NDN Blog

Bayh, Baucus, and the $1000bn trade debate

Mark Warner's decision to take his hat out of the Presidential ring last week moved the spotlight onto a number of other politicians, none more so than Indiana Senator Evan Bayh. Not good news for Mr Bayh, then, to be the subject of a blistering op-ed this morning by Sebastian Mallaby in the Post. Mallaby accuses Bayh of weak support for free trade, picking on his decision to supoort maintenance of a recent steel tarrif. Mallaby's criticism - of commerce department regulations, even more than the Senator - is withering. Nonetheless, we shouldn't forget that Bayh has a solid record in support of free trade, and one with which NDN has differed only rarely.

Elsewhere, the FT this morning has a piece by Alan Beattie profiling another Senator - this time Max Baucus of Montana, discussing expansion of Trade Adjustment Assistance. Showing signs of sanity so frequently lacking from debates on trade this election year, Baucus argues:

"We are trying to figure out a way for more Americans to buy into trade, that trade is good for America and good for Joe Six-pack," he says. American workers "need to think that their government and their country is thinking of them too; that it is not just companies that benefit from trade".

To this end, Mr Baucus suggests expanding Trade Adjustment Assistance.....Such programmes would not come cheap: an analysis published by the Institute for International Economics, a Washington think-tank, last year suggested that it would cost $12bn to extend the benefits of TAA to all "displaced" workers who lost their jobs..... Still, given that the cumulative effect of all trade liberalisation since 1945 is estimated at $1,000bn, $12bn a year might be a relatively small price to inoculate the American workforce against infectious protectionism.

TAA, as the piece makes clear, comes with significant short-comings. Nonetheless its reassuring to see ideas being discussed sensibly that can help re-build support for trade, as even the waspish Mallaby would agree.

Iraq slips further and further into chaos

Iraq is slipping away.  News accounts in recent weeks detail a dramatic escalation of random violence, the central authority losing its grip and an overall decline in civil society.  America faces very tough choices now, but "stay the course" certainly is not one of them.  We need a strong and resolute diplomatic initiative that works to restore order and civil society to Iraq.

What is happening in Iraq is no longer a "war."  It is a failed occupation of a nation by a foreign power, and civil society itself is failing there.  What is needed now is a significant and sustained diplomatic and political effort led by Bush himself.  But of course that would require him and his team to admit what is happening there isn't working. 

In the short term the disintegration of Iraq is a much more urgent matter than North Korea exploding a nuclear bomb.  But where is Condi, already so compromised by the recent relevations of the July 10th, 2001 meeting, headed this week? Asia. Why? To do anything they can to change the subject from the worsening situation in Iraq.   

The front page Post story about Iraq should be read in its entirety to get a sense of how bad things are getting there:

BAGHDAD, Oct. 15 -- Militias allied with Iraq's Shiite-led government roamed roads north of Baghdad, seeking out and attacking Sunni Arab targets Sunday, police and hospital officials said. The violence raised to at least 80 the number of people killed in retaliatory strikes between a Shiite city and a Sunni town separated only by the Tigris River.

The wave of killings around the Shiite city of Balad was the bloodiest in a surge of violence that has claimed at least 110 lives in Iraq since Saturday. The victims included 12 people who were killed in coordinated suicide bombings in the strategic northern oil city of Kirkuk.

"This has pushed us to the point that we must stop this sectarian government," Ali Hussein al-Jubouri, a Sunni farmer in Duluiyah, said as he searched for the body of a nephew reportedly killed in the violence around Balad.

The slaughter came as Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Sunday renewed pledges by the Iraqi government to break up the militias, and as al-Qaeda in Iraq and other Sunni Arab insurgent groups declared a new Islamic republic in the western and central parts of the country.

The violence around Balad, a Shiite enclave in a largely Sunni region, began Friday with the kidnapping and beheading of 17 Shiite farmworkers from Duluiyah, a predominantly Sunni town. Taysser Musawi, a Shiite cleric in Balad, said Shiite leaders in the town appealed to a Baghdad office of Moqtada al-Sadr, an influential Shiite cleric, to send militiamen to defend local Shiites and to take revenge. Sadr's political party is a member of a Shiite religious alliance that governs Iraq.

Shiite fighters responded in force, local police said. Witnesses said Shiite fighters began hunting down Sunnis, allegedly setting up checkpoints in the area to stop travelers and demand whether they were Shiite or Sunni.

