NDN Blog

NPI Fellow Jennifer Nix lays out the new tool of quick books

The New Politics Institute's new fellow Jennifer Nix has written an excellent case study in the most recent The Nation about how progressives can leverage the new tool of quick books. Her How to Create a Liberal Bestseller is a magazine article, but it could also be considered as part of NPI's growng body of work on how to use a burgeoning array of new tech, new media, and new tools. She explains, among other things, how she was able to take advantage of the progressive blogosphere to catapult Glenn Greenwald's new book How Would a Patriot Act? to a New York Times bestseller. Nix has now refined a proven approach to get big ideas from progressives quickly into relatively small, readable books that can immediately impact the public debate.


Interdependence Day

It might be two days out of date, but Sebastain Mallaby's unusually sane article on trade and energy security will age well. He points out how wrong-headed - not to mention economically illiterate - the energy policies of the world's big powers have become. Remembering 1990s vintage interdependence can help reverse the drift.....

Mallaby notes that The US wants to make more of its energy at home. This can only make the country less safe, by making itself more vulnerable to energy supply disruptions in one country (i.e. itself). Meanwhile Russia pointlessly antagonises its neighbor by meddling with their gas supplies, and China equally pointlessly buys up African oil fields they could otherwise have access too on world markets. Ultimately Mallaby hits the bullseye:

"There's no sense in these nationalistic conceptions of energy security. As Daniel Yergin has written recently in Foreign Affairs, real energy security requires setting aside the pipe dream of energy independence and embracing interdependence."

Its pleasing to see someone making this argument for greater interdependnce, particularily so on the day the Doha round finally, and tragically tanked. Their collapse is just one more, latest example of a failed response by politicians to the challenge of globalization. More interesting is how Peter Beinart recently pointed out in a pangyric to Tony Blair's final year, how progressives in the 1990s crafted out a different, better approach.......

"Blair's vision predates September 11. He began developing it in the late '90s--in the wake of the East Asian financial crisis and the Kosovo war. In those two disparate events, Blair saw a common thread: interdependence....For Blair, the lesson was that, in a globalized world, countries export their problems--often across continents. And, as a result, Great Britain and the United States could only ensure their prosperity and security by more aggressively helping other countries govern themselves."

And this is not an approach that Beinhart has cunningly crafted onto Blair. It is one the British Prime Minister developed himself, in his visionary Chicago speech in 1999. Then dubbed "The Blair Doctrine", it is worth reading both as a critique of the current administratios policy and a hopeful template for progressives in the future. Sadly, this approach is everywhere in retreat. Our only bright hope is that its ressurection has rarely been needed more.

Morning thoughts

It has been said that the greatest tragedy of our failure in Iraq has been how it has weakened our capacity to project power aboard, and tackle emerging challenges and threats.  Today we are witnessing what should be considered a series of routine challenges emerge - the provocative threats of Iran and North Korea, the faltering of Afghanistan, the corruption of Russia, the growing anti-Americanism in Latin America, the sorrow of Sudan, the slide of Somalia.  Is it me or does America seem to be more bystander than leader in all these cases? Watching, waiting, buying time as our attention continues to be on Iraq? Has the world lost the America it knew for much of the 20th century, benelovent superpower, counted on to put things right?

Will be interesting to see how the Administration handles the contested Mexican election.  Given the way they won ugly in 2000, not sure they have will have the moral upper hand here. 

The Times reports that the Republicans may have found a way to unify their party on immigration.   It is classic Republican play - long on politics and marketing, short on solving the problem.  Look for more on this vital issue in future days here and at NDN's immigration site

And in honor of the World Cup, don't forget to order your cool NDN soccer gear at www.ndnfutbol.org today!

July 4th roundup

My family and I had a wonderful day today.  Our DC neighborhood, the Palisades, has been hosting a small town style parade for 40 years.  It is a spirited, old fashioned parade with a 21st century twist - floats, candidates, marching bands and South American dancers, candy for the kids and the new thing this year little plastic wristbands.  It was hot as always, too hot, but somehow it makes it all that much more a community thing, this suffering together. 

We read the Declaration of Independence together for the first time together last night as a family.  I enjoyed it.  Reading those magic words outloud was a pleasure.  It is a little long for young kids, as my two boys left the room soon into the reading.  But my 11 month old daughter Katie of course made it through the whole thing. 

This afternoon, we watched Italy outlast Germany in a fast-paced but still somewhat unsatisfying World Cup game.  Given how disapointing the American team was this year, we should all take consolation that they outplayed Italy in their 1-1 draw, and now Italy is heading to the finals.  Keeps reminding us of the saying, on any given day....

Finally, on to Joe Lieberman's suprising announcement yesterday that he is petitioning to get on the November ballot as an independent.  I am supporting Joe, and hope he wins.  But like Hillary Clinton I feel I must support whomever the Democratic nominee is for US Senate in Connecticut, a contest to be decided in early August. 

Joe Lieberman has been one of the most thoughtful, serious elected officials I've ever come across.  He was able enough to get on the ticket on 2000, survive the incredible anti-Democratic wave in 1994 and beat Lowell Weicker in a remarkable upset in 1988.  He is not just a thought-leader, he is an accomplished pol.  Therefore I will give him the benefit of the doubt that his move to start collecting petitions will help him return to the US Senate, but from where I sit it sure makes his task look a whole lot harder. 

