NDN Blog

More speculation on Bloomberg

The current crowd of those speculating the presidential aspirations of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg grew today, as the Wall Street Journal delves deep and offers scenarios that could help and hurt Bloomberg if he chooses to enter the 2008 race:

Should he run, Mr. Bloomberg's fiscal-conservative, social-moderate credentials could undermine the candidacy of Rudy Giuliani, the current front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination. Both play up moderate stands on abortion, gay rights and gun control. Mr. Bloomberg also could draw votes from a Democrat seen as too left of the mainstream on taxes and budget control, such as former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards. He might leach support from Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, whose appeal relies partly on talk of ending partisan squabbling.

An independent candidacy faces huge roadblocks, though. Each state has its own set of complex rules on who can be on a ballot. Theresa Amato, who managed Ralph Nader's 2000 and 2004 bids, says he eventually got on 34 state ballots in 2004 but had to go to court in a dozen of those. And the two major parties have grown increasingly aggressive about keeping third-party and independent candidates off the ballot.

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

William F. Buckley Jr.: "There are grounds for wondering whether the Republican party will survive"

A pretty extraordinary rebuke of President Bush and the conservative foreign policy failures of the past six years from an enexpected source.  It's a piece well worth reading and a milestone in what we call the Repudiating of the Bush Era

The Waning of the GOP

By William F. Buckley Jr.

The political problem of the Bush administration is grave, possibly beyond the point of rescue. The opinion polls are savagely decisive on the Iraq question. About 60 percent of Americans wish the war ended — wish at least a timetable for orderly withdrawal. What is going on in Congress is in the nature of accompaniment. The vote in Congress is simply another salient in the war against war in Iraq. Republican forces, with a couple of exceptions, held fast against the Democrats’ attempt to force Bush out of Iraq even if it required fiddling with the Constitution. President Bush will of course veto the bill, but its impact is critically important in the consolidation of public opinion. It can now accurately be said that the legislature, which writes the people’s laws, opposes the war.

Meanwhile, George Tenet, former head of the CIA, has just published a book which seems to demonstrate that there was one part ignorance, one part bullheadedness, in the high-level discussions before war became policy. Mr. Tenet at least appears to demonstrate that there was nothing in the nature of a genuine debate on the question. What he succeeded in doing was aborting a speech by Vice President Cheney which alleged a Saddam/al Qaeda relationship which had not in fact been established.

It isn’t that Tenet now doubts the lethality of the terrorists. What he disputed was an organizational connection which argued for war against Iraq as if Iraq were a vassal state of al Qaeda. A measure of George Tenet’s respect for the reach and malevolence of the enemy is his statement that he is puzzled that Al Qaeda has not, since 2001, sent out “suicide bombers to cause chaos in a half dozen American shopping malls on any given day.” By way of prophecy, he writes that there is one thing he feels in his gut, which is that “Al Qaeda is here and waiting.”

But beyond affirming executive supremacy in matters of war, what is George Bush going to do? It is simply untrue that we are making decisive progress in Iraq. The indicators rise and fall from day to day, week to week, month to month. In South Vietnam there was an organized enemy. There is clearly organization in the strikes by the terrorists against our forces and against the civil government in Iraq, but whereas in Vietnam we had Hanoi as the operative headquarters of the enemy, we have no equivalent of that in Iraq, and that is a matter of paralyzing importance. All those bombings, explosions, assassinations: we are driven to believe that they are, so to speak, spontaneous.

When the Romans were challenged by Christianity, Rome fell. The generation of Christians moved by their faith overwhelmed the regimented reserves of the Roman state. It was four years ago that Mr. Cheney first observed that there was a real fear that each fallen terrorist leads to the materialization of another terrorist. What can a “surge,” of the kind we are now relying upon, do to cope with endemic disease? The parallel even comes to mind of the eventual collapse of Prohibition, because there wasn’t any way the government could neutralize the appetite for alcohol, or the resourcefulness of the freeman in acquiring it.

General Petraeus is a wonderfully commanding figure. But if the enemy is in the nature of a disease, he cannot win against it. Students of politics ask then the derivative question: How can the Republican party, headed by a president determined on a war he can’t see an end to, attract the support of a majority of the voters? General Petraeus, in his Pentagon briefing on April 26, reported persuasively that there has been progress, but cautioned, “I want to be very clear that there is vastly more work to be done across the board and in many areas, and again I note that we are really just getting started with the new effort.”

The general makes it a point to steer away from the political implications of the struggle, but this cannot be done in the wider arena. There are grounds for wondering whether the Republican party will survive this dilemma.

Immigration marches going on across the nation

NDN's own Joe Garcia was quoted in an AP article on the planning of upcoming immigration marches. Citing the evolution of the immigration debate and how different cultures are becoming involved, Joe said:

"It used to be that Hispanic immigrants, those who came legally, were more conservative on the issue. But now it's become so wrapped up with issues of racism and identity, even Puerto Ricans and Cubans care about immigration."

For those interested, check out this article for a look at what the City of Los Angeles is doing to prepare for the crowds.

For more information on NDN's efforts on passing comprehensive immigration reform, click here.

Wolfowitz Watch

Wolfowitz defended himself before the World Bank's Board of Directors yesterday:

“The goal of this smear campaign, I believe, is to create a self-fulfilling prophecy that I am an ineffective leader and must step down for that reason alone, even if the ethics charges are unwarranted,” he said. “I, for one, will not give in to such tactics. And I will not resign in the face of a plainly bogus charge of conflict of interest.”