By Sunday afternoon, 80 bodies were stacked in the morgue of the Balad hospital, the only sizable medical center in the region, physician Kamal al-Haidari said by telephone. Most of the victims had been shot in the head, he said. Other hospital officials said some of the bodies had holes from electric drills and showed other signs of torture. The majority of the victims were believed to be from Duluiyah.

The hospital received calls from residents who said more bodies were lying in the streets, but workers were unable to pick them up, Haidari said. Witnesses arriving at the hospital also reported seeing bodies in the roads, he said....."

Did the neocons dupe the 9/11 Commission?

A friend sent me a link to a TPM Muckraker piece from early October that provides further evidence the 9/11 Commission was duped.  It points out that this now infamous July, 2001 meeting between Tenet and Rice recently reported by Bob Woodword was first reported in Time Magazine in August of 2002. 

Friends, did they not have Lexus-Nexus at the 9/11 Commission?

We've written about Sec. Rice and this meeting here and here.  The bottom line is that Senate and House Intelligence Committees need to convene as soon as possible, and certainly no later than during the November Congressional Session, and bring Phillip Zelikow, Sec. Rice and Tenet in and ask them under oath what happened here.  Was there an organized effort to erase this meeting from the history books? And who participated? Certainly Zelikow should be first, as he was the Executive Director of the Commission, was present at Tenet's testimony to the Commission (where among other things he shared the presentation he did for Rice at the July 10th mtg), and now works for Rice. 

And Rice needs to explain her repeated statements that the government would have taken action if they knew that Al Qaeda might strike in the US.  But we now know that the she did know.  We know that they knew in early 2001 that the Cole had been struck by Al Qaeda; that their counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke was sounding the alarm; that she and the President were briefed in the summer that Al Qaeda was ready to strike in the US; and that despite all this they did nothing.  Why? Why did this Administration do nothing to stop Al Qaeda despite these extraordinary warnings?

Remember the US had already struck Al Qaeda in Afghanistan n 1998.  We knew where they lived.  Why did Bush and Rice do nothing?

And why should Rice keep her job if she has been repeatedly lying to the American people about a national security matter of this magntitude?

It is time for Rice to come clean

The Governing Party had a terrible, terrible week. 

Polls showed a dramatic decline in their standing across the whole nation.  The many GOP scandals continued, with a major White House resignation, a Congressional guilty plea, new federal investigations opened into two more Members of Congress, and of course the Foley affair just kept going.  North Korea exploded a nuclear bomb and our initial sanctions proposal was soundly rejected by the Russians and Chinese.  With the violence in Iraq spinning to yet another awful level, we may have now come to the point of no return there. 

Also brewing is a situation a little more complicated, but one that has enormous implications for Bush and his team.  The publication of the Woodward book has brought to light a previously unknown CIA briefing of then National Security Advisor Rice on July 10th, 2001.  At this briefing the CIA Director explicitly warned Rice that Al Qaeda was preparing to attack.  Somehow, this very serious meeting was left out of the 9/11 Commission Report, and has never been mentioned by the Administration.  (See more about this story in a previous post.)

Why does this matter? Because the story of the Administration and 9/11 has changed.  We now know that they failed to respond to the USS Cole bombing; failed to heed repeated warnings from Dick Clarke; failed to heed repeated warnings from the CIA; failed to capture Bin Laden at Tora Bora; and we now know that somehow the 9/11 Commission failed to include this July 10th mtg despite George's Tenet under-oath testimony that it took place. 

Tomorrow Sec. Rice goes on Fox News Sunday tomorrow.  Think Progress has waged a smart campaign to offer up some questions for her.  She of all people has a lot to answer for, for what we now know is that the Administration was amply warned about the Al Qaeda threat; did nothing about it; lied about what they knew for years; and somehow managed to keep some of the most damaging parts of the story from the official inquiry into 9/11 planning. 

This is serious stuff.  The main architect of this big lie about 9/11 is now the Secretary of State.  She has repeatedly lied in public and under oath about the run up to 9/11.  One of her current staffers was the Executive Director of the 9/11 Commission, was present at Tenet's testimony about the July 10th Meeting, and clearly kept it out of the report and from the Members of the Commission. 

If she can't be trusted to level with the American people about something of this gravity, how can we trust her to continue with her job? It is time for Secretary Rice to come clean.   

Sheldon Whitehouse Speaks Spanish

At least enough to introduce himself in his new Spanish language radio ad "Creencias" (Believes).  "Creencias" is running in and around the city of Providence, which is 30% Hispanic.  NDN Hispanic Strategy Center Advisor Maria Cardona praised the effort, calling it "a smart and necessary strategy that more Democrats across the country should follow if we want to win back the House and Senate."  With its inclusive and positive message, "Creencias" is the exact opposite of the RNC ad demonizing Hispanics, that was run against Steve Laffey during the Republican Senate primary. 

