"Stay the Course" out - "A Study in Constant Motion" in

As reported everywhere today, this astounding u-turn from yesterday's press briefing:

Q Is there a change in the administration "stay the course" policy? Bartlett this morning said that wasn't ever the policy.

MR. SNOW: No, the policy -- because the idea of "stay the course" is you've done one thing, you kick back and wait for it. And this has always been a dynamic policy that is aimed at moving forward at all times on a number of fronts. And that would include the international diplomatic front. After all, the Iraq compact is something we worked out with the Iraqis before visiting the Prime Minister in Baghdad earlier this year.

So what you have is not "stay the course," but, in fact, a study in constant motion by the administration and by the Iraqi government, and, frankly, also by the enemy, because there are constant shifts, and you constantly have to adjust to what the other side is doing.

Quite remarkable. Does anyone have the faintest idea what "a study in constant motion" might mean? Google is suggestive, providing links to the phrase including an obscure Michelangelo Antonioni movie, a description of a soccer game, and an advert for a rental home in North Carolina's out banks. It seems more like the description one might find of an impressionist painting, rather than a strategy for military. But given reported blow-ups between Rice and Rumsfeld over the "clear, hold and build" strategy, perhaps the administration has decided that the best strategy is simply one which no one can understand, and thus no one can disagree with?


UPDATE - i enlarged this post for a piece for The Guardian, which you can read here.  

MA-Gov: Best and Worst Political Ads Ever?

We might be behind the curve on this, but the Massachussets Governor's race seems to have both the best and worst of Ads this cycle. Kerry Healey is running an astonishing, shameful negative ad in which she tries to associate Deval Patrick with rapists. Meanwhile Christy Mihos - a wealthy independent candidate - takes the prize for probably the funniest ad i've seen this year. And look carefully about 15 seconds in - you'll see a Kerry Healey look-a-like amongst the group of cartoon politicians.


Dems Up, Way Up

More evidence of a significant post-Foley bounce, from the wonderful Political Arithmetik. Charles Franklin, the guy behind the site, uses a clever regression framework to get his graphs, so they come with added clout. (Click here for a bigger graph.)


Cleaning up the mess of the Bush era

There has been a great deal of talk in recent years about political narratives and story arcs.  One I happen to believe is very germane to the times we live in is that the next stage of our history will be defined by those who work to clean up the mess of the Bush years.  We need to "clean up the mess."

The mess is our foreign policy, economic policy and in our vision of what the role of government is and does.  Lets reviews news from the last few days to get just the latest manifestation of their failures.  North Korea explodes a nuclear device.  Taliban resurgent in Afghanistan.  Iraq is spinning out of control, and now seems to be on the road either to a major civil war or becoming a failed state.  Only 51,000 jobs were created last month.  The Republican Leaders in Washington fan out across the country to defend their decision to put a known sexual predator in charge of the Committee for Missing and Exploited Children.  A 2nd senior White House official, Susan Ralston, Karl Rove's right hand, resigns over their ties to Abramoff.  Bush unilaterally decides to ignore portions of the new Homeland Security bill. 

The scale of the governing challenge in front of us is captured by Fareed Zakaria in today's Washington Post: "When Iraq's government was formed in April, after four months of bitter disputes, wrangling and paralysis, many voices in America and Iraq said the next six months would be the crucial testing period.  That was a fair expectation.  It has now been six months, and we have seen bitter disputes, wrangling and paralysis.  Meanwhile the violence has gotten worse, sectarian tensions have risen steeply and ethnic cleansing is in full swing.  There is really no functioning government south of Kurdistan, only power vacuums that have been filled by factions, militias and strongmen.  It is time to call an end to the tests, the six-month trials, the waiting and watching, and to recognize that the Iraqi government has failed.  It is also time to face the terrible reality that America's mission in Iraq has substantially failed."

Our governing party is a mess and can no longer be counted on to lead America in a challening era.  They have failed at virtually everything they have tried to do, but the world has not slowed down, our problems have not just magically gone away.  Our movement has done a remarkable job fighting the great PR machine of the governing party, so evident even in the last few days.  We should be proud of how we've stood firm, fought back and helped weaken their hold on power.  But in the months ahead, regardless of what happens in the fall elections, we now have to get serious about cleaning up the mess they've created, and building a governing coalition true to our democratic heritage, and ready to tackle the challenges of our time. 

Proud of the NDN team

I am proud of our small but talented NDN team.  At a critical time for our nation, a nation so desperate to find a new and better path, it is clear that they are stepping up and taking a big swing part.  In the last few weeks we've offered a powerful and wide-ranging body of work. that has gotten a great deal of attention, and is clearly helping shape the national debate.

