NDN Blog

Mr. President time to do more than talk about immigration reform

Throughout his tour of Latin America President Bush said, again and again, it was time to move forward on immigration reform here in the U.S.  It is long past time for the President to do more than say the words.  He has to get to work and bring his unwilling Party along.  As our recent event with Senators Reid, Kennedy, Menendez and Salazar, and House Members Zofgren, Gutierrez and Becerra showed, Democrats are ready to go.   The question is will the Republicans and the President show. 

As the Washington Post opines this morning, we are long past time for action:

THE HYPOCRISY of U.S. immigration law was on lurid display last week in a raid on a defense contractor in New England. Accompanied by dogs and a helicopter swooping overhead, hundreds of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents charged into Michael Bianco Inc., a leather-goods factory in New Bedford, Mass., that makes backpacks, ammunition pouches and other gear for GIs.

When the dust settled, the agents had arrested some 360 illegal immigrant employees at the plant, many of them women from Guatemala and other Central American nations. The workers had toiled in sweatshop conditions that allegedly included draconian restrictions on bathroom breaks, toilet paper supply, and snacking and talking at their workstations. They were seized, handcuffed, questioned and, in about 200 cases, whisked away to detention centers in New Mexico and Texas without regard to their roots in the community, their spouses or their children, including American-born children who are U.S. citizens.

Amid the pandemonium, families and communities were split, and children were left with babysitters, relatives, siblings or other families. Immigration and Customs Enforcement insisted it had released about 60 of the immigrants -- including nursing mothers and sole or primary caregivers for young children -- for "humanitarian" reasons. But reports of confusion and mistakes were common, and state officials said scores of children were separated from their parents. In one case, doctors treated an 8-month-old baby, Keylyn Zusana Lopez Ayala, for pneumonia and possible dehydration after her mother was detained and unable to breast-feed her. Keylyn is an American citizen. Three days after the raid, a federal judge was sufficiently concerned that he barred immigration officials from transporting any more detainees out of state. The raid, said Massachusetts Gov. Deval L. Patrick (D), "reflects, for me, not what this country is about."

Post has good piece on web video

Very much worth a read.

Drilling into political bedrock

Two weeks ago a CNN poll put the President's approval rating at 29%, the lowest of his Presidency, and one of the lowest in recorded Presidential history.  29% for a two term President means 40% of those who voted for him twice believe he is not doing a good job.  A remarkable feat by any measure. 

That 29% came before a two week period of truly terrible developments for the Administration - the mistreatment of our veterans at Walter Reed, the overzealous and perhaps illegal use of National Security Letters by the FBI, the conviction of Scooter Libby, the new Plame testimony, continued violence in Iraq, the scandal of the Rovian-led firing of 8 US Attorneys and the resignation of senior Army officials and the Chief of Staff at Justice.  Who and what is next? Rove, Gonzales, Nicholson? Is there a Bush Administration without these guys?

Wherever these next steps take us they will take us further into the inner of the inner core of the architects and enablers of the Bush era. The political chief, the chief counsel, the former RNC Chair.  Just as the President's support has drilled into his bedrock of support, these new scandals are drilling into personnel bedrock, a place where no one ever thought we could go.  But here we are, and the ending of Bushism and its leaders seems to much closer than ever before.

Good to be back

After what was a rather extraordinary set of technical problems, we are back.  Thanks to Michael Haggerty at Trellon for his spirited effort to get us back on line.  

Thanks for your patience.  Now, back to work.

Those fired prosecutors

From the Times this morning:

WASHINGTON, March 4 — Senator Pete V. Domenici, Republican of New Mexico, said Sunday that he had urged the Justice Department to dismiss the state’s top federal prosecutor, who in December was one of eight United States attorneys ousted from their jobs.

In addition, Mr. Domenici said in a statement that last year he called the prosecutor, David C. Iglesias, to ask about the status of a federal inquiry in New Mexico. The case centered on accusations of kickbacks in a courthouse construction project in which a former Democratic state official was said to be involved.

“I asked Mr. Iglesias if he could tell me what was going on in that investigation and give me an idea of what time frame we were looking at,” Mr. Domenici said. “It was a very brief conversation which concluded when I was told that the courthouse investigation would be continuing for a lengthy period.”

Mr. Domenici apologized in the statement and said he regretted making the call, but added that he had not urged any course of action in any investigation. “I have never pressured him nor threatened him in any way,” he said.

A Justice Department spokesman said on Sunday that records at the agency showed that the senator complained about Mr. Iglesias in calls to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales in September 2005 and again in January and April 2006. The senator made a brief call to Paul J. McNulty, the deputy attorney general, in October 2006 when the deliberations over Mr. Iglesias’s dismissla began.

In each of these calls, said Brian Roehrkasse, a Justice Department spokesman, Mr. Domenici expressed general concerns about Mr. Iglesias and questioned whether he was “up to the job.” Mr. Roehrkasse added, “At no time did they discuss the public corruption case.”

