Republican Prize Wife John McCain

Despite the progressive blogosphere's best efforts, liberals still love John McCain. This is meaningful, because without relatively high approval ratings among Democrats John McCain wouldn't be considered a strong candidate in 2008 and he wouldn't have a reformer mantle.  But why is it that John McCain is so beloved?  Well, one reason is that he has a lot of allies on the left, allies such as Common Cause, Democracy 21, and a whole host of 'reformer' groups interested in small process issues that find him useful as bipartisan arm candy.  For these groups, McCain is an easy ticket to bipartisanship, and though their sympathies lean left, their actions do not.  In local papers, in the news, on the cocktail circuit, these groups promote John McCain, because promoting him means promoting their image as bipartisan reformers.  This raises his numbers among liberals who tend to like good government groups.

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John McCain: Yet Another Cynical Politician

As Matt, the Associated Press and others have noted, John McCain has been spending quite a bit of time sidling up to ultra-religious regressives like Jerry Falwell in an effort to improve his chances at securing the GOP presidential nomination in 2008. As Jonathan Allen reported for The Hill on Thursday, this is only the beginning of a larger "Southern strategy" for the conservative Arizona Senator.

McCain, who is scheduled to headline a Lincoln Day dinner in Polk County, Fla., on April 8, has visited several Southern states in recent weeks and has been cultivating Southern political leaders.


"I think to any presidential candidate, the South is important," said McCain, who despite pointing out that he has visited other regions of the country noted the prominence of the South Carolina and Alabama primaries.

"He's fully aware that he has to carry some of the South to win the nomination," said one Southern lawmaker who is considering backing McCain.

There's nothing inherently wrong about a Republican -- or a Democrat, for that matter -- focusing on the South as a means for garnering his party's presidential nomination. That said, for John McCain to so openly court those who just a few years ago threw racial smears at him and who McCain himself decried at the same time is an example of cynicism at its worst.

John McCain built up quite a bit of support among independents and even Democrats by showing a willingness to eschew the party line at times, but those days are long gone. McCain the maverick no longer exists; in his place stands John McCain, the quintessential cynical politician who will do anything to win an election. Remember, this is a guy who was implicated in the Keating Five scandal towards the beginning of his tenure in the Senate.

So whenever the media pumps out another McCain puff piece, as they surely will do in the coming months and years, we must push back by reminding the reporter -- and the reader -- that McCain is no moderate seeking to fix the problems in Washington but rather a central part of the problem because of his cynical view of politics and the American voter.

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Honesty on Immigration

David Sirota and David Neiwert strike me as basically correct on the immigration subject.  The reason that there are so many illegal immigrants here is because (a) American businesses keep hiring them and (b) NAFTA has made Mexican workers poorer.  Both of these factors increase the flow of illegal immigrants.

Marcela Sanchez puts this in perspective:

Whether you believe Mexican immigrants help or hurt the United States, there is one incontrovertible truth: work here pays much, much better. A low-skilled Mexican worker in this country earns five to six times as much as he would back home, assuming he or she could find a comparable job.

This truth is so obvious it seems a cliche and yet it remains mostly absent from the current debate on how to reform U.S. immigration. For all the talk around the country of border enforcement, guest worker programs, employer sanctions and driver's licensing restrictions, the sad fact is that none of these "solutions'' addresses the root of the problem -- a persistent and large U.S.-Mexican income disparity.

Even the most comprehensive and progressive immigration reform proposal in years, introduced this month by Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., is more concerned with making U.S. immigration policy more humane than dealing with income disparity between the United States and Mexico. The bill crafts a guest worker program -- creating new visa categories and quotas and a secure identification system for employers -- but only provides a vague indication that income disparity might be a problem worth taking on.

Why such reluctance? How can a proposal that purports to reduce the flow of illegal Mexican workers to the United States not take a stab at the root cause? Won't better conditions for immigrant workers here only be an invitation for more illegal migrants from Mexico, as the argument goes, as long as wage disparity remains unaddressed?

To alter income disparity, it is obvious that Mexico must reduce its development gap and raise incomes. What is just as apparent is that Americans do not feel, at least at the moment, that they have a responsibility or even an interest in reducing that gap through investment of money and expertise. They don't feel the same obligation they once felt, say, after World War II for Europe, or that the European Union took on when it bolstered its poorest members. Mexico and the United States may share a 2,000-mile border but their sense of a shared future runs two two inches deep.

The Republicans have countered with the racist Tancredo-Frist wing of the party, which turns the illegal immigrants that businesses recruit into fugitives.  Moderate Democrats, though not particularly strong on the issue, have embraced the stupid McCain-Kennedy bill, which creates new categories of quasi-legal immigrants while not really addressing the structural problem.  It's a typical McCain bill, well-feeling yet massively incompetent.

The progressive answer to immigration is to crack down on corporate hiring of illegal immigrants for low pay, to accelerate the path to citizenship for existing illegals, and to reform NAFTA so that it actually produces the wealth for Mexico it promised in the first place.

Oh yeah, and Democrats, this is a great opportunity to get the Latino vote permanently on our side.  Many Americans will understand the corporate argument if we start making it, though some pro-corporate knuckle-draggers will not.  So as usual, progressive policies are good politics.

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So Senator McCain, Are Gays and Feminists Responsible for 9/11?

McCain, on Meet the Press:

RUSSERT: Do you believe that Jerry Falwell is still an agent of intolerance?

MCCAIN: No, I don't. I think that Jerry Falwell can explain how his views on this program when you have him on.

Jerry Falwell, on September 14, 2001:

"I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say 'you helped this happen.'"

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An Onion On Steroids

Exposing the truth about GOP rule is analogous to peeling off layers of an onion on steroids. This is quite apparent in two of the most important news items this past week: the January 2003 British memo reported by the New York Times and the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings in which former Nixon aide John Dean, agreed with Senator Feingold about censuring President Bush.

First let's address the latest revelations from our friends in the United Kingdom. When you combine this memo with the original "Downing Street" memo one can't help but believe the worst. Bush and Blair shamelessly deliberated over how to "provoke" a confrontation with Saddam. This is reminiscent of Adolph Hitler conjuring up a pre-text to invade Poland in 1939. If that offends anyone - I don't care. What they did is a criminal act and dishonored my country.

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