NDN Blog

Bill Clinton: Football Star?

The NDN blog, like the rest of the world, will soon leave the World Cup behind. Before it does i have one odd story to recount. In between the headbutting, yesterday's final coverage on ABC featured the staple broadcasters cut-aways to politicians, player's wives and random pretty-girls-in-the-crowd. We had a jowly looking Chirac, an anonymous looking Sepp Blatter, and an Italian stepford wife. In the packed bar where I watched the game only one of these got any reaction at all. And that was President Clinton. And what a reaction it was. I kid you not: the President appears, and the crowd errupts in cheers. The whole bar then begins a boisterous chant of "OLE! OLE! OLE! OLE! CLINT-ON! CLINT-ON!". I make no particular political point about this, beyond the fact that i was amazed. A bar packed with Europeans - nay a bar at least half packed with FRENCH Europeans- cheering an American President. It was a pleasant reminder of the way things could be.

It's Italy!

And I was right this am.  Zidane's name is more famous, or perhaps infamous, than ever. 

Hats off to the Italians for overcoming a great deal, and playing a great tournament. 

Your reax to the World Cup?

Sunday musings

Lots of interesting stuff in the papers today.   A theme running throughout the day is the struggle to understand and manage how interconnected we've become through globalization.  We read today of Zidane, and world's obsession with soccer; of the new baby Panda here in DC; of immigration; of the Mexican elections; of a leading Republican's letter to the President raising questions about the use of foreign intelligence gathering techniques being used here at home on Americans; of cell phone use in the Congo. 

Despite rising global threats we live in a time of relative peace and prosperity.  Our time is characterized as a period of rapid flow of ideas, technology, commerce, people and information.  With the end of the Cold War and the Clinton-led effort to bring the former communist and non-aligned world into the global economic and political system, the modernity of the United States is being brought to all parts of the world.  

The Washington Post's remarkable story on cell phone use in the Congo and how it is fundamentally changing the country is the must read of the day.   It reminds us that almost half the world's 6 billion people are now on the global information network.  And that the way most people will access this network in the years to come will be a wireless device like a cell phone, increasingly packed with other features that enable commerce and information exchange. 

As the Congo story shows as the barriers to globalization are overcome, the velocity of its adaption increases.  And this increase of globalization's velocity is I believe the greatest challenge facing the world today.  People, societies, institutions can only handle, easily, only so much change.  With such rapid changes, the norms developed in civil societies become threatened.   Helping our country, and the people of the world understand these changes and manage them effectively seems to me to be the main goal of American policy makers today. 

Here at home let's look at one salient debate through this prism - immigration.  The immigration problem we are facing today really stems from the fact that people are now trying to move with the same velocity as the rest of global capitalism.  Latin Americans like all people want a better life.   Moving up to the US almost guarentees it.  Easy to get there these days.  Why not go?

As more and more people get onto this global network, and experience the velocity of the modern world, we should expect a much greater desire to migrate to places that offer greater opportunity, whether within a country or without.  Hundreds of millions of Latins now know of the opportunity America offers; it is easy to get here; through cell phones you can better stay in touch with family at home, easing the pain of leaving; why not try it? 

Putting 6,000 troops on the border is not going to stop this extraordinary new bi-product of globalization - a global desire to seek a better life, and the power and confidence now to seek it wherever it is offered.  I wrote yesterday of the Republican's utter failure to understand or deal with the realities of our current wave of immigration.  In this case they are acting as true conservatives, fighting against a rapid wave of change that is for many hard to understand.  Their failure, and since they are the governing party, our failure as America to come to grips with the immigration challenge is one of many examples of how hard it is going to be for even advanced, democratic societies to deal with the changes to come from 21st century globalization. 

The bringing of the whole world onto this global network has only just begun, and it will, as we can see from this Post piece on the Congo, start to challenge traditional ideas, assumptions and civil societies in ways we haven't even begun to fathom.  In a few years, as most wireless devices become web-enabled, the rural entreprenuers of the Congo featured in this piece will be able to access this blog, and I hope, leave a comment. 

