Book Recommendation: The End of Poverty

Last summer I came along a book that had a truly profound impact on my understanding of the Middle East, Vali Nasr's excellent book, The Shia Revival.   As readers of this blog know I have aggressively promoted it, and you can even find an interview I conducted with Vali recently on our main site here. It is a true must-read for anyone seeking a better understanding of the Middle East today.

This summer I have come across another book that strongly recommend to friends and family - The End of Poverty by Jeffrey Sachs.  Few books I have ever read are as informed, as optimistic, as well-written, as important as this one.  Sachs lays out a powerful vision for how to eradicate extreme poverty in the world, and a pragmatic plan to get it done.  Like with Nasr, I hope we can get the Professor Sachs to address the NDN family some time in the not so distant future.

Quick '08 Update

- A lot of coverage is on-line from AFSCME Presidential forum and the Take Back America conference. Chris Dodd, who is outlining his national service plan today, posted some quick and easy videos like the one below (from TBA) of bloggers who like Dodd.

- It's been a big couple of days for Barack Obama: La Audacia de la Esperanza (the Spanish-language version of The Audacity of Hope) came out today in bookstores, and the campaign launched its text messaging campaign, Obama Mobile.

- Jim Gilmore wrote a letter to President Bush asking him to refocus our policy in Iraq. Read more from his website.

- Mike Huckabee received the endorsement of televangelist James Robison.

- Go to Mitt Romney's website to see what kind of (flash) technology he's using to be more personal with visitors. Also check out his new ad entitled "Work Like Crazy."

- There's a lot of talk about NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg's recent move. The WSJ blog takes a funny look at it, comparing the coverage Bloomberg got to that which Hillary Clinton received for her new video announcing her campaign song. Check out the picture below.

- John McCain is speaking in Palm Beach, FL today about Latin America. He is also set to discuss Cuba, which he describes as a national security threat, and Hugo Chavez.

- Newt Gingrich was featured in a new ad on immigration. Watch it below, but first check out what ThinkProgress thinks about it here.

For more information on NDN's coverage of the 2008 Presidential election, click here.

Political Ads Beginning to Shift Online

The Wall Street Journal does a good job overviewing how the presidential candidates are increasingly embracing online ads, particularly search ads, though they seem to spend more time focusing on the Republicans. The New Politics Institute has been hammering on this theme for the past year, encouraging progressives to shift ad spend to these new ad forums that have been proven by the private sector to be highly effective. Don’t take our word for it, take it from the WSJ. Here are a few passages to give you a flavor:

Look at the rate of rate of return on the spending:

In the first quarter, the presidential candidates spent collectively an estimated $1.7 million on Internet sites and fund raising -- including $100,000 on blog ads -- and collected about $22 million online, campaign-finance reports show.

Or here shows more directly McCain’s success with it:

It is also considered effective. Republican John McCain's presidential campaign raises about $4 for every $1 it spends to raise money online, according to Rebecca Donatelli, a consultant directing the online fund-raising strategy for the Arizona senator.

This puts the costs of it in context with the enormous costs of broadcast TV:

One reason for the increased Internet advertising spending: It is relatively cheap compared with radio and television. A one-week television-ad buy in Des Moines, Iowa, would cost about $90,000 to $110,000, according to TNS Media Intelligence, a political-advertising tracking firm. By comparison, one week of blog ads on 102 conservative blogs costs just $7,500. It costs about $24,000 to advertise for a week on 121 liberal blogs.

So the shift has begun. Look at Obama’s spend in the first quarter compared to all the spending on these ads in 2004 combined:

Sen. Barack Obama's campaign for the Democratic nomination has also aggressively moved onto Google as an advertising platform, spending more than $72,000 on Google search ads during the first quarter, according to financial records compiled by PoliticalMoneyLine.com. By comparison, the Democratic presidential candidates in the 2004 presidential race spent about $87,000, records show.

More evidence to keep making the case….

Peter Leyden  

Mobile continues to evolve - AT&T offers live mobile to mobile video

The change in mobile telephony and media is accelerating:

AT&T Inc. on Tuesday launched what it said is the first service letting callers share live video between cell phones.

The new AT&T Video Share service won't apply to the iPhone, which uses an older network. AT&T has an exclusive deal to offer service for much-anticipated Apple Inc. device.

