NDN Blog

A New Plan to Slow Carbon Emissions

NDN's good friend Garrett Gruener co-authored an op-ed in the LA Times today, which offers an innovative, market-based plan to deal with Carbon emissions.  One more sign that there are a lot of great ideas coming out of the modern progressive movement.

The longer we wait to take action on global warming, the more it will cost us in the long run. So it makes sense to adopt a tax on carbon emissions now. The trick is to design a "global cooling tax" that a majority of Americans will want to pay. We propose a tax that will hit energy hogs hardest. But under our scheme, whether you use a little or a lot, you would be able to invest your tax dollars directly in clean technologies that would lower your energy bills.

Read the entire op-ed here

New America Foundation Event Tomorrow: U.S.- Iran Relations Collision, Stand-off, or Convergence?

NAF is hosting a day of of programming on U.S.-Iran relations tomorrow.  Check it out:

Start: 02/14/2007 - 9:30am
End: 02/14/2007 - 3:00pm
628 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC, 20510
United States

See map: Google Maps


9:30 am - Coffee & Registration

10:00 am - Welcoming Remarks

  • Steven Clemons
    Senior Fellow & Director, American Strategy Program, New America Foundation
    Publisher, www.TheWashingtonNote.com
  • Trita Parsi
    President, National Iranian American Council

Ruse or Opportunity? The Provenance of Iran’s Spring 2003 Negotiations Offer

  • Flynt Leverett
    Senior Fellow & Director, Geopolitics of Energy Initiative, New America Founadtion
    Former Senior Director for Middle East Affairs, National Security Council
  • Col. Lawrence Wilkerson
    Former Chief of Staff, U.S. Department of State
  • Trita Parsi (moderator)
    President, National Iranian American Council

10:30 am - Iran’s Nuclear Challenge – Debating the Technical Dimensions

  • David Kay
    Senior Fellow, Potomac Institute for Policy Studies
    Former IAEA/UNSCOM Chief Nuclear Weapons Inspector in Iraq
  • Bruno Pellaud
    Chairman, IAEA Experts Group on Multilateral Approaches to the Fuel Cycle
    Former Deputy Director General and Head, IAEA Department of Safeguards
  • Maurizio Martellini
    Secretary General for Landau Network - Centro Volta
    Consultant on Non-Proliferation, Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Joseph Cirincione (moderator)
    Senior Vice President for National Security and International Policy
    Center for American Progress

12:00 pm - Luncheon: A Consideration of U.S. Options Toward Iran

  • Steven Clemons (Introduction)
    Senior Fellow & Director, American Strategy Program, New America Foundation
    Publisher, www.TheWashingtonNote.com
  • The Hon. Jane Harman (Keynote pre-lunch)
    Chairperson, Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing, and Terrorism Risk Assessment
    Committee on Homeland Security
    U.S. House of Representatives
  • Francis Fukuyama (Keynote post-lunch)
    Bernard L. Schwartz Professor of International Political Economy
    School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University

1:45 pm Iran’s Pretensions and a Turbulent Middle East

  • Thomas Donnelly
    Resident Fellow, Defense & Security Studies, American Enterprise Institute
  • Daniel Levy
    Senior Fellow & Director, Middle East Policy Initiative, New America Foundation
    Senior Fellow, Century Foundation
    Former Senior Advisor to Israel Prime Minister Ehud Barak
    Lead Israeli Drafter, Geneva Initiative
  • Dafna Linzer
    National Security Correspondent, Washington Post
  • Trita Parsi
    President, National Iranian American Council
  • Bahram Rajaee (moderator)
    National Iranian American Council
  • 3:30 pm Adjournment

Globalization from the Ground Up - Republicans wrong on IP policy

Having formally left NDN at the end of last year, I am now travelling round Asia for a while before returning home to Britain. And, well, given I used to work with Rob on the Globalization initiative, I thought I’d offer a few occasional thoughts on globalization from the ground. This is the first of these, and hopefully not the last. For what its worth, this is posted from Bombay, India.

