The recent uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and elsewhere in the Middle East have important consequences for China’s foreign relations.
With Washington becoming increasingly preoccupied with the Middle East, it will have less opportunity to focus on China. At the same time, the return of a US policy aimed at promoting democratisation could have a destabilising effect on Sino–US relations. China might reassess how it shapes its relations with highly repressive regimes, and it will have to take into account that Western countries are now better positioned to push resolutions aimed at intervening in certain types of countries through the UN Security Council (UNSC).
The uprisings run counter to assumptions that the predominant struggle in Middle Eastern politics is between US-backed authoritarian regimes and Islamic fundamentalism. Instead, the recent revolts involve a third force — the ‘urban underdogs.’ These popular movements are largely disorganised, have no leaders and are not based on clearly defined ideas. The uprisings are the outcome of poor economic conditions, the authoritarian suppression of fundamental liberties, and the highly corrupt nature of the ruling elite. Situational factors also play a role: the spill over effect from revolts in one country to the next; the availability of modern forms of communication to enable mobilisation; the use of symbolic places for mass gathering (in the case of Tahrir Square in Cairo); overwhelming attention from the West; and the policy inclinations of the US and European governments.
As the Arab world transforms, becoming more tumultuous along the way, Washington will face new dilemmas, and the fight against terror will no longer be overwhelmingly dominant. ‘Pushing democracy’ has returned as a major foreign policy theme in Washington as the uprisings partially restore the West’s self-confidence, battered from the financial crisis.
All of this has major implications for China’s foreign relations. Washington’s deeper involvement in the Middle East is favourable to Beijing, reducing Washington’s ability to place focused attention and pressure on China. But, conversely, the partial return of the push for democracy is not to the benefit of China or stable Sino–US relations. China may need to reconsider its quite amicable relationships with regimes that are repressive, corrupt and have little popular support. Beijing is insufficiently prepared to deal with dramatic political changes in such countries, clearly shown in the past when China’s relations with Iran (1979), Romania (1989) and Serbia (1999) were severely affected. This happened more recently in Zimbabwe, and now also in Egypt and Sudan. Other countries where similar developments could take place are Burma, North Korea and perhaps also Pakistan.
The Middle Eastern turmoil is also relevant to China’s domestic stability. Some activists in and outside China are hoping for a ‘Chinese jasmine revolution.’ Beijing overreacted somewhat, particularly in the early days, by taking strong domestic security precautions despite no signs of widespread activism in China. This may have been the activists’ immediate purpose: to embarrass the Chinese government and to show its lack of self-confidence to the world and the Chinese public. This in turn could make Beijing more hesitant about deepening economic and political reforms.
The uprisings are also affecting China’s international position with regard to the issue of intervention. Beijing probably believed they had no choice other than to allow the UNSC to adopt Resolution 1973, which gave the international community the authority to establish a no-fly zone over Libya. It was clear that the US, France and the UK were resolutely determined to launch a military strike, and certain Arab and African countries supported and even intended to join the intervention. Had Beijing vetoed the resolution, China’s relations with both the West and the Arab countries involved would have been severely strained — and the West would have still launched their attack anyway. This was a hard decision for China: Resolution 1973 could form a dangerous precedent in international law, as previous norms have been revised in favour of armed intervention in a domestic conflict. In the future, the US and its allies might reapply this, potentially to the detriment of China’s interests.
China’s hope for stable Sino–US relations following the state visit of Chinese President Hu Jintao to the US in January 2011, and China’s important relationship with Saudi Arabia, had induced Beijing to abstain from using its veto in the UNSC. Moreover, if a similar case does occur in the foreseeable future, it seems rather unlikely that China or Russia would use their veto in order to protect the principle of non-interference. Consequently, the US and its associates in the UNSC might very well see an opportunity to act resolutely in the coming years, with the aim of effecting intervention in other countries, comparable to Libya, a country first of all not allied with them and far distant from them. This is an opportunity that has likely not escaped Washington’s attention.
