NDN Blog

The Post makes the case for the Senate bill

The main editorial in the Post today makes the case for passing the Senate bill:

Pass the Immigration Bill
Hope for 12 million people -- if the center holds

THERE WAS a revealing moment Tuesday when the Republican presidential contenders were taking turns bad-mouthing the Senate immigration bill. Former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, evidently sensing a twofer target -- the bill as well as Washington's evil ways -- allowed that the immigration bill is (gasp!) a compromise. Or as Mr. Giuliani put it, "a typical Washington mess."

Well, yes and no. The bill, which faces a crucial vote as early as today, is indeed a compromise -- a "grand bargain," in the words of its Senate sponsors, in which each side gave something to get something. That's what has made it such an easy mark for critics. But Mr. Giuliani is wrong to think the immigration deal is "typical" in any way; in fact, the Bush administration has presided over a ravenously partisan era in which precious little bipartisan compromise has occurred on major domestic issues. The immigration bill is the exception that lends hope to the proposition that seeking cooperation, conciliation and the middle ground is still possible in American politics.

The bill is not worthwhile merely because it is a compromise but rather because it addresses the colossal and corrosive problem of 12 million illegal immigrants who have become an integral part of the American labor force. No one seriously believes they will be rounded up and deported en masse, yet too many opponents of the bill evidently prefer the status quo -- immigrants in the shadows; employers ignoring the law; preoccupied and embittered state and local officials in whose laps the problem has been dumped -- to the reasonable resolution the bill offers: an arduous but navigable route to citizenship. Wrestling that problem to the ground would be an enormous achievement, and so would measures in the Senate bill that would tighten the border and create systems by which employers could verify the legal status of the workers they hire...

To read the rest, click here.  For more on NDN's views on immigration click the immigration tag above. 

Is Iraq a civil war?

Last fall we had a spirited debate about whether what was happening in Iraq could be described as a "civil war."  I never really bought into the civil war crowd, as what is happening in Iraq looks much more like a failed state, disintegrating, than a traditional civil war.  News reports from the region today reinforce this sense:

Thirty-four bodies were also found strewn about the capital, the latest evidence of a rising toll of sectarian killings more than three months after the beginning of the increase in American troops.

At least 167 bodies have been found in Baghdad in the first six days of June, according to an official at the Interior Ministry. The numbers remain below the average seen before the rise in American forces but are much higher than the levels recorded in March and April.

As the rising body count stoked new concerns about how well the troop expansion will tamp down execution-style killings, Iraqi and American officials got a jolt late in the day when reports emerged suggesting that Turkish forces had begun a long-threatened incursion into northern Iraq to hunt Kurdish guerrillas who stage attacks inside Turkey.

The reports, attributed to Turkish military officials, said thousands of soldiers crossed the border in pursuit of members of the Kurdistan Worker’s Party, or P.K.K.

Some of the Presidential candidates talk about Iraq as a civil war.  If it were so, this would lead to a certain set of strategic choices, ones that implied picking one side or the other in the conflict.  But what is happening there is much more complex than a traditional civil war, with many actors, domestic and foreign, pursuing their agenda in the vaccum created by the failure of the US to establish stability after Sadaam. 

Part of the reason Iraq has been such a disaster is that the Administration really never understood what was happening there.  Those who hope to follow Bush must not replicate his mistake, and work much harder to understand and explain the realities of the Middle East today, a region very much changed and changing because of our recent actions on the ground there.

Immigration Reform lives to fight another day

The Post has a good round-up of yesterday's long and contentious day in the Senate.   While we are pleased that the bill has survived (click on our immigration tag for our recent commentary), the bill has come through this process battered.  It will be interesting to see over the next two days - and we are hoping there will be a final vote tomorrow - who decides to stay with the bill rather than bolting for reasons legitimate or not.  My guess this morning is that the bill will pass when it comes to a vote. 

