NDN Blog

Sheldon Whitehouse Speaks Spanish

At least enough to introduce himself in his new Spanish language radio ad "Creencias" (Believes).  "Creencias" is running in and around the city of Providence, which is 30% Hispanic.  NDN Hispanic Strategy Center Advisor Maria Cardona praised the effort, calling it "a smart and necessary strategy that more Democrats across the country should follow if we want to win back the House and Senate."  With its inclusive and positive message, "Creencias" is the exact opposite of the RNC ad demonizing Hispanics, that was run against Steve Laffey during the Republican Senate primary. 

Everyone on our team should be following Whitehouse's lead (and the advice of NDN) and engage the Hispanic community

South Dakota Abortion Ban Goes Too Far

The South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families unveiled a second television advertisement.

Here’s what’s at stake: the South Dakota ban is extreme – it prohibits abortions with no exception for rape, incest, or the health of a woman. The only exception is to prevent death. Doctors who violate the law will be made felons, penalized with a five year prison sentence – even fined $10,000 for referring a woman to another doctor outside of the state.  If this antiquated ban were to pass, it will become the test case to reverse Roe v. Wade.

Mark Warner Not Running

Former VA Gov. Mark Warner has just announced that he will not be running for President in 2008, surprising supporters, pundits and Democrats nationwide.  Since leaving the Governor's office nine months ago with record high approval ratings, Warner has been raising money and traveling the country, particularly to NH, IA and SC, in support of Democratic candidates.  He's been getting good press coverage and seemed to be staking out a space as a leading, moderate contender for the '08 Democratic Presidential nomination.  This being Washington, rumors about his next political move are already flying.  Depending on what and whom you are reading, he could be contemplating a run for Republican John Warner's Senate seat in 2008, thinking about getting his old job back as Governor in 2010, or even making himself available as a VP pick.  Family appears to be a major factor in his decision, and from what I've personally seen of Governor Warner, it is clear that he is very devoted to his wife and three daughters. 

The complete text of his announcement is here.


New NPI Study Released: Use Search

Today NDN's affiliate the New Politics Insitute released the third installment of the four-part Tools Checklist, entitled Use Search.

The web is becoming an undeniably powerful force in American politics today. The standard talking point for this is now two months old--George Allen's "macaca moment" (a single posting of which on YouTube shows nearly 23,000 views). Simon is quoted in this MSNBC article, "Ninety percent of people buying cars do research online first...In the Internet age, we can expect the same for politics."

People are doing their political homework on the web now, and if you want to be found, we strongly recommend our new study.

And as always, you can get emails regarding our latest releases by signing up here

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.)


North Korea: Point/Counterpoint with President Carter and Senator McCain

Major ripples in the news today regarding North Korea: both President Bush and Secretary Rice have assured us the that the U.S. will not be going to war anytime soon. But two articles that did catch my eye were arguments made by Jimmy Carter in a New York Times op-ed and John McCain in a speech near Detroit.

Says McCain:

"I would remind Senator Clinton and other Democrats critical of Bush administration policies that the framework agreement her husband's administration negotiated was a failure...Every single time the Clinton administration warned the Koreans not to do something -- not to kick out the IAEA inspectors, not to remove the fuel rods from their reactor -- they did it.

Carter, in his mild mannered, straightforward way, gives his take on the Clinton years:

The United States assured the North Koreans that there would be no military threat to them, that it would supply fuel oil to replace the lost nuclear power and that it would help build two modern atomic power plants, with their fuel rods and operation to be monitored by international inspectors. The summit talks resulted in South Korean President Kim Dae-jung earning the 2000 Nobel Peace Prize for his successful efforts to ease tensions on the peninsula.

He goes one step further, recognizing the difference in how the Bush administration took up the situation. In 2002, "the United States branded North Korea as part of an axis of evil, threatened military action, ended the shipments of fuel oil and the construction of nuclear power plants and refused to consider further bilateral talks."

Back to McCain:

Under the Clinton presidency, McCain said, "We had a carrots-and-no-sticks policy that only encouraged bad behavior."

Carter explodes this myth:

With the risk of war on the Korean Peninsula, there was a consensus that the forces of South Korea and the United States could overwhelmingly defeat North Korea. But it was also known that North Korea could quickly launch more than 20,000 shells and missiles into nearby Seoul...The current military situation is similar but worse than it was a decade ago: we can still destroy North Korea’s army, but if we do it is likely to result in many more than a million South Korean and American casualties.

Carter even offers a few suggestions for a way out of the hole Bush has dug over the last six years. In this point/counterpoint, Carter offers a level-headed approach of the last decade and where to go in the next; McCain only seems to be able to point fingers.


Bush: “It didn’t work”

In his rambling, disquieting news conference this morning, President Bush said again and again that previous Administrations’ strategy towards North Korea “didn’t work.” It is a concept he should spend a great deal of time thinking about.

