NDN Blog

Edwards navigates the blogosphere

As Aaron noted below, Simon is quoted in this New York Times article on how John Edwards (and other presidential candidates for that matter) are learning how to deal with blogs. Edwards' faced a dilemma on whether or not to keep two bloggers on his staff who have written "incendiary comments" on sex, politics and religion. Below are different scenarios Edwards faced, offering insight on how campaigns view the power of the blogosphere:

Mr. Edwards could keep the women on his staff and have to answer for the sometimes vulgar and intemperate writings posted on their personal blogs before he hired them late last month. He could dismiss them and face a revolt in the liberal blogosphere, which is playing an increasingly influential role in Democratic politics and could be especially important to his populist campaign. Some bloggers saw the controversy as manufactured by conservative groups.

Or, as Mr. Edwards did Thursday, he could keep the two bloggers on staff, but distance himself from their views.

(Note: Edwards kept the women on staff)

For more information on blogs and the blogosphere in general, check out the work of the New Politics Institute here, here and here.

For more information on NDN's coverage of the 2008 Presidential election, click here.

Video from our Cuba event

Yesterday, NDN held a forum entitled After Fidel: A New Day for America's Relations with Cuba and Latin America? The video is up so you can see the presentations of our panelists, which included: NDN's own Joe Garcia (moderator), Congressman Bill Delahunt (D-MA), Miriam Leiva, Julia Sweig, Janice O'Connell, Sergio Bendixen. Afterwards, Q&A followed. To view the video, just click the thumbnail below.

Update: A New Politics of Hope

As promised, I wanted to put a few pictures up from the GMU-Obama rally last Friday. My pictures turned out too dark, but the kind folks at GMU's Broadside (particularly Mark Strandquist, who took these) have some great ones you can check out:

Bipartisan efforts on Cuba

The Miami Herald has a great article on how Representatives Bill Delahunt (D-MA) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) are leading the charge to change policy towards Cuba, recognizing that previous obstacles are now reduced with a Democrat-controlled Congress. (NDN's Joe Garcia reflected on the efforts of Congressman Delahunt here.)

For information on how these travel restrictions are viewed in the community, check out NDN's poll of Cuban Americans. Also, be sure to check out After Fidel: A New Day for America's Relations with Cuba and Latin America? an NDN forum to be held next Wednesday, February 7. For more information or to RSVP, click here.

Obama wants his campaign to reflect his rise

The Washington Post points out that Senator Barack Obama is trying to make his presidential run reflect his reputation as someone who is different, new, and above "slash and burn" politics. The article uses the following two quotes from Obama advisers to reveal this point:

"Our campaign will never be the most rigid, structured, top-down, corporate-type campaign in this nomination battle," said senior Obama adviser Robert Gibbs. "There are plenty of other people that can do 'politics as usual' far better than we can. But I hope we have a campaign whose support continues to expand even faster than you can put a fence around it."

"I think he is very focused on the fact that he doesn't want to lose his essential self in this process, and if he does -- and if what he projects and delivers is just more of the kind of politics people have become accustomed to -- it would be a disappointment to him, and to them," [his chief media strategist David] Axelrod said. "It's not just how he delivers the message but how we deliver the message, and what kind of relationship we develop with our supporters," he said. "If this campaign is what it should be, this is not going to be the hoisting of an icon. It's going to be the movement of millions of people."

For more information on NDN's coverage of the 2008 Presidential election, click here.

When immigration doesn't matter, it still counts

A very interesting article from the LA Times shows how the immigration issue plays in a campaign for a role that has little authority over immigration issues. Yet by having a stance on immigration, those hoping to represent the 1st District on the Orange County Board of Supervisors are hoping to increase voter turnout. As the article points out:

Emphasizing a tough-on-illegal-immigration stance there might seem risky. But with low voter turnout expected, candidates are gambling that such a polarizing issue can drive conservatives to the polls, because they tend to vote more in special elections such as this one.

Update on the January ICE raid

The San Bernardino County Sun has an interesting article with more on the ICE raids that took place in mid-January. To re-cap, the article points out that:

In the weeklong mid-January ICE operation, 761 foreign nationals were taken into custody. Many have already been deported. In addition to the 338 arrested at large in Southern California, another 423 were arrested in county jails throughout the region.

Barack Obama: A New Politics of Hope

The last time a Senator made a trip to George Mason to campaign, it was John Kerry in 2004. After winning the VA and TN primaries, Sen. Kerry, his wife, Max Cleland and others stood in the Johnson Center and addressed cheering students hopeful for change. Before that, Sen. John Edwards made a visit and spoke to a smaller crowd, addressing a larger audience outside of the room. Both events were candidate forums held by the school paper, The Broadside.

At both of those events, there were small groups of hecklers and it was obvious that divisions ran rampant.