Of all the provisions defeated yesterday one deserves another shot either in the House or in Conference.  Senator Bingaman rightly tried to end the requirement of those holding "guest worker" visas to return home after two years before re-applying for another two years.  Common sense tells you that this will lead to more undocumenteds, and will thus create more problems than it solves.  This provision needs to be improved as the bill goes forward.  

Late reports last night indicate that an amendment to sunset the guest worker plan after 5 years may have passed.  If so this would be a positive development, but let's wait this morning for more details.

We also have a great deal of sympathy for the case being made by Microsoft and others that the new point system may interfere with their ability to bring in the high-end workers they need.  In general I am very skeptical of the new point system, and hope there can be further debate about it in the House. 

The House.  Yes, very soon, this bill may come to the House.  While Senator Kennedy built this bill to not just pass the Senate, but to pass a chamber with a much more reluctant set of Republicans, we have to remember that unlike the Senate the House did not go through a long debate last year.  Many Members are unfamiliar with either the old bill or the new one, and will need time to digest it all, talk to folks back home, etc.  The lead Republican on the key House Committe, Rep. Steve King of Iowa, is a friend of the Minutemen and one of the most outspoken opponents of Comprehensive Immigration Reform in the nation. 

Getting the bill this far has tested friendships, been very contentious and just been plain hard. But as hard - and as important as it is - it is about to get even harder when it comes to the House.  The opposition is more intense, and the advocates not as battle tested as Senator Kennedy, Senator Salazar, Senator McCain and the Senate team.  But to the House it looks like it will come - and that is remarkable progress.  Be prepared all for what is going to be a debate of enormous consequence in the new House of Pelosi.

Bill Kristol: is the President still respectable?

In an article in the Daily Standard, William Kristol offered this criticism of President Bush after he declined to pardon Scooter Libby:

So much for loyalty, or decency, or courage. For President Bush, loyalty is apparently a one-way street; decency is something he's for as long as he doesn't have to take any risks in its behalf; and courage--well, that's nowhere to be seen. Many of us used to respect President Bush. Can one respect him still?

Quick '08 Update

- Lots of articles are still being sifted through referencing last night's debate. Here's one article from the New York Times about how the G.O.P. candidates handled the immigration issue.

- Interesting follow: (via TPMCafé) an economic advisor to Mitt Romney's campaign, N. Gregory Mankiw, signed an op-ed in the Dallas Morning News in support of the immigration bill in the Senate. (It is also signed by Jeb Bush who recently coauthored an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal with Ken Mehlman.)

- Barack Obama gave a speech to the Annual Hampton University Ministers' Conference. More from the AP here.

- Fred Thompson's website is up at www.imwithfred.com.

- John Edwards' campaign released a very light video showing Joe Trippi and Jonathan Prince trying to bake a pecan pie, the recipe for which you receive if you contribute to Edwards' campaign before his birthday. Video is below:

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

Are we safer today?

In a story called Is U.S. Safer Since 9/11? Clinton and Rivals Spar, the Times has a good followup to what was an important discussion about our security in the Democrat debate Sunday night.

I have to admit that I am not sympathetic to Hillary's position. With DHS a mess, our military degraded, our standing in the world diminished, the Middle East in much greater turmoil than prior to 9/11, terrorism around the world on the rise, Bin Laden still on the loose, Iran moving towards nuclearization, our great ally Israel weakened, international institutions like the UN and the World Bank under assault, climate change ignored, Russia slipping back into an aggressive autocracy.....are we really safer today? Is America and the world really better off as a result of the Bush years?

This seems like a very good debate to have.

Univision proposes first-ever Spanish-language debates

This sure seems like a good idea.  We hope all the candidates, of both parties, agree. 

From the LA Times this am:

Univision proposes Spanish-language presidential debates: the network, which has more viewers than CNN or Fox News, says a mass audience of Latino voters would be a draw for candidates.

By Peter Wallsten
Times Staff Writer

June 6, 2007

WASHINGTON — Univision, the country's highest-rated Spanish-language television network and a leading draw for young adult viewers, has invited White House hopefuls from both major parties to participate in the first presidential candidate debates to be conducted entirely in Spanish.

