NDN Blog

Wednesday Morning Roundup

Not a full roundup today, as we are off to a press conference to release a new poll we've just completed of Hispanics.  Lots of interesting stuff in there, look for it later today.  If you want to read something in advance of our release, check out a new poll from Roberto Suro and the Pew Hispanic Center.  It tracks a lot of what we will be saying, but with a different sample, also has some noticable differences.  They poll all Hispanics, we focus on just Spanish-speaking voters. 

Lots of news coming from the Middle East today.  My one quick thought is no matter what happens now the the Iraq-centric foreign policy debate of this year is ceding to what will be something else.  For the two parties, there is both opportunity and peril in these developments.  But what we now know is that the fall elections will not be fought on the President's failed Iraq policy alone. 

Tuesday night check in

Big week this week.  We release a new Hispanic poll tomorrow, and announce a new stage of our mas que un partido media campaign.  Thursday we have another great NPI event.  Next week I'm off to California for a few days, and we will be releasing a study about globalization.  But as promised, here is a roundup from the last few days....

Harold Ford introduced a very sensible bill this week, one that would make all future “off-budget” items – like the hundreds of billions needed for Iraq – to be in the budget itself. 

Bush, in a moment of candor, tells Vincente Fox that immigration reform is not going to happen this year.  In his other great moment with a head of state recently, we link to the great mouthful of sh---. 

Sebastian Mallaby has a very good piece in the Post called “Fighters and the Freeloaders.”  Thomas Mann has a compelling piece about how Democrats will take Congress this fall.  It begins:

"There's probably no way congressional Republicans can lose this fall, no matter how unpopular President Bush is or how unhappy the voters are with the war in Iraq. That's the prevailing view in Washington today.

But it's wrong.

If history is any guide, we're heading into a major political storm. And that means we could see a national tide in November that will sweep the Democrats back into the majority.

Virtually every public opinion measure points to a Category 4 or 5 hurricane gathering. Bush's job-approval rating is below 40 percent, and congressional job approval is more than 10 percentage points lower. Only a quarter of the electorate thinks the country is moving in the right direction, and voters are unhappy with the economy under Bush. Finally, Democrats hold a double-digit lead as the party the public trusts to do a better job of tackling the nation's problems and the party it would like to see controlling Congress."

Glenn Greenwald has a remarkable post about the extremism of the right-wing blogosphere, aided by research from Media Matters. 

And today, the Attorney General admits it was the President blocked any inquiry into the White House domestic spying program.  This and other fun tidbits in a good Times piece.   

Received my new Mas Que Un Partido t-shirts last night.  My kids were fired up, as was my wife Caitlin.  They look cool! You too can order some of our own at www.ndnfutbol.org.  Thanks to our friends at www.goodstorm.com for making it possible. 

For those in DC don’t forget to drop by our NPI event, lunch, on Thursday. 

Missed this morning's roundup

Sorry friends.  Will have a real good one tomorrow.  

And did not get picked for jury duty.   While I've enjoyed my past service on a jury, the timing on this one was not so good with our upcoming NPI event this week, and lots of other things going on. 

More tomorrow. 

World Cup Performance in Web and Mobile Space

Earlier posts on this blog listed the impressive reach of the World Cup in traditional media, and they had equally impressive stats in both the Internet and mobile media space. Yahoo! and Fifacup2006.com just released their stats for this year.

Here are some of the key ones:

* 4.2 Billion Page Views

FWC.com attracted more than two billion page views in the tournament's first two weeks, topping the site's total for the entire 2002 tournament less than halfway through the competition. By the end of the final match, FWC.com's 2006 site had more than doubled the page view total from 2002.

* More than 138 Million Video Streams

2006 marks the first year that video highlights of World Cup matches have been free on the Web, and fans have taken full advantage.

* 3.5 Million Flickr Photo Pages Viewed

Via its popular photo-sharing site, Yahoo! enabled fans attending World Cup matches to tag pictures and share their experiences with friends, family members and other soccer fans from around the world.

* 73 million Page Views on FIFAworldcup.com's Mobile Web Destination

FIFAworldcup.com went mobile for the first time in 2006. Millions of fans around the world accessed FIFAworldcup.com on mobile devices to follow all the World Cup action.

