NDN Blog

Coming to terms with the Middle East of today

Two stories today reinforce our assertion that a new post-Iraq War dynamic is emerging in the Middle East, one that will require a much broader and long-term strategy than is currently being offered by our political leadership. 

The first comes from the Post, "As crises build, Lebanon fearful of a failed state."  The second is in the Times, and details Pakistan's worsening political crisis.  On a positive note, there seems to be consensus that the Taliban's "spring offensive" has panned, giving that struggling nation a little more breathing room this year.   

DVR Alert: CNN discussion on Faith and Politics

Just a reminder for those with DVRs to record tonight's CNN discussion on Faith and Politics.

Quick '08 Update

As the coverage from last night's Democratic candidate debate rolls in (check Simon's post for a quick re-cap), here are a few other articles to fill your Monday:

- Barack Obama launched a Faith-oriented section of his website entitled "People of Faith for Barack."

- The New York Times profiles Mitt Romney's business experience as well as Michael Bloomberg's reputation with gun rights advocates.

- John McCain is speaking today in Coral Gables, FL on comprehensive immigration reform. Read the speech.

For more information on NDN's coverage of the 2008 Presidential election, click here.

A call to action: let's pass immigration reform this week

This is a make or break week for immigration reform in the Senate.   The Washington Post this am has a fair scene setter, Backers of Immigration Bill More Optimistic, that includes a good rundown of potential amendments - some designed of course to kill the bill. 

Both the Post and the Times have lede editorials on immigration this morning, and the Times had yet another story yesterday about how the immigration debate is ripping the GOP apart (going to be interesting to watch this part of the GOP debate tomorrow night). 

My friends, this is it.  As we wrote recently, we have a come a long way since a bill passed the House in late 2005 calling for the arrest and deportation of all undocumented immigrants in America.  A Times poll from 10 days ago show 2/3rds support for all the major elements of the bill, including offering the undocumenteds a path to citizenship.  A deep and broad coalition supports this new bill, including the Catholic Church, the Chamber of Commerce, important labor unions and many immigrant rights groups.  Leading politicians of both parties have worked hard to pass immigration reform, including the President, John McCain, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.  Fear, uncertainty, anger have been overcome.   

I hope everyone in the NDN community will take a simple action today: call your two US Senators and tell them you want them to work hard this week to pass the Kennedy-Kyl bill. 

You can mention that you believe this final bill needs to do three things: 1) crack down on the border and in the workplace; 2) deal sensibly with the flow of future workers; and 3) offer a reasonable path to legal status and citizenship to those already here.  For good measure you can add that you find the new point system for future immigrants unwise; that you are concerned that that the 200,000 workers a year in the guest worker program need a path to citizenship; that the "touchback" provision that requires those with the new "z" visa to return to their home countries to apply for a green card should go; and INS needs the financial, management and political support required to deal with what will be a massive management challenge for a less than optimal agency. 

Friends, we have spent millions of dollars, conducted hundreds of briefings, written way too many emails and blogposts, lobbied policy makers big and small, conducted detailed polling and worked this issue hard with national reporters.  Our community has played a very significant role in recognizing the importance of this issue, and helping get this close to a good deal.  We must work hard this week to make sure we do not miss this historic opportunity to fix our broken immigration system, and demonstate to the American people that with new leaders Washington can and will tackle the most important challenges facing the nation today. 

For more on NDN's work on immigration reform, click here.  

A quick reaction to the Democratic Debate

I saw about three-quarters of it (had to help put my kids to bed).  Some initial thoughts:

- Sure looked like a group of smart people trying to figure out the right path for the nation.  And it is clear that the Democrats know that actually being the next President is going to be very hard.  They are really trying to get to the heart of matter on most of the big issues, which perhaps made this debate seem less canned and political than previous ones. 

I really enjoyed the way, at times, the candidates refered to one another and talked about how they could work with them, etc.  It often felt like even though they may have disagreed on certain matters, they were all on the same team.  I thought Clinton and Obama were especially effective at this, and were very respectful of their peers.  One of the things the candidates are clearly picking up so far from voters is that after the disapointment and deceit of the Bush era they are looking for real answers and a real leader.  Folks want to have an honest and respectful discussion about their future. 

- In keeping with this last thought I thought the regular folks in the audience asked much better questions than the journalists.  It was amazing how thoughtful their questions were, how concise and understandable and germane, and how respectful the people were of the folks on the stage.   It was refreshing to watch, and the candidates seemed to really seemed to work hard to be respectful back and actually answer the questions.

- It still feels early.  It is only June, and it felt like it tonight.  

- CNN may have stumbled on to an important precedent tonight.  Their rule that the candidates had to answer the question asked, and could not talk about any other issue - or risk being cut off - helped keep the conversation more substantive.  I hope all future debates follow that rule.   All in all I thought the length - 2 hours - and novel format made this one much substantive and less scripted than usual.  CNN deserves credit for improving on the form, though the two other non-Wolf journalists seemed to be an afterthought

- Did it seem like Wolk kept cutting Richardson off? Or was that my New Mexico sympathies playing out?

- Why was Lou Dodds allowed to play a major role in the coverage tonight?  Is CNN unaware of how offensive he is to many Democrats?

