Friday, June 27, 2008

Five Reasons Why Hillary Clinton Should Be Barack Obama's VP

I saw Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton on television today in Unity, New Hampshire. I think more than ever that Hillary Clinton would make a great VP candidate for Obama. Here are 5 reasons why:

1. What Obama said in Unity today about he and Hillary both being revolutionary breakthroughs in American politics is completely true. Why not have both - the first African-American President, the first woman Vice President - in office next year.

2. I believe Obama will win by a big margin whomever his VP. But Hillary's passion and power as a campaigner on the ticket can make a big win into a victory of truly landslide proportions. Since I'd like to see the Republican party as it currently is demolished - as in, beaten to the point where it can never recover - I'm in favor of any Democratic ticket that can result in a landslide win.

3. The idea that Hillary Clinton as VP can somehow undermine Obama's program - his commitment to change - is nonsense. Not only because their views and proposals agree in so many respects, but because, let's face it, the Vice President only has as much power as the President allows. It's as simple as that. There's nothing to worry about.

4. Along the same lines, the suggestion that with Hillary Clinton as VP, Obama will need a food taster, is unfounded paranoid nonsense.

5. However much some or many of Obama's supporters (not I) may dislike Hillary Clinton, it is an absolute fact that she battled to almost a tie with Obama in the Democratic primaries. This is a powerful democratic ethical imperative to be on the ticket as VP.

So ... there you have it. What I have missed? With what, if any, of the above do you disagree?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Mars Soil Suitable for Asparagus - Can Humans Be Far Behind?

"It is the type of soil you would probably have in your back yard, you know, alkaline. You might be able to grow asparagus in it really well" - this from Sam Kounaves, lead scientist investigating the soil on Mars, via the Phoenix that landed there on May 25, after a 10-month journey from Earth.

Kounaves added that he was "flabbergasted" about the finding.

It's thrilling news indeed, even if you don't care for asparagus. Because even if there was no life on Mars in the past - and this finding certainly makes it more likely that there was - a soil hospitable to life is a big step towards the terraforming of Mars, or making it hospitable for current human life.

The Martian atmosphere is still too thin, the water picture not yet clear (ice may have been found, just beneath the surface), but the soil beneath our feet on Mars is an excellent foundation indeed for extending our world on Earth to our neighbor to the "north" in the solar system.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Imus's Racist History Means He's Not to be Believed

Given the fact that Imus made blatantly racist comments about the Rutgers women's basketball team last year, why should we believe his claim that the following exchange on his WABC radio show yesterday was not racist:

Warner Wolf about "Pacman" Jones: "arrested six times since he was drafted by Tennessee in 2005"

Imus: "What color is he?"

Wolf: "He's African-American."

Imus: "Well, there you go. Now we know."

You can hear this exchange with your own ears, as well as Imus's explanation today that what he was saying about Jones was that, of course he was arrested six times, African-Americans are subject to unfair treatment by police, in the video below.

I don't believe it. Imus has a record of racist comments going back long before his labeling the Rutgers women's basketball team last year "nappy-headed ho's" - including calling African-American broadcast journalist Gwen Ifill a "cleaning lady". What he said yesterday was clearly just more of the same, and unacceptable.

As I indicated last year, this is not a question of First Amendment rights - no government agency is fining Imus or his radio station. But neither does Imus have a right to be paid millions of dollars to spew his racist garbage - Citadel, the owner of WABC Radio, has every right to fire him.

Frankly, Citadel should not have put Imus back on the air in the first place. They ought to do the right thing now, and put Imus out of his racist citadel. Otherwise, Citadel will be regarded as as racist as Imus. But I'm not holding my breath.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Brand New Interview with Me

Just posted ... I cover everything from why Obama is grounds for optimism, the future of radio, new new media, and why writing science fiction and nonfiction is not much different for me...

Sunday, June 22, 2008

McCain Inane on Trains, Barack Backs Amtrak

I've always loved trains, especially in the Northeast corridor. You can get to the heart of just about any big city from Boston to Washington, DC with less aggravation and often faster than a plane. And, unlike a car if you're the driver, you can sleep, get lots of work done, grab a bite to eat whenever you like, and the scenery isn't half-bad, either.

All of that was before the insanely high prices of gas, which have made not only autos more expensive to drive, but air travel, too. Trains of course also use energy, but the electricity that moves the trains draws less oil than cars or planes. An article the other day in the New York Times gives the details, along with the unsettling news that growing train use in our age of soaring gas prices may not be able to keep track with the aging equipment. Amtrak clearly needs help - or, more help than it's been getting from the Federal government. The article concludes with a brief mention of McCain opposing subsidies for Amtrak, versus Obama, who co-sponsored a bill that would increase them.