But the launch of the video service adds to the company's momentum as it gears up for the June 29 introduction of the iPhone, which it called a ''game-changer'' for the telecommunications industry.

Video Share was introduced in three markets -- Atlanta, Dallas and San Antonio -- to start with and will be available elsewhere in late July.

It works only on the company's 3G, or third-generation, wireless network and requires a Video Share-capable phone, AT&T said. The company said it will offer Video Share service packs for $4.99 and $9.99 a month, depending on included minutes. Without a plan, the service costs 35 cents a minute.

New AT&T Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson told a telecommunications industry trade show in Chicago that the new service has the potential to expand rapidly beyond wireless-to-wireless.

''You should expect this to quickly reach the other two screens, and that's the PC and the television,'' he said at NXTcomm...

Obama launched his first major foray into mobile today. 

Dionne on the Democrat's opportunity, and challenge

EJ Dionne has an important look at recent polling data that suggests that while the GOP has fallen, Democrats have yet to take full advantage of the opportunity the moment presents.

This is a theme being explored in depth at the Take Back America Conference this week in Washington, DC.  A selection of our essays on this theme, something we call "the end of the conservative ascendency" can be found here.  I will be speaking at the conference later this morning on media and showing some of the more than $10 m worth of ads produced by NDN and the New Democrat Network in recent years.  Hope to see you there.

Hispanics continue to flee the GOP

In 2006, driven by a great degree by the immigration debate, Hispanics fled the Republican Party.  From 2004 to 2006 the national Hispanic vote moved close to 20 points, going from 59/40 Kerry/Bush to 70/30 D/R.  And turnout was up 33% from 2002.  This part of the American electorate has become energized, and much more anti-Republican. 

Remember that we've seen this happen before.  In California, Pete Wilson and the GOP took on Hispanics and turned a swing state into a blue and progressive one.  Hispanics responded to the GOP attacks by registering and voting in huge numbers for Democrats.  In the first election after the GOP attacks the effect was modest.  The impact came in the 2nd election, and the ones after. 

The question about the anger Hispanics across the nation now feel towards the GOP was whether or not it would sustain, and if so, what impact it might have.  For it is hard to see a viable electoral college map for the GOP that doesn't contain the heavily Hispanic swing states of AZ, CO, FL, NM and NV.  Take these 5 states away and it starts to become hard how to see the GOP wins in 2008.  A continued big swing of Hispanics in 2008 could deny this states to the GOP, and mark the way the GOP has handled the immigration issue as one of the greatest strategic blunders of modern politics. 

Well, over the weekend, we saw a story that shows this degradation of the Republican brand with Hispanics continues apace.  Peter Wallsten of the LATimes published a remarkable piece showing that those newly eligible citizens registering to vote in South Florida, a place where most Hispanics are Republican, are becoming Democrats:

MIAMI BEACH — As a Cuban who fled Fidel Castro's communist rule for a new life in the U.S., Julio Izquierdo would seem a natural Republican voter — a sure bet to adopt the same political lineage that has long guided most of his countrymen who resettled in South Florida.

But moments after taking his oath this week to become a U.S. citizen and registering to vote, the grocery store employee said he felt no such allegiances.

"I don't know whether Bush is a Democrat or a Republican, but whatever he is, I'm voting the other way," Izquierdo, 20, said Thursday as he waited for a taxi after a mass naturalization ceremony at the Miami Beach Convention Center.

Izquierdo said he did not like President Bush's handling of the Iraq war and was miffed at politicians, most of them Republican, who seem to dislike immigrants.

That sentiment, expressed by several of the 6,000 new citizens who took their oaths Thursday in group ceremonies that take place regularly in immigrant-heavy cities nationwide, underscored the troubled environment facing the GOP in the buildup to next year's presidential election.

Surveys show that among Latino voters — a bloc Bush had hoped to woo into the Republican camp — negative views about the party are growing amid a bitter debate over immigration policy.

Republicans in Congress have led the fight against a controversial Senate bill that would provide a pathway for millions of illegal immigrants to eventually become citizens. All but one of the GOP's leading White House hopefuls oppose the measure.

Many Latino leaders, including Republicans, have said the tone of some critics in attacking the bill has been culturally insensitive. They say that has alienated some Latinos from the GOP....

Read on my friends.  This is one of the most important stories in politics today.