All in all it was a good night for our democracy.  We desperately need more open forums like this, where there can be honest, forthright discussion of the big issues facing the nation.  CNN and the candidates did a good job.  It will be interesting to see how it contrasts with the Republicans Tuesday night. 

Be interested in hearing from you.

TiVo Watch: CNN's New Hampshire presidential debates

Just a reminder for those with TiVos to record the upcoming debates:

  • June 3rd (tonight) - Democratic candidates debate on CNN at 7pm EST.
  • June 5th (Tuesday) - Republican candidates debate on CNN at 7pm EST.

Meet and Greet with Patrick Murphy

Last night, NDN held a meet and greet with Congressman Patrick Murphy (PA-08). A rising star in the Democratic party and the first Iraq war veteran elected to Congress, Congressman Murphy discussed many issues with us: his efforts to bring a Green Manufacturing Zone to PA, the need to increase investment in high school science and engineering, how the US needs to regain its role as a leader in innovation, and of course his views on Iraq.

Check out pictures below:

Soccer and politics in Bolivia

We at NDN greatly understand the role that soccer plays in the lives of many around the world. So we've been watching things play out after FIFA (international soccer's governing body) made the decision to ban international matches at altitudes higher than 2,500 meters. Time ran a fantastic article on how FIFA's decision has caused quite the stir in Latin America. As the article points out, "The decree rules out home games in at least five stadiums in Bolivia, two in Peru, one in Ecuador and one in Colombia."

The quickness with which Bolivia reacted to this certainly proves just how vital to people's lives the sport of soccer truly is. Press conferences were held, as were cabinet meetings and civic engagement activities like mass letter-writing campaigns. President Evo Morales even took to the fields and played matches in high-altitude stadiums in an attempt to disprove the medical report that provided the crux of FIFA's argument: that match play in these areas poses health risks to players unaccustomed to high-altitude levels.

The Time article then covered the amazing force that soccer is beyond the surfaces on which the sport is played:

Meanwhile, the unifying effect of the soccer snub certainly has its political advantages. "We can use this to overcome our regional differences," commented 16-year old Sandra Reyes, reflecting on the east vs. west internal conflict that threatens to tear apart her country.

"Yeah! We've got to unite by all playing more soccer," sang the chorus of teenagers surrounding Reyes. Clad in their school's soccer uniform, the youngsters had just spent the day watching their President take several long shots on goal.

Nielsen rates DVR usage

AdAge highlights new Nielsen ratings on DVR usage. From the article:

  • Nielsen estimates that about 17% of U.S. households have DVRs, and that 42% of broadcast viewing within those homes occurs through some sort of DVR playback.
  • Nielsen also noted that among all U.S. households, including those without DVRs, 90% of all broadcast prime-time viewing among viewers 18 to 49 occurs live, meaning that 10% is seen via DVR playback. The impact of DVRs on cable and syndicated programming is lower, with 97% of all prime-time viewing on cable seen live and 98% of all syndicated programming seen live.

Noonan on the conservative crackup

Peggy Noonan offers yet another take on the conservative crackup in today's Wall Street Journal.  The most compelling graphs:

What political conservatives and on-the-ground Republicans must understand at this point is that they are not breaking with the White House on immigration. They are not resisting, fighting and thereby setting down a historical marker--"At this point the break became final." That's not what's happening. What conservatives and Republicans must recognize is that the White House has broken with them. What President Bush is doing, and has been doing for some time, is sundering a great political coalition. This is sad, and it holds implications not only for one political party but for the American future.


One of the things I have come to think the past few years is that the Bushes, father and son, though different in many ways, are great wasters of political inheritance. They throw it away as if they'd earned it and could do with it what they liked. Bush senior inherited a vibrant country and a party at peace with itself. He won the leadership of a party that had finally, at great cost, by 1980, fought itself through to unity and come together on shared principles. Mr. Bush won in 1988 by saying he would govern as Reagan had. Yet he did not understand he'd been elected to Reagan's third term. He thought he'd been elected because they liked him. And so he raised taxes, sundered a hard-won coalition, and found himself shocked to lose his party the presidency, and for eight long and consequential years. He had many virtues, but he wasted his inheritance.

Bush the younger came forward, presented himself as a conservative, garnered all the frustrated hopes of his party, turned them into victory, and not nine months later was handed a historical trauma that left his country rallied around him, lifting him, and his party bonded to him. He was disciplined and often daring, but in time he sundered the party that rallied to him, and broke his coalition into pieces. He threw away his inheritance. I do not understand such squandering.

Now conservatives and Republicans are going to have to win back their party. They are going to have to break from those who have already broken from them. This will require courage, serious thinking and an ability to do what psychologists used to call letting go. This will be painful, but it's time. It's more than time.

The most visable manifestation of this crackup is the extraordinary recent change in Party Identification.  The reputable Pew Center just released a study showing that in the last five years, the country has moved from 43-43 D/R to 50-35, an extraordinary 15 percentage point shift.  In many ways this the most important new data in politics today. 

For more on our thinking about the end of the conservative ascendency visit our Meeting the Conservative Challenge section of our main web site.

To read the whole piece visit

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