I decided to look into this a bit more. A DCist article from early June has the amazing rundown.

McCain not only opposes Federal subsidies for Amtrak, he's been working for years to do away with it completely. Why? The perennial Republican pipe dream of privatizing the industry. Which of course could take years to succeed, if ever it does, and in the meantime our country is deprived of the single best alternative to gas-hungry cars and planes.

Obama, unsurprisingly, has a much more sensible, enlightened approach - we do what we can to improve Amtrak, including extending the high-speed rail service in the Northeast corridor to the midwest, and eventually to all of America. (I've taken trains from New York to Chicago, and New York to Atlanta, and the rides were wonderful, but slow.) Some of these ideas go back to Obama's work in 2003. Like his thinking on Iraq, they show he is in tune with where America and the world are heading.

Trains are of course by no means the most important issue we face. But the drastically different positions of McCain and Obama speak to how they contrast on most issues: rigid, unworkable, out-of-date positions by McCain, versus practical, common-sense, pathways to the future by Barack Obama.

With any luck, people from the Northeast corridor and beyond will be able to take a fast train down to Washington in January for his inauguration.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Leonard Cohen's Tower of Song

What more can you ask for on a lazy June afternoon than Leonard Cohen singing his 1988 "Tower of Song" just a few weeks ago, at a concert in Newfoundland (May 27, 2008, to be exact)...

Cohen, of course, is best known for Suzanne, back in the 1960s. I once met a woman who claimed to be Suzanne - she was staying in the New Milford Hotel in Manhattan, where I was recording Twice Upon a Rhyme with Ed Fox and Peter Rosenthal in 1970. She was probably lying, but you never know.

Meanwhile, it's heartening to see that Cohen still has his stuff. Great lyrics, gravelly voice, and even a fine throwaway line, "some places, yes" - listen for it.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

First Amendment Watch: James Joyce's Ulysses Once Again Under Gun

Most people know something of the story of Ulysses's reception, the 1922 novel by James Joyce, judged by many to be the greatest novel of the 20th century. U.S., British, and Irish officials promptly called for the novel to be banned, owing to its language, judged by those officials to be unacceptable for public consumption. Fortunately for the world, a real judge, Federal Judge John M. Woolsey, Jr. in New York City, ruled in 1933 that banning the novel for alleged obscenity would be inconsistent with the First Amendment.

Ironically, the Federal Communications Commission was created a mere year later. Although the Federal Communications Act of 1934 specifically said the FCC was not to engage in censorship, that same act also had contradictory language about keeping obscene and "indecent" language off of the public airways.

Unsurprisingly, the FCC has given more emphasis to the second (fining broadcasters for obscene and/or indecent language on their airways) than to the first (prohibition of censorship). In the past few years, in fact, Congress has authorized the FCC to increase its fines to millions of dollars for television or radio stations that digress from the FCC's unstated puritanical standards.

WBAI radio was a celebrated victim, not of FCC fines, but of an FCC "censure" (condemnation) back in the 1970s. WBAI's wrongdoing back then was broadcasting comedian George Carlin's "seven dirty words" routine. The ACLU and WBAI objected to the FCC censure, took their case all the way to the Supreme Court, and lost.

And WBAI is now in the news again. This past Monday, June 16, WBAI Radio and Symphony Space, for the first time since 1981, decided to not do a joint presentation of their "Bloomsday" celebration - readings of some of the best of James Joyce. The reason for this decision, according to a New York Times article, was "apprehension about obscenity and government regulation" - meaning, some people at WBAI were apparently worried about the millions of dollars of FCC fines that could well have come its way.

And thus we slip ever more into a state much like the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. The FCC, of course, still does not explicitly censor - it doesn't need to. Intimidation by huge fines has the same chilling effect.

Judge Woolsey's brave and perceptive decision in 1933 could not have foreseen an unconstitutional FCC which would be created just a year later, and by the 21st century would be exerting ever greater control over what Americans can see and hear.

But that's our reality. And unless we do something about this governmental agency gone out of control, we'll lose a lot more than James Joyce's prose, as wonderful as it is. For what the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany show is that, what starts out as censorship of "obscenity" in short order moves into censorship of political views and everything else in society.

