Wednesday, May 31, 2006

I Like Chicks

Of course, you know I mean the Dixie Chicks. C&L points out that The Chicks debuted at#1 on Billboard! I'm really eager to hear the entire album. The suspense is killing me.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Sad and Sadder

As if Steve Westly's antics and my undelivered Dixie Chicks CD weren't bothersome enough, C&L directs me to a Time article discussing the rise of hate groups due to the immigration "debate":
And now groups of militiamen, white supremacists and neo-Nazis are using resentment over the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. as a potent rallying cry. "The immigration furor has been critical to the growth we've seen" in hate groups, says Mark Potok, head of the Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center...

...In addition to white supremacists, the immigration debate seems to have reinvigorated members of the antigovernment militias of the 1990s. Those groups largely disbanded after the Oklahoma City bombing orchestrated by militia groupie Timothy McVeigh and, later, the failure of a Y2K bug to trigger the mass chaos some militia members expected...

..."Illegal immigration and the destruction of the rule of law is social napalm, and people are running around with matches," he warns. "One day it will go off."
Republicans had to be foolish not to expect this to happen, yet they went ahead and pushed immigration on us anyway. They chose to make this an issue and this is where it has led. This is not leadership! This is not compassion! This is not they kind of America I want my children to grow up in!

Who Needs Leadership...

...when you have a lot of money to mislead? I'm normally averse to wealthy candidates financing their campaigns. If you want to be cynical about it, that can be taken as a euphemism for "buying" an office, though I don't typically go that far. I've been doing a lot of reading on the founding fathers and the constitution lately and they seemed to have been appalled, more or less, with the idea of people using their wealth to obtain office. That's clear in the fact that they pay compesation to office holders (so as not to disqualify those without wealth) and that they did not disqualify those who lacked substantial property ownership. Incidentally, the age requirements and forbidding of "titles of nobility" suggest that they did not want unqualified people with lots of money (or family connections) to be able to hold high office.

Witnessing Steve Westly's campaign of late, I now see my apprehensions, and those of the founders, confirmed. Issue by issue Angelides has demonstrated a far superior level of understanding. Furthermore, Angelides has presented a much more thorough and complete plan. If you compare the records of the two, there really is no comparison to Angelides' much more acclaimed and impressive record in government. The people who spend most of their time analyzing the issues--be it environment, economy, education, California workers, ...--are almost unanimous in their endorsement of Angelides. An honest analysis of the records of the two candidates leaves no question why this is the case. Yet despite the embarassingly lopsided comparison, Steve Westly somehow manages to remain close.

Today I was asked a question by a high school reporter about the governors race. He mentioned that there has been an increase in negative ads lately and asked how a high school student is supposed to evaluate the candidates. I told him what I thought was obvious: examine their records and see why so many of our prominent leaders are supporting Angelides. That was before I got my Westly mailer--which, as an absentee voter, was delivered way too late--and heard a couple of Westly's new ads. I was literally speechless for several minutes when I saw Westly's mailer claiming that Angelides wants to raise taxes on "California's workers".

Since Westly's campaing staff appears intent to watch him walk around his bus with no clothes on, I had to comment. That is a lie Steve! You can hide behind that faux-populism, as if it were some wondrous garment, but the fact remains that it covers nothing. Nothing! Your weak-kneed approach to campaigning on the "issues" is no substitute for genuine leadership and governing. You are making it extraodinarily difficult to vote for you come November (if you manage to pull off a well financed win). A primary win, to me, will not have been earned fairly and that's a hard, bitter pill for me to swallow--and having witnessed hundreds of campaigns by now, I can swallow some rather large horse pills.

Westly's "evolution" as a politician reminds me of Darryl Strawberry's career in baseball. As a youngster, I used to admire the Straw because he was talented, passionate and had so much promise. It was so fun to watch and follow his career. That made it so difficult and heartbreaking to watch him turn into a coke addicted loser. I thought Westly was such a promising leader and it is disappointing to see him peddle such tabloid garbage to Californians because he has the money to do so. There is nothing worse than seeing someone you admire and believe in throw it all away, regardless of the context. (For those who want to claim I'm comparing Westly to a drug addict, get real. I'm comparing the frustrations of watching two promising individuals squander their potential.)

Leadership is earned, not bought. Westly not only failed to purchase my vote, but he lost a great deal of my respect. I know there won't be any campaign folks who will read this, but I figured I owed it to myself to be on record as opposing Westly's tactics. It not only debases a Democratic governorship, but it has underminded the Democratic Party which has fought the stereotype of fiscal irresponsibility for a long time. Westly may not be a conservative, but he is helping to undermine the progressive cause, whether he intends to or not.

Public Enemy No. 1: Google

I'm a little annoyed that I haven't received my pre-ordered Dixie Chicks CD yet. (Yes, I am old enough to still purchase music the "old fashion" way--mostly to add +1 to the Billboard list for groups I like.)

With that as background, I was even more annoyed to see the right-wingers trying to manufacture another controversy. I really don't know what to say about this sort of thing anymore. It would be funny if this were some sort of isolated incident. But these people seemed intent to find anything they can--even if it's nonexistent--to create division in this country. Frankly, I am getting really sick of these false divisions.

For those interested, the Chicks are going on tour and will be playing in Oakland Sept. 9. I'll be going unless something comes up.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Different Philosphies II

With many people wary of the upcoming hurricane season, it's nice to know that Senate Majority leader and 2008 presidential candidate, Bill Frist, has his priorities. Namely, constitutional amendments to ban same-sex marriage and flag desecration.

With leaders like this, it's hard to figure out why so many Americans think the country is headed in the wrong direction. One thing that scares me so much more than the possibility of a full out civil war in Iraq or another terrorist attack are them people who are burn flags.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

One More Thing

I know I've been highly critical of Westly here and have tried to convey the reasons why: His attack ads are incomplete and inaccurate. But I've also suggested that Westly is undermining the party with his stupid and irresponsible ads. But why?

There seems to be a continual propogation of the absurd notion that Democrats are knee-jerk tax and spend liberals who can't balance budgets and are irresponsible with money. But, as Howard Dean is fond of pointing out, if you want a balanced budget, you have to vote for a Democratic president and can't trust the Republicans. It was also the 93-94 congressional Democrats who voted on a party line for the Clinton fiscal policies--many of which lost their jobs on this principle. No one who pays attention can say, with a straight face, that Republicans are better at handling the bills than Democrats. Furthermore, when Clinton did raise taxes, the country saw one of the longest periods of economic growth in history, extending to even the lowest on the income ladder.

