Tales from the Trail

Arizona law galvanizes U.S. Latinos

IMMIGRATION-USA/ARIZONAThe swastika made of refried beans smeared onto the glass doors of the Arizona State Capitol this week captured the anger of Hispanics at the law authorizing local police to question anyone reasonably suspected of being in the United States illegally. The controvesial law, which critics say is a mandate for racial profiling, has galvanized the country’s largest minority that is expected to turn out in large numbers at planned rallies in more than 70 U.S. cities.

Hispanics were disappointed that President Barack Obama failed to deliver on his campaign promise to overhaul the immigration system in his first year in office. The Pew Research Center says 76 percent of the estimated 11.9 million illegal immigrants in the United States are Hispanics. The Latino community sees the undocumented immigrants as contributing with their labor to the growth of the U.S. economy and deserve the right to be legal residents.

The Arizona measure was criticized by other minorities. “This law is un-American as it unjustly targets communities of color, in particular immigrant communities, which have been critical to the economic growth of our country throughout its history,” said Michael Honda, chairman of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.

Republican backers of the law say it is needed to curb crime in Arizona, a desert state that is a major corridor for drug and migrant smugglers from Mexico.
IMMIGRATION-USA/
Democrats, particularly those with shaky re-election prospects in mid-terms in November, are worried about losing Latino votes. The outcry has injected new life into efforts to move immigration reform through Congress. Democratic leaders in the Senate unveiled an outline of how to overhaul the system on Thursday.

One day after he said Congress may not have “the appetite now” to tackle immigration reform, President Barack Obama welcomed the reform proposal saying it had “become increasingly clear” the country can longer wait to fix the “broken immigration system.”

Will this be another 1994?

Democrats and Republicans have been fighting over just about everything. OBAMA-HEALTHCARE

They fought over healthcare reform, the Democrats won its passage.

Now they’re fighting over financial regulation reform in a skirmish being pitched as Wall Street versus Main Street. No winner yet.

All the battles have one thing in common — an underlying goal is to win the November congressional election.

But the latest Washington Post/ABC News poll suggests that regardless of who is winning the tussle of the moment, many voters just want the incumbents gone.

Palin serves up plenty of red meat at Boston Tea Party

Conservative darling Sarah Palin had no trouble stirring up Tea Partiers at a rally in Boston, not far from the site where colonists staged the original Tea Party revolt centuries ago.

USA/The problems in the United States are “nothing a good old fashioned election can’t fix,” she told the crowd of several thousand on the Boston Common. “The first test will be at the ballot box in November.”

The former Alaska governor and Republican vice-presidential candidate, who wore a red leather jacket, brought plenty of red meat rhetoric to the anti-tax Tea Party.

So how’s he doing now? New polls on Obama healthcare

The White House (whether its occupant is Obama or Bush) has a tendency to be dismissive of public opinion polls, shrugging them aside as inconsequential to the president’s decision-making and basically to be brushed off like dandruff on a shoulder.

That is unless the polls are going their way.

USA-HEALTHCAREWhite House spokesman Robert Gibbs, amid the glee of the healthcare bill signing Tuesday, tweeted @PressSec “In the polling obsessed town of Washington, DC this will give the nattering nabobs of negativity something to chew on” with a link to a story about the USA Today/Gallup poll that said 49 percent vs. 40 percent saw passage of  the bill as “a good thing.”

But while early post-healthcare polling data show a bump in President Barack Obama’s favorability ratings, it remains to be seen whether there’s a trend in the making.

Massa public resignation letter: scar tissue, ethics complaint, car rides

USA-HEALTHCARE/PELOSICongressman Eric Massa (you would be forgiven for asking who?) posted on his web site one of the more “interesting” public resignation letters seen from a government official in some time.

The first-term Democrat from upstate New York starts by talking about a CAT scan that may or may not show scar tissue. In the next breath of his “open letter,” Massa mentions an ethics complaint in which a male staff member had felt “uncomfortable” due to statements made by the congressman.

Massa readily agrees that the ethics issue is “my fault and mine alone” because after 24 years in the Navy he did use language in his home and inner office that “might make a Chief Petty Officer feel uncomfortable.” (Defies the imagination because we have it on good authority that there is no language that would make most Navy Chief Petty Officers uncomfortable).

Will presidential weight carry healthcare through?

President Barack Obama spoke. Republicans talked back.

USA HEALTHCARE/OBAMA SPEECHNo sign that anyone shifted positions after the president’s remarks today in the East Room at the White House with lots of white hospital coats in the audience.

In fact, it appears that the two sides — Obama and the Republicans — hardened their resolve, setting the stage for a political tug-of-war that’s only going to turn more fierce as the November elections near.

Obama wants it, Republicans oppose it. But it’s the congressional Democrats left trying to push through Congress an issue that has created discord within their own ranks. Democrats in the Senate differ from their colleagues in the House on what the legislation should look like — and not all Democrats support it.

Ron Paul: The Once and Future Conservative Favorite

USA-POLITICS/PAULRep. Ron Paul today seems to be little more than a voice crying in the wilderness of Republican politics. But the Texas libertarian and 2008 presidential candidate may have a lease on the future of the Republican Party’s conservative wing, at the age of 74.

Paul, the big winner in the presidential straw poll at the American Conservative Union’s Conservative Political Action Conference, ascribes his victory to young people who don’t like the way the Republican establishment is handling things.

“Right now, I think there is a disconnect with the people, especially with the next generation,” he told MSNBC.  ”They feel like the burden is being dumped on their shoulders and I think that’s what the vote represented, a lot of young people saying they don’t like what’s happening.”

Obama healthcare on political operating table

Last year, President Barack Obama tried to get Congress to pass healthcare legislation that came from the minds of  lawmakers.

We all know how well that went.

So today, Obama put his own version on the table.

The response from Republicans was (shock of shocks) — they don’t like it. House Republican leader John Boehner says Obama’s proposal jeopardizes bipartisan healthcare work (You might ask what bipartisan healthcare work? We’re not quite sure).

The response from Democrats was (shock of shocks) — they’ll review it. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said it contained positive elements from the separate bills that passed the House and Senate last year.

A ‘Cougar’ may be stalking Bayh’s empty Senate seat

MUSIC-HALLOFFAME/

After rocking the house for decades, could Rock and Roll Hall of Famer John Mellencamp rock the U.S. Senate?

Some Democrats think so and they’re trying to draft him as a possible replacement for departing Indiana Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh.

“Don’t laugh, O.K.? I’m very serious,” Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher of the left-leaning weekly magazine, The Nation, told MSNBC this week. “He’s a heartland son of Indiana.”

Congress bracing for anti-incumbent anger among voters

WEATHER-USA/

By the look of things, the American public just might vote Congress out of office this November – Republican and Democrat alike.

But Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine sounds downright stoic, even as he admits that his own party could lose more than 28 House seats and four Senate seats.

Kaine says Democrats must accept voter anger as a fact of life in an economy that is recovering only slowly from the worst recession since the 1930s.