, sounds an important warning. Conservatives who chastise liberals for reliance on race to achieve their desired social ends (a more inclusive society, narrowing gaps between rich and poor) should be very wary of  supporting race for ends conservatives favor. Opposition to the Arizona law both on this basis and on preemption grounds isn’t, frankly, the politically popular position, as poll after poll has shown. Still, it’s a principled one for those who want to maintain the concept that only in the most dire circumstances should the state classify citizens by race. For those who claim that illegal immigration is just such a problem, I can only respectfully disagree. We have real life-and-death enemies, and the vast number of illegal immigrants don’t fall into that category.

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RE: On Arizona’s Immigration Law

Pete, I agree that much of the rhetoric coming from critics of the Arizona immigration law is overblown and unhelpful to their cause. But I think there are serious infirmities with the law and reasons for conservatives to oppose it. Your misgivings are well-founded, and I’d add a couple additional thoughts.

For starters, the Arizona statute is almost certainly preempted by federal immigration law and, therefore, unconstitutional. As a general matter, and especially under an administration that is often indifferent to the rule of law, conservatives — whatever they think of the merits of a certain policy — should be wary of measures that run afoul of constitutional standards. I appreciate the frustration felt by citizens and state officials burdened with an unsecured border, but the solution is not for 50 states to devise 50 versions of immigration law.

Moreover, in practice,  the enforcement will almost certainly single out one group of people — Hispanics. A Hispanic man standing on a street corner looking for day-labor work who looks nervous when a police car pulls up will be a potential target for a “reasonable suspicion” stop. Caucasians won’t be. That’s implicitly acknowledged by the bill, which permits race to be a factor in a reasonable suspicion stop to the extent permitted by law. (Good luck to the Arizona cops who have to puzzle that one through.) It’s not a hard standard to meet, and the overwhelming number of stops will be of Hispanics, some (many?) of whom are not illegal aliens. The notion that a particular ethnic group will be disproportionately impacted — perhaps exclusively impacted — should concern us.

Some conservatives are not at all bothered by this because,  as they point out, most illegal aliens in Arizona are Hispanic. But a high percentage is not, and hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Hispanics are now going to face police scrutiny because of their ethnicity. Well, isn’t this like racial profiling for terrorists? No. The risk here is not that an airplane will be blown from the sky (a legitimate reason, in my mind, to engage in some racial profiling when it comes to Islamic terrorism) but that some illegal aliens who won’t be detected by federal immigration authorities will remain in the U.S. for some additional period of time. From my perspective, that’s not a good enough reason to turn Arizona cops into immigration-enforcement agents. And frankly, it deflects attention from the federal government’s deficient immigration enforcement.

Do I favor border enforcement first, some method for addressing the status of millions of those already here, and a liberal legal immigration policy? Yes. But this sure isn’t the way to get there.

Pete, I agree that much of the rhetoric coming from critics of the Arizona immigration law is overblown and unhelpful to their cause. But I think there are serious infirmities with the law and reasons for conservatives to oppose it. Your misgivings are well-founded, and I’d add a couple additional thoughts.

For starters, the Arizona statute is almost certainly preempted by federal immigration law and, therefore, unconstitutional. As a general matter, and especially under an administration that is often indifferent to the rule of law, conservatives — whatever they think of the merits of a certain policy — should be wary of measures that run afoul of constitutional standards. I appreciate the frustration felt by citizens and state officials burdened with an unsecured border, but the solution is not for 50 states to devise 50 versions of immigration law.

Moreover, in practice,  the enforcement will almost certainly single out one group of people — Hispanics. A Hispanic man standing on a street corner looking for day-labor work who looks nervous when a police car pulls up will be a potential target for a “reasonable suspicion” stop. Caucasians won’t be. That’s implicitly acknowledged by the bill, which permits race to be a factor in a reasonable suspicion stop to the extent permitted by law. (Good luck to the Arizona cops who have to puzzle that one through.) It’s not a hard standard to meet, and the overwhelming number of stops will be of Hispanics, some (many?) of whom are not illegal aliens. The notion that a particular ethnic group will be disproportionately impacted — perhaps exclusively impacted — should concern us.

Some conservatives are not at all bothered by this because,  as they point out, most illegal aliens in Arizona are Hispanic. But a high percentage is not, and hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Hispanics are now going to face police scrutiny because of their ethnicity. Well, isn’t this like racial profiling for terrorists? No. The risk here is not that an airplane will be blown from the sky (a legitimate reason, in my mind, to engage in some racial profiling when it comes to Islamic terrorism) but that some illegal aliens who won’t be detected by federal immigration authorities will remain in the U.S. for some additional period of time. From my perspective, that’s not a good enough reason to turn Arizona cops into immigration-enforcement agents. And frankly, it deflects attention from the federal government’s deficient immigration enforcement.

Do I favor border enforcement first, some method for addressing the status of millions of those already here, and a liberal legal immigration policy? Yes. But this sure isn’t the way to get there.

