Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., called the vote “a victory for fear- mongering and obstruction over a bipartisan commitment to fix our broken immigration system.”
Yeah, Kerry would say that. It all comes down to fear-mongering. That’s it. And should we feel comfortable when something as controversial as amnesty becomes greatly bi-partisan? Of course not. When a few senators secretly scheme behind closed doors in order to concoct something as dangerous and damaging as was this immigration reform bill, then personally attack those who are against it while rigorously rushing to move it through the legislative process as quickly as possible, shoving it down our throats, we should suspect that perhaps something else could be cooking behind the scenes.
Regardless, thanks to millions of Americans who actually care for the sovereignty of their country by committed pestering of their elected officials, this bill will not go through, and Bush’s arrogant statement, “I’ll see you at the signing ceremony” will not come to pass. His legacy is dead. Thank God.
WASHINGTON (AP) – The Senate drove a stake Thursday through President Bush’s plan to legalize millions of unlawful immigrants, likely postponing major action on immigration until after the 2008 elections.
The bill’s supporters fell 14 votes short of the 60 needed to limit debate and clear the way for final passage of the legislation, which critics assailed as offering amnesty to illegal immigrants. The vote was 46 to 53 in favor of limiting the debate.
Senators in both parties said the issue is so volatile that Congress is highly unlikely to revisit it this fall or next year, when the presidential election will increasingly dominate American politics.
A similar effort collapsed in the Congress last year, and the House has not bothered with an immigration bill this year, awaiting Senate action.
The vote was a stinging setback for Bush, who advocated the bill as an imperfect but necessary fix of current immigration practices in which many illegal immigrants use forged documents or lapsed visas to live and work in the United States.
It was a victory for Republican conservatives who strongly criticized the bill’s provisions that would have established pathways to lawful status for many of the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants. They were aided by talk radio and TV hosts who repeatedly attacked the bill and urged listeners to flood Congress with calls, faxes and e-mails.
Voting to allow the bill to proceed by ending debate were 33 Democrats, 12 Republicans and independent Joe Lieberman, Conn. Voting to block the bill by not limiting debate were 37 Republicans, 15 Democrats and independent Bernard Sanders, Vt. Tim Johnson, D-S.C., did not vote.
The bill would have toughened border security and instituted a new system for weeding out illegal immigrants from workplaces. It would have created a new guest worker program and allowed millions of illegal immigrants to obtain legal status if they briefly returned home.
Bush, making a last-ditch bid to salvage the bill, called senators early Thursday morning to urge their support. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez approached senators as they entered and left the chamber shortly before the vote.
“We have been in contact with members of Congress over the past couple of days and the president has made it clear that this is important to him,” White House spokesman Tony Snow said before the vote.
But conservatives from Bush’s own party led the opposition. They repeatedly said the government must secure the borders before allowing millions of illegal aliens a path to legal status.
“Americans feel that they are losing their country … to a government that has seemed to not have the competence or the ability to carry out the things that it says it will do,” said Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn.
Sen. Elizabeth H. Dole, R-N.C., said many Americans “don’t have confidence” that borders, especially with Mexico, will be significantly tightened. “It’s not just promises but proof that the American people want,” Dole said.
But the bill’s backers said border security and accommodations to illegal immigrants must go hand in hand.
“Year after year, we’ve had the broken borders,” said Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass. “Year after year, we’ve seen the exploitation of workers.”
After the vote, he said: “It is now clear that we are not going to complete our work on immigration reform. That is enormously disappointing for Congress and for the country.”
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., told colleagues that if the bill faltered, the political climate almost surely would not allow a serious reconsideration until 2009 or later. It would be highly unlikely, she said, “in the next few years to fix the existing system … . We are so close.”
From the beginning, the bill’s most forceful opponents were southern Republicans. GOP Sens. David Vitter of Louisiana, Jim DeMint of South Carolina and Jeff Sessions of Alabama led the charge, often backed by Texan John Cornyn.
Two southern Republicans—Lindsey Graham, S.C., and Mel Martinez, Fla., who was born in Cuba—supported it.
Also crucial to the bill’s demise was opposition from three Democrats recently elected from GOP-leaning states. They were Jon Tester of Montana, Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Jim Webb of Virginia.
Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., called the vote “a victory for fear- mongering and obstruction over a bipartisan commitment to fix our broken immigration system.”
Thank you for your demand. Unfortunately for you, it isn’t happening.
The current immigration legislation debacle has hit a snag. A small victory has been achieved–postponement of a vote–largely due to riled American citizens calling and writing their congressmen and senators with indignant outrage focused on the measure itself and just about every member of the house and the senate whether they approve of the legislation or not. The legal, tax-paying individuals and families of the United States are justifiably vexed to say the least, and we are taking no prisoners with our elected officials–those who work for us–by threatening their future electability should they support such a flamboyant mockery of the legislative process embodied in the current immigration reform bill that would end up costing Americans massive amounts of their own money were it to fast-track its way through the senate as McCain, Kennedy, and Bush had hoped (to avert inevitable debate and eventual failure.)
But just how much would this legislation end up costing taxpayers? Millions? Billions? Try almost two and a half trillion dollars. This is money American citizens pay into the government in order to receive benefits in the form of social security, Medicare, unemployment, public education (the largest expenditure for state and local governments), general welfare, and much, much more. Now the senate wants to pass a law that would forgive and reward 15 to 20 million illegal aliens, allowing them instant access to legally obtaining the above benefits, without having paid into those programs during their years and decades living in the United States criminally. They have paid nothing in, but they will instantly have access to those benefits should the amnesty move forward and become law.
“On average, low-skill immigrant households received $30,160 per household in immediate government benefits and services in FY 2004, including direct benefits, means-tested benefits, education, and population-based services. By contrast, low-skill immigrant households paid only $10,573 in taxes. Thus, low-skill immigrant households received nearly three dollars in benefits and services for each dollar in taxes paid.”[emphasis added]
Now multiply that by millions upon millions of illegal aliens. While I don’t find this finding surprising, three dollars in benefits for every one dollar paid into the system (assuming illegals are actually paying taxes as most of them are likely not, making this even worse) should be a distressing revelation to those who are detrimentally on the fence with this issue, but it should also exist as a pre-apocalyptic kicker to the open borders lobby. If their desire is to seek the ruin of the United States by importing the world’s poverty, then it seems clear the immigration legislation currently under debate would be the way to do it.
Still, the delay of a vote on the legislation postponed until after Memorial day is a win for America, and can doubtlessly be attributed to all of the legal citizens who called in and voiced their displeasure over this travesty of ‘law.’ This does not mean we can rest. It simply means we have more time to keep calling and more time to keep pestering our elected officials–more time to bully them into killing this immigration reform perversion.
Each year, families and individuals pay taxes to the government and receive back a wide variety of services and benefits. A fiscal deficit occurs when the benefits and services received by one group exceed the taxes paid. When such a deficit occurs, other groups must pay for the services and benefits of the group in deficit. Each year, government is involved in a large-scale transfer of resources between different social groups.
Fiscal distribution analysis measures the distribution of total government benefits and taxes in society. It provides an assessment of the magnitude of government transfers between groups. This paper provides a fiscal distribution analysis of households headed by immigrants without a high school diploma. It measures the total benefits and services received by this group and the total taxes paid. The difference between benefits received and taxes paid represents the total resources transferred by government on behalf of this group from the rest of society.
The first step in an analysis of the distribution of benefits and taxes is to count accurately the cost of all benefits and services provided by the government. The size and cost of government is far larger than many people imagine. In fiscal year (FY) 2004, the expenditures of the federal government were $2.3 trillion. In the same year, expenditures of state and local governments were $1.45 trillion. The combined value of federal, state, and local expenditures in FY 2004 was $3.75 trillion.
The sum of $3.75 trillion is so large that it is difficult to comprehend. One way to grasp the size of government more readily is to calculate average expenditures per household. In 2004, there were some 115 million households in the U.S. (This figure includes multi-person families and single persons living alone.) The average cost of government spending thus amounted to $32,707 per household across the U.S. population.
The $3.75 trillion in government expenditure is not free, but must be paid for by taxing or borrowing economic resources from Americans or by borrowing from abroad. In general, government expenditures are funded by taxes and fees. In FY 2004, federal taxes amounted to $1.82 trillion. State and local taxes and related revenues amounted to $1.6 trillion. Together, federal, state, and local taxes amounted to $3.43 trillion. At $3.43 trillion, taxes and related revenues came to 91 percent of the $3.75 trillion in expenditures. The gap between taxes and spending was financed by government borrowing.
Types of Government Expenditure
After the full cost of government benefits and services has been determined, the next step in the analysis of the distribution of benefits and taxes is to determine the beneficiaries of specific government programs. Some programs, such as Social Security, neatly parcel out benefits to specific individuals. With programs such as these, it is relatively easy to determine the identity of the beneficiary and the cost of the benefit provided. At the opposite extreme, other government programs (for example, medical research at the National Institutes of Health) do not neatly parcel out benefits to individuals. Determining the proper allocation of the benefits of that type of program is more difficult.
To ascertain most accurately the distribution of government benefits and services, this study begins by dividing government expenditures into six categories: direct benefits, means-tested benefits, educational services, population-based services, interest and other financial obligations resulting from prior government activity, and pure public goods.
Direct benefit programs involve either cash transfers or the purchase of specific services for an individual. Unlike means-tested programs (described below), direct benefit programs are not limited to low-income persons. By far the largest direct benefit programs are Social Security and Medicare. Other substantial direct benefit programs are Unemployment Insurance and Workmen’s Compensation.
Direct benefit programs involve a fairly transparent transfer of economic resources. The benefits are parceled out discretely to individuals in the population; both the recipient and the cost of the benefit are relatively easy to determine. In the case of Social Security, the cost of the benefit would equal the value of the Social Security check plus the administrative costs involved in delivering the benefit.
