NDN Blog

Beck's List of "People He Wants to Kill With a Shovel" - Charlie Rangel Tops the List

I don't really know what to say about this disturbing 2001 Beck clip, which Jed L (of jedreport.com) over at DailyKos dug up. You really just have to listen to it yourself.

The ironic part is, after spewing this violent, vitriolic venom, the kind of filth that should have gotten him immediately removed from any form of public communication whatsoever, he complains that everyone on TV is an "extremist" and nobody in the media is rational. Words excape me.

My Personal Favorite Glenn "Bat-@#$& Crazy" Beck Moment of the Week

Earlier today, Simon mentioned some of Glenn Beck's recent ridiculousness. Here's my own personal favorite of the week, courtesy of the wonderful folks over at MediaMatters, who have the unenviable job of watching and listening to this sort of drivel:


BECK: If I could just -- if we could just be like Cuba. Let me give you the last piece of evidence that there is a revolution going on, and it is coming. It is -- there is a revolution, and they think they can get away with it quietly.

They think they -- and they -- they -- you know what? At this point, gang, I'm not sure, they may be able to because they are so far ahead of us. They know what they're dealing against; most of America does not yet. Most of America doesn't have a clue as to what's going on. There is a coup going on. There is a stealing of America, and the way it is done, it has been done through the -- the guise of an election, but they lied to us the entire time.

Some of us knew! Some of us we're shouting out, you were: "this guy's a Marxist!" "No, no, no, no, no, no." And they're gonna say, "we did it democratically," and they are going to grab power every way they can. And God help us in an emergency.

If Mr. Beck had even a kitchen chair's grasp of philosophy or political theory, he'd realize that President Obama is about as much of a "Marxist" as Mr. Beck is a "journalist." More importantly, though, he might want to at least look up the words "coup" and "democracy" (hint: the concept still applies, even if your party loses the election because they've proven they can't think or govern).

It's true that Glenn caters to the birther / global-warming denier / flat earth crowd, so there's really not much point in rational argument. But it's still shameful that this dangerous, disingenuous nonsense is allowed on the air.

Monday Buzz: Remembering Ted Kennedy, Local Latinos, Probing the CIA, More

It was a week of expansive quotations for the NDN family in the news. Simon had the kicker quote in a major NPR piece this week about the Justice Department's inquiries into "enchanced interrogation" techniques. From the piece:

The administration said that the practice, known as rendition and condemned by human rights advocates, would proceed with more oversight.

"I think the Obama administration is having a hard time calibrating all of this," says Simon Rosenberg, president and founder of the New Democrat Network. "They were left a bad set of practices and realities by the Bush administration."

"The Obama team is finding that unraveling this is harder than they thought it would be, and they're trying," Rosenberg says. "But we're going to be having this debate a long time, and this [inquiry] is an important step."

That debate, he says, will necessarily involve how the country treated terrorism suspects in the months after the Sept. 11 attacks.

"Suggestions that discussion about what happened in the Bush era is either partisan or out-of-bounds is ridiculous," he says. "Laws may have been broken, and our standing in the world was affected."

"We need to have a conversation about this in our country."

Andres was quoted extensively in the Las Vegas Sun about the lack of Latino involvement in local politics:

Andres Ramirez made a bid at becoming only the second Hispanic mayor in Southern Nevada history when he ran for mayor of North Las Vegas against incumbent Mike Montandon in 2005. He lost, in a city where an estimated 38.6 percent of the population is Hispanic. He would have joined Cruz Olague, who held the title in Henderson for two years in the 1970s.

When Ruben Kihuen was elected to the Assembly in 2006, he became the second Hispanic immigrant to become a state lawmaker, after Pablo Laveaga, who was elected in 1875 and hailed from Sinaloa, Mexico. Kihuen was born in Jalisco. He joked at the time about doubling the number of Spanish-speaking voices in Carson City, referring to Moises Denis, who was born in Brooklyn to Cuban parents.

When you go through this litany with Ramirez, who now works as vice president of Hispanic programs for NDN, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, he accentuates the positive.

He notes that most other large counties in the top 15 for Hispanic population have had their large populations for much longer. In Clark County, and Nevada generally, he says, Hispanics "have become a quantifiable political force only since the last census" - less than a decade.

And while Ramirez won't overlook the historical paucity of elected and appointed officials with Latin American backgrounds, he also underlines the impact of those who have worked in other areas, such as former Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority chief Manny Cortez, "one the most powerful tourism officials in the world."

As for politics, Ramirez also points out that the expanding Hispanic population has voted in increasing numbers in the past decade, contrasting the highly contested 1998 race between Harry Reid and John Ensign, when "35,000 Hispanic votes was considered the most you could get," with the recent presidential election, when more than four times as many Hispanics went to the polls.

