Sunday, March 30, 2008

Future-Past Continuum

Gary Hart
Huff Po
One of the more enduring myths in Washington is that Americans live their lives on a left-right ideological spectrum. We are all little liberals or little conservatives. Thus, the New York Times ponders how the 'liberal' Barack Obama can fashion a governing coalition when conventional wisdom continues to convince us that the political center of gravity in America is right of center and only Clintonian 'centrism' offers the Democrats a shot at governing. And, if you spend your adult life in Washington (which some of us choose not to do), you fall into the static mindset.

But what if most Americans, unlike perpetual Washington insiders, are neither liberal nor conservative? What if, instead, we live our lives on a future-past continuum?
more ...

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flashback 3.6.2006:
As I've probably made clear by now, I'm borderline-obsessed with the mainstream media's insistence on looking at the world through the obsolete right vs left paradigm while refusing to accept the ongoing political realignment on a wide variety of issues including Iraq, corporate greed, pork barrel spending, the failure of the drug war, and -- most recently -- the ludicrousness of the Dubai ports deal.
-Arianna Huffington

Friday, March 28, 2008

Breaking Free

Talking Points Memo
There are clearly a number of forces in play here, not least of which is the clock and the math. But also playing a clear role are the initial signs that Obama has weathered the Wright controversy relatively unscathed. And perhaps more than anything the fact that in the last week or so the Clinton campaign has just descended into something like an all-night shark hop.

see jumping the shark

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Obama Economic Policy Speech

John McWhorter & Glenn Loury diavlog

[updated 2008.4.4]

I've been collecting various reactions to Senator Obama's 3.18.2008 "More Perfect Union" speech.

I keep coming back to the 3.20.2008 diavlog (56:51) between Glenn Loury and John McWhorter. So it gets its own post.

Some excerpts:

Update 3.31.2008: Loury, TPM Café A fuller account of Professor Loury's views. Without elaborating, let me say that I think Professor Loury is being disingenuous in accusing Senator Obama of being disingenuous merely because Obama's words about Rev. Wright's humanity, intelligence, etc., could equally well be applied to Louis Farrakhan (in Professor Loury's view). Even if true, that is not nearly a complete response to Obama's distinction between Wright and Farrakhan; but Professor Loury is pretending that it is, at least enough to justify flinging a serious word like 'disingenuous' at Senator Obama.

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{{:no exit comment 2008.4.4}}
As for Obama's position on Farrakahn and Wright, it is identical. He has stated clearly that he does not agree with some of their sentiments while refusing to denounce them personally. There is no difference. Wright has been his pastor and friend for twenty some odd years, i am glad he didn't 'throw him under the bus' yet i am also happy to hear he does not uncritically accept some of Wright's most inflammatory rhetoric ...."
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But what really bugged me was the accusation that Obama is being 'hypocritical' by allegedly 'exploiting a single-minded racial voting reflex among black Americans.' So, the alleged hypocrisy is that Obama does not want to be defined as 'the black candidate,' yet gladly accepts the votes of black people who choose to vote for him?

Come again? He is an African-American who wishes to be viewed primarily as a person, an American. He wishes to bring people together, and to become President of the United States. He may have preferences as to why people should vote for him, but that is ultimately none of his business. What is it Professor Loury thinks Obama should do to avoid this 'hypocrisy'? He is setting up a contrived choice that Obama allegedly has to make between "OK, you got me, I'm the black candidate" and "I'm not really black; all ye voters who reflexively vote for black candidates, my honesty and candor and desire to avoid charges of hypocrisy compel me to advise you of this."

That is a false choice, and I do not perceive any 'profound irony.' Senator Obama is perfectly entitled to portray himself as a person, an American, an African-American, a Christian, a father, etc., all of which are true about him, and are mutually consistent things a person can be. He has no choice but to accept the votes cast for him, by anybody, for whatever reasons.

Professor Loury also takes Senator Obama to task for failing to say "directly and explicitly what (beyond "the old ways of Washington politics") are the nature and dimensions of the failure [of the "old ways"], and how will what has gone so horribly wrong ever be remedied. Instead he simply calls for 'change.'"

I incorporate by reference everything Obama has actually said. The burden is not on the reader here. There is sufficient prima facie material in the record [e.g.] to have long since shifted the burden to those, like Professor Loury, who are willing to stand up and declare the absence of a substantive message. Obama has been very clear about what he means by 'change' in the context of this election. Change means greatly increasing the transparency of government, increasing accountability and oversight, restoring of the rule of law, eliminating undue influence by corporate and special interests in government. That kind of thing. Obama uses the word 'change' to mean something like what Professor Lessig means by it [e.g.]. How about responding substantively to what Senator Obama has actually said, rather than merely declaring that he hasn't said enough, or hasn't said it clearly enough, or provided a precise enough roadmap, or whatever?