Calculating the cost of Medicare services is more complex. Ordinarily, government does not seek to compute the particular medical services received by an individual. Instead, government counts the cost of Medicare for an individual as equal to the average per capita cost of Medicare services. (This number equals the total cost of Medicare services divided by the total number of recipients.) Overall, government spent $840 billion on direct benefits in FY 2004.
Means-tested programs are typically termed welfare programs. Unlike direct benefits, means-tested programs are available only to households below specific income thresholds. Means-tested welfare programs provide cash, food, housing, medical care, and social services to poor and low-income persons.
The federal government operates over 60 means-tested aid programs. The largest of these are Medicaid; the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC); food stamps; Supplemental Security Income (SSI); Section 8 housing; public housing; Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF); the school lunch and breakfast programs; the WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) nutrition program; and the Social Services Block Grant (SSBG). Many means-tested programs, such as SSI and the EITC, provide cash to recipients. Others, such as public housing or SSBG, pay for services that are provided to recipients.
The value of Medicaid benefits is usually counted in a manner similar to Medicare benefits. Government does not attempt to itemize the specific medical services given to an individual; instead, it computes an average per capita cost of services to individuals in different beneficiary categories such as children, elderly persons, and disabled adults. (The average per capita cost for a particular group is determined by dividing the total expenditures on the group by the total number of beneficiaries in the group.) Overall, the U.S. spent $564 billion on means-tested aid in FY 2004.
Government provides primary, secondary, post-secondary, and vocational education to individuals. In most cases, the government pays directly for the cost of educational services provided. In other cases, such as the Pell Grant program, the government in effect provides money to an eligible individual who then spends it on educational services.
Education is the single largest component of state and local government spending, absorbing roughly a third of all state and local expenditures. The average per pupil cost of public primary and secondary education is now around $9,600 per year. Overall, federal, state, and local governments spent $590 billion on education in FY 2004.
Whereas direct benefits, means-tested benefits, and education services provide discrete benefits and services to particular individuals, population-based programs generally provide services to a whole group or community. Population-based expenditures include police and fire protection, courts, parks, sanitation, and food safety and health inspections. Another important population-based expenditure is transportation, especially roads and highways.
A key feature of population-based expenditures is that such programs generally need to expand as the population of a community expands. (This quality separates them from pure public goods, described below.) For example, as the population of a community increases, the number of police and firemen will generally need to expand in proportion.
In its study of the fiscal costs of immigration, The New Americans, the National Academy of Sciences argued that if service remains fixed while the population increases, a program will become “congested,” and the quality of service for users will deteriorate. Thus, the NAS uses the term “congestible goods” to describe population-based services. Highways are an obvious example of this point. In general, the cost of population-based services can be allocated according to an individual’s estimated utilization of the service or at a flat per capita cost across the relevant population.
A sub-category of population-based services is government administrative support functions such as tax collections and legislative activities. Few taxpayers view tax collection as a government benefit; therefore, assigning the cost of this “benefit” appears problematic.
The solution to this dilemma is to conceptualize government activities into two categories: primary functions and secondary functions. Primary functions provide benefits directly to the public; they include direct and means-tested benefits, education, ordinary population-based services such as police and parks and public goods. By contrast, secondary or support functions do not provide direct benefits to the public but do provide necessary support services that enable the government to perform primary functions. For example, no one can receive food stamp benefits unless the government first collects taxes to fund the program. Secondary functions can thus be considered an inherent part of the “cost of production” of primary functions, and the benefits of secondary support functions can be allocated among the population in proportion to the allocation of benefits from government primary functions.
Government spent $662 billion on population-based services in FY 2004. Of this amount, some $546 billion went for ordinary services such as police and parks, and $116 billion went for administrative support functions.
WASHINGTON (AP) – Senate leaders agreed Monday that they would wait until June to take final action on a bipartisan plan to give millions of unlawful immigrants legal status.
The measure, which also tightens border security and workplace enforcement measures, unites a group of influential liberals, centrists and conservatives and has White House backing, but it has drawn criticism from across the political spectrum. In a nod to that opposition, Senate leaders won’t seek to complete it before a hoped-for Memorial Day deadline.
“It would be to the best interests of the Senate … that we not try to finish this bill this week,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., as the chamber began debate on the volatile issue. “I think we could, but I’m afraid the conclusion wouldn’t be anything that anyone wanted.”
The bipartisan compromise cleared its first hurdle Monday with a bipartisan Senate vote to begin debate on a separate immigration measure. Still, it faces significant obstacles as lawmakers seek dozens of modifications to its key elements.
(AP) Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky., center, accompanied by Sen. Jeff Session, R-Ala., left, and Rep. Brian… Full Image
Republicans want to make the bill tougher on the nation’s estimated 12 million illegal immigrants. Democrats want to change a new temporary worker program and reorder priorities in a merit-based system for future immigration that weights employability over family ties.
The unlikely coalition that brokered the deal, led by Sens. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., and Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., is plotting to protect the agreement from “deal-breaker” changes that would sap its support. The group will hold daily meetings starting Tuesday to determine whether proposed revisions would sink what they are calling their “grand bargain.”
“We have to try our very best to work together to get something that will actually pass,” Kyl said.
Among the first changes to be debated will be a proposal by Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., to shrink the temporary worker program created by the compromise plan. Some lawmakers in both parties consider the initiative, which would provide at least 400,000 guest worker visas annually, too large.
Others charge it’s impractical and unfair to immigrants, because it would allow them to stay only temporarily in the U.S. without guaranteeing them a chance to gain legal status.
“We must not create a law that guarantees a permanent underclass, people who are here to work in low-wage, low-skilled jobs but do not have the chance to put down roots or benefit from the opportunities of American citizenship,” Reid said.
Reid called the measure a “starting point,” but said he had reservations about it.
Conservative critics denounced the proposal’s quick granting of legal status to millions of unlawful immigrants.
Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., said the measure’s so-called “point system” doesn’t do enough to guarantee that future immigration will serve the country’s economic needs.
“I’m nervous about this thing,” said Sessions, who voted not to go forward with the debate. He called the point scheme “bait” to get conservatives to embrace the measure, and accused Republicans of compromising too much on an outline drafted by the White House in late March to attract GOP support.
“I’m disappointed – almost heartbroken – because we made some progress toward getting to this new framework, but the political wheeling and dealing and compromising and splitting the baby has resulted in a circumstance that, you know, we just didn’t get far enough,” Sessions said.
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, who also opposed opening debate, announced she would seek to alter the bill to mandate that illegal immigrants go back to their home countries before gaining legal status.
Under the proposal, that requirement only applies to heads of households seeking green cards and a path to citizenship. Others here unlawfully could obtain visas to live and work in the U.S. indefinitely without returning home.
Kennedy, called the plan “strong, realistic and fair.”
“For each of us who crafted it, there are elements that we strongly support and elements we believe could be improved. No one believes this is a perfect bill,” Kennedy said.
The White House has begun an active lobbying effort to drum up support for the measure, especially among Republicans who voted against an immigration overhaul last year.
President Bush is still hoping to sign the bill by summer’s end, said Tony Fratto, a White House spokesman.
“This is a very high priority for the president,” Fratto told reporters in Crawford, Texas. “We know that this is an emotional issue for members on both sides of political parties and both sides of the ideological spectrum, but we hope that we can find common ground.”
Conservatives in the House, whose opposition helped kill an immigration overhaul last year, began laying down markers in anticipation of their own debate, expected only if the Senate completes its measure.
Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Calif., unveiled legislation he said was “an alternative to several of the large holes in the so-called Senate compromise.”
It would send home illegal immigrants who had been in the U.S. for fewer than five years and bar them from gaining lawful status.
Those in the country five years or more would be able to get a “blue card” to live and work legally in the U.S. after paying a $1,000 fine and learning English and American civics, but they could not bring their families. Blue card holders would have to leave the country to apply for legal residency.
In contrast, the bipartisan Senate compromise would allow illegal immigrants in the country by the beginning of this year to adjust their status.
I will say this at the beginning: During the May 1st illegal alien rally held in McArthur Park two weeks ago, the Los Angeles Police Department personnel stationed in that area responded far too excessively to a situation that required a determined and disciplined counter to a few thugs who used the rally for their own anarchistic ends.
Instead, the LAPD blew it. They blew it for themselves as an organization that seems eternally steeped in community recovery efforts, and to a lesser degree, they blew it for people such as myself who remain staunch advocates opposed to illegal immigration. Everyone understands and most reasonably agree the LAPD far exceeded their use of force (but not their authority) during the McArthur Park rally. Chief Bill Bratton was the first to come forward and accept responsibility for the unnecessarily brutal actions taken by those under his command (Mayor Villaraigosa was nowhere to be found–he was dubiously conducting international diplomacy in Latin America.) Bratton condemned those actions and he immediately punished officers who took the lead in the debacle. Additionally, the chief has borne witness to countless community members (I won’t say citizens since most are probably illegals) during public meetings as he and the LAPD in general were vilified and disparaged by a myriad of angry Los Angeles residents–people whose ire, without deviation was directed squarely upon Bratton and the police department. Again, understandably so and the police chief admitted as much.
Yet those who came out in denunciation against the rock and bottle-throwing hoodlums responsible for triggering the entire mess in the first place were few and far between, if there were any at all. The police response was disproportionate, antagonistic, and irresponsible. The thugs who initiated the whole mess were and are despicable. Yet even our Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has said little to excoriate the few dirt bags who turned a relatively peaceful day into something that is now dramatically referred to as “The May Day Melee.” Instead, he has joined the mass of legal citizens and illegal aliens who simply wish to impugn the entirety of the LAPD.
