The Note: Cowboy and Indians

Remembering the good ol' times of Conan the Barbarian, Gov. Schwarzenegger plans to make an appearance as a gladiator "god" at a major pay-per-view "ultimate fighting" event in Columbus, Ohio, writes Carla Marinucci of the San Francisco Chronicle. (Be sure to Note Sen. McCain and Gov. George Pataki's takes on the "gladiators.") LINK

Lobbying reform:

The New York Times writes up the Collins-Lieberman proposal, set to be unveiled today, for an independent office to investigate ethics abuses in the House and the Senate. LINK

The Washington Post's Jeffrey Birnbaum previews the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs' hearings today, which members hope will lead to draft legislation that will increase lobbyists' reporting of their contact with government officials. LINK

Politics of immigration:

With today marking the start of Senate Judiciary Committee hearings into creating a guest worker program, the Washington Post's Jonathan Weisman takes another look at how immigration has "split Republicans as no other issue before Congress." Despite both sides talking victory, Weisman writes that "voices on both sides concede they would rather see legislation die in Congress than accept the compromises that may be necessary to win passage." LINK

Democrats are skeptical of a provision in Sen. Specter's immigration bill, that would allow immigrant guest workers to benefit from a Social Security privatization plan, reports Emily Pierce of Roll Call.

A Washington Post editorial reviews Sen. Specter's guest worker legislation and concludes it "is hard to see how this bill is even worth passing." LINK

The Wall Street Journal's June Kronholz predicts the Senate may in fact come to a bipartisan consensus on immigration -- but that agreement may simply be to postpone making tough decisions about immigration:

"The House in December avoided the issue of the current illegal population altogether. Instead, it passed a border-enforcement law that, among other things, makes it a felony to be in the U.S. illegally and a crime to aid an illegal immigrant. With midterm elections looming, Republican security hawks might opt for a companion bill in the Senate if legislation stalls over the fate of the current illegal population. Meanwhile, if an overhaul bill leaves illegal immigrants with no way to earn citizenship, moderate Republicans and Democrats might be just as willing to wait a year and try again."

Several Southern Senators are pushing for a temporary worker program and increased security along the Mexican border, reports Michelle Mittelstadt of the Dallas Morning News. LINK

Los Angeles' Cardinal Roger Mahoney used his Ash Wednesday sermon to reiterate his position that Catholics should "make room in our hearts" for immigrants," irritating some at the service. LINK

Ballot measures:

In his Thursday "Washington Update," Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council writes that a number of "marriage proposals" are headed for the ballot this year.

More Perkins: "These include Alabama (spring), and Idaho, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Virginia, all this fall. The Wisconsin and Maryland legislatures are still in session, considering ballot proposals. Also still to be resolved are marriage measures in Arizona, California, Colorado, and Illinois."

"Pro-marriage forces have never lost a state-wide referendum defending marriage," writes Perkins.

Casting and counting:

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