As for Kihuen and Denis, their victories are the result of lobbying on redistricting from Ramirez and others following Census 2000. The result: District 11, which is Kihuen's, and District 28, which fulfilled its intent with Denis' 2004 election.

Locally, the lack of Hispanic surnames on councils and commissions, Ramirez says, doesn't negate the increasing number of Hispanic staff members whose jobs are to ensure Spanish-speaking constituents are heard.

The rest is a question of "time and maturity." Ramirez predicts a near future that includes the more Hispanic state senators and more candidates for local offices.

Rob was featured in The Age talking about the benefits of a carbon tax:

TRADING of emission permits around the world will become a financial rort that fails to reduce carbon emissions - and will ultimately be scrapped in favour of a simple carbon tax, a former senior official in the Clinton administration has forecast.

Robert Shapiro, former US undersecretary of commerce and author of Futurecast, predicted that the US Senate would reject the emissions trading scheme proposed by President Obama, which is now before it.

Speaking by video to the Trade 2020 conference convened by Austrade and the Committee for Economic Development of Australia, Dr Shapiro said ''cap and trade'' systems as proposed by the US and the Australian governments to limit carbon dioxide emissions and allow trade in permits do not work as intended.

''Cap and trade has proved very vulnerable to vested interests, and therefore too weak to deliver the necessary emission reductions'', he said. ''Cap and trade creates trillions of dollars of new financial instruments to be traded, and subjected to the next financial fads. China and India will never accept a cap and trade regime.''

A better solution is to impose a carbon tax on emissions and return the revenue from it to households so people are not made worse off, Dr Shapiro said. A similar approach in Sweden has cut emissions there by 8 per cent since 1990 while GDP rose about 40 per cent.

CEDA research director Michael Porter strongly supported Dr Shapiro. CEDA today will release a report urging the Rudd Government to scrap its emissions trading scheme in favour of a carbon tax.

Finally, Simon was also featured in a Politico video about Senator Ted Kennedy. Simon addresses Senator Kennedy's remarkable legacy on immigration reform around the 5 minute mark. Check it out here:

Friday New Tools Feature: Watching the Tube, Through the Tubes

Some of you may remember that, way back in April, Simon and I checked out the annual Cable Show here in DC, where the cable industry shows off its latest and greatest. Back then, I wrote,

Perhaps the biggest theme of the whole show was convergence, and the many ways that entertainment, information, and communication are merging. Streaming and downloadable movies and shows, IPTV, advanced DVR and Network PVR technology, 3-D home theater (available this year), networked video sharing, online video syndication, a huge variety of set-top boxes, mobile VoIP, fully integrated household systems, and many other technologies were being combined in myriad ways. 

Without getting bogged down in the details, the key takeaway of the show was that cable is no longer a broadcast technology; it has become flexible, customizable, and interactive to a striking degree in just a few years time, and with ever-increasing bandwidth (one provider boasted "wideband" download speeds reaching 50 mbps), this trend is sure to accelerate. 

A few months later, and that vision is quickly becoming a reality. This week, Verizon announced a trial of it's FiOS TV Online service, and TimeWarner and Comcast also announced trials of their TV Everywhere services. Here's an excerpt from the TimeWarner press release:

Through TV Everywhere, Time Warner Cable video subscribers will be able to access content online on the networks' websites and on Time Warner Cable's web properties. The programming offered through the TV Everywhere trials will include many shows currently unavailable online and others that will be made available on the Internet more quickly following their original airdates than they are currently. The trials are a big step toward fulfilling Time Warner Cable's vision for making content available on any screen, any time and any place its customers want to view it.

The evolution will be a gradual one, but I feel that the separation between TV shows, movie rentals, and the internet will quickly erode over the next few years until there is no longer any solid distinction. We're not quite there yet, but the latest generation of HDMI (high-definition multimedia interface) connectors include a built-in ethernet connection. What that means for next-generation devices:

The HDMI 1.4 specification will add a data channel to the HDMI cable and will enable high-speed bi-directional communication. Connected devices that include this feature will be able to send and receive data via 100 Mb/sec Ethernet, making them instantly ready for any IP-based application.


The HDMI Ethernet Channel will allow an Internet-enabled HDMI device to share its Internet connection with other HDMI devices without the need for a separate Ethernet cable. The new feature will also provide the connection platform to allow HDMI-enabled devices to share content between devices. 

With the lastest generation of TVs already supporting built-in movie rentals over ethernet cables, the next-gen HDMI will simply accelerate the trend towards high-definition IPTV. And if you're a consumer, that's a good thing - you'll have more choice and more control over what you watch and when you watch it. Politicians, though, should be prepared; this is going to be a very different media environment than in the past, requiring different strategies to message effectively. It's not necessarily bad - the level of customization will also allow for much better targeting (think search ads for TV), but those unprepared for this shift will be at a big disadvantage within the next few years. 

