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The LiberalOasis Blog
The daily view from the oasis

March 31, 2006 PERMALINK
A Real Reporter
(posted March 31 1:45 AM ET)

LiberalOasis doesn’t usually write about hostages in Iraq, as there isn’t much one can say that can help their situations.

And LO doesn’t want to single out certain hostages and imply that they deserve more attention that others, when in fact every hostage situation is equally disturbing, regardless of the captive’s background.

But the insidious reaction among certain conservatives to the release of Jill Carroll, seemingly trying to undermine her journalistic reputation, is worth noting.

Because Carroll is the kind of war correspondent the Right claims to want.

Laura Ingraham was cheered by her fellow right-wingers last week when she returned from being escorted around Iraq to scold NBC’s David Gregory:

Bring the Today show to Iraq ... and then when you talk to those soldiers on the ground, when you go out with the Iraqi military, when you talk to the villagers, when you see the children, then I want NBC to report on only the IEDs, only the killings, only, only the reprisals...

... to do a show from Iraq means to talk to the Iraqi military to go out with the Iraqi military, to actually have a conversation with the people instead of reporting from hotel balconies about the latest IEDs going off.

Of course, that’s exactly what Jill Carroll did: got out of her room and had a conversation with the people.

Except that she didn’t have a military PR person leading her by the nose or hovering over her conversations.

And so she was able to report last year that “Sectarian strife tears at neighbors” and “Ordinary Iraqis bear brunt of war.”

She found a callous disregard for human rights among new Iraqi soldiers, and she ominously reported 11 months ago that “Iraq's rising industry” was “domestic kidnapping”.

She didn’t reflexively report bad news. She put what she saw in context, as in “Patchwork of progress and perils in Iraq” and “Anger, hope drive Sunnis to vote in Iraqi villages once held by insurgents.”

At times, she has filed cautiously optimistic reports about efforts to defeat Al Qaeda and the insurgency.

But you can’t read her work and continue to insist that there is a treasure trove of unreported “good news,” because she obviously has gone out and tried to find it.

Which is why her work is never acknowledged by conservatives. It undermines their propaganda effort to blame for the media for the plummet in support for the war.

Nevertheless, the propaganda effort will continue.

Right-wing media types like Ingraham will continue to be shipped over, shielded and spoon-fed “good news,” to keep the conservative base in their delusional, defensive bubble, and keep them energized for November.

While real reporters continue to risk their lives to tell us the full picture.

March 30, 2006 PERMALINK
Responsible Redeployment Is...
(posted March 30 1:45 AM ET)

You put out a national security plan that glosses over Iraq, you’re gonna end up on page 12.

There’s a fair amount of good stuff in the new Democratic “Real Security” package that helps draw clear and favorable distinctions with the GOP:

Implementing all of the 9/11 Commission recommendations. Screening 100% of incoming cargo. Ambitious energy independence goals.

But since Dems opted for the bare minimum on Iraq, the plan didn’t receive the media fanfare they were hoping for.

What’s has been, and continues to be, baffling to LiberalOasis is that Dems have already forced a vote on a resolution that said “United States military forces should not stay in Iraq indefinitely” and backed a “campaign plan with estimated dates for the phased redeployment.”

Most Dems supported the resolution, and most GOPers didn’t.

Yet Dems have refused to use this vote to show how the parties differ on Iraq.

They instead regularly tout the subsequent vote on a watered-down resolution which passed with bipartisan support that called for “transition” in 2006 but stripped out the above clauses.

Which is simply bizarre.

It’s understandable, if frustrating, that congressional Dems don’t agree on the specifics of a troop withdrawal.

But they do agree on the fundamental principle that Iraq can’t be truly liberated and stabilized if our troops never leave – a principle that the GOP rejects, but also is extremely uncomfortable saying publicly.

Yet while we often hear Dems say we shouldn’t have permanent military bases, we don’t hear them attack GOPers for tacitly supporting indefinite occupation – leaving the false impression with the public that this is not a difference between the parties.

In the new “Real Security” plan, Dems call for “responsible redeployment,” but don’t define what that means, and don’t explain how that is different from the GOP position -- a step backwards from last November's resolution.