Shi Yinhong is Professor of International Relations and Director of the Center on American Studies at Renmin University of China in Beijing
Ferguson vs. Kissinger on the future of China, and what it means for the rest of us (http://ricks.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/05/17/ferguson_vs_kissinger_on_the_future_of_china_and_w hat_it_means_for_the_rest_of_us) By Thomas E. Ricks | Foreign Policy
Getting China Ready to Go Abroad
Companies need to revamp management structures and customer service before they can compete globally. (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703509104576328842793701106.html)
By KEVIN TAYLOR | Wall Street Journal
Chinese Spreading Wealth Make Vancouver Homes Pricier Than NYC (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-05-16/chinese-spreading-wealth-make-vancouver-homes-pricier-than-nyc.html) By Yu and Donville | Bloomberg
China shafts Philippine mines (http://atimes.com/atimes/Southeast_Asia/ME19Ae01.html) By Joel D Adriano | Asia Times
Is This the China that Can't? (http://www.asiasentinel.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=3200&Itemid=422) By John Berthelsen | Asia Sentinel
China's Bold New Plan for Economic Domination (http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/05/chinas-bold-new-plan-for-economic-domination/239041/) By Abraham & Ludlow | The Atlantic
wallpaper judgment day billboard. word
the Lion on the monkey visa finding out another Indian (very, very aggravating factor:p) lion in next cage actually on lion visa and not on a monkey visa!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! phew! !!!!!!!!!!!! what a heartburn! threatening law suits, opening a new thread in IV. Generally threatening to bring down the zoo::D
Banks are asking 5% down payment and 10% if the real estate market in that area is not currently stable.
If you are a first time buyer, you will have several other costs to foot such as
Apt lease breakage (if applicable)
Initial basic furnishings at home that cannot wait
Plan for all this, and in general it s advisable to have some money squirreled away to pay bills during emergency situations such as layoffs. Since you have already decided to buy a home, the one thing I would tell you *not* to worry about for now is selling the home.
2011 Judgement Day is May 21 ~ Los
Anyway I did vote NO.
Last week Lou (who is a Harvard Economics graduate) said he was sending one of his poll results to the WH. Very unfortunate for a non-scientific poll. The other thing is that often a lot of people in decision making capacity ie some congressmen and senators watch Lou Dobbs and are often misled which is why it is key that groups like IV tell the true side of the story. Right now Lou has an anti-H1-B agenda and has been trying to lump H1-Bs as a bad thing for America.
Why now is not the right time?
Because this whole War hysteria is mostly being whipped by one side - Pakistan. Immediately after Mumbai atrocities there were street protests organized by Islamic fundoos like Jamat-ud-Dawa, JeM, etc in major cities in Pak to protest against India. They were supposedly protesting because India is going to attack Pakistan! Most Indians were amused at that time as they were busy attacking their own politicians at that time for their Intelligence failures. This shows to some extent that something else is going on here and Pakistan army or elements within it want tensions on Indian border.
Why will they want that on Indian border in case it boils over into a war that they will never win? Because the Americans on Pak's western border are putting a lot of pressure on Paki Army to attack the Taliban and other Islamic fundamentalist nut cases that their own Intelligence arm - ISI - has helped train and arm. These nut cases are their assets for all the covert attacks on India to keep it tied down in Kashmir and elsewhere.
Besides they know that India will never attack and even if they did the International community will be pissing in their pants (including US) about the prospects of Nuclear armageddon and come to Pakis' rescue with a ceasefire call. Zardari and his Civilian Govt. Institutions will take the blame in Pakistan for succumbing to international pressure and stopping the brave Paki army from decimating kafir/powerless Indians. Army will announce a coup promising more security against India and overthrow Zardari/Gilani or whoever and entrench themselves again back in power for another decade.
What will America do?
US and rest of the world while shaking with fear about the nuclear war that was averted will start focusing foolishly (or maybe for their own clandestine gain) on Kashmir as the core issue and pressure India to give it freedom! What more does Paki army need? India-Pak hypenation is back so that Pakis feel important in International circles again. Tensions alive on their Eastern border to keep the army as center of focus and power internally in Pakistan. Covert terrorism in Kashmir will again resume with all the international attention on it, and Indian army and diplomacy is tied down there, and all the Taliban and other Islamic nut cases that they trained and armed have a cause to give up their worthless lives and not be fighting the Paki army for achieving their goal of going to heaven for quality time with some virgins.
