NDN Blog

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).


The Trade Debate: Slight and Baffled

There is something of the horrow movie villain about the doha round. You knows its going to die, but it keeps looking like it might come to life, just to be killed one last time. If you can't quite follow what is going on, don't worry. Neither, it appears, can EU Trade boss Peter Mandelson. UK Prime Minister Tony Blair made a speech in California the day before yesterday saying:

I have not at all given up on the WTO trade round. After a long discussion with President Bush after our press conference on Friday, we both agreed we needed to make one final effort to re-energise the negotiation and I hope we can do so within the next few weeks.

A sidenote in this morning's FT claims that Mandelson - formerly Blair's closest advisor - was "slightly baffled" as to what the Prime Minister was going on about. While Mandelson had previously blamed "US Greed" for talk's collapse, today Bruce Bartlett puts the blame squarley on President Bush. Bartlett, who worked for Jack Kemp, knows irresponsible economic policy when he sees it. And he sees it here:

Last week, the Doha Round of trade talks collapsed. Future historians may well conclude that of all the Bush administration's economic mistakes, this one was the biggest. That is because we may have just seen the end of the free-trade consensus that has been at the core of U.S. international economic policy for both parties since World War II. The result may be a new era of protectionism that could be extraordinarily costly and painful.

On that note, i was almost tempted to get a copy of Senator Dorgan's new book, to see how frayed the rope tethering the trade debate to the realities of planet earth has become. But Daily Kos publishes a review, so i don't have to. And yes, Ladies and Gentelman, from the tone of it's comments about "The Toxic Waste of World Trade" we are indeed now floating in space.

La Cost of Spurious Crocodiles

What is the chinese for crocodile? Nope, me neither. But Lacoste are working it out. Daniel Altman, an editorial writer at the Herald Tribune, points to a new move in the ongoing attempts of the French clothing manufacturer to stop Chinese manufacturers waddling into the marketplace sporting what they call "spurious crocodiles".(Lacoste launched new action yesterday; read what the People's Daily has to say here.)

As NDN has said before, protection of IP has not been front of mind for the current administration. It is worth remembering, though, that there was a time when IP was even less of a priortiy. Following the revolutionary war, the considered view of the sitting administration was that it should get hold of as much foreign (normally, British) patented and copyrighted material as possible. (This book tells the story, while this was the result.) Now the boot is on the other foot. But, being fair, there is at least one obvious difference between 2000 and 1800. Two hundred years ago there was no way dominant European powers were going to let their valuable technological know-how slip out of their mercantalist trading areas. While India might get the tools, America had little choice but to steal and borrow its way to industrial might.

Today these ideas are widely available to any regime which shows a willingness to protect them. This is even more so in China. Companies are, at least to some extent, willing to trade-off the security of their assets for a foot-hold in a growing market. Its a complicated issue for sure, with some clever people on both sides. (I was surprised, for instance, to see a long passage in Jagdish Bhagwatti's excellent In Defence of Globalization in which he argued in favour of less stringent IP protection for medicines and software.) Yet, as our own Rob Shapiro noted earlier in the year, without these technological injections, there isn't much made in China that anyone would want to buy:

Most of the value of everything produced in China – from computers to automobiles -- comes not from the inexpensive labor and materials that China contributes, but from those who developed the products and the ideas that animate them, here in the United States or in other advanced countries. Yet, our government will nearly go to war with Europe over bananas and beef, while barely protesting which companies in India, China or Brazil rip off the ideas behind our pharmaceuticals, software and entertainment.

Lacoste might be french. But in filing suit to protect their famous crocodile they are acting in way that the Bush administration would do well to copy.

Facebook your Senator!

Like most Millennials, I have a Facebook account. Up until now it has allowed me to keep up with friends I haven't seen in quite some time, as well as join groups relevant to my interests. However, Facebook recently took on an entirely new (though predictable, as our New Politics Institute has been saying) role. It has become a new political tool, used to define and communicate with a targeted audience. Check out this e-mail from Evan Bayh:

Dear College Democrat,

Thank you for allowing me to address the 2006 Facebook Evan BayhCollege Democrats of America National Convention. The College Democrats are the most fun and energetic wing of the Democratic Party, and I was glad to hear that more than 500 of you took time out of your summer to attend this year's convention. The work that all of you are doing gives me confidence that our Party will not only be victorious this November, but that our country's future is both bright and secure.

Congratulations to new CDA President Lauren Wolfe and CDA Vice-President Awais Khaleel. I am confident that they will serve CDA well. I was also especially proud to hear that Indiana's own Bess Evans was elected to the National Council Chair and that Indiana was runner-up to the Tennessee College Democrats for "State Federation of the Year." Congratulations to all of you and the rest of the newly elected officers of the College Democrats of America!

The All America PAC has posted video of my address at the CDA Convention on the AAPAC Blog and on YouTube.com. I hope that you will view these videos and share them with all of your friends. The AAPAC Blog also has video of DNC Chairman Howard Dean's speech online for your viewing pleasure, as well as guest blogs and interviews of many of your fellow College Democrats from the convention, including an exclusive interview with your new President and Vice-President!

Lastly, thank you for making a US Senator feel welcome on thefacebook.com. I hope that you will add me as your friend, and I hope you will post comments on my wall and send me facebook messages. I also hope that you take the time to join other students on the All America PAC facebook group.

From an old College Democrat at heart, keep up the good work!


