Immigration Causing Rift Among Republicans

Immigration is turning into an issue which is dividing Republicans, as business owners object to some hard line proposals. The Wall Street Journal Reports:

Ever since Republicans took over the House in 1994, they rarely have split with business, whether on taxes, regulation, labor or the environment. In turn, businesses have given Republicans steady support. Groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce consistently have awarded perfect or near-perfect scores to Republican lawmakers who vote the way they want on crucial issues — rankings that usually translate into campaign contributions.

This year, the immigration debate is straining that bond. In an election with control of Congress at stake, the spat could cost Republicans support in key districts. Business groups’ rankings have fallen for Republicans who support beefed-up border security but reject expanding legal immigration.

The Associated General Contractors of America and the National Roofing Contractors Association, among others, say they will cut or eliminate campaign contributions to some lawmakers taking hard-line immigration positions.

Immigration “has fundamentally altered our relationship with many offices,” says Craig Silvertooth, federal affairs director for the roofing group. “We are pulling back financially with some offices that in previous cycles we would not have hesitated to give to.” He said he has stopped meeting with some hard-line lawmakers but declined to name them.

The House and Senate have passed different immigration bills, and talks to iron out differences have stalled.

To be sure, most business interests continue to support Republicans. Few trade associations can afford to anger lawmakers who determine tax policy or dole out funding for lucrative projects.

That may explain why the debate doesn’t seem to be moving in the business community’s direction. “If the business community were voting on this, they’d be winning. But they’re not convincing anybody they’re voting on this,” says Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who backs House Republicans’ focus on enforcement, says: “If the business community believes they would be better off with Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, they should go help them.”

Hard-line lawmakers are betting that a focus on enforcement — stopping illegal immigration at the border and stepping up deportation — will energize conservative voters. “The oath of office I took was not to hand-hold business,” says Rep. J.D. Hayworth, an Arizona Republican who is locked in a tight race. “It was to protect the citizens. … That is a responsibility I’m not going to abdicate.” But that could backfire if many Republicans with business ties sit out the election.

Jimmy Carter Disappointed in Tony Blair

The Telegraph quotes Jimmy Carter as being disappointed in Tony Blair for not being more of a moderating influence on George Bush:

Tony Blair’s lack of leadership and timid subservience to George W Bush lie behind the ongoing crisis in Iraq and the worldwide threat of terrorism, according to the former American president Jimmy Carter.

I have been surprised and extremely disappointed by Tony Blair’s behaviour,” he told The Sunday Telegraph.

I think that more than any other person in the world the Prime Minister could have had a moderating influence on Washington – and he has not. I really thought that Tony Blair, who I know personally to some degree, would be a constraint on President Bush’s policies towards Iraq.”

In an exclusive interview, President Carter made it plain that he sees Mr Blair’s lack of leadership as being a key factor in the present crisis in Iraq, which followed the 2003 invasion – a pre-emptive move he said he would never have considered himself as president.Mr Carter also said that the Iraq invasion had subverted the fight against terrorism and instead strengthened al-Qaeda and the recruitment of terrorists.

It is hard to understand why someone like Tony Blair would follow the lead of someone who we would have thought was by far his inferior both intellectually and due to his lack of principles. If we go along with Robert Kuttner’s assertion that Dick Cheney, not The Decider, is in charge here, then we might also argue that it is really Dick Cheney who is also calling the shots to some degree in Great Britain. In Orwellian terms, this¬†might mean that Dick Cheney rules Oceania and is Big Brother.


Emmy Night

The Emmy Awards are coming up tonight. Even though it was greater during the Sorkin years, I’m rooting for The West Wing to go out with some major awards. Its a shame that the Lauren Graham Rule didn’t do enough. Some deserving shows and individuals are not going to be recognized tonight.

I’ve already reposted some of my old blog posts on Gilmore Girls and several science fiction shows. To get in the mood for the Emmys I’ll add some other old television posts, including The West Wing, 24, and Alias, below the fold.

UPDATE: Alan Alda wins as Arnold Vinick


Avoiding Accountability in the Cheney Presidency

Robert Kuttner has an article in the Boston Globe on noting that it doesn’t matter whether George Bush is on vacation because the man really running the country is Dick Cheney:

GEORGE W. BUSH has been faulted in some quarters for taking an extended vacation while the Middle East festers. It doesn’t much matter; the man running the country is Vice President Dick Cheney.

When historians look back on the multiple assaults on our constitutional system of government in this era, Cheney’s unprecedented role will come in for overdue notice. Cheney’s shotgun mishap, when he accidentally sprayed his host with birdshot, has gotten more media attention than has his control of the government.

Kuttner takes this futher than most who have observed in the past by noting that this is a way to avoid accountability:

The Iraq war is the work of Cheney and Rumsfeld. The capture of the career civil service is pure Cheney. The disciplining of Congress is the work of Cheney and Rove. The turning over of energy policy to the oil companies is Cheney. The extreme secrecy is Cheney and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

If Cheney were the president, more of this would be smoked out because the press would be paying attention. The New York Times’ acerbic columnist Maureen Dowd regularly makes sport of Cheney’s dominance, and there are plenty of jokes (Bush is a heartbeat away from the presidency). But you can count serious newspaper or magazine articles on Cheney’s operation on the fingers of one hand. One exceptional example is Jane Mayer’s piece in the July 3 New Yorker on Cheney operative David Addington .

Cheney’s power is matched only by his penchant for secrecy. When my colleague at the American Prospect, Robert Dreyfuss, requested the names of people who serve on the vice president’s staff, he was told this was classified information. Former staffers for other departments provided Dreyfuss with names.