Besides Americans dont care if Kashmir is blowing up - infact they would love to see an independant state their to get a leg firmly in South Asia.
So what should India do?
Not go to war overtly now. Start covert operations inside Pakistan on war footing and start funding and support for Balochi, Sindi, Mohajir, Pushtun, Baltistan freedom movements inside Pakistan. If there is any other terrorist attack in India, activate these people inside Pakistan to blow up their prime targets - Muridke headquarters of Jaamat-ud-Dawa for instance. Assinations of ISI officers, encourage suicide attacks on their army camps, cantonments. In other words make them feel the cost of any further attacks inside India, but covertly. And also take the covert proxy war to their soil.
For now, India should not attack Pakistan and give their army an excuse to squirm away from fighting their own created Franenstein monster - Islamic Jehadists on Western border. Indian army should sit back, relax and let the Paki army take their own creation on their Western front.
I hope the internal politics inside India dont come in the way of the above goal.
Covert operations are also war. Read war as concrete steps to curb this terrorism. Terrorist camps may be moving targets, identify them using intelligence and eliminate them. India is already at war, the world is also at war with Terrorism. Its a global issue - at the very least your coworkers are going to be concerned about business trips to India, if this is not nipped in the bud.
Here's a thought - India should start manufacturing and exporting armaments.
We can also export some artillery to Pakistan and invest the profits wisely. That way defence budgets go down and the funds can be used for improving national security (e.g: junk the British Raj rifles Bombay police use, provide them better bullet-proof vests and helmets), humanitarian causes and so on.We can offer it at competitive prices so that Pakistan doesn't have to rely on the Chinese, the Russians and the Americans. And we don't rely on the Israelis and the Americans.
India can be part of a profitable armament race and build a nation of defence contractors.
It will also give a boost to allied manufacturing industries in India, generate employment, so that they can also contribute to India's GDP in a big way.
DailyKos is a liberal activist group, with a LOT of influence on Democrats of all hues. Why, most Senators, Congressmen, Presidential Candidates regulary start threads, discussions etc.
Go there and see that is going on. (http://www.dailykos.com/story/2007/4/30/95526/3669)
Though the discussion is mostly on H1B, there are few gems on Green Cards. This one particularly caught my mind.
Some Leavening (1+ / 0-)
While I don't dispute the overall study, it may not reflect the current market. As someone who places software engineers, I'm finding it hard to find well trained people and companies often reject them before we get to the price negotiation stage. A lot of the people we find are on H1-Bs or have green cards. We are searching in the same pools as everyone else (and with our own sources as well) so it's not like we are selecting by place of origin. So, it looks to me from admittedly annecdotal evidence that there really is a shortage of native talent.
I think a part of this is because the ranks of U.S. engineers were virtually obliterated in the last seven years by the downturn. Many of those people simply left the field. Engineers who were here from India and other countries on H1-Bs got sent home, but they quickly found jobs that were outsourced to their countries. That means that their job skills continued to improve, while people in the U.S. found jobs (if they could) at Mervins and Wal-Mart. They left the Valley in droves.
The result is that it is very difficult to find people with current skills if they have been living in the U.S. And those who would possibly re-enter the market are justifiably gun shy about moving back to Santa Clara County.
This includes a large number of women (and men, for that matter) who decided that the downturn was an opportune moment to stop working and have a baby. It's difficult to cover up a two- or three-year gap in your resume. Companies want to find people with current skills. This is partly related to another, negative, change--the unwillingness of companies to invest in their "human capital." They won't train anyone on their own dime if they can get away with not doing it.
The U.S. needs to jumpstart the local tech worker group by putting some real muscle behind the effort. That means more than job training. We have to fund internships or something that will get these people real job experience on current products.
Oh, and then there's the whole pay scale thing. Would you live in Silicon Valley on $35/hour? If you didn't have a family, then probably no problem. That is to say, if you are here on an H1-B from India, then you'd scramble to get the job. But if you have a non-working partner or more than one child, then you are probably not going to leave Nebraska for the hot lights of Redwood Shores. At least you wouldn't if you had any idea what it costs to live in Redwood City. Start by bringing a couple hundred K to plunk down on your new home--average price somewhere north of a half million.
