Wednesday, May 31, 2006

A United 93 Relative Meets the President

A FReeper whose father was killed on United Flight 93 on 9/11 has posted his account of visiting the White House Tuesday. The families had dinner with the President and First Lady, after which some of the relatives attended a screening of the film UNITED 93 in the White House theater.

There are some nice photos with President Bush as well as Tony Snow and Karl Rove. I'm glad that the families were honored in this special way.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Al Gore: Unhinged

The former Vice President has called President Bush's administration "a renegade band of rightwing extremists."

Is he actually suggesting that the President is some kind of outlaw? (Given some of his past intemperate comments, probably...)

David Limbaugh on Immigration

David Limbaugh believes that no immigration bill at all is better than passage of the Senate bill in its current form, which would have disastrous long-term effects for the nation. He believes conservatives should have the courage to stand on principle and face the voters in November, and the results may well be positive:

"The Republicans who have been most successful in national elections are those who have held firm on conservative principles...Ronald Reagan won landslide elections through unabashed conservatism."

Today's Immigration Updates

The ongoing thoughts of Slate's Mickey Kaus on immigration, linked above, are worth perusing.

Power Line responds to Republican strategist Matthew Dowd, who has counseled Republicans to learn to love the Senate's amnesty bill. Power Line's Paul Mirengoff asks why the President has chosen to put House Republicans in danger by backing a "center-left" bill rather than a "center-right" bill; John Hinderaker doesn't think Republicans up for election this fall buy Dowd's theory.

Monday, May 29, 2006

John McIntyre on Immigration

John McIntyre of Real Clear Politics has written an extremely interesting piece on the Republicans' need to "finesse" the immigration issue, addressing the "quiet rage building among average middle class folks" on the one hand and the need not to alienate future Hispanic voters on the other. I think this is one of the best articles yet on the immigration issue, in that McIntyre presents a concrete game plan for Republican victory, both in terms of border security and politics.

As an aside, McIntyre is absolutely right that Bill Kristol represents the kind of Beltway type who just doesn't "get it." I thought he was, well, dreadful on yesterday's FOX NEWS SUNDAY, sneering that someone like Rep. Chris Shays opposes the Senate bill because Shays' Connecticut constituents just want illegal employees. His arrogance was insulting and terribly disappointing.

As McIntyre writes, the President and Congress will not benefit from the passage of "comprehensive" reform "if we are talking about any compromise that looks remotely like the Senate bill that passed with 85% Democratic support over the objections of nearly 2/3rd of Senate Republicans." He believes Congress will be lost if there is a signing ceremony for this bill with the President, Senator Kennedy, and Senator McCain.

McIntyre believes that the way this is playing out, "conventional wisdom" is being turned on its head and House Republicans are positioned to reap benefits from standing in the way of the Senate Democrats' bill.

McIntyre's suggestion: The House Republicans need to focus on halting illegal immigration and pass a true compromise bill where proven success of the borders being closed then (and only then) triggers a "path to citizenship" for those who are already here. Handled carefully, this could be a p.r. victory, appealing to both conservatives and immigrants.

Works for me.

Read the whole thing, I think he's done an excellent assessment and pointed the way toward something that would actually work. The big issue, of course, is getting the President on board with this plan, instead of continuing to push the Senate Democrats' appalling bill. A plan such as McIntyre suggests would represent a compromise on the part of House Republicans; I hope the President would also be willing to compromise on the meaning of "comprehensive" and work with his own party. If the President would back such a plan, the Senate Democrats would then be put in the position of either voting for it and handing the President a victory, or filibustering the plan and looking like obstructionists. Either way, the President and Republicans win politically.

"Meatheadgate"

Bill Whalen of The Weekly Standard on the downfall of Rob Reiner and California's June 6th election on Proposition 82, Reiner's "universal preschool" initiative.

Apartheid in America

Last summer I posted links describing the bill pending in Congress which would legalize Hawaiian apartheid. If the "Akaka bill" is passed, Native Hawaiians -- how many drops of Hawaiian blood make one a "true Hawaiian" isn't clear -- will have a separate racially based government.

The bill was postponed for several months, but it's back and looks likely to pass at this time. Be sure to read all the details and check out the links at Betsy's Page.

Passage of this bill will be a sad day for this country and a step backward for racial equality in the United States.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Tonight's Movie: Just Like Heaven (2005)

As is probably apparent by now thanks to this weekend's numerous blog posts on movies, we are enjoying a "movie vacation at home" this long weekend! I don't know when the last time was I saw so many movies in such a short time frame; it's been a lot of fun.

We really enjoy Reese Witherspoon, and JUST LIKE HEAVEN was no exception. This is an old-fashioned (well, except for that scene with the neighbor...), feel-good romantic comedy -- not a great film, but the kind of solid entertainment that Hollywood once put out on a much more regular basis.

As I recall, it didn't get especially strong reviews when it came out, but I suspect that's at least in part because the critics are judging every movie against whether or not it's a four-star classic, rather than if it gives viewers 90 minutes of entertainment. Weighed on the latter scale, JUST LIKE HEAVEN delivers and leaves a smile on your face. The movie's beautiful views of San Francisco are an added bonus. :)

JUST LIKE HEAVEN is available on DVD.

Last Night's Movie: Good Night, and Good Luck (2005)

I approached this film with a fair amount of skepticism, given George Clooney's well-known political views and having also read a very interesting analysis in Human Events assessing the film from a factual point of view.

Strictly in cinematic terms, GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK is an excellent movie which is well worth seeing. David Strathairn uncannily captures Edward R. Murrow as I've seen him in video clips over the years. George Clooney acquits himself well in a low-key role as Murrow's producer, Fred Friendly, and the rest of the large cast does a fine job, though their characters are somewhat sketchily defined as the action is almost (but not entirely) confined to the CBS offices and matters related to the Murrow-McCarthy broadcasts. The film is visually elegant, shot in glorious black and white, and has an unusual, equally elegant soundtrack, consisting of a singer (Dianne Reeves) and jazz combo in a CBS studio whose music periodically interrupts the action when time springs forward. I particularly loved the set design for William Paley's waiting room, which fairly screamed "1950's!"

I was pleasantly surprised that the film took the time to discuss issues such as reporting vs. creating news, and editorializing vs. reporting. There is a recognition that what Murrow did went beyond reporting; he was engaging in advocacy journalism. Murrow and his coworkers clearly feel this choice was correct, which can be debated, but ironically the film makes a fairly weak case against McCarthy. As Human Events notes, there is no compelling depiction of anyone having their life ruined by McCarthy. The film raises questions about the right of the accused to see evidence -- which all viewers, regardless of politics, will likely agree with -- but doesn't show that anyone was falsely accused. There's a lot of talk about "fear," but not much evidence. In the end the movie was more about the purposes for which television should be used than whether Joseph McCarthy was right or wrong, and the ambiguity of the latter story somewhat clouded the noble ideas presented about television journalism.

Movie fans should enjoy the film's beautiful, stylish execution, and the political aspects make an interesting topic of discussion.

GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK is available on DVD.

Around the Blogosphere This Weekend

Power Line (linked above) points out that while only 17 Republicans didn't vote in favor of the House immigration bill, the Senate bill is essentially a Democrat plan, supported by 38 Democrats (plus Jeffords) with only 4 no votes, while a majority of Republican Senators opposed the bill, 32-22.

I'd add to Power Line's thoughts that the President, in essence, is working to push a Democrat immigration plan (which has gone much further in "giveaways" than the plan he originally proposed) while trying to "lean" on those in his own party to conform to the Democrats' bill. Personally, I didn't vote for a Republican with such "bipartisanship" in mind...

John Kerry is still trying to fight with the Swift Boat Veterans. Ed Morrissey reminds readers of the inconvenient questions Kerry has refused to answer about his military records and career.

I haven't blogged anything to date about the Duke lacrosse team, but Betsy Newmark, who lives in North Carolina and whose children have attended Duke, has done an excellent job analyzing developments, particularly the baffling conduct of the prosecutor.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Tonight's Movie: My Darling Clementine (1946)

We enjoyed a Henry Fonda double feature today, following THE MALE ANIMAL with one of Fonda's greatest roles, Wyatt Earp in John Ford's MY DARLING CLEMENTINE. The film is, in short, a story of good vs. evil as well as a depiction of the hard work of taming the West.

When I was younger I didn't especially care for this film, as I found it a bit meandering and slow, and the dark night scenes didn't play well on my old TV.