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On Arizona’s Immigration Law

Michael Gerson of the Washington Post and Byron York of the Washington Examiner, two bright men, have engaged in a constructive debate about the Arizona immigration law. You can find the back and forth between them here, here, and here.

My own sense of the law, which is carefully written, is that it’s not nearly as draconian as its critics insist — and much of what defenders of the law have been saying about its actual meaning and effect is in fact correct. The law does not give police the right to stop anyone they want to ask for papers solely based on race or ethnicity. The charges that this law is driven by racism and that Arizona has become a “police state” are extreme and reckless. The vast majority of the people of Arizona are responding to a real and present danger — and most of the American public agrees with them (51 percent v. 39 percent, according to Gallup).

Still, I would oppose the law (as does Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Mike Huckabee, and Karl Rove, among others) on the grounds that it potentially changes for the worse the relationship between the community and the local and state police and risks treating some people as guilty until proven innocent. The Arizona law, in my estimation, nudges things a bit in that direction, which concerns me.

In the hands of responsible police officers — which is to say the vast majority of police officers — it won’t lead to abuse. In the hands of less than responsible police officers, it could, I fear, lead to trouble. The real-world effect of the law — and perhaps its unstated intentions — will be to allow police to heighten scrutiny on Hispanics in the hopes of easing the very real illegal immigration problem. That is the tension inherent in this law. To give priority to one concern over the other doesn’t mean the other argument is invalid or supported by ignorant or malevolent forces.

The final verdict on the Arizona law, I think, depends on how the law plays out in practice. So my judgment on its relative merits and demerits is tentative and open to revision, depending on what we learn from its experience — and this, in turn, depends on which parts of the law passes judicial and constitutional muster.

It’s all pretty wishy-washy, I know, but there you go.

Michael Gerson of the Washington Post and Byron York of the Washington Examiner, two bright men, have engaged in a constructive debate about the Arizona immigration law. You can find the back and forth between them here, here, and here.

My own sense of the law, which is carefully written, is that it’s not nearly as draconian as its critics insist — and much of what defenders of the law have been saying about its actual meaning and effect is in fact correct. The law does not give police the right to stop anyone they want to ask for papers solely based on race or ethnicity. The charges that this law is driven by racism and that Arizona has become a “police state” are extreme and reckless. The vast majority of the people of Arizona are responding to a real and present danger — and most of the American public agrees with them (51 percent v. 39 percent, according to Gallup).

Still, I would oppose the law (as does Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Mike Huckabee, and Karl Rove, among others) on the grounds that it potentially changes for the worse the relationship between the community and the local and state police and risks treating some people as guilty until proven innocent. The Arizona law, in my estimation, nudges things a bit in that direction, which concerns me.

In the hands of responsible police officers — which is to say the vast majority of police officers — it won’t lead to abuse. In the hands of less than responsible police officers, it could, I fear, lead to trouble. The real-world effect of the law — and perhaps its unstated intentions — will be to allow police to heighten scrutiny on Hispanics in the hopes of easing the very real illegal immigration problem. That is the tension inherent in this law. To give priority to one concern over the other doesn’t mean the other argument is invalid or supported by ignorant or malevolent forces.

The final verdict on the Arizona law, I think, depends on how the law plays out in practice. So my judgment on its relative merits and demerits is tentative and open to revision, depending on what we learn from its experience — and this, in turn, depends on which parts of the law passes judicial and constitutional muster.

It’s all pretty wishy-washy, I know, but there you go.

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Broder Leaves Obama Out of the Immigration Culprits

David Broder thinks the Arizona immigration law is a very bad law. He goes looking for those responsible:

What has been missing from the discussion is any apparent recognition of those responsible for killing the last effort at comprehensive federal immigration reform that would have headed off the need for this kind of punitive state action.

And he finds a list of conservative opponents of immigration reform, finding “the blame for this mess rests with those who killed that bill.” But hmm. Who is missing from this tale of irresponsibility? Let’s recall what Chicago Sun Times reporter Lynn Sweet wrote in  2008:

Obama “did not absolutely stand out in any way,’’ said Margaret Sands Orchowski, the author of “Immigration and the American Dream: Battling the Political Hype and Hysteria,” and a close follower of the legislation.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a McCain ally and a key player on immigration, said Obama was around for only a “handful” of meetings and helped destroy a 2007 compromise when he voted for making guest worker visa programs temporary. A permanent guest worker program was to be a trade for a legalization program to cover many illegal immigrants.

“When it came time to putting that bill together, he was more of a problem than he was a help. And when it came time to try to get the bill passed, he, in my opinion, broke the agreement we had. He was in the photo op, but he could not execute the hard part of the deal,” Graham said,” Graham said.

So will Broder add Obama to the list of culprits? Well, here’s an easy way for Obama to redeem himself: have the McCain-Kennedy bill reintroduced and fight for its passage. After all, there is a large Democratic majority now. Or does Obama want an issue, and not a bill? We’ll find out whether he’s up to his old tricks — or whether he really is interested in solving the immigration problem, which Arizona and the other states must cope with.