And "stealthy revolutionary"? C'mon. That's just Rovean framing. Et tu, Professor Loury?

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  • Flash Forward: 2008.11.04

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Speaking of Gerald Ford ...

Remember this?
Former president Gerald R. Ford said in an embargoed interview in July 2004 that the Iraq war was not justified. "I don't think I would have gone to war," he said a little more than a year after President Bush launched the invasion advocated and carried out by prominent veterans of Ford's own administration.

In a four-hour conversation at his house in Beaver Creek, Colo., Ford "very strongly" disagreed with the current president's justifications for invading Iraq and said he would have pushed alternatives, such as sanctions, much more vigorously. In the tape-recorded interview, Ford was critical not only of Bush but also of Vice President Cheney -- Ford's White House chief of staff -- and then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, who served as Ford's chief of staff and then his Pentagon chief.

"Rumsfeld and Cheney and the president made a big mistake in justifying going into the war in Iraq. They put the emphasis on weapons of mass destruction," Ford said. "And now, I've never publicly said I thought they made a mistake, but I felt very strongly it was an error in how they should justify what they were going to do."
by Bob Woodward
Washington Post
December 28, 2006

Vice President Cheney mentioned Ford, and I was just remembering the posthumous kick in the teeth Ford delivered to Bushco.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Change Congress (beta)

Washington Internet Daily via Stanford Law School News Center

Stanford law professor Lawrence Lessig, founder of the school's Center for Internet & Society, and political strategist Joe Trippi Thursday launched the Change Congress movement, in Lessig's words "a Silicon Valley approach to the problem" of corruption, at the National Press Club in Washington.

  • at about 29:20 he discusses plans to build "wikified tools inspired by the work of [the Sunlight Foundation] in exactly this way, to build an army of collaborators ..."

see also

& 5.6.2008

Friday, March 21, 2008

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Obama's Speech: A More Perfect Union

Full Speech (37:39)

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  • Olbermann & Howard Fineman analysis:

& Andrew Sullivan 6.2.2008

Monday, March 10, 2008

Logic in Politics?


Sunday, March 09, 2008

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Barack Obama : : Change We Can Believe In | Sam Graham-Felsen's Blog: Memo: Doing whatever it takes to win

Barack Obama : : Change We Can Believe In | Sam Graham-Felsen's Blog: Memo: Doing whatever it takes to win

The Obama campaign sent out this memo today...

The Clinton campaign has publicly admitted that the only way they can still win this election is by tearing Barack Obama down. They have called their attacks the “kitchen sink strategy,” and Senator Clinton herself has referred to it as “the fun part” of the campaign. The result has been a constant barrage of attacks about Senator Obama’s record that they know full well aren’t true. And yet they repeat them, over and over again, day after day, in an attempt to deceive the American people just so that they can win this election.

This may be fun for the Clinton campaign, but this is exactly why people don’t trust their leaders anymore. This is exactly why so many people are so cynical about the political process. And it’s exactly what Barack Obama is running to change.

There is no more serious issue than the war in Iraq. 150,000 American troops are risking their lives every day in a conflict that this President and John McCain have no intention of ending anytime soon. It’s a conflict that’s cost us thousands of lives, billions of dollars, stretched our military and taxed their families, and has seriously undermined our national security, our moral standing, and our ability to go after Osama bin Laden and the core leadership of al Qaeda and finish the job against the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Barack Obama had the judgment to oppose this war before it began for these exact reasons. Senator Clinton voted for this war, and yet she continues to tell the American people that her vote was for diplomacy even though the resolution was titled, “Joint Resolution to Authorize the use of Military Force Against Iraq.”

When Senator Obama arrived in the Senate, he called for a phased withdrawal before Senator Clinton did. He also introduced comprehensive legislation in the Senate to begin removing combat troops at a pace of 1-2 brigades a month, with an end date for completing that drawdown – legislation that became the basis for the Senate Democrats’ plan to end the war.

Barack Obama has said, repeatedly, that when he is President, his first act will be to convene the Joint Chiefs of Staff and ask them to immediately put in place his plan for withdrawal. He’s also said, as he did recently on 60 Minutes, that as Commander-in-Chief he would retain the flexibility to implement this withdrawal in a way that ensures the safety and security of our troops. But there has never been a doubt about the purpose of his policy – ending this war and bringing our troops home on a timetable for withdrawal.