Watching CLEMENTINE anew for the first time in many years, in a beautiful DVD print, I gained a new appreciation. I was struck with the feeling that the film is pure poetry, art in motion. It's a series of beautiful set pieces. The scene where Wyatt takes Clementine (Cathy Downs) to the church social is justly celebrated -- the music, the beautiful cloud-filled sky, Fonda's gallant but slightly awkward dancing, the depiction of the church-going folks who are bringing civilization to the West -- the loveliness caught on film causes the eyes to mist.

Fonda is nothing less than perfect as the marshal of Tombstone. The film co-stars Linda Darnell, Victor Mature, Walter Brennan, Tim Holt, and many Ford regulars, including Ward Bond, Jane Darwell, Russell Simpson, and Francis Ford.

MY DARLING CLEMENTINE is available on DVD as No. 14 in the Fox Studio Classics series. The DVD contains both the standard release version and a longer "alternate" prerelease edit of the film, a documentary on the differences between the two versions of the film, a trailer, and a commentary by Ford biographer Scott Eyman and Wyatt Earp III.

This movie is also available on video.

MY DARLING CLEMENTINE is a uniquely American masterwork, as significant and important in its way as any great painting or piece of literature. Highly recommended.

Today's Movie: The Male Animal (1942)

THE MALE ANIMAL is a mildly amusing comedy based on a Broadway play by Elliott Nugent and James Thurber. Henry Fonda plays a put-upon college professor who grows tired of being criticized both at work and at home. Olivia DeHavilland is Fonda's wife and Jack Carson is DeHavilland's former beau, a one-time college football star in town for homecoming.

The high point of the film is a splendid drunk scene in which Fonda attempts to explain the "male animal" and figure out what to do to save his marriage. Otherwise, the film is nicely acted and has some sharp lines but is rather "stagey" and just moderately entertaining.

Two future sitcom stars, Herbert Anderson of DENNIS THE MENACE and Don DeFore of HAZEL, play a nerd and a football player, respectively, who are emulating the Fonda-DeHavilland-Carson triangle as they vie for DeHavilland's kid sister, Joan Leslie.

The original play's co-author and leading man, Nugent, directed.

THE MALE ANIMAL is available on video.

May 2009 Update: This film is now available on DVD. It appears to be from the Warner Archive, yet curiously is currently sold only at Amazon as an "Amazon exclusive."

Miracle On Everest

Australian climber Lincoln Hall, who spent the night exposed to the elements after having been pronounced dead, has walked into advanced base camp under his own power. (This certainly gives a new meaning to the phrase "dead man walking"...) Hall has now spoken to his wife after "one of the most dramatic rescues in mountaineering history."

Two Americans, Alexander Abramov and Dan Mazur, played key roles in Hall's rescue. Mazur gave up his attempt to summit Everest in order to stay with Hall until help arrived.

This story stands in stark contrast to last week's incident in which another climber was abandoned to die as other climbers continued to the summit, leading Everest legend Sir Edmund Hillary to criticize those who didn't aid the dying man.

Happy Fourth Birthday...

...to Power Line!

And sincere wishes for many more years to one of the best blogs on the Internet.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Tonight's Movie: The Blue Dahlia (1946)

This seems to be our week for watching mid-'40s film noir. A few days ago, it was 1945's FALLEN ANGEL. Tonight's movie was the immensely entertaining Raymond Chandler mystery THE BLUE DAHLIA, starring Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake.

Chandler's script, which was peppered with excellent dialogue, twisted and turned in interesting directions as murder suspect Alan Ladd combed Los Angeles for the real killer of his wife. (It's sad but that sentence makes me think of a real-life L.A. murder mystery that took place a dozen years ago this summer...) Although the film just hints at L.A. and Southern California with some brief visuals -- City Hall, the L.A. skyline at night, the beach -- it successfully conveyed a real sense of "place." According to IMDb, the filming locations included the Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica, which was founded in 1921. The Miramar's bungalows figure prominently in the first half of the movie.

The film was produced by John Houseman and directed by George Marshall.

THE BLUE DAHLIA is available on video.

December 2012 Update: This film is now available on DVD from the TCM Vault Collection.

September 2013 Update: I've now posted a much more detailed review of THE BLUE DAHLIA.

Mark Steyn: This Says It All

Mark Steyn at The Corner:

"My wife and the kids had their Green Cards stolen the other day. Cost of replacement of legal permanent resident cards: $1,040. Fine for 20 years of law-breaking within the United States: $2,000, less Social Security and EITC entitlements."

Dr. Sowell: Special Rights for Illegal Aliens

Thomas Sowell details the myriad preferential "rights" illegal aliens will receive which are not accorded ordinary Americans.

Sowell's final assessment:

"Both the facts of the past and the dangers of the future are being ignored in the rush to give immediate benefits to illegal aliens, washed down with much talk about border control but no requirement that the border actually be controlled before these benefits go into effect.

"The political strategy of this package deal legislation is to give immediate and irrevocable special benefits to some and make pious promises about the future to get all this past the others."

Limbaugh: It's 1976 Revisited

Rush Limbaugh believes this is no longer an immigration bill, but an attempt by moderates and liberals to expand the federal government and create a new "victim"/voter class.

Today on his radio show Rush also equated the current political battle to Reagan vs. Ford in 1976 and says that so-called moderates are trying to "re-take" the Republican Party from conservatives.

Rush warns not to look for a fence, at least any time soon, as border control is not the main thrust of the legislation -- witness the requirement that we not only "consult" with the Mexican government on the fence, but take into consideration the "impact" on the Mexican side of the border. This is, in essence, a bill to expand immigration. Period.

Tony Snow told Rush yesterday that the President planned to move "assets" to the border in the immediate future. I'll be most interested to see what happens in that regard.

Arnold to Veto Homosexual Curriculum

A bright note for Californians this week is the pledge of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to veto a pending bill which would mandate public school textbooks to identify the sexual preferences of historical figures, as well as deleting "gender-specific" terms such as "Mom" and "Dad" from textbooks.

The governor's spokesman says that he doesn't want the legislature "micro-managing curriculum."

There have been a number of times I've disgreed with Governor Schwarzenegger, but this is one of those days I'm very relieved that he unseated Democrat Governor Gray Davis.

The Senate Immigration Bill: Unbelievable (Again)

It troubles me greatly that here in California, illegal aliens are entitled to taxpayer-subsidized in-state tuition at our state universities, while legal students from out of state have to pay the full freight.

Dana Rohrabacher, who was my representative for many years, discloses in a Washington Times piece that the Senate bill "nationalizes" this policy, providing in-state tuition for illegal aliens across the nation. This is yet another example of the Senate providing illegal aliens with rights which far exceed those of ordinary Americans. (Refer to the last few days' posts for further examples...) Rohrabacher writes that the Senate is showing "contempt for middle-class Americans."

Senator Rick Santorum appeared on Sean Hannity's radio show yesterday. Santorum is facing perhaps the toughest re-election fight of any senator, and, reading between the lines, it seemed clear he felt that voting for the immigration plan would damage his re-election chances. Santorum seemed to advocate what might be termed a "third way," closer to the House plan: forget the "comprehensive immigration reform" bill and instead use appropriations bills to fund the National Guard and increased border security.

Santorum has a reasonable point. If we actually enforced the laws currently on the books and also adequately funded border security, it's questionable whether "comprehensive reform" (translation: amnesty and guest worker programs) is necessary. There's no reason we couldn't address these issues in a couple of years, after having proven the borders are closed, which is one thing that makes the White House leaning on the House, rather than the Senate, so baffling.

Paul Mirengoff of Power Line believes that obstruction of this terrible bill is the most prudent move for Republicans, and that to pass it would be suicidal.

I think the only hope for the bill is if the White House can convince the Senate -- not the House -- to compromise heavily in conference and strip many of the "giveaway" provisions out of the legislation. Americans like me who would prefer to support the President whenever possible could probably accept a guest worker or amnesty program if we're not insulted by the Senate elites handing over our hard-earned tax dollars to illegal aliens in the form of very limited back tax liability, in-state tuition, the earned income tax credit, and Social Security benefits earned illegally, while also assuring the illegal aliens of prevailing wages and unusual job security (they can't be fired without "just cause"). And of course, a willingness to accept guest workers or amnesty is predicated as well on extremely strong improvements in border security. The last-minute provision that we must "consult" with Mexico on any new fencing is a non-starter.