The NYT seems to think that a deal is likely:

Mr. Wolfowitz’s defiant response left unclear what would happen next, but many at the bank saw it as a prelude to his eventual departure if negotiations could lead to the board’s endorsement of his claim that he had acted in good faith, not favoritism, in arranging for a pay increase for Shaha Ali Riza, his companion, in 2005. She was, at the time, being transferred to the State Department, but continued to receive her salary from the bank.

Bush DOJ Appointees: "It wasn't me..."

Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty told Congress that he had little involvement in the politically motivated firings of 8 US Attorney Generals.  In doing so, he joins his boss Alberto Gonzalez, Gonzalez's former chief of staff Kyle Sampson and William Moschella, the principal associate deputy attorney general, who have all employed the "it wasn't me" defense.  Senator Chuch Schumer responded with this:

"If the top folks at DOJ weren't the key decision-makers, it's less likely that lower-down people at DOJ were, and much more likely that people in the White House were making the major decisions,"

Read more here...

Villaraigosa going to Mexico and El Salvador

The LA Times highlights Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's trip to Mexico and El Salvador today. His nine day mission: "to promote trade and coordinate the fight against violent international gangs." Yet he is also prepared to handle questions from the media on immigration. As Villaraigosa said in an interview for the article:

"As much as I want to talk about economic development, trade, investment [and] tourism, there's no question that there's going to be a real strong effort to move it away to immigration," Villaraigosa said in an interview last week. "I've said, 'Hey, I'm prepared for that. I welcome it. I recognize it's an important issue. It is, however, not the only issue.' "

Student Loans - Another Conservative Failure

Amit Paley at the WAPO is reporting that in 2001 the Bush Administration passed on a Clinton-era Department of Education proposal to clean up the crooked student loan industry.  They did of course find time to cut funding for financial aid at a time when less high school students are going to college.  Yet another example of conservative failures in governing.

The Bush administration killed a proposal to clamp down on the student loan industry six years ago following allegations that companies sought to shower universities with financial favors to help generate business, according to documents and interviews with government officials.

The proposed policy, which Education Department officials drafted near the end of the Clinton presidency and circulated at the start of the Bush administration, represented an early, significant but ultimately abortive government response to a problem that this year has grown into a major controversy.

Now, as the $85 billion-a-year student loan industry faces an array of investigations into questionable business practices that some officials believe could have been curtailed by the 2001 proposal, the Education Department has embarked on a new effort to set rules for the industry to prevent conflicts of interest and other abuses. If approved, the rules would be implemented in summer 2008, a few months before Bush leaves the White House.

The abandonment of the 2001 proposal underscores what some consumer advocates and Democratic lawmakers believe is lax federal oversight of the financial aid system by a department they say is too cozy with the industry. More than a dozen senior department officials either previously worked in the student loan business or found high-paying jobs in the sector after they left the agency.

"The Department of Education has been run as a wholly owned subsidiary of the loan industry under this administration," said Barmak Nassirian, a longtime advocate for industry reform at the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers. "They are running the federal loan program for the profit of their friends and not for the benefit of students and taxpayers."

NDN in the News: Peter Leyden in the NYT Sunday Magazine and the San Francisco Chronicle

New Politics Institute Director Peter Leyden was featured in two major articles in the last few days.  The first was a San Francisco Chronicle preview of the role of bloggers at the 2007 California Democratic Party Convetion and the second, Matt Bai's piece in the NYT Sunday Magazine entitled "The Post-Money Era."  Excerpts from the articles and links are below.

Bloggers Descend On Dems' Gathering

(04-28) 04:00 PDT San Diego -- When Democrats gathered at their candidate-rich California state convention five years ago, a lone blogger from Berkeley was the first, and only, one of his kind to apply for media credentials to cover the events.

Today, an army has arrived in the wake of Markos Moulitsas Zúniga, founder of the Daily Kos -- one of the nation's most highly trafficked Web logs, which boasts about 600,000 daily readers.

This year, a record 50 Internet-publication bloggers will join the estimated 400 credentialed "mainstream" media in the press room to track the goings-on of seven Democratic presidential candidates and 2,100 California party delegates this weekend.

And those numbers don't count the estimated dozens of mainstream media journalists who will be blogging for major newspapers or the unknown numbers of delegates who will be producing their own running commentary of the convention.

"What this is doing is blowing apart the old calculus for who gets to come to the party and who doesn't," says Peter Leyden, director of the San Francisco-based New Politics Institute, a think tank that tracks the intersection of the Internet and politics.

With the 2008 presidential election just 556 days away, political parties and candidates understand that bloggers have become a critical part of the commentary on political developments "on a scale that is absolutely astounding," he said.

"Many of them have passionate followers, people who are crazy about politics," Leyden said. "And if you legitimize them, and bring them into inner circles ... they will get a huge new segment of folks energized that aren't necessarily reading newspapers and aren't involved in politics..."

Read the entire article here... 

The Post-Money Era

By Matt Bai 

“...The need for money is probably going to reach some diminishing return, and it’s probably going to be a pretty low ceiling, compared to past campaigns,” predicts Peter Leyden, president of the left-leaning New Politics Institute. In other words, the emerging high-tech marketplace may yet bring us closer to what decades of federal campaign regulations have failed to achieve: a day when candidates can afford to spend less time obsessing over the constant need for cash and more time concerned with the currency of their ideas.

Read the entire article here...

Gary Hart adds his view of Rudy

Over the weekend, former Senator Gary Hart responded to Rudy Giuliani's criticism of Democrats, saying that a Democratic President would mean going on defense in the war, as well as inviting more casualties.

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