Coming to terms with today's Middle East, continued

Of all the emerging challenges we face in the new post-Iraq Middle East, there is perhaps no more important one than what to do in and with Iraq itself.  In a Sunday Outlook piece, Ray Takeyh and Steven Simon offer thoughts on what to do with the reality of Iraq today, not the fantasy place invoked from time to time by members of the Administration and their allies.  It begins:

Last week's bloodshed in Iraq and the bombing of what remained of the historic Shiite shrine in Samarra and of two Sunni mosques in Basra were more reminders of a terrible truth: The war in Iraq is lost. The only question that remains -- for our gallant troops and our blinkered policymakers -- is how to manage the inevitable. What the United States needs now is a guide to how to lose -- how to start thinking about minimizing the damage done to American interests, saving lives and ultimately wresting some good from this fiasco.

No longer can we avoid this bitter conclusion. Iraq's winner-take-all politics are increasingly vicious; there will be no open, pluralistic Iraqi state to take over from the United States. Iraq has no credible central government that U.S. forces can assist and no national army for them to fight alongside. U.S. troops can't beat the insurgency on their own; our forces are too few and too isolated to compete with the insurgents for the public's support. Meanwhile, the country's militias have become a law unto themselves, and ethnic cleansing gallops forward.

To read the whole piece, click here.  For more on this series, click on the Middle East tag above.

Ron Paul surging on the internet

In one of the more interesting stories about the new politics of our day, Jose Vargas of the Post writes about the huge audience Ron Paul is gathering on line.

Share your story with Barack on YouTube

In a new YouTube video, Barack Obama asks users to tell stories about the work they are doing to change the country. As Obama says:

“This campaign is about the regular people who are playing an integral role in changing this country. What we hope to do over the next several months is stitch together these stories to illuminate for the entire country how this next generation wants to grab the baton and lead us forward.”

The video is going to be featured as YouTube's YouChoose '08 candidate spotlight next week. To tell your story, either post a reply to the video below or follow the instructions on Obama's website:

For more information on NDN's coverage of the 2008 Presidential election, click here.

Coming to terms with today's Middle East, continued

Yes, we return to our main foreign policy theme again this morning, starting off with a front-page Washington Post piece by Glenn Kessler appropriately titled: "Takeover by Hamas Illustrates Failure of Bush's Mideast Vision."

It begins:

Five years ago this month, President Bush stood in the Rose Garden and laid out a vision for the Middle East that included Israel and a state called Palestine living together in peace. "I call on the Palestinian people to elect new leaders, leaders not compromised by terror," the president declared.

The takeover this week of the Gaza Strip by the Hamas militant group dedicated to the elimination of Israel demonstrates how much that vision has failed to materialize, in part because of actions taken by the administration. The United States championed Israel's departure from the Gaza Strip as a first step toward peace and then pressed both Israelis and Palestinians to schedule legislative elections, which Hamas unexpectedly won. Now Hamas is the unchallenged power in Gaza.

After his reelection in 2004, Bush said he would use his "political capital" to help create a Palestinian state by the end of his second term. In his final 18 months as president, he faces the prospect of a shattered Palestinian Authority, a radical Islamic state on Israel's border and increasingly dwindling options to turn the tide against Hamas and create a functioning Palestinian state.

"The two-state vision is dead. It really is," said Edward G. Abington Jr., a former State Department official who was once an adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Abbas, whose bouts of vacillation have irritated U.S. officials, yesterday dissolved the Palestinian government in response to Hamas's takeover of Gaza. U.S. officials signaled that they will move quickly to persuade an international peace monitoring group -- known as the Quartet -- to lift aid restrictions on the Palestinian government, allowing direct aid to flow to the West Bank-based emergency government that Abbas will lead.

"There is no more Hamas-led government. It is gone," said a senior administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the administration must still consult with other members of the Quartet. He said that humanitarian aid will continue to Gaza, but that the dissolution of the Palestinian government is a singular moment that will allow the United States and its allies to create a "new model of engagement."

This senior Administration official is correct - we are at a moment, as a nation, that we have to come to terms with the extraordinary failure of our entire Middle East strategy.  Our investment in the region has been immense in terms of lives, money and prestige.  And today our traditional allies are in retreat, and non-Western forces are on the rise.  This "new model of engagement" suggested above is a concept we need for the entire region, not just in Palestine. 

To see previous iterations of this discussion, you can scroll down or click on the Middle East, National Security or Iraq tags above.

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