Rohrabacher, comparing the current Senate bill to the 1986 amnesty program, concludes: "The definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again expecting a different result."

Update: Welcome to readers of Santorum Blog.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Everest and Ethics

For the last few years, I have been an "armchair adventurer" and done a lot of reading about Mount Everest.

My interest began with Jon Krakauer's classic INTO THIN AIR and continued as I read books such as David Breshears' HIGH EXPOSURE and saw the 1998 IMAX film, which is available on DVD. Websites such as Mountain Zone and NOVA allowed me to follow expeditions almost in real time and even listen to a live Internet broadcast from the summit.

When reading about Mount Everest, one learns about much more than mountain climbing; geography, science, medicine, history, culture, and religion all intersect at Mount Everest.

All this said, I think those who choose to climb Mount Everest are just short of crazy (grin); perhaps part of the fascination is that people are willing to push themselves to the limits to achieve the summit, knowing there is a very real possibility they won't make it back down the mountain.

An interesting debate on climbing and ethics has ensued this week as Sir Edmund Hillary, who in 1953 was the first to summit Everest, along with Tenzing Norgay, has criticized climbers who chose to walk past a dying man in order to make the summit.

According to ABC and other sources, the climbers believed the man was past saving; the climbers chose to continue on to the summit rather than comfort the dying man. It should be noted that stopping for too long in one place at that altitude carries its own dangers. It's hard for me personally to imagine wanting to continue on to the summit under those circumstances, but I suspect, on top of the single-minded desire to achieve their goal, many of the climbers in that situation aren't necessarily thinking rationally by that point, given the physical and mental effects of the altitude and freezing weather.

As an aside, this incident stands in stark contrast to the heartwarming, miraculous rescue of Dr. Beck Weathers by his fellow climbers -- and a very brave helicopter pilot -- a decade ago.

A sad story, which is unfortunately one of many tragedies to have taken place on Everest. I'll be interested to follow the debate as it continues and see if it impacts the actions of future climbers.

Friday Update: Mount Everest Net has the story of an attempt to rescue an Australian, Lincoln Hall, who was believed dead after spending a night in the open. The rescue was spurred by an American, Alexander Abramov, who found Hall still alive.

The London Times: "'Alex Abramov immediately dispatched a team of 12 sherpas to re-ascend with fresh oxygen and stretcher,' said Duncan Chessell, another Australian mountaineer. 'If he’s alive he’s high up and in serious danger. It's going to be a miracle if he can get out of it.'"

The Feast of the Ascension



Wishing all my readers a blessed Ascension Day today.

Why Doesn't the White House Pressure the Senate?

Karl Rove shouldn't be trying to persuade members of the House to agree to the Senate's bill -- he should be talking to people like John McCain about agreeing to the House bill.

The Senate seems bound and determined to give away the country to illegal aliens, giving them legal rights which far exceed those accorded ordinary Americans, while simultaneously stripping local law enforcement of the ability to enforce immigration law. Unarmed National Guard members -- also prevented from doing actual border enforcement -- doing desk work and fencing a small percentage of one border just won't cut it as a fair tradeoff.

"Comprehensive immigration reform" has simply become a pseudonym for no reform at all. It's a replay of the 1986 amnesty act. With each passing day we learn of more troubling aspects of the Senate's bill.

Senator DeMint lists the Top 10 Reasons to oppose the Senate's bill. (Hat tip: Michelle Malkin.)

Rush Limbaugh says he's never seen this level of disconnect between Congress and the American people in his 18 years on the radio. He says it's almost as though Congress doesn't think we know what they're doing, and the amount of "arrogant condescension" on the part of the Senators, in particular, is blowing his mind.

In a nutshell, I don't see how Republicans can maintain control of Congress if they pass anything close to the Senate's bill.

Update: Something else the Senate slipped into the bill at the last minute: The United States is required to "consult" Mexico before building any fence. That's right, we have to talk to Mexico before protecting our own border. It's unclear exactly what form that consultation must take.

The Senate's bill is jaw-droppingly unserious about securing our borders.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Tonight's Movie: Unfaithfully Yours (1948)

Rex Harrison stars in this farce as Sir Alfred De Carter, an orchestra conductor who believes his beautiful young wife, Linda Darnell, has been unfaithful. During the course of a concert, Sir Alfred plots several dastardly ways to respond to the situation. In the end, not surprisingly, he learns he's been foolish not to trust his wife.

Writer-director Preston Sturges made some unusual and memorable films, including THE PALM BEACH STORY, but I can't say I cared for this one, despite its reputation as a classic. I found the rather morbid fantasy sequences leaden and distasteful, and Harrison's physical comedy routine in the film's final act was predictable and went on far too long. Exaggerated sound effects meant to amuse quickly became tiresome.

On the positive side, Linda Darnell was delightful as the bewildered wife, and, as with THE PALM BEACH STORY, Rudy Vallee almost stole the show.

UNFAITHFULLY YOURS is available on DVD from the Criterion Collection as well as on video.

You've Got to be Kidding...

This story is so absurd it seems as though it must be a parody, but it's in the Detroit News and apparently is the real deal.

The Michigan Department of Education has banned the use of the words "America" and "Americans" to describe the United States or its citizens. America, you see, includes all of North, Central, and South America, so to refer to residents of the United States as "Americans" is inappropriate. A directive to this effect has gone out to Michigan's teachers.

Apparently before the American Revolution (a phrase now banned, one wonders??), the Founding Fathers were "Americans." Afterwards, this term was no longer an appropriate description. So what is?

The reality that educrats on the taxpayer-funded payroll waste their time coming up with these things is both sad and laughable. And then they wonder why the quality of American education is declining.

Thursday Update: The Michigan Board of Education has refuted the Detroit News piece. The renaming was the suggestion of a group of "social studies educators" (who obviously have too much time on their hands). The state superintendent said he would not approve the changes if and when they make it as far as his desk. Good for him!

I'd like to know how the author of the column, Michael Warren, got so many details wrong.

(Hat tip: Betsy's Page.)

A Big Reason Bill Clinton Shouldn't Return to the White House

The Clintons have been in the news even more than usual this week thanks to the New York Times gossip piece on the state of the Clinton marriage.

Byron York sets that article aside and identifies a more substantive reason Bill Clinton should not return to the White House as First Spouse: his financial entanglements since leaving office.

York writes:

"Would it make sense if Laura Bush had business deals in Dubai, and Brunei, and Taiwan, and all sorts of other places? Would that be accepted as normal practice?

"Of course not, and it wouldn’t be for Bill Clinton, either.

"So the role of the former president in a possible Hillary Rodham Clinton administration is a very serious issue indeed."

This thought-provoking article is worth reading at length.

More Hidden Provisions in Senate Bill

Senator John Cornyn has a page on this website: "Did You Know This About the 'Compromise' Bill?"

Proponents of the Senate's amnesty bill have claimed that it's not actually amnesty, in part, because former illegal aliens would be required to pay "all back taxes."

It turns out the American public is being sold a bill of goods.

The Senate bill doesn't require payment of "all back taxes" at all. Illegal aliens, who would have eight years to even begin repayment, would only have to pay taxes on three years' work. There would be no interest or other penalities, and immigrants under the age of 20 would not owe any taxes whatsoever. (I still want to know how the back taxes would have been calculated, anyway, given the typical lack of paperwork for the earnings of illegal aliens.)

Tom Bevan points out that, as with the "guest worker" labor provisions, the Senate's bill treats illegal aliens much more favorably than American citizens.

(Hat tip: Michelle Malkin.)

Perhaps in the end the Senate's "giveaway" bill won't matter. Today's Los Angeles Times reports that the House is holding firm for an "enforcement only" bill.

Given the lack of "compromise" in the Senate bill, which is heavy on amnesty provisions and light on enforcement -- to the point of forbidding local law enforcement from arresting anyone for immigration-related issues -- I see no reason for the House to negotiate, unless the Senate is willing to engage in a wholesale overhaul of the bill it's about to pass.

John McCain...is Just Annoying

According to the New York Observer, John McCain has lambasted Rush Limbaugh as helping to "fuel" the immigration problem, apparently (the wording is ambiguous) charging that Limbaugh is "nativist." McCain's comments were made at a New York fundraiser last Friday.

Rush has been the voice of common sense on this issue, believing strongly in border enforcement but also expressing understanding that the President is working hard to try to lead the nation on this issue. McCain's complaint is nonsensical and shows once again he has a tin ear when it comes to conservatism.