And it would be appropriate to end this piece with an homage to the most watched television event of our emergent global society - the World Cup final.  With billions tuning in this afternoon, including everyone in my home, it is likely that a son of Algerian immigrants in France will become perhaps the most world's most famous and admired man; and that the name Zidane will become spoken, texted and emailed perhaps more than almost any other word in human history.    Allez les blues. 

Murdoch and MySpace

If you have not had a chance to check it out yet, read the new Wired cover story on Rupert Murdoch, MySpace and News Corp. Murdoch, a 75 year old conservative republican, starts the interview with this....

“To find something comparable, you have to go back 500 years to the printing press, the birth of mass media – which, incidentally, is what really destroyed the old world of kings and aristocracies. Technology is shifting power away from the editors, the publishers, the establishment, the media elite. Now it’s the people who are taking control.”

It's a fascinating read and good insight into an old media company trying to get ahead in the new world.

"Today we March..."

"...tomorrow we vote" was the phrase chanted by many protesters for sane immigration reform this year. A good story on the beginnings of this promise being realized from this Reuters News story:

"Two Latino radio hosts credited for mobilizing hundreds of thousands this year in pro-immigrant protests said on Friday they would join the drive to increase the Hispanic and immigrant vote in the 2008 U.S. presidential election."

Los Angeles disc jockeys Piolin (Tweetybird) and El Cucuy (the Bogeyman) said they will work with the National Council of La Raza and other organizations to push Latino immigrants living in the United States to become U.S. citizens and register to vote in time to cast ballots in 2008....

An estimated 8 million Latinos are legal residents in the United States who qualify for naturalization as U.S. citizens, including 3 million in California alone, activists said.

National Council of La Raza president Janet Murguia said Spanish-language radio DJs could help add at least another 3 million Latino voters to the 7.5 million who cast ballots in 2004, helping to elect more pro-immigration politicians.

 

Morning Roundup

The news this morning is full of stories about Mexico and the border.  With the Mexican election now officially in dispute, the attention the immigration debate in this country will get - and its salience in the fall election - will continue to grow. 

To me how America responds to the immigration challenge says a great deal about what kind of nation we want to become in the 21st century.  I'm proud of Harry Reid and the Democrats for not taking the easy enforcement-first road.  We've stuck to our guns, and argued that to solve the problem we need a comprehensive approach - tougher border enforcement, tougher sanctions on US employers of undocumenteds, a modest guest worker program and an earned path to citizenship that puts the undocumenteds at the end of the current immigration line.  Many Republicans, including the President and John McCain, agree with this thoughtful approach.  Today's Post has a good editorial re-iterating their support for this path. 

But the Republican House doesn't agree with this sensible path forward.  They've passed a bill calling for the arrest and deportation of the 11-12 million undocumenteds living here.  And now they are openly working to undermine the broad bi-partisan Senate consensus around comprehensive immigration reform by moving only a piece of the plan, tougher border enforcement. 

Democrats have stood firm and offered a plan to solve a vexing national challenge.  The Republicans are offering a plan to solve their own vexing internal political problems.  But this should come as no suprize, as little the Republicans have done since they came to power in 1994 has been about effectively solving problems or meeting the new challenges of the emerging century.  Think deficits, Katrina, Iraq, shorting of funds for education, no action on pensions, health care and energy costs, no conversation or strategy about declining wages, rampant warantless spying on private American citizens.  As a spent and failed governing party, the Republicans are doing the only thing they are good at - playing politics, and focusing on staying in power.  While benefiting them, this approach is not helping America effectively understand or tackle the challenges of our time.  For the majority party it has all become about them and their needs, and not about us, the America people or the country. 

That's why this immigration battle matters so much.  It is a test of whether we still have the capacity to tackle important challenges.  That's why NDN has worked so hard on this issue - in an unprecedented bi-partisan coalition - for the past year.  It is a test of the governing party's capacity to do what is right for us, and not for them.  And of course as of today they are failing this test in a dramatic and disapointing fashion. 

The likely next President of Mexico, Felipe Calderon, at his first news conference yesterday criticized the militarization of our common, peaceful border and pledged to find a better way.  The lead anti-immigrant spokesman, Republican Tom Tancredo, fired back that his comments were "insulting." 

Man is this country ready for a new politics. 