What the Clinton years demonstrated--or at least I thought until I saw Westly's grotesque ads--was that Democrats really are the party of fiscal stewerdship and economic prosperity for all. Westly's moronic and irresponsible ads further perpetuate a false GOP talking point in order to buy some expensive political points. He and his campaign should be embarrassed by these ads. I take personal offense to his claim to be a "different kind of governor" in these ads. I'm a Democrat, in part, because of their government responsibility. Westly is undermining this fact every time his stupid ad is comes on.

Unable To Govern

Since, my last post was so ineloquently written, I'll let someone else do the talking for me (via Atrios):

Different Philosophies

Tom DeLay: "Nothing is more important in the face of a war than cutting taxes".

I grew up in the Reagan and Gingrich era, the philosophy of which I think is common in contemporary conservative philosophy. Tom DeLay's quote above, to me, epitomizes the consensus conservative sentiment. To me, the philosophy of contemporary conservative thinking can be summed up as:
Ask not what you can do for your country (or countrymen)--ask what your country (or countrymen) can do for you.
When we are at war, this "Norquistian philosophy" says, let's not ask what armor the troops need, or how many troops we need, let's ask for tax cuts. Let's not ask if we should be paying a good company to purify water for the troops, let's pay Haliburton millions to leave the water dangerously impure--and ask for tax cuts. Let's not ask whether levees can withstand a hurricane, let's ask for tax cuts. When our schools need improvement, let's not ask for sacrifice to fund them more extensively, let's ask for tax cuts. Let's not ask how we can pay to make industry more environmentally friendly, let's let industry make more and more money--and ask for tax cuts.

Such a far, far cry from, say, JFK:
And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country.

My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.

Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you.
We are at war, poverty is on the rise, millions are without health care, our education system needs assistance, we are creating massive deficits but we still pass a huge tax cut. Is that doing something for our country? I don't think so.

I think this is part of the reason why I find Westly's ads attacking Angelides' policies so infuriating. Anyone can promise the world without a way to provide for it. It takes something more--leadership--to remind people that we need to sacrifice to get what we want. Alternatively, I'm satisfied if a politician is frank about the programs that need to be cut to pay the bills. But you can't have it both ways.

Looking Ahead: DNC 2008

The shortlist for possible venues for the 2008 Democratic National Convention has just gotten a little shorter.

In no particular order:

  • New Orleans, LA

  • Denver, CO

  • New York City, NY

  • Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN

(The last two are also vying for the Republican National Convention)

My pick: New Orleans. Obvious? Perhaps. The city would be an incredible locale, both in terms of post-Katrina recovery, as well as having a Democratic presence in the South (gasp!).

DNC'08: Aug. 25-28
RNC'08: Sept. 1-4

Friday, May 19, 2006

Westly Hearts Hastert

A few days ago, I was a little annoyed at Westly's misleading and irresponsible ads that his campaign has put on the air every 30 seconds. (OK, it may not be every 30s, but literally every single commercial break on the SF radio station I listen to while doing experiments.)

Westly's atrocious ads suggest that a.) Phil doesn't even consider cracking down on corporate loopholes and b.) Phil's proposed tax cuts will be paid by the majority of Californians. a.) is absurd and Westly should be ashamed of himself for peddling that outright lie. Phil's overall plan specifically mentions corporate tax cheats, but since he is being honest, he concedes that won't be enough, hence tax increases on those making over half a million.

Seems like Westly is trying to use similar logic as Dennis Hastert. C'mon, Steve, you're better than that.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

This Just In

OK, it's several days old, but I've been busy. The L.A. Times endorsed Phil Angelides. Why? In their own words,
[W]e want the Democrats to put forward the best they can offer, to select on June 6 the candidate most likely to give Californians a healthy debate and a clear choice in November.

That candidate is Phil Angelides. He may lack charisma, but he doesn't lack conviction, and he has been unwavering in his criticism of quick fixes and false budget promises. He has more experience in state office than Westly, whose "fix-it" approach to government is appealing at first but on closer inspection appears shallow.

Angelides may be dull, but he is not shallow. His commitment to healthcare reform, education, environmental protection and fiscal responsibility are real. We are wary of his quick jump to taxes but acknowledge some respect for his willingness to tell it as he sees it. We are not fans of his website's childish anti-Schwarzenegger cartoon. But we are confident Angelides is better than his website. He is the best Democratic candidate to challenge the governor and debate the future of California.
I think this is a decent assessment. Westly doesn't have the numbers to pay for everything he wants, except in the "free lunch" world. Speaking of which. I'm growing more disenchanted with Westly every time I hear his stupid Angelides wants to raise taxes ad (which is every time I turn on the radio or TV). Phil has the guts to admit it's needed while Westly just says what he thinks will help him win. Westly should be more interested in governing than wanting to be governor.

Furthermore, Westly's stupid ad hurts Democrats nationally and any hope for progressive change. He is following the GOP talking points and trying to portray Angelides and Democrats as "tax and spend liberals". Why else would he say he's "a different type of Democrat"?

Quit trying to undermine the Party, Steve. You can win the right way. Regurgitating GOP talking points is not leadership. I believe you are much better than that.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

WP/ABC: Trust in GOP Is Eroding

We beat the Republicans across the board, including counter-terrorism. Let's not screw this up...


Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Don't Make Me Madder

Matt Yglesias doesn't buy the conservative tax cut rhetoric:
The truth, though, is that conservatives don't care about this stuff because, obviously, the aim of conservative tax policy isn't to cut spending or to increase revenue. It's to increase the after-tax income of very wealthy people. And it does a bang-up job of doing that.
I don't buy it either.

Every time I watch T.V. (which is rare) I see a misleading Westly add about Phil Angelides and his "massive" tax increase proposal. To make things worse, when I listen to the radio now, I get to hear a similar Westly ad. Either medium, it's a bunch of crap. If I hear (or see) another one of those irresponsible adds, I'm going to get madder!