(For what it's worth, according to the Financial Times dispatch from the “Real Security” announcement event: “[Sen. Harry] Reid said that withdrawal of all US troops in Iraq by 2008 was “a goal” but added that he did not believe in imposing a timetable.”)

There’s nothing wrong with the phrase “responsible redeployment.” It could be used to paint GOPers as supporting “irresponsible occupation,” And there is time between now and November for elaboration.

But you can count on Dems being asked over and over again, “what do you mean by responsible redeployment?”

So they best have an answer. And it should be an answer that helps voters make a choice in November.

QUICK HIT

Leading on Immigration Reform

One Dem candidate is following LiberalOasis’ advice on immigration, and supporting a plan to lift up Mexico’s economy so no one needs to risk their life crossing the border just to feed their families.

Allan Lichtman, candidate for Senate in Maryland, announced his support for a plan to “work with the Mexican government to help upgrade their educational system and infrastructure” and to “provide the assistance needed to help close the economic gap between the two countries.”

March 29, 2006 PERMALINK
Corporatist-Nativist Stalemate
(posted March 29 1 AM ET)

The House, in December, passed a pro-nativist immigration reform bill that would further criminalize illegal immigration.

And Monday evening, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed a pro-corporate immigration reform bill that provided a path to citizenship for those currently working in America illegally.

The Judiciary bill is less offensive than Dubya’s temporary guest worker proposal that offered no citizenship path, but since the minimum wage is so low, the bill still satisfies corporations that want a steady flow of cheap labor.

Where do these two bills go from here?

On MSNBC’s Hardball yesterday, the National Review’s Kate O’Beirne said:

...the White House plan all along has been to get an ‘enforcement’ [sarcastic air quotes by Kate] plus guest worker-amnesty plan [out of a House-Senate] conference ... and shove it down the throat of House Republicans.

That might have seemed like a plausible strategy with a president at 60% approval, but not with one at 37%.

The Bushies may pin their hopes on the fact that the new House Majority Leader John Boehner is in the corporate camp, unlike his nativist predecessor Tom DeLay, and may be willing to twist arms.

But that doesn’t change the fact that the Bushies still need to find 20-plus House members who are willing to change votes to side with an unpopular president and risk an anti-immigrant backlash in their conservative districts come November.

Further, we can’t even be sure that the Judiciary bill is going to make it out of the Senate.

Majority Leader Bill Frist is pushing his own nativist bill, to get in good with ’08 primary voters.

But the W. Post reports today that Frist has agreed to let Judiciary Chair Arlen Specter “move to substitute” his bill for Frist’s on the floor, and that Specter “appears to have more than enough votes to do so.”

But but “it is not yet clear that Frist will allow the Senate to pass immigration legislation that cannot garner the support of most Republicans.”

This is the ridiculous “majority of the majority” concept that House Speaker Dennis Hastert has pushed – it doesn’t matter that a bill has majority support, if it doesn’t have majority GOP support.

In other words, the votes of elected Democrats are rendered meaningless, and minority rules.

There’s also additional amendments that could be proposed on the floor which may splinter the current bipartisan coalition

And there’s even a little filibuster talk from the nativists.

So it would seem to LiberalOasis, that either no bill gets out of the Senate, or if one does, then no House-Senate compromise is plausible.

In either "no-bill" scenario, the fallout for the GOP is probably negative.

Party leaders will have failed to have contained their nativist wing and in turn, failed to present a welcoming party for Latinos.

Meanwhile, the nativists may harbor resentment because the House bill never was taken seriously by party leaders, which could hurt turnout in the fall.

The open question is: will Dems mitigate the fallout by saying kind things about folks like Bush, Specter and John McCain, portraying them as reasonable and helping the GOP’s long-term Latino recruitment efforts, when their primary motivation was actually to serve their corporate donors?

March 27, 2006 PERMALINK
The Sunday Talkshow Breakdown
A weekly feature of LiberalOasis
(posted March 27 12:30 AM ET)

The GOP, torn between its corporate and nativist wings, is heading into a difficult period the next few weeks as the Senate considers immigration reform.

But is Sen. Ted Kennedy unwittingly helping the GOP overcome its internal rifts?

First, here’s a relatively quick summary of where the immigration issue stands.