David Broder thinks the Arizona immigration law is a very bad law. He goes looking for those responsible:

What has been missing from the discussion is any apparent recognition of those responsible for killing the last effort at comprehensive federal immigration reform that would have headed off the need for this kind of punitive state action.

And he finds a list of conservative opponents of immigration reform, finding “the blame for this mess rests with those who killed that bill.” But hmm. Who is missing from this tale of irresponsibility? Let’s recall what Chicago Sun Times reporter Lynn Sweet wrote in  2008:

Obama “did not absolutely stand out in any way,’’ said Margaret Sands Orchowski, the author of “Immigration and the American Dream: Battling the Political Hype and Hysteria,” and a close follower of the legislation.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a McCain ally and a key player on immigration, said Obama was around for only a “handful” of meetings and helped destroy a 2007 compromise when he voted for making guest worker visa programs temporary. A permanent guest worker program was to be a trade for a legalization program to cover many illegal immigrants.

“When it came time to putting that bill together, he was more of a problem than he was a help. And when it came time to try to get the bill passed, he, in my opinion, broke the agreement we had. He was in the photo op, but he could not execute the hard part of the deal,” Graham said,” Graham said.

So will Broder add Obama to the list of culprits? Well, here’s an easy way for Obama to redeem himself: have the McCain-Kennedy bill reintroduced and fight for its passage. After all, there is a large Democratic majority now. Or does Obama want an issue, and not a bill? We’ll find out whether he’s up to his old tricks — or whether he really is interested in solving the immigration problem, which Arizona and the other states must cope with.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Harry Reid has even managed to stiffen Olympia Snowe’s spine: “For a second day in row, Democrats failed to open debate on a Wall Street reform bill after Senate Republicans held ranks to block it. The vote was 57 to 41, with all Republicans who were present voting no. Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) was the lone Democrat to vote no on Monday, and he voted no again. … In fact, some of the moderates who might be most likely to vote yes — such as Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe — have expressed displeasure that Reid is forcing the votes even as bipartisan negotiations on the bill go forward.”

Tom Goldstein thinks Obama will pick Elena Kagan for the Supreme Court. Among his smart observations: “Elena Kagan has significant demonstrated success in working with conservatives at Harvard Law School, which is an exceptionally challenging environment, and has parallels to the relationships at the Court. But she has never been a judge, and would as a consequence presumably take longer than the others to adapt to the new role.”

Israel isn’t going to buy into “containment” if that’s where Obama is heading with Iran: “Defense Minister Ehud Barak said the world cannot afford to wait too long to see if Iran backs down on its nuclear program while in Washington on Tuesday. In a news conference with Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Barak said he supports the US focus on tougher economic sanctions against Teheran, but he added that only time will tell to what extent sanctions are effective in persuading Iran to give up its nuclear ambitions. Barak says that if the international community waits too long, Iran could acquire a nuclear weapon that he says would ‘change the landscape,’ and not just of the Middle East.”

According to Robert Gates, “Syria and Iran are providing Hezbollah with so many rockets that they are at a point where they have more missiles than most governments in the world.” So what are we going to do about it?

Not remotely the most transparent administration in history: “The Obama administration has only partially complied with congressional subpoenas for information on the deadly November shootings at Fort Hood, Texas. The failure by the Defense and Justice departments to turn over all the requested documentation — which they say they do not intend to do — is not likely to ease the growing tension between some key senators and the Obama administration over the incident at the Army base on Nov. 5, 2009.”

Jeb Bush speaks out against Arizona’s immigration law. “I think it creates unintended consequences. … It’s difficult for me to imagine how you’re going to enforce this law. It places a significant burden on local law enforcement and you have civil liberties issues that are significant as well.”

Michael Gerson: “American states have broad powers. But they are not permitted their own foreign or immigration policy. One reason is that immigration law concerns not only the treatment of illegal immigrants but also the proper treatment of American citizens. And here the Arizona law fails badly. … Americans are not accustomed to the command ‘Your papers, please,’ however politely delivered. The distinctly American response to such a request would be ‘Go to hell,’ and then ‘See you in court.’”

The Obami’s multilaterialism fetish continues: “Step by tentative step, the Obama Administration is getting closer to embracing the International Criminal Court. The White House won’t join the Hague-based body soon, but that’s its logical endpoint. Answerable to virtually no one, the ICC was created by the 1998 United Nations’s Rome Statute to prosecute war and other ‘serious’ crimes.”

Harry Reid has even managed to stiffen Olympia Snowe’s spine: “For a second day in row, Democrats failed to open debate on a Wall Street reform bill after Senate Republicans held ranks to block it. The vote was 57 to 41, with all Republicans who were present voting no. Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) was the lone Democrat to vote no on Monday, and he voted no again. … In fact, some of the moderates who might be most likely to vote yes — such as Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe — have expressed displeasure that Reid is forcing the votes even as bipartisan negotiations on the bill go forward.”

