NDN Blog

Biden pairs with Gelb on Iraq

Senator Joe Biden says there is a "third way" to solving the (insert noun here) in Iraq. With Leslie Gelb, President Emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations, he has proposed the Biden-Gelb plan.

The Biden-Gelb plan would:

  1. Keep Iraq together by giving its major groups breathing room in their own regions. A central government would be left in charge of common interests like defending the borders and distributing oil revenues.
  2. Secure the support of the Sunnis -- who have no oil -- by guaranteeing them a proportionate share of oil revenue.
  3. Increase, not end, reconstruction assistance but insist that the oil-rich Arab Gulf states fund it and tie it to the creation of a massive jobs program and to the protection of minority rights.
  4. Hold an international conference to enlist the support of Iraq's neighbors and create a Contact Group to enforce regional commitments.
  5. Begin the phased redeployment of U.S. forces this year and withdraw most of them by the end of 2007, with a small follow-on force to keep the neighbors honest and to strike any concentration of terrorists.

One Day In Iraq

Awful news from Iraq today, where three bombs at a Shiite-dominated Baghdad University indicates that sectarian violence continues unabated.  What does all this mean for the Bush-McCain escalation plan:

As one of the most deadly attacks on Shiites since the summer, it suggested that Sunni insurgents remain unfazed, even brash, in the face of the American military’s newest plan to secure the capital...

...In all, at least 108 people were killed in the capital, an Interior Ministry official said, and 25 more were found dead, many showing signs of torture.

American officials have emphasized that such violence justifies the imminent addition of 20,000 troops to make an immediate push to pacify the country.

Prime Minister Nuri Kamal Al-Maliki, by contrast, issued a statement after the bombings blaming supporters of Iraq’s “buried regime” for the violence, stressing again that Sunnis lay at the heart of the country’s problems. He has repeatedly rejected American efforts to crack down on Shiite militias that attack Sunnis, and has demanded control of the effort to bring peace to the country.

His support for the American plan to add troops and stamp out violence from both sects has been tepid at best. On Tuesday, his office released a statement emphasizing that Iraq would continue to build up its armed forces “to prepare for the withdrawal of the multinational forces from the cities or the withdrawal of 50,000 American soldiers from Iraq.”

And support from Sunni allies in the region is equally muted:

“We agree fully with the goals set by the new strategy, which in our view are the goals that — if implemented — would solve the problems that face Iraq,” said Prince Saud al-Faisal, the foreign minister...

...Although Prince Saud’s endorsement of Mr. Bush’s new Iraq plan was lukewarm at best, the prince declined to be drawn into a discussion of potential Saudi actions in the event that Iraq slides into full-blown sectarian civil war.

At home, Senator Hillary Clinton announced her intention to introduce a bill capping US troop levels in Iraq at the 1/1/07 level of 140,000.

And Senators Joe Biden (D-DE), Carl Levin (D-MI), and Chuck Hagel (R-NE) introduced a non-binding resolution today that strongly opposes the Bush-McCain escalation.  It will be important to watch the levels of bipartisan support it receives.  The full text is here, you can read the press release, and I'll post video of the presser as soon as it's up.  In the meantime, enjoy Rep. David Wu's explanation for the White House's foreign policy.

Update 1/18/07 at 10:30am:

Watch Senator Clinton's explanation of her resolution:


Por favor de prestar atención al anuncio que se ha dado: se informa que la Presidenta de la Cámara de Representantes, Nancy Pelosi, ha escogido al Congresista Xavier Becerra para emitar la respuesta oficial en español de los demócratas al Discurso del Presidente Bush sobre el Estado de la Unión.


WASHINGTON, D.C. – La Presidenta de la Cámara de Representantes Nancy Pelosi y el Líder de la Mayoría del Senado Harry Reid anunciaron hoy que el Congresista Xavier Becerra de California, Asistente de la Presidenta de la Cámara, y el único miembro del Congreso de California del Sur que forma parte del poderoso Comité de Medios y Arbitrios emitirá la respuesta oficial en español de los demócratas al Discurso del Presidente Bush sobre el Estado de la Unión el próximo martes, 23 de enero, 2007.

“Estamos orgullosos de que el Congresista Xavier Becerra emita la respuesta en español este año,” dijeron la Presidenta de la Cámara Pelosi y el Líder de la Mayoría del Senado Reid. “Su intelecto profundo y su experiencia substantiva de la política pública le han hecho un líder nacional en cuanto a varios temas de importancia para los latinos y todos los estadounidenses. Como ex Presidente del Caucus Hispano Congresional y como integrante nuevo del Liderazgo Demócrata, como Asistente de la Presidenta de la Cámara, el Congresista Becerra fortalece las voces de los latinos y del Partido Demócrata por todo el país.”

“Es un día nuevo y una dirección nueva,” dijo el Rep. Becerra. “Me siento honrado que la Presidenta Pelosi y el Líder del Senado Reid me han dado la oportunidad de compartir con el pueblo estadounidense los pensamientos de los demócratas sobre el estado de la unión y las varias ideas y propuestas de política pública para fortalecer a nuestro país.”

Se hará pública una trascripción, traducción a inglés, y una versión podcast MP3 en el sitio Web http://Becerra.House.Gov siguiendo la respuesta del Rep. Becerra la noche de martes.

# # #   BECERRA.HOUSE.GOV   # # #

MoveOn addresses the McCain Doctrine

MoveOn.org is running the ad below on John McCain's views on troop escalation. The voice on the ad says: "John McCain has done more than just embrace George Bush's failed policy in Iraq. It's actually his idea to escalate the war there. It's John McCain's idea to send tens of thousands of more soldiers to Iraq and to keep them there with no timeline for bringing them home. The McCain plan to escalate. Going from bad. To Worse."