See also my 2005 Keynote Address delivered at Fordham University: The Flouting of the First Amendment

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Remembering Tony Schwartz: Master of Propaganda

Tony Schwartz died at age 84 this past weekend. He was best known for the famous or infamous "daisy ad" that Lyndon Johnson ran against Barry Goldwater in the 1964 Presidential campaign. The ad featured a little girl counting petals on a daisy, followed by a nuclear explosion (see YouTube clip below). It was designed to paint Goldwater as a war monger, who could bring the world to ruin. It was famous because it succeeded (without mentioning Goldwater by name). It was infamous because of the way it succeeded. The ad was pulled after one showing on NBC, but was replayed numerous times on evening news shows. That's where I first saw it. I and many other professors have cited this ad for years as a masterpiece of propaganda, with all the good and bad that that can entail.

But I actually knew Tony Schwartz in another, though related way. He was one of Marshall McLuhan's disciples in the 1960s. Tony Schwartz's specialty was what McLuhan would call "acoustic space" - the unique way, or very different from seeing, that sound is perceived by us and can influence us. That way is, mainly, that you don't have to look at it, as you do with an image. In fact, sound can reach us any time it likes, from anyplace in the environment, wherever we may be looking or not. Tony Schwartz put lots of insights like that into his best-known book, The Responsive Chord.

I cited and built upon that book in my doctoral dissertation (Human Replay: A Theory of the Evolution of Media) and my own much later book about McLuhan, Digital McLuhan: A Guide to the Information Millennium, in which I wrote about why radio survived the advent of television in the 1950s. The reason was that radio's presentations - hearing without seeing - are an entirely natural mode of communication. The world grows dark every night but not really silent, we can easily close our eyes but not ever our ears, etc. (In contrast, silent movies did not survive the introduction of talkies - there is no natural niche of seeing without hearing.)

As a Master's student at the New School for Social Research in the 1970s, I was privileged to visit Tony's studio in Manhattan, along with my class, several times. He sat at a desk surrounded by tape recorders and other pre-computer equipment. It felt like a scene out of a 1950s science fiction movie.

The history of propaganda is still being written - more so now than ever in this Presidential campaign. Tony Schwartz will have a permanent place in there, along with Leni Riefenstahl and Michael Moore - but much closer to Moore in the good that both have done for progressive causes.

Responsive Chord by Tony Schwartz

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Showtime's Sassy Hour of Sin

Showtime debuted its Monday night hour of sin last night - Season 4 of Weeds, and the brand new Secret Diary of A Call Girl - and it wasn't bad. Actually, it was bad in a good way. Anyway, I enjoyed both half hours.

Nancy and family are getting situated by the beach in a whole new area of California, in Judah's father's house (well played by Albert Brooks). Lots of good lines from all members of the family, especially brother-in-law Andy, as always.

Meanwhile, back in what's left of fire-ravaged Agrestic, Celia is pointing the finger at Nancy as drug lady - as she did at the end of last season - but Doug and her husband and the hilarious Indian gay guy are all telling the police otherwise, to wit, that Celia is behind it all.

A good set-up for this season.

Meanwhile, Secret Diary of A Call Girl is sassy, smart, funny, and real. Billie Piper (see the video below) is thoroughly appealing as Belle (the call-girl) / Hannah (her real-life name), giving good voice-over narration in the episode, as well as whatever her customers want, as soon as possible (as she informs us), if she is able to wheedle the deepest desires out of them.

There's even a nice character insight in the premier episode, when Belle realizes that what a customer (whom she likes) most likes about her are her Hannah's qualities - not good for someone in Belle's business.

Looking forward to more Weeds and wheedle in the weeks ahead ...

See also Weeds 4.3: Nancy by the Endless Sea ... Sitting Shiva on Weeds and Laughing: 4.4 ... Nancy Gets Spanked and Likes It: 4.8 ... Nancy Has Limits: 4.9 ... Shane and Two Girls: 4.10 ... Nancy Turns a Corner: 4.11 ... The First Bitter Fruit of Telling Till: 4.12

And Secret Diary of a Call Girl: Last Page, First Season

Monday, June 16, 2008

Another Finest Hour for Al Gore: He Endorses Barack Obama

He undoubtedly won the popular vote for President in 2000. He likely won the electoral college vote, too, but we'll never know, because the Supreme Court exceeded its authority and stopped the recount in Florida. He went on the galvanize a planet about the need to take global warming seriously.

Al Gore has had many finest hours. His endorsement of Barack Obama in Detroit tonight was surely among them. Gore hit all the right notes, including Obama's opposition to the war in Iraq before we went in (Gore expressed the same in September 2002), and the similarities in inspiration between Obama and JFK.

It was a special moment seeing Al Gore back in the political fray tonight. He couldn't have picked a better time. As Gore himself said, what's at stake has never been higher.

