NDN Blog

New NPI Study Released: Use Search

Today NDN's affiliate the New Politics Insitute released the third installment of the four-part Tools Checklist, entitled Use Search.

The web is becoming an undeniably powerful force in American politics today. The standard talking point for this is now two months old--George Allen's "macaca moment" (a single posting of which on YouTube shows nearly 23,000 views). Simon is quoted in this MSNBC article, "Ninety percent of people buying cars do research online first...In the Internet age, we can expect the same for politics."

People are doing their political homework on the web now, and if you want to be found, we strongly recommend our new study.

And as always, you can get emails regarding our latest releases by signing up here

North Korea: Point/Counterpoint with President Carter and Senator McCain

Major ripples in the news today regarding North Korea: both President Bush and Secretary Rice have assured us the that the U.S. will not be going to war anytime soon. But two articles that did catch my eye were arguments made by Jimmy Carter in a New York Times op-ed and John McCain in a speech near Detroit.

Says McCain:

"I would remind Senator Clinton and other Democrats critical of Bush administration policies that the framework agreement her husband's administration negotiated was a failure...Every single time the Clinton administration warned the Koreans not to do something -- not to kick out the IAEA inspectors, not to remove the fuel rods from their reactor -- they did it.

Carter, in his mild mannered, straightforward way, gives his take on the Clinton years:

The United States assured the North Koreans that there would be no military threat to them, that it would supply fuel oil to replace the lost nuclear power and that it would help build two modern atomic power plants, with their fuel rods and operation to be monitored by international inspectors. The summit talks resulted in South Korean President Kim Dae-jung earning the 2000 Nobel Peace Prize for his successful efforts to ease tensions on the peninsula.

He goes one step further, recognizing the difference in how the Bush administration took up the situation. In 2002, "the United States branded North Korea as part of an axis of evil, threatened military action, ended the shipments of fuel oil and the construction of nuclear power plants and refused to consider further bilateral talks."

Back to McCain:

Under the Clinton presidency, McCain said, "We had a carrots-and-no-sticks policy that only encouraged bad behavior."

Carter explodes this myth:

With the risk of war on the Korean Peninsula, there was a consensus that the forces of South Korea and the United States could overwhelmingly defeat North Korea. But it was also known that North Korea could quickly launch more than 20,000 shells and missiles into nearby Seoul...The current military situation is similar but worse than it was a decade ago: we can still destroy North Korea’s army, but if we do it is likely to result in many more than a million South Korean and American casualties.

Carter even offers a few suggestions for a way out of the hole Bush has dug over the last six years. In this point/counterpoint, Carter offers a level-headed approach of the last decade and where to go in the next; McCain only seems to be able to point fingers.


"Fair" and "Balanced"

Of all the coverage being given to Foley scandal in the last week, by far the greatest reaction has come from this image:

Fox's mistake, which seems, if anything, to validate Bill Clinton's "conservative hit job" comment, has caused uproar all over the online community. BradBlog was the first to capture the screenshot, DailyKos followed suit, along with The Huffington Post (here and here), eventually ending up on the Washington Post's blog OFF/beat; TPM's Josh Marshall reported that, perhaps worse, the AP made the same blunder--though later corrected it.

Surely, one way to fan the flames of a Republican sex scandal is to have the premier conservative news outlet misreport it!

Of Poker and Partisanship

As a disclaimer, this post is not about the Republican candidate for Senate in Connecticut, Alan Schlesinger. But if you haven't watched his performance on Hardball (it's pretty gruesome), take a look.

Interestingly, Tom Edsall writes in TNR about how party affiliation affects poker play. A few points he uses to back his thesis:

Republicans are much less risk-averse than Democrats, and taking risks is crucial to poker...The party advocating preemptive war is not likely to be cowed by a big bet. Democrats, conversely, are the party of risk-aversion--supportive of the safety net, opposed to new weapons systems, and sympathetic to protective trade policies. They are less able to tolerate the tension and uncertainty of a game in which a week's salary--or more--can be won or lost in a single hand.

