NDN Blog

Social Networking Makes the Move to Mobile Tech

At NDN and NPI we've been making the arguement for a while that the next big thing is mobile technology.  If you haven't seen it, Tim Chambers' report Mobile Media in 21st Century Politics is an excellent way to get up-to-speed on how ever more powerful mobile phones and other mobile devices are changing our world.

The facts on the ground are backing us up.  Today's NYT profiles the proliferation of applications for mobile devices:

The social networking phenomenon is leaving the confines of the personal computer. Powerful new mobile devices are allowing people to send round-the-clock updates about their vacations, their moods or their latest haircut.

New online services, with names like Twitter, Radar and Jaiku, hope people will use their ever-present gadget to share (or, inevitably, to overshare) the details of their lives in the same way they have become accustomed to doing on Web sites like MySpace.

Unlike the older networking sites, which are still largely used on PCs, these new phone-oriented services are bringing the burgeoning culture of exhibitionism to more exotic and more personal locations. They are also contributing to the general barrage of white noise and information overload — something that even some participants say they feel ambivalent about.

But such services have the same addictive appeal for young people as BlackBerrys do for busy professionals, said Howard Hartenbaum, a partner at the venture capital firm Draper Richards, which is an investor in Kyte.

“Kids want to be connected to their friends at all times,” Mr. Hartenbaum said. “They can’t do that when you turn off the computer.”

Central to the technology of Kyte and similar services is the marriage of mobile phones and the Web. Users download Kyte software for their phones at www.kyte.tv and can send their photos and videos — however grainy — from the phone to their online Kyte “channel.”

Be a patriot

Buy George Tenet's book.  You can find it here on amazon.

Reagan's NSA Director pleads with Bush to change course in Iraq

In what can only be discribed as a remarkable event, a former head of the super-secret National Security Agency under President Reagan gave the Democratic Radio Address this weekend.  You can listen to it here.  His powerful and persuasive words follow:

“To put this in a simple army metaphor, the Commander-in-Chief seems to have gone AWOL, that is ‘absent without leave.’ He neither acts nor talks as though he is in charge. Rather, he engages in tit-for-tat games…I hope the President seizes this moment for a basic change in course and signs the bill the Congress has sent him. I will respect him greatly for such a rare act of courage, and so too, I suspect, will most Americans.” - Lieutenant General William E. Odom

General William Odom"Good morning, this is Lieutenant General William E. Odom, U.S. Army, retired.

I am not now nor have I ever been a Democrat or a Republican. Thus, I do not speak for the Democratic Party. I speak for myself, as a non-partisan retired military officer who is a former Director of the National Security Agency. I do so because Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, asked me.

In principle, I do not favor Congressional involvement in the execution of U.S. foreign and military policy. I have seen its perverse effects in many cases. The conflict in Iraq is different. Over the past couple of years, the President has let it proceed on automatic pilot, making no corrections in the face of accumulating evidence that his strategy is failing and cannot be rescued.

Thus, he lets the United States fly further and further into trouble, squandering its influence, money, and blood, facilitating the gains of our enemies. The Congress is the only mechanism we have to fill this vacuum in command judgment.

To put this in a simple army metaphor, the Commander-in-Chief seems to have gone AWOL, that is ‘absent without leave.’ He neither acts nor talks as though he is in charge. Rather, he engages in tit-for-tat games.

Some in Congress on both sides of the aisle have responded with their own tits-for-tats. These kinds of games, however, are no longer helpful, much less amusing. They merely reflect the absence of effective leadership in a crisis. And we are in a crisis.

Most Americans suspect that something is fundamentally wrong with the President’s management of the conflict in Iraq. And they are right.

The challenge we face today is not how to win in Iraq; it is how to recover from a strategic mistake: invading Iraq in the first place. The war could never have served American interests.

But it has served Iran’s interest by revenging Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Iran in the 1980s and enhancing Iran’s influence within Iraq. It has also served al Qaeda’s interests, providing a much better training ground than did Afghanistan, allowing it to build its ranks far above the levels and competence that otherwise would have been possible.

We cannot ‘win’ a war that serves our enemies interests and not our own. Thus continuing to pursue the illusion of victory in Iraq makes no sense. We can now see that it never did.

A wise commander in this situation normally revises his objectives and changes his strategy, not just marginally, but radically. Nothing less today will limit the death and destruction that the invasion of Iraq has unleashed.

