Media: Illegal Immegration

The difference between Charles Krauthammer and George Will is that George Will says what everyone is already thinking, and Krauthammer gives you new stuff to think about. The conclusions he draws are completely bizarre on occasion, but he’s working with big, interesting ideas and doing novel things.

In talking about immigration, you have two competing (Republican) ideological priorities: being pro-business and enforcing the rule of law. Much of the illegal immigrant debate comes down to people shouting back and forth: “business!” “rule of law!” “business!” “rule of law!” You can wheel-barrow in a lot of evidence to support one or the other (well, rule of law people usually cite poll data, which is inconclusive and contradictory in this case anyway), but you’re still just trying to shore up your main tenet.

Krauthammer (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/18/AR2006051801774.html?nav=rss_opinion/columns) throws another concept in this week, that it’s our government’s prerogative to regulate immigration, and that it’s bad to just let immigration happen and get out of the way. I don’t know if that does anything for anyone else, but that really makes a lot of sense to me, and isn’t obviously “rule of law!”, this gut reaction against ‘law-breakers’.

Lindsay Graham said something similar on Meet the Press (transcript/podcast available here (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/8987534/)), that we should “give people a chance to be part of the American dream– under our conditions, not theirs.”

The converse of this is that we aren’t letting enough really talented people in at the high end to come for school and work here; but that’s another story.

The Condoleezza Rice part of Meet the Press was pretty blah; she just repeated the standard administration line on wiretapping and record-keeping. I’ve been thinking recently that at a technical level, you’d have to monitor calls in some fashion to be able to tap the ones out of the country. The fact that phone companies have just handed everything over to them is scary, but the fact that the NSA has this massive information dump from the phone companies seems technically crude. There should be a way to figure out the calls you want to tap without retaining call information for a billion innocent people. Also, there’s an interesting Nation article on the history of wiretapping here (http://www.thenation.com/doc/20060605/shapiro).

The Charlie Norwood/Lindsay Graham part was really good, though. You can just see competing notions of government in action when they talk; they think they’re talking about policy, but Rep. Norwood is like, “I’m from the House of Representatives, and it’s my responsibility to be accountable to my constituents” and Sen. Graham leans back and says, “Well I’m from the Senate, and it’s my job to step back from the clamour of the street and give reasoned counsel.”

At any rate, the Meet the Press episode gave me hope that maybe the Republican party will figure out how to govern effectively again and get some movement on immigration.

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