NDN Blog

Is Election Oversight Being Politicized Too?

Very interesting article in the NYT today, looking at a recent report from the Election Assistance Commission, a federal panel empowered to research elections.  Apparently there was some serious scrubbing of their look at voter fraud, moving the findings from the consensus view, to a position more in-line with conservative Republican views.

A federal panel responsible for conducting election research played down the findings of experts who concluded last year that there was little voter fraud around the nation, according to a review of the original report obtained by The New York Times.

Instead, the panel, the Election Assistance Commission, issued a report that said the pervasiveness of fraud was open to debate.

The revised version echoes complaints made by Republican politicians, who have long suggested that voter fraud is widespread and justifies the voter identification laws that have been passed in at least two dozen states.

Democrats say the threat is overstated and have opposed voter identification laws, which they say disenfranchise the poor, members of minority groups and the elderly, who are less likely to have photo IDs and are more likely to be Democrats.

Though the original report said that among experts “there is widespread but not unanimous agreement that there is little polling place fraud,” the final version of the report released to the public concluded in its executive summary that “there is a great deal of debate on the pervasiveness of fraud.”

The topic of voter fraud, usually defined as people misrepresenting themselves at the polls or improperly attempting to register voters, remains a lively division between the two parties. It has played a significant role in the current Congressional investigation into the Bush administration’s firing of eight United State attorneys, several of whom, documents now indicate, were dismissed for being insufficiently aggressive in pursuing voter fraud cases.

The report also addressed intimidation, which Democrats see as a more pervasive problem.

And two weeks ago, the panel faced criticism for refusing to release another report it commissioned concerning voter identification laws. That report, which was released after intense pressure from Congress, found that voter identification laws designed to fight fraud can reduce turnout, particularly among members of minorities. In releasing that report, which was conducted by a different set of scholars, the commission declined to endorse its findings, citing methodological concerns.

A number of election law experts, based on their own research, have concluded that the accusations regarding widespread fraud are unjustified.

Buried in the middle of the artically is Karl Rove's use of Latin American stereotypes to justify disenfranchising voters.  Real classy, Karl:

The Republican Party’s interest in rooting out voter fraud has been encouraged by the White House. In a speech last April, Karl Rove, Mr. Bush’s senior political adviser, told a group of Republican lawyers that election integrity issues were an “enormous and growing” problem.

“We’re, in some parts of the country, I’m afraid to say, beginning to look like we have elections like those run in countries where the guys in charge are colonels in mirrored sunglasses,” Mr. Rove said. “I mean, it’s a real problem.”

Bush Administration Can't Find A General to be War Czar

According to the WAPO, the Bush Administration has approached at least three retired four-star generals to ask them if they would accept a War Czar position giving them strategic oversight over the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.  All of them have said no."  Marine General (Ret.) John J. "Jack" Sheehan put it best:

The very fundamental issue is, they don't know where the hell they're going," said retired Marine Gen. John J. "Jack" Sheehan, a former top NATO commander who was among those rejecting the job. Sheehan said he believes that Vice President Cheney and his hawkish allies remain more powerful within the administration than pragmatists looking for a way out of Iraq. "So rather than go over there, develop an ulcer and eventually leave, I said, 'No, thanks,' " he said.

And Gen. Sheehan works for Bechtel right now on "developing oil projects in the Middle East."  When the was profiteers want out, maybe it's time to take a second look...

The new Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell is having similar problems:

Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell has been unable to find a deputy acceptable to the White House during his first six weeks in office.

Several candidates approached by McConnell either turned down the job or were rejected by the White House, according to current and former administration officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not supposed to discuss the matter.

The position of deputy director of national intelligence has been vacant since May, when Gen. Michael V. Hayden left to become the director of the CIA. Lt. Gen. Ronald L. Burgess Jr., who was appointed to replace Hayden, had to vacate the post in January because regulations limit how long a person can hold the position without Senate confirmation.

While the matter lingers on, McConnell said this week, he has been working 18-hour days "at least six days a week" to handle the crush of work.

The general unwillingness on the part of qualified people to join the Bush Administration is threatening the operations of our government, particularly in areas critical to national security.  The end of the Bush years can't come quick enough.

MoveOn.org members talk to Presidential candidates about Iraq

Yesterday, in the first of a series of Virtual Town Halls, MoveOn.org members had a chance to ask questions of sevent leading Democratic candidates for the Presidency - Republicans were invited too, but none elected to participate.  This Virtual Town Hall series is another example of the success progressives are having in using new tools to break down traditional barriers and allow for more and better communication between candidates and voters.  You can watch all the video here, and below is one clip that illustriates both the quality of the questions submitted by members and the candor candidates are capable of in this environment.

Help Us Update NDN's Agenda for Hope and Progress

NDN needs your help to update our agenda. We'll be working on each section in the weeks leading up to our Annual Meeting May 21-22 in Washington, DC. You can read the current version below or on our website. Share your ideas by commenting on the bottom of the post or by email. We'll incorporate your ideas in the updated agenda that we'll be rolling-out at this years annual meeting. Come back often to join in as we work on individual sections of the agenda in the weeks ahead.