Yesterday, a different scene took place as Senator Barack Obama took the very same stage as Sen. Kerry before him. There were no interruptions, not even from those who disagree with him who still showed because they wanted to listen to what he had to say just as much as the believers next to them. What resulted was complete awe in all that is Obama. And it happened because students from all over made it happen.

It was like your typical campaign rally: music, signs, balloons, and a bit of tardiness on behalf of the man we all came to see. Introducing him were the people who helped bring him: the Director and Deputy Director of Students for Obama, Meredith Segal and Tobin Van Ostern, as well as Farouk Olu Aregbe, the man behind the now popular "One Million Strong for Barack" Facebook group (which now has over 200,000 members), and who, according to Obama, "has a funny name like me."

But when Obama showed, the thousands of students who came to see him erupted - the Johnson Center, with soundproofing at every level above the noisy ground floor, was just as loud as it was in '04. He wasn't introducing Prince, as he says his wife asks when wondering why large crowds come to hear him speak. Obama knew where he was and used it to incite a rousing welcome. He entered with "George Mason knows how to throw a party!" and, in his usual self-deprecating way, dismissed his popularity by asking the crowd if the basketball team was making an appearance after his speech. Then, after a few minutes of "calm down," the crowd fell silent.

Obama's presence lived up to the introductory comments of Miss Segal, when she said that the Senator represented a "New Politics of Hope." After he gave the same background we see in the introductory video on his website, he touched on traditionally liberal themes: climate change, education, health care, social security, etc., he did so in his usual way. He held every individual who crammed themselves into the Johnson Center in the palm of his hands as if to say "yes, we can." But he can't do it alone.

Recognizing the incredible youth presence behind the event, Obama gave a brief history of the United States. Yet unlike Howard Zinn, Obama's understanding of history reflected the influence of young people, noting the Civil Rights movement, women's suffrage, and other such pivotal moments in our Nation's history, including the formation of our "rag tag" colonies, as challenging times where young people made a collective decision to change things around.

Of the two quotes from Dr. King that Obama recited, one stood out the most. That "the moral arc of the universe bends at the elbow of justice" had a profound resonance in itself; but Obama cautioned that the arc wouldn't bend on its own. He said that we, together, could be the agents of change we wanted to see in the world.

One could argue that Obama's humble nature makes those around him have so much optimism because he recognizes, in a different way than others do, his limitations as just one man. He has flaws, which he addressed by saying that he probably made more mistakes than most of the people in the audience. It seemed that by bringing his faults and achievements (past, present, and future) to the forefront, he became more like everyone else in the room. He was at the same level as all the other ordinary people there, which seemed to elevate in everyone else the sense that we share a role in changing the country.

The crowd was diverse, something Obama embraced from the start. Yet he he also acknowledged the ideological diversity he has grown accustomed to by recalling a story about a trip he took to Cairo, IL during his Senate campaign. Cairo, according to Obama, was like other segregated cities of the 60s, but when he pulled up for his rally he saw voters of all colors and beliefs out to support the "skinny guy with a funny name." In recalling that trip, he had proven that something was happening and that he somehow fits into that change as either the agent of change or a representation of the change that allowed Cairo's moral arc to accept him.

Without a doubt, Mr. Obama came to George Mason a humble man with faults just like any other. But he left a humble man, whose forgiveness had been exchanged with the hope of the thousands of the young and old who came to see him, yearning for someone to tell them how to help bend our arc more towards justice.

(My pictures turned out a bit dark, but I'll post some others soon. Until then, enjoy the video below from PoliticsTV):

For more information on NDN's coverage of the 2008 Presidential election, click here.

Cost of citizenship to rise

The LA Times has a great article about the proposed hike in costs for citizenship and permanent residency applications. The application fees would go from $330 to $595, and other hikes include those for immigrant entrepreneurs seeking investor green cards, who would face an increase from $475 to $2,850. Work permits would rise from $180 to $340, and those for family visas would increase from $190 to $355.

Why the increase? The article points out that Emilio T. Gonzalez, director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, said his agency faced a $1-billion shortfall for the next two fiscal years and was legally required to raise its own revenue to balance its books. In 2002, Congress gave it a five-year special appropriation of $460 million to eliminate a backlog that peaked at 3.8 million cases and to meet a presidential mandate to process applications within six months.

Immigrants send a record $23 billion home

The Dallas Morning News points out that Mexican immigrants sent a record $23 billion home in 2006. The article cites reduced sending costs and increased migration for the rise, which is the fifth straight of its kind. Roberto Suro from the Pew Hispanic Center disagrees. He "noted that Central Bank figures show a doubling of money transfers from $10 billion five years ago, and illegal immigration hasn't doubled in that time."

NDN's good friend Sergio Bendixen, who will be speaking at NDN's forum next week, was also quoted, saying that part of the increase is because the prosperity of Mexican workers has swelled:

"These immigrants are making some good money in the United States, and, therefore, they are able to send more," Mr. Bendixen said.

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