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The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Intriguing New Polling Numbers in Iowa, Colorado, and Michigan



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Apparently the polling world saved up all of its intriguing results for Wednesday!

First, NBC News in Iowa . . . 

The closely watched Iowa Senate race between Republican Joni Ernst and Democrat Bruce Braley is locked in a dead heat, a new NBC News/Marist poll shows, while New Hampshire Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen has an eight point lead over likely Republican challenger Scott Brown.

In Iowa, Ernst and Braley each have the support of 43 percent of registered voters. But both candidates remain unknown to many in the state; 14 percent of voters are undecided about who they support in the race, and about a third say they are unsure about their opinion on the candidates or have never heard of them.

NBC also finds former Massachusetts senator Scott Brown trailing incumbent Democrat Jeanne Shaheen by 8, also among registered voters. It will be interesting to see if a likely voter screen improves either Ernst or Brown’s positions.

Then Quinnipiac, out in Colorado . . . 

Despite stronger voter optimism about Colorado’s economy than found in many states, the race for governor is tied, with 43 percent for Democratic incumbent John Hickenlooper and 44 percent for former U.S. Rep. Bob Beauprez, the Republican challenger, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

Voters give Gov. Hickenlooper a split job approval rating, with 48 percent approving and 46 percent disapproving, compared to a 52 – 39 percent approval rating in an April 23 survey by the independent Quinnipiac University.

Wait, there’s more. A Democratic polling firm in Michigan finds their preferred Senate candidate, Gary Peters, with 39.5 percent and Republican Terri Lynn Land with 37.3 percent.

Tags: Iowa , Colorado , Michigan

Rothenberg: Cory Gardner ‘May Be the Best GOP Challenger in the Country’



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The midweek edition of the Morning Jolt features a curious memory lapse by Charlie Crist, a diagnosis of the comics industry’s rut, and then this reasonably cheery assessment of the GOP’s odds in the midterm elections:

Rothenberg: A GOP Gain of At Least 6 Senate Seats ‘Seems Very Possible’

Not much that Roll Call’s Stu Rothenberg writes in his latest column is all that surprising, but it’s nice to have our impressions confirmed by somebody outside the vast right-wing conspiracy.

Aside from a largely dismissed (on both sides of the aisle) New York Times/Kaiser Foundation April poll showing Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., with a double-digit lead over his challenger, Republican Rep. Tom Cotton, surveys in the state have shown the race close for months. Some have had Pryor ahead, while others have shown Cotton leading.

My own reporting on the race leads me to believe that the contest is a statistical dead heat, though with Cotton holding a small advantage. (Not all of the polls, public and private, show this, of course.) . . . 

Barack Obama carried Iowa twice, so Democrats ought to have a narrow but clear advantage to hold retiring Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin’s open seat. But the combination of an interesting Republican nominee, Joni Ernst, and Democrat Rep. Bruce Braley’s early missteps has smart Democrats fretting about the contest.

Polling shows the race extremely close now, and while Braley, a trial lawyer and four-term member of Congress, was expected to be the better campaigner in the contest, that has not been the case.

Finally, he notes, Colorado’s Cory “Gardner may well be the best GOP challenger in the country, and we are moving the race to Tossup/Tilts Democrat, which better reflects the overall competitiveness of the contest.”

What does this all mean? It means that if Republicans work their butts off for the next four months, and avoid any stupid mistakes, they’ll take the Senate.

Gardner’s in the hunt!

Tags: Senate Republicans , Cory Gardner

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Texas Republican Greg Abbott Announces $35.5 Million in Cash on Hand



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Remember this headline from January?
 

Looks like Republican Greg Abbott will have to get by with a mere $35.59 million cash on hand for the fundraising period ending on June 30th. Of course, that’s the highest cash on hand amount ever reported by a Texas candidate. And the gubernatorial candidates who preceded Abbott — Rick Perry and George W. Bush — were no slouches in the fundraising department. 

In June, media reports in Texas stated Davis had raised “at least $16 million.”

Game off?

‘A Restless President, Weary of the Obligations of the White House . . .’



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Also in today’s Jolt:

Rest Easy, Americans; President Obama Is Enjoying His Dinner Parties More

Julie Hirschfeld Davis, covering the White House for the New York Timeslays out how President Obama is spending his evenings:

In a summer when the president is traveling across the country meeting with ordinary Americans under highly choreographed conditions, the Rome dinner shows another side of Mr. Obama. As one of an increasing number of late-night dinners in his second term, it offers a glimpse into a president who prefers intellectuals to politicians, and into the rarefied company Mr. Obama may keep after he leaves the White House.

Sometimes stretching into the small hours of the morning, the dinners reflect a restless president weary of the obligations of the White House and less concerned about the appearance of partying with the rich and celebrated. Freewheeling, with conversation touching on art, architecture and literature, the gatherings are a world away from the stilted meals Mr. Obama had last year with Senate Republican leaders at the Jefferson Hotel in Washington.

In Paris, the president was up again until nearly midnight enjoying, among other things, Drappier Champagne.