Please, Steve, quit trying to score cheap political points with that faux populism you're trying to peddle. Angelides' tax increases are aimed at more profitable coroporations and those making more than several 100k a year. Playing on lower income people's legitimate concern for gas prices is not leadership. I like you, but this is garbage. And you know it...or should.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Free Lunch

I was headed to get my five hours of sleep when I noticed an article thatKevin linked to by Sebastion Mallaby:
I'm going to choose N. Gregory Mankiw of Harvard, a proponent of tax cuts who chaired the Council of Economic Advisers in the Bush White House. Mankiw is a top-notch economist hired by Bush and Cheney to advise them. And last year he published a paper on how far tax cuts pay for themselves, reporting enthusiastically that this self-financing effect is "surprisingly large."

How large, exactly? Mankiw reckons that over the long run (the long run being generous to his argument), cuts on capital taxes generate enough extra growth to pay for half of the lost revenue. Hello, Mr. President, that means that the other half of the lost revenue translates into bigger deficits. Mankiw also calculates that the comparable figure for cuts in taxes on wages is 17 percent. Yes, Mr. President, that means every $1 trillion in tax cuts is going to add $830 billion to the national debt.

Let's engage in what Bush might call the soft bigotry of low expectations and cut Republicans some slack. Hey, maybe they just overlooked that Mankiw paper? Or maybe, despite hiring Mankiw to head the Council of Economic Advisers, they later acquired reasons to doubt his judgment? In that case they should at least have listened to Douglas Holtz-Eakin, another conservative economist who worked in the Bush White House and who went on to run the Congressional Budget Office.

In a study published under Holtz-Eakin's direction last December, the CBO estimated the extent to which a 10 percent reduction in personal taxes might pay for itself. The conclusions confirm that the free-lunch mantra is just plain wrong. On the most optimistic assumptions it could muster, the CBO found that tax cuts would stimulate enough economic growth to replace 22 percent of lost revenue in the first five years and 32 percent in the second five. On pessimistic assumptions, the growth effects of tax cuts did nothing to offset revenue loss.

So Mankiw isn't with them. Holtz-Eakin isn't with them. Which raises a question: When top Republicans go around claiming that tax cuts pay for themselves, which economic authorities are they relying on? None, is the answer. These people's approach to government is to make economics up.
I hope Westly doesn't try to parrot Schwarzenegger's line about tax cuts paying for themselves. The fact is, despite the increase in revenues, we still have massive structural deficits that need to be fixed. Playing to greed is irresponsible.

Say What?

Over at MyDD, Matt Stoller says of Hillary Clinton,
As I've said before and as I'll say in the future, Hillary Clinton thinks nothing of lying to Democrats.

She has contempt for all of us.
Read the post and judge for yourself. I'd probably be convinced of this if I were already convinced--facts be damned, such as commenter "terryhallinan" who so eloquently states:
The main problem for Hillary is that she is and always has been a rightwinger like her husband no matter how liberal her voting record is said to be.
Whoa! Read that one more time. Interesting logic, I must say. I don't know what world you have to live in to consider Hillary and Bill Clinton "rightwingers".

I don't mind liberal critques of the Democratic Party, but faux-Democrats who threaten to leave the Party if they don't get their way ("In the most unlikely event the Democrats choose again to nominate another corrupt rightwing hawk like Hillary Clinton for president, they will lose this liberal's vote as usual." - "terryhallinan") get a little tiresome. Really, after all the nonsense that has been taking place over the last six years, are "liberals" still trying to say that there is no difference between Democrats and Republicans?

In the comments, Matt asks:
"Why are you so willing to take the lies?"
Perhaps if he were a little more convincing instead of assuming everyone shared his worldview.

The left-wing hatred of Hillary Clinton these days strikes remarkable resemblence to the Hillary haters of the 1990s. I don't read DailyKos because of rantings like his recent Washinton Post anti-Hillary meme, in which he parrots the 2004 GOP talking points against Kerry:
She doesn't have a single memorable policy or legislative accomplishment to her name.
It's funny that someone with such an embarassing electoral track record as Kos would criticize the Clintons as electoral failures. The situation in which the GOP gained power in 1994 was unique and it's unfair not to state Clinton and Democrats leadership on the budget battle--which cost them congressional seats. Nor does he admit the fact that Clinton won in 1998 despite historical precedent indicating that he would lose seats in Congress. And most studies indicate Clinton would have gotten more than 50% had Perot not been on the ballot. As far as 2000, most analyses indicate that Democrats won and there is no denying that 9/11 created a unique opportunity for Republicans. Any discussion of Democratic prospects that fail to mention that are, to me at least, disingenuous.

Furthermore, Kos makes his impressive observation:
Little surprise that in late March, the Daily Kos's bimonthly presidential straw poll delivered bleak results for Clinton, with just 2 percent of respondents making her their top choice for 2008.
But, as Atrios points out, Hillary is actually quite popular, with favorability of 53%. (His darling, Howard Dean, musters only 33%, with more people having an unfavorable opinion.) Seems to me that Daily Kos's straw poll voters don't jibe with the population as a whole.

I think Kos and his net activists serve an important role and should continue to do what they are doing. I also think that they should be vocal and passionate about the issues they care about. But I'm tired of all this talk about how bad "establishment" Democrats are. It's not hard to change if they are as numerous as they like to claim: vote your candidates in during the primaries and quit threatening to bolt the party when fellow Democrats don't agree with you on every issue. How can you gain respect if your relationship is based on threats? And please, quit trying to manufacture divisions in the Party ("Clintonistas" vs. "Netroots"). There is more overlap between these supposed factions than divisions.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

More GOP Ways to Support the Troops

Send in those with mental illness. All them Republicans--and their apologists--who keep saying I'm not "supporting the troops" because I think Bush and Rumsfeld are incompetent make me sick.

Too few troops. No clear plan. Not enough body armor. No bid contracts to Halliburton that results in dangerous water for the troops. Stop-loss policies that are wearing the troops down. Sending in mentally ill soldiers. Do these people have any conscience at all?

Say It Ain't So, Steve

Negative ads are common in politics so I'm not particularly upset with Westly abandoning a "positive" campaign. That's his perogative and the need to go "negative" is indicative of Angelides' increasing appeal as more people find out about him.

What I do object to is Westly's cowering behind Angelides proposed tax increases. I'm no knee-jerk tax and spend liberal, but our long term fiscal stability means understanding the impact of issuing bonds to support popular programs. All Californians want more and better services and any leader who wants to continue supporting these programs is a fool if they think they can sustain them without dramatically increasing revenues. It's also equally foolish--or deliberately misleading and disingenuous--to claim that Angelides does not have a plan beyond just tax increases.

