NDN Blog

Video from the CAP/SEIU Event on Health Care

CAP and SEIU brought all the major Democratic Presidential candidates together to talk health care last weekend.  The Republicans were invited too, but they took a pass on the forum.  Watching video from the event it is clear that there is a consensus that we can't go on the way we have been and have to come up with a plan to control costs and make sure every American has access to quality health care.

It's so over

From the NY Times:  

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' allies on Capitol Hill grew scarce Tuesday as he left it largely to aides to carry out President Bush's order to straighten out the story behind the firing of eight federal prosecutors.

Senate Republicans exiting their weekly policy lunch no longer bothered to defend Gonzales' response to lawmakers' questions about the firings. At most, they mustered an appeal to withhold judgment until the attorney general testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee April 17.

That was Sen. Arlen Specter's message during the closed-door meeting, according to three senators who were present.

''Senator Specter today said to give (Gonzales) a fair chance,'' said Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., a staunch White House ally who lunched with Gonzales last week. ''I think people are trying to do that. But there are some inconsistent stories (Gonzales) is going to have to explain.''

Among them: Why Gonzales said at a March 13 news conference that he ''never saw documents'' and ''never had a discussion'' about the firings. His schedule for last Nov. 27 showed he participated in an hourlong meeting and approved a detailed plan on the dismissals 10 days before they were carried out.

Gonzales has maintained he was not closely involved in the firings, and did not help select which prosecutors would be told to resign. He added during a trip to the Midwest on Tuesday that he directed DOJ's release of 3,000 documents on Friday relating to the firings, and requested two internal investigations of the matter.

''I look forward to working with Congress. I believe in truth and accountability,'' he said. ''Everything I've done in connection with this matter supports that principle.''

Still, defending Gonzales became more difficult with Monday's refusal by his counsel, Monica Goodling, to testify before the Judiciary Committee with other Justice officials involved in the firings, as the attorney general had promised. She said statements by Democrats indicate they have already concluded wrongdoing on the part of Justice officials, including her.

Specter empathized.

''I can understand the sense of a potential witness not wanting to be ensnared in that kind of a proceeding where conclusions have already been reached,'' Specter, R-Pa., said Tuesday on the Senate floor.

Goodling's announcement, some senior Republicans felt, strengthened the Democrats' charge that the Justice Department had something to hide.

All of which added up to scandal fatigue inside the caucus, the senators said.

Specter's appeal to the caucus received ''a lot of head shaking, a lot of eye-rolling,'' said one senator who attended and spoke on condition of anonymity because the session was private.

Asked Tuesday if Gonzales had lost their confidence, many Senate Republicans demurred. Sen. John McCain's response was typical.

''He has my confidence that I think he ought to make his case,'' said the Arizona Republican, who also is running for president.....

Iranian Weapons in Iraq

Fascinating in-depth article in the NYT today on the alleged flow of Iranian weapons to Shiite militias in Iraq.  The whole article is worth reading for a reminder of how complicated the situation is and how little foresight went into the planning of this war.  Especially worth noting is the final quote of the article, where ISG Co-Chair Lee Hamilton renews the call for engaging Iran:

“The fact that Iran may be supplying lethal equipment is all the more reason to deal with them,” Lee H. Hamilton, a co-chairman of the panel, said in an interview. “We do think it fortifies the case for engaging Iran.”

Yahoo is smart

For those looking to get a glimpse into where technology is headed, this article from the New York Times highlights an exciting new venture Yahoo is heading up (and one that combines areas we're more than familiar with). The company, which has lagged behind Google in internet search and search advertising, is taking the lead on bringing advertising and web search to mobile phones. To learn more, check out its new software entitled oneSEARCH.

Check out our New Politics Institute for more information on both mobile media and search (here and here). Also check out Media 50 Group, a company that helps folks master this new medium and whose co-founder is NPI fellow Tim Chambers.

UPDATE - the CTIA Wireless Conference is kicking off today, where there is a lot of talk about how to best integrate media with cell phone technology.