“Bonsoir,” Mr. Obama said as he entered the small Restaurant Helen, according to Frédéric Pescatori, an investment manager who was dining next to the president’s party. Mr. Pescatori added that the president “seemed quite relaxed and glad to be with friends, without stress.”

I’m glad he can get away from the stress of the job. (If you’re wondering, Drappier Champagne isn’t particularly expensive.)

A shame he’s so “weary of the obligations of the White House”; a lot of us put a lot of effort trying to free him from those obligations in 2012.

Tags: Barack Obama

Hey, Could We Poll Some Likely Voters Someday Soon?



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NBC News is out with some interesting, but frustrating, new polls in Colorado and Michigan. The polls put Democrats ahead in both Senate races, which is a perfectly plausible result, but the poll only surveyed registered voters. Hey, guys, early voting starts in mid-October in Colorado. It’s mid-July. Is it too much to ask for a likely voter screen? Somehow other pollsters manage to do this!

Also note this result:

In Colorado, 52 percent of voters view the law as a bad idea — including 46 percent who hold that position strongly. That’s compared with just 37 percent who believe the law is a good idea.

Michigan voters think similarly — 50 percent see it as a bad idea, 32 percent a good idea.

“Democrats’ strength is women, and Republicans’ strength is health care,” says Marist pollster Barbara Carvalho.

President Obama also is unpopular in these two states he carried in both the 2008 and 2012 presidential races: In both, just 40 percent of registered voters approve of his job.

Tags: Polling , Colorado , Michigan

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‘We’re All Becoming Border States Now.’



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From the Tuesday Morning Jolt:

‘We’re All Becoming Border States Now.’

Hundreds of illegal immigrant children reach . . . Massachusetts?

DARTMOUTH, Mass. Bristol County Sheriff Tom Hodgson said Monday that he’s dealing with a problem in Dartmouth that shouldn’t be his responsibility.

It’s not a new theme for him. He’s sounded the alarm about illegal immigrants before, but now he says it’s getting closer and closer to home.

Illegal immigrants come across the border in the American Southwest. When they are detained, the wave of humanity has overwhelmed local capacity. The illegal immigrants are being sent all over the country, including Massachusetts.

“We’re all becoming border states now. We want to know, what are the trends? What’s happening? What can we expect? We know there are going to be more coming here from Texas. We’ve already got two groups coming off the planes here,” Hodgson said.

It’s not just Bristol County; north of Boston in Essex County:

Lynn is a municipality on the brink. Key department officials say a recent influx of illegal immigrant children and families in the city is stressing almost every service from trash collection to healthcare.

“We have been aware of the unaccompanied children issue for quite a while, and we were able to absorb a lot of these children early on,” said Lynn Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy. “But now it’s gotten to the point where the school system is overwhelmed, our health department is overwhelmed, the city’s budget is being sustainably altered in order of accommodate all of these admissions in the school department.”

Flanagan Kennedy says the first contact for immigrant arrivals in the city is the school system.

The amount of new foreign born student admissions has nearly doubled in the last two years. This school year alone saw more than 600 new admissions. Among those students, 248 were from Guatemala. Flanagan Kennedy says of those 248 children, 126 were illegal, undocumented minors.

And apparently not all of them are actually under 18:

“Some of them have had gray hair and they’re telling you that they’re 17 years old and they have no documentation,” Jamie Cerulli, the Lynn mayor’s chief of staff, tells NRO. “If my children went to the public schools, I’d be very uncomfortable with all of these unaccompanied minors [that] are placed in the ninth grade.”

We have a lawless administration that is ignoring state governments:

Nebraskans are anxious to learn what Gov. Dave Heineman finds out about the approximately 200 children from Central America illegally being housed in the state.

Heineman tells Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KFAB in Omaha that this issue came as a surprise to him. Heineman says he immediately started making calls and learned that once the children leave the Department of Homeland Security they are handed over to the Department of Health and Human Services.

Heineman says he spoke with a key policy advisor with that department and asked who they were, where they were staying and who is paying their bill. He was told they have no intention of sharing any information with him.

“I can’t believe in America that we have a federal government who is essentially secretly transporting them to Nebraska, they are illegal immigrants, and they won’t tell us who they are,” Heineman tells KFAB.

Look, citizens of Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. We thought our president would send this message to you, but apparently he’s too busy with his fundraisers, issuing statements on LeBron James signing with the Cavaliers, golfing with sportswriter Michael Wilbon Saturday, and looking forward to his Martha’s Vineyard vacation.

So somebody has to say this: You have to take care of your own kids. You may have heard us complaining that our federal government is becoming a nanny state, but we didn’t mean that our government is actually running a nanny service.

We understand that gang violence, drug cartels, and other criminals are making your countries terrible places to live. We’re really sorry to hear that. We’ve also given your government quite a bit of money to make life better down there. Honduras, we gave you $83 million in foreign aid in 2013. El Salvador, $46.8 million. Guatemala, $106 million. If the money wasn’t spent well, take it up with your government. Some of you might say that’s not enough, but we’re not obligated to give you anything. There are a hell of a lot of Americans who think that money could be better spent back here.