One rather popular person, Bill Clinton, realized that to get the country on the right fiscal track, we all needed to sacrifice with more taxes--including the most wealthy. The Democrats, by and large, lost control of the House in 1994 due to the Clinton Budget bill. This happened because brave leaders recognized the need to actually pay for what we all want while cowardly and opportunistic politicians were running around saying how bad the economy would be with these modest tax increases, including increases to the top marginal rate (i.e. the wealthiest). All these naysayers were proved to be demonstrably and grossly inaccurate in saying these tax increases would have a negative effect on "average" Americans and the economy as a whole. Rather than living through the doom and gloom of these opportunists, the Clinton years saw one of the longest economic expansions in history. There was one thing devestating about these tax cuts, though. And that is that opportunistic politicians used them to their advantage and we ended up with the current GOP controlled House.

I already pointed out that the poorest California families pay more in taxes than the wealthiest:
Measured as a share of family income, California’s poorest families pay the most in taxes. The poorest fifth of the state’s non-elderly families, with an average income of $11,100, spent 11.3 percent of their income on state taxes in 2002. In comparison, the wealthiest 1 percent, with an average income of $1.6 million, spent 7.2 percent of their income on state taxes.
Even ignoring the need for progressive taxation, basic decency requires that we at least try to fix this appalling disparity.

Furthermore, as I already noted, the recent federal tax bill--passed by several opportunists from the Clinton budget battle--gives most of this "relief" to the wealthiest. What we have here is the wealthiest Californians paying less, percentage wise, in taxes and then getting even further decreases in tax liability from the GOP Congress. This isn't even talking about progressive taxation so "class warfare" objections need not apply.

Shame on any politician who repeats 1994 GOP talking points! The talking points were so astonishingly wrong then, why should we believe them now?

Postscript: I was appalled--appalled!--to find out from Westly that I will have to pay more for them bottles of Zinfindel and Pinot Noir!

Friday, May 12, 2006

Sweet Vindication

Though we all know Bill Clinton was a better president than George Bush, it's nice to know that the rest of the country agrees too. Well, two thirds of them at least.

What Have You Done For Me Lately?

Another form of that question is: What has Steve Pearce done for me lately? In case you didn't know, Steve Pearce is the current representative of the congressional district in which I grew up. Since their has been some development in tax "relief", I wanted to see exactly what Rep. Pearce is doing for me these days. (I know, I'm not a resident right now, but I think it's important.)

HR 4297 was just passed in the Senate. Reliable ol' Steve Pearce went along with his Republican colleagues and voted for the bill (Roll Call 135). I took a few minutes to see how this would impact New Mexico residents and myself.

In 2004, the median income for New Mexico was $37,587. As a graduate student I live within more modest means. The current tax cuts, according to a joint Brookings-Urban Institute analysis, means that average tax return most New Mexicans will receive is about $20. (To get this figure, I used the middle quintile since it was around the NM median income. Since I'm below this value, I probably get a whopping $15!) For comparison, those in the top 0.1%--with income over $5 million--will receive nearly $84,000. The Washington Post has a "nice" graphic.

Thanks, Steve Pearce. You're the tops! Even though you've done so much for me, you can count on a prompt donation of a couple "Hamilton's" to some Democratic organization or you're opponent, Al Kissling. I do hate to take the money you worked so hard to give me and give it to you're opponent.

Thursday, May 11, 2006


I would like to say that my previous post was prescient, but this poll was conducted before the new revelation on NSA eavesdropping. A new Harris Interactive Poll has Bush's approval at 29%.

And just to clarify, this is no reason to celebrate. It's a sad statement about our nation's leadership.

Breaking 30%

I'm just speculating, but I think today's revelation on the NSA eavesdropping program is going to drag Bush's approval below 30%.
The agency in charge of a domestic spying program has been secretly collecting phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, including calls made within the United States, USA Today reported on Thursday.


Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Angelides and Education

I've already discussed some of the highlights of Phil Angelides' positions on the environment and development. I'll take a little time now to discuss education, an issue that is really important to me.

There is way too much on his main education page so I'll just chose some of the things I think are cool. I'll start with what he has already done as treasurer. The California Teachers Association notes that
he created the Extra Credit Teacher Home Purchase Program to provide low-interest home loans and down-payment assistance to teachers making a commitment to work in schools considered the toughest places to teach.
You can find more about the program here.

In 1999, Angelides launched the program Scholar Share which helps people save for college. He was an early advocate of making the program tax-free, which happened in 2002. This is the sort of leadership that California can use.

All well and good, but what does he plan on doing if elected? One thing I find exciting is his California Tomorrow Fellowships:
In the report Rising Above the Gathering Storm, the National Academies panel recommended a national program of 100,000 scholarships to draw more students into science, engineering, and mathematics. But it is clear that California cannot wait for the Bush administration and Congress to act on the panel's recommendation. As Governor, Phil Angelides will create a program to award California Tomorrow Fellowships to as many as 10,000 California residents a year who are pursuing an undergraduate degree in science, mathematics, or engineering. The California Tomorrow Fellowships will provide up to $10,000 per recipient for eligible expenses (tuition, fees, books, laboratory fees) not covered by financial aid the student otherwise receives based on need.
If you've read some of my articles in The Stanford Progressive, you'll note that I'm a little obsessed with preparing for the future. This is a great way to do that.

I won't belabor his position on education much further--you can find out more on his main education page--but I want to emphasize something that is kinda small but very personal to me. That is his plan to double the number of counselors. As a high school student, I was told by a counselor that I didn't have the background to take the AP Calculus course. As things turned out, my math teachers told me not to listen and, in my last year of high school, I ended up writing tests for that very same class. That whole experience has emphasized, to me, the importance of having counselors who have time to really spend time helping students succeed.

As you can see, Phil has a proven record as a leader and has encouraging proposals to enhance educational opportunities. This is really important to me and one of the biggest reasons I feel comfortable supporting him.