I will have more thoughts on the Lieberman race over the next few weeks. 

Excited about the new blog

Thanks to Mike for getting the new blog up today.   We are all still learning how to use it, but expect much more content on it from NDN and our friends across the country.  All part of a new, more distributed content creation system we will putting into place over the next 6-9 months. 

Feel free to offer suggestions, comments, and help us make this and various other sites more powerful tools to advance our brand of politics. 

Welcome to the new NDN Blog!

Welcome to the new and improved NDN Blog! We've migrated to a Drupal-based platform which provides increased functionality and stability. Look for additional features in the coming weeks.

We've also implemented individual user profiles so each NDN Blog visitor can have a unique identity associated with blog. You will need your username, which you can sign up for on the right, to post comments and participate in online polls as well as use additional features in the future. We hope you enjoy the new blog.

P.S. For those of you nostalgic for the old NDN Blog, we will have an archived version of much of the last 3 years of content up shortly.

5 years later Osama is still with us

In a serious piece in the Washington Post today, Peter Bergen makes a compelling case that Al Qaeda itself - not copycat organizations - is gaining strength once again. Osama himself has been more vocal in recent weeks than he has been in years.

This story reminds all of us what an utter failure Bush's foreign policy has been. In less than four years after Pearl Harbor, FDR defeated Hitler and the Japanese, and put into place global building blocks that kept the world relatively peaceful and prosperous for two generations. In the nearly five years since 9/11, Bush has spent more than a trillon dollars and what do we have to show for it? A Middle East perhaps more dangerous than when he came to office; rising number of terrorist attacks around the world; enemy number one Osama still on the loose, and gaining strength; Afghanistan has become a troubled state again; as we saw with Katrina and even in the last few days with the flood-related closure of the IRS and other government buildings we are not ready; important international institutions that allow the world to act together when needed have been weakened; and as of this week, the intellectual and legal basis of a great deal of the war on terror has been found unconstitutional by a GOP-friendly Supreme Court.

It is time for the nation to come to grips with the fact that our foreign policy has utterly failed to produce the results we need to feel more safe, and must find a better path. In my mind, the mistakes have come to some degree from this administration's narrow notion of our mission in the world. Bush has argued that America's pirmary foreign policy goal should be to wage and win the war on terror. But is that really the right aspiration for us? Shouldn't it be to work with allies to foster liberty, democracy, free markets and the rule of law? The war on terror should be seen as a tactic in this greater struggle, not an end in itself. It is simply not a large enough ambition for this remarkable and just nation.

Five years, trillions spent, and we are no safer. What a contrast to FDR, who in just four defeated the greatest threats to our way of life in our history, and created the building blocks that created that Pax Americana that has kept the world marching towards democracy and free markets.

History will not be kind to the tenure of Mr. Bush.

The Minimum Wage and Ballot Initiatives

Progressives are united on the need to raise the minimum wage. It's been almost a decade since the last hike and it's unrealistic to think that anyone could survive or raise a family on $5.15/hr. Yet, House Republicans are refusing to allow a vote on increasing the minimum wage to $7.25/hr over two years. They must have exhausted the energy they devote to legislating in their attempt to pass another pay raise for members of congress - whose pay has jumped by $31,600 since the last increase in the minimum wage.

In Arizona and Montana, the AFL-CIO and its members are taking matters into their own hands. Activists are collecting signatures in those states to put initiatives on the ballot for a $2.10/hr increase in the minimum wage. Reasonable people may disagree on the proper role of ballot initiatives in our Democracy, but this is an intriguing tactic for two reasons. First, moving towards a living wage is an important policy goal and ballot initiatives offer a way around obstinate Republican leadership in the House. Secondly, anti-gay marriage ballot initiatives drove culturally conservative voters to the polls in 2004; ballot initiatives on the minimum wage may have a similar effect on working families and progressive voters in 2006.

Misgoverning Philosophy

This morning's Post has an excellent overview of yesterday's Court decision. It hones in on why the judgement should properly be seen not just as slap in the face on the issue of guantanmo trials, but as a Governing Philosophy Rebuffed.

The Supreme Court has struck at the core of his presidency and dismissed the notion that the president alone can determine how to defend the country...  For many in Washington, the decision echoed not simply as a matter of law but as a rebuke of a governing philosophy of a leader who at repeated turns has operated on the principle that it is better to act than to ask permission.

The use of that phrase "governing philosophy" strikes a chord here at NDN. A central contention of our meeting last week was that the Republicans have given us bucketfulls of evidence that theirs has now failed. But two things further things strike us. First, the brazen response of Tony Snow when he said yesterday: "I don't think it's ever been the goal of the administration to expand executive authority. We don't have `expand executive power' sessions." As Think Progress points out, it seems pretty clear that the Vice Presiden't couldn't disagree more. But even more than the landgrab for executive privledge, it the historical analogy which really stands out. Bush now sits joins Nixon (wiretapping Vietnam protestors) and Reagan (gun-running for the Contras) in the short-but-dismal list of Presidents handslapped by the Court for over-reaching their powers.  And what can be more instructive of this President's failed agenda than the company he keeps?

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