Read and comment on "Meeting the Challenges of the 21st Century Global Economy" here.

Read and comment on "Assert Responsible Global Leadership" and "Protect the Homeland " here.

Read and comment on "Strengthen Families and Communities"

Read and comment on "Modernize Our Health Care System"

For over two hundred years America has led the world on a steady march of progress. Across the globe we've helped bring peace, freedom and prosperity to more people than at any time in world history. At home, brick by brick, we've built a society that gives every new generation a greater chance at the American dream and has built the most remarkable middle class the world has ever seen. America has become more than a country, it has become an idea – of a self-governed democracy, committed to liberty, capitalism, free trade, peace and the "pursuit of happiness" – a powerful beacon of hope and light that has inspired many in what has too often been a dark and dangerous world.

Despite America's unparalleled success in recent decades in moving the world towards greater peace and prosperity, conservatives in Washington today seem intent on taking us down a different path. Their governing agenda has taken a sharp turn to the reckless right, offering an economic strategy ill-suited for the challenges we face, a foreign policy too belligerent and too ineffective, and a style of governing too arrogant and corrupt for our proud democracy. Their approach has not only failed to yield the results they've promised, but has endangered America's leadership in the world and broad-based prosperity at home in ways that will take many years to repair.

NDN believes we can, and must, restore the promise of America. We must work together to offer a new, optimistic, clear, achievable governing agenda that strongly affirms the common purpose of progressive politics, and brings along Democrats, Independents, and disaffected Republicans in a sustaining majority coalition committed to ensuring that the world we leave for our children is a better one than has been left for us.

It is in this spirit that in 2003, working with hundreds of allies from across the country, NDN proposed A Commitment to Hope and Progress: NDN's Agenda for the First Decade of the 21st Century. This annually updated Agenda serves as the basis for all of NDN's advocacy work.

If you share our concern that this bright light that has inspired the world is in danger of dimming, then join us. Join our network. Fight for these priorities – and against those reckless proposals that would undermine them. Use these Agenda items to spark a conversation and offer up suggestions of your own. But take action. For centuries the idea of America – the idea of hope and progress – has inspired millions to stand and be counted. Stand today, with us, and be part of this effort to restore the promise of America.

NDN's Agenda for Hope and Progress 

1. Meet the Challenges of the 21st Century Global Economy: Enact a 21st century economic strategy that will help all Americans succeed in the global economy and create broad-based prosperity and opportunity; restore fiscal responsibility and genuine progressivity in the tax code; champion free and fair trade; ensure the integrity and vitality of America’s capital markets and the U.S. dollar; promote entrepreneurship, innovation and broad access to capital; update national telecommunications policy to foster universal broadband; enact a new national energy strategy; raise the minimum wage; prepare for the retirement of the baby boom; and protect and promote the retirement security of all Americans.

2. Assert Responsible Global Leadership: Win the war on terrorism and end international conflicts that threaten our interests and values; foster security and democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan; ensure that America's military is the strongest, most agile, and best equipped in the world and our nation honors the service of our veterans; combat AIDS and other pandemics that threaten global stability; and work together with our allies and international organizations to advance democracy, human rights, liberty, free markets, opportunities for women, and rising standards of living across the world.

3. Protect the Homeland: Implement a comprehensive homeland security strategy; improve our nation's counter terrorism intelligence capabilities and performance; ensure that those on the frontlines have the very best tools, training and support to protect our communities; secure our nation's borders and ports without impeding the free flow of goods and people; and fight to protect the civil liberties for all Americans that have long been the envy of the world.

4. Strengthen Families and Communities: Put families, children and communities at the very center of our agenda by improving the nation's schools through higher standards, greater accountability, more choices for parents, quality teachers, and promised additional resources; fostering family friendly policies that help parents succeed at work and at home; expanding college opportunities; promoting safe neighborhoods, home ownership, and personal responsibility; keeping abortion safe, legal, and rare; embracing legal immigrants seeking a better life in America; developing an improved path to citizenship; and striving towards equal opportunity for all.

5. Modernize Our Health Care System: Increase access to quality and affordable healthcare; address the rapid rise of healthcare costs; ensure the solvency and effectiveness of Medicare and Medicaid; and invest in and encourage the extraordinary promise of the knowledge revolution in science and medical care.

6. Respect Our Natural Heritage and Move Towards Energy Independence: Fight for clean air, land, and water; combat global warming; strive for energy independence through improved efficiency, greater production here at home, and investment in renewable energy sources; and preserve our national resources so that they are available not only for the recreational uses so important to our quality of life, but also for those future generations of Americans to whom we owe our greatest responsibility.

7. Restoring our Democracy: Foster engagement in our democracy and civic life by making it easier to register and vote, ensuring all can have a voice in the national debate, and promoting civic education along with an ethic of political participation and national service.

How Close Did We Get to a Kerry-McCain Ticket?

