NDN Blog

New NPI Website marks Final Push on Fall "New Tools" Campaign

The New Politics Institute is making one final push to help progressives maximize their impact this fall through the use of four new tools – and we need your help to spread the word.

We are proud to announce that our newly relaunched website now has a complete set of materials from our “new tools” campaign.

Together our memos, videos and reports give a complete overview of four ways progressives can make a difference this fall: Buy Cable, Engage the Blogs, Use Search, and Speak in Spanish. Check out the Tools Campaign, as part of our completely revamped website.

The new NPI website is now the center of our campaign, and will be a vital resource in the weeks and months ahead. It’s built on a Web 2.0 foundation that gives NPI new capabilities and lets us tell our story in new ways. You can check it out at http://www.newpolitics.net.

The site is full of video including original interviews with our fellows. Especially notable is Markos Moulitsas of Daily Kos giving his overview of the political impact of blogging. We also have an edited viral video that introduces the Millennial Generation that is poised to change politics.

Make sure to check out our video of a talk and multimedia slide show that gives an overview of the opportunity for a new politics in the decade ahead. We also have a whole section of written material that explains the context for this transformation.

And you can find more about the network we have built up since we started in May 2005, and the backgrounds of our fellows, who span the gamut from Joe Trippi to Jen Nix.

Please spread the word (and the links) to this rich resource for progressive organizations and candidates. It could make a difference this fall.

Two Plausible Ways Forward on Iraq

There are two must read pieces on Iraq in today's papers. The New York Times gives its entire editorial over to "Trying to Contain the Iraq Disaster." It offers a sensible series of steps to change the nation's strategy, involving reaching out to regional powers and beginning a new political a settlement likely based on confederation. The second piece is from Sen. Joe Biden and Leslie Gelb. Its subscription only in the WSJ, so here is long quote: 

Because the current course in Iraq is a losing course, we have to prepare ourselves to make the toughest decisions since the end of the Cold War....The only way to carve out a new path is through bipartisanship.... Political leaders in our country must choose to hang together rather than hang separately. They have every incentive to do so. It is flatly against the security interests of the U.S. to stay the current course. It is also against the political interests of both parties. Republicans don't want to run for the presidency in 2008 with Iraq around their necks. Democrats do not want to assume the presidency in 2009 saddled with a losing war.

Serious members of both parties are prepared to seek a solution. First, there can be no military success in Iraq without a political settlement -- a power-sharing arrangement that gives its major groups incentives to pursue their interests peacefully instead of falling into a cycle of sectarian revenge. What could work is a federalized Iraq, with three or more largely autonomous regional governments to suit the separate interests of Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds. A central government would administer common concerns, such as defending Iraq's borders and managing its energy infrastructure.

Second, we must have a plan prepared by our military for the redeployment and withdrawal of most U.S. troops over the next 18 months...... Third, we have to ignite the most vigorous regional diplomacy to back up the power-sharing deal among Iraqis and avoid neighbors warring over an Iraqi vacuum...... The Baker-Hamilton commission has a unique opportunity to generate a bipartisan way forward in Iraq. If it comes up with a better plan than the one we propose, we will embrace it. But whatever it does, it cannot kick the can down the road. It must come up with a strategy that allows us to leave Iraq without leaving chaos behind -- which is not being done in Washington now.

Both pieces are worth reading in full - and both are a serious contribution to the debate in both parties about what could possibly be done to save some semblance of order from the daily unfolding chaos in the middle east. 

GOP stumbling with minorities

Peter Wallsten of the LA Times has a very interesting piece today about the Rovian-led efforts to reposition the GOP with African-Americans and Latinos in unraveling. 

The numbers in the Latino Coalition poll are consistent with our NDN political fund poll this summer. and other polls, that show a dramatic degradation of the Republican brand with Latinos across the country. 

NDN and our affiliate continue to be the most aggressive of all progressive groups in speaking to Latinos, as we end the year with two media campaigns, one promoting the minimum wage in AZ and CO, and the other our wonderful campaign connecting Democratic values to the iconic sport of soccer, "mas que un partido."

"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.  

Schwarzenegger showing the "best of the best" in political communications

The San Francisco Chronicle had a nice story this weekend on how Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was blending top Hollywood talent with top national political talent to create what the  state Republican Chair called "the next generation of communication in politics." There is some truth to what he says, though what Schwarzenegger's team is doing is not rocket science. And other Democratic candidates also are pushing the front lines of what can be done with new media and new communications strategies.

