U.S. News and World Report has a great interview with New Republic Editor at Large Peter Beinart on Democrats and national security issues. See link http://tinyurl.com/qe2j9 There are two great quotes from Beinart in the article that I think hit the nail on the head.
"The Bush administration has wielded the threat of another (terrorist) attack in such a promiscuous and politically opportunistic way that some liberals have responded by believing the threat is a Republican creation."
"The argument with the left is that it's dangerous to equate American greatness with American purity. If you demand that America be unequivocally virtuous, you create a situation in which America can't act. In the real world of international affairs, you can't maintain complete moral purity in fighting evil."
Sunday's Boston Globe had a very interesting article about divisions among Democrats concerning national security and foreign policy. See link to article athttp://tinyurl.com/my393 It is amazing that only 54 percent of Democrats now support the invasion of Afghanistan. I wonder what the percentages would be for party activists ? We can certainly oppose the war in Iraq and the Republicans cynical manipulation of 9/11 without buying into the absurd notion that Islamic terrorism poses no threat to Americans.
* "MUDCAT" - COMMON SENSE POLITICAL ADVISER TO DEMOCRATS
"Mudcat" sounds like a rather primitive nickname but Dave Saunders, a good ole boy from rural Virginia, offers some sound advice to prominent Democrats on how to build a Democratic majority. Saunders offers a refreshing perspective to the Democratic Party on how to reach out to the South and Middle America. Here are some excerpts from an article from the UK Telegraph http://www.telegraph.co.uk/ about "Mudcat" and his political strategies for winning over Red America.
"A gun-loving, stock-car racing-mad country boy, Dave 'Mudcat' Saunders has to be America's most improbable Democratic consultant. In Washington, interns can be seen flicking through his new book Foxes in the Henhouse - How the Republicans stole the south and the heartland and what the Democrats must do to run 'em out."
"Three weeks ago the Democrats' leader in the senate, Harry Reid, summoned him to a secret meeting of the party's senators, in Philadelphia, to tell them what they needed to do."I chastened them a little," he said. "I spoke for an hour and a quarter and I told them in plain English what was wrong. They think in New England that we [rural Americans] in the South sit around and say how much we hate gays and discuss who we can go and lynch."
"Mudcat helped to secure a remarkable victory for a Democrat, Mark Warner, as the last governor of Virgina, a very conservative state, by touting him at bluegrass festivals and stock-car races. Now he wants to repeat that on a national level."
"He has a simple message to the Democrats to take on the Republicans on their own turf: "No one is going to outgun and outpray us."
Mudcat's political advice sounds like common sense to me, but that is something often in short supply in Washington among both parties.
* HOW TO HELP MEXICANS WITHOUT HURTING POOR AMERICANS
David Kohlhoff makes some excellent points on the Blue Dog Blog http://www.bluedogdemocrat.org/blog about how to help our neighbors in Mexico without harming poor Americans. The idea of a Marshall Plan for Mexico certainly has merit. There is no question that the Mexican people are in a desperate situation. A survey of Mexican adults conducted by the Pew Hispanic Center indicated that forty percent of Mexican adults would like to immigrate to the United States. The desire to leave Mexico is high even among the more educated and skilled citizenry. Half of Mexicans with a high school diploma want to cross the border and one third of college graduates would like to move north.
I think that David is right that something must be done to improve the situation in Mexico without opening the border and hurting our own poorest citizens. We certainly cannot absorb huge numbers of unskilled workers and while the U.S. would likely benefit from an influx of educated and skilled Mexicans - it would also harm Mexico by drawing away some of their brightest citizens. Of course, pressure needs to be placed on Mexico to adopt measures to reduce corruption, drug trafficking and bring more professionalism to their legal system.
I am not sure if the Chilean model for economic reform that David suggests is the answer. It is my understanding that Mexico like many of the other Latin American countries have cumbersome regulatory procedures that discourage the opening of new businesses. That should be changed but I would hate to see Mexico adopt the same sort of extreme free market economic policies that have brought greater job insecurity and income inequality to the United States. Chile has actually taken the free market policies a step farther than the U.S.in privatizing their equivalent of Social Security. The Chilean pension privatization has been a tremendous windfall for the pension plan companies but with certainly mixed results for their nation's retirees.
A better role model for Mexico might be Costa Rica which despite some recent political scandals has a long history of stable democracy. Costa Rica also has low unemployment and a strong safety net.