Monday morning roundup

Am blogging here from the Courts in DC, as I wait to see if I get to serve on a jury trial.

Didnt get to do my normal scan of the news today, but the most interesting pieces I found came from the Times, and report on the growing regional fear in the Middle East of Iran and its Shiite allies. From the first piece:

"With the battle between Israel and the Lebanese militia Hezbollah raging, key Arab governments have taken the rare step of blaming Hezbollah, underscoring in part their growing fear of influence by the group’s main sponsor, Iran. Saudi Arabia, with Jordan, Egypt and several Persian Gulf states, chastised Hezbollah for “unexpected, inappropriate and irresponsible acts” at an emergency Arab League summit meeting in Cairo on Saturday."

From the second piece: "As sectarian violence soars, many Sunni Arab political and religious leaders once staunchly opposed to the American presence here are now saying they need American troops to protect them from the rampages of Shiite militias and Shiite-run government forces.

The pleas from the Sunni Arab leaders have been growing in intensity since an eruption of sectarian bloodletting in February, but they have reached a new pitch in recent days as Shiite militiamen have brazenly shot dead groups of Sunni civilians in broad daylight in Baghdad and other mixed areas of central Iraq."

While there is much to be debated about American foreign policy these days, there is growing global concern about the rise of Iran, the main sponsors of Hezbollah. I offered some additional thoughts on Iran on Saturday.


Economic Special: 1% off.

"The backlash against globalisation is becoming more pronounced every day in the US." So begins a comment piece by Jacques Mistral, a European economist currently at Harvard, in this Morning's FT. Tell us more about that, Jaques:

Rapid growth in recent decades did not deliver those results; the best-off have done so well in the past decade only because they succeeded in capturing a huge part of the increase in national income. The top one-tenth of 1 per cent of the income distribution earned as much of the real 1997-2001 gain in wage and salary income (excluding non-labour income) as the bottom 50 per cent. It should come as no surprise that the number of those without health insurance is increasing and poverty ratesin the US are the highest amongall Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries, in particular for children and seniors.

Lest you think this is just a nasty case of we-told-you-so euromoaning, Mistral isn't the only one making this argument. Listen carefully, and elsewhere in the commentary jungle this morning you'll hear the unmistakeable thound of distant resumes clashing. This thudding noise is a different take on same brouhaha, midway to being thrashed out by Paul Krugman (D- Times, nobel laureate presumptive), Brad De Long (D- Berkely, Republican hating ex-Clinton economy boffin) and Greg Mankiw (R- Harvard, ex-Bush economy boffin.)

The gist of the debate has been exactly how unequal America has become, and how much of that inequality can be put down to returns to education.A decent summary of where they've got to is here, on the superb Economist's View website. The argument stems from an updated economic study, mentioned here last week. The killer point of disagreement is what explains the huge recent income gains made by the top 1% of Americans (see graph in link). The fact that such an increase has occured - what Krugam calls "Guilded Age II - is not in dispute. (In fact, the discussion is all the more remarkable for what isn't up for discussion. Just one example would be the fact that even the top 10% of wealthy Americans have seen relatively pedestrian increases in their incomes lately)

Again, don't take my word for it. Whats that? You want me to engage in my usual habit of finding business-friendly firepower to back up seemingly partisan anaylsis. Well ok then, i'll give you the ever Democrat-supporting Outlook section of this morning's Wall St Journal, discussing last week's improved budget figures. Quoth the Journal: "So, the tax windfall is another piece of evidence that income inequality in the U.S. continues to grow, which in turn may explain why the average American still gives President Bush low marks on the economy despite its overall strength.

Does this matter? Sure it does. The latest example of why comes in the opening paragraph of a fascinating story in this morning's Washington Post:

Jerry Nelson steered his grocery cart out of the Wal-Mart on a recent night, fuming about globalization, Southern style. "Another great night at the Mexican Wal-Mart," he groused to no one in particular.

Whatever the smartest-men-in-the-room decide, its increasingly clear that this 1% economy is not performing for Jerry Nelson, or most other Americans for that matter. Bringing that fringe 99% of the rest of us along for the ride can rarely have seemed more important.


