S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Big stuff on the congressional horizon -

The U.S. House and Senate are back in session. Yesterday was a big day for news about Congress. Having returned to Washington from their Memorial Day recess, lawmakers are back into the swing of legislating, oversight and deal-making. It will be interesting to learn what they heard from constituents back home in their districts.
Most of what they are contemplating doing is the good stuff of the art of politics. But some of it is not so good. The immigration reform movement is terribly difficult and presents opportunities for many to get hurt. US Representative William Jefferson has hurt the state he was supposed to represent and he has hurt his party. And Wyoming will be hurt by the death of one of their senators.

The big activity in the Senate is immigration reform. There is much right and wrong on both sides of this emotionally charged debate. As for me, I come down solidly on the side of Liberals. Jonah Goldberg has written a very thoughtful summary of the debate's issues for Yahoo! News/USA Today (6/5/07) : "Villains and the immigration debate." To quote rather extensively from his provocative piece:

. . . It's the first step toward creating the North American Union, where the United States, Canada and Mexico become one giant country and the dollar is replaced by the Amero.
. . . Bush is just a pawn in the Big Business-Welfare State axis
. . . Reform advocates aren't much better. . . a valued voice of reason on the right, recently all but declared that fellow conservatives who disagree with her on immigration pretty much have to be racists.
. . . Even if these are the overriding motives for all of the combatants in the debate over immigration reform, none of them is publicly using these arguments to justify his position. No one - of any consequence at least - is saying we need to keep the Mexicans out because they're racially inferior. No one is openly pushing amnesty as a vital first step toward the nullification of the U.S. Constitution.
Perhaps chief among the many problems with these sorts of accusations is that they help no one, advance nothing. Only those already convinced cheer the unsubstantiated charges of villainy. Indeed, crying racism to delegitimize an opponent's legitimate arguments is typically a left-wing tactic, and conservatives do not color themselves with glory by mimicking it.
. . . Not every businessman is a mustache-twirling robber baron, and not every advocate of enforcing the law is a bigot.
Also big in the news - Democrat William Jefferson of Louisiana has finally been indicted. Yesterday's news conference podium was completely filled with people from the FBI and the Justice Department announcing the Virginia grand jury's decision. The headline signaled a sad day for the House and for Democrats: "Lawmaker Indicted on Corruption Charges," Rep. Jefferson Accused Of Bribery, Racketeering; by Jerry Markon and Allan Lengel, Washington Post (6/5/07). To quote,

Federal authorities accused Rep. William J. Jefferson yesterday of using his congressional office and staff to enrich himself and his family, charging the Louisiana Democrat with offering and accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to support business ventures in the United States and several West African nations.
The 16-count indictment also accused Jefferson, a former co-chairman of congressional caucuses on Nigeria and African trade, of racketeering, money laundering and obstruction of justice. The indictment was handed up by a federal grand jury and capped a long and tumultuous FBI investigation.
And a big loss to the state of Wyoming is Senator Craig Thomas (R-WY), who has died of leukemia. He was a gentle, quiet and unassuming man who was well respected by his colleagues. He represented his state (and state of my birth) very well. He will be missed. According to CNN,
Thomas was elected to a third term last year. The vacancy caused by his death will be chosen by Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal, a Democrat. However, the seat will not switch parties because, under state law, Freudenthal is required to pick a new senator from a list of three candidates submitted by the GOP state central committee.
Useful References (all from the Washington Post):
  1. "Today in Congress" - information about all the scheduled committee hearings
  2. "New Faces" profiles of those elected in November, 2006, to the House, Senate and State Governors' offices.
  3. "US Congress votes database" - every vote in Congress since 1991
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