You have to fight to make your country a better place to live so that your fellow countrymen will want to stay there. We can’t fight your battles for you. In fact, this is a particularly bad time to ask. You may have heard, twice in the past 13 years we went into far-off countries with unstable governments and warlords and drugs, determined to give the oppressed locals a better future, we spent way too much in blood and treasure, the populace turned out to be a bunch of ingrates, and the local leadership ran the place into the ground.

Alternately, we can try the Semisonic “Closing Time” approach: You don’t have to go home but you can’t stay here. There are 202,000 square miles in Central America.

Tags: Immigration , Illegal Immigration , Barack Obama

We’ll See if Other Polls Show John Kasich Sliding



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The Ohio Democratic party is touting a PPP poll showing their gubernatorial candidate, Ed Fitzgerald, down by only a point to incumbent Republican John Kasich.

The only head-to-head polling in Ohio showing Fitzgerald up in the past two years is PPP’s. As the Cleveland Plain-Dealer notes:

Other independent polling, though, has found a wider gap in the gubernatorial race.

A survey in May by Quinnipiac University found Kasich had a 15 point lead; 50 percent said they would pick him, while 35 percent favored FitzGerald. In June, a poll done for Opportunity Ohio found Kasich eight points ahead at 47-39 percent.

There hasn’t been a ton of independent polling recently, so it’s possible Kasich’s numbers have softened; we’ll see this trend either confirmed or contradicted in the coming weeks.

Perhaps Ohioans are glum because LeBron James is coming back.

Tags: John Kasich , Ed Fitzgerald

‘How Do You Defend Inaction in the Face of a Crisis?’ You Don’t, Sir.



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Also in today’s Jolt . . . 

Congressional Democrat Assesses Obama on Border Crisis: ‘How Do You Defend Inaction in the Face of a Crisis?’

Oh, good. The Democratic party is suddenly awakening to the fact that just maybe Americans aren’t comfortable with an unsecure border and mass illegal immigration.

Until now, the politics of immigration have been seen as a no-lose proposition for President Obama and the Democrats. If they could get a comprehensive overhaul passed, they would win. And if Republicans blocked it, the GOP would further alienate crucial Hispanic and moderate voters.

But with the current crisis on the Southwest border, where authorities have apprehended tens of thousands of unaccompanied Central American children since October, that calculus may be shifting.

The president’s own party is deeply divided over what must be done now — particularly on the sensitive question of deporting children who have traveled thousands of miles and turned themselves in to U.S. authorities to escape from the desperate situations they faced in countries such as Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

The emergency has also renewed questions about the administration’s competence, reminiscent of those raised during the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, last year’s botched rollout of the health-care law and more recent revelations of mismanagement that jeopardized care of patients at veterans hospitals.

I believe the technical term used by political scientists that best expresses the moment of revelation within this phenomenon is “DUH!”

Elsewhere in that article, we see congressional Democrats tearing into the president in a way that would have been unthinkable in his first term. Welcome to the life of a lame duck, Mr. President.

“The numbers have spiked recently, but this is not a new development,” said Rep. Ron Barber (D-Ariz.). “It seems to me that the administration just wasn’t paying close attention and could have acted sooner.”

But Rep. Pete Gallego, a Texas Democrat whose district includes more than 40 percent of the U.S.-Mexico border, said he was less concerned about Obama skipping a Rio Grande Valley photo opportunity than he is about a lack of engagement in Washington.

“Rather than going to the border, I’d rather he invite some people over and start a conversation about how we are going forward,” Gallego said in an interview. “How do you defend inaction in the face of crisis? How is that defensible for anybody?”

Oh, and NBC’s Ron Allen checked in with an immigration court to see how it’s handling children who cross the border. The results will not surprise you:

Based on a day spent observing an immigration court in New York City, most of them can breathe a little easier: No one appears to be ordered out of the country any time soon . . . 

On this morning, most appearances lasted only a matter of minutes. After some brief judicial banter, and official business, Schoppert instructed just about every defendant to try to find a lawyer, and report back to court in February. He essentially put the “removal process,” on hold, and allowed these young migrants to get on with their new lives in America.

Diego’s attorney Merrill Clark was optimistic about his future. “He’s going to be legalized,” Clark insisted. “I haven’t lost a case like this one yet.”

If you can enter the country illegally and stay as long as you like without consequence, we don’t have an immigration system.

Tags: Immigration , Illegal Immigration , Barack Obama , Congressional Democrats

Bad News for New York Friends, Good News for North Carolina Ones



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Unfortunately, my event to discuss The Weed Agency and the federal bureaucracy at the Union League Club in New York City that was scheduled for Thursday is canceled. I may be attending the club’s Book Fair on December 4, and may also be holding an evening event early in 2015. . . . 

The good news for friends in the Raleigh, N.C., area is that I’m scheduled to speak on Monday, July 28, 2014, at the John Locke Foundation’s Shaftesbury Society Luncheon.

The John Locke Foundation is at 200 W. Morgan Street, Suite 200 in Raleigh. The event begins at noon and costs $10; you can either bring your lunch or purchase a lunch there.