One of the best ways to help Mexico would be to change our trade policies and buy more stuff made by our neighbors south of the border and less from China. We have a much larger trade deficit with China than with Mexico. I was opposed to NAFTA and believe that our nation needs to maintain its manufacturing capacity, but if we are going to import cheap goods let's do business with our neighbors rather than our potential adversaries in totalitarian China. In the 90's,the Clinton Adminstration and the Republican Congress were so eager for global free trade that they signed GAAT opening the door wide open to Chinese goods and hurting Mexico after only a few years of NAFTA. Thanks to our government's foolish decision to rush into GAAT, factories were closed in Mexico and moved to China.
I despise "free trade" policies, but given the public and business demand for cheap goods - our trade practices would be make more sense if we emphasized regional rather than global trading partnerships. It is better that we give our dollars to Mexico than to China. Certainly our trade policies should be modified in a manner that will put pressure on our trading partners to gradually improve their labor and environmental standards. Expanding collective bargaining and requiring companies to pay a living wage in Mexico would help to broaden prosperity.
* BAYH CALLS FOR BALANCED APPROACH ON NATIONAL SECURITY AND CIVIL LIBERTIES
Senator Birch Bayh (D-IN) has called for a balanced approach on national security and civil liberties. the May 19 edition to the Des Moines Register reported:
"We've got to do two things here," the Indiana Democrat said during an interview in Des Moines. "We have to do what we need to do to protect our country. Lives are at stake. But we have to do that in a way that protects our civil liberties,and I've seen nothing that tells me we have to choose one or the other. I think we can do both."
"We have to prove that we can be good stewards of our national security, because if people don't first trust us with their lives, they're not going to trust us with anything else."
"Bayh said an independent federal judge should be allowed to monitor the government's wiretapping programs so terrorists can be identified."
"It's important to be able to do that," he said, referring to wiretapping. Without oversight, however, "too many Americans are going to think that J. Edgar Hoover has come back to life and is rummaging through their private communications, and that's not right." See full article at http://tinyurl.com/fgybr
Evan Bayh sounds like the kind of Democrat who can give our party a strong voice on national security issues. No thinking American wants to surrender our liberties and at the same time, we need to be vigilant about the threat of terrorism. Senator Bayh seems to have found the right balance on this critical matter.
* FLORIDA DEMOCRAT BACKS OFFICIAL ENGLISH
Congratulations to Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) along with nine other Senate Democrats for voting to make English our national language despite tremendous pressures to do otherwise. And shame on our Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid for labeling the official English movement as "racist." Reid's comments show just how out of touch our Democratic Party leaders can be with mainstream American views. 84% of the American public including 77% of Hispanics favor English as the official language according to a 2006 Zogby poll. In the same poll, 92 % of Republicans, 82% of Democrats and 77% of Independent voters favored official English. There is certainly nothing wrong with learning and speaking other languages, but strong nations are united by a common language.
* SIROTA ON WHAT DEFINES A DEMOCRAT
I am not a big fan of David Sirota, but agree with him that our party should return to being a voice for working families rather than being defined solely by social issues. The quotes below are from an article in Sunday's Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
"The Democrats may win the November election. They might even take back the White House in 2008. But unless Democtic officeholders shuck their reliance on corporate cash and return to fighting for working families, says David Sirota, his party will be better off losing."
"There is always going to be a big-business party in this country. There always has been," says Sirota. "But we have had equilibrium in the past because there has always been a party of the little guy."
"Then, he says, "big business realized the way to really maximize its agenda was to water down and weaken the counterweight."
"Ultimately, what remains to distinguish Democrats from Republicans is not a commitment to the little guy, but positions on abortion, gun control, gay rights and other social issues."
"There is a very rational decision by many people to prioritize cultural issues when they go to the ballot box because they think both parties fail to represent them on economic issues," says Sirota. "And so they vote for the person who more culturally fits what they believe."
"Sirota doesn't think Democrats should abandon their historic commitment to social causes, but he wants them to raise economic issues back to an equal plane. Pro-lifers will get hissed and shunned at party meetings and conventions, he points out, while big-business Democrats shipping jobs overseas get welcomed."
"It is a matter of emphasis. What do you emphasize with your orthodoxy?" he says. "It doesn't make sense for it to be OK to sell out people economically - as long as you are pro-choice." Link to full article at http://tinyurl.com/mn7e4
What Sirotra says is true, in fact, many of the "rich,white and secular" social liberal activists in today's Democratic Party have rather anti-populist views on economics. If born twenty years earlier, many of today's social liberal Democrats would have been Rockefeller Republicans. The social issues have come to define both parties which is why so many working and lower middle class Americans vote against their own economic interests.