New Tools Update: Yelp for iPhone Has Hidden Augmented Reality Feature

I just saw that Yelp, one of my favorite apps for the iPhone, is now testing an augmented reality feature. Yelp, for those of you that haven't used it before, uses your location to find user-reviewed restaurants, bars, etc. close by. It's really good, and AR makes it that much better. As a foodie, this alone makes it almost worth the upgrade to a 3GS. Anyone want a nice used 3G? 

On another note, FastCompany's top story today is about three unexpected dangers of augmented reality. Spoiler - you might get your fancy phone stolen if you're holding it up in front of your face all the time. Oh noes! 

Quick Tech Tip: New Individual Blogs on the Sidebar

I'd just like to draw your attention, very quickly, to the new individual blog links on the right-hand sidebar of the NDN site (under the header "Staff Blogs"). We understand that, although clearly everyone here writes great stuff, you may care more about what some of us are up to than others. So, in the interest of making your life easier, we've linked you to the individual blogs of our most prolific bloggers. Enjoy!

P.S. I'd like to recommend Dan Boscov-Ellen's blog in particular. Good stuff.

New Tools Update: Augmented Reality Going Mainstream?

I've written about how I think augmented reality could be the Next Big Thing in the development of the web, and it looks like augmented reality tech is finally starting to really catch people's attention. The front page stories in Wired and ReadWriteWeb over the last few days took in-depth looks at where this technology is going. Both articles are well worth the read. Here's an excerpt from the ReadWriteWeb piece, which looks at some of the hurdles to widespread adoption of AR:

"The internet smeared all over everything." An "enchanted window" that turns contextual information hidden all around us inside out. A platform that will be bigger than the Web. Those are the kinds of phrases being used to describe the future of what's called Augmented Reality (AR), by specialists developing the technology to enable it. Big questions remain unanswered, though, about the viability of what could be a radical next step in humanity's use of computers.

The article raises some good points, but I think that the explosive potential of this research far outweighs some of the challenges, many of which are technology-based. The iPhone will begin supporting early AR apps next month, and given Moore's law and the imminent arrival of 4G data networks, I think the widespread use of augmented reality on a range of mobile devices is, at the most, two or three years off.

Finally, just for kicks, check out this novel use of AR by the District 9 team (and if you haven't seen the movie, do yourself a favor and go check it out - the actual film is almost as good as the marketing for it).  

If you have a webcam and a printer, you can try this out for yourself here.

Changing Targets Media's Amy Gershkoff Featured in WaPo Today

The Washington Post has a great write-up today about Amy Gershkoff, her company Changing Targets Media, and their great television targeting service, Precision Buy. Here's how Thomas Heath, author of the Post piece, describes the service:

Let's say you are running for Congress and you are looking for "persuadable voters" who might be open to your pitch. Instead of paying a lot of money to buy advertising time on "Face the Nation" or "Meet the Press" in hopes of reaching those voters, Gershkoff finds the less expensive shows those viewers are watching and reaches them there.

Her secret sauce is a patent-pending software she invented called Precision Buy, which finds broadcast and cable programs that reach the highest number of persuadable voters at a cost much lower than traditional television spending.

We here at NDN have been long-time advocates of microtargeting, buying cable, and generally helping progressives use their hard-earned advertising dollars more intelligently and effectively, which is why we had Amy come speak about her company back in February. Check out the video here:

Monday Buzz: The Buzz is Back

It's been a little while since the last installment of "buzz," so here are some of the highlights of NDN in the press over the past few weeks:

Simon's address to Netroots Nation in Pittsburgh was written up in the Wall Street Journal, Salon, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. From the Post-Gazette piece:

Simon Rosenberg, head of NDN, a left-wing, Washington, D.C.-based think tank, said that when he first started working in Democratic politics, online communities like Netroots were unheard of.

"We didn't have the incredible ecosystem of center-left politics that has been created over the past six years. We're now at a different moment in our movement. More important work is in front of us. Now is not a time to reject the other side, but use our imagination on what kind of America to build together."

And from the Salon piece about Netroots Nation, focusing on President Clinton's role in the Obama administration:

"I hope that we can commit tonight to make sure that [Clinton] is not sitting on the sidelines of this great battle against the conservative movement," said Simon Rosenberg, president of the New Democratic Network and a former Clinton staffer, as he introduced his former boss.

Simon was also quoted in the San Francisco Chronicle on the importance of the California governor's race:

Simon Rosenberg, who heads the Washington-based think tank NDN, formerly known as the New Democrat Network, says all three will be among the most-watched candidates in the nation in 2010.