I would have liked to have seen Gore become President - there would have been a cosmic poetic justice in that. But I'll settle for Gore's endorsement of Obama tonight.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

George's Guitar Gently Weeps Through the Ages

Apropos my Traveling Willbury's kick, I've just been listening to George Harrison's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," performed when Harrison was posthumously inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame in 2004.

There must be more than a dozen versions of this great song on YouTube, starting with George Harrison and Eric Clapton's performance at the 1971 Concert for Bangladesh and progressing through the years to the two concerts that, sadly, outlived George. One is the 2002 Memorial Concert in which Lynne also plays, but Clapton is featured, and the other the 2004 performance, which is my favorite.

Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne share the lead, and do a splendid job. Even more incredible is the two+ minute guitar solo at the end by Prince - about the finest guitar work I've ever heard.

Here it is ... rest in peace, George. Your music will live forever.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Battlestar Galactica 4.10: Earth

A stunning, satisfying, and appropriately unsatisfying mid-final-season finale of Battlestar Galactica tonight, in which:

1. Tigh (and the other three of the final five) finally reveal themselves to the Adamas and the Cylons and all concerned. Admiral Adama correctly doesn't believe it at first, asking Tigh how he lost his hair, and how he could have gone back 30 years with Adama, without revealing that he was a Cylon. Tigh has no good answer, other than that once upon a time, no one knew about the skin-jobs, and now there apparently are three rather than two kinds of Cylons (toasters, skinjobs, and skinjobs who don't know they are Cylons until some Bob Dylan music triggers them).

2. D'Anna lets us know that the 5th of the final five is not in the human fleet. Does this mean he or she is with the Cylon fleet (Baltar, Laura, etc) or somewhere else entirely?

3. A great showdown between the Cylons and the humans, in which Apollo really shows his stuff.

4. But both decide to go to Earth, the coordinates of which are now apparently revealed, rather than annihilate each other ...

But ... the Earth they find is in ruins...

Not the most original twist in the universe, but a good enough springboard for the final parts of the final season ... Why is Earth in ruins - i.e., who ruined it?

Can it be repaired?

And, how does that ruined Earth relate to ours - the one in which we are currently enjoying Battlestar Galactica?

See also ...

Battlestar Galactica's Back and Bristling!
... 4.2 Mysteries and Satisfactions ... 4.3: Deaths, Lessons, Questions ... 4.4 A Little More about Cylons ... 4.5 Mutiny on the Demetrius ... 4.6 Cylon on Cylon ... 4.9 Finally, Bill and Laura

Borrowed Tides

"jumping with ideas" - Denver Post

Edward R. Murrow to Tim Russert

The outpouring of grief over Tim Russert's untimely death today, at age 58, shows both the high esteem and affection that Americans hold for television journalists who protect our interests as untiring champions of the First Amendment.

When Thomas Jefferson and our Founding Fathers made the press the crucial guardians of our government - the watchdogs whose job it was to report to the American people what their government was really up to - Jefferson must have the likes of Tim Russert, and his unceasing speaking of truth to power, in mind.

He was not only the moderator of Meet the Press since 1991 - by far the most memorable - but he was NBC News' Washington Bureau Chief. He was one of the few who spanned traditional network and cable news, with his CNBC/MSNBC interview show. And he made a great guest appearance on Homicide: Life On Street, playing himself as character Lt. Megan Russert's cousin.

There are less than a handful of television reporters and anchors who in their different ways defined their genre and their age. Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite (who is still with us), and Tim Russert.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Roy Orbison's Guitar

Know what I’m talking about?

The Traveling Wilburys were – in my opinion, and that of many critics and fans – the best rock supergroup to ever have existed. Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty, and Rob Orbison recorded under that name from 1988-1990. Their best-known songs – and justifiably so – were “Handle with Care” and “End of the Line”.

Roy Orbison died at the age of 52 in December, 1988. When the time came to record a video of that song, the Wilburys put Orbison’s rocking guitar in a rocking rocking chair in the part of the song, starting at 1 minute 44 seconds, where Orbison carried the lead. You can also see the rocking guitar at the very end of “End of Line”.

You can read all about that on the Wikipedia entry on The Traveling Wilburys.

You can see the video, and this moving tribute to Orbison, any time you like on YouTube – in your home, office, or, if you have mobile device such an iPhone that connects to YouTube, from any place you like.

Here it is, right here:

That’s what I’m talking about when I say YouTube is increasingly making every part of our popular culture ever recorded in any form available to anyone, anytime, anywhere in the world.