Going that extra mile, as he is always want to do in situation where he’s guaranteed a high degree of media attention, Villaraigosa has decided to turn his back on the Los Angeles Police Department by attending a highly publicized rally taking place this evening in McArthur Park. The rally is being headed by Nativo Lopez, left-wing illegal alien proponent, open borders advocate, and amnesty champion for 12 to 20 million criminals living in the United States in direct violation of our laws. And Los Angeles Mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa, along with illegal-aliens-should-have-a-drivers-license-too Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, will be standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Lopez at this obviously anti-LAPD rah-rah.
While I’m most likely repeating myself, Villaraigosa has chosen not to represent me as a legal resident of the United States and citizen of Los Angeles. Nor does he represent any of the other millions of legal Angelinos unfortunate enough to live under his reign. Villaraigosa is squarely in league with illegal aliens and Mexican nationals who break our laws, who run down our education system, who destroy our state health care institutions, who import and sell drugs, and who murderlegal citizens. Villaraigosa has declared his deplorable intentions against me and everyone else of legal status in this city–he cares not for our concerns. Yet if you’re an illegal alien, he’ll be there for you. He may even let you register to vote.
Of course, this only further brings to light the breaking news of the day concerning the immigration reform/amnesty bill agreement between several “key senators.” Any bill or law that focuses on amnesty first and border enforcement second, as does this one, will ultimately fail with disastrous results. How many times does it need to be said? Secure the border first, then look at dealing with the millions of illegals already in this country.
One important factor many of the apparently clueless political progenitors in charge of the country seem to overlook is the simple fact of repetition from absolution acutely evidenced after the illegal alien amnesty granted back in 1986. After that amnesty the U.S. saw one of the largest floods of illegals pour into this country–more illegals hoping for another amnesty–simply because they did not take border enforcement seriously prior to passing that legislation. And it will happen again if anything resembling an amnesty passes. Not only do we receive multitudes more before a proposed amnesty, without a secure border we simply repeat the process ad infinitum until this country is buried under the weight of its imported and impoverished masses. The third world latino dystopias that fester in most of our large cities will boil over with disillusionment, anger, and eventual rebellion pointed at those considered the elite–the middle-class. Don’t think it will happen? Look at the suburban Paris riots of 2005. It’s nearly the same scenario. Little to no attempt at assimilation by these groups only expands the chasm between their culture and ours, worsening the situation even further.
Perhaps this will all one day be moot anyway. With the recent discovery that ethically questionable groups such as the National Council of La Raza and MALDEF are being allowed virtual veto power over any immigration bill that does not meet with their standards and their demands (see below), one can discern where this road we’re traveling is likely guiding us.
Maybe affirmative action laws aren’t so bad. As an Anglo living in the United States of the future, I may need them.
Police Chief Also Plans To Attend; Deputy Chief To Retire
POSTED: 6:38 am PDT May 17, 2007
UPDATED: 11:59 am PDT May 17, 2007
LOS ANGELES — Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez are among those expected to join immigrant-rights activists Thursday for a march and rally to denounce the actions of Los Angeles riot police at a May Day rally at MacArthur Park.
The event will begin with a town hall-style meeting at Immanuel Presbyterian Church, followed by a 10-block procession to MacArthur Park, where organizers will hold a candlelight vigil and a series of performances.
“The LAPD denied our community both a political and physical space to nonviolently claim our rights to legalization for all undocumented immigrants and a fair immigration reform for the country,” said the event’s organizer, Mexican American Political Association President Nativo Lopez. “Political leaders and organizations throughout the country stand solidly with us.”
Due to street closures for the event, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority will reroute 14 bus lines operating on and around Wilshire Boulevard between 4 and 10 p.m.
The affected bus lines are 18, 20, 21, 26, 51, 52, 200, 201, 204, 209, 352, 603, 720 and 754, according to Metro officials. Signs will be posted at affected bus stops to inform riders when and where the buses will be detoured.
Demonstrators, journalists and police officers were injured at the end of an immigration march in MacArthur Park May 1, when police tried to disperse some people who moved off the sidewalk into Alvarado Street.
Some demonstrators responded by throwing plastic bottles and rocks at officers, according to police. Officers clad in riot gear used batons and fired 146 rounds of foam-rubber bullets to disperse the crowd.
A preliminary version of the LAPD’s after-action report will be heard by the full City Council on May 30. In a separate investigation, the department is checking into complaints filed by demonstrators and journalists injured during the fracas.
A third LAPD investigation is aimed at searching for those who allegedly started the confrontation by throwing rocks and plastic bottles at officers.
Separately, the Police Commission is investigating the matter, while the FBI launched a preliminary probe to determine whether the LAPD committed civil rights violations.
Police Chief William Bratton has blamed a leadership breakdown at the scene for police measures that he has described as inappropriate.
Bratton, who will be at the LAPD’s assembly area at today’s rally, according to his office, told KPCC-FM on Wednesday that the ranking officer who was in MacArthur Park during the May 1 melee has decided to retire rather than continue on home duty pending an investigation.
Bratton announced last week that Deputy Chief Cayler “Lee” Carter Jr. Carter was being demoted from deputy chief to commander and reassigned from his job as command officer of Operations Central Bureau to his home.
The chief said Wednesday that Carter has decided to retire effective June 6.
May 17 01:41 PM US/Eastern By JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) – Key senators and the White House reached agreement Thursday on an immigration overhaul that would grant quick legal status to millions of illegal immigrants already in the U.S. and fortify the border. The plan would create a temporary worker program to bring new arrivals to the U.S. A separate program would cover agricultural workers. New high-tech enforcement measures also would be instituted to verify that workers are here legally.
The compromise came after weeks of painstaking closed-door negotiations that brought the most liberal Democrats and the most conservative Republicans together with President Bush’s Cabinet officers to produce a highly complex measure that carries heavy political consequences.
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., said he expects Bush to endorse the agreement.
The accord sets the stage for what promises to be a bruising battle next week in the Senate on one of Bush’s top non-war priorities.
The key breakthrough came when negotiators struck a bargain on a so- called “point system” that would for the first time prioritize immigrants’ education and skill level over family connections in deciding how to award green cards.
The draft bill “gives a path out of the shadows and toward legal status for those who are currently here” illegally, said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.
A spokesman for Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., one of his party’s key players in the talks, confirmed that the group had reached agreement.
The proposed agreement would allow illegal immigrants to come forward and obtain a “Z visa” and—after paying fees and a $5,000 fine—ultimately get on track for permanent residency, which could take between eight and 13 years. Heads of household would have to return to their home countries first.
They could come forward right away to claim a probationary card that would let them live and work legally in the U.S., but could not begin the path to permanent residency or citizenship until border security improvements and the high-tech worker identification program were completed.
A new temporary guest worker program would also have to wait until those so-called “triggers” had been activated.
Those workers would have to return home after work stints of two years, with little opportunity to gain permanent legal status or ever become U.S. citizens. They could renew their guest worker visas twice, but would be required to leave for a year in between each time.
Democrats had pressed instead for guest workers to be permitted to stay and work indefinitely in the U.S.
In perhaps the most hotly debated change, the proposed plan would shift from an immigration system primarily weighted toward family ties toward one with preferences for people with advanced degrees and sophisticated skills. Republicans have long sought such revisions, which they say are needed to end “chain migration” that harms the economy, while some Democrats and liberal groups say it’s an unfair system that rips families apart.
Family connections alone would no longer be enough to qualify for a green card—except for spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens.
New limits would apply to U.S. citizens seeking to bring foreign-born parents into the country.
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, May 16, 2007; Page A04
When Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) declared last week that unnamed “stakeholders” would decide whether Congress overhauls immigration law this year, Latino organizations in Washington understood exactly what he meant.
After laboring in obscurity for decades, groups such as the National Council of La Raza, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and the National Immigration Forum are virtually being granted veto power over perhaps the biggest domestic issue coming before Congress this year. Organizations that represent what is now the nation’s largest minority group are beginning to achieve power commensurate with their numbers.
“There’s a real sense that the Latino community is key to the solution in this debate, so now they are reaching out to us more than ever,” said Eric Gutierrez, lead lobbyist for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, or MALDEF. “Neither party wants to make a misstep politically.”
Such groups were practically in the room yesterday, maintaining contact as Democratic and Republican senators tried to hammer out a new immigration bill before a deadline set by Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) for today before he moved it last night to Monday. The contours began to emerge for a bill that would couple a tightening of border controls with a guest-worker program and new avenues for an estimated 12 million undocumented workers to work legally.
Negotiators agreed yesterday that illegal immigrants would be granted a new Z Visa, allowing legal residency for eight years. During that time, the head of an undocumented household would have to temporarily go back to the home country to apply for permanent U.S. legal status for his or her family. Holders of Z Visas would then have to pay a fine and back taxes, undergo a criminal background check, and begin to work toward citizenship.
But Republicans and Democrats were still trying to bridge a deep divide over two remaining issues: Whether 400,000 foreigners entering the country as temporary workers would have to leave the country after three years or be granted a chance to stay permanently, and how extended family ties should be weighed in granting visas to those seeking to enter the country.
A deal on those tough issues could depend on the assent of Kennedy’s “stakeholders,” Democratic negotiators agreed. Democratic leaders, who are fighting for the loyalty of the fast-growing Latino electorate, have no desire to embrace legislation that could end up alienating the voters they are trying to woo.
The early word from the groups is not promising.
“Some of the proposals that are coming from the negotiations in the Senate and White House are measures that the immigrant community advocates are wholly against, particularly the elimination of some aspects of family reunification,” said William Ramos, a spokesman for the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials.
The groups also oppose a policy that would force immigrants to return to their home countries for an extended period and to petition for reentry.
Latino organizations know well that they have muscle to flex. A bill passed by the House last year that would have made illegal immigration a felony drove millions of Latinos into the streets in cities across the country last spring.