You know the drill: The Weed Agency is . . . $9.93 on Amazon, $7.99 on Kindle, $9.93 at Barnes and Noble, $9.99 on Nook, and IndieBound can steer you to an independent bookseller near you. If you buy it in the store, it’s a $13 cover price.

Tags: The Weed Agency , Something Lighter

Public Disapproval of Obamacare Proving Intractable



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Since the beginning of the year, the highest level of approval that any pollster has found for Obamacare/the Affordable Care Act was 48 percent, in the ABC News/Washington Post poll in late March. The lowest level of disapproval any pollster found was 43 percent, in the AP poll in March. Even in those polls, a larger percentage disapproved of the law than approved. The last time a pollster found more people approving it than disapproving it was CNN’s poll in January 2013.

As you can see, the aggregate is stable — disapproval in the low to mid-50s, approval in the low to mid-40s:

Tags: Obamacare , Polling

Hamas, Israel, and Those So-Convenient ‘Militant Wings’



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From the first Morning Jolt of the week:

Hamas, Israel, and the Convenience of ‘Militant Wings’

Drones: So cheap and easy, even Hamas can use them:

Israel’s military said it shot down a drone along the country’s southern coast on Monday, marking the first time Palestinian militants have used such an aircraft in their latest confrontation with Israel.

The drone took off from the Gaza Strip and was downed by a Patriot surface-to-air missile near the southern Israeli city of Ashdod, the military said.

Israel didn’t comment on the specifications of the drone or whether it was armed.

“We had it in our sights the moment it took off, and we chose where to intercept it,” military spokesman Lt. Col Peter Lerner said. The wreckage of the drone fell into the Mediterranean, reported Israel Radio.

The Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, claimed responsibility for the drone and said it would continue its “surprises.”

Ah, the “military wing.” Hamas’ Khaled Meshaal told Al-Jazeera last month, “Hamas is comprised of a political wing and a military wing.”

Really? Because from over here, it looks like a public-relations wing and a convenient-scapegoat wing. “Oh, it wasn’t us that fired those rockets! It was our militant wing!” Militant wings are the evil twins of geopolitics. If your organization has a military wing — as opposed to an actual, declared, uniforms-and-everything-military — you’re probably a troublemaker. You notice the good guys in life rarely have a militant wing. “I’m with a hardline faction of the Red Cross.” “I’m with Mother Theresa’s paramilitary branch.”

These groups really seem to think that the political wing can’t be blamed for what the militant wing does. Guys, you’re two halves of the same chicken. Colonel Sanders just sees one bird.

The Israeli Defense Forces Twitter feed declared this morning that: “Since July 8, 38 rockets fired from Gaza have fallen within Gaza. Hamas fires from civilian areas . . . and hits its own people.” They’ve also released video of three airstrikes called off because of risk to civilians.

Hamas uses its own people as human shields, in an effort to get international sympathy. How does Hamas continually sell this strategy to the Palestinians? Remember, they’ve won elections! How do you win at the ballot box with the slogan, “To protect ourselves, we’re going to use you and your children as human shields!”? You’re really awful, Fatah; you lost an election to an alternative that promises to get the voters killed!

They’ve kept the slogan; the IDF is touting this July 13 video from Al Aqsa TV, Hamas spokesperson, Sami Abu Zuhri, declaring, “We aren’t leading our people today to destruction. We are leading them to death.” Way to answer your critics, Hamas! See, that’s completely different!

Of course, Fatah and Hamas are all buddy-buddy now. They’ve put aside their differences and united . . . in favor of using women and children as human shields.

Wouldn’t you love to see a Hamas leader on Dr. Phil? “How’s that workin’ out for you, Hamas?” Has any Palestinian leader contemplated, “Hey, maybe we need to rethink this calculus? Because throwing the women and children in front of the missiles hasn’t really worked for the past generation.”

Tags: Israel , Hamas

Our Chronically Relaxed President Approaches Vacation Time



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The morning’s news:

The White House late Wednesday confirmed that President Obama and his family will return to Martha’s Vineyard for two weeks of vacation in August.

I’m sure everyone who has griped and will gripe about folks on therRight griping about the president’s vacation denounced this cinematic scene, right?

Does the president really need to relax these days? As mentioned in the Jolt . . . 

President Obama was offered weed in that pool hall in Colorado. Kind of superfluous, isn’t it? Does this look like a guy who needs to relax more?

Forget the relaxants, does anyone have any stimulants to offer him? Sure, caffeine might make him jittery, but right now the guy with the highest-pressure, biggest-consequence job in America is showing all the stress of a late-night radio DJ. He’s got less anxiety than a mid-decade Matthew McConnaughey character. If only the country was doing “alright, alright, alright.”

We know why the president turned down the pot he was offered, of course: Michelle won’t let him have the brownies. The choom’s fine, but she draws the line at the sugar and calories.

There’s a humanitarian crisis on the border, the Middle East is burning down, the midterms look set to be disastrous for Democrats, and Obama’s still convinced he’s LeBron James. If he means cramping when everything is on the line, then yes. Congressional Democrats would probably say LeBron is the better teammate. Ironically, LeBron James is feeling more pressure than the president of the United States right now. But LeBron probably spends more time worrying about the future. President Obama isn’t LeBron James. He’s the Brazilian goalie.