Sunday Roundup

We've written a great deal about the Middle East these past few days, so today's focus is on other news today:  

The Post's lede editorial today begins with this remarkable graph: "The world last week seemed almost to be spinning out of control. From Lebanon to North Korea to Darfur, from Baghdad to Bombay, the news was frightening or depressing or both. Hundreds of innocent people died. Oil prices soared, stock prices fell. It's been some time since global affairs seemed so bleak."  They then raise the vital question - is the world spinning out of control because of the weakness of the Administration, or despite it?  The answer to this question is one of the most important ones of our time. 

Thinkprogress captures the well-reported exchange between Bush and Putin, where, at a low moment for our country, the Russian autocrat bests an American President in a discussion of the meaning of democracy. 

The Post reports how worried GOP leaders are that the immigration debate could do long term damage to their Party.  NDN agrees that they should be worried.

The Times previews this week's Senate stemcell debate. 

On the subject of Presidential power, talkingpointsmemo offers an interesting take on what happened this week with FISA and Arlen Specter.  Glenn Greenwald, author of How Would a Patriot Act? has had a series of thoughtful posts on the subject this week. And in a related editorial, the Times weighs in hard:

"It is only now, nearly five years after Sept. 11, that the full picture of the Bush administration’s response to the terror attacks is becoming clear. Much of it, we can see now, had far less to do with fighting Osama bin Laden than with expanding presidential power.

Over and over again, the same pattern emerges: Given a choice between following the rules or carving out some unprecedented executive power, the White House always shrugged off the legal constraints. Even when the only challenge was to get required approval from an ever-cooperative Congress, the president and his staff preferred to go it alone. While no one questions the determination of the White House to fight terrorism, the methods this administration has used to do it have been shaped by another, perverse determination: never to consult, never to ask and always to fight against any constraint on the executive branch.

One result has been a frayed democratic fabric in a country founded on a constitutional system of checks and balances. Another has been a less effective war on terror."

And finally, the Times Magazine has a piece that I've haven't read yet - but will tonight - on the possible return of nuclear power

Saturday Morning Reflections

I will do more of a news roundup tomorrow, but today wanted to reflect upon the rising violence in the Middle East.   Here we go:

Iran is a big problem - At the heart of Israel's actions this week is a needed and important challenge of the efforts of Iran to become a regional hegemon.  Iran is a significant funder of both Hezbollah and Hamas; they are developing nuclear weapons against the objections of the world; they have a new powerful beachhead in Iraq; their current leader is perhaps, should we say, "unstable:" with oil revenues surging, they have the money to project greater power; and I believe they have, along with the Russians, decided to create instability in the Middle East to drive up the price of oil to both weaken the West and reinforce their power. 

Iran should be viewed as a classic regional aggressor, acting outside the norms of the International Community.  As we are tied down in Iraq, and with reduced money, international credibility and troops, America is at this moment ill-equipped to lead a multi-year effort to contain Iran's ambitions.  Israel sees all this, and is taking aggressive action to begin challenging Iran before they grow too powerful, knowing that the America and the world at this point are unlikely to be effective at checking the dangerous rise of Iran. 

The high cost of oil is creating global instability - While much has been made of the environmental impact of our dependence on fossil fuels, it is time to begin a public conversation about the security challenges it poses.  Several oil states - Russia, Iran, Venezuela - buoyed by high oil prices, are becoming exporters of instability.  As the providers of something all growing nations are deeply dependent on, they literally have the world over a barrel.  Challenge Russia as the Europeans wanted to, and Putin threatens to cut off natural gas supplies.   Bush goes to Russia for the G-8, and is muted in his criticism of the growing authoritarianism of Putin and his team. 

Remember that when Hamas was elected Russia joined Iran as one of first nations to provide monthly aid.  Hamas's leadership visited Russia in their first trip outside the Middle East.  There is clear evidence of a growing deep and strategic relationship between Russia and Iran.  The provocative acts by Hamas and Hezbollah came at a time when Israel and the moderates in the Palestinian government were making progress on talks to have Israel pull out of the West Bank as it did in Gaza, a core plank of Olmert's recent campaign.  