When the current immigration law was written 21 years ago, the League of United Latin American Citizens, or LULAC, tacitly approved the legislation, even though it provided no direct path to citizenship for most temporary workers. But the Latino community was much smaller then, and illegal immigration was a regional issue, confined mostly to California, Texas and New York.
Today, U.S. citizens of Latino descent, having eclipsed African Americans as the nation’s largest minority, are far more organized and politically active. “We’re not going to let them screw it up,” said Brent A. Wilkes, LULAC’s national executive director.
LULAC, MALDEF, La Raza and the National Immigration Forum are part of a broad network of immigrant rights groups that hold nightly conference calls and strategy sessions on the legislation. The groups speak daily with top aides in Reid’s and Kennedy’s offices.
The White House, well aware that immigration may offer President Bush his last best chance at a major domestic achievement for his second term, has worked hard to keep the groups on board, even as Bush has shifted to the right with a new plan that is tougher than the proposals he embraced last year.
The White House held a meeting 2 1/2 weeks ago with Latino advocates, labor unions and civil rights organizations in which an adviser outlined an administration’s policy based on increased border security and a temporary-worker program. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez have also met with some of the groups.
“At least they are paying attention to us,” said MALDEF President John Trasviña.
The groups have also made it clear to Republicans that they are willing to press hard this year.
“Power is not handed over. To get your place at the table, you have to fight for it,” Wilkes said.
Here’s a quick update that I felt was simply too interesting (it would be funny if so many lives weren’t at stake) to pass up.
Coming in after the debacle that was yesterday’s AP-Ipsos poll demonstrating America’s disapproval of President Bush is only exceeded by their displeasure in the obviously impotent job performance of the newly elected Democratic congress, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, frustrated with the Republican minority, is now going back to the drawing board. Way back in fact–all the way back to 1822.
Is this the progress Democrats and liberals have been promising? Do you think? Progress? Ahem.
PELOSI LOWERS THE BOOM
Wed May 16 2007 14:43:59 ET
After losing a string of embarrassing votes on the House floor because of procedural maneuvering, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has decided to change the current House Rules to completely shut down the floor to the minority.
The Democratic Leadership is threatening to change the current House Rules regarding the Republican right to the Motion to Recommit or the test of germaneness on the motion to recommit. This would be the first change to the germaneness rule since 1822.
In protest, the House Republicans are going to call procedural motions every half hour.
WASHINGTON (AP) – The Senate on Wednesday rejected legislation that would cut off money for combat operations in Iraq after March 31, 2008.
The vote was a loss for Sen. Russell Feingold, D-Wis., and other Democrats who want to end the war. But the effort picked up support from members, including presidential hopefuls previously reluctant to limit war funding – an indication of the conflict’s unpopularity among voters.
The proposal lost 29-67 on a procedural vote, falling 31 votes short of the necessary votes to advance. Of the 67 senators who opposed Feingold’s proposal, there were 19 Democrats, 47 Republicans and Connecticut Independent Joseph Lieberman. Of the 29 supporting, 28 were Democrats and Vermont Independent Bernard Sanders.
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, a Democratic presidential front-runner, previously opposed setting a deadline on the war. But she said she agreed to back the measure “because we, as a united party, must work together with clarity of purpose and mission to begin bringing our troops home and end this war.”
Sen. Barack Obama, another leading 2008 prospect, said he would prefer a plan that offers more flexibility but wanted “to send a strong statement to the Iraqi government, the president and my Republican colleagues that it’s long past time to change course.”
The proposal had been expected to fall short of the 60 votes needed to advance under Senate rules, but was intended to gauge the tolerance of members on anti-war legislation. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid staged a series of war votes Wednesday to inform negotiations with the House on a war spending bill.
“We stand united…. in our belief that troops are enmeshed in an intractable civil war,” said Reid, D-Nev.
Feingold’s measure, co-sponsored by Reid and Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., proved divisive for Democrats.
Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said he opposes any measure that cuts off money for the war.
“We don’t want to send the message to the troops” that Congress does not support them, said Levin, D-Mich. “We’re going to support those troops.”
But other Democrats said the move was necessary.
“I’m not crazy about the language in the Feingold amendment, but I am crazy about the idea that we have to keep the pressure on,” said Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., who also wants the Democratic presidential nomination.
The Senate vote on Feingold’s legislation was one of several expected Wednesday, as the Democratic-controlled Congress struggles to clear legislation for Bush’s signature by the end of next week to continue U.S. military operations through Sept. 30.
The House last week passed legislation funding the war on two separate, 60-day installments.
The Senate must take the next step by passing its own measure. Given the political forces at work, that legislation will be a placeholder, its only purpose to trigger three-way negotiations involving the House, Senate and Bush administration on a final compromise.
As a result, officials said Tuesday that Reid and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell had discussed jointly advancing a bill so barebones that it would contain no funds and do little more than express congressional support for the troops.
Negotiations on the final compromise are expected to take days.
Wednesday’s votes on Feingold and other proposals “will provide strong guidance to our conferees and help shape the conference negotiations we have ahead of us,” said Reid.
In addition to Feingold’s measure, members were expected to vote on legislation by Sen. John Warner, R-Va., that would threaten billions of dollars in U.S. aid for Iraq if Baghdad does not make progress on certain military and political reforms.
Reid said he would oppose Warner’s measure because it doesn’t go far enough; the proposal would allow the president to waive the restriction on foreign aid.
“It is nothing,” said Reid.
Levin pulled from the floor his proposal to set an Oct. 1 date to begin troop withdrawals, but allow the president to waive that requirement. He had pitched the idea with the expectation that the president would accept it because of the waiver; but, Levin said Wednesday he had been advised by the White House that the president would veto the measure regardless.
An AP-Ipsos poll also found that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (news, bio, voting record) is a more popular figure than the president and her colleagues on Capitol Hill, though she faces a gender gap in which significantly more women than men support her.
The survey found only 35 percent approve of how Congress is handling its job, down 5 percentage points in a month. That gives lawmakers the same bleak approval rating as Bush, who has been mired at about that level since last fall, including his dip to a record low for the AP-Ipsos poll of 32 percent last January.
“It’s mostly Iraq” plus a lack of progress in other areas, said Rep. Tom Cole (news, bio, voting record), R-Okla., who heads the House GOP’s campaign committee. “These are not good numbers for an incumbent, and it doesn’t matter if you have an ‘R’ or a ‘D’ next to your name.”
Democrats agree that the problem is largely Iraq, which has dominated this year’s session of Congress while producing little more than this month’s Bush veto of a bill requiring the withdrawal of U.S. troops. It has also overshadowed House-passed bills on stem cell research, student loans and other subjects that the White House opposes, they say.
“People are unhappy, there hasn’t been a lot of change in direction, for example in Iraq,” said Rep. Chris Van Hollen (news, bio, voting record), D-Md., chairman of House Democrats’ campaign effort.
Rising gasoline prices could also be a factor, lawmakers said.
In another measure of popular discontent, the survey found that 71 percent say the country is on the wrong track — about even with the 73 percent who said so last May, the worst level since the AP-Ipsos poll began in December 2003.
The survey was taken Monday through Wednesday, before Bush offered to seek compromise with congressional Democrats over a war spending bill setting benchmarks for progress in Iraq.
Bush told reporters Thursday that if pollsters had asked his opinion about Iraq last fall, “I’d have said I disapprove of what was going on in Iraq. They could have put me down as part of the disapproval process.”
That was before his decision to send nearly 30,000 additional troops to Iraq, which “would more likely cause me to approve of what’s going on in Iraq,” he added.
Overall approval of Bush was steady from last month, but fell to 69 percent among Republicans, about 7 percentage points below where it had been in April. Earlier this week, a group of GOP moderate House members warned Bush that the status quo in Iraq could mean Republican election losses next year.
“If the war doesn’t begin to turn around, Republicans will have problems,” said Rep. Peter King (news, bio, voting record), R-N.Y., who said he supports Bush’s Iraq policy.
White House spokesman Tony Snow declined to comment on the poll.
Congress’ approval rating this week was 10 points higher than a year ago, when Republicans were in control.
But after bumping up in April, this month’s drop left lawmakers’ job approval where it was when the year began. April saw Congress defy Bush and send him a bill financing the war and requiring a troop withdrawal, which he vetoed May 1.
“People wanted change in Washington” on many issues, not just Iraq, said Rep. Rahm Emanuel (news, bio, voting record), D-Ill., a member of the House Democratic leadership. “I’m not surprised about where people are. They’re hearing only about Iraq.”
Congress’ reduced appeal was evident in several categories of people. Only 48 percent of Democrats said they approved of Congress, down from 55 percent last month. That included a 12 percentage point drop among Democratic women, though support from Democratic men remained steady.
Approval by minorities also fell a dozen points to 39 percent, with a similar reduction among people whose family incomes exceed $75,000.
By region, the steepest drop was in the Midwest, where approval fell by 10 percentage points to 28 percent. Congress’ highest approval was in the Northeast, where four in ten gave it a positive rating.
As for Pelosi, D-Calif., her overall approval of 45 percent stood 10 points higher than Bush’s and Congress’.
She was seen favorably by 52 percent of women, but only 39 percent of men. While whites are closely split about her, minorities approve of her job by a 15-point margin.
Pelosi’s numbers are about where she was last month but slightly lower than in January. In the last month, she has lost significant support from younger voters, college-educated women and Westerners.
“Voters are frustrated by the fact that the president refuses to change direction on Iraq,” said Pelosi spokesman Brendan Daly.
Bush’s approval ratings are lowest for his handling of Iraq and domestic issues including health care, with about one-third seeing him favorably. About four in 10 like the job he is doing on the economy and foreign policy.
Men give the president higher grades than women do, whites higher than minorities, and married people higher than singles.
