Some pretty high profile GOPers have endorsed U.S. Barack Obama as of late -- Colin Powell, former Reagan Chief of Staff Ken Duberstein.
Late last week, U.S. John McCain reeled in the sitting Vice President, Dick Cheney. Question is, did he want to throw him back under the political-catch-and-release program? The Obama campaign is betting "yes." In its latest ad, the Obama team uses Cheney's endorsement (he says he's "delighted" to endorse McCain-Palin) as what its sees as evidence that McCain will give the nation four more years of Bush-Cheney. Given that McCain has been running away from Bush as fast as he can, my guess is that he wishes Cheney had just shut it. It's a pretty brutal ad with lighthearted music to take the edge off.
Obama's new ad will start airing nationally tomorrow. Watch it here:
U.S. Sen. Barack Obama and his wife Michelle are the gifts that keep on giving to Jon Stewart's Daily Show. Obama was Stewart's guest on Wednesday night's show following the Illinois senator's primetime network fest. The result? 3.6 million viewers tuned in -- Stewart's highest ratings ever, second only to the show that featured Michelle Obama.
Stewart asked Obama about charges that he is a Socialist and the so-called Bradley Effect. See what Obama had to say:
U.S. Sen. Barack Obama is covering all of his bases. He did his 30-minute network gigs last night, then headed over to the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Today he sat down with Rachel Maddow, a self-avowed, liberal wonk who is redefining the so-called liberal media. Check out American Propsect's recent write-up of the Channel Changer and tune in to Maddow and Obama:
Continuing its efforts to ensure that Hispanic citizens have the information they need to vote, NDN has scheduled a Las Vegas news conference tomorrow, Thursday, October 30, with U.S. Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and a group of Hispanic political and community leaders -- Republicans, Democrats and unaffiliated individuals -- to denounce deceptive practices targeted toward Hispanic citizens in an effort to prevent them from voting.
According to news reports, some Hispanic households have received robo-calls asking for personal information and who they planned to vote for. According to the same news reports, if the voters answered, "Obama," they were "informed" that they could vote over the phone. Voting via phone is not allowed.
Reid, NDN and others also will urge Hispanic citizens to make their voices heard by voting, and let voters know that they can vote early as allowed by Nevada law or on November 4.
The news conference is scheduled for 1 p.m. PT tomorrow in Las Vegas at the Latin Chamber of Commerce Building, 300 N. 13th St. NDN and Reid are expected to be joined by several Hispanic leaders, including State Assemblyman Ruben Kihuen, State Assemblyman Moises Denis, Luis Valera, Chairman of the Latin Chamber of Commerce Government Affairs Committee, Geoconda Arguello Kline, President of the Las Vegas Culinary Union Local 226, Robert Gomez, Past Chairman of the Latin Chamber of Commerce, and Andres Ramirez, NDN's Vice President for Hispanic Programs.
The campaign of U.S. Sen. John McCain has a new Web video ad up designed for one purpose only -- to convince potential voters that U.S. Sen. Barack Obama really is a Muslim, which incidentally, he is not, and if he were, who cares?
As Sam Stein reports in the Huffington Post, the new McCain ad superimposes an image of Obama over a map of Iran. The ad "lists" some of Obama's foreign policy statement as music most closely associated with the Muslim prayer call plays in the background.
The Obama-superimposed-on-a-Middle-East-map strategy seems to have picked up some steam. Writes Stein:
Indeed, the Republican ticket has been subtly pushing this line for days now. As the Huffington Post reported on Tuesday, the Republican Party of Florida is sending out a new mailer that places the Illinois Democrat's face right over a map of Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia. It accuses him of being "dangerously unprepared" and "no friend of Israel."
This is McCain's second attempt in the last few days to play the Middle East card. Earlier this week, his campaign re-released an old campaign ad that accused Obama of not being wary enough of Iran.
McCain's Web video, as controversial as it is, is up for some stiff competition tonight as Obama takes his case to voters on several networks in 30-minutes blocks. But there's no doubt McCain's latest commercial will get free media, which is good when you have no money left.