Obama’s got two and a half years left in office, and he’s got high school senioritis. He’s doing more fundraisers than Jerry Lewis.

This morning Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and Sheldon Adelson call for comprehensive immigration reform, including a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. Finally, the little guys are making the case that amnesty can work for them! You know, the day the Gates Foundation says to its founder, “Sorry, clean out your office — Carlos Slim is willing to do your job for less” then we can talk about the cost-benefit analysis of legalizing those who came here illegally.

The Daily Mail apologized to George Clooney for false reporting . . . and Clooney rejected the apology. The poor guy, such a victim. He’s got it rough. He lectured the newspaper “the coverup is always worse.” Then he went to another Obama fundraiser.

Tags: Barack Obama

Swell: Audit Reveals VA ‘Systematically Overpaying’ up to 13,000 Staff



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Big, busy Jolt to close out the week. I have to parcel it out in sections . . . 

And You Thought You Had Heard All of the Bad News from the VA!

Hey, remember the VA?

The scandal-plagued Department of Veterans Affairs is systematically overpaying clerks, administrators and other support staff, according to internal audits, draining tens of millions of dollars that could be used instead to ease the VA’s acute shortage of doctors and nurses.

The jobs of some 13,000 VA support staff have been flagged by auditors as potentially misclassified, in many cases resulting in inflated salaries that have gone uncorrected for as long as 14 years.

Rather than moving quickly to correct these costly errors, VA officials two years ago halted a broad internal review mandated by federal law. As a result, the overpayments continue.

Moreover, in the two years since thousands of misclassified jobs were identified, hundreds of additional positions have been filled at improperly high salaries. Internal VA documents obtained by The Huffington Post show that between September 2013 and May 2014, for instance, overpayments in annual salaries for the latter jobs alone came to $24.4 million, not counting benefits.

Tags: Veterans Affairs

Ellis Island Did Not Accept Unattended Children



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Many Americans have powerful beliefs about our previous eras of immigration . . . and those beliefs are not necessarily accurate.

A short while ago, I tweeted out:

That is just flat false, as the Ellis Island website reveals:

If immigrants had any of the diseases proscribed by the immigration laws, or were too ill or feeble-minded to earn a living, they would be deported. Sick children age 12 or older were sent back to Europe alone and were released in the port from which they had come. Children younger than 12 had to be accompanied by a parent. There were many tearful scenes as families with a sick child decided who would go and who would stay.

UPDATE: Two other laws from the Ellis Island era of mass legal immigration that demonstrate the United States never intended to be the destination for unattended children:

1891 Immigration Act:

Any person who could become a public charge on society was also not allowed to enter. The immigrants who came to the United States carrying a contagious disease were also not permitted entry. Anyone who had been convicted of a felony, misdemeanor, or any other crime such as any activity deemed contrary to the beliefs and standards of society such as polygamy were not granted citizenship. Any person whose ticket was paid for by another was not allowed to enter into the country as well. The United States wanted only those who could care for themselves with out the assistance of others.

The 1907 Immigration Act prohibited “all children under sixteen years of age, unaccompanied by one or both of their parents.”

Tags: Immigration , Illegal Immigration

The United States Never Volunteered to Be the World’s Orphanage



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From the Thursday Morning Jolt:

Glenn Beck’s Charity is the Best of America. It’s Also No Substitute for a Coherent National Immigration Policy, nor a Secure Border.

Glenn Beck is a big-hearted man:

Glenn Beck on Tuesday announced that he will be bringing tractor-trailers full of food, water, teddy bears and soccer balls to McAllen, Texas on July 19 as a way to help care for some of the roughly 60,000 underage refugees who have crossed into America illegally in 2014.

[Note from Jim: Notice the use of the term "refugee." Is that term really accurate for all of these children? Aren’t refugees usually fleeing a war, anarchy, or a natural disaster? Do you get refugee status if you’re leaving an area with a high crime rate?]

Beck said he will be joined by Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah), Congressman Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), and a number of pastors and rabbis.

“Through no fault of their own, they are caught in political crossfire,” Beck said of the children. “And while we continue to put pressure on Washington and change its course of lawlessness, we must also help. It is not either, or. It is both. We have to be active in the political game, and we must open our hearts.”

“Everybody is telling me I’m seeing subscriptions down; I’m seeing Mercury One donations down,” Beck said, growing emotional. “I’m getting violent emails from people who say I’ve ‘betrayed the Republic.’ Whatever. I’ve never taken a position more deadly to my career than this — and I have never, ever taken a position that is more right than this.”

“We sure could use your help,” Beck continued. “I would like to ask you to donate to MercuryOne.org. If you don’t want to be involved in this, you don’t have to be. You can donate and earmark your money to be for preserving American history; we have a museum to build. . . . You could do it to help education. . . . We’re building hospitals. . . . But all the things that we do, they’re not about politics, because politics is turning us ugly. Politics is the vehicle that is driving us to the fundamental transformation of America.”

