NDN Blog

A great NPI event today

We had a great NPI event in DC today on web video.  We will have our own video up soon, and photos, but if you are really dying to see it it is playing a lot on C-Span, and you can watch it on the web on the C-Span website right now.   Congrats to Pete Leyden and the team for putting on one of our better events.   For more on NPI and its thinking about web video visit www.newpolitics.net.

Barack Obama loses friends

In an effort to migrate to an official MySpace page, Barack Obama lost about 80-90% (according to techPresident) of his friends that were on his unofficial page. More on that here and here. To read what happened as told by the creator of the unofficial page, Joe Anthony, click here. I'm interested to see how this plays out, and to see what you think, as Obama seems to have lost over 100,000 friends.

UNRELATED UPDATE: (via Tim Chambers) Endorse Barack, a new site that is a " central point for petitions where grassroots citizens call for our elected officials to endorse Barack Obama for President" is now up.

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

Help us update the NDN Agenda: Modernize Our Health Care System

NDN needs your help to update our agenda.  After you read the section below, sign-up for an account, if you haven't already, and share your ideas with us in the comments section.

From NDN's Agenda for Hope and Progress...

Modernize Our Health Care System: Increase access to quality and affordable healthcare; address the rapid rise of healthcare costs; ensure the solvency and effectiveness of Medicare and Medicaid; and invest in and encourage the extraordinary promise of the knowledge revolution in science and medical care.

Read and comment on the entire agenda

War Supplemental Vetoed

President Bush vetoed the $124 billion Iraq Responsability Act as expected last night and immediately gave a nationally televised 6 minute speech in which he lashed out at Democrats in Congress for sending him a bill that he said "substitutes the opinions of politicians for the judgments of our military commanders."  He also called it a "prescription of for chaos."  Apparently the editor who checks to make sure these statements couldn't apply to President's own leadership had the day off yesterday. 

Senator Jim Webb seems to have the right attitude going forward, saying"We won this war four years ago. The question is when we end the occupation" on the floor of the Senate yesterday.

And the WAPO takes a look at what the Democratic Presidential candidates are saying about the Iraq War, the veto and how to proceed.

A defining moment for the Bush Presidency

Now that the President has vetoed Congress's alternative strategy for Iraq, we have come to a defining moment in his Presidency, for the nation, and the two parties.  At the core of this moment is the uncomfortable recognition that despite his lofty rhetoric about the intent of his foreign policy, Bush's foreign policy has failed at just about everything it has set out to do. 

The list of our failures are long.  Our dramatic intervention in Iraq has been costly and has been bungled beyond imagination, leaving the Middle East hurtling much more towards chaos and sustained regional conflict than democratization.  Al Qaeda has regrouped, has gained a regional legitimacy that it lacked prior to 9/11, and their allies, the Taliban, are resurgent in Afghanistan.  Terrorist attacks around the world have increased.  More states have acquired nuclear weapons, and despite recent encouraging signs in North Korea, the Administration's efforts to halt nuclear proliferation have been very disapointing, and thus dangerous.  The 9/11 Commission gave the Administration across the board failing grades, and as we saw with Katrina, our homeland is no safer today despite billions spent and unending photo ops and press conferences.  We've failed to reform our immigration system, worsening our already frayed relations with our Latin neighbors.  We've ignored the challenge of global climate change.  The tragedy of Darfur has been ignored.  International institutions, critical to keeping the nations of the world working together on our common challenges, have been weakened.  Our military has been ground down, anti-Americanism is on the rise just about everywhere, historic alliances strained, and our standing in the world dramatically diminished.  We are simply less able today to act in our national interest.

And of course, as we all know now, that the Administration ignored significant and repeated warnings about potential terrorist attacks prior to 9/11, including the famous August 2001 memo that warned that Bin Laden was poised to strike targets in the US.  

Less obvious but I think equally troubling has been the Administration's lack of interest in global economics, and lack of advocacy for trade liberalization, one of the key pillars of our foreign policy success in the 20th century.  The Doha trade round has faltered, and here at home the Administration has over seen a dramatic decline in public support for liberalization, without offering any plan on how to help Americans better succeed in this era of dramatic economic change.   For a Republican President, the lack of leadership in this whole area has been staggering, and has done much to harm our long-term national interests.

Which brings us to today.  My hope is that as a proud and patriotic American the President will begin to acknowledge his mistakes, and seek to work with other responsible leaders to put America back on track.   We've come to a place now in Iraq where the President is no longer acting in our national interest, but in his own political interest.  Given the overwhelming evidence of system failure in all areas of his foreign policy, and the weakened state he has left the country he loves, he needs to find a new and better path.  Our Congressional leaders have acted responsibly by offering a thoughtful and constructive alternative to the President's plan.  They are acting in the nation's interest.  They are, in essence, asking a failed President to sit down and work out a better path, one much more in our national interest. 

I hope the President sees the next few weeks as an opportunity to finish his term by constructively cleaning up the mess he and his team have left us.  It would be the highest act of patriotism, leadership and courage expressed by this President in his entire term in office, and the kind of leadership our nation so desperately needs today.

I also hope that the Democrats use this time to not just work to "end the war," as admirable and important as that is, but to lay out a vision for the world in the post-Bush era.   Bush's failure has not been just Iraq, but a flawed foreign policy that has left America weaker.  The ultimate goal here should be to fashion a new foreign policy for America, starting with a new and better path for our policy in the Middle East.

NDN Statement on Immigration Marches

Today, Americans all across the country are marching in support of a lasting and functional immigration policy - one that ensures a strong, safe, and secure border. NDN supports these marches, as they represent the need for something we have been strong advocates of for over three and a half years: Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

These marches are also a testament to the failure of the Bush Administration's to enact the comprehensive, meaningful reform America needs. As Director of NDN's Hispanic Strategy Center, I will be speaking and participating in a large march in South Florida this afternoon.