Debate Fact Checking: Point(s) to Angelides

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to watch the debate--I had, and continue, to work. CBS5 did some fact checking, though. Turns out, Phil is the more forthcoming. For instance, on having a way to fully fund education:
ANGELIDES CLAIM: He's the only candidate with a comprehensive plan to fully fund education.
WESTLY RESPONSE: Said he too has proposal that will fully fund education.
OUR CHECK: Sacramento Bee analysis concludes Westly approach lacks enough money, says Angelides approach may fully fund - but not likely to be adopted by Assembly. Source Material
On "smear artists":
WESTLY CLAIM: Washington Post has labeled Angelides a "champion smear artist."
ANGELIDES RESPONSE: No direct response.
OUR CHECK: Capitol Weekly article from last month references the Washington Post label, but also notes that the label was given out in 1994 -- over a decade ago. Source material
I don't think that Westly intentionally misrepresented facts. Rather, I just think that Angelides is slightly ahead in his grasp on the issues and his depth of understanding of the issues--and that's what I like most about Angelides.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Poll: Angelides Holds 10-Point Lead Over Westly

I think this SurveyUSA poll is a little early--not to mention, the lack of credibility S-USA has in my book--and a lot can happen in the next 28, but I have to say Angelides 10 point lead (but high MOE) is not surprising. Now that Angelides finally started putting ads on the air, people are finding out who he is. I'm not surprised they are liking him. But I won't read too much into this poll.

Since Westly has a monetary advantage at this point and will probably be able to have more TV time, I'd say he still has a good shot. I haven't gotten many mailers--surprising since I'm permanent absentee--so I don't know how effective the mail campaign will be. Angelides gets free publicity from state Party mailers, and possibly some union mailers, so that could save him money for more aggressive TV advertising. A few solid spots with appropriate targeting will probably push Angelides over the top. A properly run campaign, IMO, would net Angelides 60%, but I don't think that will happen. As I mentioned, I think the Angelides campaign has been mediocre and less than impressive.

It should be an exciting finish and it's nice to know that whoever wins will be a great candidate.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Beyond Talking Points: Development Done Right

There's been some criticism of Phil Angelides for being a developer and receiving a large portion of his contributions from developers. Angelides says he's proud of his record so I figured I'd take a look to see if Angelides experience as a developer has helped him develop sound policy as state treasurer. I think his record shows how smart policy can lead to economic opportunity, economic justice and good urban development--toward more sustainable communities and a cleaner environment. (NOTE: This will be long and with a lot of links--I have an hour to kill between experiments.)

Let's start with a 2000 report by the Clinton-Gore Administration, Building Livable Communities, Sustaining Prosperity, Improving Quality of Life, Building a Sense of Community. This is what they have to say about California:
Phil Angelides, State Treasurer of California, has led a movement to mobilize the state’s financial resources to promote smart growth. Marking a fundamental shift in state policies that govern the flow of billions of dollars, Angelides’ Smart Investment plan contains several programs to assist community development and disadvantaged homebuyers. Since the announcement of the effort in June 1999, about $10 billion in investment and capital has been focused on smart growth initiatives. In addition, in May 2000 the Treasurer announced another major policy initiative called the Double Bottom Line. This initiative calls for the direction of more than $8 billion in investment capital to spur economic growth in California’s emerging markets – those communities left behind in the state’s current economic boom. (p. 19)
For those interested, you can take a look at Angelides' Smart Investments program for yourself. I emphasized the fact that Angelides has, and continues to be a leader in this effort.

OK, so you may not like Clinton or Gore. They aren't the only one's appreciating the work that Phil has been doing from pretty much his first day as treasurer. The National Governor's Association's Center for Best Practices had a report in 2001 called New Community Design in which they similarly recognized Angelides work:
State Treasurer Philip Angelides has been an advocate of steering financial help to sustainable development, which he defined as, “Land uses that support transportation options beyond more freeways and roads. It means a better mix of housing in communities and neighborhoods. It means locating jobs near housing and balancing job growth with new housing, communities centered around civic spaces, and well-planned higher density use of land.”89

This matches NCD. In September 2000, he noted that more than $7 billion in public funds over the next three years would be redirected in pursuit of the “smart investment” goals of community reinvestment and sustainable growth. He noted that the state rewards projects “within walking distance of transit, schools, parks and shopping.”90

He has also noted what the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS), which together have $270 billion in capital invested globally, are doing in this area: “In the last year, those [pension] funds have committed $1 billion in new capital investment for urban, in-fill development—from mixed use to office to commercial to housing—targeted to California communities. These investments are designed to bring the funds market returns as we support “smart growth” with our State’s investment capital.”91 (p. 67)
Not only has Angelides' work been recognized and appreciated by the Clinton-Gore Administration, but the nation's governors have already recognized his leadership.

Funders Network "is a non-partisan, not-for-profit organization that exists to inspire, strengthen and expand philanthropic leadership and funders’ abilities to support organizations working to improve communities through better development decisions and growth policies. It brings together foundations, nonprofit organizations and other partners to address the range of environmental, social, and economic problems caused by development strategies that fail to consider the big picture." They also recognize Phil Angelides' leadership and good policies.
The State Treasurer: State Treasurer Philip Angelides has emerged as a powerful advocate of state-level smart growth reform. The treasurer’s office has issued two major reports on smart growth. Smart Investments, issued in 1999, advocated that the state adopt an infrastructure investment strategy based on the principles of livable communities and sustainable development. The next year the treasurer issued The Double Bottom Line: Investing in California’s Emerging Market, outlining an ambitious urban reinvestment agenda.

The treasurer has spearheaded several policy initiatives to implement the recommendations in these reports. Major initiatives include the adoption of smart growth criteria to guide a number of state grant and loan programs, including $1.4 billion in investments by the California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank; $1.6 billion in low-cost financing for affordable housing, pollution control, job creation, and brownfield cleanup; and a Smart Growth Planning Grant program to assist local governments to plan projects that incorporate smart growth principles.82

The treasurer, with assistance from the California Center for Regional Leadership, is currently developing the 21st Century Fund, an initiative to focus investment in California’s “emerging markets” – underserved rural and urban communities that could benefit from business development, housing, and other investments. As a member of the governing board, the treasurer has also prodded CalPERS and STRS – pension funds for public employees and teachers with huge assets and tremendous national influence on the institutional investment community – to focus more of their investment portfolio on urban reinvestment in California.(p. 29)


Find and use powerful levers: Phil Angelides entered the treasurer’s office in 1999 with a strong interest in addressing the economic, social, and environmental consequences of the state’s growth. He used the levers of his office – his standing as the state’s chief investment officer and his position on a number of state boards and commissions – to advance the smart growth agenda by focusing on “smart investments:”
  • An annual report on debt affordability that his office was required to prepare was used to make the case for the smart investments agenda.
  • The criteria for distributing affordable housing funds were changed to give priority to projects near transit and with other smart growth features.
  • The treasurer used his seat on the State Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank to persuade his colleagues to approve a set of smart growth criteria to govern loans by the bank to local agencies, and his positions on the board of the CalPERS and STRS retirement system boards to encourage reinvestment in urban communities.
  • The treasurer sponsored legislation to beef up programs within his office to cleanup brownfields, promote clean energy technology, and provide planning grants to local agencies for smart growth developments.