Tom Goldstein thinks Obama will pick Elena Kagan for the Supreme Court. Among his smart observations: “Elena Kagan has significant demonstrated success in working with conservatives at Harvard Law School, which is an exceptionally challenging environment, and has parallels to the relationships at the Court. But she has never been a judge, and would as a consequence presumably take longer than the others to adapt to the new role.”

Israel isn’t going to buy into “containment” if that’s where Obama is heading with Iran: “Defense Minister Ehud Barak said the world cannot afford to wait too long to see if Iran backs down on its nuclear program while in Washington on Tuesday. In a news conference with Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Barak said he supports the US focus on tougher economic sanctions against Teheran, but he added that only time will tell to what extent sanctions are effective in persuading Iran to give up its nuclear ambitions. Barak says that if the international community waits too long, Iran could acquire a nuclear weapon that he says would ‘change the landscape,’ and not just of the Middle East.”

According to Robert Gates, “Syria and Iran are providing Hezbollah with so many rockets that they are at a point where they have more missiles than most governments in the world.” So what are we going to do about it?

Not remotely the most transparent administration in history: “The Obama administration has only partially complied with congressional subpoenas for information on the deadly November shootings at Fort Hood, Texas. The failure by the Defense and Justice departments to turn over all the requested documentation — which they say they do not intend to do — is not likely to ease the growing tension between some key senators and the Obama administration over the incident at the Army base on Nov. 5, 2009.”

Jeb Bush speaks out against Arizona’s immigration law. “I think it creates unintended consequences. … It’s difficult for me to imagine how you’re going to enforce this law. It places a significant burden on local law enforcement and you have civil liberties issues that are significant as well.”

Michael Gerson: “American states have broad powers. But they are not permitted their own foreign or immigration policy. One reason is that immigration law concerns not only the treatment of illegal immigrants but also the proper treatment of American citizens. And here the Arizona law fails badly. … Americans are not accustomed to the command ‘Your papers, please,’ however politely delivered. The distinctly American response to such a request would be ‘Go to hell,’ and then ‘See you in court.’”

The Obami’s multilaterialism fetish continues: “Step by tentative step, the Obama Administration is getting closer to embracing the International Criminal Court. The White House won’t join the Hague-based body soon, but that’s its logical endpoint. Answerable to virtually no one, the ICC was created by the 1998 United Nations’s Rome Statute to prosecute war and other ‘serious’ crimes.”

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RE: RE: Grandstanding on Immigration

Well, one politician who’s not playing to the crowd on the Arizona immigration law is Marco Rubio. At the risk of incurring the ire of his base, he’s come out with a conservative critique of the bill:

Our legal immigration system must continue to welcome those who seek to embrace America’s blessings and abide by the legal and orderly system that is in place. The American people have every right to expect the federal government to secure our borders and prevent illegal immigration. It has become all too easy for some in Washington to ignore the desperation and urgency of those like the citizens of Arizona who are disproportionately wrestling with this problem as well as the violence, drug trafficking and lawlessness that spills over from across the border.

States certainly have the right to enact policies to protect their citizens, but Arizona’s policy shows the difficulty and limitations of states trying to act piecemeal to solve what is a serious federal problem. From what I have read in news reports, I do have concerns about this legislation. While I don’t believe Arizona’s policy was based on anything other than trying to get a handle on our broken borders, I think aspects of the law, especially that dealing with ‘reasonable suspicion,’ are going to put our law enforcement officers in an incredibly difficult position. It could also unreasonably single out people who are here legally, including many American citizens. Throughout American history and throughout this administration we have seen that when government is given an inch it takes a mile.

In other words, the federal government should do its job in protecting the border and conservatives, of all people, should be wary of giving new and ill-defined policing power to the government. Will Rubio take a hit with his base on this? Perhaps. But if they are listening closely, they will see that he’s making a reasoned case for immigration reform that begins with border control. He’s also, at least so far, the anomaly in this debate: someone who takes seriously the constitutional and legal issues and is unwilling to score cheap political points for the sake of revving up his supporters. I suspect he’ll be a lonely voice on this one.

Well, one politician who’s not playing to the crowd on the Arizona immigration law is Marco Rubio. At the risk of incurring the ire of his base, he’s come out with a conservative critique of the bill:

Our legal immigration system must continue to welcome those who seek to embrace America’s blessings and abide by the legal and orderly system that is in place. The American people have every right to expect the federal government to secure our borders and prevent illegal immigration. It has become all too easy for some in Washington to ignore the desperation and urgency of those like the citizens of Arizona who are disproportionately wrestling with this problem as well as the violence, drug trafficking and lawlessness that spills over from across the border.

States certainly have the right to enact policies to protect their citizens, but Arizona’s policy shows the difficulty and limitations of states trying to act piecemeal to solve what is a serious federal problem. From what I have read in news reports, I do have concerns about this legislation. While I don’t believe Arizona’s policy was based on anything other than trying to get a handle on our broken borders, I think aspects of the law, especially that dealing with ‘reasonable suspicion,’ are going to put our law enforcement officers in an incredibly difficult position. It could also unreasonably single out people who are here legally, including many American citizens. Throughout American history and throughout this administration we have seen that when government is given an inch it takes a mile.