The provocative acts by Hamas and Hezbollah appeared strategic and coordinated, designed to create instability and possibly regional war.  But who would want this? Certainly not the Palestinian or Lebanese governments, as they were benefiting from the recent peace.  Not the Saudis or Jordanians.  It sure makes sense to believe these actions were encouraged by Iran.  Both Hamas and Hezbollah are enemies of Israel, are bankrolled by Iran, and the actions themselves seemed more designed to create instability then to achieve a concrete outcome - and who benefits from instability in the Middle East?  Those who own the oil - Iran, Russia - and those who have a vested interest in fostering instability in the region. 

The question facing our government, great friends of the US oil industry, is do they believe the high cost of oil to be a problem for America? Sure doesn't seem that way by their actions.  And fundamentally, if we cannot accept as a nation that our dependence on fossil fuels is becomg a one of our greatest societal and security threats, then our government is no longer serving the interests of the American people.   

Tracking the Conservatives' Mastery of Niche Marketing

The New Politics Institute is mostly focused on what progressives can do to take advantage of the current wave of new media and new tools and connect with emerging constituencies. However, when it was founded a little over the year ago, we said we wanted to keep closely watching the conservative strategy too.

A new book is just coming out that should be useful in that regard: One Party Country : The Republican Plan for Dominance in the 21st Century, by Tom Hamburger and Peter Wallsten. These LA Times reporters look closely at the niche target marketing strategy that the Republicans executed in the 2004 election and their plans to keep tipping the country to their camp. The book is not out yet and I haven’t read it, but I used to work with Tom Hamburger and expect it will be excellent. George Will essentially reviews the book in his column in this week’s Newsweek and you can get a sense of the plan on the other side.

Peter Leyden

A Taxing President

Its been a fascinating week for that bemused breed: the GOP economic policy observer. And all the more so for Paul Krugman's collumn in The Times this morning. He nicely lays out the debate. Republicans complain they don't get much credit for a growing economy. Economists point out this is because most people haven't seen any benefit. He also picks up on new research highlighed a few days ago over at the CBPP showing huge rises in income concentration for the top 1% (and the top .01%) of Americans, and argues that most Americans haven't shared in this sucess.

Just for fun, here is a case in point. I was fiddling around with some wage figures for a report NDN is putting together on the Republican economic record. The Bureau of Labor Statistics tells us that the average American wage when the President won re-election was $480.41. (Stats fans - check the average weekly earnings box, and click retrieve data.) Today that figure is $543.65, which looks ok. But control for the fact that prices have gone up around 15% in this period and the real weekly wage of the average America is - guess what? - $480.40. So, on our calculations, average americans haven't gained one cent under President Bush. In fact, they've lost one.

But perhaps the most perceptive comment on all of the week's economic news comes nestled in an editorial in this morning's Financial Times. They note that the President economic push this week wasn't just to battle for a tie on his economic record in the run-in to November. In fact, something more important is afoot, something central to his legacy as a President and the governance strategy of conservatives more generally.

"The president's chief aim was in fact to bolster his campaign to convert the temporary tax cuts enacted in 2001 and 2003 into permanent reductions beyond their 2010 expiry date. It is smart politics that sends two messages: first, the numbers reassure fiscal conservatives alienated by the administration's record of rising deficits; and, second, Mr Bush's interpretation of the data rallies supply-side radicals who believe America's thumping GDP growth has been caused by the tax cuts."

As Rob Shapiro wrote yesterday, its difficult to know where to begin. The changed estimates can't have been the result of tax policy, because tax policy is unchanged since they were first made. They could well have been the result of fiddled figures, as both Rob and Brad De Long argued this week. And it couldn't be clearer after this week that the tax cuts do not pay for themselves. Yet, the more important battle is whether the tax cuts will be made permanent when they expire in 2010. If they are most estimates suggest that their costs will go through the roof - 3.3 trillion through 2017, says the Congressional Budget Office - significantly worsening the budget deficit for whoever is unlucky enough to pick up the President's economic tab. Not allowing this to happen must be among the most important economic fights of the next two years.

Syndicate content