I offer a quick review, without links, as all can be found on www.ndn.org:  

- Our globalization initiative has released a series of compelling studies, from fashioning a new consensus on trade liberalization to a series of peices on wages to a review of the Bush economic record, and our Senior Policy Analyst James Crabtree keeps banging it out each day on our blog;

- On the Hispanic front, the NDN political fund's Mas Que un Partido campaign launched a new national radio ad; along with our friends at PowerPac we released a new poll of Spanish-prefered Latino voters in CA; our daily Spanish-language talking points email to Spanish-media continues; along with Sergio Bendixen we released an influential new study about the changing attitudes of Cubans in Miami in the early days of the Post-Castro era, and was picked up in the Washington Post, Newsweek, many Florida papers, and Business week; and on Monday we launch a 2nd media campaign, this one with the CPC, that will put Spanish-language ads on the air in AZ and CO in support of the minimum wage ballot initiatives in those states;

- NPI has had an incredible couple of weeks, releasing two new pieces of our Tools campaign, papers on Buy Cable and Engage the Blogs; but of course the big news is the launching of a new web 2.0 site for NPI, www.newpolitics.net, that allows us our own tools to practice what we preach about the new media;

- This week we also gave our blog a new and much more media rich look, one that will better help us bring our agenda, ideas and values to you each day; readership of the blog has increased dramatically as we've offered a much better product in recent months;

- Our daily commentary got wide pick-up outside our blog, particularly a seies of piece we wrote on the Condi Rice's serial lying about the run-up to 9/11;

- and we continued to appear regularly in publications from the New York Times to Wired to the Nation. 

As I sit here on rainy Saturday morning here in DC wondering what to do with my kids today, I reflect with pride on what our whole NDN team has done these last couple of weeks, and thank them for stepping up at what is a critical time for our nation. 

Friends, we need your help today

I sent a national email out yesterday asking our friends and family for help, one more time.  As you are well aware, we have important things still left to do this year.  Here it is, and if you have a little left in your political wallet for NDN and our affiliate, the NDN political fund, we will put it to good use:

"This is a critical time for our country. With conservatives stumbling, progressives have a real chance to reassert our values and our agenda. We at NDN are hard at work making this happen.

But for us to keep our agenda moving forward, I need your help. If you are going to support NDN and our path breaking work this year, the time is now.

Will you support NDN, today, with a contribution of $50, $100, $500 or more?

Your support for NDN will allow us to help break the conservative ideological hold on our politics in three concrete ways:

  1. Put more ads on the air in more places – NDN and its affiliate, the NDN political fund, are running two media campaigns designed to speak to and engage Hispanic communities across the country. Your support will help us put more ads on in more places, expanding these powerful campaigns.
  2. Beat the conservatives in the economic debate – Your support will help us continue to challenge the conservatives in the national debate over the economy, and offer more progressives the facts and arguments needed to beat them.  This is no idle act - in recent polls, the economy is the number one issue facing the American people.
  3. Help progressives deploy the latest and best New Tools – A fast-changing media environment is creating a set of new tools that can help progressives reach more people more effectively at this critical time. Your support will help The New Politics Institute continue their “New Tools” campaign to help progressives fight for our agenda more effectively.

The NDN team is proven and accomplished. Our advisors include some of the most remarkable people in progressive politics. Our work is cutting edge. If you choose to support us in these final days I promise your money will make a real difference at this pivotal moment.

Thanks for everything,"

Sen. Landrieu and Rep. Harman on www.ndn.org

If you missed NDN's recent events with Senator Mary Landrieu on recovery in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast a year after Katrina and with Representative Jane Harman on the state of US foreign policy, you can now watch them on our website.  To hear these informative discussions held exclusivley for NDN members, click on the links above or visit www.ndn.org.   

CT-Sen Closed Up 5 Today.............

Bored on a friday? Why not sign up for Casual Observer. Its an online trading system, in which you get $5000 imaginary dollars to bet on the outcome of close races in the run-in to November. A friend of mine has roped me into an informal league, a contest which i fear might forever prove i know very little about predicting elections. Trading seems show a slight narrowing of the Democratic lead in House races, which doesn't seem unreasonable given spread of Bush's slight security poll bounce, falling gas prices and the like. What else do we learn? The market is long on Jim Webb (who it thinks has a generous 55% chance of winning in Virgini) and Martin O'Malley, short on Angelidies, and can't make up its mind on Connecticut, where things are pretty much 50/50. You can check the other stocks offered here. I'm suspicious of it at the moment, in particular as to whether the market is sufficiently liquid to provide accurate information. Still, we mustn't get too Poindexter about it. Its just a bit of fun after all. Naturally, if you've got any insider tips............