NDN rightly raises the issue of IP protection, and the problem of its constant flouting in developing countries. The problem here is simple. It is not in the long-term interest of developing countries to flout IP regimes. But, crucially, it is definitely in their short term interests. China does not want to pay for copies of Windows Vista, even if it understands in the long-run that growth is positively correlated with respecting IP rights. The trick, then, is what strategy should the rights holding countries (US, EU and Japan) prosecute to try and get the rights abusing countries (India, China, others in Asia, Brazil, etc) to get to the point in their development when they see that protecting IP is in their immediate interests. This point is roughly where Singapore is You know this because it is impossible to find counterfeit good in Singapore, while they are abundant – almost comically so – in neighbouring Malaysia, and Thailand. And, of course, in China.

And this is where it gets interesting. Because at the moment the US is following the wrong strategy. It is demanding that the developing countries just stop it: obey the rules, and get with the programme. This is clearly not going to work, as the US and its IP-holding allies have no powers of enforcement. Instead, it is clear that different strategies need to be followed for different regions. And here is the interesting thing: the private sector really gets this, even if the government doesn’t.

A case in point is the front page of this morning’s Times of India, India’s most prestigious broadsheet. On page 1 there is a big Microsoft advert. The gist of it says that: if India wants to be a modern country, it has to play by the rules. Accpetance into the west, the advert implies, will only come by not buying pirated software. This, very cleverly, taps into the Indian phobia about not being accepted as a modern country. India fears not being seen as a serious player, and frets that it isn't taken seriously.

So far, so obvious. But in China, that strategy would fail. China doesn’t care what people think about it. She is a vastly more confident civilisation. So instead, clever companies follow a different tack. One example: some turn a blind eye to some IP infringement, and instead sell their software with added “training” packages. The Chinese have a real thing for education, partly routed in Confucian values. And so while they will not pay any money for the software, they will pay for the training. In the long-run, the bet is that by getting the Chinese to pay for some of their software, they will gradually converge with the Western rights-respecting norm.

So, bottom line: The Republicans are following the wrong strategy on IP protection. Democrats should follow the more nuanced approach of the private sector. This might involve talking a zero-tolerance game. But in the end that is an empty gesture without the right incentives to get countries into line. And here, all the Presidential aspirants have to learn about globalisation from America’s business leaders.

McCain fears a repeat of the Tet offensive

From the AP, via Time:  

"By the way, a lot of us are also very concerned about the possibility of a, quote, 'Tet Offensive.' You know, some large-scale tact that could then switch American public opinion the way that the Tet Offensive did," the Arizona senator said.

What does this mean? Hasn't American opinion already gone south? Is he admitting that the war is lost? What does this mean? Senator McCain has some explaining to do.

The Decider Isn't Watching

President Bush was interviewed by C-Span today, and he didn't express much interest in hearing what the Members of the House have to say in their potentially 36 hour-long debate over Iraq policy.  Specifically, they'll be debating this resolution, rebuking the President's surge/escalation plan. 

Click on the picture to watch the interview (the question on the House debate is early in the interview) or read the transcript below.

Q The House this week, three or four days, 36 hours of debate and a resolution that is likely to be very critical of your policies. First of all, will you be watching the debate? And will it at all influence your policies in the future?

THE PRESIDENT: In terms of watching the debate, I've got a lot to do -- I'm not exactly sure what hours they'll be debating, but I've got a pretty full day, I mean, like, I started this morning at 6:45 a.m. and I've had meetings up until right now. So I haven't been watching anything.

Q But this will start tomorrow.

THE PRESIDENT: You know, I've got a full day tomorrow. (Laughter.) I mean, it's not as if the world stops when the Congress does their duty. I'm receiving foreign guests. It just depends on what my schedule looks like. Secondly, look, I already know what the debate is. I hear a lot of opinions. A lot of people don't believe we can succeed in Iraq and, therefore, I presume, want to get out. That would be a disastrous course, as far as I'm concerned.