U.S. Sen. Barack Obama today rolled out a new TV ad on the economy, entitled "Better Off." Watch it here:
Senator Obama's emphasis on helping the middle class prosper and alleviating the struggle of every day people seems to be resonating with voters. E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post notes that, despite persistent assertions from U.S. Sen John McCain's campaign that Obama's tax plan is "socialist" and that he wants to "spread wealth around," a recent Pew poll found that "50 percent of registered voters questioned in mid-October thought Obama would do the best job in 'dealing with taxes,' compared with only 35 percent who said that of McCain. Back in September, Obama also led, but more modestly, 44 percent to 39 percent."
Furthermore, a new Pew poll today finds that almost 40% of voters believe McCain would do "too much for the wealthy" if elected president. It seems that, Republican base voters aside, most Americans are simply not buying the argument that anything more progressive than Bush's economic policies constitutes "socialism" (heck, just ask real socialists).
III. What Constitution? Charlie Savage and the New York Times report (surprise, surprise) the Bush administration has informed Congress that it is bypassing a law intended to forbid political interference with reports to lawmakers by the Department of Homeland Security. The August 2007 law requires that the reports on activities that affect privacy be submitted directly to Congress "without any prior comment or amendment" by superiors at the department or the White House.
IV. DHS Can't Sit Still: Not happy with the results of their brilliant "Deport Yourself" initiative or the outrage caused by USCIS detainee conditions and the mistaken detention of U.S. citizens during ICE raids, on October 23, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a final administrative rule that sets new procedures for employers who receive "no-match" letters from the Social Security Administration (SSA). Each year, SSA sends businesses ''no-match'' letters with the names of workers whose Social Security number on W-2 forms don't match SSA records. The DHS rule would require employers to correct the discrepancy or fire the worker within 90 days. Failure to comply could bring prosecution and heavy fines.
Setting aside the flawed policy behind this rule for a moment, could Secretary Chertoff have picked a worse time to issue this rule? Definitely not. This rule, made public 11 days before a Presidential election during which minorities and naturalized citizens have the power to swing numerous battleground states, and during which the incumbent Administration's candidate is far behind in the polls, could be interpreted by Hispanics (native and foreign-born) and immigrants of all races and ethnicities as another expression of the Republican party's anti-immigrant stance. Additionally, this "enforcement-only" approach places greater financial and legal burdens on employers, while simultaneously putting workers at risk of losing their jobs during a time of severe economic crisis - the federal government is spending hundreds of billions of dollars trying to rescue the nation's banking, credit and housing markets, yet Secretary Chertoff is pushing ahead with a potentially job-crippling program that, at the end of the day, is ineffective in curtailing undocumented immigration.
Luckily, a court injunction will remain in place against the rule until the Court issues its final decision.The next hearing in this litigation is set for November 21, 2008 to set a schedule to present arguments, so this case won't be resolved anytime soon. Accordingly, SSA will not send any no-match letters to employers until the matter is resolved. Therefore, notify the American Civil Liberties Union(ACLU), the AFL-CIO, or the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) if you know of any employer trying to implement this rule.
This final rule is basically unchanged from its original version, issued in August 2007, despite a court ruling in June of this year that: a) Questioned whether DHS had a reasoned analysis to change its position in regards to employer liability, b) Found DHS had exceeded its authority by interpreting anti-discrimination provisions in immigration law (IRCA), and c) Violated the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) by not conducting the analysis of the rule's impact, as required by law (doh!, that pesky analysis thing).
This rule is misguided, too costly, and ineffective:
1. Originally SSA no-match letters were an attempt by SSA to correct discrepancies in their records that can prevent workers from getting credit for their earnings. These letters were never intended to be used as an immigration enforcement tool--no-match letters are not evidence of an immigration violation. As stated in a judicial opinion, no-match "does not automatically mean that an employee is undocumented or lacks proper work authorization. In fact, the SSA tells employers that the information it provides them ‘does not make any statement about . . . immigration status.'"