Evan Bayh

P.S. Check out the following links:


Democrats call for Strategic Redeployment in Iraq

Congressional Democrats are working to put their stamp on this election.  Last week they offered their New Direction agenda and a well-done video companion. Yesterday they offered a plan for strategic redeployment of our troops in Iraq, a plan clearly inspired by CAP's foreign policy work. 

After the election we will look back at this decision to embrace "strategic redeployment" as one of the most critical decisions of the year.  I argued against it on a recent television appearance.  We know the Bush plan isn't working.  That staying the course when the course is failing isn't a good plan.  But is this strategic redeployment a better option? Or just an option? Whether this is good politics or not, are we ready to fight for this option on the world stage if we win back one of the Chambers? Are we ready to take responsibility at this moment for what will happen in Iraq when our troops begin to leave, as instability in the Middle East rises and the Iraqi Sunnis ask us to stay?

I wrote last week that I worried that the events in Lebanon had rendered obsolete the Democrats Iraq frame.  After reading the Democrats Iraqi letter I still feel that way.  That doesn't mean Democratic leaders aren't right about Iraq.  It just means that Democrats have now joined this debate in a very specific way, in a time of profound transformation and confrontation in the Middle East, and will have to stand and defend a position that somehow seems a little more spring than fall. 

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.

New Yahoo homepage

Check out the new yahoo homepage when you have a moment. It's pretty video heavy for yahoo and the featured area of the page is all video - entertainment, life, sports news etc...I assume this is why they hired leadership out of CBS awhile back.

If you want to have a little fun - check out the show "#9." It's like watching E! online. The future of TV is here.


Good Things Come in Threes

Not that I read the news solely to seek out examples that support other stuff NDN has lately been saying, but if its out there, why not use it? Three choice examples harvested from this weekend's news forest. First up, the Times ran a big front page on Sunday highlighting growing numbers of economically innactive American men in the labor force, and in particular the trend to support innactivity by drawing down income from rising home values. As Rob Shapiro has said in the past, this (admittedly long-term) trend of dropping out of job seeking helps explain how the economy seems to hover close to the c5% full employment rate without seeing full-employment style rises in wages.

Second, CAP's Matt Miller has an intriguing collumn about Starbuck's CEO Howard Schultz's campaign to get CEOs and politicians to admit that rising healthcare costs are damaging American competitiveness. Says Schultz: "It's the cloud Hillary created when she tried to change the system .... People burned her so badly, and everyone remembers that. It's a subject people don't want to touch." A fair point. But people used to call Welfare Reform the 3rd rail of politics, and ten years on from the 1996 Welfare Bill, that now looks silly. Surely someone can make this issue a winner in '08?

Finally, an intriguing piece of bi-partisan research on that increasingly rare species; fiscal responsibility. The Times business sections reports on an experiment in which various wonkish institutions, including Heritage on the right and Brookings on the left, ran public deliberations on what to do about the budget deficit. Without wanting to be overly trite about the report's "ordinary americans are smarter than dumb politicians" slant, the reporters take seems hopeful. Given the facts about balooning deficits and the upcoming crisis in entitlement spending, participants in the workshops could be persuaded to support tax rises, and wanted the Bush tax cuts repealed:

“I was surprised that so many people were in favor of higher taxes, but I think it’s a good thing,” said Anthony Condo, a construction contractor in his 50’s and a strong Bush supporter. “If taxes went up to lower the deficit, and I knew they were being used for that, I would be in favor of it.”

Probably not much use in partisan elections, but it goes to back up a too little remarked fact: the more people learn about progressive ideas, the more they are likely to support them. Heartening stuff. Back to work............

Morning Roundup

In a recurring theme of this blog, it seems remarkable how on the sidelines of world affairs America sits today.  Tom Friedman hit this point hard on Meet the Press yesterday.  Brent Scowcroft in a Washington Post op-ed lays out a multi-pronged strategy for bringing peace to the Middle East.  While imaginable for the American government, its diplomatic maturity and complexity is unimaginable for the current "yo Blair" administration, one that has a hard time talking to the opposition party in its home country let alone adversaries aboard. 

Where the battle in Lebanon takes us next is hard to know.  Certainly the death of innocents yesterday - whether hezbollah used them as shields or not - has altered the game.  I have been very sympathetic to Israel's actions, believing that it was time to let Iran understand the consequences of their flouting of the international community.  Remember that in the early days of the Lebanon battle Sunni Arab states rallied to Israel's cause, pleased by the bloodying of the Shiite's nose. Perhaps Israel's actions have backfired now, causing a rallying for Hezbollah and the extremists.  But the current rise of Iran and Shiite extremists cannot be tolerated.  This didnt work out as well as it needed to.  Something else must be tried. 

But what is America's role in all this? Can we possibly take on Iranian-backed extremists, given our investment in Iraq's Shiite-led government? Can we suggest the coming to power, through elections, of extremist political parties with militias in Palestine and Lebanon, is a problem given that these elections were brought about with American urging? Can Bush publically state that rising oil prices are fueling global instability and needs to be tackled head on?

At a time of great global turmoil, America sits on the sidelines, without the credibility, resources, imagination or will to make a difference.  And the sidelining of America, in of itself, is contributing to global insecurity and instability. 

For more be sure to read Noah Feldman's excellent essay in yesterday's New York Times, and Henry Kissinger's op-ed in today's Post.   For more on these matters from NDN see here and here. 

An interesting piece on how Jane Harman handled her primary

McJoan from Dailykos has a very good piece on how Cong. Jane Harman successfully handled her recent primary challenge, and the differences with the way Lieberman has handled his.   There are many important lessons here for those trying to master the new politics of our new century. 

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