Posted at 1:04pm on Jun. 7, 2007 Cloture Vote Fails, but New Threat Emerges

By Bluey

The Senate just voted 33-63 not to invoke cloture on the immigration bill, meaning that it cannot proceed to a final vote at this time. However, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D.-Nev.) is planning to spend the afternoon twisting arms in anticipation for another cloture vote at 5 p.m. today.

In the meantime, Capitol Hill sources tell me that the White House may be working with Senate supporters of the original bill to strip out all amendments that have been added. Such a move deeply worries conservatives.

"It looks like the 'Masters of the Universe' might want a mulligan," said one conservative GOP aide. "But there are some folks who take their golf pretty seriously here in the Senate. I expect multiple senators would object to such a desperate tactic."

Conservative activists have ramped up calls to key Senate offices today in hopes that enough grassroots pressure will convince senators to oppose the bill.

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Posted at 6:14pm on Jun. 6, 2007 Amnesty Opponents Making Progress in Senate

By Bluey

Spirits among conservative critics of the immigration bill have brightened today following several Senate votes that indicate at least 40 senators could block the bill during a cloture vote tomorrow.

Well-placed sources tell me that activists are focusing their attention on the following list of senators: Sam Brownback (R.-Kan.), Richard Burr (R.-N.C.), Saxby Chambliss (R.-Ga.), Larry Craig (R.-Idaho), Pete Domenici (R.-N.M.), Byron Dorgan (D.-N.D.), John Ensign (R.-Nev.), Mike Enzi (R.-Wyo.), Judd Gregg (R.-N.H.), Johnny Isakson (R.-Ga.), Jon Kyl (R.-Ariz.), Mary Landrieu (D.-La.), Trent Lott (R.-Miss.), Mitch McConnell (R.-Ky.), Claire McCaskill (D.-Mo.), Ben Nelson (D.-Neb.), Mark Pryor (D.-Ark.), Debbie Stabenow (D.-Mich.), John Sununu (R.-N.H.), Jon Tester (D.-Mont.), George Voinovich (R.-Ohio), Jim Webb (D.-Va.), and John Warner (R.-Va.).

These individuals are apparently still non-committal about how they will vote on the final bill or could be swayed depending on votes either for or against amendments to the bill.

Conservatives' renewed optimism came after three votes on amendments to the bill, all of which garnered at least 41 votes -- the number needed to block cloture.


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Posted at 3:48pm on Jun. 6, 2007 Top 5 Dumbest Aspects of Immigration Bill

Courtesy of CNN's Lou Dobbs

By Bluey

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Posted at 1:17pm on Jun. 6, 2007 Mike Huckabee: Immigration Bill Can Be Fixed

He doesn't like it, but isn't ready to kill it

By Bluey

Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee held a conference call with bloggers at 10 a.m. and took questions about education, energy and immigration. I asked about immigration and whether Huckabee thought the Senate bill should be fixed or just killed.

Huckabee said he's very much in favor of trying to work on it to make it better. "Instead of rejecting it wholesale, let's be specific what we don't like," he said. He cited his concern that the bill would reward illegal aliens with legal status first, rather than making them work toward it.

On the touchy subject of John McCain, Huckabee danced around a question of how immigration was changing the dynamics of the race. McCain has dropped from second to fourth place in recent polls. Of his fellow Republican, Huckabee said, "He takes a position and he sticks with it. Even if his position is 180 degrees from mine, I respect him for that. At least he takes a stand and he sticks with it. He's not a person who tailors his views to each audience."

Following up on a point made by Duncan Hunter at last night's debate, Huckabee said Sen. Teddy Kennedy's (D.-Mass.) prominent role in the immigration deal is very troubling for many conservatives. While it may give comfort to liberals, it provokes a hostile reaction from the right.

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Posted at 1:17am on Jun. 5, 2007 Restating The Obvious

By Pejman Yousefzadeh

For the umpteenth time, it appears that it has been made necessary for someone to write about the fact--which should be obvious by now--that life in Cuba really is bad. And given the state of current cinematic events, it would seem that the following passage (whose point, again, should be obvious by now) needs to be emphasized for those who are "reality-based" in name only:

Healthcare and education are supposed to be the redeeming graces of the regime, but this is questionable. There are a large number of doctors, but, according to most Cubans I know, many have left the country and the health system is in a ragged state--apart from those hospitals reserved for foreigners--and people often have to pay a bribe to get treated. Michael Moore, the American film director, who has recently been praising the system should take note of the real life stories beneath the statistics. I went into a couple of hospitals for locals on my latest visit. In the first, my friend told me not to say a word in case my accent was noticed, as foreigners are not allowed in these places. I was appalled by the hygiene and amazed at the antiquity of the building and some of the equipment. I was told that the vast majority of Cuban hospitals, apart from two in Havana, were built before the revolution. Which revolution, I wondered; this one seemed to date from the 1900s.