“Lo que los inmigrantes piensan de los inmigrantes”

The Washington Hispanic’s María Elena Salinas writes on “What immigrants think about immigration.” The article centers on a study performed by Bendixen and Associates, who recently conducted a poll for NDN of Cuban-Americans in South Florida,  which reveals that the majority of legal immigrants are pro-immigration. Significantly, 77% of the participants in Bendixen’s study are registered voters in the U.S., and are not necessarily happy with the way that either party is handling the immigration debate.

Para nuestros lectores hispánicos:

María Elena Salinas del Washington Hispanic escribe sobre “Lo que los inmigrantes piensan de los inmigrantes.” El artículo se centra en un estudio realizado por Bendixen y Asociados que muestra que la mayoría de inmigrantes legales están a favor de la inmigración. 77 por ciento de los participantes son electores registrados en los Estados Unidos, y a muchos no les gusta la posición de cualquier partido político sobre inmigración.

…800 personas de 43 países… participaron en una encuesta conducida por Bendixen y Asociados en nueve idiomas para determinar cómo inmigrantes legales en este país observan el debate migratorio y el papel de los indocumentados en el país.

El estudio demuestra que la gran mayoría, 67 por ciento para ser exactos, sienten que está creciendo un sentimiento antiinmigrante en EE.UU. y más de la mitad siente que esto les afecta directamente a ellos y sus familias.

Uno de los argumentos más fuertes que escuchamos en contra de programas de trabajadores temporales es que los indocumentados le quitan las plazas de empleo a los estadounidenses y residentes legales. Pero la encuesta de Bendixen muestra que el 81 por ciento cree que eso no es cierto. Es más, 73 por ciento cree que los indocumentados de hecho ayudan a la economía como mano de obra barata.

El debate de inmigración podría tener una repercusión política en ambos partidos. El 77 por ciento de los participantes en la encuesta de Bendixen son votantes registrados y no necesariamente le dan buenas calificaciones a ningún partido político por su manejo de tema migratorio.

Supercomputer in a chip: the inexorable march of computing power

Today in San Francisco, Intel will present their newest chip breakthrough to an industry conference. They now have a microchip the size of someone’s fingertip that has the same computational power as room-size supercomputer of just 11 years ago.

The chip is five years out from commercial use, and there are some software barriers that have to be overcome in the meantime, but the basic model has been cracked on how to get there. So we will have supercomputers able to fit in our cellphones in the span of five years.

This is just the latest example of a process of that has been going on for more than 30 years in Silicon Valley – about every 18 months a new generation of computer chips shrinks in size, roughly doubles in power and drops in price.

For those who want a lay person’s explanation of this process and what this new chip means, check out Tom Abate’s story in the San Francisco Chronicle. For those who want a more geeky explanation, check out the New York Times story by John Markoff, the dean of tech reporters out here.

And for those who want more on how these tech changes fit into the larger political transformation, check out the New Politics Institute website, and especially our talk, The New Politics Begins.

Peter Leyden

North Korea Nuclear Talks Break Down

The NYT reports today on a disturbing development in negotiations over North Korea’s nuclear program.  Vital efforts to complete a deal in which North Korea would abandon its nuclear program and gives up the nuclear materials it has already acquired are on the brink of collapse:

Negotiations on a step-by-step deal that the Bush administration hopes will lead North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program appeared near collapse on Sunday over North Korea’s demands for huge shipments of fuel oil and electricity before agreeing to a schedule for turning over its nuclear weapons and fuel.

The chief American envoy, Christopher R. Hill, said he and North Korea’s envoy, Kim Kye-gwan, held a “lengthy and very frank” meeting on Sunday. But Mr. Hill seemed much less optimistic that a deal could be struck. Negotiators are planning to end the talks on Monday, and other envoys were pessimistic that any breakthrough would emerge on the final day… 

…The huge annual energy package North Korea is demanding would eclipse the aid provided under the 1994 deal, when the North was promised light-water nuclear reactors with a generating capacity of two million kilowatts of electricity, as well as a temporary fix of 500,000 tons of heavy fuel oil…

…North Korea’s insistence on the package deflated the optimism that had infused the early days of this round of talks and spread to senior officials in the White House, who said they expected a deal this weekend.

