- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 13, 2006

A matter of trust

The Bush administration argues that its recent move to post the National Guard to the border and take steps on interior immigration enforcement have now taken those issues off the table, but Rep. Steve King, Iowa Republican, says voters don’t trust the president to make good on those promises.

“It’s far too late for this president to claim that he’s going to enforce the immigration laws. I don’t think there’s any amount of show [of effort] that can be done that will convince Americans he’s had a change of heart, because in fact he will not change his heart,” Mr. King told editors and reporters at The Washington Times yesterday.

The Iowa Republican is a staunch opponent of the president’s guest-worker program, and is pushing instead for an enforcement-only bill. He also has his own bill that would declare English the country’s official language, and the only language acceptable for official meetings and documents.

Mr. Bush last week was in Omaha, Neb., just across the Missouri River from Mr. King’s district, touting the citizenship and assimilation part of his immigration plan. But Mr. King said the voters appear to side with him over the president: “He drew 400 people over there to talk about immigration. The last time I did an immigration event on my side of the river, I drew over 500 people.”

Akaka’s troubles

“A longtime wheelhorse of Hawaii’s rusting Democratic machine could lose his U.S. Senate seat because of what happened on the Senate floor Thursday,” John Fund writes at www.OpinionJournal.com.

“For six years, Sen. Daniel Akaka‘ssignature legislation was a bill that would give native Hawaiians their own race-based, sovereign government, much as many mainland Indian tribes have. But last week, by a vote of 56-41, the Senate fell short of mustering the needed 60 votes to bring his bill to a formal vote.

“The bill’s failure opens up the 81-year-old Mr. Akaka to charges that he is ineffective and increasingly irrelevant. His primary battle this September against Rep. Ed Case now becomes a real dogfight between a reflexively liberal incumbent and a much more moderate challenger,” Mr. Fund said.

“While native Hawaiians deserve better than what they have, the bill Mr. Akaka put forward as an attempt to redress their grievances was profoundly misguided. The people of Hawaii are a true melting pot, living in remarkable harmony. The intermarriage rate is so high that more than 90 percent of those who claim Hawaiian heritage do so by virtue of ancestry that is less than half Hawaiian. Until a few years ago, Hawaiians never contemplated being treated as the equivalent of an Indian tribe. Creating a separate government that would subject people who pass a test for ‘Hawaiian blood’ to a different set of legal codes would not have produced racial reconciliation. It would have been a recipe for permanent racial conflict.”

Border issue

“They said it in 2000, they said it in 2004, and they’re saying it for 2006: The election is for Democrats to lose. The Democrats blew it in 2000 and 2004, and candidate Francine Busby has shown them how to lose it this year,” Providence Journal columnist Froma Harrop writes.

“Four days before San Diego’s special election to fill an empty House seat, polls put Democrat Busby in a dead heat with Republican Brian Bilbray. Then she said to a largely Latino audience: ‘You can all help. You don’t need papers for voting.’ At that point, it was all over for Busby and the Democrats’ chance to score an important victory,” the columnist said.

“Which leads to some pointed questions for the Democratic Party: Is anybody home? Didn’t someone coach Busby on how to handle the hot issue of illegal immigration? Does the Democratic Party have an intelligent being who can explain to the others that illegal immigration is their concern, too?

“I’m not talking about the issue just in terms of winning elections, but also in terms of serving core Democratic constituencies hurt by illegal immigration. For example, poor blacks, working-class people, low-skilled legal immigrants, taxpayers buckling under the cost of providing services to illegals, liberal employers who offer good wages and benefits but are undercut by competitors who employ illegal aliens.

Rahm Emanuel, who heads the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, played down the import of Busby’s loss for the Democrats’ hopes in November. Waving off the immigration issue, he said, ‘Not every district is going to be on the border of Mexico.’

“I have news for him. Not every district is on the border with Mexico, but just about every district feels like it is.”

Suit dismissed

A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit that sought to ban the tactics the Pennsylvania legislature used to give itself a pay raise in the middle of the night last summer.

The lawsuit charged that legislators violated the Constitution last year when they passed a bill in the early morning, just before recessing for the summer. They voted to raise lawmakers’ salaries along with the pay of judges, the governor and some other executive-branch officials.

The pay raise was repealed in November, shortly after voters rejected a sitting Supreme Court justice for the first time in state history.

Common Cause, the League of Woman Voters, state Rep. Greg Vitali and four others sued legislative leaders, Gov. Edward G. Rendell and Chief Justice Ralph J. Cappy in an attack on the way many controversial bills are handled by the General Assembly.

The lawsuit said the pay-raise legislation was “run through the legislature in total darkness like smugglers in the night, with no avenue for judicial redress because state judges were in on the contraband.”

U.S. District Judge Yvette Kane wrote that the dispute belongs to the “political and electoral process.”

Voter anger over the pay raise has already taken a toll: 17 incumbent state lawmakers were defeated in last month’s primary election, including the state Senate’s top two Republicans. With retirements, it means at least one in every six seats in the 253-member legislature will turn over.

Newdow loses

A federal judge yesterday rejected a lawsuit from an atheist who said having the phrase “In God We Trust” on U.S. coins and dollar bills violated his First Amendment rights, the Associated Press reports.

U.S. District Judge Frank C. Damrell Jr. said the minted words amounted to a secular national slogan that did not trample on Michael Newdow’s religious views. Mr. Newdow, a Sacramento, Calif., doctor and lawyer, also is engaged in an ongoing effort to have the Pledge of Allegiance banned from public schools because it contains the words “under God.”

Mr. Newdow’s “In God We Trust” lawsuit targeted Congress and several federal officials, claiming that by making money with the phrase on it, the government was establishing a religion in violation of the First Amendment.

The phrase “excludes people who don’t believe in God,” he claimed. Judge Damrell disagreed, citing a 9th Circuit decision from 1970 that concluded the four words were a national motto that had “nothing whatsoever to do with the establishment of religion.”

Mr. Newdow said he would appeal.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or [email protected].

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