Schwarzenegger's performance is  particularly striking when contrasted to the campaign performance of his Democratic challenger, Phil Angelides, who has not adopted many new practices. In fact, state Controller Steve Westly, who challenged Phil in the brutal primary, used many of the new techniques too.

The use of new tools and new media and communications practices is something that the New Politics Institute is closely tracking. Neither party has a monopoly on innovation at this point and it pays to watch what is happening on both sides.

Peter Leyden

Viral Video Alert: Michael J. Fox on Stem Cell Research

Claire McCaskill's new ad featuring Michael J. Fox is simple and moving.  In it, Fox talks about stem cell research and hope, reminding voters deciding between McCaskill and Senator Talent (who favors criminalizing stem cell research) that "what you do in Missouri matters to millions of Americans."

The ad is running during the World Series on Fox, when millions of Missourians will be watching their Cardinals.  And pickup on the internet has been impressive - on YouTube this ad is the 15th most watched video over the past week, with over 500,000 views. 

Anecdotally, I'm hearing about this ad from people who have little or no interest in politics.  That means that this powerful message is reaching people who may not have engaged in the election debate until now. 

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.


See Obama Run

Senator Barack Obama went on Meet the Press yesterday and had a substantive talk with Tim Russert on issues ranging from Iraq to Medicaid. Of course the quote that is getting all the play is about his evolving plans for '08:

SEN OBAMA: I don’t want to be coy about this, given the responses that I’ve been getting over the last several months, I have thought about the possibility. But I have not thought it—about it with the seriousness and depth that I think is required. My main focus right now is in the ‘06 and making sure that we retake the Congress. After oh—after November 7, I’ll sit down and, and consider, and if at some point, I change my mind, I will make a public announcement and everybody will be able to go at me.

MR. RUSSERT: But it’s fair to say you’re thinking about running for president in 2008?

SEN. OBAMA: It’s fair, yes

Compare that quote, as Tim Russert did, to his comments on the same show only nine months ago:

MR. RUSSERT: But, but—so you will not run for president or vice president in 2008?

SEN. OBAMA: I will not.

Watch the whole video here and decide for yourself; will we get to see Obama run?

With Other Options Exhausted, Bush Turns to the Economy

President Bush, not for the first time this cycle, is spending a few days talking up his economic record. He now seems to share with his father the dubious distinction of being the only President since the second world war to disprove the Fair equation, an economic model developed by Yale Economist Ray Fair that usually shows a tight fit between good economic indiciators and electoral results. Since World War II the only presidents to buck the trend have been Bush 41 in 1992, and Bush 43 in 2004. And, if the polls are any indicator, Bush in 2006 also. (See this presentation from Economist Robert Gordon for more details, especially slide 16.) NDN's chosen explanation, shared by most Democrats, is that the Fair equation only breaks down when most voters don't think they are benefiting from economic growth.

In other news this story caught my eye over the weekend.

The secret to managing your finances isn't "rocket science," Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson told a group of high school seniors Thursday."It's very simple," said the former Wall Street titan whose net worth is estimated at over $700 million. "Make sure you don't spend more than you earn."

If the irony wasn't lost on high school seniors, it certianly shouldn't be lost on voters.

Is what we are doing in Iraq a war?

Are we fighting a war in Iraq? Against whom? I know we have troops on the ground there, but the President has said that major hostilities ended in the Spring of 2003.  So why are we still calling our actions in Iraq a war?

It seems that a more accurate description of our work in Iraq would be to call it the American occupation of Iraq, and that our troops are peacekeepers. 

Getting these words right matters on several levels.  Accuracy in speech and thought usually help one end up in the right place, as knowing where you are helps you get to where you want to go.  It will also allow us to morally engage the rest of the world in doing what is right there now - preventing Iraq from slipping into a failed state or a civil war that could end up exporting instability the way Afghanistan did after the Soviet pull out.  Other nations do not want to help us fight a losing war, but perhaps they will help us find a regional political solution to the troubles of the Middle East. 

Language matters.  Calling American actions in Iraq a war is in itself part of a much greater problem - the overwhelming of American discourse by Bush proproganda and ideology.  The road forward in Iraq starts with calling it what it is - a failed occupation.

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