While the media goes along with the claims that George Bush is The Decider, the country might not be as ready to go along with the government’s move to the extreme right if they realized this was the doing of Dick Cheney and not George Bush:

When George W. Bush narrowly defeated John Kerry in 2004, many commentators observed that Bush was the fellow with whom you would rather have a beer. It’s an accurate and unflattering comment on the American electorate — but then who wants to have a beer with Cheney? The public may not know the details of his operation, but voters intuitively recoil from him.

Bush’s popularity ratings are now under 40 percent, beer or no, reflecting dwindling confidence in where he is taking the country. But Cheney’s ratings are stuck around 20 percent, far below that of any president.

If Cheney were the actual president, not just the de facto one, he simply could not govern with the same set of policies and approval ratings of 20 percent. The media focuses relentless attention on the president, on the premise that he is actually the chief executive. But for all intents and purposes, Cheney is chief, and Bush is more in the ceremonial role of the queen of England.

Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised. The Republicans found success in the past with a President who was often content to be figure head with others running the show in Ronald Reagan. Where things differ now is the degree to which a single individual has taken so much power.

Richard Armitage’s Role In The Plame Scandal

It’s getting to be that you need a score cared to keep straight the relationship each person involved in the Plame scandal has with the others. Joe Wilson became the topic of a lengthy discussion here on the Iraq war under my post Absurdities In Defending A Failed Iraq Policy. Newsweek reviews the role of Richard Armitage as revealed in the book As recounted in a new book, Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War by Michael Isikoff and David Corn:

Armitage, a well-known gossip who loves to dish and receive juicy tidbits about Washington characters, apparently hadn’t thought through the possible implications of telling Novak about Plame’s identity. “I’m afraid I may be the guy that caused this whole thing,” he later told Carl Ford Jr., State’s intelligence chief. Ford says Armitage admitted to him that he had “slipped up” and told Novak more than he should have. “He was basically beside himself that he was the guy that f—ed up. My sense from Rich is that it was just chitchat,” Ford recalls in “Hubris,” to be published next week by Crown and co-written by the author of this article and David Corn, Washington editor of The Nation magazine.

As it turned out, Novak wasn’t the only person Armitage talked to about Plame. Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward has also said he was told of Plame’s identity in June 2003. Woodward did not respond to requests for comment for this article, but, as late as last week, he referred reporters to his comments in November 2005 that he learned of her identity in a “casual and offhand” conversation with an administration official he declined to identify. According to three government officials, a lawyer familiar with the case and an Armitage confidant, all of whom would not be named discussing these details, Armitage told Woodward about Plame three weeks before talking to Novak. Armitage has consistently refused to discuss the case; through an assistant last week he declined to comment for this story. Novak would say only: “I don’t discuss my sources until they reveal themselves.”

Maybe this will put an end to all those conservative blogs which are spreading preposterous claims that it was Joe Wilson himself who revealed his wife’s identity.

What Do We Do About Joe?

I’ve been critical of Joe Lieberman lately between his campaigning with Republicans and making it clear he would not support Democrats running for Congress. Where I drew the line was in using his activities as reason to call on Harry Reid to strip Joe Lieberman of his seniority or party membership as many are.

I have mixed feelings on this. On the one hand Lieberman is clearly the Republican-preferred candidate, and his campaign may very well increase the chances for Republican Congressional victories in Connecticut. There’s also the issues I disagree with him on, from Iraq to the manner in which his religious views influence political decisions. However, I would sure hate to find ourselves in a situation where Republicans maintain control of the Senate by one vote. That would be particularly frustrating if that vote came from Joe Lieberman voting Republican due to being kicked out by the Democrats. We can be certain that the Republicans will never kick Lincoln Chafee out of the party if elected, even if he were to wind up in a situation analogous to Lieberman’s.

We could argue endlessly about what the right course is, and there are valid arguments for each side. Fortunately Bob Geiger has given us a good excuse to ignore this issue and concentrate on things which really matter. He explains why, under the Senate’s rules, it is very unlikely action will be taken against Lieberman:

The membership in Senate committees is decided at the start of every Congress with a haggled-out thing called an “organizing resolution.” The entire Senate votes on it and it usually passes by unanimous consent. Organizing resolutions can also happen when party shake-ups occur in the middle of a Congress, like when Vermont’s Jim Jeffords bolted from the GOP in 2001.

To give Joe his well-deserved comeuppance by taking him off committees and effectively making him the most junior member of the Senate, Reid would have to formally propose an amendment to the current organizing resolution, manage to get it to a vote and then get every Democrat and a handful of Republicans to vote for a new committee organization sans Lieberman. If Majority Leader Bill Frist decided to filibuster Reid’s action, 60 votes would be required to keep it alive.

Based on that procedural construct, Harry Reid can’t just unilaterally, or even by a closed vote of the Democratic caucus, strip Lieberman of his committee assignments.

This still leaves the door open to strip Lieberman of his seniority in the next Congress. My bet is that Harry Reid will wait until it is time to make this decision, and he knows whether Lieberman has even been reelected and how much his vote matters. No amount of calls and letters from angry bloggers is likely to change that.Geiger also adds one additional argument for last week’s event at the Groton sub base to be considered a campaign event. Rob Simmons is promoting the meeting on his campaign site. I find it quite naive to claim that this was anything other than a thinly veiled campaign event. Lieberman’s statements the next day make it even more difficult to ignore the manner in which he has become the de facto Republican candidate.