The ABC Movie, part II

Depsite my reservations I watched the first part of Path to 9/11 last night.  As an ABC alumnus, I have been stunned to watch this whole extraordinary set of events unfold, something I wrote about last week.  I kept thinking - okay, okay, they are just blowing this thing, it can't seem so thoroughly right-wing, and out of control.....

But in the run up I went from disbelief to believing this was a successful use of the public airwaves to promote a right-wing agenda.   The first moment was when ABC released a statement mid-week saying that the show was not yet finished and therefore it would be "irresponsible" to offer a critique.  And this was after review DVDs had been sent to the press. meaning that reviewers would be offering what was in ABC "irresponsible" reviews across the nation.  It seemed more like a response one would get in politics than in the entertainment business. 

The second moment was when ABC refused the President of the United States and any progressive commentators an advance copy of the show, even though right-wing bloggers and commentators had gotten copies at least a week in advance.  Again, this was not about the content of the show itself, which we didn't have access to, it was about what was becoming a purposeful right-wing influenced media strategy.  How could ABC turn down the President, and essentially give him the back of the hand? At one point, director Cunningham was quoted saying something like I have my CIA consultants and Clinton has his. 

So I watched.  And what I saw was amazing.  It was a right-wing hit piece on Clinton and the Administration.  Repeated, gratuitous slaps at the President.  But above all, as others have noted, the core segment of the whole first part was the near capture of Osama in the summer of 1998, culminating in the moment when Sandy Berger doesn't give the go ahead to the operatives in the field.  As we all know by know, of course, that scene never took place, and we never had operatives in the field that summer.  The whole key segment of the first night, the one that places the blame right at Clinton and Berger simply never took place.  It is scandalous. 

I am still amazed by what I saw last night, and saddened by it all.  How this thing got through ABC is a mystery.  Controls are in place in the network to prevent things like this from happening.  But as Iger digs out, he needs to come to grips with not just the production, but the marketing.  His communications folks were in on it too. 

For a depressing and remarkable piece about the background of the team who produced the movie, read Max Blumenthal's latest piece.  It is now clear that thing film was in part the project of a Richard Scaife funded group, yes, the same man who has been bankrolling the conservative movement for years. 

But how could that be? Bob Iger, by all accounts a good man, needs to come clean here. 

At the end of the day that we should take a degree of solace in the film.  The grim reality of their failed ideological movement, government and President has forced the conservatives to turn to fiction to get their message out. 

Five years later - are we better off?

Tomorrow night the President speaks to the nation.  He will be looking back at 9/11 and assessing our progress since that terrible day five years ago.  It will be the political equivalent of putting lipstick on a pig.

There is little question the nation is in a much weaker position today.  We have spent trillions on security, taken tens of thousand of casualties and lost a great deal of power and prestige around the world, all in a period greater than the time from Pearl Harbor to the end of WW II - and what do we have to show for it? A Middle East in much greater turmoil today; Osama Bin Laden still alive and active, and terrorist attacks around the world increasing; as Peter Bergen outlines today in the Post, the Taliban resurgent in Afghanistan; Latin America much more hostile to America and our government; our military dangerously degraded, as has the capacity for the UN and other international institutions to take collective action to solve global challenges; global trade talks have collapsed; high oil prices which fueling instability, as Iran, Russia and Venezuela have used their new riches to export anti-Americanism, and our government still has no serious plans to end our dependence on foreign energy sources; as Katrina showed here at home we are still not ready, and DHS continues to be mired in extraordinary bureaucratic and operational troubles;

and finally, as the Senate Intelligence Committee Report confirmed on Friday, our President and his team are epic liers, willing to spin the world into war, serially torture and lie about it - and in the process have seriously degraded America's capacity to lead and pursue our interests around the world. 

The Governing Party's response to 9/11 has been a disaster for America and our interests.  They have made an extraordinary effort, and it has left us much worse off today.  Simply put what they tried after 9/11 failed.

So, on this difficult anniversary, tomorrow should not be just a day to remember the fallen, but a day to recommit ourselves to find a new American strategy that brings greater peace and prosperity to the world; firmly re-commits our government to the formula that worked so well for America for so long - advocacy of democracy, free markets, liberty and the rule of law; and above all, I hope a day to inspire us to not accept our nation's current path, but to commit to do what is in our power, each of us, to restore the promise of this great nation we love and the world so desperately needs. 

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