For what has he done that has worked? On his watch despite many warnings terrorists struck our homeland, Bin Laden is still active and Al Qaeda is growing in influence, the Taliban are resurgent in Afghanistan, our attempt to democratize the Middle East is failing spectacularly, our purposeful violation of the Geneva conventions has weakened our moral authority around the world, Iran is on its way to becoming a nuclear state, democracy is threatened in Russia, our relations with Latin America have worsened, our military has been degraded, we have become much more indebted to foreign nations, global trade talks have fallen apart, there is no action towards a global solution to climate change and as we saw with Katrina we are still not ready here at home.

Over six long years we’ve spent trillions on our defense, taken tens of thousand of casualties, lost a great deal of prestige around the world and what have we gotten for it?

A world much less safe.

Mr. President, you are right, “it didn’t work.” Stay the course isn’t an option. But what do we do now?

I think our Democratic leaders should ask for a bi-partisan, bi-cameral sit down with the President to discuss right now how we can take control of world events once again. The Administration’s approach has failed us, let down the American people and the world and is making the whole world less safe. It is critical that they admit that it isn’t working and ask for input to help to find a better path. The dogged determination to defend what isn’t working is what is causing this Administration to be in so much trouble with the American people.

Do they have the courage to change? Or we will stay with the moral equivocation of staying a course that is so clearly failing?

Libya bridges the gap with $100 Laptops

When the MIT Media Lab's One Laptop Per Child initiative was first announced, many groups (including NDN) understood its potential impact on educating the world's youth. Today's NY Times features an article on how the idea is becoming reality in Libya:

The government of Libya reached an agreement on Tuesday with One Laptop Per Child, a nonprofit United States group developing an inexpensive, educational laptop computer, with the goal of supplying machines to all 1.2 million Libyan schoolchildren by June 2008.

Nicholas Negroponte, brother of U.S. intelligence director John Negroponte, is Chairman of One Laptop Per Child and had this to say of the deal:

It is possible that Libya will become the first nation in the world where all school-age children are connected to the Internet through educational computers. “The U.S. and Singapore are not even close.


Bush Talks Deficit Nonsense

President Bush will tomorrow make a speech hailing his achievement in cutting the budget deficit in half. It will be a stunning act of economic hubris. Here is why. First, you introduce policies which vastly increase the deficit through unfunded tax cuts and large spending increases. Second, you predict a dubiously high budget deficit figure a few years out, just at the point in the cycle where you'd expect the deficit to decline naturally. (Tax recipts increase relative to fixed outgoings, all things being equal, the longer into an economic cycle you are. Hence most economists like the to budget balance on average over the course of an expansion, but think its ok to run deficits at certain points.) Then, from this artificially high base you claim success by having halved an imaginery figure - reaching a level that is still billions below where it ought to be for this point in the economic cycle. And Voila, as the Republicans probably would not say.

President Bush's policy has created a structural deficit of hundreds of billions of dollar. This will lower savings and investment, contribute to the trade deficit, and lower long term growth. And, as Brad DeLong points out in this post i've linked to before, the tax cuts - by virtue of being unfunded - aren't really tax cuts at all. They are just tax increases deferred to the future generations who will have to fix the mess.

As Milton Friedman puts it, to spend is to tax. Bush's spending increases--defense, Iraq, the Republican porkfest, the Medicare drug benefit--are still there, just as things you have charged to your VISA don't go away if you make only the minimum monthly payment. What George W. Bush has done has been to shift taxes from the present to the future--and also made future taxes uncertain, random, and thus extra-costly from a standard public finance view.

Remember, at the same point during the Clinton years - after four years of strong economic growth, the budget deficit was just about gone. So, as this graph from Reuters's shows all too obviously, there is a clear $200bn gap between where the public finances are, and where they should be under a responsible government. All the more shameful, then, that Republican candidates accross the country are robotically trotting out tax-and-spend liberal attacks against any opponent who even dares to suggest that, one day, someone is going to have to fix this mess. So tomorrow i think most economist's will be listening to this President's claims, but thinking of words attributed to another: "'Tis better to be silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt."




A Fence That Won't Work - Yours For $10.57bn

Somehow i missed this story about fence-building lunacy in this morning's Post, but the prolific Ezra Klein over at TAPPED didn't. He makes a good point:

The Post recounts the sorry history of the fence separating Tijuana and San Diego. That barrier, which is only 14-miles long, was originally estimated to cost $14 million. Instead, the first nine miles have required $39 million, and the DHS has appropriated another $35 million for the rest. Proportionally, that would mean that this longer, larger fence -- which will go through much less populous areas, requiring much more construction, landscaping, and even road building -- will end up costing $10.57 billion, not the $2 billion appropriated. And that doesn't even get into maintenance costs, flood protection, the chance that the newly flatted ground and constructed roads will aid migrants, the opposition of the city of El Paso and the Texas Border Sheriff's association, the environmental lawsuits, or anything else. What a boondoggle.

Having dug out my copy of the paper, I see there a fabulous map, that sadly isn't on their website. Washington residents should dig their copy out of the trash, and have a look. 

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