"The California governor's race will be the most important in the country next year," he said. "It's going to be a titanic battle, and whichever party wins it will win the crown jewel."

Rob was quoted in the Associated Press, in a story by Tom Raum about the mounting national debt:

...And the long recession has added significantly to the government's debt. Revenues are down at the same time the government is spending hundreds of billions for business bailouts, economic stimulus and two wars.

"This recession reduces the revenue base in a permanent way in the sense that even as you recover, you're now starting from a much lower space. So the recession increases not just the short-term deficit, but the long-term deficit," said Rob Shapiro, a former economic adviser to President Bill Clinton and now with NDN, a centrist think tank formerly known as the New Democratic Network.

Finally, Andres was quoted in the Las Vegas Sun about GOP opposition to Sotomayor and its possible impact on the Hispanic vote:

Like Republicans nationally, the party in Nevada has lost ground with Hispanics, and the state’s Republican elected officials in Washington are giving these voters little reason to join the party, said Andres Ramirez, a Nevadan who is vice president of Hispanic Affairs at NDN, a liberal think tank in Washington.

Voting against the first Hispanic woman’s nomination to the Supreme Court will not help.

“They have no major leader to show any indication to Hispanics they want to support them,” Ramirez said. “Obviously this is a historic vote to Hispanics. For folks to think it doesn’t matter in Nevada, they’re sorely mistaken.”

Friday New Tools Feature: When Your News Feed Becomes Your News

There have been a few big developments in social media space recently, particularly with regards to Facebook, the net's largest social media player. Though Twitter continues to receive a ton of hype and attention, and has been changing the techie world in intriguing ways (being able to read real-time reactions to the speakers at PDF and Netroots Nation has really changed the dynamic of these conferences), Facebook actually grew twice as fast as Twitter last month, and maintains a very substantial lead in total users.

However, not content to rest on its laurels, Facebook acquired FriendFeed last week. FriendFeed is a popular service among the tech-savvy that combines all of your social media presences into one - Facebook, Twitter, Google, Tumblr, etc. (it supports at total of 58 different services). Of particular interest is FriendFeed's ability to integrate with Google Reader's "share" feature, which would be very useful for sharing news stories on Facebook. There are also several other advantages FriendFeed has over Facebook right now. TechCrunch writes of the acquisition,

...it’s clearly a good match. Over the last year or so, Facebook has “borrowed” quite a few features that FriendFeed popularized, including the ‘Like’ feature and an emphasis on real-time news updates.

Obviously Facebook has already built out some of FriendFeed’s functionality so there is some overlap, but there are still numerous ways FriendFeed beats out Facebook’s News Feed setup. One of these is the way stories are ‘floated’ to the top as new users comment on them. And FriendFeed’s system is truly real-time, unlike Facebook’s feed which users have to manually refresh.

I think this was a very smart move on Facebook's part, and could go a long way to improving their service. The second big move they made was to partner with the Huffington Post, the internet's most popular news source, to create a new service called "Huffington Post Social." As Ms. Huffington herself explains, HuffPo Social is

...a collaboration with Facebook that connects HuffPost users to their Facebook friends, the news they are reading, and the stories they are commenting on.

When you sign up for it, HuffPost Social News finds your Facebook friends who are also reading HuffPost and links you together on our site so you can dive deeper into the stories you like best. (But don't worry, you'll still have complete control over what stories and comments are shared with your friends, as well as what goes on your Facebook wall, and into your friends' news feeds.)

I like the idea of integrating comments on the actual story with the social networking experience - reader comments have become an important component of the new news media, so it makes sense to try and highlight this interactivity.

Finally, Facebook just announced today yesterday that Pages will now have the ability to automatically publish to Twitter. As the New York Times said of the move,

Bands, companies, non profit organization and celebrities are likely to benefit from this new feature as their updates will be more widely distributed and Twitter followers are likely to retweet and redirect new audiences to Facebook Pages.

This is a very convenient feature, and it's heartening to see that Facebook may be starting to see their relationship to Twitter as complimentary instead of adversarial. The change is also well-implemented; it's easy to use, and administrators can control what aspects of their Page get pushed to their Twitter feed, and which Twitter account is linked to each Page.

The new media ecosystem has quickly become very complex, so it's good to see confluences and collaborations that will actually make the social networking experience more intuitive and powerful. In the past, I've often felt that Facebook tends to make things worse when it makes changes, but I'm behind these decisions. Can check out HuffPo Social and the Facebook Pages Twitter feed yourself and let me know what you think, and keep an eye out for what they decide to do with FriendFeed. 

And of course, if all of this social networking stuff has you completely bewildered, make sure to check out our NPI Paper, Leverage Social Networks, to get up to speed.

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