By finding and using a set of powerful levers over which he had influence, the treasurer – with support from smart growth advocates and their allies – was able to set in motion a number of public policy initiatives that will advance the smart growth agenda in California.(p. 41)


State Treasurer Angelides has promoted the idea of “smart investments” and has initiated several administrative reforms to implement the concept. His office is currently developing the 21st Century Initiative to leverage investment of private capital in disadvantaged communities.(p. 43)
Again, you can take a look at "Smart Investments" and "The Double Bottom Line" for yourself.

At the sake of coming off pretentious and present drastic overkill, I came across even more recognition of Phil Angelides' strong record of leadership. Over at, they have a list of news articles that highlight the work that Angelides' has been doing:
CalBuild Proposal Would Invest $15 Billion in State Public Employee Funds for Urban Smart Growth

With Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's bond-based $222 billion public works plan still in the legislature and his approval percentage only in the mid-30s, state Democratic Treasurer and gubernatorial hopeful Phil Angelides presented a proposal to use $15 billion in public employee funds for infrastructure investment focused on urban smart growth, saying, ''We need to find innovative ways to finance infrastructure beyond general obligation bonds and beyond traditional government finance mechanisms.''

Called CalBuild, reports Oakland Tribune writer Steve Geissinger, the treasurer's proposal would tap the combined $337 billion portfolio of the California Public Employees Retirement System and the California State Teachers Retirement System, promising them an up to 8 percent interest return, which might otherwise benefit only private firms, including Australia's Sydney-based Macquarie Infrastructure Group.

The largest toll road developer worldwide, the group expects more American business and investment options as state and local governments, pressed to build roads, look at variants of use-based fees instead of new public taxes.

''The opportunity to invest in our infrastructure ought not to belong to foreign or private companies alone,'' the treasurer stressed. ''We ought to have the opportunity to invest in these projects.''

Democratic Senate President Don Perata and Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez like the proposed pension fund investment as a good supplement to the prospective infrastructure bonds.

''This is a creative approach that could help address, along with the bond funding we are working on, California's massive infrastructure need,'' said the Senate president. ''I hope the pension funds will take a close look at the steps Treasurer Angelides is proposing.'' -- Oakland Tribune 4/4/2006


Smart Growth Grants Bring Affordable Housing Funds to California Cities

Under bills sponsored by State Treasurer Phil Angelides' office and Democratic Senator Tom Torlakson, the California Pollution Control Financing Authority awarded nine cities ''smart growth'' grants totaling $2.5 million and promised to distribute $2.5 million more among other winners from the 120 applicants by the month's end. The grants will help cities spur infill, expand affordable housing, improve transit-station areas and upgrade streets in older neighborhoods. Senator Torlakson said ''there's a huge need and keen interest in cities to do the right thing.'' Treasurer Angelides, who chairs the authority, added, ''We thought these were good projects that had value for the communities where they're located, but could also show the rest of California, and policy-makers, too, what the possibilities are to grow more intelligently.'' 10/9/2002


In a Sacramento Bee article on Downside to fixing up cities: 'Smart growth' policies may hurt poor residents, Andrew LePage writes that smart growth is being checked by fair-growth - a movement to limit the gentrification of restored urban neighborhoods and the displacement of poor and ethnic residents. Reporting from a housing conference at the University of California-Berkeley, the writer quotes Fannie Mae Foundation researcher Robert Lang, who after a detailed smart-growth presentation by state Treasurer Phil Angelides warned the audience, if you are going to enact smart-growth policies, you need to make sure you have housing affordability and housing subsidy programs in place, too. In a later press interview, the treasurer emphasized that gentrification is among his top concerns. He proved it last year by securing state tax credit subsidy preferences for builders of affordable housing in low-income neighborhoods. At the forefront of the growing fair-growth movement, the writer places Oakland-based PolicyLink, led by Angela Glover Blackwell. She notes that despite smart-growth efforts to promote the three E's of sustainability - environment, economy and equity - debate has been dominated by conservationists and developers who neglect the third E. Equity, she says, keeps falling off the table and we think the way to keep it on the table is to lead with it. She adds that the nation's booming economy, anti-sprawl initiatives and the influx of affluent professionals to inner cities are driving up housing prices and often forcing out long-time residents, as is now happening in San Francisco's heavily Latino Mission District. The writer says the potentially divisive issues will be further examined at the Fannie Mae Foundation national housing conference, November 1 in Atlanta. - Sacramento Bee 9/27/2000


A San Francisco Chronicle editorial entitled Traffic, Housing, Jobs: Let's Connect the Dots, supports smart growth efforts by two East Bay Hills area Democratic state legislators, Senator Don Perata and Assemblyman Tom Torlakson, and by State Treasurer Phil Angelides. The legislators are working together on three bills based on the logical premise that their seemingly different local problems are all interlinked and require regional solutions. The bills would help identify the most cost-effective ways of relieving the area's congestion and fund those promising the greatest returns; make the Association of Bay Area Governments and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission evaluate the region's jobs-housing balance and propose incentives for greater densities; and return state property taxes to local governments that promote residential projects in job centers with housing shortages. Treasurer Angelides, who is directing state investments to housing in poor communities and to projects near transit and schools, told the daily's editorial board that urban infill projects relieve congestion while bringing solid returns. He described his efforts as having a lot to do with trying to overcome market ignorance. The editorial adds that Angelides is also pushing for legislation to make the state's leasing policies consistent with an anti-sprawl philosophy - a potentially big help, since the overall amount of office space leased by state government exceeds the total square footage in downtown Los Angeles. 5/26/2000