(Via Greg from TPMCafe)

A New Global Moveon

As I have said many times before at the New Politics Institute website, the most fundamental shift going on in our world today is the shift to the global. It plays out in the economy through globalization. In security and defense, via the new enemy of global terrorists. And in the mounting pressure of climate change, a global problem if ever there was one.

And so it should come as no surprise that politics is morphing to these new global realities – in fits and starts, to be sure, but inexorably. It will be one of the defining stories of the next decade.

And so here’s another sign of the shift: the beginning of a global Moveon.org, in the form of Avaaz.org. The analogy to Moveon is not just in passing. One of the half-dozen founders is Eli Pariser, the executive director of Moveon.

They have just launched their first Moveon-like campaign, but this time in explicitly connecting up citizens from around the world.  Their objective this time is the same: shifting U.S. policy towards the Iraq war. So global citizens are using new tools of the internet to do their part to move the ball of American politics. This is a development worth watching.

Instead of me describing what they are, check out some of their mission statement:

As major new challenges like climate change and escalating religious conflict threaten our common future, people from around the world are coming together to take global politics into their own hands. Avaaz.org (Our name means "Voice" or "Song" in several languages including Hindi, Urdu and Farsi) is a community of global citizens who take action on the major issues facing the world today. Our aim is to ensure that the views and values of the world’s people -- and not just political elites and unaccountable corporations -- shape global decisions. Avaaz.org members are taking action for a more just and peaceful world and a vision of globalization with a human face.

In our inter-connected world, the actions of political leaders and corporations are having a profound impact on all of us. To match the power and reach of global leaders and borderless corporations, Avaaz.org members are building a powerful movement of citizens without borders. As citizens without borders, we might not have the resources of governments, corporations or the media, but working together we can bring together millions of people around the world and make global public opinion really count on major global issues like poverty, climate change, human rights and global security.

Using the latest technology, Avaaz.org empowers ordinary people from every corner of the globe to directly contact key global decision-makers, corporations and the media. By signing up to receive updates from Avaaz.org, members receive emails and text messages alerting them to new campaigns and opportunities to act online and offline, and to make a real difference on pressing global issues.

If interested, go to the site. One of the most striking things when you arrive is to see the language options. English is just one option of many….

Peter Leyden

Dan Balz on Obama and Hillary

You may think you've read it already when it comes to analysis of Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, but Dan Balz has an excellent take in today's WAPO:

Democrats moved a step closer yesterday to what shapes up as one of the most historic and compelling contests ever for their party's presidential nomination, a study in contrasting styles and candidacies in which race and gender play central roles in the competition.

At center stage stand Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, who set up his presidential exploratory committee yesterday, and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, who is set to make clear her intentions soon. Never has a party begun a nomination contest with its two most celebrated candidates a woman and an African American.

Senator Jim Webb to Give Democratic Response to the State of the Union

Senator Jim Webb has been tapped to give the Democrats' response to President Bush's State of the Union next week.  It's short notice, but this is a man who wrote his own op-ed for the Wall Street Journal without running it by his staff, so his speech may end up being must-see-tv, with more candor than usual.  Senator Webb is a marine combat veteran, whose son is currently serving in Iraq, and his outspoken oppostion to the President's Iraq policy will provide an important voice, as we debate America's involvement going forward

Piolin branches out

Tune in your radios, New York. According to an article in The New York Times, Eddie "Piolín" Sotelo, one of the LA deejays who helped bring hundreds of thousands of protestors to pro-immigrant rallies in LA and across the nation, is coming to a radio near you.

Below: a picture of Simon and Joe with Piolín (and his "Democratas Unidos" jersey) in LA.

Stem Cell Innovation in NY

In NDN's Agenda for Hope and Progress, we urge our leaders to "invest in and encourage the extraordinary promise of the knowledge revolution in science and medical care."

Now, a good friend, Gov. Eliot Spitzer is stepping up and fighting NY's legendary legislative inertia in the effort to make NY a leader in the important field of stem cell research.  Read more, and note the emphasis on a post-ideological, new politics that meets the governing challenges of our time. 

In his first address to the Legislature, Gov. Eliot Spitzer called this month for passage of a $2 billion 10-year bond initiative for research and development, at least half of which would be set aside to pay for stem cell research. And the project is being tailored as an economic development effort in the hopes of attracting support from upstate Republican lawmakers.

Politically Motivated Firings at the Justice Department?

At least seven United States attorneys are being fired for no apparent reason, and Senator Diane Feinstein (see video below) is not happy about it.  Among those being dismissed is Carol Lam, the top prosecuter in the Duke Cunningham case.  Conservative Congressman Darrell Issa said that her work on the bribery case against Republican Cunningham was "a credit to her leadership and her office."  So why are she and six other qualified prosecutors being fired?  The NYT points to the answer:

Ms. Feinstein said the departmentmight be removing the prosecutors to take advantage of a little-noticed provision in the 2006 reauthorization of the USA Patriot Act that expanded its authority to make indefinite interim appointments.

Previously, a federal judge would appoint an interim United States attorney to serve until the Senate confirmed the president’s nominee. Now the attorney general can nominate someone to serve without confirmation for the remainder of Mr. Bush’s term. Ms. Feinstein, Mr. Pryor and Mr. Leahy have introduced legislation to restore the role of naming interim prosecutors to the judiciary.

Update 1/17/06 at 5:55pm:

Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) has admitted that he inserted the provision that makes these unconfirmed appointments possible - at the last second, when members of Congress wouldn't have a chance to review it - into the Patriot Act.  No explanation at to why he did so. 

Also, Josh Marshall raises the excellent point that if these firings go through, there will be six new prosecutors with supena power, hand-picked by the Bush Administration.  Just when you thought there couldn't be any new abuses of executive authority...

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