Another argument for the view that Republicans make better poker players is that poker rewards what feminists have long considered one of the worst attributes of men: the capacity to "objectify" the other...The game, pitting men against men in a zero-sum competition, is the classic form of evolutionary conflict...But the quick and dirty summary is that the Republican Party's candidates attract a greater percentage of men than women by advocating a male view of life as a game in which the rewards justly go to the winners.

It certainly makes sense, but needs to be clarified and examined further. First, characterizing Republicans as masculine does not make Democrats feminine. This election cycle, at its very least, should prove our ability to go on the offensive. Second, nothing shows that their Darwinian, winner-take-all approach will maintain itself as a long-term governing philosophy. (Check out NDN's use of soccer to brand Democratic values here). As Edsall concludes, "Empathy and affection damage the ability to win. I think the person who probably best understands all this is Karl Rove." For my part, I'd rather keep my sense of empathy, affection, and what's right - rather than giving these up to win at any cost.

Intellectual Property: From Sweden, With Love

Wired News features a captivating two-part series following piracy in Sweden. In the first part, we learn about the Pirate Bay, a BitTorrent tracking website that touts some remarkable facts and figures: the site has "an international user base and easily clears 1 million unique visitors a day." In Sweden, it appears the culture of piracy is, well, different. Simply put, "the administrators of the Pirate Bay believe the law is wrong."

The second part offers both sides of the story. It chronicles the entry of Rickard Falkvinge, a man who created the Swedish Pirate Party, into politics, and the role of the mysterious Pirate's Bureau. Marianne Levin, the Swedish representative of the MPAA, also gets to tell her side of the story. Both sides have become accustomed to the others' slandering words.

But this really caught my eye: "Parting with many copyright minimalists in the United States, [Pirate's Bureau] acknowledges that file sharing can do real harm to rights holders." This certainly shifts the debate - in Sweden they're not downloading in dark corners and alleyways, so to speak. They're doing it openly, civilly disobedient to a system they believe is flawed. It has become the job of others to persuade them that pirating is even wrong at all.

Taking the "Get these people out of town" Argument to Court

Fed up with federal inaction over immigration, many local towns have started to take their own measures, usually in very unorthodox ways. As the LA Times reports, one town passed an ordinance which "suspends the license of any business that "employs, retains, aids or abets" illegal immigrants; imposes a fine of $1000 per day on any landlord renting property to an illegal immigrant; and declares that all official city business be written in English only."

Some astute lawyers, however, have noticed that this isn't exactly Constitutional (after all, an issue like immigration is under the distinct jurisdiction of the federal government, not local). But we all know how House Republicans wanted to solve the matter, the enforcement-only policy that NDN picked up early. And, as David Broder comments, we all know that the Republicans inability to effectively deal with this issue is leaving a sour taste in the mouths of Latino voters.

Rallying the Democratic Base

The Post today covers the slow downfall of Republican incumbents in the Northeast, a sign for optimism for Democrats this fall. Says Rep. Jim Gerlach of suburban Philadelphia of his party's predicament:

"It is a combination of things, from the war in Iraq to gas prices to what they are experiencing in their local areas."

A multitude of issues, all seeming to make the R into a scarlet letter, like Michael Steele suggested. It also curiously coincides with some observations made by NPI Fellow Ruy Teixiera in his study of exurbia. Things are certainly changing, just how much we'll find out in November.

Republican Miscues in the News

Evolution, the evironment, and the minimum wage - three areas highlighting GOP troubles in the news as of late.

With evolution, voters in Kansas elected school board officials "who believe evolution is well-supported by evidence," the AP reports. The article references the late night fun poked at the state, namely The Daily Show's "Evolution Schmevolution," a four part series that, while lengthy, is worth a look.

Second, displaying the unwillingness of his own party to address environmental issues, Governor Scharzenegger said "California will not wait for our federal government to take strong action on global warming," in an LA Times piece covering UK's new accord with the state.