The San Francisco Bay Area growth rate has been nine time faster for jobs than for housing since 1995, reflecting "boom times" on the one hand, and on the other "rising housing prices, congestion and sprawl," says state Treasurer Phil Angelides. Reporting from San Francisco, Washington Post writer E. J. Dionne Jr. describes Angelides as confident that California can again set a national trend, this time for curbing sprawl, because "if we can change direction here, it will ripple out." The writer points out that the treasurer is using his office to link three issues he considers crucial to the state's future: the public investment decline, the growing rich-poor gap and sprawl. He wants state investments to leverage projects that would curb sprawl while helping low-income residents, especially by revitalizing inner cities and older suburbs. His next goal, the writer says, "is to persuade Gov. Gray Davis, a fellow Democrat, to join him in pushing for smart growth criteria in dispensing the $475 million in state's infrastructure bank." 11/22/1999


Since taking office in January, California Treasurer Philip Angelides has stirred public attention with such disturbing questions as why American public pension funds should be invested in volatile emerging market overseas, when they could be more profitably invested in the nation's inner cities. According to a syndicated columnist, Neal Pierce, American public pension funds hold $242 billion in foreign stocks, $35 billion of which is California Public Retirement System investments in 48 countries. Pierce agrees with Angelides that this money could help rebuild America's Òolder cities and curb wasteful and environmentally risky sprawl development at the urban fringe.Ó The columnist notes that Angelides has replaced his office's previous lottery system for allocating $450 million in affordable housing tax credits with Òsmart growth incentives.Ó Now the office is awarding extra points Òfor projects within a quarter mile of transit, or walking distance to an elementary school, or in a depressed area with a holistic community redevelopment process underway.Ó 7/27/1999


State Treasurer Phil Angelides released his annual bond report four months ahead of time, to broaden the debate about state infrastructure investment and help lawmakers assess the need to curb sprawl and revitalize inner cities. A former real estate developer and known Democratic activist, Angelides is "heartened" by the idea of smart growth emerging as the nation's hottest new political creed. Warning the state against a division into rich and poor societies, he says, "We cannot continue our expansion of the urban fringe and expect that our quality of life will be maintained." The Treasurer plans sessions on the subject with politicians and business groups throughout the state in the next two weeks. His report estimates that the state has the means to issue $32.5 billion in additional bonds over the next ten years to invest in smart growth, and to fight sprawl and urban decay. 6/25/1999
Bottom line: There's real reason why so many prominent state leaders have endorsed Phil. He's a leader. And those who criticize his role as a developer should take a minute to see how it has helped him become a national leader in smart and more sustainable development. When it comes down to it, I see Angelides as leaps and bounds ahead of the competition. More on some of his other issues later (time permitting).

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Angelides and the Environment

Being the Phil supporter that I am, I have to tout the recent endorsement of Phil by the California League of Conservation Voters--which required a two-thirds vote.

That's all well and good, but I care more about the details. Phil's policy seems to be broken down into two main initiatives: Clean California and Coast Guard. I'm including the bullet points below.

Clean California: "to reduce California's gasoline and diesel use by 25 percent in ten years making California the world leader in developing clean and renewable fuels."
  • Invest in public-private partnerships to make California the global leader in developing and selling clean fuels, vehicles, and renewable energy.
  • Invest $1.5 billion from California's state and local pension funds in clean technology and renewable energy.
  • Require that auto and oil companies give Californians clean fuel choices.
  • Convert all state and local government fleets to clean, efficient vehicles.
  • Put in place a comprehensive smart growth plan for California to curb sprawl, clean up the air, and let Californians drive less.

Coast Guard: "reverse the policies of Arnold Schwarzenegger and George Bush, renewing California’s historic commitment to coastal and ocean protection."

  • Launch a comprehensive program to identify, purchase, and protect key undeveloped portions of the coast.
  • Fight for a permanent federal ban on oil and gas drilling off the California coast.
  • Require comprehensive state planning before approval of any liquid natural gas (LNG) terminals and desalination plants on the coast.
  • Restore funding for the Coastal Commission and other coastal protection agencies.
  • Reduce coastal pollution and beach closures from sewage and runoff.
  • Require lobbyists to register and disclose their contacts with the Coastal Commission.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Starving the Beast Slowly

The subheading of this article says it all: "Tough Choice on Deficit in Store for President, Congress in 2011". This is what the GOP is doing:

  • Spend heavily on popular programs (and not so popular programs).
  • Cut taxes, heavily skewed toward the hyper wealthy (those who make $10 million or more get about $500,000 cuts).
  • Institute corporate friendly tax cuts that don't end up "trickling down" (flat median income over several years).
  • Raise debt ceiling to "pay" for all the programs and account for decreased tax revenues.
  • Put a clause into the tax cut laws that have them expire in 2011 when most current lawmakers will no longer be in office.
  • Sit back and see how the Democrats try to fix their problems.
  • Give Grover Norquist erotic pleasure as the government comes crashing down.
I'm generally optimistic, but this is just plain irresponsible, cynical and dangerous. Don't "conservatives" realize that there is no way this country will sit back as popular programs are cut? This is Enron accounting and it's about damn time our Democratic leaders do something.


Looks like Valerie Plame Wilson is looking to write a book. Wonder what it will be about...

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Cut The Malarky

Kevin Drum breaks down the immigration debate:
There's probably some genuine job-based animus toward illegal immigrants in the construction industry, but elsewhere you barely need to scratch the surface to figure out that anti-immigrant anxiety mostly seems to revolve around crime, gangs, culture, language, social services, and bizarrely trumped up fears of reconquista. Can we stop kidding ourselves about this?
I generally agree. I also think crime, gangs and social services are convenient covers for cultural intolerance. Maybe not even intolerance, but fear of something different.

Como se dice "hypocrite?"