An NPI DC Event on The Powerful New Political Tools of 2006

The New Politics Institute is putting on a terrific event in DC on Thursday, July 20th. Please come if you are in the vicinity, but even those outside the area might want to take a look at this lineup of topics and people, many in the formal NPI community. And we might be doing a simultaneous webcast, though we will know more about that later. What follows is the email we sent out to locals:

The Powerful New Political Tools of 2006
An Event on How Progressives can Leverage an Array of New Tools and New Media Right Now

There are a wide array of new tools and new media being used by early adopters in the public and private sectors that are totally ready for prime time in politics not someday, not next year, but right now. Come and learn about what they are and how progressives can use them at a New Politics Institute free lunch event from 12 noon to 2 pm on Thursday, July 20th at The Phoenix Hotel at 520 North Capitol Street, NW.

The New Politics Institute will give an overview of the new political opportunities emerging today based on the latest wave of new tools and new media. We then will have short presentations from top innovators and experts in half a dozen critical areas, followed by a strategic conversations between them and the audience. The topics include:

Paid Search Advertising: Jim Lecinski, Midwest Regional Director for Google, leads advertising and operations for Google's major Midwest clients, with nearly 20 years of integrated marketing and online advertising experience. He will explain why Google sold $6 billion in paid search ads last year and how political actors can start to use this outlet too.

Viral Video on the Internet: Julie Bergman Sender is a longtime motion picture executive and producer who produced the well-known viral video in the 2004 cycle starring Will Ferrell playing George W. Bush with horses on a ranch. She will talk about harnessing the explosion of professional and bottom-up digital video on the internet.

Blogs and Next Wave Internet Innovations: Jerome Armstrong is coauthor of Crashing the Gate: Netroots, Grassroots, and the Rise of People-Powered Politics, and is internet strategist for Governor Mark Warner’s presidential campaign. He will talk about a range of new internet innovations that are just emerging.

Mobile Phone Media: Tim Chambers is an NPI Fellow who recently served as Sony Corp of America’s Senior Vice President of Advanced Media Platforms and just started his own company, Media 50 Group. He will talk about how those in politics can get onto mobile platforms.

Getting More from TV Ads: Theo Yedinsky, NPI’s Senior Advisor, will speak about what is still a new imperative within progressive political circles: to shift more ad spend from broadcast television to more cost-effective and targeted cable buys.

Speaking in Spanish: Simon Rosenberg, President of NDN who has led a national Spanish language media campaign using soccer and the World Cup, will speak about using Spanish language media outlets to get progressive messages out to a vital and growing constituency.

This event is one of a series presented by the New Politics Institute, a think tank helping progressives master today’s transformation of politics due to the rapid changes in technology, media and the demographic makeup of America. NPI is building a working network of top technology, media, and demographic professionals who want to help move best practices and new innovations into progressive politics. We are developing a body of useful reports that can be found at: www.newpoltiics.net

For more information on the event contact: Tracy Leaman, 202-842-7213, or tleaman@ndn.org

Feel free to spread this announcement around. The more progressives who understand the powerful new tools and new media we now have at our disposal, the better. Thanks.

Peter Leyden
Director, New Politics Institute
leyden@newpolitics.net

Bush: Incoming

An intriguing article in this morning's New York Times highlights President Bush's day-long forray into Chicago, at least partly to "Spotlight Good Economic News". The piece continues:

"The trip coincides with the release of the unemployment report for June, which is expected to show fairly strong job creation. Administration officials are using the visit to spotlight the economy."

This spotlighting sounds like a fun game. Can anyone play? Because it seems awfully generous of the President to spend his whole day highlighting what CNN is noting as job growth being "weak again", and "a weaker labor market than Wall Street predicted." Someone in the Whitehouse Press Corp is going to get it in the neck if that is the best headline he gets all day.

There is some debate among economists as to exactly how good or bad the current job figures seem to be. As this solid article in The Street points out, it depends on which set of figures you chose to believe. But, as the article goes on to say and as we at NDN have said before, the real question the President has to answer is not on jobs, but on wages and living standard:

"The difference of a few hundred thousand jobs occupies the headlines. But it is the hourly wage portion of the nonfarm payrolls report that will provide more clues to the state of the economy .... [because] the dual pressures of intense global competition for jobs and high productivity levels make it difficult for the hourly wage earner to demand increases."