IV should totally change its strategy; drop all activism on the legislative front. Instead, start mass campaings of letter writing to DoS, Employers, Corporations, and Yes, law makers, both Congressmen and Senators.
2010 may 21st judgement day
You do have a valid point. Pakis would be insane to indulge in proxy wars at this time - when their pants are around their ankles.
But surely you are well-aware that they have done it in the past and now its all back firing!
The killer bees they nutured are coming back and biting them. And what are they doing to stop them from biting Indians? Nothing!
That is the problem. Which is why Indians need to raid these terrorist camps. Because Paki govt is not doing its job to control the very monster they created.
I dont know whom you are responding to but...
Then check. Context is everything sometimes.
So Eb2 does not do silly coding??!!. Get a reality check. The jobs that Eb3 and EB2 does are pretty much the same. The same monkey can do the jobs of EB2 too, so I fail to see you point.
There was no point, I said I did not believe it. I was showing the original poster that using a large black brush to tar a whole group of people is offensive and inappropriate. At least read my whole post before responding. I see I hit a nerve though. So it's ok for you t claim that EB2 means nothing and is ill gotten but not ok for me to talk about EB3?
Also, the law does not just state that there are no qualified -- there is also a willing clause. There might be Americans who can do the job, but such Americans may not want to relocate etc.
Bull crap. Don't make me open my mouth anout labor my friens. best we don't open this up.
Over the lot of arguments I have seen Eb2 claiming to be superior, please disabuse yourselves of it. I am Eb3, but I lord over Eb2, and the same EB2s lord over me depending on particular expertise and problem that is being solved, that is business. No, I am not talking about telling EB2s how to switch on their computers. I am talking about hardcore technical issues.
I'm not in IT. the more I hear IT folks go at each other, the less I think of the field frankly. And yes, i do not know about you but I met several people who came in the tech boom, whose jobs a monkey could do. Sorry, just the truth.
hair Judgment Day May 21, 2011
H1B, Labor, I140, I485, EAD, AP, PD, RD, ND, VB, RFE – Sucks man, had enough.
In fact I am so relaxed and laughed many times for the past 2 days. I read so many jokes and picked the good ones, I really enjoyed doing this.
Thanks for all those for their encouragement, positive comments and yes, Green dots.
If the trend continues, I think very soon I can beat Pappu in terms of number of green dots (Ssssssss!!! don’t let Pappu know about this till then, ok :))
nogc_noproblem , u r 5 star *****
"hey stop acting like a policeman you desperate immigrant.. think beyond your GC"
I want to tell this anonymous fella that yes I am desperate immigrant & have been waiting for my GC from last 8 years that's why I am on this form & if you want to post this issue post it on relevant site not here FORM IS ONLY FOR EB RELATED ISSUES.
I completely agree with you GCBatman. Its an immigration forum and its strictly for immigration purpose only. I loved this site and i always admired the admins and other senior members for their service.
But IV let its people to vent their anger against muslims and Islam. IV never tried to stop this. Anyway i am not here to vent my anger but to tell the truth that we scared to discuss.
If we can discuss about Mumbai terrorist attack, are we not suppose to discuss kind of news which is even worse?. Are we not supposed to condemn the killing of innocent school kids and murdering of innocent civilians?
hot quot;Judgment Day is coming May 21
Several years ago, people actually made an effort to make IV an organization representing all skilled workers, from all parts of the world. Now, immigration matters are totally irrelevant on the forums. Heck, forget about being an exclusively India focused forum, as this thread demonstrates, it is a venue to vent on matters even more narrowly focused - My religion, my sect, my opinion, my petty prejudices. If this is not irrelevant enough, we have enough threads on red dot-green dots to justify a whole separate category of forums :rolleyes:
Anyway, it does a pretty good job of turning off people. I guarantee you this thread alone has contributed significantly in influencing many planning on attending the March rally to change their mind. It sure did mine.
house Each one states that May 21st
tattoo Is May 21, 2011 “Judgment Day”
Why someone whose permanent labor certificate is approved should have to go thru the process of adertising when his or her H1 is up for renewal? Can you please explain me what is the intent of permanent labor certificate as opposed to LCA in H1?
pictures “Judgment Day, May 21,
All it matters is the "intention" to get employed in the offered position & the job duties of the AC21 job you have at the time of adjudicating 485.
