NDN Blog

A more conservative Supreme Court

The Times has a very good look at what might come next for the new post-O'Connor Supreme Court.

The battle over immigration continues

The Times offers yet another editorial in favor of immigration, this one reviewing some of the recent progress uin pdating last year's strong bill to accomodate new political realities. 

The Washington Post looks at the lobbying effort on the other side of this issue, led by those who really put this issue on the map back in 2005, conservative talk radio show hosts.  The Times also documents how Rudy Giuliani's views on immigration are being changed by his Presidential campaign. 

Taken together these stories tell the story of the immigration debate in America.  It was brought to the fore by conservative talk radio show hosts in 2005.   Republicans responded with a wild and punitive bill with no chance of passing, and one that angered Hispanics across the country.  Inspired by the millions who took to the streets, reasonable people in both parties came together to pass a good Senate in 2006.  House Republicans, fearful of the power of this issue in their own base, refused to work with the good Senate bill and instead spent the rest of the election unsuccessfully attacking Democrats on the issue. 

It backfired in the 2006 elections, neither gaining them points with an electorate anxious for answers not anger; disapointing their base who rightly felt not enough has been done to fix the problem; and alienating the nation's Latino community, the fastest growing part of the American electorate. 

Fixing our broken immigration system is one of the defining issues of the early 21st century.  I am convinced that it a powerful test of the Parties, and our leaders, to see if they have what it takes to help America meet the new challenges of our time.  Again and again, the Republicans are showing that they don't have what it takes.  The question now is - do the Democrats?  So far it appears as if they do.  But critical days lie ahead of us, and this is not the time for those wanting progress to buckle to the angry agenda of a well-organized and vocal minority.


So, right as Gonzales makes his public plea to save his job, federal prosecutors search the home of two Republican Congressman and subpoena a third.  Is this a coincidence? Perhaps.  Somehow I feel this that is an ominous sign, from the Attorney General's own department, that they are going to keep moving against the corrupt Repulbican machine that governed this town in recent years.  And of course that corrupt Republican machine had at its head the White House, led by Karl Rove and Alberto Gonzales.   

I wrote an essay recently about this terrible era and some things we can do to clean it up here.

Interesting Fundraising #'s from the Presidential Candidates

The numbers that have been slowly leaking out became official this week, and the overall message: Democrats are in better shape than Republicans, with Democrats raising $78 million to Republicans' $53 million.  Some other notable numbers:

  • Senator John McCain is the big loser here.  He only raised $13 million (less than Romney, Guliani, Clinton, Obama and Edwards) and he spent so much that he trails lesser known candidates like Chris Dodd in the ever-important cash on hand.  No wonder Phil Graham is being brought on board to restore fiscal discipline within the campaign.
  • While small donors, largely giving online, are an increasingly important source of campaign donations, over 80% of the money raised came in amounts larger than $1,000.
  • Democrats have a much broader early donor base, with the top three Democratic candidates totaling almost twice as many donors as the top three Republicans.

More Immigration Polling Data

Adding to a post Aaron had a few days ago, a new USA Today/Gallup Poll shows even more support for comprehensive immigration reform:

A USA TODAY/Gallup Poll taken last weekend found that 78% of respondents feel people now in the country illegally should be given a chance at citizenship.

Assessing the poll results, Senator Edward Kennedy had a blunt, but honest reaction:

"As with so many issues, the American people are ahead of Washington on immigration reform. They know that only a plan that offers a path to earned citizenship will fix our broken system."

Check out video of Senator Kennedy and others on the need for comprehensive immigration reform at an NDN event in March.

Bush's Supreme Court Sets Back Women's Health

On April 18, in a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court upheld the federal “Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003.” The court told women that, with their health at risk during a pregnancy, deciding what to do is no longer up to them and their doctors. The Bush Supreme Court has invited politicians into our bedrooms and allowed them to make our most personal decisions for us.

 The Supreme Court struck down an almost identical state law as unconstitutional in 2000, and every court to hear a challenge to this first-ever federal ban on abortion declared it unconstitutional. Since the Court’s decision in 2000, President Bush appointed Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court and abortion foes see these appointments as an opportunity to undermine the Roe v. Wade decision.  

The majority opinion was written by Justice Kennedy and was joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito. Justices Thomas and Scalia filed a concurring opinion, reiterating their view that Roe v. Wade should be entirely overruled. Justice Ginsburg authored thedissenting opinion, which was joined by Justices Stevens, Souter, and Breyer.  In her dissenting opinion, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote, "The Court deprives women of the right to make an autonomous choice, even at the expense of their safety." We have to prevent this decision from having a devastating impact on women's lives.

Friedman’s Big Swing on Green Geopolitics

You gotta hand it to Tom Friedman. He’s not the first guy to spot a trend or big idea, but he has a great way of popularizing them. He’s great at squeezing down big ideas into slogans. Or forcing simple parallels that make you think. “If this, then that.”

Anyhow, he did it again this week with a terrific cover story in the New York Times Magazine. He lays out a big idea about how the United States can completely rework geopolitics and regain global leadership by truly taking on climate change, or, in his words, going “geo-green.” By taking the lead in alternative energy and a comprehensive environmentalism, the United States could help solve three of the biggest challenges of the early 21st century.

1/ Solve global warming, which does have the potential to remake the world – and not for the better.