Everyone on our team should be following Whitehouse's lead (and the advice of NDN) and engage the Hispanic community

South Dakota Abortion Ban Goes Too Far

The South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families unveiled a second television advertisement.

Here’s what’s at stake: the South Dakota ban is extreme – it prohibits abortions with no exception for rape, incest, or the health of a woman. The only exception is to prevent death. Doctors who violate the law will be made felons, penalized with a five year prison sentence – even fined $10,000 for referring a woman to another doctor outside of the state.  If this antiquated ban were to pass, it will become the test case to reverse Roe v. Wade.

Mark Warner Not Running

Former VA Gov. Mark Warner has just announced that he will not be running for President in 2008, surprising supporters, pundits and Democrats nationwide.  Since leaving the Governor's office nine months ago with record high approval ratings, Warner has been raising money and traveling the country, particularly to NH, IA and SC, in support of Democratic candidates.  He's been getting good press coverage and seemed to be staking out a space as a leading, moderate contender for the '08 Democratic Presidential nomination.  This being Washington, rumors about his next political move are already flying.  Depending on what and whom you are reading, he could be contemplating a run for Republican John Warner's Senate seat in 2008, thinking about getting his old job back as Governor in 2010, or even making himself available as a VP pick.  Family appears to be a major factor in his decision, and from what I've personally seen of Governor Warner, it is clear that he is very devoted to his wife and three daughters. 

The complete text of his announcement is here.


New NPI Study Released: Use Search

Today NDN's affiliate the New Politics Insitute released the third installment of the four-part Tools Checklist, entitled Use Search.

The web is becoming an undeniably powerful force in American politics today. The standard talking point for this is now two months old--George Allen's "macaca moment" (a single posting of which on YouTube shows nearly 23,000 views). Simon is quoted in this MSNBC article, "Ninety percent of people buying cars do research online first...In the Internet age, we can expect the same for politics."

People are doing their political homework on the web now, and if you want to be found, we strongly recommend our new study.

And as always, you can get emails regarding our latest releases by signing up here

Dems Up, Way Up

More evidence of a significant post-Foley bounce, from the wonderful Political Arithmetik. Charles Franklin, the guy behind the site, uses a clever regression framework to get his graphs, so they come with added clout. (Click here for a bigger graph.)


North Korea: Point/Counterpoint with President Carter and Senator McCain

Major ripples in the news today regarding North Korea: both President Bush and Secretary Rice have assured us the that the U.S. will not be going to war anytime soon. But two articles that did catch my eye were arguments made by Jimmy Carter in a New York Times op-ed and John McCain in a speech near Detroit.

Says McCain:

"I would remind Senator Clinton and other Democrats critical of Bush administration policies that the framework agreement her husband's administration negotiated was a failure...Every single time the Clinton administration warned the Koreans not to do something -- not to kick out the IAEA inspectors, not to remove the fuel rods from their reactor -- they did it.

Carter, in his mild mannered, straightforward way, gives his take on the Clinton years:

The United States assured the North Koreans that there would be no military threat to them, that it would supply fuel oil to replace the lost nuclear power and that it would help build two modern atomic power plants, with their fuel rods and operation to be monitored by international inspectors. The summit talks resulted in South Korean President Kim Dae-jung earning the 2000 Nobel Peace Prize for his successful efforts to ease tensions on the peninsula.

He goes one step further, recognizing the difference in how the Bush administration took up the situation. In 2002, "the United States branded North Korea as part of an axis of evil, threatened military action, ended the shipments of fuel oil and the construction of nuclear power plants and refused to consider further bilateral talks."

Back to McCain:

Under the Clinton presidency, McCain said, "We had a carrots-and-no-sticks policy that only encouraged bad behavior."

Carter explodes this myth:

With the risk of war on the Korean Peninsula, there was a consensus that the forces of South Korea and the United States could overwhelmingly defeat North Korea. But it was also known that North Korea could quickly launch more than 20,000 shells and missiles into nearby Seoul...The current military situation is similar but worse than it was a decade ago: we can still destroy North Korea’s army, but if we do it is likely to result in many more than a million South Korean and American casualties.

Carter even offers a few suggestions for a way out of the hole Bush has dug over the last six years. In this point/counterpoint, Carter offers a level-headed approach of the last decade and where to go in the next; McCain only seems to be able to point fingers.


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