The AP-Ipsos survey involved telephone interviews with 1,000 adults. It has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
This was last year (May 1, 2006) in downtown Los Angeles
This year: May 1, 2007
Today here in Los Angeles traffic was unfortunately as snails paced as usual. Irritating drivers continued their ridiculously futile lane to lane dance, jostling for position in the hopes they might make it to their destination ten seconds earlier than the person they just passed, despite the fact that person will likely pass the moron who lapped them moments earlier. Semi’s blared their horns at idiots who hazardously dash in front of them. Little gardening trucks packed with Latino’s crowded their way up the carpool lane. All seemed as it should have been. There were no hints to indicate that anything out of the ordinary was happening today on this May 1, 2007.
This was a far cry from last year on this date. During the national “a day without an immigrant” (originally dubbed “a day without a Mexican” but other Latino groups balked at the self-centered label) the freeways were clear, moving at a brisk and extremely rare 70 mph and up. During the work week, speeds like this are unprecedented. May 1, 2006 even bettered most U.S. holidays for lack of traffic congestion. It was a welcome perk in the daily commute for most Los Angeles residents. Personally, I was looking forward to more boycotts and protests, if not for the better than average traffic, then at least as an alarm to the millions of American citizens around the country who were and still are sleeping through this invasion. Last year on their televisions they saw hundreds of thousands and millions of illegal’s all over the nation boldly demanding a right to be here and a right to blanket amnesty.
Since that day membership in the Minuteman Project has risen and the organizational support base of Americans for Legal Immigration has swelled considerably. U.S taxpayers interest and support for anti-illegal immigration has grown exponentially since the brouhaha of last year. The resulting increase in awareness of what is arguably the most detrimental issue facing California specifically and the nation generally, was a welcome development stemming from the legions of Mexican-flag-waving, anti-American illegal-aliens who have overrun the border.
Conversely, the unity of immigrant (presumptively the majority of which were illegal) pride in the one-day boycott made little overall impact in support of the illegal’s cause. Despite what activists would wish you believe, the economic repercussions were negligible. In fact, by shutting down for the day, by staying home from work or joining in on the festivities exactly one year ago, illegal-aliens and Latinos collectively boycotted their own neighborhoods and their own businesses, deleteriously affecting their own economy. They only hurt themselves.
But alas, it was not to be this year. In downtown Los Angeles as of this morning, no more than a couple of dozen protesters had arrived for the morning rally, and even the event organizers who were expected to attend had yet to appear (granted there might be a few thousand eventually, but it will still pale to last years turnout.) Whether illegal’s were too frightened to venture out as a result of the rising raids and deportations in 2006 (over 200,000–still a fraction of the over 12 million still here) or they simply felt the previous years demonstrations were counter-productive, hurting only themselves and their cause, one thing is clear: traffic sucked as usual today.
Lining up behind slogans such as “IM A Imigrant” and the diatribe of a convicted murderer, demonstrators at hundreds of sites across the U.S. are using May Day to demand a long list of special accommodations for illegal aliens, and one group advocating for stricter immigration control actually is pleased.
“We’re happy they’re going to march again, because our supporter base almost doubled last May [during the last May Day protests],” he told WND.
Demonstrations have been planned in Los Angeles, Phoenix, New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Pittsburgh and Dallas, as well as other locales, with a slogan of: “We are indigenous! The ONLY owners of this continent!” signed by a group called stolencontinent.
“No human is illegal!” said another, and still another “Stand for immigrant rights.” There was a picture of a young girl with the words “IM A Imigrant” on her cheek.
The list of demands also included a “no” to “militarization of the border” “immigrant detention and deportation.” Also “no” to guest worker programs and employer sanctions.
What this group, and others carrying the same message, are demanding is a “path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants,” speedy family reunification, access to all “civil rights” and “labor rights” as well as education and privileges for the “LGBT immigrant.”
“We are calling a national day of multi-ethnic unity with youth, labor, peace and justice communities in solidarity with immigrant workers and building new immigrant rights & civil rights movement! Wear White T-Shirt, organize actions to support immigrant rights! WE ARE ALL HUMANS! NO ONE IS ILLEGAL!” said the website, which offers translations into Arabic and several other languages.
But Gheen said such activities actually reveal to the population in general just what is going on, and the support builds for legal immigration then. He said for example, in just one area of southern California a year ago, those demanding all of the U.S. Constitution’s protections for citizens be granted to illegal aliens clashed three times with police.
WND also has reported that a coalition that put 100,000 marchers onto Phoenix streets for last year’s march demanding legalization for undocumented aliens is expecting to turn out only 5,000 to 10,000 participants this year.
The dozens of labor unions, church and religious groups and Hispanic groups that marched under the banner of the We Are America/Somos America coalition have fragmented this year because of differences over tactics, leadership and fundraising methods.
A bill, introduced in the House in March, would provide legalization, but only after illegals returned to their home country first. This “touch back” provision is opposed by the We Are America coalition, while others see it as a pragmatic compromise to get a bill passed in Congress.
Gheen also said the conflicts and confrontations reveal that “these illegal aliens are not our friends, and many of them resent and hate use for perceived historical transgressions.”
One of the rallying points being circulated this year is a special message from former radio journalist and Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal, who was convicted of drawing his .38-caliber revolver and shooting Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulker in the face.
It happened on the night of Dec. 9, 1981, when Faulker, then 12 days short of his 26th birthday and still a newlywed, spotted William Cook, Abu-Jamal’s brother, driving the wrong way down a one-way street. After Faulkner pulled Cook over, a scuffle followed and Abu-Jamal, who was sitting in the taxicab he drove at the time, ran across the street to the scene. According to prosecutors, Abu-Jamal, who was armed with a revolver, fired at Faulkner, hitting him in the back. The wounded officer turned and returned fire, hitting Abu-Jamal in the chest. Abu-Jamal then shot Faulkner in the face.
In a statement publicized by several pro-illegal alien organizations, he called for support for the immigrants.
“There are only two peoples living on the land we call America who weren’t immigrants – the Indigenous – so-called Indians – and African Americans who were dragged here in chains and terror,” the convict wrote. “Every other person immigrated here or his ancestors did from Europe, from China, from India, from Ireland and yes, from Mexico. Truth be told, America was a land of Spanish settlement long before it because English and there’s the rub.”
He said the “brouhaha over immigration” now is “mostly a fear of the browning of America.”
“Celebrate May Day by building workers’ movements. On the move! Viva May Day!” he said.
Gheen was upset over his comparison. “It is ridiculous to compare Africans sold into slavery, put into chains, murdered on ships on their way here with people who intentionally and knowingly violate our borders and break into the country every night,” he said.
The protests and demonstrations aren’t for everyone, however. “We work. We have to continue to pay taxes so the illegals can continue to get their free benefits,” Rosanna Pulido, director of Illinois Minuteman, told the newspaper in Chicago.
Gheen also said the arguments over “civil rights” aren’t valid.
“No offense to the fine and law-abiding people of Mexico, but no Mexican should ever lecture an American about civil rights. We invented it and we are the home of civil rights. There have been no successful civil rights movements in Guatamala, Brazil, Mexico or El Salvador,” he said.
A website called Mayday Movement has compiled information about the various demonstrations and protests, and one e-mailer noted that he does look at the “human side” of immigration.
“They’ve stolen my neighborhood where I had a lovely home for 19 years, and planned to live there through retirement. … Gangs, illegitimate births, filth became the norm … Property values went to hell, crime rate went up … yep, I definitely look at the human side of it … they all cost me my life,” he wrote.
He cited a small protest in Houston that happened in the days leading up to May Day.
“About 300 to 400 participants beat drums, blew whistles and carried signs and banners along with U.S. and Mexican flags. One sign read ‘Today we march, tomorrow we vote,'” according to a report.
President Bush has lobbied for revisions to U.S. immigration policies and procedures, saying it is a “critical challenge” to respond to the needs of an estimated 12 million illegal aliens.
The demonstrations and protests are scheduled on May Day because May first is International Workers’ Day, which actually began in the United States in the 1880s with the fight for the eight-hour work day.
Tens of thousands of advocates for immigrant rights took to the streets in Los Angeles and the rest of the nation today, hoping that passion would offset the smaller turnout from last year’s demonstrations.
As they did last year, demonstrators waved U.S. flags and declared their desire to flex economic muscles despite the sharply lower numbers at a time when immigration issues continue on the Washington agenda.
Along with marches in California, demonstrations were reported in New York, Chicago, Detroit and Phoenix as protesters demanded a path for citizenship for an estimated 12 million to 13 million undocumented workers as well as other changes being negotiated within a Democrat-controlled Congress.
In Los Angeles, a morning demonstration started on Olympic Boulevard at Broadway with a handful of protesters, but by midday at City Hall the crowd had grown to more than 10,000 people shouting “Si, Se Puede,” or “Yes, It Can Be Done,” the Latino rallying cry for political power.
“We have to show Congress that we’re good people,” said Blanca Duenas, who joined the crowd with her husband Jose. “We’re here and we’re not leaving.”
Los Angeles construction worker Andreas Meza, 41, was on his back waving an American flag earlier. A sign saying “Legalize Now,” was pasted on the banner.
“Government likes to have me like this. I don’t want to be like this,” said the illegal immigrant, who came from Mexico nearly 20 years ago. “I have necessities.”
The first of today’s two demonstrations gathered steam through the morning as it moved along Broadway, yet even at more than 10,000 strong it remained far smaller that last year’s demonstration, when about 650,000 poured through the streets of Los Angeles in the largest demonstration in the nation.
“It’s smaller than we anticipated,” Los Angeles Police Cmdr. Louis H. Gray Jr. said about 11 a.m. “Last year at this time, I’d say there were at least 300,000 to 400,000 people.”
Officials last year were caught off-guard by the size of the demonstration and were determined not to surprised again. Plans were made to close roads, the police presence was beefed up and some owners closed their stores along the march route.
The economic impact of the boycott was limited, though some stores in the area did less business than usual.