Here's Cheney...

In a trial that is fast turning into a celebrity-studded reality tv show for the C-Span set, Dick Cheney appears likely to take the stand in defense of Scooter Libby.  From the NYT:

If he testifies, Mr. Cheney will bring to the jurors the awesome authority of his office and could attest to Mr. Libby’s character as policy adviser and family man, and to his crushing workload and dedication to keeping the country safe. That could give extra heft to Mr. Libby’s defense against the charge that he lied to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the grand jury: that he was so occupied with important matters of state, he did not accurately remember conversations from July 2003.

Interesting how Cheney's office is described as being imbued with "awesome authority."  We've certainly come a long way from the days when FDR VP "Cactus Jack" Garner described the office as "not being worth a pitcher of warm spit."  And with approval ratings of 16%, it's clear that Americans are less than comfortable with how powerful Vice President Cheney and his neocon friends still are. 

Interestingly, the Scooter Libby Trial is revealing a new Dick Cheney; Dick Cheney the pro-war PR man:

But the first 10 days of testimony have already exposed some of the long-hidden workings of Mr. Cheney’s extraordinary vice presidency, revealing how deeply Mr. Cheney himself was engaged during 2003 in managing public relations as the administration’s case for war came under attack.

Under cross-examination by Patrick J. Fitzgerald, a veteran prosecutor who is likely to be deferential but dogged with questions, the vice president may be forced to describe in uncomfortable detail how he directed the counteroffensive on Joeseph P. Wilson IV, the former ambassador who accused the administration of twisting prewar intelligence.

And once Dick Cheney decides to testify, anything goes.  It should be an entertaining and elucidating odd-hour:

If Mr. Cheney makes a statement that conflicts with the public record — and nearly every witness so far has done so at least once — it could prove embarrassing for him and for the administration.

“If Cheney said anything that’s contradicted in the record, though I think that’s unlikely, Pat will slam him,” said a former federal prosecutor who knows Mr. Fitzgerald. “He’ll do it respectfully, but I have no doubt he’ll do it,” said the lawyer, who spoke on condition of anonymity...

...Theodore B. Olsen, the former solicitor general for Mr. Bush, called Mr. Fitzgerald “a remarkably thorough, meticulous and careful guy with a tremendous memory of the facts” who was likely to mount a formidable cross-examination.

By taking the stand before a rapt national audience, Mr. Cheney would essentially be leaping without a net, because neither the defense nor the prosecution would be duty-bound to protect his interests, said Mr. Olson, who represented Ronald Reagan during the Iran-contra affair.

“You never know what’s going to happen on a witness stand with cross-examinations,” Mr. Olson said. “Surprises happen all the time.”

Mitt Romney to Announce from the Henry Ford Museum

Thanks to the National Jewish Democratic Council for breaking this:

The National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) expressed its deep concerns today about Republican Mitt Romney's decision to announce his candidacy for President from the Henry Ford Museum in Detroit, Michigan. Located on grounds formally owned by Ford, the museum is a testament to the life of Henry Ford, a notorious anti-Semite and xenophobe whose belief that Jews were second-class, inferior citizens were expressed in detail in his writings on his theory of Americanization. Ford was also bestowed with the Grand Service Cross of the Supreme Order of the German Eagle by Adolph Hitler.

Interestingly, Romney's website only mentions that he is announcing from "Michigan," with no mention of the Henry Ford Museum. 

Also, remember that Henry Ford was outspokenly anti-immigrant, as well as anti-Semitic, saying: "These men of many nations must be taught American ways, the English language, and the right way to live."  Immigration is of course a major issue facing Congress and the 2008 Presidential candidates.  And I'm not holding my breath, but shouldn't a reporter at the announcement ask Romney or a senior staff member if the former Governor of Massachusetts agrees with Henry Ford's views on immigration?

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