2. The implementation of this rule is far from a solution - it will only increase unemployment at a time of severe economic crisis. a. According to DHS, it would cost $36,624 a year for the largest small businesses to comply, not including the costs of termination and replacement of workers. It could have a staggering impact on businesses caught between the financial and legal liability they would face if they fail to comply, and the financial and legal liability they would face for wrongly firing a worker whose name was listed in error. If implemented, the rule also could have a chilling effect on millions of immigrant workers in construction, agriculture and service industries at a time when the U.S. economy can ill afford it. Many businesses, too, fearing government prosecution will decide to dismiss or not hire workers that they suspect may have an immigration problem.
b. An economic analysis by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimated that under the new rule, 165,000 lawfulU.S. workers could lose their jobs, at a cost to employers of approximately $1 billion per year. In her testimony before the Immigration Subcommittee, U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords discussed the effects of mandatory use of E-verify at the state level in Arizona, and reported that between October 2006 and March 2007, 3,000 foreign-born U.S. citizens were initially flagged as not authorized to work.
c. Under a mandatory E-Verify program, USCIS has estimated that annual employer queries of newly hired employees would be an average of 63 million. A GAO study from June 2008 found that about 7% of the queries initially appear as a "no-match" to SSA, and about 1 percent cannot be immediately confirmed as work authorized by USCIS, and:
The majority of SSA erroneous tentative nonconfirmations occur because employees' citizenship or other information, such as name changes, is not up to date in the SSA database, generally because individuals do not request that SSA make these updates.
Taking the modest estimate of 63 million queries per year, at the 7% initial error rate found by GAO, that translates to 4.41 million potential no-matches, i.e. persons who could be pushed to unemployment, again, at a time when the national unemployment rate is above 6%. If we extrapolate 7% unconfirmed queries to the existing civilian workforce - over 154 million people - the number jumps to 10.7 million people in danger of losing their jobs.
3. Mandatory e-verify would require an increase in capacity at USCIS and SSA to accommodate the estimated 7.4 million employers in the U.S. The GAO study found that e-verify would cost a total of about $765 million for fiscal years 2009 through 2012 if only newly hired employees are queried through the program and about $838 million over the same 4-year period if both newly hired and current employees are queried.
A study performed by Dr. Richard Belzer, former official of Office of Management and Budget, concluded that this program would cause an estimated increase of 610,000-2.7 million visits per year to SSA. He also pointed out that DHS made no estimate of the authorized worker unemployment that would result from erroneous no-match letters.
4. The rule is ineffective because it ignores unintended consequences: a.Instead of discouraging undocumented immigration, the rule will only increase identity theft by making it more valuable for unauthorized workers to have genuine social security numbers.
b. The rule will have to be followed by more rounds of rulemaking, for example, how to deal with duplicate instances of SSA numbers, in addition to "no-match."
c. The rule will shift unauthorized workers into independent contracting and the "underground" economy, which will only risk pushing wages down during a time of economic crisis.
5. E-Verify is vulnerable to acts of employer fraud and misuse. GAO found:
- The current E-Verify program cannot help employers detect forms of identity fraud, such as cases in which an individual presents genuine documents that are borrowed or stolen.
- As USCIS works to address fraud through data sharing with other agencies, privacy issues may pose a challenge. In its 2007 evaluation of E-Verify, Westat reported that some employers joining the Web Basic Pilot were not appropriately handling their employees' personal information...and anyone wanting access to the system could pose as an employer and obtain access by signing a MOU with the E-Verify program. - Westat reported that some employers used E-Verify to screen job applicants before they were hired, an activity that is prohibited. Additionally, some employers took prohibited adverse actions against employees-such as restricting work assignments, reducing pay, or requiring employees to work longer hours or in poor conditions-while they were contesting tentative nonconfirmations.
We've tried the enforcement-only approach for decades, and it has not curtailed undocumented immigration. Rep. Zoe Lofgren said it best during our latest forum on Immigration, as DHS has focused its resources on raids, there's been a 38% decline in prosecution of organized crime at the border, so "we've ended up with an expensive, stupid system that has not solved" the issue of a broken immigration system.
A verification program without comprehensive reform is ineffective. NDN has long advocated for the importance of matching legal immigration visas with the economic need for immigrants as a way to curtail undocumented immigration.Only by moving immigrant workers through legal channels, providing immigrants already here with an earned path to citizenship, reducing the backlog in family visas, and developing a sensible system for future flow will immigration will become manageable, and enforcement at the border and at the workplace will become more effective.
Even the Chief of the Border Patrol, David Aguilar agrees, "We cannot protect against the entry of terrorists and the instruments of terror without also reducing the clutter....To most effectively secure our border, we must reform our immigration system to relieve this pressure. We need comprehensive immigration reform."