Los Angeles is crucial to any national turnout because Southern California is home to more than 1 million illegal immigrants.
Manuel Nunez, 40, a member of the Associacion Fraternidades Guatemaltecas, a network of hometown clubs that raises money for public works projects in Guatemala, said that last year all immigrants were encouraged to participate in the May 1 march.
But this year, Nunez, an illegal immigrant who works in the construction business, said people were told to participate if they could “but not to risk losing their jobs.”
Last year’s protests were emotionally fueled by Los Angeles students – united in an electronic web of cellphone text messages and e-mails. They fled their classes to march and clog roads.
This year, city, school district and church leaders urged students to stay in school, and the pleas seemed to have been heeded.
About 600 students had walked out from less than a dozen Los Angeles Unified School District campuses — far fewer than had been anticipated, the district reported.
The largest group, according to district officials, came from Garfield High School in East Los Angeles, where about 150 students left. Students from all schools were being escorted by either school district police or school administrators and there were no reports of any altercations or accidents involving students.
If needed, school buses will be sent downtown later in the afternoon to provide students rides back to their campuses, said district spokeswoman Monica Carazo.
March organizers said part of the reason for the low turnout was confusion over the starting time. Originally, the march was called for 10 a.m., with a rally two hours later at City Hall. Some people thought the march wouldn’t begin until noon.
A second march is scheduled for 2 p.m. beginning at Vermont Avenue and 3rd Street and proceeding to MacArthur Park.
In recent days, national organizers have been lowering expectations of this year’s protests, saying that nothing could match last year’s 1 million to 1.5 million demonstrators across the country.
Last year, Congress was considering a draconian law that would have punished undocumented workers and those who help them. While there is no agreement on immigration reform this year, none of the proposals are as harsh as last year’s.
Organizers also say there was a growing fear among illegal immigrants to express themselves, caused by federal raids across the country.
Immigration has divided the government and the nation for years.
At the center of the issue is an estimated 12 million undocumented workers; some sources place the number at as high as 20 million. Many U.S. conservatives oppose what they call plans for amnesty that would involve those workers getting a path to citizenship. A coalition including some unions and businesses favor some form of legalization.
Immigration reform failed last year in the Republican-controlled Congress, and the outlook is uncertain this year even with the Democrats in charge. President Bush has strongly backed immigration reform, often putting him at odds with lawmakers in his own party.
The Senate is expected to debate immigration at the end of the month with the House debate coming later. There has been no agreement on the contents of a bill, but there is agreement that immigration should be decided this year before it gets stuck in the presidential election.
The impact of today’s demonstration was unclear because the numbers were lower than last year.
In Chicago, tens of thousands of demonstrators were reported. As many as 10,000 to 15,000 turned out in Phoenix, while in southwest Detroit, which has a large Latino population, hundreds wore red and white and carried American flags to a rally.
In New York, groups planned an “American Family Tree” rally, where immigrants would pin paper leaves on a large painting of a tree to symbolize the separation of families because of strict immigration laws.
Two hours before the march in Los Angeles, one of the busiest places in Little Tokyo was the Starbucks at the corner of 2nd Street and Central Avenue. The large number of parking enforcement officers and LAPD bike patrol officers boosted the crowd, but a sizable number of downtown residents were also waiting in line for their morning caffeine fix.
David Morin, who moved to L.A. two days ago from Quebec City, Canada, was reading about the demonstration plans in the morning paper. Morin was among the lucky ones – his new job is at a downtown ad agency only a few blocks away. To beat the crowds, he said, his boss told him to come in early – before 8 a.m.
The crowd kept Gabriela Grajeda, a 25-year-old Starbucks barista, from getting an early departure to her classes at Cal State Los Angeles, where she is majoring in child development. She usually travels by bus to school but today she arranged to ride with a friend in case the demonstration disrupted mass transit.
Grajeda marched last year, but this year “I have classes and I don’t want to miss them,” she said.
As stated in part 1 of this report, after the panelists (Dr. Brook, Dr. Sultan, and Dr. Pipes) took the stage and began their opening dialogs, and as Dr. Daniel Pipes began discussing the jihadi threat around the world including the UCLA campus, the protests and disruptions began.
(Again, as stated in part 1, the pictures in the auditorium and outside after dark aren’t of high quality. I apologize.)
Dr. Pipes continued to speak, despite the fact that was apparently distracted by something that was transpiring in the audience. I looked behind me and noticed that several audience members began rising from their seats, notably a few young women of Middle-Eastern descent wearing hijab (and it looks like that gentleman in the glasses is flipping me the bird. POWER TO THE PEOPLE, DUDE! Ahem.) No one shouted and no one created much of a ruckus initially. They simply made their way to the aisles and the exits.
Thus the protesting of Dr. Pipes and the panelists began–with a bit of a whimper.
Dr. Pipes continued to speak, but he was slightly preoccupied with this initial tide of the protest. Still, he and the panelists conducted themselves professionally. They didn’t acknowledge the activists with anger or disdain, choosing rather to ignore them for as long as possible.
More protestors rise and head for the exits. As you can see, it continued quietly and with a considerable amount of reserve from those in revolt, so much so that many in the audience barely took notice, as you can see in the above picture.
Unfortunately, this relative decorum would not last.
Welcome to the Age of Aquarius. The above three women must be having one hell of a flashback because they can’t seem to remember that this is 2007 and not 1969. As they passed me up the aisle, making their way toward the exit, it became apparent to me that more had likely been planned by the protestors, and specifically these three elderly ladies, in order to create chaos and disorder within the nights proceedings. As one can see from this photograph, the three women all had black shirts with large white letters plastered on the front. It was obviously meant to spell out “LIAR” but the opportunity to stand united and actually spell the word for the panelists and/or the audience never came to pass. Alas, the will to fight seems to have been drained from these particular women. They didn’t even try, opting instead to simply walk out of the auditorium without executing their carefully laid plan–without even trying.
At least, the “R” and the “A” lady gave up. The “LI” lady wasn’t as easily deterred.
This particular protestor, pictured above, was evidently the better third of the “LIAR” lady trilogy. While she didn’t have anything intelligent to say, she said it loudly and repeatedly.
“LIARS! LIARS! LIARS! LIARS! LIARS!” All the while she too made for the exits.
Wagging her finger at the panelists, the “LI” lady resumed her retreating diatribe, “LIARS! LIARS! LIARS!”
By the time she started shouting, so too did the audience, admonishing her and the other protestors disruptive behavior. Many in auditorium at this point were adding their voices to the din, urging the “LI” lady to beat a hasty retreat so the panelists could forge ahead.
The protests from these three women didn’t quite make sense to me. If they were protesting Dr. Pipes and the other panelists, claiming they were liars, then it was apparent to me they (the three ladies in particular) had never even attempted a read of the Qur’an. Many of the statements by the panelists, even this early in the discussion, could be referenced directly from the words and actions of Muhammad within the pages of the Qur’an, or even better, the Hadith. So dubbing the panelists liars was inaccurate. They weren’t there to lie. They were there to provide truths and opinions on what actions might or must be taken to protect the west from radical Islam.
As Dr. Sultan stated during the event, no one has ever murdered someone because they were emulating Jesus. If one wishes to emulate the prophet Muhammad however (as every good Muslim is taught and required to do as Muhammad is the embodiment of the perfect man and all men and women should be like him), killing and murdering by his example is sanctioned within the pages of the Qur’an and the Hadith.
Finally, one last protestor unfurls a large sign (too big for his wingspan to handle appropriately as you can tell from the above picture–it seems to read “s DON’T SUPPORT TE SPEECH.”) Needless to say, the sign was difficult to read.
Dr. Pipes in the upper left calmly waits until the protests subside.
I think it said, “DON’T SUPPORT HATE SPEECH.” I heard quite a bit of hate speech from the “LI” lady. She spewed “LIARS!” forth with quite a bit of acerbically drenched venom, but I didn’t notice hate speech coming from any of the panelists. Some in the auditorium may have been slightly surprised by some of the verbiage coming from Dr. Brook for example, but hate speech appeared relegated to the protesters alone.
As the disruptions subsided, Dr. Pipes resumed his initial comments. You can see he had to remove the lav mic attached to his lapel and bring it closer to his mouth because some in the back of the venue had difficulties hearing him speak.
After a couple of minutes, I became audibly aware that a commotion was taking place outside of the building. Predicting more protests, I quickly shot from my seat (no offense to panelists hopefully) and made my way outside to see what might be taking place.
Yup. More protests. The individual on the far right of the above picture even sported a fashionable kaffiyeh and military fatigues while banging peacefully on his tabla.
I couldn’t quite make out what the sign read though.
Ahh! Of course. The protesters had taken the opportunity to transform the panelist’s discussion, Totalitarian Islam’s Threat to the West, into a peace protest against the war in Iraq. That makes perfect sense, especially since the discussion rarely focused on Iraq or the American military adventure within. In fact, the only time the war in Iraq every really surfaced in the dialog was during the question and answer period at the end. This event was not about the Iraq war, but the protesters felt (in a somewhat bigoted manner) that speaking about radical Islam must logically relate directly to that conflict, despite the fact that the majority of the worlds Muslims do not live in the Middle East.
Within this group marched Muslims, hippies, students, young children and even babies (who obviously had no idea why everyone was shouting so angrily.) It was ragtag, and barely organized. The march itself was pathetically short, mostly regionalized to the west face of the building wherein the panelists were speaking, and the south side of the building.
I honestly can’t remember what everyone was shouting. All I can say is how disappointed I was to see what appears a fellow metal-head, framed in the center of this photograph, participating in the peace march. Dude, metal is not peaceful.
I was sad to see I had just missed Muslims participating in salah–their prayers, but at least I managed to snap a picture of their rolled up musallah.
There were some young Muslims minutes later praying, but my camera did not take any adequate photographs of their activities unfortunately.