On another occasion, I saw a man in a white coat with a stethoscope around his neck hurrying along the boulevard of Vedado, in west Havana. We struck up a conversation. He was on his way to the hospital around the corner. I asked him if he would take me there. He was charming and intelligent, and had that ease of communication that many Cubans possess: he wasn't at all taken aback by an unknown woman in dark glasses asking to accompany him to work. The doctor told me that I shouldn't be too shocked; the hospital was being "refurbished." The building certainly was in a state of filth and decrepitude. This was not a place one would want to be ill in.

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Posted at 8:00pm on Jun. 3, 2007 Are We On The Cusp Of A Recession?

By Pejman Yousefzadeh

Earlier this week, we had a story indicating that there was only 0.6% growth in GDP for the first quarter, revised downward from 2.5%. This means that a recession is around the corner, right?


More below the jump . . .

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Posted at 7:56pm on Jun. 3, 2007 Mind . . . Reeling

By Pejman Yousefzadeh

Just how bad does Hugo Chavez have to be before the naïve and credulous stop making excuses for him? And is there any doubt that if another leader--say, George W. Bush or Tony Blair--did the kinds of things Chavez is doing, people like John Pilger would decry the Dawn of the New Fascism?

Of course, let it be noted that the Venezuelan people know better than do the likes of John Pilger. As do the Brazilians.

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Posted at 7:54pm on Jun. 3, 2007 So, About Those Commonly Used Mechanisms To Lower Greenhouse Gas Emissions . . .

An Inconvenient Truth

By Pejman Yousefzadeh

They don't work:

In autumn 2005, three journalists working for the environmental group the Centre for Science and Environment decided to investigate some of the Indian projects which were trying to break into the lucrative new business of carbon trading.

They started looking at four schemes in Andhra Pradesh which were trying to convert biomass - dead plants, animal dung - into fuel. They studied the formal reports which the schemes had commissioned from a UK company, Ernst and Young, to satisfy the demanding requirements of the UN's Clean Development Mechanism. And they noticed a very odd thing.

Read on for a bit more . . .

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Posted at 7:48pm on Jun. 3, 2007 "The Most Ethical Congress In History"

By Pejman Yousefzadeh

The threads in the fabric of this claim are becoming undone rather quickly, no?

After promising unprecedented openness regarding Congress' pork barrel practices, House Democrats are moving in the opposite direction as they draw up spending bills for the upcoming budget year.

Democrats are sidestepping rules approved their first day in power in January to clearly identify "earmarks" - lawmakers' requests for specific projects and contracts for their states.

Rather than including specific pet projects, grants and contracts in legislation as it is being written, Democrats are following an order by the House Appropriations Committee chairman to keep the bills free of such earmarks until it is too late for critics to effectively challenge them.

Remember when the claim went out that the 110th Congress would no longer feature earmarks? So much for that, eh? And just out of curiosity, why aren't Republicans making a bigger deal of this?

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Posted at 7:46pm on Jun. 3, 2007 Close Call

By Pejman Yousefzadeh

Thank Heavens this got discovered. Now, just out of curiosity, is it possible for us to accept the fact that we are actually engaged in a war on terrorism and terrorists? Or will some remain stubbornly against that proposition?

Federal authorities said a plot by a suspected Muslim terrorist cell to blow up John F. Kennedy International Airport, its fuel tanks and a jet fuel artery could have caused "unthinkable" devastation.

But while pipeline and security experts agreed that such an attack would have crippled America's economy, particularly the airline industry, they said it probably would not have led to significant loss of life as intended.

Authorities announced Saturday they had broken up the suspected terrorist cell, arresting three men, one of them a former member of Guyana's parliament. A fourth man was being sought in Trinidad as part of the plot that authorities said they had been tracking for more than a year and was foiled in the planning stages.

Read on . . .

