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Archive for August, 2008

The Dude I Wish Was Running for POTUS

Saturday, August 30th, 2008

Right here.

A genuine leader. Better qualified to be President of the United States than all four members of the two tickets combined.

Too late for a draft…but there’s always 2012!

On Palin

Friday, August 29th, 2008

Briefly, on the big story of the day.

John McCain selected Alaska governor Sarah Palin to be his running mate. A historic choice but a wise one?

Assuming Palin was sufficiently vetted, selecting her was a tactically smart move on McCain’s part.  Palin has some executive experience but the real value is that choosing her  zeroed in on the papered over but yet unhealed gender fault line in the Democratic Party from Hillary’s defeat while burnishing McCain’s claim to be an advocate of change. Obama will now have to expend additional effort and time to woo independent female swing voters and entice Hillary’s embittered feminist supporters to come out to the polls. McCain has just given them an additional reason to feel good about staying home this year.

Strategically, well…Palin’s not ready to step up and be president of the United States on day one. Let’s be serious – she’d make a great Secretary of the Interior but the fact that she lacks any defense, IC or foreign policy experience would rule her out for consideration for most major cabinet posts in the national security arena, much less as Vice-president.

However, the same could easily be said of Barack Obama and that implicit comparison is going to be evident to a lot of independent voters.

ADDENDUM: I will add here the views of others on McCain-Palin as my schedule today permits.

Wizards of Oz    Lexington Green   Glittering Eye  Daily Dish   Pajamasmedia   Newshoggers 

 Outside the Beltway   NRO The Corner   Josh Marshall   Purpleslog   Hidden Unities   Progressive Historians

Fabius Maximus   Thomas P.M. Barnett   Sic Semper Tyrannis   tdaxp   Soob  

Obama’s “Brain”

Thursday, August 28th, 2008

A brief sojurn into grubby electoral politics: 

Recall from years ago, the enormous amount of press received by GOP strategist Karl Rove as George W. Bush’s political “Brain” ? A similar role with Barack Obama is played by Illinois Democratic political consultant David Axelrod, except that Axelrod keeps a far lower profile than Rove did and Axelrod has inifinitely better relationships with the working press, notably with the nominally Republican Chicago Tribune where Axelrod was formerly a political reporter and columnist.  Axelrod is also tightly connected to Chicago’s all-powerful Democratic Party boss, Mayor Richard M. Daley, another longtime Axelrod client; and to Exelon/Com. Ed. , the politically powerful Illinois utility that contracts with Axelrod’s public relations firm and whose employees have been among the largest financial donors in Illinois to the Obama campaign.

What kind of campaign can we expect from Axelrod in the general election? Overtly positive themes and public posturing  complemented by covertly delievered and mercilessly negative “stiletto” attacks against key people around John McCain that are not directly traceable to Axelrod. The model for this strategy is the previous Obama senatorial campaign in Illinois, where Obama’s two most formidible, centimillionaire, rivals, Democrat Blair Hull and Republican Jack Ryan were personally destroyed in the primaries when salacious details from their sealed divorce records were mysteriously leaked to the media, which then pressured for their full release, notably in the pages of the Chicago Tribune. Thus, ultimately permitting Obama to run against an out-of-state, clown candidate, religious conservative firebrand Alan Keyes, in the general election.

 Negative political advertising is reliably effective, something known since the days of Murray Chotiner running Richard Nixon’s California races, but the information age imposes “blowback” costs when it is used too openly by a candidate. Axelrod’s long courtship of the media will permit similar “fingerprint free” attacks against the GOP to work unless McCain’s campaign is smart enough to start doing social network analysis of key media people crossreferenced with Obama Campaign functionaries and Axelrod associates.

It’s also noteworthy of how little escapes Axelrod’s attention. The conservative intellectual and writer, Dr. Stanley Kurtz, has been digging into the UIC archives on Senator Obama’s extensive political relationship with Dr. William Ayers, the 60’s radical and unrepentant ex-Weatherman terrorist, now a professor of Education at UIC where he is a leading advocate of politicizing teacher certification programs along Leftist lines (Ayers is the son of the late, prominent Chicago business leader, Thomas Ayers, former chairman/CEO of Commonwealth Edison and board member at he Chicago Tribune). Kurtz was invited to be a guest last night on Dr. Milt Rosenberg’s highbrow Extension720 WGN-AM radio show and discuss his research and Rosenberg’s switchboard and email system was instantly flooded and essentially shut down by an orchestrated wave of Obama supporters ( here is the Obama Campaign action alert).  While something of a local legend, Rosenberg’s radio show is, in the national media scheme of things, a fairly obscure program. Sort of a conservative NPR, except a lot smarter and writ small.

