NDN Blog

Senator Kerry Not Running for President in '08

Senator Kerry ran an honest, if imperfect, campaign in 2004, and is a dedicated public servant who came within a few thousand votes of being President.  It almost goes without saying that many Americans would, given the chance, gladly charge up their flux capacitors and go back in time to change their 2004 votes.  Instead of trying again in 2008, John Kerry has decided to run for reelection to his Massachusetts Senate seat, and continue his leadership in the Senate.  The Boston Globe is breaking the story:

Senator John F. Kerry plans to announce today that he will not run in the 2008 presidential race, and will instead remain in Congress and seek reelection to his Senate seat next year, according to senior Democratic officials.

Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat, plans to say he will remain in the Senate to recommit himself to efforts to extricate the United States from the war in Iraq. His decision to stay out of the presidential race reflects a realization that he would have had an uphill climb in capturing the Democratic nomination, given the other party heavyweights who are already in the race, according to the officials, who spoke to the Globe on condition of anonymity.

Kerry plans to make his plans known with a speech on the Senate floor this afternoon, and is taping a message to e-mail his supporters to explain his decision.

We'll have the video as soon as it's up.

Iraq's Government: Bush's version and reality

Last night the President gushed about the Iraqi political system:

And in 2005, the Iraqi people held three national elections — choosing a transitional government, adopting the most progressive, democratic constitution in the Arab world and then electing a government under that constitution.

 A few paragraphs later he implored Iraqi leaders to step up: "now is the time for their government to act."

Perhaps the President should spend a little less time repeating his "elections solve everything" mantra, and a little more time looking at the underlying reasons that he has to keep begging, bribing and cajoling the Iraqi Government to play its part.   The NYT today looks at the shockingly bad attendance levels of Iraqi legislators and how that is damaging Iraq's fragile democracy.

Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, the speaker of Parliament, read a roll call of the 275 elected members with a goal of shaming the no-shows.

Ayad Allawi, the former prime minister? Absent, living in Amman and London. Adnan Pachachi, the octogenarian statesman? Also gone, in Abu Dhabi.

Others who failed to appear Monday included Saleh Mutlak, a senior Sunni legislator; several Shiites and Kurds; and Ayad al-Samaraei, chairman of the finance committee, whose absence led Mr. Mashhadani to ask: “When will he be back? After we approve the budget?”

It was a joke barbed with outrage. Parliament in recent months has been at a standstill. Nearly every session since November has been adjourned because as few as 65 members made it to work, even as they and the absentees earned salaries and benefits worth about $120,000.

Part of the problem is security, but Iraqi officials also said they feared that members were losing confidence in the institution and in the country’s fragile democracy. As chaos has deepened, Parliament’s relevance has gradually receded.

Cuba, the Embargo, and Fidel

Professor Nina Khrushcheva from the New School has an insight-filled essay in the Miami Herald today, which places the potential death of dictator Fidel Castro in recent historical context. 

When the end comes, change in Cuba could be as vast as any that greeted the end of the last century's great dictators. Stalin, Franco, Tito, Mao: All were mostly alike in their means and methods, but how they passed from the scene was very different, and these differences can shape societies for years and decades to come.

Meanwhile, some American lawmakers are looking to chip away at the decades-old embargo against the communist island nation:

Congressional Cuba specialists Rep. James McGovern (D., Mass.) and Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, (R., Mo.) predict a flurry of legislation this year to liberalize relations with Havana. Among the priorities: relax restrictions on travel and cash remittances to the island, and ease licensing requirements for exports of agriculture and medical devices. Both lawmakers say they doubt they could get free-standing legislation through both houses and signed by the president. So they plan to try to add pro-liberalization amendments to the farm or appropriations bills.

Congressman Becerra Gives Democratic Spanish-Language Pre-SOTU Address

Congressman Becerra spoke clearly and persuasively on a range of issues last night, coming out particularly strong for Comprehensive Immigration Reform.  Click the picture to watch the speech.

Immigration: What Comes Next?

The WSJ chose to emphasize areas of disagreement between the President and Democrats in their immigration recap today, leaving it to NDN's good friend Frank Sharry of the National Immigration Forum to play oddsmaker.

Mr. Bush and congressional Democrats agree on the outlines of a bill, but they are far apart on details. Both agree on helping employers fill jobs with temporary workers. Without that, they say, the U.S. economy will remain a magnet for illegals. But the president insists those workers must eventually leave, a key demand of conservatives who fear the growing Hispanic population is undermining American culture. Generally, Democrats want to let them stay and eventually become citizens.

...immigration is such a volatile issue that passing a bill "is going to be a mountain to climb," said Frank Sharry of the National Immigration Forum, a coalition of pro-immigration business, labor and advocacy groups.

Read more

Lobby Your Senators on the Minimum Wage

We wrote earlier today about the minimum wage in the Senate.  Our allies MoveOn and ACORN are rallying progressives to lobby their Senators to pass a clean version of the minimum wage.  More info below.


