NDN Blog

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

MyDD on Rob Shapiro's carbon tax paper

Matt Stoller over at MyDD is talking about a carbon tax versus the cap and trade approach and he had only good things to say about NDN Globalization Initiative Director Robert J. Shapiro's paper on the carbon tax.  Read the entire post here.

The Cap and Trade Scam
by Matt Stoller, Tue Apr 24, 2007 at 11:46:18 AM EST

Alright, it's time to understand the global warming debate, and who's selling what.  And basically, the state of the policy world is pretty bad.  The urgency on the problem is high, and paradoxically, Bushnik's refusal to admit the problem exists has obscured the choices we'll have to make post-2009.  But the choices exist, and all the major Presidential candidates are pushing policies that are not only ineffective, but subject to massive corporate corruption.  Like with Iraq, it's time for us to engage. Thankfully all of them are bad on this, so I don't want to hear any secret agenda whining, though I do have an emerging secret agenda in favor of Chris Dodd, as you'll soon see.

Economist Robert Shapiro has a very important and readable paper on different ways to deal with the carbon problem.

Corrupt conservative 'o the day: Karl Rove

There's a new investigation into Karl Rove's potential abuses of power and violation of the Hatch Act.  From WAPO:

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel is expanding its investigation of a January videoconference, conducted by Karl Rove's deputy for General Services Administration appointees, to look at whether the political dealings of the White House have violated the Hatch Act, its chairman said last night.

Not long into its investigation of the presentation, Special Counsel Scott J. Bloch said, his office had collected "a sufficient amount of evidence" that merited a deeper examination of whether the White House was running afoul of the law.

J. Scott Jennings conducted the Jan. 26 videoconference in the political affairs office at the White House. His PowerPoint presentation, to as many as 40 Republican GSA political appointees, contained slides describing Democratic seats that the GOP planned to target in the next election and Republican seats that needed to be protected.

We've been talking about corruption and conservatives for years.  Make sure to read Simon's latest analysis:

Renewing Our Democracy

29%.   That is the percentage of Americans who approve of the President’s performance today.   To me it is an accurate appraisal, as it has been a disappointing time for our nation.  Despite a sustained economic recovery wages haven’t risen and jobs haven’t been created at historic norms.   Iraq has gone terribly wrong, costing American lives, respect and so much money.   Katrina showed terrifying incompetence, reminding us with Bush we are not safer.  So little has worked as advertised in this age of Bush, and critical challenges like the funding of the retirement of baby boom, really improving our schools, fixing our broken immigration system, offering all Americans access to health insurance, lessening our dependence on foreign sources of energy and global climate change have gone unmet.

Read more...

Wolfowitz lawyers-up

Of all the 'loyal Bushies' who are in trouble these days Paul Wolfowitz's collapse seems most likely to be turned into a made for TV movie, with corruption acusations against the anti-corruption crusader, sex, lots of blame for a war that has proven to be expensive in blood and treasure.  But the World Bank chief seems to be intent on going down fighting, meeting with the World Bank board and hiring a prominent defense attorney.  WAPO has more:

"I want to make sure his rights are fully protected," said Robert S. Bennett, whom Wolfowitz retained on Saturday. On Friday, the World Bank executive board named an ad hoc committee to consider "conflict of interest, ethical, reputational, and other relevant standards" in judging Wolfowitz's performance, including his role in setting the terms of a pay and promotion package for his girlfriend, a bank employee...

More than three dozen former senior bank officials, including a number who served with Wolfowitz, signed a letter published yesterday in the Financial Times urging that he resign so the bank can "speak with the moral authority necessary to move the poverty agenda forward."

Read more in the NYT...

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