Finally, I re-entered the auditorium and took my seat, taking in the rest of the discussion. Oddly, I had been wondering earlier in the day as to why this issue of radical Islam is such a polarizing one. In general, why does it divide so evenly down political lines? Why is it so partisan? If the left is the champion of women’s rights, equal rights, no war, etc. why would they so recklessly wish to support a religion as oppressive to its followers, particularly its women, as Islam? I mean, the left generally would rather abolish all religion anyway. Why fight for a religious faith that sanctions plural marriage, marriage to children and the subsequent pedophilia (as Muhammad did with Aisha when she was six), beating of women, killing of dissidents, etc.? These are some of the major tenets that the left purports they desire so strongly to prevent, yet they stand in solidarity with Islam. So why the blatant hypocrisy?
Dr. Pipes and Dr. Brook actually satisfactorily answered my question thanks to a question from the audience. The reason why leftists support Islam is because they all share a common enemy–George W. Bush specifically and western culture and society generally. Who cares if Muslims, under the auspices of Islam and Muhammad, commit abhorrent acts of terror, killing scores of innocent people throughout the world? They hate George Bush. They hate the West and the decent individualistic values we stand for.
It was an interesting and enlightening evening and I hope Dr. Pipes will make his way back soon, for myself and those who wanted to hear what he and the other panelists had to say, and for the panelists right to say it.
I have a few catch-up items for everyone today in honor of Al Gore’s appearance yesterday before the House Committee on Global Warming (hasn’t congress heard it’s called ‘Global Climate Change’ now? ‘Global Warming’ is so last year.)
The VP has been recently dubbed “The Goracle” by his army of the faithful. [Because let’s be clear, despite varying evidence for and in opposition to global climate change/warming, it is a matter of faith. Just as Christians have faith that Jesus is God and he will return to judge the quick and the dead, and just like Buddhists have faith they can work to expunge all bad vibes in order to obtain enlightenment, and just as Muslims believe they can subjugate the entire world and establish sharia law throughout the land, the global climate change religionists believe man is primarily responsible for global warming and the fate of the planet due to our actions and/or inactions–science can often be another form of provable and improvable doctrinal creed.] The faithful seem to overlook The Goracle’s obvious and environmentally damaging hypocrisies, most recently evidenced in his egregiously wasteful personal energy policies at his own mansion in Tennessee, and including the plane zips from state to state, country to country in a private jet delivering his Academy Award winning slide show to the eco-zombies of the world, when he could just as easily travel commercially much of the time.
But oh, as he claimed in yesterday’s hearings, and as he’s previously self-extolled, he’s living a ‘carbon neutral’ lifestyle through the purchase of ‘carbon offsets,’ or credits, from an enviro-friendly company that specializes in that sort of nonsensical diddle.
But even an organization that specializes in carbon offsets has no clue how they actually function to reduce specific amounts of carbon dioxide (human only I assume despite that fact that humans are not the leading cause of CO2 production.) Dan Skopec, Undersecretary for California Environmental Protection Agency, is a man who represents the cheerleading effort behind carbon footprint reduction, while ensuring that Arnold Swarzenegger’s and Dianne Feinstein’s environmentally unfriendly lifestyles are made to look much less horrific than they actually. Recently interviewed for the John and Ken Show on KFI 640 in Los Angeles, Skopec confessed, after repeatedly dodging the question, that he, and the scientific community as a whole (at least the tree-hugger variety), have no idea how many trees it would take, and how long they would need to remain standing, in order to offset the billions of tons of C02 we produce. The concept of Swarzenegger and Feinstein and The Goracle spending $10 to buy the right for a single tree to offset the gobs of carbon dioxide they produce in just one private jet trip is comedy. The fact that they obviously spend more (probably) for multiple trees with no clue as to what is officially necessary in order to actually reduce their ‘carbon footprint’ is an absurdity to the point of tragedy.
So send me $10 and I’ll nail the bill right to the tree in my back yard (if I did in my front yard, someone might steal the money and you wouldn’t gain anything)–you’ve just purchased the right for my tree to reduce your CO2 emissions. How much? Like Mr. Skopec above, I have no clue. But it can’t hurt can it? Yet that’s how most scams seem to function, and stating that global warming is the major emergency of our time as Gore claimed yesterday lends more credence to those who do not question what they’re told and their willingness to buy into a scam without thinking for themselves.
But all this matters little to the mindless legions who follow The Goracle. Like an apoplectic discharge, they punish those who don’t exactly buy into the global warming theory, while choosing to ignore billions of years of undocumented, unrecorded evolutionary earth history–ice core samples, yeah–that has shown the earth transforming, evolving, metamorphosing, and arguably transmogrifying (yes, Mother Nature, you can be an ugly bitch sometimes) throughout the eons, warming and cooling.
Of course, what all of this really boils down to here are new taxe increases for everyone courtesy of the Al Gore global warming conspiracy and his next bid for President of the United States in 2008. Still, I’d vote for him over George W. Bush any day of the week (of course, I’m kidding. I would simply abstain.)
Anyway, here’s a fantastic documentary produced by the UK Channel 4 titled The Great Global Warming Swindle. Proceed further down the page for more news stories.
Here’s a NYTimes piece from a week ago. Though a little old, it’s interesting.
Hollywood has a thing for Al Gore and his three-alarm film on global warming, “An Inconvenient Truth,” which won an Academy Award for best documentary. So do many environmentalists, who praise him as a visionary, and many scientists, who laud him for raising public awareness of climate change.
But part of his scientific audience is uneasy. In talks, articles and blog entries that have appeared since his film and accompanying book came out last year, these scientists argue that some of Mr. Gore’s central points are exaggerated and erroneous. They are alarmed, some say, at what they call his alarmism.
“I don’t want to pick on Al Gore,” Don J. Easterbrook, an emeritus professor of geology at Western Washington University, told hundreds of experts at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America. “But there are a lot of inaccuracies in the statements we are seeing, and we have to temper that with real data.”
Mr. Gore, in an e-mail exchange about the critics, said his work made “the most important and salient points” about climate change, if not “some nuances and distinctions” scientists might want. “The degree of scientific consensus on global warming has never been stronger,” he said, adding, “I am trying to communicate the essence of it in the lay language that I understand.”
Although Mr. Gore is not a scientist, he does rely heavily on the authority of science in “An Inconvenient Truth,” which is why scientists are sensitive to its details and claims.
Criticisms of Mr. Gore have come not only from conservative groups and prominent skeptics of catastrophic warming, but also from rank-and-file scientists like Dr. Easterbook, who told his peers that he had no political ax to grind. A few see natural variation as more central to global warming than heat-trapping gases. Many appear to occupy a middle ground in the climate debate, seeing human activity as a serious threat but challenging what they call the extremism of both skeptics and zealots.
Kevin Vranes, a climatologist at the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research at the University of Colorado, said he sensed a growing backlash against exaggeration. While praising Mr. Gore for “getting the message out,” Dr. Vranes questioned whether his presentations were “overselling our certainty about knowing the future.”
Typically, the concern is not over the existence of climate change, or the idea that the human production of heat-trapping gases is partly or largely to blame for the globe’s recent warming. The question is whether Mr. Gore has gone beyond the scientific evidence.
“He’s a very polarizing figure in the science community,” said Roger A. Pielke Jr., an environmental scientist who is a colleague of Dr. Vranes at the University of Colorado center. “Very quickly, these discussions turn from the issue to the person, and become a referendum on Mr. Gore.”
“An Inconvenient Truth,” directed by Davis Guggenheim, was released last May and took in more than $46 million, making it one of the top-grossing documentaries ever. The companion book by Mr. Gore quickly became a best seller, reaching No. 1 on the New York Times list.
Mr. Gore depicted a future in which temperatures soar, ice sheets melt, seas rise, hurricanes batter the coasts and people die en masse. “Unless we act boldly,” he wrote, “our world will undergo a string of terrible catastrophes.”
He clearly has supporters among leading scientists, who commend his popularizations and call his science basically sound. In December, he spoke in San Francisco to the American Geophysical Union and got a reception fit for a rock star from thousands of attendees.
“He has credibility in this community,” said Tim Killeen, the group’s president and director of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, a top group studying climate change. “There’s no question he’s read a lot and is able to respond in a very effective way.”
Some backers concede minor inaccuracies but see them as reasonable for a politician. James E. Hansen, an environmental scientist, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and a top adviser to Mr. Gore, said, “Al does an exceptionally good job of seeing the forest for the trees,” adding that Mr. Gore often did so “better than scientists.”
Still, Dr. Hansen said, the former vice president’s work may hold “imperfections” and “technical flaws.” He pointed to hurricanes, an icon for Mr. Gore, who highlights the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and cites research suggesting that global warming will cause both storm frequency and deadliness to rise. Yet this past Atlantic season produced fewer hurricanes than forecasters predicted (five versus nine), and none that hit the United States.
“We need to be more careful in describing the hurricane story than he is,” Dr. Hansen said of Mr. Gore. “On the other hand,” Dr. Hansen said, “he has the bottom line right: most storms, at least those driven by the latent heat of vaporization, will tend to be stronger, or have the potential to be stronger, in a warmer climate.”
In his e-mail message, Mr. Gore defended his work as fundamentally accurate. “Of course,” he said, “there will always be questions around the edges of the science, and we have to rely upon the scientific community to continue to ask and to challenge and to answer those questions.”
He said “not every single adviser” agreed with him on every point, “but we do agree on the fundamentals” — that warming is real and caused by humans.
Mr. Gore added that he perceived no general backlash among scientists against his work. “I have received a great deal of positive feedback,” he said. “I have also received comments about items that should be changed, and I have updated the book and slideshow to reflect these comments.” He gave no specifics on which points he had revised.
He said that after 30 years of trying to communicate the dangers of global warming, “I think that I’m finally getting a little better at it.”