Amateur Hour at the White House Part II

We've written before about the burgeoning scandal coming out of the White House regarding use of private email accounts by senior White House staff, as a way to hide damning corresspondance.  Now Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), Chair of the Government Oversight and Reform is ordering the White House not to destroy the accounts or their contents because initial investigations "have uncovered evidence that White House staff have used nongovernmental e-mail accounts to conduct official business." 

If members of the Executive Branch are using private email accounts to do official work, it could amount to violation of the Presidential Records Act - 95% of Karl Rove's email traffic is reported to be conducted through non-.gov email accounts owned by the RNC.  And, if they claim that the traffic on those accounts isn't part of their official work, then they will have a hard time arguing for any kind of executive privilege.  Maybe this time Rove et al have been a little too sneaky for their own good.

The moment for pushing is now

That's the message from this editorial in the Washington Post that highlights the details/potential of the Gutierrez-Flake STRIVE Act, which was introduced last week. The editorial notes that the details of the bill will give Conservatives no excuse to claim it as granting amnesty, saying:

Conservatives opposed to citizenship for illegal immigrants are fond of pillorying it as "amnesty." This bill provides nothing of the sort. In addition to requiring lawful reentry to the country, it would entail immigrants paying a $2,000 fine and any back taxes they owe, clearing a security and background check, learning English and civics, compiling a felony-free record, and submitting proof of past employment. Only after six years and after satisfying those requirements could workers apply for permanent residency status, which could lead to citizenship.

For NDN's statement on the Gutierrez-Flake bill, click here. For Speaker Pelosi's, click here.

A Quieter and More Effective Approach on Iran

See, not all foreign policy has to be based on aircraft carriers and ivory tower war gaming at AEI.  Treasury and State are running an effective campaign to get banks to deny credit to the Iranian institutions that fund terrorists.

The financial squeeze has seriously crimped Tehran's ability to finance petroleum industry projects and to pay for imports. It has also limited Iran's use of the international financial system to help fund allies and extremist militias in the Middle East, say U.S. officials and economists who track Iran.

Would he ride the Metro?!

The Washington Post tells us not to rule out the possibility of NYC Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg running for President.

Immigrant Communities Hit Hard by Mortgage Crisis

In the Senate, Chris Dodd is making his displeasure known, on the subject of lax oversight of sub prime mortgages, which offer tantalizingly low initial payments, followed by sudden increases.  These loans, issued willy-nilly during over the past few years, are leading to a spike in delinquency and foreclosures, and nowhere are the effects being felt stronger than in immigrant communities.  Today's WAPO article is a good way to learn more about the expanding and very negative economic phenomenon, but NDN readers will also find the metric they use interesting: calls to a Spanish language radio talk show.

Tysons Corner mortgage broker Jose Luis Semidey, who has a popular Spanish-language real estate talk show on Radio Universal, is being deluged with calls from desperate homeowners who are falling behind on their mortgages. The calls started in late 2005 and have steadily risen; he now receives 40 to 50 calls a day from throughout the area.

"I see more coming," Semidey said.

NDN works with Spanish language radio stations, shows and personalities across the country to help them engage their listeners in the comprehensive immigration reform debate, and other issues that impact their communities.  Click here to learn more about NDN's innovative ad campaigns on Spanish language radio.

Iraq Vote Moves to the Senate and Looms Over 2008

You know 2008 can't be too far away when you see the byline "North Conway, N.H." in the New York Times.  But the paper of record isn't there to talk Presidential politics.  Instead, they're looking at the War in Iraq and what it means for Senators up for reelection in 2008.  Senators like John Sununu are finding even in the safe Republican ground of New Hampshire there are plenty of people with a keen interest in what the Senate is going to do with the Iraq War supplemental funding bill, and the broader issue of the role of American troops in Iraq, four years after Saddam Hussein was overthrown.

On Monday, the Senate resumes its protracted struggle to forge an Iraq strategy. Mr. Sununu and a handful of Republicans — including those facing re-election next year and those who have expressed unhappiness with President Bush’s conduct of the war but are uncomfortable with the idea of setting a date for withdrawal — find themselves searching for balance as they juggle three tasks: responding to the frustrations of their constituents, resisting the demands of antiwar Democrats and not entirely abandoning the White House. 

Read what NDN has been saying about finding a better way forward in the Middle East.

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