NDN Blog

LiveEarth concerts air tomorrow night

Just a reminder that tomorrow night, Live Earth concerts from eight cities will be broadcast from 8 to 11 pm (EST) on NBC. For those unaware of this groundbreaking event, "Live Earth marks the beginning of a multi-year campaign led by the Alliance for Climate Protection, The Climate Group and other international organizations to drive individuals, corporations and governments to take action to solve global warming. Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore is the Chair of the Alliance and Partner of Live Earth."

We urge you to learn more about this campaign by visiting liveearth.org or algore.com. You can also watch Mr. Gore discuss the upcoming events on CNN this morning.

Finally, we encourage you to take the Live Earth pledge, which will help you discover easy and unobtrusive ways to personally help combat climate change.

Video of "The Progressive Politics of the Millenial Generation" now available

For those of you who haven't yet had a chance to read NPI's new report, The Progressive Politics of the Millennial Generation, a video of the report's Washington, DC release event is now available:

If you don't have the time to watch the full video, you can also watch only Simon's introduction, Pete Leyden's powerpoint presentation, Heather Smith's discussion of voting data for young people, Farouk Olu Aregbe talk about founding "One Million Strong for Barack", or the Q&A session at the end.

Joe Wilson blasts Bush on Libby commutation

Former Ambassador Joe Wilson takes Bush to task on CNN for commuting Scooter Libby's sentence. Check out the video below:

Making a mockery of Justice

Don Siegelman, the former Governor of Arkansas whose politically-motivated prosecution we've discussed here, was thrown in jail this week. This is the shameful conclusion of an investigation that Scott Horton of Harpers calls "a political vendetta, conceived, developed and pursued for a corrupt purpose." And he has the evidence to back that up, in spades; the web of deceit and corruption surrounding this case is much too intricate and tangled to delineate here, but Horton has been doing an excellent job of unearthing and explaining the myriad dirty secrets surrounding the prosecution.

The operation to ruin Siegelman and seize power in Alabama, masterminded by Karl Rove, was so outrageous and underhanded that Dana Jill Simpson, a Republican lawyer who had previously run a campaign against Siegelman, decided she had to speak out about it. When it became known that she was going to blow the whistle, "Simpson’s house was burned to the ground, and her car was driven off the road and totaled."

A powerful editorial in the New York Times a few days ago calls on Congress to immediately investigate Siegelman's case, since Bush's Justice Department is not at all interested in promoting Justice. From the editorial:

"The idea of federal prosecutors putting someone in jail for partisan gain is shocking. But the United States attorneys scandal has made clear that the Bush Justice Department acts in shocking ways."

Can we really be shocked anymore, though? The Greek philosophers believed justice to be the highest and most important political virtue. Yet though words like "freedom" and "liberty" are used profusely (and loosely) by this Administration, the word "justice" almost never enters their rhetoric, unless in the context of bringing the evil-doers to it. And it is easy to see why; they are simply uninterested in the concept. The Administration and its friends have persistently tried (and largely succeeded) to turn every level of the Judicial branch into an arm of the White House.

From Cheney's constant efforts to make the executive branch above the law, to the regressive right-wing activist rulings of the Roberts Supreme Court, to a a study of the "Bush Justice Department’s prosecution of cases involving political figures [that] showed seven prosecutions of Democrats for every one Republican," it is exceedingly clear that these people, who share a strong disdain for justice and the rule of law, have no interest in playing by the rules, and that is a truth which is ultimately bad for Americans of all political pursuasions. In the end, the great damage done to the Judicial branch may be the most harmful and long-lasting legacy of the Bush era.

New report released on impact of unmarried Americans

Women's Voices, Women's Votes (WVWV) has just released an extensive new report documenting a huge and largely untapped political resource, that of unmarried Americans, and of unmarried women in particular. Some of the key findings of the report include:

  • The percentage of unmarried Americans has been steadily increasing over the last 50 years, from 32.4% in 1960 to to 45.2% in 2007, with unmarried households being the majority in 23 states.
  • Unmarried women make up 25% of the eligible electorate in the United States.
    Currently, they are less likely than married women to vote (54.8% of unmarried women vote, compared to 71% of married women).
  • Unmarried women in America tend to be younger, less affluent, and more racially diverse than married women.
  • In the 2004 election, a full 66% of unmarried women voters voted Democratic, compared to 48% of married women.
  • Unmarried women tend to want a government that is "more active in the pursuit of economic and social justice."

Clearly, this is an important group to be paying attention to as progressives. NDN and our New Politics Institute work hard to understand the impact of changing demographics for progressive politics, so we'll be keeping an eye on this research as it develops, so we can better understand how to bring all kinds of progressives to the polls in greater numbers.  

Young Americans want progress

An encouraging new poll released today by the New York Times/CBS News/MTV found that younger Americans are more liberal than the general public. The Times poll closely echoes most of the main points of the report NDN's New Politics Institute released last week, entitled The Progressive Politics of the Millennial Generation (which Future Majority encourages readers to make "your Bible for talking about young people in politics.")

Some of the new poll's findings about young people include:

  • 28% describe themselves as liberal, while only 20% of the whole American public does
  • 44% support same-sex marriage, compared to 28% of the general public
  • 62% support government-sponsored universal healthcare coverage, compared to 47% of the public
  • They are more likely to favor a common-sense drug policy, being more inclined than the general public to legalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.
  • They are more open to immigration than the general public, with 30% saying America should always welcome new immigrants, compared to 24% of the general public.