No effective new strategy can be devised for the United States until it begins withdrawing its forces from Iraq. Only that step will break the paralysis that now confronts us. Withdrawal is the pre-condition for winning support from countries in Europe that have stood aside and other major powers including India, China, Japan, Russia.

It will also shock and change attitudes in Iran, Syria, and other countries on Iraq’s borders, making them far more likely to take seriously new U.S. approaches, not just to Iraq, but to restoring regional stability and heading off the spreading chaos that our war has caused.

The bill that Congress approved this week, with bipartisan support, setting schedules for withdrawal, provides the President an opportunity to begin this kind of strategic shift, one that defines regional stability as the measure of victory, not some impossible outcome.

I hope the President seizes this moment for a basic change in course and signs the bill the Congress has sent him. I will respect him greatly for such a rare act of courage, and so too, I suspect, will most Americans.

This is retired General Odom. Thank you for listening."

Vudu: yet another assault on traditional TV

The Times ran a very good piece today on a new company, Vudu.  It is one more story of many on how TV, and video, is being re-imagined:

Vudu, if all goes as planned, hopes to turn America’s televisions into limitless multiplexes, providing instant gratification for movie buffs. It has built a small Internet-ready movie box that connects to the television and allows couch potatoes to rent or buy any of the 5,000 films now in Vudu’s growing collection. The box’s biggest asset is raw speed: the company says the films will begin playing immediately after a customer makes a selection.

If Vudu succeeds, it may mean goodbye to laborious computer downloads, sticky-floored movie theaters and cable companies’ much narrower video-on-demand offerings. It may even mean a fond farewell to the DVD itself — the profit engine of the film industry for the last decade. “Other forms of movie distribution are going to look silly and uncompetitive by comparison,” Mr. Miranz asserts...

and

“The first time I ever saw TiVo was an a-ha moment, and this was the same thing,” says Jim Wuthrich, a senior executive with Warner Brothers Home Entertainment Group. “It [Vudu] looks fairly sexy and inviting. This is going to pull people in.”

VUDU is arriving at a time of rapid change in the entertainment and media landscapes. This year, for the first time, a majority of American homes will have a broadband connection to the Web, according to iSuppli, a research firm. That benchmark has reshuffled the cards in the media and entertainment industries.

With versatile data pipes now reaching into most homes, the deep thinkers in Hollywood and Silicon Valley say they believe that television shows and movies — just like e-mail, Web pages, songs and albums — will one day be cheaply and efficiently imported into the home.

The question is when.

For all of their confidence, the new ventures now crowding the digital video launching pad look, if anything, a tad sickly. YouTube, which Google bought last year for $1.65 billion, is an exception: it has attracted millions of users fanatical about watching bite-sized video clips...

The whole piece is worth reading.  Feel free to learn more about our work on the changing media landscape at www.newpolitics.net.

Defining leadership down

In a recent essay I wrote about the terrible moral climate of the Bush era.  But in the days since that essay, written just a few weeks ago, we've seen a torrent of new revelations, resignations and accusations.  They are coming so fast and furious now that they are often not even getting on the front page of major papers.  This age of Bush the raid of a Congressman's home by the FBI has become a regular, everyday occurance. 

Let's do a quick review of what we've learned in the last few weeks: for years dozens of senior Administration officials knowingly violated laws requiring them to keep records of their communications; millions of these emails were "lost;" it has become clear that several senior staffers of Justice perjured themselves in front of Congress earlier this year; the Attorney General himself also appeared to have lied to or purposefully misled Congress; a senior Justice staffer just resigned over ties to Abramoff; more Republican staffers were convicted in the next stages of a variety of scandals; the NYTimes has a devastating story today on how many of the completed reconstruction projects in Iraq are no longer functioning as planned; at least three new Republican Members of Congress have had public action taken against them, including two who have had their homes or offices raided by the FBI; and George Tenet's new book appears to, of course, indicate once again how much the Iraq War was a neocon big lie.

In the age of Bush we've seen just about everything.  Official corruption of every kind and at a scale perhaps not seen in US history; sexual intimidation of minors; prostitutes and limos; the big lie as common strategy; to make it complete we needed a Republican Madam.  As a the Post reports today we now have one, and she is going public on 20/20 on May 4th about her client list, which appears to include a host of conservative big wigs.  A senior Rice deputy was the first to go, earlier this week. 