Perhaps as a warm-up to his 30-minute network buys coming this Wednesday night, U.S. Sen. Barack Obama's campaign has released two new campaign ads this weekend as the presidential campaign enters the final stretch.
The first ad, released yesterday in key battleground states, hearkens back to Obama's very effective ads at the onset of the financial crisis. It's a two minute-ad -- very long by television standards -- and according to a press release, asks:
“are you better off than you were four years ago?” We know the answer to that. The real question is will our country be better off four years from now? The ad includes Senator Obama telling America how we will lift our economy and restore America’s place in the world.
Watch "Defining Moment" here:
The second ad, released today, is less about a positive Obama agenda and more negative about U.S. Sen. John McCain. Says the Obama campaign in a statement: America needs a president that will change the economy, not the subject. You can see "New Subject" here:
Remember Gov. Sarah Palin's funny, feisty joke at the GOP convention where she introduced herself to the nation? She asked the audience what the difference was between a hockey Mom and a pit bull. The answer: lipstick.
Apparently, she wears a lot of it.
According to a report from Associcated Press' Jim Kuhnhenn:
Palin stylist draws higher pay than policy adviser
By JIM KUHNHENN – 46 minutes ago
WASHINGTON (AP) — An acclaimed celebrity makeup artist for Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin collected more money from John McCain's campaign than his foreign policy adviser.
Amy Strozzi, who works on the reality show "So You Think You Can Dance" and has been Palin's traveling stylist, was paid $22,800, according to campaign finance reports for the first two weeks in October. In contrast, McCain's foreign policy adviser, Randy Scheunemann, was paid $12,500, the report showed.
In recent days, McCain and his running mate have tried to douse a furor over how their side spent their money. The Republican National Committee came under scrutiny after the party committee reported earlier this week that it had spent about $150,000 in September on wardrobe and cosmetics after Palin joined the GOP ticket.
In an interview with the Chicago Tribune and Fox News on Thursday, Palin said the clothes bought for the Republican National Convention were not worth $150,000 and said most have not left her campaign plane. She also said the family shops frugally.
"Those clothes are not my property. We had three days of using clothes that the RNC purchased," Palin told Fox News in an interview that aired Thursday night.
So first we have Neimans-Gate. Now we find out that Palin has been making up as she goes along. Palin says she's being held to an unfair standard because she's a woman. But so am I, and I've never spent $22,800 on makeup in two weeks. You could buy a car for much less than that. The latest news about Palin's appetite for being pampered is going to put another dent in her self-styled populist (albeit designer) armor.
Barack Obama's latest ad is not only in Spanish, but it has Barack Obama speaking in Spanish through the entire ad - not an easy feat. He has a good accent, better than George W. Bush's. And as we saw in the case of then Gov. Bush, the Hispanic community doesn't care so much about a candidate being able to speak perfect Spanish, they care that they try - and I must say, Sen. Obama pulls it off seamlessly here. By contrast, Sen. McCain hasn't so much as tried to learn the "I'm John McCain and I approve this message" tagline in Spanish. This ad is part of something historic. Barack Obama has now spent more than any other presidential candidate in history on Spanish language media. And he is only the third or fourth candidate that I can count that has cared to speak to this demographic in their language of origin. As reported in the documentary, "Latinos 08", Jackie Kennedy filmed a message in Spanish on behalf of her husband when he ran for office, George W. Bush spoke some Spanish here and there, and Howard Dean tried his hand at it as well, but the Obama campaign has spent a record amount of resources on a record amount of Spanish language ads. And it seems to be paying off. According to the latest polls, Barack Obama now holds a 40-50 point lead among Hispanics. This is his second Spanish-language address, the first having been an ad in Puerto Rico during the primaries. Here, he is trying to bond with the Hispanic community by speaking of the "American Dream" that motivated so many of them to come to this country, thus trying to add an emotional connection to the support among Hispanics that seems largely driven by issues and party identification.
And a translation of the ad:
BO: We share a dream, That through hard work your family can succeed.
That if you're sick, you can have access to medical insurance.
That our children can have a quality education, regardless of whether you are rich or poor.
That is the American Dream.
I ask you for your vote, not just for me and the Democrats, but so that you can keep that dream alive for yourself and for your children.
I'm Barack Obama and I approve this message.