One of those things that is too good to be true: President Bush sang the national anthem in Spanish several times during the 2004 campaign.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The Bush-Cheney Post 9/11 Mindset

Just when you think the Cunningham saga couldn't get any more screwed up and cronyism couldn't get any worse, we get even more evidence indicating why we need to run out the entire lot of Congressional and White House Republicans. Josh Marshall provides a "lovely" run down on the Shirlington Limo fiasco. He concludes:
So let's put this all together. Shirlington limo's owner Chris Baker has a long criminal record. He's tight with Cunningham briber Brent Wilkes and reportedly provided the transportation services for the parties Wilkes used to sauce up members of Congress and various intel folks as well as get them set up with hookers. Only, aside from squiring Duke Cunningham around with his daily prostitutes, Shirlington seemed like a really screwed up company. They're getting their buses repossessed, their DOT authority to take people across state lines yanked, and pretty much sued right and left. If Shirlington had taxis and you flagged one down to drive you a few blocks, you might tell them you weren't willing to take the risk. But the Department of Homeland Security, which has various law enforcement and intelligence responsibilities (and if you remember some general thing with protecting the homeland) decides Shirlington is the company it wants providing transportation for its senior-most appointees, the folks who run the place.
BTW, here is the Post article that is referenced.

The record of DHS thus far is pretty dismal. Failure to adequately secure ports. Check. Failure to prepare and handle hurricane Katrina. Check. Handing out millions of dollars in contracts to companies headed by criminals. Check. I shudder to think what else these people are doing (and not doing). Ladies and gentlemen, this is the Bush/Cheney Post-9/11 mindset. If Bush remains over 20% approval after this...

Jose, can you see?

There's been a lot of nativist outcry over the Spanish version of the national anthem. The right might be interested to know that in 1919 the U.S. commissioned a spanish version of the national anthem. Also, where is the outcry over the four different Spanish versions of the national anthem that are on the State Department website?

Could it be that the right is more upset about WHO is singing the spanish version than the actual song itself?

Monday, May 01, 2006

One Man's Garbage...

Is another man's treasure. I don't want overemphasize the importance of the endorsement that state Democrats at the recent convention gave Angelides--67% to 28%--but I think an outright dismissal is not entirely fair. (Although I was not volunteering for Angelides at the convention, I was proudly sporting my Angelides for Governor pin.)

There is a reason why their has not been a Democratic endorsement for Governor in California in a long time. It takes a nominee with broad support and convinced delegates to get to 60%. While convincing over two thirds of the delegates to support Angelides may not be most important, it is significant.

I went in to the convention fully expecting that Westly would be able to convince at least 40% not to endorse Phil. All the polls the Westly campaign talks about all the time seemed to suggest as much (although half of the respondents are undecided). However, as I walked around and talked to delegates and other campaign volunteers, it was clear that Angelides had overwhelming and broad support. After all, it takes broad support to get the endorsement of Barbara Lee, Nancy Pelosi, Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein.

OK. OK. Endorsements aren't all that important, but the reasons why people endorse are. The delegates I talked to supported Phil for similar reasons that I do, which is the sentiment future House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, mentioned when introducing Angelides: Phil is a leader with a strong record of success. There is no denying that Phil was the first one to enter the governors race. And at a time when Schwarzenegger was pretty popular. Just as he has been a leader throughout his career, he was a leader this time as well. It's this leadership and strong conviction that seemed to resonate amongst the Angelides supporters I talked to.

I do think Steve Westly is a great guy and would make a better governor than Schwarzenegger and will be willing to fully support Westly if he wins the nomination. I just happen to see Angelides proving to be the strongest leader and defender of Democratic values. Perhaps Westly really does have a compelling message. But I wish he would throw early, meaningless polls in the trash and tell me what his message is.

I'm sick of choosing nominees based on electability. That's the big difference between Republicans and Democrats. Democrats approach elections strategically. Republicans don't care who the nominee is so long as he pushes their agenda. Schwarzenegger may not be the typical Republican, but he adheres incessantly to the "me only society" GOP party line. In that respect, it really is invigorating to see leaders like Angelides making the case for Democratic values:
"This is more than a Democratic campaign. It's about winning a victory for Democratic values that will ripple across this great land.
If we can't win based on our values, then we have bigger problems. If we can't win with our ideas, then we have bigger problems. Angelides is no Mondale. He is pragmatic and mainstream. Efforts to paint him as unelectable are unfair and just plain wrong.

Good Enough To Die

Does anyone remember Marine Lance Cpl. Jose Gutierrez? For those who have forgotten, he was one of the first fatalities in the current Iraq war. He also happens to have entered the country illegally:
He was one of the first U.S. soldiers killed in combat in Iraq, even though the United States wasn't quite his country.

Lance Cpl. Jose Antonio Gutierrez, 22, an orphan who grew up on the streets of Guatemala City, made the perilous border crossing through Mexico and entered the U.S. illegally when he was 14, his family said.

He was later granted legal resident status and went to high school and college in California before joining the Marines in March 2002. Only a year in the service, Gutierrez died March 21 in a firefight near the Iraqi port city of Umm Qasr.
He was a brave young man who died for United States despite the fact that he wasn't even a citizen--he was granted citizenship posthumously.

His is a story that I think deserves mention in any discussion of immigration. It's only fair that anti-immigration forces discuss the fact that many of these "illegals" sacrifice for this country as much as anyone else. Almost all come to work hard and provide for their family. They also are here to contribute to this country. No debate on the issue is fair that does not mention these facts.

Additionally, the anti-immigration forces attempt to suggest that immigrants come and "steal" resources from U.S. citizens and cause a lot of financial strain--a dramatically overstated assertion:
As Congress debates an overhaul of the nation's immigration laws, several economists and news media pundits have sounded the alarm, contending that illegal immigrants are causing harm to Americans in the competition for jobs.

Yet a more careful examination of the economic data suggests that the argument is, at the very least, overstated. There is scant evidence that illegal immigrants have caused any significant damage to the wages of American workers.

The number that has been getting the most attention lately was produced by George J. Borjas and Lawrence F. Katz, two Harvard economists, in a paper published last year. They estimated that the wave of illegal Mexican immigrants who arrived from 1980 to 2000 had reduced the wages of high school dropouts in the United States by 8.2 percent. But the economists acknowledge that the number does not consider other economic forces, such as the fact that certain businesses would not exist in the United States without cheap immigrant labor. If it had accounted for such things, immigration's impact would be likely to look less than half as big. (Emphasis added.)
Note that this is the effect on high school dropouts, not average Americans (almost 90% have completed high school, or equivalency). There is also a slight benefit to the overall economy from immigration. So, as Kevin says,
If this is the best we can come up with after 20 years and 8 million illegal immigrants, there really isn't a serious economic argument to make against immigration from Mexico. Cultural backlash is pretty much all that's left.