In other words, the federal government should do its job in protecting the border and conservatives, of all people, should be wary of giving new and ill-defined policing power to the government. Will Rubio take a hit with his base on this? Perhaps. But if they are listening closely, they will see that he’s making a reasoned case for immigration reform that begins with border control. He’s also, at least so far, the anomaly in this debate: someone who takes seriously the constitutional and legal issues and is unwilling to score cheap political points for the sake of revving up his supporters. I suspect he’ll be a lonely voice on this one.

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RE: Grandstanding on Immigration

As I noted, the Arizona immigration bill is what comes from the confluence of federal inaction and election-year jockeying on both sides of the political aisle. Neither pro-immigration nor anti-immigration forces have the wherewithal to push through legislation, so the next best thing is to try to tempt the other side into embarrassing themselves. That’s not hard in this arena. As the Wall Street Journal‘s editors write:

Arizona’s new immigration law shows what happens when a state on the front lines of a failed immigration policy reaches the bursting point. What you get is a blunt instrument that produces lawsuits, more political polarization (if that’s possible) and the risk of hostility between the local police and the public.

The law makes it a state crime to be in the U.S. without proper documents. It allows the police to stop anyone on “reasonable suspicion” that they may be in the country unlawfully and arrest them on the spot if they can’t produce identity papers. The police aren’t required to have a search warrant or even to suspect some illegal action has occurred before questioning a person. Traditionally the federal government has enforced immigration laws, so this is an extraordinary state criminalization of a heretofore federal authority.

Democrats see an opportunity born of their own delinquency in addressing immigration. (“Congressional Democrats have no intention of enacting serious immigration reform before November. President Obama is surely playing politics with the situation in Arizona for gain in the fall. He’d like to pick a fight and define Republicans as anti-Hispanic going into the election, without having to propose anything substantive.”) So they decry the motives of their opponents and take offense at the notion that law enforcement should enforce immigration laws. Meanwhile, a segment of conservatives thinks this plays well to the base and that liberals’ overheated rhetoric makes them appear “pro-illegal immigration.” But the result is a crass political food fight in which each side’s normal concerns are swept aside. (Are conservatives really in favor of what will amount to near-unbridled discretion by police to stop suspected illegals?)

Those hoping for any semblance of real reform should take note: the alliance of those who oppose any “path to citizenship” and the relaxation of legal immigration restrictions is a classic political marriage of convenience, with Big Labor and immigration restrictionists joined at the hip to block virtually any variation of reform that might conceivably pass. And the most extreme pro-immigration forces don’t do their cause any favors by suggesting that legitimate concerns for border control are nothing more than a cover for racism. So expect the political charade to go on.

As I noted, the Arizona immigration bill is what comes from the confluence of federal inaction and election-year jockeying on both sides of the political aisle. Neither pro-immigration nor anti-immigration forces have the wherewithal to push through legislation, so the next best thing is to try to tempt the other side into embarrassing themselves. That’s not hard in this arena. As the Wall Street Journal‘s editors write:

Arizona’s new immigration law shows what happens when a state on the front lines of a failed immigration policy reaches the bursting point. What you get is a blunt instrument that produces lawsuits, more political polarization (if that’s possible) and the risk of hostility between the local police and the public.

The law makes it a state crime to be in the U.S. without proper documents. It allows the police to stop anyone on “reasonable suspicion” that they may be in the country unlawfully and arrest them on the spot if they can’t produce identity papers. The police aren’t required to have a search warrant or even to suspect some illegal action has occurred before questioning a person. Traditionally the federal government has enforced immigration laws, so this is an extraordinary state criminalization of a heretofore federal authority.

Democrats see an opportunity born of their own delinquency in addressing immigration. (“Congressional Democrats have no intention of enacting serious immigration reform before November. President Obama is surely playing politics with the situation in Arizona for gain in the fall. He’d like to pick a fight and define Republicans as anti-Hispanic going into the election, without having to propose anything substantive.”) So they decry the motives of their opponents and take offense at the notion that law enforcement should enforce immigration laws. Meanwhile, a segment of conservatives thinks this plays well to the base and that liberals’ overheated rhetoric makes them appear “pro-illegal immigration.” But the result is a crass political food fight in which each side’s normal concerns are swept aside. (Are conservatives really in favor of what will amount to near-unbridled discretion by police to stop suspected illegals?)

Those hoping for any semblance of real reform should take note: the alliance of those who oppose any “path to citizenship” and the relaxation of legal immigration restrictions is a classic political marriage of convenience, with Big Labor and immigration restrictionists joined at the hip to block virtually any variation of reform that might conceivably pass. And the most extreme pro-immigration forces don’t do their cause any favors by suggesting that legitimate concerns for border control are nothing more than a cover for racism. So expect the political charade to go on.