Rush commented on his show today that McCain's comments show his elitist contempt for talk radio listeners; McCain obviously thinks Rush's listeners are the proverbial "mind-numbed robots" being led into incorrect points of view by Rush, rather than having minds of our own.

Rush also pointed out that rather than dealing with the substance of the points he's made, McCain is using the Democrat tactic of smearing -- which calls to mind Dennis Prager's column of earlier this week on the Democrats and the one-word attacks that pass for thoughtful debate these days. "Nativist" fits right in with "racist," "sexist," and other favorite words in the liberal "debate" lexicon.

McCain also cautioned against "ghettoizing immigrants," which has caused problems in France.

Well, Senator McCain, that "ghettoizing" is exactly what you might get with the Senate's "guest worker" underclass which you've championed. If illegal immigrants, our future "guest workers," are really doing jobs Americans won't do -- or, in the White House's recent careful re-phrasing, "jobs Americans aren't doing" -- who will do those jobs in future unless immigrants and guest workers do those jobs in perpetuity? Won't we need more illegal immigrants to do those jobs in future, or are we assuming the new immigrants and guest workers won't ever move up the economic ladder? Who's doing the "ghettoizing"?

Ed Meese: It's Amnesty

Edwin Meese, who served as Attorney General under President Reagan, says the immigration plan the Senate is debating is very similar to the 1986 program enacted under President Reagan. The difference, he says, is that "President Reagan called this what it was: amnesty."

Meese, acknowledging that the 1986 amnesty didn't solve our immigration problems, warns "So here we are, 20 years later, having much the same debate and being offered much the same deal in exchange for promises largely dependent on the will of future Congresses and presidents."

Mr. Meese participated in a conference call with bloggers today and told them that if the current bill passes, we should expect to deal with this issue all over again in another decade or so, with even more illegal aliens having entered the country.

Monday I mentioned a couple of the less publicized provisions of the Senate's bill, which give preference to guest workers over Americans in areas such as firing for cause and prevailing wages.

As recounted by John Hawkins of Right Wing News, Mr. Meese also told the bloggers there is another troubling "hidden" provision in the Senate's bill:

"The current Senate bill would actually prevent police officers from making arresting anyone based on the fact that they're in this country illegally. Mr. Meese pointed out that we need more, not less cooperation from police departments for enforcement."

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Latest on the Borders: Sowell, Goldberg, Prager

Thomas Sowell's column, linked above, is filled with his usual good sense. He concludes with an interesting point I've not yet heard discussed:

"Putting unarmed national guardsmen on the border is another cosmetic move, a placebo instead of real medicine. The excuse is that it is not possible to train more than 1,500 border patrol agents a year. Meanwhile, we have trained well over 200,000 Iraqi security forces while guerilla warfare raged around them."

Jonah Goldberg, writing for USA Today, says that the only strong reason being cited against building a border wall is symbolism. He questions whether that's really a valid reason not to secure our nation. Goldberg points out:

"Sure, a secured border might send the signal that America is less welcoming — to illegal immigrants. But it might also open up opportunities to be more welcoming to people waiting in line legally. And, without that signal, it's unlikely the 12 million people here illegally will ever be truly and fully welcomed at all. So, choose your symbolism."

Meanwhile, Dennis Prager analyzes the one-word putdowns that currently pass for deep thought and debate among many Democrats. The first example: Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid's slam of anyone who believes in English as the national language as "racist."

The State of the Clinton Marriage?

The New York Times has run a gossipy piece on the state of the Clinton marriage ("Mr. Clinton is rarely without company in public, yet the company he keeps rarely includes his wife").

It comes as no surprise to anyone that "since leaving the White House, Bill and Hillary Clinton have built largely separate lives." A friend says: "She needs to be in her own separate orbit, so if something explodes in his world, she will have at least some space and distance to manage it." Strictly in human terms, what a sad description of a marriage.

What would this kind of relationship, where the wife must distance herself in case "something explodes" due to her husband's behavior, mean for the nation should Hillary ever one day be elected President?

If we ever do have the misfortune to have the Clintons return to the White House, it's hard to even imagine what it might be like, between Bill's narcissism, the relatively idle time he'll have on his hands as the "First Spouse," and his penchant for the ladies.

All the more reason to work hard and see that that situation never comes to pass.

Update: Welcome to readers of Sonia Smith's column at Slate.

Kondracke: Bush Hatred Threatens Our Security

Morton Kondracke on the war being waged against President Bush by the media, liberals, and CIA bureaucrats, and how it threatens our national security:

"Would newspapers in the midst of World War II have printed the fact that the United States had broken German and Japanese codes, enabling the enemy to secure its communications? Or revealed how and where Nazi spies were being interrogated? Nowadays, newspapers win Pulitzer Prizes for such disclosures."

Monday, May 22, 2006

Robert Novak: Senate's Bill "Hard to Love"

Robert Novak dissects some of the details in the Senate immigration bill which have not yet been widely publicized.

For instance, did you know that under this bill "guest" farm workers cannot be fired without "just cause," while Americans can be fired for any reason?

Did you know that temporary "guest" workers must be paid "prevailing" wages, while Americans are paid prevailing wages only for federal jobs?

Read the whole thing.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

A Troubling Story From Florida

Michelle Malkin has the strange story of two Saudi men arrested and held without bail after taking a mysterious ride on a schoolbus full of children in Florida on Friday.

The men initially lied to authorities that they were from Morocco, but they were actually from Saudi Arabia. They also gave authorities different stories about why they had boarded the bus. One of the men was wearing shorts under a black trenchcoat.

The bus driver, a substitute on the route, became concerned and contacted the district.

Perhaps there is a reasonable explanation, but this incident serves as a stark reminder that this is a post-9/11 world with scary possibilities.

Tuesday Update: The men have been released. Nonetheless, this incident should serve as a wake-up call for school districts everywhere.

Power Line Reacts to Fred Barnes

Power Line responds to Fred Barnes' article, discussed here yesterday at some length. Barnes theorizes that if the House does not capitulate on tough border security and pass something close to the Senate bill, Republicans will lose the House and the President will be weakened.

Power Line's Paul Mirengoff feels as I do, that while doing nothing about the immigration and border situation would not bode well for Republicans at the polls, the House passing a bad bill that's weak on border enforcement might be even worse -- quite possibly, as David Frum suggests, catastrophic.

Monday Update: Rush Limbaugh said today on the radio that Fred Barnes "could not be more wrong" in his insistence that the House capitulate and agree to the Senate immigration bill.

Tonight's Movie: Fallen Angel (1945)

One year after making the classic film noir LAURA, producer-director Otto Preminger, actor Dana Andrews, and composer David Raksin reunited for another murder mystery, FALLEN ANGEL.

This time around Andrews traded his hardboiled detective character for a hardboiled con man who wanders into a small town and immediately finds himself caught between good girl Alice Faye and bad girl Linda Darnell.

Though not a classic on the same scale as the lushly romantic, stylish LAURA, the film is visually arresting and packs a great deal of entertainment value into its 97 minutes. The superb supporting cast includes Charles Bickford, John Carradine, Anne Revere, and Percy Kilbride. It's amazing to realize that the sultry Darnell was only 22 the year this film was released.

Many scenes in the film were filmed on location in Orange, California. The church where Alice Faye plays the organ was a Baptist church built in 1891; the building today houses a restaurant, PJ's Abbey. You can also spot Watson's drugstore. The traffic circle at the intersection of Chapman and Glassell can also be seen briefly in the background.

FALLEN ANGEL is available in a beautiful black and white presentation on DVD as No. 14 in the Fox Film Noir series. The DVD includes a trailer, photo galleries, and a commentary track by film noir historian Eddie Muller with Dana Andrews' daughter, Susan.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Steyn on the Great Social Security Giveaway

In his new column ("Not Just Amnesty - Amnesty Plus Cash") the inimitable Mark Steyn describes the plan to allow illegal aliens to collect Social Security based on their illegal employment and then sardonically remarks:

"Well, I think that's the kind of moderate compromise 'comprehensive immigration reform' package that all Americans can support, don't you?"

He goes on to question whether in America it's now illegal to enforce the law. Then, in a rebuttal to Senator McCain's insistence that the plan is not "amnesty" ("Call it a banana if you want to"), Steyn writes:

"Having skimmed my Webster's, I can't seem to find a word that does cover what the Senate is proposing, it having never previously occurred to any other society in the course of human history. Whether or not, as Sen. McCain says, we should call it a singular banana, it's certainly plural bananas."