We’re fools if we criticize Glenn for his massive act of charity . . . but I also think we as Americans need to loudly proclaim that we are not set up to be, nor have we volunteered to be, the orphanage for the rest of the world. We may help out these kids because we’re kind-hearted souls; some will say it’s the Christian thing to do. But we’re not obligated to do this. This isn’t our responsibility and this isn’t our fault. The parents of those kids are the ones who should be taking care of them — feeding them, clothing them, sheltering them and educating them. And I don’t think it’s cold-hearted to ask whether our immediate effort to take care of these kids — because they so desperately need care — is setting us up to be their long-term caretaker.

We, the citizenry, did not make the choices that led us to this point.

Okay, a few of us did. Businesses, big and small, made the decision to employ illegal immigrants in violation of the law. A generation of Washington politicians made the decision to under-react to a largely open border with Mexico, even after 9/11. That same generation of politicians, running a government infrastructure capable of reading all of our e-mails and vacuuming up the metadata from all of our cellular phones, also shrugged as millions of visitors overstayed their visas and disappeared from the system. Local governments that will nail you for an expired parking meter announced they were “sanctuary cities” that would not cooperate with efforts to deport those here illegally.

Most of us had nothing to do with all of that. We lived our lives, periodically expressing the view that our immigration laws ought to be enforced, our borders ought to be secure, and legalizing an illegal immigrant is unfair to those who were willing to go through the (too-long, too-complicated, too-bureaucratic) process of naturalization — the ones who should be welcomed with open arms. For this view, we were called racist, hateful, and xenophobic.

And now we’re stuck with a humanitarian crisis on our border, one driven in part by the perception in some Central American countries that the United States is offering “permisos” for children who cross the border illegally — a rumor that picked up steam after President Obama announced he would not deport children who had come into the country illegally with their parents.

Some of the folks labeled “restrictionists” — I’ll let you decide whether that’s the fairest or most accurate description of that side of the debate — argued that just publicly discussing an amnesty creates new waves of illegal immigration, as foreign citizens rush to get over here to be in place to enjoy the amnesty. Give them credit for their ability to foresee the consequences of policy options.

President Obama could have mitigated, if not resolved this issue early on with a clear statement from the Oval Office declaring, “There are no ‘permisos.’ There will not be an amnesty. You have been lied to, or misinformed, by smugglers who want to take advantage of you. U.S. immigration law is still in effect. You will not be allowed to stay. Turn around and return to your homes. If you wish to live in America, begin the process of applying for a green card and be prepared to be patient.”

President Obama will never say things that simply because he wants to enact an amnesty — or at least a “comprehensive immigration reform” with “a path to citizenship” for those who entered the country illegally.

Last night’s presidential statement was sort-of, kind-of in the neighborhood when he said that the children were “unlikely” to be allowed to stay. But are poor families in Central America going to hear that? Or do they perceive that as “there’s a chance your children will be allowed to stay?”

So give those kids soccer balls and teddy bears, hot meals and fresh water, real cots, real blankets, and real clothes. And then give them a plane ticket back to their own country.

Tags: Illegal Immigration , Immigration , Border Security , Glenn Beck , Barack Obama

Obama’s Approval Rating Today Matches Bush in September 2006



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Reminder: This is not a popular president.

 

Back in September 2006, heading into a midterm election cycle as President Obama is today, on the same RCP average, President George W. Bush was . . . around 41 percent approval, around 55 percent disapproval.

But hey, you know . . . maybe President Obama will win back Americans’ hearts by going out for burritos.

Tags: Barack Obama , George W. Bush

President Obama, Hard at Work Again



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No time for a presidential trip to the border, but time for three fundraisers and a trip to a brewery to shoot some pool!

Was it too hot to golf?

Then again, once you’ve run out to a campaign rally the day after a terror attack that kills a U.S. ambassador, it’s clear you don’t care about “optics” anymore.

Tags: Barack Obama

Identifying Those Relatively Apolitical Americans with Conservative Instincts



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From the midweek edition of the Morning Jolt . . . 

Identifying those Relatively Apolitical Americans with Conservative Instincts

There’s a demographic out there that I can describe but not label.

These folks are instinctively conservative, but probably don’t apply that label to themselves. They work for a living, or they are looking for work. They can’t stand what they perceive as whining.

But they don’t identify with the Republican party. They look at the leadership of the party, at least in Washington — House speaker John Boehner, Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, RNC chair Reince Priebus — and don’t feel any sense of connection to them.

In fact, they don’t really relate to or connect with any particular politician. They either tune out politics as much as possible, or they find the political process to be dominated by adults acting like children and bickering in a selfish, obstinate manner.

One reason they don’t feel any particular attachment to the current crop of Republican leaders — or perhaps the last Republican presidential standard-bearer, Mitt Romney — is that they’re suspicious, or at least wary of Wall Street, or most big companies. They may work for a big company but they don’t feel a particular loyalty or identification with their employer.

These folks might sound like potential Tea Partiers, but at some point, these folks either tuned out the Tea Party or got turned off by some of the more fiery rhetoric. The Tea Party rallies almost inevitably feature somebody dressed up in Revolutionary War garb, and that’s not who they are.