Means.... never joining your original 485 employer ... by it self... wont cause any issue.
ok now i'm really confused between AC21 and future employment debate....
AC21 can be used after 6 months of 485 filing to change the job but then once u get GC you have to work for the original company that filed your 485 for few months?? so for e.g. if i change my job after lets say 1 year of 485 filing and lets say my 485 is approved after 3 years so now do i have to quit my new job and go back to my old employer to work for few months to get my gc? am i understanding this correct? i think i'm not... can you please clarify?? thnx
dresses “May 21 – Judgment Day”
In recent days, about 100 members of Congress and hundreds of Hill staffers attended two black-tie galas, many of them as guests of corporations and lobbyists that paid as much as $2,500 per ticket.
Because accepting such gifts from special interests is now illegal, the companies did not hand the tickets directly to lawmakers or staffers. Instead, the companies donated the tickets back to the charity sponsors, with the names of recipients they wanted to see and sit with at the galas.
The arrangement was one of the most visible efforts, but hardly the only one, to get around new rules passed by Congress this summer limiting meals, travel, gifts and campaign contributions from lobbyists and companies that employ them.
Last week, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) and Republican leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) found bipartisan agreement on maintaining one special privilege. Together they put language into a defense appropriations bill that would keep legal the practice of some senators of booking several flights on days they return home, keeping the most convenient reservation and dumping the rest without paying cancellation fees -- a practice some airlines say could violate the new law.
Senators also have granted themselves a grace period on requirements that they pay pricey charter rates for private jet travel. Lobbyists continue to bundle political contributions to lawmakers but are now making sure the totals do not trigger new public reporting rules. And with presidential nominating conventions coming next summer, lawmakers and lobbyists are working together to save another tradition endangered by the new rules: the convention party feting one lawmaker.
"You can't have a party honoring a specific member. It's clear to me -- but it's not clear to everybody," said Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), chairman of the Senate ethics committee. She said the committee is getting "these questions that surround the edges -- 'If it's midnight the night before,' 'If I wear one shoe and not the other.' "
Democrats touted the new ethics law as the most thorough housecleaning since Watergate, and needed after a host of scandals during 12 years of Republican rule. Prompted by disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff's wheeling and dealing and the jailing of three members of Congress on corruption charges in recent years, the law, signed by President Bush on Sept. 14, was heralded by congressional leaders as a real change in Washington's influence game.
But the changes have prompted anxiety about what perks are still permissible. In recent months, the House and Senate ethics committees have fielded more than 1,000 questions from lobbyists and congressional staffers seeking guidance -- or an outright waiver -- for rules banning weekend trips and pricey wedding gifts, five-course dinners and backstage passes.
Looking for ways to keep spreading freebies legally, hundreds of lobbyists have been attending seminars at Washington law firms to learn the ins and outs of the new law.
At a recent American League of Lobbyists briefing, Cleta Mitchell of the Foley & Lardner law firm said that while the law bans lobbyists from buying lawmakers or staffers a meal, it is silent on picking up bar tabs. A woman in the third row asked hopefully, "You can buy them as many drinks as you want, as often as you want?"
No, Mitchell said, not unless the drinkers are the lobbyist's personal friends, and she pays from her own pocket.
If that rule was clear to some, two charity dinners allowed hazier interpretations.
Most of the 40 lawmakers dining on red snapper ceviche and beef tenderloin at the recent Hispanic Caucus Institute gala at the Washington Convention Center got their tickets from corporations, said Paul Brathwaite, a principal with the Podesta Group lobbying firm.
Brathwaite said about a dozen of Podesta's corporate clients bought tables of 10 for $5,000 to $25,000 for the Hispanic dinner and the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation gala over the past three weeks. The companies then gave the tickets back to the foundations -- along with lists of lawmakers and staff members they wanted to invite. Some lawmakers did buy their own tickets, Brathwaite said, but many did not.