Disaster, Disaster Everywhere...

Ross Kaminsky says the Republicans who voted against the Ensign Amendment banning illegal aliens from collecting Social Security benefits for the years they worked illegally are leading the party to electoral defeat. Such a divisive measure may prevent consensus and compromise, and if the Republicans end up being do-nothings on immigration as a result, it could lead to disaster at the polls in November.

Kaminsky writes, in part: "While the President tries to find a middle ground that Republicans can support, the inclusion of provisions which insult basic sensibilities of right and wrong, i.e. allowing a taxpayer-provided benefit for illegal behavior, makes that middle ground nothing but a mirage and further disunifies the Party."

He also questions what this will do to the Presidential aspirations of the senators, such as McCain, who voted to award the Social Security benefits, as it seems unlikely they would pick up enough Hispanic or Democrat votes as a result to make up for the votes they'll lose from conservatives.

As a side note, I'd love to know how the Social Security benefits will be awarded. I have some tangential knowledge of how the illegal employment process works due to reading hundreds of workers' composition deposition transcripts as part of my business. It's quite common for an illegal immigrant to have used multiple false names and Social Security numbers. It's also quite common for previous employers to have gone out of business. If an illegal immigrant has worked under, as an example, three names and three different false numbers over the years, how does he prove to the Social Security Administration that he was actually the one who made the additional contributions to each person's SS number, particularly when there is no supporting documentation such as tax returns or employer records? Is it reasonable to believe most illegal workers have maintained all their pay stubs over the years? Do we take someone's word for it that he was the one making the "contributions" to the system with another person's number or a fake number, when the contributions were predicated on fraud and identity theft in the first place?

Fred Barnes feels that if the House stands on principle for "border security first," that will also lead to electoral disaster for Republicans. I'm not so sure. There is, after all, something to be said for impressing voters by standing on principle. (Witness the ousting of big-spending Republican legislators in Pennsylvania and elsewhere last week.) On the other hand, as Kaminsky writes, if nothing at all happens, that won't bode well at the ballot box either.

Barnes contends "Enforcement-only Republicans have both political and substantive grounds for compromise. Bush and Senate Republicans have gone out of their way to fashion a bill that takes seriously their legitimate concern for security. The Senate voted for 370 miles of triple fencing along the border. It adopted English as the national language. It established tough requirements for earning citizenship. It cut the temporary worker program to 200,000 immigrants a year from 325,000."

I believe the President and Congress have started moving in the right direction, but as soon as one promising bill is passed (i.e., English as the official language) another bill (i.e., a "dueling bill" watering down English to a "unifying" language, Social Security benefits earned illegally) is passed as well.

The 370 miles of fencing is a good start and better than we have in place now, but there are hundreds of miles to go and a need to seriously address security concerns regarding the U.S. northern border, not just the southern border. There is the question of whether, as Senator Judd Gregg contends, budget money originally intended to upgrade border patrol equipment is being diverted to pay for the National Guard to assist at the border. We've also got a big future problem with continued restrictions on well-educated immigrants while allowing in many thousands of poorly educated workers.

It seems to me that most of the "compromising" expected by Barnes and others is being put at the feet of conservatives: acceptance of amnesty, guest worker programs, illegally obtained Social Security benefits. I'd like to see a little more "compromise" on the part of the President and the liberals, including RINOs, in Congress.

In the end, what happens at the polls all depends on what kind of bill is passed.

If the House and ultimately Congress pass "border enforcement very lite" and fill a bill with expensive and controversial goodies like amnesty, a guest worker program, and Social Security benefits earned for those who engaged in fraud and identity theft, I don't exactly think "the base" will be racing to the polls to re-elect members who voted for that.

On the other hand, if Congress passes a reasonable "Krauthammer and Blankley compromise" which combines very strong border enforcement (and perhaps also recognition of English as the official language of the United States) with the amnesty and guest worker program, everyone has something to take away and Congressional members and President Bush are strengthened and will do well at the polls.

Update: Mickey Kaus of Slate says that Fred Barnes is aware there is no actual "consensus" on immigration, as he claims in the column linked above, and theorizes Barnes is trying to "panic conservative House Republicans." Kaus asks "If it's really panic time, why not pressure Senate Republicans into passing a common-denominator enforcement bill?"

Yep.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Today at Disneyland

One of the things I particularly enjoy during our trips to Disneyland is seeing what new flowers are blooming in the beautiful flowerbeds, particularly along Main Street U.S.A.

Here's what greeted us upon our arrival today:



Another lovely view:



A new book, SECRETS OF DISNEY'S GLORIOUS GARDENS, is due out sometime this year.

The Great Social Security Giveaway

The Washington Times elaborates on the Senate's surrender of Social Security benefits "earned" illegally with forged or stolen documents.

The Social Security surrender is one more reason I would never, ever vote for Senator John McCain, who all too frequently does not have this nation's best interests at heart. His vote not only rewards those who have broken the law to an even greater extent than would be the case "simply" with amnesty and the ability to earn citizenship, it further jeopardizes already wobbly Social Security for those who legally paid into it and deserve the benefits.

Dr. Krauthammer: Good Intentions Not Enough

Charles Krauthammer isn't impressed with this week's proposals on border security.

He also wonders why liberals are so friendly to illegal immigration, which depresses lower-class wages. I think the answer there is that liberals see the poor and especially illegal immigrants as a potential government-dependent voting bloc.

He concludes: "Serious border enforcement is what's missing in the president's 'comprehensive' program. And that is why so many 'conservatives' are extremely unhappy. Not out of nativism. There are many like me who cannot wait to end the shadow life of the illegals. But doing so while fraudulently promising to close the border is a simple capitulation..."

Ed Morrissey discusses the Krauthammer column and also discusses the sympathy of some liberals for the "reconquista" movement: "Having grown up in the Southwest, I can tell you that the notion that we 'stole' the region from Mexico has plenty of traction, and those inclined to worry about that a century and a half later will not be sympathetic to robust American claims to sovereignty and control over the territory."

Mark Levin warns that we're not accomplishing "comprehensive reform," but "comprehensive surrender."

Thursday, May 18, 2006

The President's Point of View

An interesting discussion today at The Corner about the President's motivations for the amnesty and guest worker programs.

Is the President "morally and emotionally opposed to immigration enforcement, especially on the Mexican border," because "he sees it as uncompassionate and un-Christian"?

Or is one of Peggy Noonan's theories correct, that Bush sees himself as preserving the Hispanic vote for Republicans? Or is her other, more cutting, theory correct: the President doesn't like "the base"?

I don't believe he doesn't like the base, but I think at times he doesn't understand us. There is a bit of a disconnect. Whether that disconnect is caused by his assessment of political realities (dealing with Congress, future votes, etc.), his "compassionate conservatism," or otherwise, I'm not sure.

As I conclude writing this post, Mark Steyn is discussing the Corner discussion with Hugh Hewitt, and they're also discussing their concerns about a permanent underclass if the guest worker program goes forward. Steyn is also pointing out that illegal workers who pay a fine on the "path" to citizenship will receive a net financial gain, full Social Security benefits, if today's Senate amendment is reflected in the final law. Can we afford that? It might be that the House should draw a line in the sand on that issue.

I do find it helpful to remember that despite the disconnect on some issues, we are far better off in 2006 than we would have been under a President Gore or Kerry -- or with a Speaker Pelosi. We have two solid new seats on the Supreme Court, lower taxes, and a commitment to fighting the War on Terror. We need to work harder to push the important domestic issues: border security, less spending, and more judges confirmed, and simultaneously remember that if we don't bend in some places, as we fight for what we believe, we might lose our part of a loaf and end up with nothing. If we can have concrete border security and assure ourselves of national security and stopping the huge numbers of people entering this country, that's worth a lot, as Tony Blankley suggested -- though it may not be worth bankrupting already-in-jeopardy social security.

Hugh Hewitt makes a good point on his radio show, however -- if we lose the Presidency or Congress, we'll end up with judges giving illegal aliens Social Security anyway. (Witness California's attempt to withhold public benefits from illegal aliens, Proposition 187, being declared unconstitutional by the courts.) Hugh, like Tony Blankley, is a pragmatist and suggests the best thing is to fight hard for the security, which would at least stop the numbers madness for the future, as well as help secure us from terrorists, and we may have to let the financial issues go. Sigh...

