On his radio talk show last Friday, dittohead in chief Rush Limbaugh was working himself into quite a lather. The subject? Immigration reform, specifically the controversial immigration bill now before the Senate -- or, as Limbaugh dubbed it, the Comprehensive Destroy the Republican Party Act. Though Limbaugh pummeled his usual targets on the left, complaining that the current immigration reform proposal was yet another Ted Kennedy-led scheme to destroy America, Limbaugh was also unsparing toward national Republicans:
At the end of the day here, what we're talking about is the marginalization, if not the destruction, of the Republican Party. Look, it's time to be blunt here. I said I'm going to stop carrying the water last November, and I'm not carrying the water. The current crop of Republican leaders has not only lost the Congress, the current crop of Republican leaders is on the way to destroying the base by signing on to this kind of legislation.
Simon gets to the heart of the issue in the piece, saying:
"The Republican strategy on immigration has been one of the great failures of modern politics," says Simon Rosenberg, president of the New Democrat Network, which has organized a systematic outreach campaign to Hispanic voters. "What's going on in the Republican Party is a debate between the strategists who want to win and a part of their base that is extremely xenophobic."
"Tom Collamore, a former vice president of public affairs at Altria, has been leading the behind-the scenes organization efforts for a Thompson presidential candidacy and will be intimately involved when (not if) the former senator decides to announce a bid."
Tommy Thompson broke with President Bush, advocating for an expansion in the State Children's Health Insurance Program. (For unrelated, yet very honest, campaign analysis from Thompson himself click here.)
Senator Chris Dodd is touting the support he's been receiving for his energy policy, particularly from the past two Democratic Presidential nominees: John Kerry and Al Gore. Check out video of Senator Dodd discussing his energy policy is below:
For more information on NDN's coverage of the 2008 Presidential election, click here.
Next week's US-China trade summit may be more acromonyous than Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson had hoped for, according to the WAPO:
On the eve of high-level economic talks in Washington next week, Chinese leaders are increasingly bitter about what they see as bullying behavior by the United States on trade issues, potentially complicating efforts to tackle disputes on such matters as technology exports and intellectual property.
In the span of three months this year, under the pressure of domestic politics, the United States moved aggressively against China for trade violations, filing two lawsuits and imposing steep tariffs on imports. The actions have so incensed China that Vice Premier Wu Yi, the leader of its delegation to next week's talks, apparently considered boycotting them.
On the surface, the Chinese are likely to play the role of grateful guests. Friday, in a slight concession to American arguments, they loosened controls on the value of their currency, the yuan. The Chinese are expected to bring with them $4.3 billion in high-technology contracts for American products.
But Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr., Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and the heads of nine Cabinet-level agencies are sure to encounter a more combative China when they sit down at the table this time. The Chinese are so mad there had been talk Wu might stay home to show "dissatisfaction and anger," said Xu Mingqi, an international economics professor at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, a government-affiliated think tank.
The deal announced last Thursday is a disappointment to the business community, one of the key groups involved in the push for immigration reform. Now the question is will the bill be changed enough during debate in Congress to bring business back on board. The NYT has the details:
“A merit-based system for allocating green cards may sound good for business,” said Mr. Hoffman, who is co-chairman of Compete America, a coalition of high-tech companies. “But after reviewing the proposal, we have concluded that it is the wrong approach and will not solve the talent crisis facing many U.S. businesses. In fact, in some ways, it could leave American employers in a worse position.
“Under the current system,” Mr. Hoffman said, “you need an employer to sponsor you for a green card. Under the point system, you would not need an employer as a sponsor. An individual would get points for special skills, but those skills may not match the demand. You can’t hire a chemical engineer to do the work of a software engineer.”
David Isaacs, director of federal affairs at the Hewlett-Packard Company, said in a letter to the Senate that “a ‘merit-based system’ would take the hiring decision out of our hands and place it squarely in the hands of the federal government.”
Employers of lower-skilled workers voiced another concern.
“The point system would be skewed in favor of more highly skilled and educated workers,” said Laura Foote Reiff, co-chairwoman of the Essential Worker Immigration Coalition, whose members employ millions of workers in hotels, restaurants, nursing homes, hospitals and the construction industry.
Under the shade of a mesquite tree here one morning this week, waiting for work that did not come, Elías Ramírez weighed the hurdles of what could be the biggest overhaul in immigration law in two decades.