However, Common Core drives them nuts because they don’t understand the homework their kid is bringing home. They feel sorry for all of the children from Central America coming over the border right now, but they don’t feel that taking care of those kids should be America’s duty.

When these folks get galvanized, it’s more often by a figure outside the political arena who articulates a conservative value. Think of Tim Tebow, or Dr. Ben Carson, or “Dirty Jobs” host Mike Rowe — soon to return to CNN — lamenting America’s lawsuit-minded culture and the loss of a sense of shame. Or Gene Simmons of Kiss, arguing that it’s silly to demonize the rich, and important to assimilate immigrants and to stand by Israel in the Middle East.

Or Adam Carolla, raging against political correctness . . . 

It’s weird that comedians are on the list of people who are offending other people with the things they say. It’s counterintuitive. It’s like — I think every year Variety or the Hollywood Reporter or one of those magazines comes out with a list of celebrities or notables that hate the gay community. Whatever it is. I was on that list, because in 2011 I made a joke about Chaz Bono. Jesus Christ, if you can’t joke about Chaz Bono, then we’re all through! They had Tracy Morgan, several of the people on the list were comedians. And when did this start up? They’re comedians, onstage, making jokes! They may mean it half the time, but they’re still making jokes, why are they held to the same standard as statesmen?

Here’s Nicole Curtis, host of “Rehab Addict” on HGTV, in a February Facebook post:

In the past couple of weeks, I have had a few unpleasant experiences with women who actually had the nerve to state that they are a minority business owner (because they are a woman) and that should do what ? This is where I bang my head — I am a business owner who happens to be a woman — don’t judge me on my gender — judge me on my work — ladies — you want equal ground — gain it by being equal in professionalism and quality of work — not by making excuses that you are a small minority business owner. It brings the rest of us down. I scrubbed floors for 10 years and worked my rear off to get where I am at-don’t think for a minute that I’m the person to whine to that you should be able to short step the process of dedication because you are a woman — last time I checked, I am too. We are all given opportunities when we put the time in and develop the drive — teach your daughters that that’s how you get ahead — no entitlement here, please.

Even a bit of chef-turned-TV-travelogue host Anthony Bourdain, in his libertarian moments:

In New York, where I live, the appearance of a gun — anywhere — is a cause for immediate and extreme alarm. Yet, in much of America, I have come to find, it’s perfectly normal. I’ve walked many times into bars in Missouri, Nevada, Texas, where absolutely everyone is packing. I’ve sat down many times to dinner in perfectly nice family homes where — at end of dinner — Mom swings open the gun locker and invites us all to step into the back yard and pot some beer cans. That may not be Piers Morgan’s idea of normal. It may not be yours. But that’s a facet of American life that’s unlikely to change.

I may be a New York lefty — with all the experiences, prejudices and attitudes that one would expect to come along with that, but I do NOT believe that we will reduce gun violence — or reach any kind of consensus — by shrieking at each other. Gun owners — the vast majority of them I have met — are NOT idiots. They are NOT psychos. They are not even necessarily Republican (New Mexico, by the way, is a Blue State). They are not hicks, right wing “nuts” or necessarily violent by nature. And if “we” have any hope of ever changing anything in this country in the cause of reason — and the safety of our children — we should stop talking about a significant part of our population as if they were lesser, stupider or crazier than we are.

It’s almost as if the political arena de-legitimizes the voices of its participants. But when a figure untainted by the 24-7 hypocritical rugby scrum that is our politics expresses what we would consider to be a conservative value, a lot of folks who aren’t into politics applaud.

Am I describing instinctively conservative populists? Or is this the “libertarian populist” phenomenon described by Ben Domenech and Conn Carroll?

Tags: Polling , Conservatism , Culture

Cleveland Rocks . . . the 2016 Republican Convention.



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Reince Priebus and the Republican National Committee announced the selection of Cleveland to host the 2016 Republican National Committee.

Hosting the GOP national convention and officially nominating the presidential candidate in a given state does not help that presidential candidate win the state. Republicans did not win Florida in 2012 (Tampa). They did not win Minnesota in 2008 (St. Paul). They did not win New York in 2004 (New York City). They did not win Pennsylvania in 2000 (Philadelphia). They did not win California in 1996 (San Diego). The last time Republicans won the state that hosted the GOP convention was 1992, when Houston hosted them.

On the other side of the aisle, Democrats did not win North Carolina in 2012 (Charlotte). They won Colorado in 2008 (Denver), Massachusetts in 2004 (Boston), California in 2000 (Los Angeles), and Illinois in 1996 (Chicago).

If a convention host city doesn’t help a party win a state, what does it do? On the margins, it offers a bit of a narrative. Had Republicans picked the other finalist, Dallas, lazy, liberal-leaning reporters would have reiterated all the usual sneers: Republicans are the party of the South, the party of rural America, the party of rednecks, gun-owners, country music, J. R. Ewing and big oil companies, cowboy boots, and so on. Of course, Dallas also symbolizes the Texas jobs boom, the energy boom, and the fact that so many Americans are flocking to the state to live their American dream.