The Border: Questions and Progress

Senator Judd Gregg charges that funds originally earmarked to provide border security equipment are instead being diverted to pay for the National Guard.

If Gregg is correct, this raises serious questions in my mind about our willingness to move forward on border security on multiple fronts.

In a troubling development, the Senate today, as part of its "comprehensive" package, approved Social Security benefits for the years illegal aliens were here and breaking the law. I find it incomprehensible that Americans are expected to pay out benefits for years when people were working illegally, which typically means they were working under false social security numbers.

Another question has been raised in my mind: part of the path to "earned citizenship" is payment of back taxes. How would this be done when in most cases there will be no offical records of the earnings, Social Security or otherwise?

The President today continued to make the argument that "amnesty" means automatic citizenship and his proposals do not equate with amnesty. Charles Krauthammer, with his usual clear thinking, set the record straight today on Special Report with Brit Hume. Krauthammer said that clearly amnesty -- no punishment -- would be provided for the original offense, entering the country illegally. Citizenship is a separate issue from forgiveness for illegal entry, and it is the citizenship which would be "earned" and not "automatic."

I was pleased to see the President mention to Fox News today that Mexico also has a duty to maintain its own borders securely. Indeed, Mexico defends its Southern border with its military, yet dares to criticize us for doing the same with our Southern border!

In a positive development, the Senate today voted to make English the official language of the United States, requiring that illegal immigrants pass an English proficiency test in order to receive citizenship.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Sessions Senate Amendment Passes: Fences!

A glimmer of hope on the border security front today, with the passage of the Sessions amendment in the Senate mandating 370 miles of fencing along the Southern border. It's not all we need to secure the borders, but it's a solid start.

The amendment passed 83-16, which Power Line (linked above) suggests means "Even most Democrats have figured out how serious Americans are on the issue of border security."

Hugh Hewitt says: "Given that the House bill mandates 700 miles of fencing and the Senate bill 370 miles of fencing and 500 miles of vehicle barriers, the final bill that emerges from conference will mandate an enormous improvement in border security."

Ed Morrissey has more, including a discussion of amnesty and Tony Blankley's column on compromise. Ed opines: "If trading in the de facto guest worker program we have now for a regulated guest worker program gets us the robust border security we need, then we should take that deal."

I'm still watching Washington with a wary eye, and am deeply concerned about the many issues raised by amnesty and guest worker programs, but I'm willing to concede it's possible we just might be better off on the border front tonight than we were a couple days ago; if so, it seems that part of the credit must go to President Bush for moving the debate forward. We'll see now what transpires in future.

The Southern border has received a great deal of attention because of the multiple issues facing us on that front -- security concerns combined with the sheer number of people coming across, as well as problems such as drugs being "imported" from Mexico -- but in due course I believe we must also turn our attention to the Northern border and secure it on an equal basis. We should not forget that the so-called Millennium bomber who intended to blow up LAX attempted to enter the country via Canada, and there are probably hundreds of miles unattended on our Northern border. If we close off the South, it's all the more likely a terrorist will then turn to the North -- or our ports.

The battle for national security has a long way yet to go; let's hope this is a positive start in the right direction.

Tony Snow on the Blogosophere

Hugh Hewitt interviewed Tony Snow today, and one of the topics was the blogosphere. Tony reads Power Line, Michelle Malkin, and Instapundit. I found this fascinating:

"We are in the process of designating people to sort of do blog work. Because...that is one of the things I am doing at the press office is to get us up on the new media, and so I still haven't finished that task, but I am going to start designating people to keep an eye out on certain blogs so we can figure out an effective strategy because, as you know, the great thing about a blog is that if you get some information out, the blogs are useful not only for infoprmation but also for various analyses. You get it into the bloodstream and boom, people start linking all across the universe and it is like one of those pictures of a crack in the ice, it just spiderwebs everywhere, only it does it at the speed of light..."

This understanding and desire to interact with the "new media" is just one of the many reasons Tony should do a fine job as White House Press Secretary.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Tony Blankley: "The Price of Secure Borders"

A good column by Tony Blankley on immigration and political realities.

I tend to agree with the basic thrust of his column: if we can accomplish genuinely secure borders, which will protect our country from terrorists and a continued influx of illegal aliens, the other issues (i.e., guest workers) are negotiable and there will probably have to be some compromise on all sides. This is a variation on Charles Krauthammer's wise suggestion that the government focus on border security first and negotiate the other issues later; unfortunately, the Administration seems determined to tackle everything at once.

I agree with Victor Davis Hanson (author of MEXIFORNIA) and others that a guest worker program is a bad idea because, among other things, it establishes a permanent, unassimilated underclass -- look at the problems this has caused in France. But if it's secure borders and a guest worker program or no secure borders, what then? That issue is the crux of Blankley's essay.

My great concern is that I'm not sold that secure borders are a big -- let alone the biggest -- priority of the Administration or Congress. If the President's border proposals are carried out, that would be a step in the right direction. However, given how strong the President has been on the war on terror, I find it curious that he has such a seeming blind spot to the threats posed by our currently open borders. (All it takes is one suitcase nuke from Iran...) Addressing the borders in a serious, substantive way has been a long time coming. I would like to see the President pursue securing the "homeland" with the same vigor with which he has rightly fought the War on Terror abroad. The optimist in me is coming to the fore as I hope this week will, in the long run, prove to have been a genuine turning point rather than a perpetuation of the status quo.

Wednesday Update: Power Line discusses Blankley's column.

"Grey's Anatomy": Wow!

Until last night, I'd only watched Season 1 of GREY'S ANATOMY on DVD. Monday evening, lured by USA Today's rave review (linked above), I couldn't resist tuning in to the Season 2 finale. I rarely mind spoilers and decided I didn't want to wait months more to see the season cliffhanger.

Gulp! Talk about a rock 'em, sock 'em ending. I never thought I'd say this, but I think I now love Alex. :) (It's a bit incongruous and rather nice to learn that in real life Justin Chambers is married with 5 kids.)

The comments at the show's official blog, Grey Matter, number nearly 1000 this morning. I think it's wonderful that the writers have provided a forum for the show's viewers to share their opinions and interact with the creative team.

I came across an interesting blog post at Rhythms of Grace which reminded me of something I wrote here in April about how GREY'S makes viewers think. Mary wrote:

"It's not a Christian show by any stretch of the imagination, but...maybe it is...when it's over, every week without fail, I sit and take stock of my life, of my love, of my choices... I think I must have talked to that TV the whole two hours... In the end, you are left with the question--What would I have done? We'd all like to believe that we'd do the right things, be the right people, but even as we watch, cry and yell at the TV, we know we might not. We know that we need Jesus."

Season 2 will be released on DVD in September, when Season 3 is due to start airing on ABC.

I have the feeling I'm going to be watching Seasons 2 and 3 simultaneously...

Tony Snow's Debut Today

I missed it, but The Corner is giving rave reviews to Tony Snow's on-camera debut as Press Secretary today.

John Podhoretz: "His performance today was nothing short of dazzling. Yes, he's an old friend. But I would have stayed silent if I didn't think what I just wrote."

Jonah Goldberg reports email correspondents say Tony "walloped" Helen Thomas (who really needs to retire).

Looking forward to seeing Tony in his new role soon.

Update: Hot Air has video up of Snow vs. Thomas.

The Speech: Reaction Round-Up

Ed Morrissey (above): "It really seems as if the White House wrote a speech to just pacify their critics instead of actually responding to their concerns."

Power Line: "Disappointment...a dark day." Also at Power Line: "He had his chance...and he blew it."

John O'Sullivan, via Power Line: "Tired and tiring repetition."

National Review: "Amnesty Undeniable." NRO also has a symposium. I especially liked Victor Davis Hanson's thoughts on the lack of any concrete proposals to help effect immigrant assimilation.

Mark Tapscott compares last night's speech to a 2004 Presidential speech on immigration.

Mark Levin explains the lack of follow-through on border patrol budgeting last year.

Rush Limbaugh on the radio today: "We heard a sincere leader trying to lead the nation... It's a tough thing. People are asking today if they are just words; they've heard them before."

Monday, May 15, 2006

Hugh Hewitt Talks to Julie Myers of U.S. Immigration and Customs

Hugh Hewitt initially reacted positively to the President's speech, feeling he hit a middle ground.

However, part of Hugh's favorable response was predicated on the mention of fencing in the speech. His positive reaction to the President's speech quickly dissipated as he spoke with Assistant Secretary Julie Myers of Immigration and Customs on his show after the speech.

