Friday, March 31, 2006

David Brooks Has a Different Take on Immigration (Which Could be Mine When I Check the Statistics)

Topinka’s People Act Like Joe Birkett is the Leader of Social Conservatives (He’s Not)…Lynn Sweet Gives In-Depth Analysis of the 6th…Publisher’s Feminist Wife Orders Blagojevich to Kill Old Resolution Banning Abortion.


David Brooks is easily the most impressive Op Ed columnist in The New York Times. Every so often he writes a stunning commentary far different than from you’d expect in that newspaper (or from him). For one thing, he comes across as pretty socially conservative. Thursday he put out statistics on immigration that probably came from Sen. Sam Brownback—statistics which, if correct and disseminated properly enough, could send social conservatives returning to the Bush fold. Right now they’re divided on immigration: some want the toughest legislation possible; others, pro-business, favor the McCain-Kennedy version which requires fine paying, English-learning; still others, the draconian types, wanting deportion. Brooks, not immediately classifiable as conservative or liberal (although he comes from the neo-Conservative Weekly Standard argues what I take to be the Brownback case:

1. The exclusions “are wrong when they say the current wave of immigration is tearing our social fabric. The facts show the recent rise in immigration hasn’t been accompanied by social breakdown but social repair. As immigration has surged, violent crime has fallen by 57 percent. Teen pregnancies and abortion rates have declined by a third. Teenagers are having fewer sexual partners and losing their virginity later. Teen suicide rates have dropped. The divorce rate for young people is way down”(Italics mine).

2. “My second argument is that the immigrants themselves are like a booster-shot of traditional morality injected into the body politic. Immigrants work hard. They build community groups. They have traditional ideas about family structure and they work heroically to make them a reality.”

3. “My third argument is that good values lead to success and that immigrants’ long-term contributions more than compensate for the short-term strains they cause. There’s no denying the strains immigration imposes on schools, hospitals and wage levels in some markets (but economists are sharply divided on this).

4. “My fourth argument is that government should be at least as virtuous as the immigrants themselves. Right now (as under Bill Frist’s legislation) government pushes immigrants into a chaotic underground world. The Judiciary Committee’s bill which Sen. Brownback supports, would tighten the borders but it would also reward virtue. Immigrants who worked hard, paid fines, paid their taxes, stayed out of trouble and waited their turn would have a chance to become citizens.”

Brooks concludes: “Social conservatives, let me ask you to consider one final thing. Women who have recently arrived from Mexico have bigger, healthier babies than more affluent, non-Hispanic white natives. That’s because strong family and social networks support these pregnant women, reminding them what to eat and do. But the longer they stay, and the more assimilated they become, the more bad habits they acquire and the more problems their subsequent babies have. Please ask yourself this: As we contemplate America’s moral fiber, do the real threats come from immigrants or are some people merely blaming them for sins that are already here?” (Italics mine).

This Brownback-Brooks tenet is insuperably more reasonable than the ill-tempered “let’s crack down on those illegals” as reflected in the Sensenbrenner legislation, I think. If the statistics can be justified, that’s the way I think I’ll go. Your comments?

Topinka’s People.

The word is out that Topinka’s people are making overtures to social conservatives, asking separate groups what it would take to get them involved in the campaign. When one downstate group suggested a position (not contradictory to Topinka’s message but called for some personnel change) the rejoineder was, “what—are you saying you want to run the government?” No, said the conservatives, but you asked what we would like. The response was that Joe Birkett should be enough. The social conservatives said, “Listen, get this straight. Joe Birkett is not Mr. Social Conservative. He never was. He’s been pretty conservative but no one, neither us nor so far as we know Birkett, has claimed he’s the leader.” The phone conversation terminated quickly. The downstate people on the other line are saying it’s not impossible they could back Meeks. But what about Meeks’ tax hike? They say, listen—odds are that Blagojevich will raise taxes after election or that Topinka will, blaming it on the Democrats. We’re thinking about Meeks. With one vote we’d screw Blagojevich and Topinka both. Not bad for one day’s work. (Election Day)

Lynn Sweet.

The Sun-Times’ Lynn Sweet, easily the most analytic and perceptive of this era’s political columnists, gave us a revealing look at the troubles besetting the Democratic party in the 6th district’s congressional race. She astutely points out that the GOP is using Rep. Rahm Emanuel as the bad guy in the district, hoping to fan anti-Tammy Duckworth flames within the Christine Cegalis candidacy. Emanuel, the pushy ex-ballet dancer, is the pencil-thin, ambition-salivating Sammy Glick of politics (based on the character from the novel by Budd Schulberg, What Makes Sammy Run?). Emanuel is the hyper-thyroid ex-Daley operative, chairman of the House Democratic Campaign Committee, who is an idealist in politics despite having risen above principle to utilize city patronage workers in his election campaign. After Cegalis held veteran GOP legend Henry Hyde to a tepid lead in the election of 2004, Emanuel, an upstart who makes Horatio Alger seem under-motivated, pushed novice Tammy Duckworth into the race and gave her official Democratic party support over Cegalis. While Dick Durbin is credited with having found Duckworth, a helicopter pilot in Iraq who lost both legs there, Emanuel was the guy who sank the dagger into Cegalis. Sweet aptly points out the animosity between Cegalis Democrats, Roskam Republicans (supporters of the GOP nominee, State Sen. Peter Roskam) and Emanuel.