What's happening in Iraq 2 hours before the veto...

President Bush will go on network television tonight to veto supplemental funding for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Iraq Responsability Act, even as Republicans in Congress are warming to benchmarks.  Here's is what Reid and Pelosi are saying to the President:

"The agreement reached between the House and the Senate rejects the President's failed policies in Iraq and his open-ended commitment to keep American troops there indefinitely and forges a new direction for a responsible end to the war. 

"If the President follows through on his veto threat, he will be the one who has failed to provide our troops and our veterans with the resources they need and it will be the President who has rejected the benchmarks he announced in January to measure success in Iraq.  The bill ensures our troops are combat-ready before they are deployed to Iraq, provides our troops the resources and health care they deserve in Iraq and here at home, and responsibly winds down this war.

"Iraqis must take the tough and necessary steps to secure their nation and to forge political reconciliation.  Secretary of Defense Robert Gates understands the value of timelines in motivating the Iraqi Government to accomplish these goals.  The President should carefully consider the views of his Secretary of Defense in making a judgment on this legislation.

"An overwhelming majority of Americans, bipartisan majorities in both houses of Congress, military experts and the Iraq Study Group believe that a responsible end to the war best advances our national security needs.  It is now up to the President to make a decision: continue to stay his failed course or join us to give our troops a strategy for success."

As the President prepares to veto a bill supported by a majority of Americans, his National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley is searching for a War Czar to oversee the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and is getting some criticism for failing to do the job himself:

It is the kind of task — a little bit of internal diplomacy and a lot of head-knocking, fortified by direct access to the president — that would ordinarily fall to Mr. Hadley himself. After all, he oversaw the review that produced Mr. Bush’s troop buildup in Iraq. But his responsibilities encompass issues around the globe, and he has concluded that he needs someone “up close to the president” to work “full time, 24/7” to put the policy into effect. He hopes to fill the job soon...

“Steve Hadley is an intelligent, capable guy, but I don’t think this reflects very well on him,” said David J. Rothkopf, author of “Running the World,” a book about the National Security Council. “I wouldn’t even call it a Hail Mary pass. It’s kind of a desperation move.”

That is one reason the war czar proposal has left some in Washington scratching their heads. At a recent press conference, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates described it this way: “This is what Steve Hadley would do if Steve Hadley had the time.”

But Mr. Daalder, who is now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, was mystified. “If Hadley doesn’t have time for this,” he asked, “what does he have time for? Our policy toward Nicaragua?”

Maybe that War Czar can do a better job of administering reconstruction in Iraq:

In a troubling sign for the American-financed rebuilding program in Iraq, inspectors for a federal oversight agency have found that in a sampling of eight projects that the United States had declared successes, seven were no longer operating as designed because of plumbing and electrical failures, lack of proper maintenance, apparent looting and expensive equipment that lay idle.

The United States has previously admitted, sometimes under pressure from federal inspectors, that some of its reconstruction projects have been abandoned, delayed or poorly constructed. But this is the first time inspectors have found that projects officially declared a success — in some cases, as little as six months before the latest inspections — were no longer working properly.

And while there is good news out of Anbar, with more Sunni's cooperating with US forces, there is equally bad news about the Maliki government's efforts to protect Shiite militias and force out high-ranking Sunni security officials:

A department of the Iraqi prime minister's office is playing a leading role in the arrest and removal of senior Iraqi army and national police officers, some of whom had apparently worked too aggressively to combat violent Shiite militias, according to U.S. military officials in Baghdad.

Since March 1, at least 16 army and national police commanders have been fired, detained or pressured to resign; at least nine of them are Sunnis, according to U.S. military documents shown to The Washington Post.

Although some of the officers appear to have been fired for legitimate reasons, such as poor performance or corruption, several were considered to be among the better Iraqi officers in the field. The dismissals have angered U.S. and Iraqi leaders who say the Shiite-led government is sabotaging the military to achieve sectarian goals.

And the human cost of the war remains unacceptably high.  April was the most lethal month of the war for US forces and acts of terrorism in Iraq were up 91% from 2005 to 2006

And in the department of Orwellian holiday's, Happy Loyalty Day everybody.  I guess the President would rather we focus on that than the 4 year anniversary of the Mission Accomplished speech.

New NDN Paper: A Laptop in Every Backpack

Today, the NDN Globalization Initiative is releasing the first paper in A Series of Modest Proposals to Build 21st Century Skills offering innovative ideas on the steps that can be taken to help our children and workers right now, today.  This first paper A Laptop in Every Backpack suggests that:

Achieving the American Dream in this century increasingly requires fluency in the ways of this network and its tools – how to acquire information and do research, how to construct reports and present ideas using these new tools, how to type and even edit video.  We believe we need a profound and urgent national commitment to give this powerful new 21st knowledge, essential for success in this century, to all American school children.

Feel free to comment on the paper or pitch us on some additional ideas here on our blog.

Vanity Fair uses past to shine light on "Full Rudy"

Not many words can describe the Vanity Fair article on Rudy Giuliani, so I'll just paste an interesting paragraph from it and wish Michael Wolff well:

It's a Catch-22 kind of nuttiness. What with all his personal issues—the children; the women; the former wives; Kerik and the Mob; his history of interminable, bitter, asinine hissy fits; the look in his eye; and, now, Judi!, his current, prospective, not-ready-for-prime-time First Lady—he'd have to be nuts to think he could successfully run for president. But nutty people don't run for president—certainly they don't get far if they do.

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

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