But Priebus said logistics were the preeminent factor in the decision. The 2012 GOP convention hosted 2,286 delegates, 2,125 alternates, and 15,000 credentialed members of the media, and tens of thousands of other uncredentialed media, gawkers, politics junkies, and protesters. The security issues for any host city are huge, both for protesters and as a potential terrorist target.

Ironically, for most participants, host cities are relatively interchangable — hotel rooms, hunts for parking, security barriers and check points, a big arena with spotty wireless and cellular service, and sponsored parties at fancy restaurants.

Another benefit for those who remember the mess in Tampa in 2012 . . . Cleveland doesn’t often encounter hurricanes.

Cleveland’s biggest cheerleader, Hugh Hewitt, is expected to reenact the opening credits to The Drew Carey Show in the near future:

Tags: Cleveland , RNC

Let’s Show Some Compassion at the Border . . . for American Citizens, Too!



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From the Tuesday Morning Jolt:

Let’s Show Some Compassion at the Border . . . for American Citizens, Too!

Of course:

President Obama is holding off for now on seeking new legal authority to send unaccompanied migrant kids back home faster from the Southern border, following criticism that the administration’s planned changes were too harsh.

The Acela Corridor Establishment’s conventional wisdom is that “comprehensive immigration reform” ought to legalize the 11 million or so in the country illegally. The same crowd now insists any proposal involving sending the kids back to their home countries is insufficiently compassionate.

How about some compassion for the communities currently trying to deal with the tsunami of unattended children? Here’s how the AP describes one stretch of our border in Mission, Texas:

The influx of migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border has grown so large that it now requires its own transportation system: government buses that spend each night idling on a Texas roadside, awaiting the latest arrivals . . . 

Just since October, the Border Patrol’s Rio Grande Valley sector has made more than 194,000 arrests, nearly triple that of any other sector. In the first week of June alone, agents in this area south of Mission arrested more than 2,800 people, most from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, making it the highest-volume arrest zone on the entire U.S. border. More than 60 percent were children . . . 

Across the river is a garbage dump and a Reynosa slum that reaches nearly to the bank. Smoke from burning garbage sometimes drifts across the river so thick it’s difficult to see. At the river’s edge, discarded pieces of clothing, orange life vests and deflated inner tubes litter the sand.

A few days earlier, as a reporter in a kayak approached a hairpin bend in the river, a cartel sentry on a bluff 20 feet above the river slammed a magazine into his assault rifle. He asked where the paddler had come from and who gave him permission to be there. A radio squawked at his waist. The cartel controls what crosses the river.

That’s part of why Napoleon Garza doesn’t bring his kids here to fish like he did as a child. Garza recently drove through one of the many gaps in the border wall to cut a tree stump from property owned by his uncle.

“When they built the border wall, everything ended because they left a big old gap right here that so happened to be where our land is,” said Garza, 38, who sells firewood for a living.

How about some compassion for the U.S. Border Patrol personnel trying to humanely deal with a problem they were never trained to address? Suddenly they have to do the job of the Centers for Disease Control as well:

Approximately 40 immigrants in detention at one center in the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s San Diego Sector have active cases of scabies, a source tells National Review Online, and they could soon be spreading it to the general public.

A Border Patrol agent who helped process illegal immigrants at the Chula Vista Border Patrol Station on Sunday tells NRO that the 40 immigrants infected with scabies arrived on a plane that landed July 4, carrying about 140 immigrants total.

The agent says the people at FEMA who are responsible for doing the medical screening of the immigrants before they’re transferred to California should be fired. “Management’s more concerned about processing and getting rid of them as quickly as possible than looking at decontamination,” the agent says. “And [the released illegal immigrants] go out in the community, get on the public transportation, go where they need to go, and it could result in another infestation of scabies being spread everywhere.”

But the San Diego Sector was already dealing with a scabies outbreak when the latest batch of illegal immigrants arrived. Two agents at the Brown Field Border Patrol Station developed rashes on July 3 after processing illegal immigrants from Texas, according to a letter obtained by NRO written by Ron Zermeno, health and safety director of National Border Patrol Council Local 1613. Zermeno confirmed the veracity of the letter and the facts contained therein to NRO.

How about a proposal that anybody who wants these kids to stay in the United States has to open their home to them? The loudest Acela Corridor advocates of “comprehensive immigration reform” live their lives far from sustained contact with any actual illegal immigrants. Perhaps there’s an outside chance that they employ some illegal immigrants as gardeners or housekeepers. Perhaps they bus or wait the tables at their favorite restaurants. But they live very far from the problems that mass illegal immigration brings. They certainly don’t face downward pressure on wages from illegal immigrants getting paid under the table. They don’t encounter gangs. They live far from the violence and their only encounter with a drug cartel is a secretive encounter with their smuggled product.

Here’s another proposal: If Obama gets the $2 billion he wants to build the infrastructure to process these illegal immigrants, the holding facilities have to be built in places like Hyde Park in Chicago, the Upper West Side in Manhattan, Billionaire’s Row in San Francisco and Marin County in California, Burlington, Vermont . . . 

Tags: Illegal Immigration , Texas , Border Security , Barack Obama

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