A Justice Department official said Mr. Domenici’s criticism of Mr. Iglesias was a factor in the decision to remove the prosecutor, adding that the decision was also based on an internal evaluation at Justice Department headquarters regarding his handling of the job.

Why does all this matter so much? Because the people taking down the corrupt conservatives these last several years have not been the Democrats, but career prosecutors at the Office of Public Integrity at Justice and US Attorneys like the 8 just let go.   At some point the Administration had to do what it could, short of dismantling the Office of Public Integrity, to stop or slow the march of indictments and jail time being handed down to leaders of their movement and those that ran our government in recent years.  Since the 8 just fired included a San Diego US Attorney responsible for baging Duke Cunningham and the former #3 at the CIA, Dusty Faggo, this all just smelled of politics.  For why should we assume that this Administration, as political as it is, would be willing to stand by while their allies got taken down by a bunch of overzealous lawyers? Somehow I think there is going to be more to this story. 

I believe history will show that those running the country in the Bush era to be the single most corrupt set of leaders the nation has ever seen.  To make sure that justice is served, and all the many cases in front of the Office of Public Integrity are investigated fully, Congress should give this office and the hardworking career prosecutors there much more money, perhaps double their budget.  They need the resources necessary to ensure that any lead is followed, any corrupt official brought to trial.  After all they are dealing with the largest set of official corruption cases in modern times.

UPDATE: Oops, appears Congresswoman Heather Wilson also tired to get Iglesias fired.

Heck of a job Nickie

More evidence that when you put political hacks in critical positions the American people suffer.  This week we see the impact of a former RNC Chairman, Jim Nicholson, and his tenure at Veteran's Affairs. 

Bush has suggested a commission to look into what happened at Walter Reed.  Congress should reject the Commission idea, and ask the President to put qualified people into the critical positions.  What's needed is a new Secretary of Veteran's Affairs. From a Times piece this morning:

He has been accused by some veterans and the organizations that represent them of being primarily a mouthpiece for the Bush administration and of being slow to respond to increasing strains on his agency as returning soldiers move from facilities like Walter Reed, which is run by the Defense Department, into the veterans affairs system.

Critics say he has under-emphasized his agency’s budget needs to Congress, has not responded to calls for more mental health workers and brain trauma specialists and has failed to overhaul disability claims procedures. Some leaders of veterans groups say Mr. Nicholson is less communicative than his predecessors.

“We’re supposed to be partners, but there is no free flow of information since he took over,” said Bill Bradshaw, director of National Veterans Service for the Veterans of Foreign Wars. “We often learn about changes after they are done, and there is little consultation.

Bush, the MBA, should step up and take responsibility.  Assign people to fix the problem not study it. 

Post backs immigration reform

The Post weighs in with a strong editorial in support of comprehensive immigration reform.  It begins:

ADVOCATES OF sweeping measures to reform the nation's broken-down muddle of an immigration policy are preparing to enter the fray once again: A new bill may be introduced in Congress as early as this week. This time hopes are high that the political map has changed just enough to make success a real possibility. Beware: Those hopes will be realized only if everyone involved in last year's debacle has drawn the right lessons from Congress's failure to enact a meaningful law.

What are the lessons? President Bush, who favored last year's Senate bill but went limp when it came under attack by anti-reform forces in the House, should note that passivity in the face of his own party's hard-liners is a prescription for further disappointment. Republican leaders in the House, who killed last year's legislation, should conclude that they gained nothing by trying to whip up the party base with misleading talk of an "amnesty" for illegal immigrants -- and probably alienated droves of coveted Hispanic voters at the elections in November.

As for Democrats, who have squabbled among themselves but now run Congress, they must take note of an opportunity staring them in the face. They have a chance to exercise leadership and score a victory on a major domestic policy problem.

Despite how contentious this debate has been, I remain optimistic that this bill, one our community has worked so hard to pass, can get done this year.  We will be doing our part, working with leaders of both parties, including the President, to reform our broken immigration system this year.   For more on our work on immigration, visit www.ndn.org/immigration.

Thoughts on the globalization of soccer

Yesterday, James Crabtree posted his latest essay here in a series he has been writing from Asia and India. This one reflected on the power of soccer, history’s first truly global sport. James talks about soccer as a sign of British “soft power.” It also says a great deal about the emergence of our first truly global communications network, a network that is in the process of bringing together all the world’s people onto a single real time, broadband communications platform. Soccer is becoming the universal sport of this emergent network, and as soccer becomes a globalized commodity, it is also changing the sport itself.

My kids and I watch a lot of soccer. My wife thinks way too much. Each weekend we are able to watch games Spain, England, Germany, Italy, Latin America and now that our MLS is back, here in the US. With our special soccer package on our Comcast system, there are as many as 5 games on the same time from all over the world. Players like Saha, Ronaldinho, Rooney, Adriano, Eto'o, Ronaldo and now DC United’s Christian Gomez are very important people in our lives, athletes we follow as closely as the baseball players of my youth. These players come from Argentina, Brazil, Cameroon, England, France and Portugal.