The rules require that charity sponsors do the inviting and decide who sits where. But "at the end of the night, everyone is happy," said Hispanic Caucus Institute spokesman Scott Gunderson Rosa.
"The corporate folks want us at their tables, of course," said Rep. Raul M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), who sat at a Fannie Mae-sponsored table at the Hispanic dinner.
Another provision of the new ethics law bans House members from flying on corporate jets. But senators, including the half-dozen presidential candidates among them, can still do so. Previously they were required to reimburse plane owners the equivalent of a first-class ticket, but now they must pay charter rates, which can increase travel costs tenfold.
The Senate ethics committee decided not to enforce that rule for at least 60 days after it took effect Sept. 14, citing "the lack of experience in many offices in determining 'charter rates.' "
The decision surprised some Senate staffers, Mitchell said, one of whom e-mailed her to say, "Welcome to the world of skirting around the rules we pass."
"Breathtaking. . . . In my view, they're not complying with the plain language of the law," Mitchell said. "I think it should be easier for members of Congress to travel, not harder. But what I don't appreciate as a citizen is Congress passing something but then interpreting it so it doesn't mean what the law clearly says."
The law has dragged into view several such perks that members long enjoyed but didn't reveal -- until they sought exemptions to the new rules.
Lawmakers for years have booked several flights for a day when they plan to leave town. When they finish work, they take the most convenient flight and cancel the rest without paying fees, a privilege denied others. But after the new law passed, some airlines stopped the practice, worried that it violates the gift ban.
Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Robert F. Bennett (R-Utah) appealed to the Senate ethics committee to allow multiple bookings. Then Reid and McConnell added language to the defense bill that, if it passes, would extend the perk to staffers, too.
New bans on corporate-paid fun could hit hardest at the 2008 presidential nominating conventions. The law prohibits parties honoring a lawmaker on convention days; some lobbyists say the wording means such parties before or after those days are okay. House and Senate members have asked the ethics committees for guidance.
"That's one of the issues that's going to need some clarification," said Senate ethics panelist Ken Salazar (D-Colo.), whose home state will host the Democrats in August.
Meanwhile, lobbyists are booking up Denver's trendy warehouse district and Minnesota's Mall of America, near the GOP convention site in Minneapolis-St. Paul, for the pre-convention weekends. Host committees for both conventions say they will honor state delegations, including members of Congress who take part.
"I think you'll see a lot of umbrella invitations," said Patrick Murphy, lobbyist for mCapitol Management, who is planning Democratic convention parties. "Invite 'Friends of Montana' and see who shows up."
One of the most fought-over parts of the law requires that lobbyists who bundle multiple campaign contributions totaling more than $15,000 file reports every six months. But lawyers say that a fundraiser for Hillary Rodham Clinton signals a way to avoid public reporting when that rule kicks in Jan. 1.
Female politicos have been e-mailing each other a slick online invitation to "Make History With Hillary," a summit and fundraiser on Wednesday. The invitation encourages women to bundle for Clinton by promising them online credit for each ticket they sell. Women who have already donated their legal individual limit of $2,300 cannot attend unless they bring in another $4,000.
"It's a universe of junior bundlers under the radar screen," said Kenneth Gross, a campaign finance lawyer at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. For the lobbyists among them, the amounts are so small that "you don't have to worry about tracking them, and it would add up to a material sum over time" -- but less than the $15,000 limit.
If a lobbyist asked his advice on the practice, Gross said, "I'd say 'Go for it.' "
makeup 2011 images may 21 judgment
Interesting to see how Pakistan will respond to such a move.
BUNCH OF IDIOTS WAKE UP. PAKISTAN IS A NUCLEAR STATE.
WAR IS NO SOLUTION TO ANY PROBLEM.
girlfriend girlfriend may 21 judgment day
hairstyles Judgment Day is coming May 21,
2. Did I say any of these are legal ? If a company applies for H1B, the company has to comply with the requirements of the law. It is that simple. It doesn't matter whether it is a consulting company or a direct placement.