The Clinton campaign knows full well that this is Senator Obama’s position, and they know full well that this flexibility is what his former advisor was referring to. They know it because preserving flexibility for the Commander-in-Chief has also been Senator Clinton’s position – or at least it was until she made the judgment that attacking Barack Obama on this issue is more politically beneficial to her campaign.

Washington has played too much politics with the issue of war. It’s what got us into Iraq in the first place. It’s why so many brave Americans have lost their lives. And it’s why the real Commander-in-Chief test in this election isn’t about some TV ad, it’s about whether the American people will be able to trust in the judgment and the honesty of their next President.

If the Clinton campaign wants to have a serious debate about who opposed the war in Iraq and who’s more committed to ending it, we’re more than happy to have that debate. But they should stop playing politics with war, and they should stop telling the American people things that they know aren’t true. We will not let this campaign be about who can tear each other down. We owe it to the American people to try and lift this country up.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Maddow, Olbermann on Clinton's Tactics

The Politics of Fear

see also [Conservative] Harvard Law professor Charles Fried on Obama's character [bloggingheads].

ETech: Lessig Calls for Geeks to Code Money Out of Politics | Epicenter from

Update: See Change Congress announcement.

ETech: Lessig Calls for Geeks to Code Money Out of Politics | Epicenter from

The project, to be officially announced in two weeks, will give candidates for political office three choices they can support in order to get badges for their campaign website.

Candidates who pledge not to take money from lobbyists or political action committees can claim one badge, get another for pledging to ban "earmarks" in Congress and take a third for supporting public campaign financing.

From there, Lessig wants to find ways to get individuals to funnel early money to candidates who pledge to support one or more of the principles.

That's the carrot.

The stick approach includes possibly recruiting respected "citizen candidates" to run against politicians who don't support the statements -- a way, Lessig said, to make it cheaper for a candidate to support the principles than to ignore them.

Slate's Delegate Calculator

Do your own political analysis with the delegate calculator.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

In My Language

Autistic Perspective

by 'silentmiaow'

Obama Republicans Carry Weight

... But then there are Republicans like Dale Gaubatz, who voted for President Bush twice. He says he has donated about $100 to the Obama campaign and signed up as a local volunteer. He says he supports Sen. Obama because of his foresight in predicting an expensive and costly war in Iraq. "We got into that with no long-term strategy," said the 34-year-old college enrollment director and military reservist from Boerne, Texas, at a rally in a San Antonio suburb last week.

Mr. Gaubatz likens the current movement to the crossover appeal in 1980 of Ronald Reagan, who drew blue-collar workers and inspired the term "Reagan Democrats."

Indeed, the Obama campaign frequently points to a similar desire to attract "Obama Republicans." Sen. Obama made a direct appeal Sunday at a town hall in Westerville, Ohio. "I believe that Republicans want to have a better America. I don't think they're terrible people because they're Republicans," he said.

In his stump speech, he often describes how Republicans come up to him and whisper, " 'Barack, I'm a Republican, but I support you.' And I say, 'Thank you. Why are we whispering?' "

more ...

Obama on his Republican Supporters:

Sunday, March 02, 2008

More Details About Google Health

More Details About Google Health

This week we found more details about Google Health, a not-yet-released service for managing personal health information. Marissa Mayer showed us some screenshots and the underlying principles of Google Health:

One of the most exciting and innovative parts of Google Health is our platform strategy. We're assembling a directory of third-party services that interoperate with Google Health. Right now, this means you'll be able to automatically import information such as your doctors' records, your prescription history, and your test results into Google Health in order to easily access and and control your data. Later, this platform strategy will mean that you will be able to interact with services and tools easily, and will be able to do things like schedule appointments, refill prescriptions, and start using new wellness tools.

Google sponsored the research of George Church, a scientist that "plans to unlock the secrets of common diseases by decoding the DNA of 100,000 people in the world's biggest gene sequencing project". Asked if Google Health could make it easy to access genetics services, Marissa Mayer said: "We have some genetic partners where we've already been making investments. Genetics is much further out, and will be done at the control and discretion of the user."

Eric Schmidt explained that the idea for launching a health service came after looking at Google Search data. "[We] looked at what do people actually do with search in terms of the volume, and the importance of health came out No. 1... We tend to think of Google Health as an extension of search."

The service is likely not to include advertising since it will encourage people to use Google Search more. Google's CEO gave Google News as an example of non-monetized service: "Every month we say to ourselves should we add ads to Google News or add more news features to Google News and every month we decide to add more Google news features. (...) A Google News user is more likely to be a Google searcher and therefore clicks on ads more."

Eric Schmidt also gave an interesting keynote speech at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society conference (a YouTube user comments: "As ever Eric Schmidt is knowledgeable, funny and engaging").