To become full legal residents, under a compromise Senate leaders announced Thursday, Mr. Ramírez and other illegal immigrants would have to pay a total of $5,000 in fines, more than 14 times the typical weekly earnings on the streets here, return to their home countries at least once, and wait as long as eight years. During the wait, they would have limited possibilities to bring other family members.
“Well, it sounds difficult, but not impossible,” said Mr. Ramírez, 24, a native of Chiapas, Mexico, who has been here a year. “I would like to be here legally in the future, so these things are what I might have to do.”
Another man among the group gathered outside a church here that serves as a hiring site for day laborers overheard Mr. Ramírez and approached with disdain.
“It’s almost impossible to bring your family,” he said, rattling off information he had gleaned from a Spanish-language newspaper. “You have to go back first, and what are you going to do in Mexico while you are there and there is no work? I’ve been here 20 years and I still work and support my family, so why would I do any of these things?”
Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and Bush are to meet Sunday and Monday at the president's ranch in hopes of solidifying NATO's efforts in Afghanistan. Some experts worry that the international effort is fraying as the violence in Afghanistan has intensified in the past year, exposing fissures between alliance members.
The 26 NATO member nations have assumed vastly different levels of risk in the Afghanistan mission. Countries including Germany, Italy and Spain have largely had their troops deployed in nonviolent areas of Afghanistan, leaving the volatile south to allies including Americans, Canadians, British and the Dutch.
"This mission, which was supposed to be where the alliance regained its solidarity, is not turning out that way," said Thomas Donnelly, a defense analyst at the American Enterprise Institute.
As the Taliban has resurfaced as a major force in southern Afghanistan over the past year, NATO forces have been increasingly targeted in suicide attacks and other violence. The attacks have contributed to a sharp escalation in violence as well as erosion in efforts to stabilize the country, as extremists also have targeted aid and reconstruction workers.
To compound problems, in recent weeks dozens of civilians have been killed as NATO forces or the separate U.S.-led task force battling the Taliban have engaged extremists, triggering protests by Afghans and threats by Parliament members to expel foreign troops.
Today in Los Angeles, Governor Bill Richardson officially began seeking the 2008 Democratic Presidential nomination, ending the exploratory phase of his campaign. From the Governor's press release:
The United States faces huge challenges, but also huge opportunities. I am running for President because these times call for a leader with a proven track record, and a demonstrated ability to bring people together to tackle our problems at home and abroad.
I am that person, not because I say so, but because of what I have done, and what I can do for the American people. The challenge of the campaign I am launching today is to get that message heard.
Running for this office is the ultimate job interview. It's not just about the positions you've held but the job you've done and your ability to lead on day one at a very critical time in our nation's history.
This Presidential election is unlike any other we've ever seen. From day one, we have to repair the damage done here at home and to our reputation abroad. And that all starts with restoring diplomacy as the primary instrument of our foreign policy ... and basic fairness as the primary means for problem solving in Washington.
There are a lot of candidates in this race with good ideas. But coming up with a good idea is only half the job. The other half is bringing people together to get it done. I'm proud of my record of getting things done. And I'll put that record up against anyone's.
For more information on NDN's coverage of the 2008 Presidential election, click here.
Peter Leyden, director of the New Politics Institute, a San Francisco-based think tank that in recent months has been advising Democratic members of Congress and their staffs on how to take full advantage of the Web, argues that the culture of Democrats is a much better fit in the Internet world.
"What was once seen as a liability for Democrats and progressives in the past -- they couldn't get 20 people to agree to the same thing, they could never finish anything, they couldn't stay on message -- is now an asset," Leyden said. "All this talking and discussing and fighting energizes everyone, involves everyone, and gets people totally into it."
H/T to Paul Bedard of the US News & World Report who shares that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is fed up with the Bush Administration's recess appointments of controversial figures, as a way of avoiding Senate confirmation and is going to do something about it. He plans to hold pro forma sessions in the August recess (staffed by a local Senator) in which unconfirmed appointees like John Bolton or the more recent Swift Boat ad-funder turned next Ambassador to Belgium, Sam Fox, would be called to the Senate for a later hearing date.
The Post has an encouraging story this morning that the White House and other Republicans are giving the thoughtful recommendations of the Iraq Study Group Report a 2nd look.
While this story is encouraging, it is really hard to fathom how repeatedly stupid the Administration has been on Iraq for almost 5 years now. Almost nothing they've done has been right, thought through, or in our national interest. Their outright rejection of the simple and reasonable recommendations of this report - something we wrote about a great deal here - was another in an historic set of low moments for the American government.
If you haven't read the Report, you can follow the links in the story to find a link to it. It is very much worth reading.