2/ Solve the quandary of globalization and the new global economy. The United States could spawn the next generation high end technologies that could serve the needs of the world – and would not be easily replicated by low end labor. We could have a thriving next generation economy that could include all Americans.

3/ Solve our era’s security challenge of global terrorism, sustained by a militant radical Islam that is fueled by the oil regimes of the middle east. We cut our dependence, and ultimately the world’s dependence, on that resource and that region, and we undercut our biggest threat.

I could not agree more with his framework. This is a massive opportunity for the progressive movement and Democratic politics in general. The conservatives have completely failed on all these fronts – starting with their obstinate denial of climate change long after all evidence showed denial to be a sham.

Progressives have always taken the lead on environmental matters, and now they can extend that core competency into the reworking of the global economy, and a convincing strategy to truly make the world more safe.

Bravo to Friedman, who has done much to move this meme into the mainstream. Inevitably this piece will be his next book, and judging by the success of his other books, it will be a bestseller for a long while.

Peter Leyden

NDN Friend and Former Network Board Member Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand Described as "impressive, accessible representative"

It's no surprise that our friend Kirsten Gillibrand is making her mark in NY's 20th CD. After all she is intelligent, articulate and attentive to her constituents. The Albany Times Union published this letter from a former aide to her Republican opponent John Sweeney.

As a former aide to John Sweeney while he was in the Pataki administration, I must say what a tremendous job Kirsten Gillibrand is doing. She is the most accessible politician in the region. Every weekend, she is somewhere in the 20th Congressional District, letting us know exactly where she stands on issues and why, which is a refreshing change. I'm sure we all have stories about experiences we have had dealing with Rep. Gillibrand, but I feel compelled to tell you about mine….

I figured I would see the usual political maneuver in which the politician walks through the room, shakes a couple of hands, gets a picture with a leading area vet, says how hard she is fighting for us in Washington and then is whisked out of the room, all in a matter of minutes.

What happened could not have been further from this. Rep. Gillibrand went to the podium, disconnected the microphone, walked to the vet seated nearest her, gave him the microphone, sat down, opened a notebook, got out a pen and asked, "What do you want me to do as your representative in Congress?" I have to tell you, I was astonished.

Rep. Gillibrand sat there for 2 1/2 hours, listening as we passed the microphone from person to person. She asked questions, gave opinions and answers, and took down personal contact information if she did not have an answer, promising to call us back.

Our district could not have asked for a better person to serve us. If she keeps this up, she will be our representative for life

NDN is Hiring!

Here are the open positions at NDN.  To apply please email your materials to jobs@ndn.org.

Deputy Development Director

Location: Washington, DC

A new position, the Deputy Development Director will assist the Development Director in raising NDN’s $4 million annual budget.  Specific responsibilities may include oversight of small donor individual membership program and scheduled institutional member renewals.  Applicants should have experience in direct solicitation of prospective contributors, competency in data management systems and internet research, and strong organizational skills.  1-2 years of experience required.  The position reports to the Development Director.  Salary and benefits package commensurate with experience.  Please address resume and references, as well as any questions, to jobs@ndn.org.

Hispanic Strategy Center Associate

Location: Washington, DC

The Hispanic Strategy Center Associate is responsible for implementing NDN and the Hispanic Strategy Center's programs.  Specific job duties include monitoring relevant legislation, following Hispanic media trends, implementing NDN and the Hispanic Strategy Center's policy and communications objectives, and overall support of the Hispanic Strategy Center Director.  Candidates must be fluent in English and Spanish, and have 2-3 years experience working in advocacy, politics, or government.  Salary commensurate with experience.  Please address all materials and questions to jobs@ndn.org.

Communications Director

Location: Washington, DC

A new position, the Communications Director will oversee the strategic communications operation for NDN.  Primary responsibilities include traditional media relations and the development, production and editing of the public content of the organization.  This position will work closely with the NDN President, executive director and heads of NDN’s major affiliates, the New Politics Institute and Hispanic Strategy Center.  Candidates must have 5 or more years of experience in political communications, press or media, and possess exceptional writing skills.  Video production experience and competency in Spanish a plus, but not required.  Salary commensurate with experience.  Please address all materials and questions to jobs@ndn.org.

Vali Nasr: so thoughtful

Last Thursday night in New York we hosted a small event for an author who has had a profound impact on my thinking, Vali Nasr. Photos of the event can be found here.

We connected to Vali through my writing about his book here on the blog. Some of you may remember that I commented at the time that this was one of the most influential books I've read in recent years, and has helped me, more than any other thing I've read, understand what is happening in the Middle East today. If you haven't read it, it is called the Shia Revival, and a new paperback edition comes out this month. Buy it.

In person Vali did not disapoint. His knowledge of the region is extraordinary, his insight fresh, his vision I think correct. I felt lucky to have spent 90 minutes listening to him the other night.

In the process of connecting with Vali we also learned that he was a teacher of mine at Tufts when I was an undergraduate. He was too was an undergraduate and taught a course on Islam for other students. It was an excellent class, and he was a very good teacher. Who knew that I would connect with him again all these years later in this way. He is moving to Boston this summer and will be once again be teaching at Tufts, this time at Fletcher, Tufts' International School of Law and Diplomacy. My guess is that it will be tough to get into his classes.

Look for a notice soon about a talk Vali will give to NDN in DC in May. We are still working out details, and will announce it soon.

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