The most striking part of the report, however, was this:

"By a 52 to 36 majority, young Americans say that Democrats, rather than Republicans, come closer to sharing their moral values, while 58 percent said they had a favorable view of the Democratic Party, and 38 percent said they had a favorable view of Republicans.

Asked if they were enthusiastic about any of the candidates running for president, 18 percent named Mr. Obama, of Illinois, and 17 percent named Mrs. Clinton, of New York. Those two were followed by Rudolph W. Giuliani, a Republican, who was named by just 4 percent of the respondents."

Contrary to popular opinion, the Millennial generation is not politically cynical or apathetic: again reinforcing the findings of our NPI report, the Times found that 77% of Millennials believe their generation will have an important effect in the next presidential election, and 58% already say they are paying attention to the 2008 election (compared to 35% of 17-to-29 year olds at the same point in the last election).

Their lack of cynicism is frankly surprising, given that they have come of age in a political climate defined by unprecedented corruption and corporate influence, headed by perhaps the worst president and most hubristic vice-president in the history of our nation. But their optimism is very good news for America, because a full "70 percent said the country was on the wrong track." And to paraphrase Socrates, realizing there is a problem is half the solution.

GOP's resistance to immigration reform may alienate Hispanics

CBS news reported today that hard-line Republicans' positions in the immigration debate, which are perceived by some as xenophobic, may be taking a heavy toll on their standing with Latino voters. According to the article, "twice as many Hispanics now identify as Democrats as they do Republicans," a fact which is especially significant given that "the Hispanic population grew by more than 20 percent between 2000 and 2005."

Furthermore, the article notes that a number of states with large Hispanic populations have moved up their primaries, which could have a big impact in the 2008 election.

"What [the GOP is] fighting is demographics," says Joe Garcia, director of the Hispanic Strategy Center at the New Democratic Network. "And that's something smart people don't fight with."

The Republicans' immigration woes do not end there, either. The California Republican Party's chief operating officer, Australian citizen Michael Kamurowski, resigned yesterday after it was recently revealed that he had been ordered deported by immigration officials in 2001.

iPhone to play YouTube videos

Apple recently announced that users of the new iPhone will be able to stream YouTube videos. YouTube has begun to encode many of its videos in a new format optimized for viewing on mobile devices - at least 10,000 YouTube clips should already be available by the iPhone's release on June 29th.

Given the growing role that YouTube plays in American politics, this development may have important implications for progressives trying to get their message out.

White House officials violate Records Act

As ThinkProgress reported today, a House Oversight investigation found that White House officials used Republican National Committee email accounts for a much greater volume of official federal business than had been previously disclosed.

Use of RNC and Bush-Cheney '04 campaign email accounts for official White House correspondences constitutes a violation of the Presidential Records Act. The investigation found over 140,000 emails sent or received by Karl Rove alone (!) from RNC email accounts, and found that at least 88 White House employees had used RNC email accounts for official business.

The most striking finding of the investigation, however, is that the RNC oversaw “extensive destruction” of these emails, including the deletion of all email records for a whopping 51 White House employees. The report found that "given the heavy reliance by White House officials on RNC e-mail accounts, the high rank of the White House officials involved, and the large quantity of missing e-mails, the potential violation of the Presidential Records Act may be extensive."

These actions would be entirely consistent with this administration's notorious neo-Nixonian penchant for secrecy and willingness to obstruct justice. Still, the new report seems particularly damning; such raw exposure of this Administration's frantic efforts to cover their tracks is a strong indictment of their culture of corruption, obstruction, and disinformation.

Officials knew of Abu Ghraib abuses

The New Yorker just published another great new article by Seymour Hersh, the investigative reporter who first broke the Abu Ghraib story. In the article, and his interview about it on CNN, Hersh details how Administration officials scrambled to absolve themselves of all responsibility for the scandal. In a hearing before the Senate and House Armed Services Committee on May 7th of 2004, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld said:

"It breaks our hearts that in fact someone didn’t say, ‘Wait, look, this is terrible. We need to do something... I wish we had known more, sooner, and been able to tell you more sooner, but we didn’t...I didn't see [the photos] until last night at 7:30."

However, Major General Tabuga, the officer originally assigned to investigate reports of abuse at Abu Ghraib, insists that this is simply not true. Whether or not Rumsfeld and other higher-ups had seen the photos (which they certainly had access to long before the scandal broke), very detailed reports describing the abuses had made their way up the chain of command months before the story was leaked to the press. As Taguba said, "You didn’t need to ‘see’ anything—just take the secure e-mail traffic at face value." These reports, among other things, included "descriptions of the sexual humiliation of a father with his son, who were both detainees" and "a video of a male American soldier in uniform sodomizing a female detainee" (which was never released).

For obvious reasons, these reports were taken quite seriously, and were relayed quickly through back channel emails. The upshot of all of this is that by March at the latest, Rumsfeld was talking with the President about the incidents at Abu Ghraib, and once again 'The Decider' decided to do nothing. As Hersh writes, "The President’s failure to act decisively resonated through the military chain of command: aggressive prosecution of crimes against detainees was not conducive to a successful career." In fact, General Taguba was asked to resign, without being given any real reason.

Said Taguba, whose only crime was his honesty, “They always shoot the messenger. To be accused of being overzealous and disloyal—that cuts deep into me. I was being ostracized for doing what I was asked to do.” While Taguba's story is sad, it is not very surprising, given that this Administration has always been more concerned with avoiding responsibility than with acting responsibly.

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