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Grandstanding on Immigration

The immigration debate that stymied George W. Bush, nearly wrecked John McCain’s presidential aspirations, and engenders grand hypocrisy on the Left (it was, after all, Senator Barack Obama who backed a number of poison-pen amendments that helped sink the 2008 bill) is back with a bang. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed a new immigration bill. (Yes, she’s a governor and what’s she doing making immigration law, you ask? More later on this.) And it is like 2007 all over again:

Even before she signed the bill at an afternoon news conference here, President Obama strongly criticized it.

Speaking at a naturalization ceremony for 24 active-duty service members in the Rose Garden, he called for a federal overhaul of immigration laws, which Congressional leaders signaled they were preparing to take up soon, to avoid “irresponsibility by others.”

The Arizona law, he added, threatened “to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans, as well as the trust between police and our communities that is so crucial to keeping us safe.”

The law, which proponents and critics alike said was the broadest and strictest immigration measure in generations, would make the failure to carry immigration documents a crime and give the police broad power to detain anyone suspected of being in the country illegally. Opponents have called it an open invitation for harassment and discrimination against Hispanics regardless of their citizenship status.

Let’s begin with the constitutional problem. This state law seeking to regulate what is plainly within the federal government’s purview is almost certainly not going to pass constitutional muster. And for those who say, ah well, the courts will sort it out, conservatives should be the first to holler, “Wait a minute!” Every elected official has an obligation to uphold the Constitution. They didn’t much appreciate it when George W. Bush said that the courts would eventually sort out McCain-Feingold (they finally did). It’s not up to states to start requiring immigration documents and the Arizona governor should know better. But the temptation to meddle and to grandstand in this area is irresistible. (Recall how much time in the 2008 election was spent fighting about the immigration policies of the former New York City mayor and the former Massachusetts governor.)

Next on the annoying grandstanders’ list is the current president, who did his best to grind immigration reform to a halt in 2007, and is — after all — now the chief executive in charge of, among other things, border control. So if he had been a more conscientious senator in the past and a more adept executive today, governors might not be at wits’ end trying to handle the financial and social burdens of illegal immigration. If he doesn’t like states meddling in immigration law, he should propose his own legislation.

And finally, the third place on the grandstanders’ list goes to the Democratic leadership in Congress, which no doubt wants to bring up immigration reform now to both tie the Republicans up in knots and mollify pro-immigration activists who’ve noticed that the Democrats have done nothing on this issue for a year and a half. Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi have no intention of actually passing a bill (Big Labor, of course, would freak if they did); it’s simply another political Hail Mary to try to minimize the electoral wipe-out heading their way. Nothing like baiting anti-immigration activists into saying outlandish things to get the Hispanic vote energized, right?

At some point there will be some mix of Democrats and Republicans who want to take a serious stab at immigration reform. But we’re eons away from that point. But that won’t stop the Arizona governor, the president, and the Congressional Democrats from trying to get the most mileage out of the issue — while decrying everyone else who’s doing exactly the same thing.

The immigration debate that stymied George W. Bush, nearly wrecked John McCain’s presidential aspirations, and engenders grand hypocrisy on the Left (it was, after all, Senator Barack Obama who backed a number of poison-pen amendments that helped sink the 2008 bill) is back with a bang. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed a new immigration bill. (Yes, she’s a governor and what’s she doing making immigration law, you ask? More later on this.) And it is like 2007 all over again:

Even before she signed the bill at an afternoon news conference here, President Obama strongly criticized it.

Speaking at a naturalization ceremony for 24 active-duty service members in the Rose Garden, he called for a federal overhaul of immigration laws, which Congressional leaders signaled they were preparing to take up soon, to avoid “irresponsibility by others.”

The Arizona law, he added, threatened “to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans, as well as the trust between police and our communities that is so crucial to keeping us safe.”

The law, which proponents and critics alike said was the broadest and strictest immigration measure in generations, would make the failure to carry immigration documents a crime and give the police broad power to detain anyone suspected of being in the country illegally. Opponents have called it an open invitation for harassment and discrimination against Hispanics regardless of their citizenship status.

Let’s begin with the constitutional problem. This state law seeking to regulate what is plainly within the federal government’s purview is almost certainly not going to pass constitutional muster. And for those who say, ah well, the courts will sort it out, conservatives should be the first to holler, “Wait a minute!” Every elected official has an obligation to uphold the Constitution. They didn’t much appreciate it when George W. Bush said that the courts would eventually sort out McCain-Feingold (they finally did). It’s not up to states to start requiring immigration documents and the Arizona governor should know better. But the temptation to meddle and to grandstand in this area is irresistible. (Recall how much time in the 2008 election was spent fighting about the immigration policies of the former New York City mayor and the former Massachusetts governor.)