All of this is backed up by the recently released May personal income and outlays figures. These show paypackets flat. Again. But don't take our word for it. Take the word of an article published today in that noted cheerleader for progressive causes, Fortune Magazine

"This is serious trouble because America's great economic story is that living standards keep rising, especially when times are good. But living standards are not rising right now. That is the kind of deep disruption that over time can lead to economic and political crisis."

Perhaps this would be a bit of economic news worth spotlightling. What say you, Mr. President?

 

Morning Roundup

- The Post's top editorial today speaks to this era of the conservative movement, one we call here at NDN the "gee, governing is hard" phase.  Global trade talks started in 2001 have collapsed, again, as the United States simply cannot do what it takes to get a deal done.  As the Post writes...."THE BUSH administration faces a dilemma in the wake of last weekend's breakdown of world trade talks. It can allow the hope of freer trade to die....[and] risks being blamed if trade talks fail -- as now seems likely."  More evidence that the main theme of the 2008 elections will revolve around the cleaning up of the Katrina-like mess left by the Bush years. 

- Calderon is declared the winner in Mexico, but we all know this thing isn't over yet.  EJ Dionne has a nice piece comparing this election to our own contested election in 2000. 

- Watched most of the Lieberman-Lamont debate last night.  Joe was commanding, and at times looked like the national leader he has been. However, he seemed more passionate about attacking Lamont then he did in making his case for what we will do for the next six years.  Lamont was fine, but unconvincing.  He simply looked like he was a few levels down from Joe, though a nice and good guy.  All in all Joe probably gained more from the debate, as he effectively planted seeds of doubt about Lamont, and Lamont did not do enough to make himself look like a viable and serious alternative to Joe.  And what is the deal with Lamont not releasing his tax returns? Seems like such a rookie mistake, and shows how hard it is for first time candidates to win a race at this level. 

I offered a my advice to Lieberman yesterday in a long post.  I still believe it is his race to lose, and I hope he ends the race by talking about his vision for where he wants to take the country, and what he has done for Connecticut.  It is all about Joe now.  He should turn away all these folks coming into the state to campaign for him.  Everyone knows the Democratic establishment supports him.  After all he has the State Party, the DSCC, the US Senate leadership, Labor, Planned Parenthood, the environmental groups - everyone - with him. 

Lieberman's least compelling lines these past few days has been his assertion that there is no room for someone like him in the Democratic Party.  Come on Joe, the whole organized Party is behind you.  There is plenty of room in the Democratic Party for someone who supported the war.   That is not the issue - the issue is whether you have become too much a defender of a failed Administration, and left your Democratic roots.  This is an easy one for you to take on, as you did, last night (not so effectively I thought, by the way). 

- In other news of the day the decision to keep DeLay on the ballot in Texas seems like sweet justice.  Not sure we all should be excited by what is happening in Gaza, as the body count rises and the endgame is hard to discern.  Reminds us that the Administration's approach to the Middle East seems to have not worked out all that well.  Gay marriage suffers a set back in New York, indicating that this may be a long and drawn out struggle. 

- Finally, the World Cup. Yahoo's FIFA World Cup site is excellent.  Among the best things you can find there is video of all the top goals.  The first stage of NDN's five month long "mas que un partido" campaign ends this weekend with the final games of the World Cup, with our television ads running on Univision in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas, and our radio ads with Andres Cantor running in every market in the nation on Cantor's radio network.  For more on our campaign visit www.ndnfutbol.org, and feel free to offer your thoughts here. 

Initial reports on the ratings in the US have shown explosive growth for the World Cup in both Spanish and English.  The strategy behind the campaign - finding a low cost and effective way to reach tens of millions of Hispanics in the US - certainly seems justified given the extraordinary performance of the Cup so far. 

I'm rooting for Zidane. 

My advice to Joe

As I wrote the other day, Joe Lieberman is an old and good friend of mine, and I am supporting him in the Democratic Primary.   He and I come from the same county in Southwestern Connecticut, where most of my family still lives, and he was instrumental in helping me get NDN off the ground ten years ago.    