The Governator continues...

"International partnerships are needed in the fight against global warming, and California has a responsibility and a profound role to play to protect not only our environment, but to be a world leader on this issue as well."

...showing, sadly, that the Bush-led US won't be world leader, but our largest populated state will. Blair, adding insult to injury, called global warming "long term, the single biggest issue we face." The PM also appears in an LA Times op-ed, in which he urges for more American leadership.

Finally, Harold Meyerson of the Post has a fiery op-ed about minimum wage, declaring...

"In dealing with the major issues of our time (global warming, immigration, the diminishing benefits and stagnant wages that characterize today's economy) or in discharging its oversight duties over administration policies that have failed (the war in Iraq) or were stillborn (the rescue of New Orleans), the Republican-controlled Congress has been nowhere to be found...Still, the one thing that should engender more fear than the current Congress's doing nothing is the current Congress's doing something."

Enter the minimum wage bill (if you can call it that with a clear conscience).


Finding Progressive Theoretical Roots

The Times this morning has an interesting piece that reveals how conservatives are propelling their philosophy using "boot camps." The Ronald Reagan Leadership Academy kicks off with a class of 26 young people who read the ideological underpinnings of the conservative movement - the conservative canon beginning with none other than Russel Kirk . However...

"Every political movement has its texts. But James W. Ceaser, a professor of politics at the University of Virginia, argues that the conservative focus on core thinkers has no exact parallel among liberals. 'It doesn’t mean they’re not interested in ideas,' Professor Ceaser said. 'It means their approach to politics doesn’t rest on theory in the same way.'"

I beg to differ: liberalism's tenants were described much earlier. John Stuart Mill defended it 150 years ago in his essays. The Bush administration should read what he has to say about differences of opinion, namely "We can never be sure that the opinion we are endeavouring to stifle is a false opinion; and if we were sure, stifling it would be an evil still." Others have realized the importance of updating the groundwork to confront modern challenges. In an excellent op-ed in the LA Times, Kenneth Baer and Andrei Cherny, founding editors of Democracy: A Journal of Ideas, recognize just that. They end with these goose-bump-giving lines:

"Having seen the failure of a generation of conservative ideas on fiscal and foreign policy, Americans are ready to listen to an alternative. Now is the moment for Democrats to offer a set of breakthrough ideas that will create a governing majority for a generation. But this will happen only if they are willing to be more than the railroad conductor making sure the trains run on time, and instead put America on a new and different track."

Let's hope we can do just that.

Republicans are the party of...?

It's about that time again. Just before the August recess and Congressional Republicans are trying to get something accomplished. However, when I was reading the Times this morning, I was perplexed. Instead of the usual push for a ban on gay marraige or the triumphant return of the flag burning issue, we have minimum wage on the floor possibly tomorrow.

Says the Times:

"Mr. Boehlert and others have argued that Republican support for an increase in the federal wage is essential to shore up the party’s strength among blue-collar and low-income workers who could decide critical House contests in the Northeast and Midwest.

The willingness of the leadership to relent on a wage vote after months of reluctance illustrates Republican nervousness about the November elections, and a desire to break for the August recess on a politically positive note. Although many states now require higher wage levels, the federal minimum wage has remained at $5.15 an hour since 1997."

A curious realization that $5.15 times 40 times 52 is well below the poverty line. Senator Kennedy nicely illustrates the difference in the party lines here in the Post article covering the bill, asserting "we should be rising above politics" on such important issues.

And this is an important issue. The Economic Policy Instute has a quick snapshot showing that almost 60% of the workforce is covered at the state level by a higher minimum wage. Even at the city level, just two days ago the Chicago City Council voted to up the minimum wage gradually to $10/hour for certain stores in the city.

But turning back to politics, minimum wage simply shows the fracturing of the GOP - a party that quickly raised it's own salary, yet struggles to raise the ceiling for those at the bottom. Certainly not a party willing to rise above politics and do what's right.

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