Dubya has been trying to keep the cheap labor flowing to his corporate donors, while also making a play for the Latino vote, without alienating the nativists in the party base.

So he has been pushing a temporary guest worker plan for some time, allowing people to work here for a few years, then be forced to return home – no opportunity for citizenship.

Good for business who want cheap labor. Bad for people willing to risk their lives for long-term financial security for themselves and their families.

As both Latinos and nativists were unimpressed, no one introduced the Bush proposal as legislation.

The House passed a nativist border crackdown bill last year, including funds for a 700-mile wall. But there’s little chance it will clear the Senate, let alone reach the floor.

GOP Sens. Jon Kyl and John Cornyn proposed a temporary guest worker program that required everyone to leave the country first before applying. It has only two other co-sponsors

GOP Sen. John McCain, along with Kennedy, have a guest worker proposal that would also create a path to citizenship, after paying penalties. It only has five other co-sponsors, but business, labor and civil rights groups have gotten behind it.

GOP Sen. Arlen Specter is set to have a bill clear the Judiciary Cmte (whose GOPers are mainly from the corporate wing, to the nativists’ chagrin) tonight, which will then be sent to the Senate floor.

Specter’s original proposal had a temporary guest worker program, but on ABC’s This Week yesterday, he indicated the committee bill would have a “citizenship path.” Time will soon tell.

If the committee fails, Senate Maj. Leader Bill Frist plans on pushing his own border crackdown bill, with no guest worker plan. (This is likely a mere showboat move for ’08 and not significant in the short-run.)

Got all that? Good. Back to Kennedy.

Kennedy main message on CBS’ Face The Nation* yesterday was that he’s optimistic about passing a bipartisan bill:

What we need is a comprehensive approach. I think President Bush understands it. I think John McCain understands it.

And I think we have Democrat and Republican member that understand it, and hopefully we'll have a chance to have that kind of an approach in the Senate...

...At other times when we are facing major kinds of challenges to the country ... Republicans and Democrats came together on it. We came together even on the Medicare issue. We came together on higher education issue.

What’s wrong with that?

It makes sense if your goal is just to get a bipartisan bill passed.

But it doesn’t make sense in the long-term.

We should not be treating the recent bipartisan fiascoes of Medicare prescription drugs and Leave No Child Behind as models to replicate – compromises now reviled by much of the public.

We should not be choosing sides in the GOP split, praising Bush and McCain for simply providing more cheap labor for their backers, allowing them to reach out to Latinos while masking their corporate allegiances.

(Kennedy has even been exploring a compromise with Cornyn)

We should be exposing the split, hammering who the GOP answers to, reinforcing the notion that the GOP does not represent the broad electorate of America.

And we should then propose our own comprehensive legislation that solves the fundamental problem, lifting up the weak economies across the border that force millions to risk their lives and leave their families just to make ends meet.

Because until our neighbors’ economies are healthy, the pressure on our border will never go away.

(LiberalOasis has previously supported a proposal for a 10-year investment fund to get Mexico’s infrastructure and education system up to speed.)

Would that mean no bill would get passed this year? Probably.

But that’s probably the case anyway.

It’s hard to see how a corporate-friendly Senate bill (if the Senate is even able to pass its own bill) could be reconciled with the nativist House bill.

And if a bill with a citizenship path does became law (a far better outcome than the other more punitive and/or convoluted options) it wouldn’t make the immigration issue go away. The fundamental problems would not have been resolved.

No matter what happens, Dems need to develop their own long-term strategy, one that does not cater to those who crave cheap labor or those loathe multicultural society.

*The linked CBS transcript has an inaccuracy. What's above is accurate.

The Blog Wire
Tracking the liberal blogosphere

ImmigrationProf Blog: "It is too early to say but we may be seeing the emergence of a civil rights movement for immigrants in the United States."

Daou Report: Bush Launches Massive Shock & Awe Offensive... Against U.S. Media

Ekklesia: "Can we work to answer the question, how should Christian peacemakers place themselves into difficult situations where terrorism is rampant?"

Newshounds: DP World Part II

TomDispatch: Chalmers Johnson on Our Military Empire

Back To Iraq 3.0: " I filed a FOIA request on myself a while back with the CIA. Yesterday my brother received a letter that says that after an exhaustive search they found 'one document that we have determined must be withheld in its entirety' ... how common is it for a journalist to have a document about him that can’t be released for 'national security reasons'?"