The network has proposed two debates, one for each party, to be held on back-to-back Sundays in September — giving the candidates unprecedented exposure to a mass audience of increasingly important Latino voters.

The debates, to be held in immigrant-rich Miami, would probably focus on the battle over legalizing millions of undocumented immigrants.

The Democratic candidates tend to back legalization. But the Univision debate could exacerbate a split over the issue among the GOP contenders, further highlighting a divide that party strategists fear might alienate Latino voters, a fast-growing electorate.

On Monday, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a backer of the legalization measure now before the Senate, used a speech before a mostly Latino audience in Miami to challenge one of his chief rivals, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who has opposed the plan as being soft on illegal immigrants.

Moreover, the Spanish-language aspect of the debate could prove particularly awkward for the Republican field, where all candidates except McCain favor making English the official language of the United States. (On the Democratic side, longshot Mike Gravel, a former senator from Alaska, is the only candidate who supports that proposal.)

It was not clear Tuesday whether the campaigns on either side would accept Univision's proposal. Officials from several campaigns, deluged with debate proposals from interest groups and media, said they would consider the invitation.

Network officials said they thought the size and importance of the audience would make it difficult for candidates to decline.

Univision is the fifth-most viewed network in the country, behind the major broadcast networks but ahead of English-language cable-TV channels such as CNN, Fox News and MSNBC that have broadcast their own debates. It sometimes beats the broadcast networks in the coveted 18 to 34 age group.

"Many of the issues being discussed in this election season are of particular interest to the Hispanic community," Univision Chief Executive Joe Uva wrote in a letter to the candidates that was also signed by University of Miami President Donna Shalala, a former Clinton administration Cabinet official on whose campus the debates would be held. "Consequently, we have seen a sharp increase in the number of citizenship applications and voter registrations which we believe will further accelerate the growth of the Hispanic electorate."

The letter argues that Latino voters could prove decisive in key early primaries — including California's and Florida's — in addition to deciding the general election in states such as New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado.

The precise format has not been decided. But simultaneous translation would be provided to the candidates and the audience. Of the 18 declared candidates on both sides, only two — both Democrats — are known to be fluent in Spanish: New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and Connecticut Sen. Christopher Dodd.

The candidates would take questions for 90 minutes from Univision's evening news anchors, Jorge Ramos and Maria Elena Salinas, who have devoted much of their airtime in recent months to the immigration issue. Their coverage is credited with encouraging thousands of Latinos to attend mass demonstrations protesting a push last year by congressional Republicans to make illegal immigration a felony.

For Univision, the debates would mark a rare foray into presidential politics.

NDN is moving into a new home here in DC

I am excited to share with you that over the next month NDN and our affiliates will be moving in to an exciting new headquarters here in Washington, DC.   It is located in an historic part of town, just across from the Department of Treasury, and down the street from the White House.  But most importantly it has a wonderful event space where we plan on doing the public events, discussions, dinners and gatherings you have come to expect from NDN.

In many ways this new place will be NDN’s first real home, a comfortable place that I think over time will become a true physical hub for our dynamic community, and I hope for the broader progressive movement as well.   We also got a good deal on it, so it isn't going to break the bank.

Our phone, fax, email and web site will remain the same, but please update your records and begin using immediately our new address:


729 15th St, NW - 2nd Floor

Washington, DC 20005

And I look forward to seeing you at the new NDN very soon!

Quick '08 Update

(An emphasis on quick...more to come later)

- Don't forget to watch/record tonight's debate.

- Barack Obama defended his health care plan in a letter to the editor of the Boston Globe and further defined his stance on America's security post-9/11.

- If you missed CNN's discussion on Faith and Politics, check out highlights here.

- The WSJ Blog takes a perspective on one of Al Gore's recent speeches, showing how he is keen to point out how he'd run the show.

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

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.   

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