Next on the annoying grandstanders’ list is the current president, who did his best to grind immigration reform to a halt in 2007, and is — after all — now the chief executive in charge of, among other things, border control. So if he had been a more conscientious senator in the past and a more adept executive today, governors might not be at wits’ end trying to handle the financial and social burdens of illegal immigration. If he doesn’t like states meddling in immigration law, he should propose his own legislation.

And finally, the third place on the grandstanders’ list goes to the Democratic leadership in Congress, which no doubt wants to bring up immigration reform now to both tie the Republicans up in knots and mollify pro-immigration activists who’ve noticed that the Democrats have done nothing on this issue for a year and a half. Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi have no intention of actually passing a bill (Big Labor, of course, would freak if they did); it’s simply another political Hail Mary to try to minimize the electoral wipe-out heading their way. Nothing like baiting anti-immigration activists into saying outlandish things to get the Hispanic vote energized, right?

At some point there will be some mix of Democrats and Republicans who want to take a serious stab at immigration reform. But we’re eons away from that point. But that won’t stop the Arizona governor, the president, and the Congressional Democrats from trying to get the most mileage out of the issue — while decrying everyone else who’s doing exactly the same thing.

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Obama’s Surge

Journalists bored with Hillary Clinton’s seemingly certain anointment as the Democratic nominee finally have what they’ve been anticipating. After two terrible weeks for Hillary Clinton, commencing on October 30 during a Democratic candidates debate with her weaselly answer to the question of whether she supported New York Governor Eliot Spitzer’s plan to issue drivers licenses to illegal aliens, a national poll from USAToday/Gallup that had Barack Obama down 30 points just nine days ago now shows them virtually even. (The Rasmussen daily tracking polls, which have generally been more accurate than Gallup, have Hillary losing some ground but still leading by 21 points.)

Still, even if the USAToday poll was skewed, this has to be a considerable boost for Obama. It comes, I’d say, from two sources. The first is that the Clinton campaign has made, recently, one gaffe after another. The debate on October 30 was followed by Hillary’s complaints about the men ganging up on her and by Bill accusing them of attempting to swiftboat her—neither of which played well. And this week she’s had to admit that her campaign planted questions in an Iowa audience. It’s been as if her once flawless campaign was doing its best to confirm her critics’ complaints about her.

The other is precisely those men about whom Hillary was complaining. Obama and Edwards, notes Ben Smith in an astute column for the Politico, have become, in effect, “arms-length allies in their attempt to take her down.” (“The differences between Sen. Clinton and myself are much more dramatic,” said Edwards, “than the differences between Sen. Obama and myself.”) But an Obama surge comes at a considerable cost to the Democrats as a party. It cuts them off from the legacy of Bill Clinton—the only example of an effective Democratic President in recent memory. And it brings a contentious issue—driver’s licenses for illegals—back into focus. Hillary muffed her answer on this during the debate, but she was right to see the tensions in trying to both uphold our immigration law and manage a large population of people who can commit crimes or spread disease but who are unknown to authorities. Obama sees no such tensions; he’s unambiguously in support of driver’s licenses for undocumented workers—a policy opposed by nearly 80 percent of all Americans. Licenses for illegals would make for a fat political target come the November elections. Obama’s rise may end up hurting the Democrats big time.

Journalists bored with Hillary Clinton’s seemingly certain anointment as the Democratic nominee finally have what they’ve been anticipating. After two terrible weeks for Hillary Clinton, commencing on October 30 during a Democratic candidates debate with her weaselly answer to the question of whether she supported New York Governor Eliot Spitzer’s plan to issue drivers licenses to illegal aliens, a national poll from USAToday/Gallup that had Barack Obama down 30 points just nine days ago now shows them virtually even. (The Rasmussen daily tracking polls, which have generally been more accurate than Gallup, have Hillary losing some ground but still leading by 21 points.)

Still, even if the USAToday poll was skewed, this has to be a considerable boost for Obama. It comes, I’d say, from two sources. The first is that the Clinton campaign has made, recently, one gaffe after another. The debate on October 30 was followed by Hillary’s complaints about the men ganging up on her and by Bill accusing them of attempting to swiftboat her—neither of which played well. And this week she’s had to admit that her campaign planted questions in an Iowa audience. It’s been as if her once flawless campaign was doing its best to confirm her critics’ complaints about her.

The other is precisely those men about whom Hillary was complaining. Obama and Edwards, notes Ben Smith in an astute column for the Politico, have become, in effect, “arms-length allies in their attempt to take her down.” (“The differences between Sen. Clinton and myself are much more dramatic,” said Edwards, “than the differences between Sen. Obama and myself.”) But an Obama surge comes at a considerable cost to the Democrats as a party. It cuts them off from the legacy of Bill Clinton—the only example of an effective Democratic President in recent memory. And it brings a contentious issue—driver’s licenses for illegals—back into focus. Hillary muffed her answer on this during the debate, but she was right to see the tensions in trying to both uphold our immigration law and manage a large population of people who can commit crimes or spread disease but who are unknown to authorities. Obama sees no such tensions; he’s unambiguously in support of driver’s licenses for undocumented workers—a policy opposed by nearly 80 percent of all Americans. Licenses for illegals would make for a fat political target come the November elections. Obama’s rise may end up hurting the Democrats big time.