Myers told Hugh, "We don't think fencing is the best way to go. You build a fence, they build a tunnel."

So we can protect the border with technology, but not a fence?

As Hugh said to Myers, "I think you just walked the Administration back from the fence." He told her "It doesn't seem like you really believe in it" (the fence).

Myers insists that what matters is results, not a fence, and the Administration can accomplish results without a fence, repeating "You build a fence, you'll have tunnels."

Hewitt responded, "Ms. Myers, they [Americans] want a fence. You're telling me the administration isn't into the fence? I think that's disastrous. I thought the President had come down for the fence, but you're telling me that this is really a much subtler approach."

Hugh concluded: "I'm just stunned. That's not what the President said, but that's what the second level believes."

"I'm staggered...I thought the fence was real. Then I spoke for ten minutes with... Julie Myers...if she is the voice of the Administration on this, then the President did not mean a word he said, and if she's not, then the Administration is badly bollixed on this issue."

The mention of some fencing was one of the few positives for those who are seriously concerned about border security. Myers just completely undermined it.

Hugh Hewitt has updated his post to reflect his complete amazement and dismay with Myers' speech. He said it's as though President Kennedy said we'd put a man on the moon and undersecretaries came out and said, "No, we're really not."

Update: Captain's Quarters has more reaction and commentary on the Hewitt-Myers interview as well.

Mark Levin: "I didn't spend 35 years in the conservative movement for this."

Tuesday Update: Radio Blogger has the interview transcript up, headlined "How to undo the impact of a Presidential address in one easy lesson."

Betsy Newmark noted last night "The Administration had better get a spokesman over to Hugh Hewitt's radio show ASAP."

The Speech: Overall, a Disappointment

The President's immigration speech had some positives, such as a pledge to end "catch and release" programs with more facilities, and there was passing mention of fencing in some areas.

But...the National Guard would not be used for law enforcement, apparently because that would be "militarizing" our border, and "Mexico is our friend." (No, Mexico uses us as an economic and social release valve while refusing to clean its own house.)

Much of the speech focused once again on a guest worker program and amnesty. The President somehow thinks that those illegal aliens who have successfully hidden here for a few years and thus have "deep roots" should have a different status than someone who just came over the border, so those with "deep roots" should have more rights. This was the single most baffling section of the speech. The longer you've been breaking the law, the better off you are. How could this not encourage other illegal aliens to come here now and start the clock running?

We once again heard about illegals doing jobs Americans won't do...well, Americans won't do those jobs at those low wages, which are being paid under the table, without income taxes.

The President advocates cracking down on employers of illegal aliens. I'm all for this if he can accomplish it...but if it hasn't happened in the last two decades, I need some solid assurance that it's really going to happen this time around.

Much of the speech was simply patronizing, miscasting the issue in a "human rights" vein rather than as a law enforcement or national security issue. I strongly disliked this part of the speech: "We must always remember that real lives will be affected by our debates and decisions, and that every human being has dignity and value no matter what their citizenship papers say." I would venture to say that most Americans are descended from immigrants. None of us needed to be reminded of the value of every human being or of the importance of immigrants -- legal immigrants -- in our society.

The President also suggested that "some in this country want to deport every illegal immigrant." As mentioned at The Corner, is anyone really suggesting this?

I would have liked to hear a suggestion that we put the provisions of California's Proposition 187 into play. That initiative, struck down by the courts as "unconstitutional," would have prevented those here illegally from using taxpayer-funded services such as schools, welfare, and other services. Take those services away, and much of the attraction to move -- or stay -- here in the first place disappears. No deportations necessary.

If the President and Congress actually follow through on his proposals, it's a start. But just that.

I consider myself a Bush supporter and an optimist, but color me skeptical.

Commentary from Captain's Quarters linked above. Ed predicts "a very mixed reaction" to the speech.

The "Live Thread" reacting to the speech at Free Republic is here.

Hugh Hewitt is optimistic.

Michelle Malkin wasn't impressed.

John Hawkins at Right Wing News was very unhappy with the speech.

Kathryn Jean Lopez: "We have an emergency—our borders are out of control and during a time of war. You don't get that sense. Get me Jack Bauer."

The Speech: That's All?

The White House Press Office has released excerpts from tonight's speech. As discussed on Power Line (linked above), it sounds like it's mostly going to be same old, same old: Lots of rhetoric about the importance of immigrants and guest workers, and a request for more funding for the border.

Unless the White House is holding back some surprises for tonight, it doesn't appear there will be a major new proposal such as a wall.

We've heard proposals to hold employers more accountable since Ronald Reagan's amnesty program in the mid-'80s. What will make this time different?

The last paragraph made me cringe:

"We must always remember that real lives will be affected by our debates and decisions, and that every human being has dignity and value no matter what their citizenship papers say."

I don't believe anyone has ever said in this debate that human beings don't have dignity and value, and I find it patronizing to be told to "remember" that. The debate has always been about upholding the laws and national security. "No matter what their citizenship papers say" comes perilously close to hinting that those citizenship papers don't matter.

This causes me to ponder, how is it that to the White House illegal aliens are hardworking individuals with dignity and value, while the law-abiding Minutemen, exercising their 1st Amendment rights by observing and reporting illegal border crossings to the Border Patrol, are "vigilantes"?

So far I'm not hearing the kinds of Presidential proposals I had hoped to hear tonight. I'll be tuning in hoping they're holding back the most interesting proposals for the live broadcast.

Profiles of Two Nice Smart Guys

Howard Kurtz profiles new White House Press Secretary Tony Snow (above), who will hold his first televised press conference on Tuesday.

Supreme Court Justice John Roberts continues to impress after several months on the job. He's the subject of an interesting article from Bloomberg News.

Tonight's Speech: Cause for Concern?

The Washington Times headlines "Bush to Tout Guest-Worker Plan," and says "Despite terrible polls...the White House believes the public is coming around to its point of view."

If this is indeed the actual thrust of the speech, rather than a substantive change on border security, the President and the country are in trouble.

I have a worried feeling that the "temporary" deployment of the National Guard to the border is not being done for the sake of actual border security, in and of itself, but as a politically expedient way to attempt to win support for the Administration's main goal, amnesty and a guest worker program. I hope very much that I'm wrong.

Hugh Hewitt and Michelle Malkin are concerned as well.

Hugh's radio show will be extended for two hours this evening in order to cover the speech and reaction.

Update: Rush Limbaugh is concerned too. Here is a rough transcription and paraphrase of the opening of his show today:

"If he's not firm about this, if this is just lip service to tide people over for a while, it's going to come back and boomerang... I'm concerned about this because I don't like the pre-speech leaks... If these leaks are accurate, we're going to temporarily deploy the National Guard until we build up the border patrol. The Administration has (previously) refused to fund all the border patrol agents that have been authorized by Congress. If these leaks are accurate, the Guard will not be that strong and they will not be on the border guarding...according to a spokesman on a morning show...if you dilute the significance of the guard on the border, then what's the point of putting them there? The public can't be fooled by any of this. I'm serious as a heart attack about this, folks, if we hear tonight about jobs Americans won't do and the same old lines...a red flag is raised. This is all predicated on these pre-speech leaks."

And now to wait and hear what the President actually says...

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Farewell to "The West Wing"

Tonight's show was a fitting finale for one of television's all-time best-executed TV shows. Putting aside the characters' liberal politics, the series gave viewers years of mesmerizing TV.

In recent weeks it's been a treat to have visits from old friends like Ainsley Hayes (Emily Procter) and Sam Seaborn (Rob Lowe). Tonight the President even made it a point to say goodbye to longstanding minor characters such as the always-together Larry and Ed. :) And Josh and Donna fans end the series on a happy note.

Well, we'll always have the DVD's.

Monday Update: Welcome to readers of The West Wing News Blog! Please visit again. :)

"Prop. 82 Deserves a Dunce Cap"

John Seiler of The Orange County Register on the many reasons Proposition 82, California's "universal preschool" initiative, is a bad, bad idea.

This is "must" reading for anyone who's not yet familiar with the issue and plans to vote in June.

Union 76 Balls to Disappear

Last week we found that our local Union 76 gas station had changed from an orange and blue color scheme to red and blue in the space of a day. As 76 stations have been orange and blue my entire life, the sudden change was a bit shocking, to say the least.

It turns out that the iconic spinning Union 76 balls will soon be following the orange and blue colors into history. ConocoPhillips, which now owns Unocal, plans to remove the 76 balls from the Southern California landscape and elsewhere.