It is important that we muckracking progressives make the moral climate and leadership failures of this era a major topic in the Presidential campaigns of both parties this year.  It has been a leadership failure of epic scale, and needs to be discussed publically by our Presidential aspirants.

The Big Fight

It's not Oscar De la Hoya vs. Floyd Mayweather, it's Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid vs. David Broder.  Broder accused Reid of being The Democrats' Gonzalez in his column yesterday, and a number of leading Democrats are voicing their strong disagreement.  Reid's 50 caucus members, for instance, in a letter to the WAPO editorial page entitled Senator Reid's Fine Leadership.  Also, make sure to read Paul Begala's pull-no-punches response over on The Huffington Post

McCain is officially in

Yesterday, John McCain formally announced his candidacy to be the next President. Read the announcement here and check out video below.

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

Rudy believes in bipartisanship

Rudy Giuliani, being the optimistic guy that he is, made some pretty interesting remarks yesterday at the New Hampshire Republican Party's Rockingham County Lincoln Day Dinner. Here are some of the highlights:

“But the question is how long will it take and how many casualties will we have?” Giuliani said. “If we are on defense [with a Democratic president], we will have more losses and it will go on longer.”

“I listen a little to the Democrats and if one of them gets elected, we are going on defense,” Giuliani continued. “We will wave the white flag on Iraq. We will cut back on the Patriot Act, electronic surveillance, interrogation and we will be back to our pre-Sept. 11 attitude of defense.”

He added: “The Democrats do not understand the full nature and scope of the terrorist war against us.”

After his speech to the Rockingham County Lincoln Day Dinner, I asked him about his statements and Giuliani said flatly: “America will be safer with a Republican president.”

Perhaps Rudy should follow these words from Senator John McCain's e-mail formally announcing his candidacy for President: "This election should be about big things, not small ones. Ours are not red state or blue state problems. They are national and global."

UPDATE: Senator Barack Obama's response (via Greg from TPMCafe):

“Rudy Giuliani today has taken the politics of fear to a new low and I believe Americans are ready to reject those kind of politics. America’s mayor should know that when it comes to 9/11 and fighting terrorists, America is united. We know we can win this war based on shared purpose, not the same divisive politics that question your patriotism if you dare to question failed policies that have made us less secure. I think we should focus on strengthening our intelligence, working with local authorities and doing all the things we haven't yet done to keep Americans safe. The threat we face is real, and deserves better than to be the punchline of another political attack.”

Senator Hillary Clinton's response (via Greg from TPMCafe):

"There are people right now in the world, not just wishing us harm but actively planning and plotting to cause us harm. If the last six years of the Bush Administration have taught us anything, it's that political rhetoric won't do anything to quell those threats. And that America is ready for a change.

"One of the great tragedies of this Administration is that the President failed to keep this country unified after 9/11. We have to protect our country from terrorism – it shouldn't be a Democratic fight or a Republican fight. The plain truth is that this Administration has done too little to protect our ports, make our mass transit safer, and protect our cities. They have isolated us in the world and have let Al Qaeda regroup. The next President is going to be left with these problems and will have to do what it takes to make us safer and bring Democrats and Republicans together around this common mission of protecting our nation. That is exactly what has to be done and what I am ready to do."

Click here to see Senator John Edwards' response, as well as that of the DNC.

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

The Tillman, Lynch testimony

I read this story several times, and I have to admit that I am thunderstruck.  I can't really believe it.  CNN has a good early piece with lots of video.

Help us update the NDN Agenda: Strengthen Families and Communities

NDN needs your help to update our agenda.  After you read the section below, sign-up for an account, if you haven't already, and share your ideas with us in the comments section.

From NDN's Agenda for Hope and Progress...Strengthen Families and Communities: Put families, children and communities at the very center of our agenda by improving the nation's schools through higher standards, greater accountability, more choices for parents, quality teachers, and promised additional resources; fostering family friendly policies that help parents succeed at work and at home; expanding college opportunities; promoting safe neighborhoods, home ownership, and personal responsibility; keeping abortion safe, legal, and rare; embracing legal immigrants seeking a better life in America; developing an improved path to citizenship; and striving towards equal opportunity for all.

Read and comment on the entire agenda

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