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Posted at 5:12pm on Jun. 2, 2007 Good News From The Social Policy Front

By Pejman Yousefzadeh

Yes. You read that right. Good news, courtesy of Ron Haskins of the Brookings Institution:

Imagine a line composed of every household with children in the United States, arranged from lowest to highest income. Now, divide the line into five equal parts. Which of the groups do you think enjoyed big increases in income since 1991? If you read the papers, you probably would assume that the bottom fifth did the worst. After all, income inequality in America is increasing, right?

Wrong. According to a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) study released this month, the bottom fifth of families with children, whose average income in 2005 was $16,800, enjoyed a larger percentage increase in income from 1991 to 2005 than all other groups except the top fifth. Despite the recession of 2001, the bottom fifth had a 35 percent increase in income (adjusted for inflation), compared with around 20 percent for the second, third and fourth fifths. (The top fifth had about a 50 percent increase.)

More below the jump . . .

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Posted at 5:09pm on Jun. 2, 2007 Burying The Lede

Why Oh Why Oh Why Oh Why Oh Why Oh Why (Repeat ad DeLongium) Can't We Have A Better Foreign Press Corps?

By Pejman Yousefzadeh

Consider this story:

For a nation that invented the term "guest worker" for its immigrant labourers, Germany is facing the sobering fact that record numbers of its own often highly-qualified citizens are fleeing the country to work abroad in the biggest mass exodus for 60 years.

Figures released by Germany's Federal Statistics Office showed that the number of Germans emigrating rose to 155,290 last year - the highest number since the country's reunification in 1990 - which equalled levels last experienced in the 1940s during the chaotic aftermath of the Second World War.

The statistics, which also revealed that the number of immigrants had declined steadily since 2001, were a stark reminder of the extent of the German economy's decline from the heady 1960s when thousands of mainly Turkish workers flocked to find work in the country.

Read on . . .

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Posted at 1:31am on Jun. 1, 2007 Fred Thompson: The Small-Government Candidate

He Doesn't Beat Back The Welfare State Without A Plan

By Pejman Yousefzadeh

This is quite reassuring when it comes to considering the potential candidacy of Fred Thompson. Again, it ought to be noted that Thompson's support of McCain-Feingold is a black mark as far as small-government types are concerned, but one hopes that Thompson will travel the road to Damascus on that issue. As for his stance on other issues, it couldn't be better from the standpoint of most small-government conservatives. If Thompson works to make himself a forceful presence in the contest for Republican primary and caucus votes and if he highlights his small-government record, those who are dissatisfied with Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, John McCain and their stances on various issues of the day will quickly gravitate to Thompson's candidacy.

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Posted at 1:28am on Jun. 1, 2007 All Hail YouTube

By Pejman Yousefzadeh

It allows for the subversion of tyranny:

Radio Caracas Television, the station silenced by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, has found a way to continue its daily broadcasts -- on YouTube, the popular video Web site.

Although the station is officially off the air, CNN's Harris Whitbeck said its news department continues to operate on reduced staffing, and the three daily hour-long installments of the newscast "El Observador" are uploaded onto YouTube by RCTV's Web department.

In addition, RCTV's Colombia-based affiliate, Caracol, has agreed to transmit the evening installment of "El Observador" over its international signal. The program, which will run at midnight, could reach about 800,000 people in Venezuela.

Although this is drastically reduced from RCTV's previous audience, its continued presence is a sign of hope for the staff.

"We're just doing our job as journalists," said an employee of RCTV. "As long as somebody is seeing us, we consider what we are doing to be valid."

Chavez's efforts at censorship may have only served to cause him long term problems with those he has censored. I mean, a certain movie line happens to come to mind when considering this story.

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Posted at 1:26am on Jun. 1, 2007 Revealing Passage Of The Day

Gaffes, They Say, Occur When The Truth Is Inadvertently Revealed

By Pejman Yousefzadeh

From this story, concerning Robert Zoellick's nomination to head the World Bank. I'll just let the excerpt speak for itself:

There are some at the World Bank, many bank officials say, who may resist a bias toward encouraging free-market economies, especially at a time when faith in that philosophy has faded in Latin America and elsewhere. But bank officials said they would welcome a new president with knowledge in this area.

"A lot of people used to think that if the Democrats win the White House in 2008, we might get a new president who won't be pursing free markets and corruption," said one bank official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "But most people at the bank also realize that reform is necessary."

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