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Hands Off My DNA

The Saintly Brigades of France have found their cause célèbre: DNA tests for immigrants who want to be reunited with their families. The Opposition—ranging from the Centrist François Bayrou to the Socialist Ségolène Royal to the hard leftist Olivier Besançenot—fumbled every opportunity to grasp a Big Issue during last year’s presidential campaign and the first six months of Nicolas Sarkozy’s presidential term. Now they have it! A moral issue of gigantic proportions: the UMP-dominated legislature is about to pass an immigration law that would allow immigrants lacking reliable documents to prove filiation by way of DNA tests and expedite reunification with their minor children.

Brushing aside practical considerations—eleven European countries are already using the tests as recommended in a 2003 EU directive—the Brigades are playing on the symbolic value of DNA to raise immigrants to the pinnacle of victimhood. The Brigades’ reasoning goes something like this: since the Nazis classified Jews by genetic quotients from 10 to 100 percent, touching an immigrant’s DNA is equivalent to sending him/her to Auschwitz.

Charlie Hebdo, the pornographic satirical weekly that earned hero’s stripes for publishing the Muhammad cartoons, is at the forefront of the anti-DNA campaign. Editorial director Philippe Val, who defended the freedom to insult the prophet of Islam, is now defending immigrants against the ill-concealed genocidal intentions of the Sarkozy government. (Sarkozy is, himself, a first generation immigrant on his father’s side, and second generation on his mother’s side.) A petition launched by Charlie Hebdo has garnered 200,000-plus signatories, including high profile figures from the Right alongside Sarkozy’s bitterly disappointed rival, Dominique de Villepin.

Read More

The Saintly Brigades of France have found their cause célèbre: DNA tests for immigrants who want to be reunited with their families. The Opposition—ranging from the Centrist François Bayrou to the Socialist Ségolène Royal to the hard leftist Olivier Besançenot—fumbled every opportunity to grasp a Big Issue during last year’s presidential campaign and the first six months of Nicolas Sarkozy’s presidential term. Now they have it! A moral issue of gigantic proportions: the UMP-dominated legislature is about to pass an immigration law that would allow immigrants lacking reliable documents to prove filiation by way of DNA tests and expedite reunification with their minor children.

Brushing aside practical considerations—eleven European countries are already using the tests as recommended in a 2003 EU directive—the Brigades are playing on the symbolic value of DNA to raise immigrants to the pinnacle of victimhood. The Brigades’ reasoning goes something like this: since the Nazis classified Jews by genetic quotients from 10 to 100 percent, touching an immigrant’s DNA is equivalent to sending him/her to Auschwitz.

Charlie Hebdo, the pornographic satirical weekly that earned hero’s stripes for publishing the Muhammad cartoons, is at the forefront of the anti-DNA campaign. Editorial director Philippe Val, who defended the freedom to insult the prophet of Islam, is now defending immigrants against the ill-concealed genocidal intentions of the Sarkozy government. (Sarkozy is, himself, a first generation immigrant on his father’s side, and second generation on his mother’s side.) A petition launched by Charlie Hebdo has garnered 200,000-plus signatories, including high profile figures from the Right alongside Sarkozy’s bitterly disappointed rival, Dominique de Villepin.

Since Sarkozy began to deliver on his promise to make French immigration policy more selective, pro-immigration forces have exploited the vocabulary of Vichy collaboration. Meanwhile, commando associations intervene to prevent deportation of illegals; instigate in your face operations like parachuting tents, filled with aggressive mal logés [ill-housed], into a side street at the stock exchange; and accuse the government of pushing illegals to acts of desperation. Drawing on the vocabulary of the 1930’s and 1940’s, pro-immigration forces accuse the government of organizing “rafles [sweeps],” the word used to describe mass roundups of French Jews. Citizens and policemen are urged to resist, and reminded in no uncertain terms that this time they will not be able to say they didn’t know.

French media, thrilled with this juicy bone of contention, have extended a friendly microphone to virulent critics of the bill, which is misleadingly identified as “DNA testing for immigrants.” The height of frenzy was reached when PM François Fillon publicly criticized the undue attention focused on one detail of a broad immigration bill. “Detail”? How dare he use the word “detail”?!? He knows perfectly well that Jean-Marie Le Pen (leader of the near-defunct Front National) said the concentration camps were a “detail” of World War II.

This trivial brouhaha is monopolizing public debate, while a French court raises serious doubts about the veracity of the al-Dura “news report,” produced and broadcast by state-owned French television in September 2000. The al-Dura blood libel doesn’t interest the Saintly Brigades and their cheerleading media, who have transferred the symbols of the Shoah to immigrants. Ironically, it is often immigrants to France who perpetuate the culture of violence against Jews. There is no DNA testing to screen for that!

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