His decision this week to seek an independent line on the November ballot has hurt his chances of coming back to the Senate next year, but I still believe that he has the tools at hand to win the Democratic primary outright.  He has had a sizable lead in the polls, a tremendous record of service, a demonstrable mastery of Connecticut politics, an inexperienced opponent and is as many know a good and thoughtful man.  If he closes strong and speaks to the concerns Democrats in Connecticut have about him - starting tonight in a debate with Lamont - he will win the primary and cruise to victory in November. 

But the key to victory is for the Senator to show a better understanding of what has created the anger towards him in Connecticut and around the country.  From his comments he believes it is his support of the war in Iraq.  I disagree.  Many of us who support the war, and continue to believe setting a date for a troop withdrawal is not a good idea, have not generated the opposition the Senator has.  His troubles began late last year when he scolded the Democrats for not rallying around the President's questionable performance in Iraq.  He attacked John Murtha publically, wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal re-iterating his attacks against the Democrats and became a weapon used by the Republicans to pummel other Democrats.  Many, myself included, felt this brief but biting campaign waged against his own Party was over the top, gratuitous and undermined Democratic efforts to create a much needed debate about Iraq.  Harry Reid, had to take the extraordinary step of repudiating Senator Lieberman, and asked him to refrain from such attacks in the future. 

In talking to Democrats in Connecticut, including my relatives, it is clear that it is not his stance on the war alone that has generated the anger towards Joe, it is a sense that he is no longer interested in working with Democrats to oppose what they see as a dangerous and failed Administration.  The photos showing up again and again on the blogs are versions of "the kiss," a shot from the State of the Union when the Senator embraced the President.  This image has nothing to do with the war and everything to do with betrayal.  His decision to go independent this week only reinforced this core sense among Democrats that he is no longer on their team.   

This is a much more searing, and much more powerful indictment of the Senator and his character than saying he was wrong on the war.   Unlike his position on the war which he will not change, the impression that he is now working too closely with a failed Administration is something that he has the power to address and fix through his public statements and his paid advertising in the final month. 

How? He needs to make it clear that he agrees with the two-thirds of the American public and more than 90 percent of CT Primary voters that the country is going in the wrong direction, that he is disappointed with the way the President has governed the nation, and that he will spend the next six years working to put it all right. 

This overwhelming majority of Americans who have come to believe that the President is weakening the nation are correct in their assessment.  Average families are making less money today.  Deficits have ballooned to historic levels, and the tax burden is shifting from the wealthy to the middle class.  Health care and energy costs have soared.  Poverty, personal bankruptcies and crime are rising.  As Katrina showed our Homeland is not secure.  It has hard to argue that with the chaos in Iraq, and the election of militants in Palestine and Iran, that the Middle East is better off today.  Afghanistan and Somalia are heading in the wrong direction, the Russians are acting irresponsibly, North Korea has fired missiles and anti-Americanism is surging in Latin America.  Our hard-earned liberties have been violated by this Administration, in ways that a GOP controlled court declared unconstitutional last week.  And of course, it is been during this time that Republicans have presided over the greatest set of criminal scandals in its history. 

If the Senator wants to win he should make it clear that he believes the Republicans and Bush have failed our great nation.  Additionally, he would be smart and tactful to acknowledge that even though he believes that the outcome today in Iraq has been worth the the money spent, the lives lost and the long-lasting damage to the image of America around the world, he understands that a majority of Americans and an overwhelming majority of Connecticut Democrats see it a different way and that he respects their views; and that while he believes that pulling out of Iraq would be a mistake, he has been heartened to see democracy work as it was intended.  We are having a debate about a very serious matter facing our country.  Reasonable people can disagree about Iraq, and have, very publically.  And it is through this debate - required of a nation like ours - that we will achieve the best outcome, and ensure that the interests of the American people are served. 

Though he has through his own mistakes opened the door for an inexperienced newcomer like Lamont, Lieberman has time to right himself, address the concerns many have, and remind all of us why he had become so popular and respected in the first place.  More than anything else he must state simply and clearly that he believes the President of the United States has failed us, and that he will work to find a better path.  All of this seems easily within his power to do. 

Finally, the group of people who should be most worried by what is happening in Connecticut are not Democrats, or moderates, but Republicans.  For the lesson of this race is that embracing a failed President and his deeply unpopular government could cost many at the polls this fall.      

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