Demagogue: "Not every conservative who played demagogue on the issue of gay marriage in 2004 met with success."

Pam's House Blend: Gay 16-year old mops the floor with Sen. George Allen

Dutchblog Israel: " Hirsch Goodman ... explains why, with the Israeli public being quite indifferent and in spite of the fact that [the] politicians are so irritating, it is important to 'hold your nose and vote' next week."

Head Heeb: "anyone who was expecting a firm signal as to Hamas' diplomatic policy is likely to be disappointed [but] the cabinet as a whole is a technocratic one"

Raising Yousuf: "if the money for the security forces payroll runs out there will be 70,000 men running around Gaza, unable to feed their families, most of them armed, and approximately 1 million Palestinians without a bread winner. These men, along with the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades members, will constitute one of the biggest challenges for the upcoming government ... The brigades, along with Islamic Jihad and the Marxist PFLP, are responsible for the bulk of rocket attacks against Israel and for kidnappings of foreigners, not Hamas."

Opinions You Should Have: Bush, Cheney Drop Huge Cake On Iraq, Crush Power Plant

The Grey Matter: "right wingers are finding it easiest to shoot the down-and-out messenger and not the message ... To attack the message is to attack the very foundation of what these rightwing politicians run on"

Baghdad Burning: "Three years later and the nightmares of bombings and of shock and awe have evolved into another sort of nightmare. The difference between now and then was that three years ago, we were still worrying about material things- possessions, houses, cars, electricity, water, fuel… It’s difficult to define what worries us most now. Even the most cynical war critics couldn't imagine the country being this bad three years after the war... Allah yistur min il rab3a (God protect us from the fourth year)."

After Downing Street: Media Avoids Covering Vote on Permanent Bases

Lawyers, Guns and Money: Reproductive Freedom: It's Positively Unxenophobic!

Angry Bear: " the administration seems to want to use the same approach to the problem of income inequality as they use with respect to Iraq: their goal is to change the American public's perceptions of each issue, rather than to change what's actually happening."

American Research Group poll: Americans support censure 46%-44%, oppose impeachment 49%-42%

Open Letter To Chris Matthews: "... NBC apparently has a policy of not allowing anchors to take money for speaking fees from 'interest groups' ... The question becomes, is [Chris] Matthews violating that rule?"

Faithful Progressive: Pew Poll Confirms White Evangelicals Turning Against Bush

Fired Up! Missouri: House GOP Bans County Health Clinics From Providing Birth Control

Tapped: "If there isn't a plot afoot to start a war with Iran, then what's with all this Iran-related lying?"

Human Rights First: "We are asking you to sign our petition to call for a U.N. appointed diplomat of the highest international stature to lead a peace process in Darfur"

The Democratic Party blog notes press reports that Dean's 50-State strategy is starting to pay off

The Wilderness Society: ANWR drilling scheduled to be back before the Senate tommorow, contact your Senators

Deadline Pundit: "I suspect that Iran began by using the nuclear issue as a bargaining point, but in the long negotiations with the Europeans it found ... they were not bringing the Americans to the table. Iran's previous reformist administration, in particular, wanted some tokens of appreciation ... Iran had cooperated in the removal of the Taliban ... and could, at the very least, have made things much, much worse in Iraq ... In return, of course, the Iranians discovered that ... they were still a member of the 'axis of evil' ..."

The Reality-Based Community: "how low John McCain would go in his pandering to the radical right ... [he] has sought and gained Trent Lott's support ... McCain is in the habit of abandoning his 'straight talk' principles whenever he needs racist votes"

Faith and Policy Weblog: US Religious Leaders Support Global Family Planning

MyDD: CREW Files Against Grover Norquist

The Sideshow: "... for a while there the religiosity of the left, and the moral high-ground that came with it, so overwhelmed the right wing that they obviously had to grab it back, and they've done so with a vengeance. [But] liberals aren't hostile to Evangelical Christians, we're hostile to evangelical dirtbags who spread hate and division."

LamontBlog: "Today is the beginning of the end of Joe Lieberman's career in the United States Senate ... The Nedmentum starts"

**************

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