I would expect the ante be upped against Obama critics to include nuisance suits and worse  if the fall campaign tightens.


It appears that the Obama-Ayers-Annenberg story, which I expect will soon feature the infamous pic of Ayers trampling a U.S. flag in an alley, is making it on to the MSM radar. Michael Barone does a superb job as political anthropologist here, explaining the ” Chicago Way” to Americans in more normal communities:

Obama Needs to Explain His Ties to William Ayers

….Ayers was one of the original grantees of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, a school reform organization in the 1990s, and was cochairman of the Chicago School Reform Collaborative, one the two operational arms of the CAC. Obama, then not yet a state senator, became chairman of the CAC in 1995. Later in that year, the first organizing meeting for Obama’s state Senate campaign was held in Ayers’s apartment. Ayers later wrote a memoir, and an article about him appeared in the New York Times on Sept. 11, 2001. “I don’t regret setting bombs,” Ayers is quoted as saying. “I feel we didn’t do enough.”

Ayers was a terrorist in the late 1960s and 1970s whose radical group set bombs at the Pentagon and U.S. Capitol.

You might wonder what Obama was doing working with a character like this. And you might wonder how an unrepentant terrorist got a huge grant and cooperation from the Chicago public school system. You might wonder-if you don’t know Chicago. For this is a city with a civic culture in which politicians, in the words of a story often told by former congressman, federal judge, and Clinton White House counsel Abner Mikva, “don’t want nobody nobody sent.” That’s what Mikva remembers being told when he went to a Democratic ward headquarters to volunteer for Adlai Stevenson in the 1950s, and it rings true. And it’s a civic culture in which there’s nobody better to send you than your parents.

Read the rest here.

Following the Online Breadcrumb Trail…..

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

Check out Fabius Maximus on the “books vs. internet” debate with an older set of posts The Internet makes us dumber: the Bakken euphoria, a case study and Euphoria about the Bakken Formation.


Selil Blog where Professor Sam has done some cyberwar theorizing “From Information operations to cyber warfare and a new terrain”

Depth, Breadth and Velocity

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

I thoroughly enjoyed John Hagel’s post Stupidity and the Internet where he analyzed the implications of the book vs. snippet debate initiated by Nick Carr’s  Atlantic article “Is Google Making Us Stupid?”. Hagel properly broadened the debate away from content format to encompass the social sphere:

But if the concern is about intelligence, thinking and the mind, then isn’t content just one small piece of the puzzle?  Nick and many of the digerati who line up against Nick have one thing in common – they are content junkies.  They consume content voraciously and care deeply about the form that content takes. 

In the heat of debate, they seemed to often lose sight of the fact that most people are not content junkies.  Most people use the Internet as a platform to connect with each other.  Sure, they are exchanging information with each other, but they are doing a lot more than that.  They are learning about each other. They are finding ways to build relationships that expand their understanding of the world and enhance their ability to succeed in their professions and personal lives.

I’m going to back the discussion up a half-step by pointing out that these online relationships are often, initially of a transactional nature. Information is being exchanged and the kind of information used as a “hook” to capture attention may be determinative to the trajectory the social relationship may take and the rate of information exchanged may determine if the social connection can be sustained. To simplify, we are discussing Depth, Breadth and Velocity of information:


Books, journal articles, blog posts and Twitter “tweets” ( 140 character microblogging) could have their relative informational and transactional qualities be represented on a simple graph. Books have the greatest potential depth but the least level of timely, qualitatively reciprocal, informational transaction for the author ( primarily gained from the relationship with the editor or a “sounding board” colleague). Peer review journals are next, with a narrow community of experts sanctioning the merit of the article or rejecting it for deficiencies that put the work below or outside the field’s recognized professional standards. Blog posts can potentially generate an enormous volume of feedback, though at the cost of a dramatically inferior “signal to noise ratio“. Microblogging services like Twitter have hyperkinetic transaction rates but unless used strategically ( for example, by Robert Scoble) or within an existing social network, they generate little other than useless noise.

Attention can be attracted by a clever “snippet” – particularly if the concept itself has ambiguity or nuance that would intrigue more people than if it were precisely defined – but the attention will not be held unless the author can sustain the flow of interesting material, something that requires depth of knowledge about a subject.  Even better is to have depth in a subject along with breadth, the ability to think horizontally across many domains to spot emergent patterns, construct powerful analogies and distill a meaningful synthesis. In turn, pulling a willing audience of useful collaborators into a relationship around such intellectual pursuits hinges on first gaining their attention with a comprehensible simplification of complex abstractions and exhibiting a willingness to interact on a reciprocal basis.

It’s not a case here of “Books vs. Google”. Depth, breadth and velocity of information are interdependent and mutually reinforcing.

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