PAGING DR. CLOONEY. If Robert DeNiropurchases the New York Observer, does this mean that it�s only a matter of time before George Clooney acquires the Prospect? We were on record calling Clooney "a great American" way before it became fashionable for right wingers to rag on him. Heck, Clooney and I were even quoted next to each other in a Mark Steyn screed against the U.N.
THE FILIBUSTER: GOOD FOR CONSERVATISM.The Hill has an article today about conservative trepidations over exercising the nuclear option and perhaps kickstarting the process of eliminating all filibusters outright.
JUST TUCK IT AWAY. Have others pointed this out? My eagle-eyed and long-memoried pal Bill in Albany sends along this piece from the San Francisco Chronicle, February 9, 2005. Headline: �Bush Scraps 9,790 Border Patrol Agents.�
It seems that one act passed by Congress in late 2004 and agreed to by the administration called for 10,000 more agents. But Bush�s budget in early 2005 funded only 210 additional agents. Just a fact worth knowing these days.
IF BUSH WELCOMES IMMIGRANTS, WHY PANDER TO THEIR ENEMIES? In today's Times, Elisabeth Bumiller offers a rather remarkable take on President Bush's immigration speech. She basically said that because his rhetoric was more accommodating than his actual policy proposals, it meant that his approach is "more subtle" than his proposed real-world solutions suggest. She tells us that "what was remarkable to people in Texas was how much he still believes in the power of immigration to invigorate the nation," and adds paragraph after paragraph about Bush's embrace of immigrants while in Texas.
FUN WITH SCIENCE. In answer to Mike's motion sensor query, the reason the border has been largely bereft of such Flashdance-era technology is that motion sensors aren't very smart. Separating a person from a squirrel, or a bird, or a tumbleweed is tricky. The number of false positives, which would force our already understaffed border guard to constantly dart out into the desert, would be staggering, and would probably lead to less effective enforcement than we have currently. To be sure, there are better systems out there, capable of separating man from marsupial, but they're expensive and we're cheap.
INTIMIDATION: IT WORKS.Ezradescribed today's Richard Cohen joint as a break with recent precedent, but his previous column on Hillary Clinton was also good, solid liberal stuff. The two columns before that were the Stephen Colbert ones that got everyone upset.
HOUSING SLOWS. For the third month in a row, housing starts -- which is to say, the number of new residences under construction -- dropped . Interestingly, analysts had expected a very slight slowdown this month, predicting a 0.5 percent decline. The real number? 7.4 percent. Meanwhile, builder's confidence dropped from 51 in April to 45 in May -- the lowest number since 1995 -- meaning most builders now see a negative housing market. That�s not terribly good news, but so long as the market cools at a relatively calm pace, we shouldn't see any particularly catastrophic impacts.
WALLING THE BORDER. In response to Mike's query below, it's worth recalling that when Goldfinger was released in 1964, there were no restrictions whatsoever on crossing the border from Mexico to the United States. People from all over Latin America were free to just wander north as they pleased and wander back again, just as they were in 1864 or at any other time from the conclusion of the Mexican War to the Immigration Act of 1965 which first restricted movement across the southern border.