Sometimes you have to step back and think of whether you can change a persons mind.
Some people no matter how you state things are already bent on looking at things in one way and then backtrack to find things that help them in their way of thinking.
It is different when someone starts with open mind and then form opinions as they get more knowledge. It is different when person starts with one way of thinking and then goes backwards to find their justifications.
Sometimes it is just better to agree to disagree.
WASHINGTON -- Congressional Democrats need a Plan B.
Republicans chortle as they block Democratic initiatives -- and accuse the majority of being unable to govern. Rank-and-filers are furious their leaders can't end the Iraq War. President Bush sits back and vetoes at will.
Worse, Democrats are starting to blame each other, with those in the House wondering why their Senate colleagues don't force Republicans to engage in grueling, old-fashioned filibusters. Instead, the GOP kills bills by coming up with just 41 votes. Senators defend themselves by saying that their House colleagues don't understand how the august "upper" chamber works these days.
If Bush's strategy is to drag Congress down to his low level of public esteem, he is succeeding brilliantly. A Washington Post/ABC News poll released earlier this week found that only 33 percent of Americans approved of Bush's handling of his job -- and just 32 percent felt positively about Congress' performance. The only comfort for Democrats: The public dislikes Republicans in Congress (32 percent approval) even more than it dislikes congressional Democrats (40 percent approval).
The Democrats' core problem is that they have been unable to place blame for gridlock where it largely belongs, on the Republican minority and the president.
In an ideal world, Democrats would pass a lot of legislation that Bush would either have to sign or veto. The president would have to take responsibility for his choices. The House has passed many bills, but the Republican minority has enormous power in the Senate to keep the legislation from ever getting to the president's desk. This creates the impression that action is being stalled through some vague and nefarious congressional "process."
Not only can a minority block action in the Senate, but the Democrats' nominal one-vote majority is frequently not a majority at all. A few maverick Democrats often defect, and the party runs short-handed when Sens. Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Chris Dodd and Barack Obama are off running for president.
And Bush is learning that even when bills reach his desk, he can veto them with near impunity. On Wednesday, Bush issued his second veto of a bill to extend coverage under the State Children's Health Insurance Program to 10 million kids. Democrats have the high ground on the issue and more than two-thirds support in the Senate, but the bill lacks a veto-proof House majority.
After Bush vetoed the first version of the SCHIP bill, Democrats changed it slightly to make it more attractive to Republicans. And the new version passed both houses too. When Bush vetoed the SCHIP measure again, almost nobody paid attention. The Washington Post ran a three-paragraph story on the corner of page A18; The New York Times ran a longer story -- on page A29.
Democrats can't even get credit for doing the right thing. If Congress and Bush don't act, the alternative minimum tax -- originally designed to affect only Americans with very high incomes -- will raise taxes on about 20 million middle- and upper-middle-class people for whom it was never intended.
Democrats want to protect those taxpayers, but also keep their pay-as-you-go promise to offset new spending or tax cuts with tax increases or program cuts elsewhere. They would finance AMT relief with $50 billion in new taxes on the very wealthiest Americans or corporations. The Republicans say no, just pass the AMT fix.
Here's a guarantee: If the Democrats fail to pass AMT relief, they will be blamed for raising taxes on the middle class. If they pass it without the tax increase, deficit hawks will accuse them of selling out.
What's the alternative to the internecine Democratic finger-pointing of the sort that made the front page of Thursday's Washington Post? The party's congressional leaders need to do whatever they must to put this year behind them. Then they need to stop whining. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid should put aside any ill feelings and use the Christmas break to come up with a joint program for 2008.
They could start with the best ideas from their presidential candidates in areas such as health care, education, cures for the ailing economy and poverty-reduction. Agree to bring the same bills to a vote in both houses. Try one more time to change the direction of Iraq policy. If Bush and the Republicans block their efforts, bring all these issues into the campaign. Let the voters break the gridlock.
If Democrats don't make the 2008 election about the Do-Nothing Republicans, the GOP has its own ideas about whom to hold responsible for Washington's paralysis. And if House and Senate Democrats waste their time attacking each other, they will deserve any blame they get next fall.