MyDD blogger and intrepid reporter Jonathan Singer interviewed John Kerry yesterday and you won't want to miss what Massachusetts' Junior Senator said about John McCain. 

Jonathan Singer: There's a story in The Hill, I think on Tuesday, by Bob Cusack on the front page of the paper talking about how John McCain's people -- John Weaver -- had approached Tom Daschle and a New York Congressman, I don't remember his name, about switching parties. And I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about what your discussions were with him in 2004, how far it went, who approached whom... if there was any "there" there.

John Kerry: I don't know all the details of it. I know that Tom, from a conversation with him, was in conversation with a number of Republicans back then. It doesn't surprise me completely because his people similarly approached me to engage in a discussion about his potentially being on the ticket as Vice President. So his people were active -- let's put it that way.

Singer: Okay. And just to confirm, you said it, but this is something they approached you rather than...

Kerry: Absolutely correct. John Weaver of his shop... [JK aswers phone]

John Weaver is McCain's chief political strategist, his Karl Rove essentially.  Wonder how this news will play wth GOP primary voters.

Newt Gingrich Wants to Take us to War with Iran

Has this guy read a newspaper in the last 5 years?  It's like it's 1998 and he's addressing the Project for a New American Century.  Nobody can rest until Gingrich and his ilk are thoroughly discredited.  We know what happens when we let neocons test drive our foreign policy. 


This video was posted by Gingrich's own people.  That's right, it's not oppo research.  Wow.

John McCain Leads Coalition of the Delusional

John McCain was in Baghdad this weekend with Senator Lindsay Graham to brag about how well the surge is going.  They capped off the trip by taking a "three minute drive across the Tigris river from the green zone" to walk through a market.  Accompanying the Senators were 100 heavily armed soldiers, 3 Blackhawk helicopters, 2 apache helicopters and a partridge in a pear tree.  NBC's Tom Aspell, who reported the story from Baghdad, told Imus that with similar military protection "even Paris Hilton could ride a bicycle in a bikini through Anbar province."  After you get that image out of your head, look for Ret. Gen. Barry McCaffery's reasoned analysis of what is really going on in Iraq today.

WSJ's Perspective on the 110th Congress

David Rogers' look at the Congressional Democrats' priorities and challenges from when they return in two weeks until the Memorial Day recess is informative, but its best point is left unsaid: Republicans, particulalry in the Senate, are doing a pretty good job of holding-up Democratic priorities from a minimum wage hike to immigration reform, and everything in between.  Speaker Pelosi let some frustration show through, before the always on-message Rahm Emanul chipped-in:

In Ms. Pelosi's words, "Each house in its own tempo is moving forward." But when she said she couldn't promise a minimum-wage bill by Memorial Day, an agitated-looking Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel (D., Ill.) stepped in quickly: "It is a pledge we made to the American people and it will get done," he said.

The article includes a graphic at some of the biggest issues facing Congress:

The Onion's Take on Immigration

There's going to be a lot of serious and distressing news about passing comprehensive immigration reform coming out today.  All the more reason to see this light-hearted satirical take on the issue from the Onion News Network.

Immigration: The Human Cost

NPI Video Report: The Political Web Video World

Below is the email that went out to NDN and NPI members earlier today, highlighting NPI's newest report, an innovative video report "The Political Web Video World."  Watch the video below:

Web video and the power of user-generated content created by cheap digital tools has taken the political world by storm in recent weeks.

With that in mind, The New Politics Institute partnered with PoliticsTV.com and created a new kind of think tank product that we’re calling a “video report.” We've created a web video that gives an overview of the entire political web video world, breaking it down into a dozen categories that are seriously beginning to impact politics today.

Each category is explained and analyzed, and then portions of an example or two are laid out. You can watch the entire overview piece of all 12 categories taken together, or view each category as its own video piece. There's also a short accompanying written report that gives the link to every web video referenced.

NPI soon will be holding an event in Washington DC that will gather some of the most knowledgeable people on political web videos to deepen our understanding of how these powerful new tools work. More information on that event will be coming soon. For now, the report draws on the longtime experience of PoliticsTV.com’s CEO and Executive Producer Dan Manatt, and yours truly.

We welcome feedback on this innovative video report, and expect to do more experimentation the year ahead. Keep an eye on the New Politics Institute website, at www.newpolitics.net, where you can find work from a community that’s thinking deeply and strategizing about how politics is being changed by the transformation of technology, media and the demographics of the country. Please join us there throughout the coming political cycle – which promises to be a very interesting cycle indeed.


Click here or on the picture to watch the entire video

Watch individual sections of the video

Read the accompanying written report with links to web video discussed in the video report

Read Julie Bergman-Sender's NPI paper Viral Video in Politics: Case Studies on Creating Compelling Video

Read Simon Rosenberg's essay TV ads feel different this cycle, and are

Watch other video content from the New Politics Institute 

Visit PoliticsTV on the web: http://www.politicstv.com

Visit NPI on the web: http://www.newpolitics.net

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