Some Californians aren't letting the change happen without protest. A blog has been started, Save the 76 Ball, in an attempt to persuade ConocoPhillips to save at least some of the balls as examples of design from an earlier time in state history. The blog includes "before" and "after" photos of the changes to an Oahu station.

The L.A. Times article has interesting background on the 45-year-old symbol's history and why it matters, including quotes from architecture historian Alan Hess, whose books include GOOGIE REDUX: ULTRAMODERN ROADSIDE ARCHITECTURE.

It's hard to imagine Dodger Stadium without the glowing Union 76 ball spinning in the parking lot...

Saturday, May 13, 2006

No Virtual Fences

Deborah Orin of the New York Post reports that part of the President's proposal Monday night will be a "virtual fence" along the border.

As Hugh Hewitt says, the White House isn't protected by a virtual fence. A virtual fence isn't good enough for our country, either.

Orin also reports that the President will talk about "letting those who are here already get in line" for citizenship.

No, no, no.

Mr. President, we want a real plan for real border security. No discussions about "normalization" for those who are here illegally until we solve the more pressing question of complete border security and are assured we won't have millions more people illegally entering this country and demanding citizenship and its benefits. The National Guard would be a step in the right direction, but only a real fence is a real, permanent solution.

Ed Morrissey at Captain's Quarters is more optimistic. He doesn't believe President Bush would be making an Oval Office speech without plans to offer a very significant change in direction on immigration. If he repeats the old theme of "hardworking immigrants doing jobs that Americans won't do, it will be a mistake of gargantuan proportions."

Ed concludes with this positive thought: "The voices of the people have been heard, and their representatives have made some long-overdue adjustments. This proves that remaining engaged but not offering blind brand loyalty can bring change. We need to remain engaged in this battle and on spending in order to continue to return the GOP to core conservative values."

I hope that on Monday night Ed's optimism is proven correct and that the President, who is a very smart man, will once again show that he has the courage to do a hard job that needs to be done.

What the Country Doesn't Need: A New Oil Production Tax

This November California voters may be deciding whether or not to impose a $400 million per year "extraction tax" on oil companies. The initiative, labeled the "California Clean Air Campaign," appears to have acquired enough signatures to be placed on this fall's ballot.

Every barrel of oil produced in California or offshore would be taxed to pay for research and development of alternative fuels.

The problem, of course, is that this tax would discourage production at the very time when we need production to increase so gas prices will decrease.

The bill prohibits oil producers from passing the cost of the tax on to consumers. I'd sure like to know how that would work.

It strikes me as un-American that a large enough group of people could vote to force private companies to pay for other Americans' pet development projects, and further not allow the private companies to incorporate that tax into their cost of doing business. Why don't those who want to encourage development of alternative fuels work on paying for it themselves and see if it sells? There's this concept called capitalism...

"When School's at Home"

This article is a good read which discusses some of the benefits of homeschooling.

"We feel like parents should always have the last word on their children." This homeschooling point of view stands in sharp contrast to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in California, which recently ruled that schools have the last word on what children are taught.

Small wonder that, for many reasons, more and more families are turning to homeschooling.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Judge Strikes Down CA High School Exit Exam

As expected, a Northern California judge has struck down California's high school exit exam.

Some days I feel like I'm living in a judicial monarchy.

A high schooler, crying tears of happiness, said, "It's hard to be poor."

Well, it's not going to get any easier, dear, if you can't read and compute at a 7th or 8th grade level, which is all that is needed to pass the exam.

Hydrox Cookie Memories

The other day I got to thinking longingly about my all-time favorite "store-bought" cookies, Hydrox, which haven't been available for years. They were so good, especially frozen! To this day I won't eat Oreos, which are overly sweet imposters. :)

A Google search soon showed I was not alone in my longing for Hydrox. I found websites (above and here) with Hydrox history and comments. There's a Wikipedia entry and even a petition asking that they be made again.

You really can find information about almost anything on the Internet!

Go, Tony, Go

The White House, under new Press Secretary Tony Snow, released more "correction memos" Thursday setting straight erroneous media stories.

Bill Sammon of the Washington Examiner reports that CBS expressed unhappiness, but although correspondent Jim Axelrod accused the White House of "cutting and pasting" and not offering "context," he never actually said the correction of his story was wrong.

I hope Snow has a staffer or two working on keeping the media record straight, rather than attempting to do it himself, as it could be a full-time job.

The Associated Press reports that Snow's first on-camera briefing has been moved from next Monday to Tuesday. Today he conducted his first off-camera briefing.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Correspondents Shuffle at Fox News Channel

Media Bistro's TV Newser reports that longtime Pentagon correspondent Bret Baier is moving to the White House; he replaces White House correspondent Carl Cameron, who heads back to the campaign trail as chief political correspondent.

Brian Wilson has been named the permanent anchor of Weekend Live, and Major Garrett has been promoted to replace Wilson as Congressional correspondent.

A Scary Thought: Hillary the President

John Podhoretz just wrapped up a lengthy radio discussion with Hugh Hewitt and said that if a Presidential election were held today, Hillary Clinton would win.

Podhoretz's new book, linked above, is CAN SHE BE STOPPED?

Hugh thinks Hillary will do great on radio and talk shows, but I don't think he's considering the role of the MSM (mainstream media), which basically gave Hillary a free pass on the way to her being elected Senator of New York. Hillary doesn't have to talk to the press and would do so as little as possible if she runs for President, just as was the case when she ran for the Senate. Podhoretz expressed concern in his conversation with Hugh about Hillary being able to "hide" again.

Podhoretz's book is subtitled HILLARY CLINTON WILL BE THE NEXT PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES UNLESS. . . Guess we'd better read it and find out what the "unless" is.

Angels Forced By Lawsuit to Discontinue Mother's Day

I heard this story this morning on the drive to Dodger Stadium. Roger Hedgecock, subbing for Rush Limbaugh today, told listeners that a male psychologist has sued the Anaheim Angels because he was refused a tote bag given to women as part of a promotion for Mother's Day, 2005.

This obviously very ill psychologist has also charged children's "civil rights" were violated because the bags were given to guests over the age of 18.

The Angels are not observing Mother's Day this year. Instead, they are marking "Family Sunday." They refuse to say if the change is a direct result of the lawsuit, but two and two seem to make four to this baseball fan.

This seems to scarily tie in with the post below about a new bill which threatens to remove gender terms such as "Mom" and "Dad" from California textbooks.

It's just a scary, sad world out there, folks, with too many people selfishly bent on destroying traditional values and old-fashioned, innocent fun.

Next thing you know, baseball teams won't be allowed to target giveaway promotions to children because they'll be violating the "civil rights" of so-called adults.

CA Senate: Delete "Mom," "Dad" From Textbooks, Teach Gay History

This is amazing. The California Senate has passed a pending bill, previously discussed here, which requires students to learn about the "contributions" of homosexuals in history. The idea that students need to know about the sex lives of historic figures just boggles the mind.

A stunning new piece of information is that the bill will require the deletion of any gender-specific terms such as "Mom" or "Dad." (Insert blood-curdling scream of amazement coming from Orange County, California...)

The bill now goes to the Democrat-controlled State Assembly. World Net Daily reports it's thought it will likely pass there as well.

Then the question would become: What will Arnold do? I think he must be smart enough to know he won't be re-elected if he signs this bill into law.

As mentioned here before, this isn't just a California issue. California is one of the country's largest textbook purchasers. If the textbook publishers create new textbooks based on California law, those textbooks may be coming to your state, too.

Reps Ask DHS to Investigate Border Patrol Info Given to Mexico

Sara Carter reports in today's Daily Bulletin that three members of the House of Representatives have called for the Department of Homeland Security to launch an investigation into the exact nature of the info the Border Patrol is providing the Mexican government about civilian border patrol groups:

"We are deeply concerned that if the media reports are accurate and the Department of Homeland Security is relaying information to the Mexican government on the locations of these citizen groups, whether formally or informally, their safety is being put at risk and their peaceable goals undermined."

Meanwhile, Michelle Malkin reports that a DHS spokesperson gave her information that exactly contradicts the DHS response yesterday to Andrew McCarthy. Michelle was told "twice and plainly, that the agency does identify when and where civilian volunteers are involved with illegal alien apprehensions if border-crossers call their neighborhood Mexican consular officials to complain about intimidation or harassment while sneaking into the country."

Stay tuned.

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