A bill to raise the minimum wage from $5.15 per hour to $7.25 over two years has passed the U.S. House of Representatives and is likely to be voted on in the U.S Senate tomorrow (Wednesday). Instead of just passing an increase in the minimum wage, some Senators are talking about giving away billions in unneeded tax breaks to businesses, ending protections for the 40-hour work week, freezing wages for tipped workers and even creating a line item veto for the President.

Please use the toll-free ACORN Hotline (866-888-9292) today to tell your Senators to SUPPORT an increase in the minimum wage and OPPOSE amendments that would delay a wage increase or hurt workers. Or click here to send your Senators an email.

ACORN chapters around the country are staging events and making calls to urge Senators to vote for a long-overdue wage increase without any amendments that would hurt workers or our communities.

Millions of hard working families have waited 10 years for a raise and deserve a fair minimum wage NOW. Please call your Senators today.

From MoveOn:

Last week, Speaker Pelosi and the House of Representatives wrapped up their historic '100 Hours' push, passing eight key measures on the economy, health care, clean energy and democracy. And they even did it with 13 hours to spare.1

Now it's on to the Senate, where corporate lobbyists are going all-out to stop these popular reforms by attaching 'poison pill' amendments and pushing Republicans to filibuster.

The first big fight is on raising the minimum wage with a vote expected in as little as 48 hours—and the dirty tricks have already started. We need to contact our senators today, urging them to pass a "clean" minimum wage bill and resist right-wing attempts to dilute the 100 hours package.

You can write your senators directly here: 


Or give them a quick call:   

(202) 224-3121

(Just ask the operator for your Senators by name).

Most of the 100 Hours initiatives are too popular for Bush to veto. So the Republican plan is to bottle them up in the Senate by adding amendments that Democrats won't be able to support. The minimum wage vote is the first test of this "poison pill" strategy—that's why we have to draw the line here and now.

While it's not yet certain which amendments opponents will try to attach, likely options include:

  • Giving Bush an unprecedented 'line item veto' over the federal budget
  • Dramatically weakening overtime protection for workers
  • Even reducing the minimum wage for waiters and waitresses, hotel maids and other laborers who depend on tips

It's critical that every senator hear from their constituents in the next few days, urging them to fight hard to pass a "clean" minimum wage hike and support the other 100 hours programs without poison pill amendments like these.

We always knew that electing a new Congress was only the first step toward actually making this country more just, peaceful and humane. Now, we've all got to roll up our sleeves and do the hard work of shepherding the real changes we believe in all the way to the finish line—and that begins today.

Scooter Libby's Lawyer Goes After Karl Rove

From the AP:

Attorney Theodore Wells, in the opening statements of I. Lewis Libby's perjury trial, said Libby went to Vice President Dick Cheney in 2003 and complained that the White House was subtly blaming him for leaking Valerie Plame's identity to columnist Robert Novak.

"They're trying to set me up. They want me to be the sacrificial lamb,'' Wells said, recalling the conversation between Libby and Cheney. "I will not be sacrificed so Karl Rove can be protected.''

Firedoglake is liveblogging the trial

There's a New Game in Town

You've seen their ads in the Metro, heard the buzz, and now The Politico a new publication committed to "covering the politics of Capitol Hill and of the presidential campaign, and the business of Washington lobbying and advocacy with enterprise, style, and impact" is up on the web.  Their layout is excellent and blogs look like they're going to be fun.  On the negative side, I am a little disappointed that they wrote the normal boilerplate about "maverick" Senator John McCain, and let him off the hook so easily for this massive flip-flop:

With his presidential hopes tied to an administration whose Iraq policy he supports but cannot control, John McCain for the first time blamed Vice President Cheney for what McCain calls the "witch's brew" of a "terribly mishandled" war in which U.S. forces are on the verge of defeat...

...in July 2004 at a campaign rally in Lansing, Mich., McCain said he had "known and admired" Cheney for more than 20 years and described him as "one of the most capable, experienced, intelligent and steady vice presidents this country has ever had.''

But that was then and this is now, and now McCain is making clear his frustrations with the Bush administration...

Would John Kerry, or any other politician, get a free pass like that?

Nobody loves you, when you're down and out...

President Bush woke up today to 28% approval ratings - somewhere Richard Nixon is giving a sigh of relief.  Now, news that new DC Mayor Adrian Fenty is snubbing the President's invitation and sitting with Speaker Pelosi, not the first lady.

Minimum Wage Increase Goes to the Senate

After passing the House with overwhelming bipartisan support, it's now the Senate's turn.  Passage of the minimum wage hike in the Senate is more complicated, and there are concerns that the bill will have to be amended to include billions in small business tax cuts, in order to avoid a fillibuster.  House Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel is not impressed:

“Why do you need a tax break to do the right thing?..Maybe [Senator Baucus] doesn’t have a strong feel for the depth of support that this bill has…I strongly disagree that this thing would be filibustered.”

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