She also makes the point that Emanuel is a national security hawk, not a San Francisco Democrat like Nancy Pelosi. But if he’s not careful, Emanuel will dominate the district with his crude tactics. Indeed, in a district which is sorely divided between Cegalis liberal Democrats, Duckworth (read: Emanuel) centrist Democrats, Roskam conservative Republicans and moderate mushy Republicans, Emanuel may be the single most unifying factor—bringing at least three of the four elements together.

If you thought Emanuel is wiping a tear away in behalf of a critically wounded heroine of the Iraq war, think again. He’s hoping that with her candidacy and others like hers, the House will turn Democratic and he will be in place to succeed Pelosi as either Majority Leader or Speaker. Next: a slot on the national Democratic ticket as veep, then president of the U.S. which he may well try to use as a stepping stone…

Orders from the Publisher’s Wife.

Most former small town journalists from another age remember either the editor’s wife or the publisher’s wife throwing their weight around trying to get the city desk to take pictures of their garden shows. I remember my paper’s business manager’s wife, whose husband had life and death hold on my salary, insisting her nephew be interviewed because he was on the Dean’s List at St. Cloud State. Sad to say, these days are not gone entirely. They are in Chicago and powerfully more so. The Sun-Times’ publisher’s wife, a dedicated feminist free-to-be-you-and-especially-me type named Jennifer Hunter, is an editorial writer on the paper and a columnist as well. Earlier this week she gave orders to Gov. Blagojevich that he better get rid of an old resolution that passed the legislature 30 plus years ago. It said that if the day ever came when Roe v. Wade were overturned, Illinois would not have legalized abortion. I’m sure Blago will take note and save that little item until the last few hours of the campaign to get the base fired up.

Hunter usually writes the same column over and over, either mooning about the death of Betty Friedan but concentrating on how other women can make it if men will only get out of the way—you know, the stuff that is self-contradictory in the extreme: because if her husband wasn’t publisher she’d not be there and if he got hit by a truck she’d be out on the street—getting her prominence the old-fashioned way which began when the first woman, after tossing meat into the campfire that the old man dragged home, flexed her muscles and screamed, “I am woman, hear me roar!”


  1. A majority of Americans are for amnesty for 15 million + illegal aliens who have arrived after the last amnesty act 20 years ago.

    America spends hundreds of billions and over 2,000 soldiers lives protecting Israel's borders. We need American troops protecting American borders. Until the border is sealed, another amnesty bill will be needed for 10s of millions of illegal aliens 20 years from now.

    Seal the borders so that NO illegal aliens come in.

    Then and only then should we decide how many immigrants we want to come here LEGALLY and what to do with the current illegal aliens.

  2. Let's try this again. My somewhat lengthy commentary on David Brooks' Op Ed piece is published at

  3. I understand that current illegals would be deported if they engaged in any fraudulent activity. If that includes providing bogus information, including social security numbers, to obtain employment when a long, long way from home -- especially at the employers' prompting -- I suspect more than half of the current illegals would be unwilling to "come out" of the oft-mentioned shadows.

    If "fraudulent acitivity" exceptions are not already in pending legislation, they will be needed. And any legislation that creates a permanent guest worker status to guarantee current illegals low wages without political representation is worthless. Current illegals might as well stay in "the shadows".

  4. I don't know where David Brooks is getting his statistics. I am currently in Arizona and Arizona now has the highest crime rate in the country. Why should AZ have this rate? In most respects it is just like most of the western states which have low crime rates. The only difference is that AZ is ground zero for illegal immigration in the U.S.

  5. Matt --

    I am completely unfaimilar with AZ's rates, but since -- as you wrote -- it is "ground zero", perhaps it's numbers are bolstered by the illegal immigration activity...not violent crime.

  6. will sell out the American people as they do all other issues as America is sold and auctioned off to the highest bidder.

    Do you believe American working men and women and their families will be included in any consideration of the immigration reform legislation?

    Yes 3% 286 votes

    No 97% 8897 votes
    Total: 9183 votes

  7. Sen Brownback looks better and better to me all the time.

    Brooks right on target and the best thing we can do is things to reunite families and make it easier for immigrants to reunite.

    Good luck to Rahm... I hope he can clean house in the party.

  8. The decisive factor in an immigrant family's impact on our society is its upward mobility (including across generations). Those who are upwardly mobile will be assimilated into the middle class. Those who are not will be assimilated into the underclass, and corrupted by it.