On Thursday night I went to a DC United game here against a Honduran team, CD Olimpia. There were more fans at RFK that night rooting for Olimpia than DC United. DC United won, 3-2, and its goals came from players from Argentina and Brazil. Even here the sport has a global, universal feel. And that is before Mr. Beckham arrives this summer.

For my kids soccer has become as obsession. I can tell that they understand that when they play it, daily, they are playing a sport that is both played and watched all over the world. They are doing what all other kids are doing, everywhere. Soccer has become to sports what English has become to language. It is a global common experience, shared increasingly by all the people of the world, an experience that somehow knits all us together. It is remarkable to think that if my oldest son goes to China 30 years from now and has dinner with some Chinese of his age they could end sharing their opinions about the Zidane headbutt in the 2006 World Cup.

James talks about how what they see in Asia is not just soccer, but British soccer, the Premiereship, the top league in Britain. Soccer fans may find that strange, for why not the Spanish La Liga, or Italy’s Serie A, or Germany’s Bundesliga? Or the many magical teams in South America like Boca Juniors or Santos? First, I think English is the world’s tongue, making British soccer, broadcast in English, more accessible to more people. Second, Rupert Murdoch, owner of Skynews, Fox and so many other media outlets has a global footprint, and is using soccer to create a global, universal product that can transcend cultural boundries.

This globalization of the English Premiere League has had a huge impact on the League itself. Seeking a global audience its teams have been much more aggressive about signing players from all the over world. You see many more Africans, Americans and Asians in England than any other European league. Yes the Spanish have their Brazilians, but most of the European teams still draw heavily from players in their home countries. They are not yet truly globalized. But I expect that will come.

As this globalized 21st century media platform emerges, sports is increasingly becoming the lingua franca, the media experience that binds people together in a much more fragmented and personal media world. Remarkable soccer goals often make the top 10 on YouTube. ESPN is emerging as the most powerful cable channel among the hundreds now available. Mastery of the emerging media of this century will mean many things, but one thing it will mean for sure is the ability to connect one’s values to sport, as the Republicans have with NASCAR and the NFL. What is the progressive response? We tried soccer last year, with great success. But there is clearly much more to be learned and tried in the years to come.

What a mess Bush is leaving all of us

It just doesn't stop.  Now we have the Walter Reed scandal.  Has there been an Administration in American history who has failed so utterly at the very basics of governing?

The list is incredible.  2000 days later and Osama is still on the loose, and is now regaining strength.  Iraq continues to cost American lives, money and prestige, without making us safer.  New evidence out this week showed Bush and his team blew it on North Korea, completely misreading what was happening there, and ended up making the confrontation much worse.  The systemic undermining of our civil liberties, including the condoning of torture, the undermining of the Geneva Convention, warentless spying on our citizens and the stripping of habeas corpus from all non-US citizens in the US, even legal immigrants and of course tourists.  Our military has been degraded.  Trillons have been added to our debt.  Our Department of Homeland Security remains badly led, unorganized and unprepared.  This age has seen the greatest systemic corruption of Congress and the federal branch in our history.  The minimum wage has been allowed to erode to its lowest level in 50 years, and now earns a family just $11,000 a year.  Wages have dropped.   More are uninsured, more are in poverty and family debt has hit historic levels.  Tens of millions of dollars spent on ads demonizing Hispanics, comparing them to Middle Eastern terrorists. Our relations with Latin America have eroded terribly.  And, perhaps most perniciously, the serial lying of our leaders about just about everything that has caused many to wonder about the integrity and the values of America itself. 

And of course there are all the big challenges unmet.  Funding the retirement of the baby boom.  Providing health insurance, and good health care, to all Americans. Global climate change.  Modernizing our schools and creating a 21st century strategy to help existing our existing workforce transition into the digital age.  Bringing broadband to all Americans.........

The Bush era, this era of compassionate convervatism, has been a disapointing and shameful period in our history.  The country is oh so ready to go to a new and better place, and is looking, desperately, for leaders to take us there.

Next generation of social networking sites

The Times this morning has a look at the next generation of social networking sites.  It features some comments from friend Marc Andreessen, who discusses his new venture, Ning.

An excerpt:

The new social networking players, which include Cisco and a multitude of start-ups like Ning, the latest venture of the Netscape co-creator Marc Andreessen, say that social networks will soon be as ubiquitous as regular Web sites. They are aiming to create tools to let ordinary people, large companies and even presidential candidates create social Web sites tailored for their own customers, friends, fans and employees.

“The existing social networks are fantastic but they put users in a straitjacket,” said Mr. Andreessen, who this week reintroduced Ning, his third start-up, after a limited introduction last year. “They are restrictive about what you can and can’t do, and they were not built to be flexible. They do not let people build and design their own worlds, which is the nature of what people want to do online.”

Social networks are sprouting on the Internet these days like wild mushrooms. In the last few months, organizations as dissimilar as the Portland Trailblazers, the University of South Carolina and Nike have gotten their own social Web sites up and running, with the help of companies that specialize in building social networks. Last month, Senator Barack Obama unveiled My.BarackObama.com, a social network created for his presidential campaign by the political consulting firm Blue State Digital.

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