While reviewers tended to praise the book and movie, vocal skeptics of global warming protested almost immediately. Richard S. Lindzen, a climatologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a member of the National Academy of Sciences, who has long expressed skepticism about dire climate predictions, accused Mr. Gore in The Wall Street Journal of “shrill alarmism.”
Some of Mr. Gore’s centrist detractors point to a report last month by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations body that studies global warming. The panel went further than ever before in saying that humans were the main cause of the globe’s warming since 1950, part of Mr. Gore’s message that few scientists dispute. But it also portrayed climate change as a slow-motion process.
It estimated that the world’s seas in this century would rise a maximum of 23 inches — down from earlier estimates. Mr. Gore, citing no particular time frame, envisions rises of up to 20 feet and depicts parts of New York, Florida and other heavily populated areas as sinking beneath the waves, implying, at least visually, that inundation is imminent.
Bjorn Lomborg, a statistician and political scientist in Denmark long skeptical of catastrophic global warming, said in a syndicated article that the panel, unlike Mr. Gore, had refrained from scaremongering. “Climate change is a real and serious problem” that calls for careful analysis and sound policy, Dr. Lomborg said. “The cacophony of screaming,” he added, “does not help.”
So too, a report last June by the National Academies seemed to contradict Mr. Gore’s portrayal of recent temperatures as the highest in the past millennium. Instead, the report said, current highs appeared unrivaled since only 1600, the tail end of a temperature rise known as the medieval warm period.
Roy Spencer, a climatologist at the University of Alabama, Huntsville, said on a blog that Mr. Gore’s film did “indeed do a pretty good job of presenting the most dire scenarios.” But the June report, he added, shows “that all we really know is that we are warmer now than we were during the last 400 years.”
Other critics have zeroed in on Mr. Gore’s claim that the energy industry ran a “disinformation campaign” that produced false discord on global warming. The truth, he said, was that virtually all unbiased scientists agreed that humans were the main culprits. But Benny J. Peiser, a social anthropologist in Britain who runs the Cambridge-Conference Network, or CCNet, an Internet newsletter on climate change and natural disasters, challenged the claim of scientific consensus with examples of pointed disagreement.
“Hardly a week goes by,” Dr. Peiser said, “without a new research paper that questions part or even some basics of climate change theory,” including some reports that offer alternatives to human activity for global warming.
Geologists have documented age upon age of climate swings, and some charge Mr. Gore with ignoring such rhythms.
“Nowhere does Mr. Gore tell his audience that all of the phenomena that he describes fall within the natural range of environmental change on our planet,” Robert M. Carter, a marine geologist at James Cook University in Australia, said in a September blog. “Nor does he present any evidence that climate during the 20th century departed discernibly from its historical pattern of constant change.”
In October, Dr. Easterbrook made similar points at the geological society meeting in Philadelphia. He hotly disputed Mr. Gore’s claim that “our civilization has never experienced any environmental shift remotely similar to this” threatened change.
Nonsense, Dr. Easterbrook told the crowded session. He flashed a slide that showed temperature trends for the past 15,000 years. It highlighted 10 large swings, including the medieval warm period. These shifts, he said, were up to “20 times greater than the warming in the past century.”
Getting personal, he mocked Mr. Gore’s assertion that scientists agreed on global warming except those industry had corrupted. “I’ve never been paid a nickel by an oil company,” Dr. Easterbrook told the group. “And I’m not a Republican.”
Biologists, too, have gotten into the act. In January, Paul Reiter, an active skeptic of global warming’s effects and director of the insects and infectious diseases unit of the Pasteur Institute in Paris, faulted Mr. Gore for his portrayal of global warming as spreading malaria.
“For 12 years, my colleagues and I have protested against the unsubstantiated claims,” Dr. Reiter wrote in The International Herald Tribune. “We have done the studies and challenged the alarmists, but they continue to ignore the facts.”
Michael Oppenheimer, a professor of geosciences and international affairs at Princeton who advised Mr. Gore on the book and movie, said that reasonable scientists disagreed on the malaria issue and other points that the critics had raised. In general, he said, Mr. Gore had distinguished himself for integrity.
“On balance, he did quite well — a credible and entertaining job on a difficult subject,” Dr. Oppenheimer said. “For that, he deserves a lot of credit. If you rake him over the coals, you’re going to find people who disagree. But in terms of the big picture, he got it right.”
Gore brings his message on global warming — and a reincarnated image — to the Capitol.
By Faye Fiore and Richard Simon, Times Staff Writers
March 22, 2007
WASHINGTON — The doors swung open and he made his entrance with cameras clicking, the wooden politician denied the presidency and derided as “Ozone Man” was coming home to the Capitol. But this time they called him a movie star and likened him to a prophet.
Al Gore left Washington seven years ago bowed by the 2000 presidential election and a little disgraced in the eyes of his party — couldn’t he at least have won his home state?
But he returned Wednesday reincarnated: the subject of an Academy Award-winning film, a nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize, a 58-year-old guy who, slightly grayed and a little puffy, can share a stage with Leonardo DiCaprio and still manage to be the center of attention.
The onetime congressman, senator and vice president was back, this time to testify about global warming. The Oscar for “An Inconvenient Truth” — the documentary about his traveling slide show on the ravages of climate change — doesn’t even belong to him; it’s the director’s. But it has pushed Gore into another orbit in Washington’s universe. People started lining up as early as 7 a.m. to get a glimpse of him.
“This is the most dangerous crisis we have ever faced,” Gore told a joint meeting of two House panels in an impassioned appeal for bold action. (He later repeated his case on the Senate side.) “This problem is burning a hole in the top of the world…. We need to turn the thermostat back down before that melts.”
Gore, who arrived in a new hybrid Mercury, sat beside a stack of brown boxes filled with 516,000 messages — collected over the last few days on AlGore.com — urging “real action.”
“There is a sense of hope in the country that this United States Congress will rise to the occasion and present meaningful solutions to this crisis,” he said. “Congress is a repository of hopes and dreams of people all across this Earth.”
As the morning hearing convened on the House side, the repository of hopes and dreams spent several minutes bickering about where the committee members should sit and how much time they had to speak.
They appeared to divide pretty much along party lines. Democrats hailed the “Goracle,” who saw this coming 30 years ago, and Republicans dismissed him as an alarmist.
Among Gore’s ideas: a pollution tax, an immediate freeze on carbon dioxide emissions with sharp reductions in future years, stricter vehicle miles-per-gallon rules, a moratorium on construction of highly polluting coal-fired power plants, a strong global climate-change treaty and the creation of a federally operated “carbon-neutral” mortgage association that would serve as incentive for building energy-efficient homes.
“I listen to you sometimes in wonderment,” said Rep. J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), predicting that Gore’s proposals would cost “tens of thousands of jobs and more empty factories.”
Rep. Ralph M. Hall (R-Texas) complained of an “all-out assault” on energy sources that are crucial to economic and national security.
In the confrontational camaraderie for which Washington is famous, Hall and Gore happily reminisced about the time they went to a meeting on Hall’s boat, then Hall accused Gore of “flirting with the death of the energy industry.”
Gore acknowledged his proposals faced serious obstacles.
In calling for a pollution tax, he said, “I fully understand this is considered politically impossible, but part of our challenge is to expand the limits of what’s possible.” He urged his former colleagues to “walk through that fire.”
The day will come, he said, when future generations either ask, “Did they think it was perfectly all right to keep dumping 70 million tons every single day of global-warming pollution into this Earth’s atmosphere?” or “How did they find the uncommon moral courage to rise above politics?”
Gore spoke mostly without notes and seemed more comfortable in his skin than when he was as a presidential candidate, even with a clot of photographers squatting in front of him. A notorious policy wonk, he touched on subjects such as light bulbs and the Arctic ice cap, which, he said, is melting even faster than previously thought and could “completely disappear in as little as 34 years.”
“If it goes, it won’t come back in any time scale relevant to the human condition,” he warned as his wife, Tipper, nodded in agreement behind him.
Members of both parties, who generally poke at their BlackBerrys during long committee hearings, appeared to pay attention.
The exchanges were sometimes confrontational, especially at the Senate hearing, where Gore dueled with one of the chief congressional skeptics on global warming, Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.).”It seems that everything is blamed on global warming,” Inhofe said. “Last summer we had a heat wave and everyone said, ‘Oh, that’s proof it’s global warming.’ Then we had a mild December. ‘Oh, that’s proof that global warming is taking place.’ … How come you guys never seem to notice it when it gets cold?”
But Gore held firm, noting that a manatee showed up off Memphis last summer.
“First time ever,” he said. “It got too hot in southern Florida. I’m not making this up. Another one showed up off of Cape Cod, first time ever. Nature is on the run.”
Later, Gore invited Inhofe to breakfast to discuss the issue “without the cameras, without the lights.”
Much as he did in “An Inconvenient Truth,” Gore reduced the science to simple metaphors.
When asked whether the United States should be taking drastic action when China and India were greater polluters, Gore explained that the U.S. accounted for 23% of carbon emissions and “like a bucket with a hole in it, you can still use the bucket, but it’s a lot more efficient if the hole is plugged.”
Outside the House hearing room where Gore spoke, a crowd waited for him to emerge. Three high school girls from New Jersey snapped his picture for their school newspaper, saying that he looked taller, older and more confident than they expected.
Gore left through a side door, missing an impromptu ditty by what sounded like a Dixieland band and members of the antiwar group Code Pink, attired in boas and assorted hats. He was nonetheless mobbed by photographers and squeezed into an elevator to escape.
“Run for president!” somebody hollered, just as the doors closed.
At the end of the day, after Gore finished his testimony before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), the chairwoman, called Gore a “role model for us all.”
Gore thanked her and asked, “Now, you don’t give out any kind of statue or anything?”