Paternity Tests

First, if by chance any journalists drop by here, I have a complaint. I’ve been surfing around this morning looking for a news story that explains the main provisions of the immigration bill, in its current form, and the various amendments the Republicans want to attach to it. Haven’t found one.

This is news reporting 101, people. Yes, the lead grafs should be about how the bill was killed in the Senate and how there’s this big political fight over it, but at some point the story should move into an explanation of what’s in the bleeping bill.

The Dallas Morning News offers a sentence:

The legislation would tighten borders and institute a new system to prevent employers from hiring undocumented workers, in addition to giving up to 12 million illegal immigrants a pathway to legal status.

Somehow, I think there’s more to it than that.

Here’s the text of the actual bill if you want to slog through it. I’m a bit short of time this morning and cannot, which is why I was looking for a news story that digested it for me. And then there are the several amendments, which include one sponsored by Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) to “declare English as the national language of the Government of the United States, and for other purposes,” one from Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) requiring that voters must present a photo ID before they’re allowed into the voting booth, and one from Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) preventing some temporary workers and the former illegals receiving amnesty from claiming an earned income tax credit.

I haven’t heard from anyone who actually likes this bill. I’m told by other liberals that the bill’s guest worker program would have instituted a new class of worker with virtually no bargaining powers, and that this almost certainly would suppress the wages of many citizens. Conservatives don’t like the bill because the notion of amnesty for illegal aliens sticks in their craw, and of course they want big fences along the Rio Grande.

The fence issue illustrates how the damnfool politicians can’t even agree on the stuff they agree on. Everyone wants more secure borders. Some on the extreme right claim the Democrats and President Bush are tools of the Open Borders Lobby, but in fact, no one in Congress — not even Ted Kennedy — is in favor of open borders.

The argument is not whether the borders should be more secure, but how to go about making them more secure. My understandng is that the Dems in general favor making smarter use of surveillance technologies. But that will not do for conservatives; they want a fence. I’m sure you already know how that would turn out. We’d spend billions on the bleeping fence, and then in a few months’ time the coyotes will have figured out how to get through it. Then we’d need the surveillance technologies to look for holes in the fence. The fence obviously represents something in rightie minds — something primitive and hostile, of course — that eludes the rest of us.

But President Bush had made a Big Bleeping Deal about immigration reform. So a bipartisan group of a dozen Senators got together a few months ago and wrote a bill that sort of satisfied what Bush wanted and also had a shot, they thought, at passing.

Carl Hulse and Robert Pear write for the New York Times:

The compromise legislation was announced on May 17 by authors who hailed it as a “grand bargain.” It held together through much of the debate because the negotiators — embodied on the right by Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona, a Republican, and on the left by Mr. Kennedy — agreed to block proposals they thought would sink the measure. That led to such odd moments as when Mr. Kyl on Wednesday opposed an amendment he had helped write for last year’s unsuccessful immigration measure.

But the legislation began running into problems late Wednesday night and early Thursday morning as the Senate approved a Democratic proposal to limit a guest-worker program sought by business interests and backed by Republicans. Backers of the bill hoped to reverse that result if the measure moved forward. …

… Democrats were growing increasingly uneasy.

Senator Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, said the bill had become “more punitive and more onerous” because of amendments adopted in the last few days. Mr. Menendez pointed, for example, to one that denied the earned-income tax credit to illegal immigrants who gain legal status under the bill.

Republicans kept throwing nastier and more punitive amendments at the bill, and Harry Reid thought if the thing had any chance at all of passing he’d better cut off more amendments and try to get the bill voted on. What happened yesterday was that the bill flunked a procedural test that would have allowed it to move forward toward a vote.

After a day of tension and fruitless maneuvering, senators rejected a Democratic call to move toward a final vote on the compromise legislation after Republicans complained that they had not been given enough opportunity to reshape the sprawling bill. Supporters of cutting off debate got only 45 of the 60 votes they needed; 50 senators opposed the cutoff.

“We are finished with this for the time being,” said Senator Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada and the majority leader, as he turned the Senate to work on energy legislation.

An “inside story” post by rightie blogger John Hawkins suggests that conservative Republicans were trying deliberately to “gum up the works,” and it seems they succeeded.

It gets weirder. This bill was Bush’s baby. But apparently neither he nor anyone else in the White House tried to help it get passed. This week Harry Reid sent all kinds of signals to Bush that if he wanted his bill passed he had better put some pressure on Republican senators. But Bush is in Europe and the G8 summit, and apparently he doesn’t know that you can make overseas phone calls these days.

Some righties, meanwhile, interpreted Reid’s messages to Bush as pleas to help Reid get the bill passed, and yesterday I bounced into all manner of rightie bloggers who referred to the measure as “Reid’s bill.” The other allegations of paternity were made about Ted Kennedy, who is the Author of All Evil, and since Kennedy was one of the senators who worked on the original bill it must have been his fault. In fact, Little Lulu is now referring to Senator Ted as Bush’s “pal.” This is sort of like saying the President is in league with the Devil.

The righties really don’t like Bush any more.