YouTube, in other words, has robbed death of some of its meaning – at least insofar as it pertains to popular culture. And that’s pretty far, indeed. The end of line for audio-visual popular culture is immortality on YouTube. Roy Orbison and his ever-rocking guitar proves it.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Obama Gives Powerhouse Economic Address in North Carolina

Barack Obama just gave a powerhouse speech on economic policy in North Carolina. The highlights of what he called for include:

-a windfall profit tax, to pay for some of the rest of his economic program (makes sense: billionaires will still be billionaires, even if they pay twice as much tax as currently, and huge corporations will still be huge)

-a new thousand dollar tax rebate for more than 90% of American wage earners, to give some immediate help with soaring gas and food costs

-universal health care, and partnering with Elizabeth Edwards to fine tune it

Obama also contrasted his program with John McCain's, which offers no catastrophic health insurance, makes it easier not more difficult for insurance companies to deny coverage, takes no position on what to about the current housing crisis, and now, incredibly, endorses Bush's tax policy of giving the most wealthy even more money (after McCain initially and wisely opposed it).

North Carolina hasn't gone Democratic in a Presidential election since Jimmy Carter won the state in 1976. Obama's decision to begin his economic tour in North Carolina signals that the general election results could well be different in this state, this year.

Given the dire economic conditions of Americans all across the country, and the eminent common sense of Obama's solutions - not to mention the continuing casualties in Iraq - I'm thinking it's by no means impossible that election results could well go Democratic in every state of the union this November.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Questions for John McCain about WMD Deceptions

As is well known, the Senate Select Committee last week issued a long-awaited report which found that President Bush and VP Cheney exaggerated and misrepresented intelligence information about WMD in Iraq, to fire up America's war on Iraq.

Some commentators have called for Bush and Cheney's impeachment.

That would indeed be justified - not only because of the deception, but the fundamental unconstitutionality of an undeclared war - but I'm wondering what John McCain's response is to all of this.

He says he opposes the way the war was waged, at first.

Does he also oppose the way the war was gotten into, via a President and Vice President deliberately misrepresenting facts to the American people?

Would McCain be in favor of Bush and Cheney's impeachment? If not, why not? Is it ok in his book to go to war based on lies?

The media should press McCain on this point.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Battlestar Galactica 4.9: Finally, Bill and Laura

I haven't had chance to review Battlestar Galactica for a few weeks - too many other pleasures, too many other obligations - but tonight's was so good, especially the ending, that I can't resist...

The ending, in fact, was better than good. It will go down as one of the classic romantic scenes in all of television, cinema, and novels.

Bill Adama has resigned his command of Galactica - given it to Tigh - and gone looking for Laura. She's not easy to find. She's on the Cylon ship with the Hybrid, who is literally jumpy and ordering of jumps, because she knows the lead Six is dead or unconscious (Sharon-Athena did this to her on Galactica, because she didn't want Six taking her hybrid child)...

All of that and more - including a great scene between Tigh and Adama - happened on previous episodes. Tonight, at the end, Bill finds Laura. "Missed you," he says to her. "Did you," she replies. They hug. "I love you," Laura tells him. "About time," Adama replies. And there was one of the most satisfying scenes in this or any series or movie. Call me an old softie romantic, but there you have it. You'll agree when you see it.

Meanwhile ... The Resurrection Ship has been nuked. Cylons are now as mortal as humans. That's good, as a Sharon model tells D'anna, who has just been resurrected. It's good, because now Cylons are ever more like humans.

D'anna definitely has another human quality - she fakes Laura out, has her (but not really us - it's too soon) going for a second when she tells Laura that she (Laura) is one of the Final Five. But, apparently not, and we'll have to wait for the revelation of that, as the Cylons and humans draw ever closer...

See also ...

Battlestar Galactica's Back and Bristling!
... 4.2 Mysteries and Satisfactions ... 4.3: Deaths, Lessons, Questions ... 4.4 A Little More about Cylons ... 4.5 Mutiny on the Demetrius ... 4.6 Cylon on Cylon ... 4.10: Earth

And So Say We All: The Battlestar Galactica Blog Carnival, vol. 9

Borrowed Tides

"jumping with ideas" - Denver Post

Thursday, June 5, 2008

MSNBC Had Best Coverage of the Primary Campaigns

This is not a statistical analysis, but the impressions of one viewer - me - who happens to be a Professor of Communication and Media Studies at Fordham University in New York City, and author of a whole bunch of books about the media.

I'm thinking MSNBC had far and away the best coverage of the primary campaigns - far better than its CNN and Fox competition.

Here's why:

1. Tom Brokaw, Brian Williams, and Tim Russert commenting on the nights when the votes are counted: No other cable station or network has that kind of fire power - the current network news anchor (Williams), the previous network news anchor (Brokaw), and, just for good measure the host of Meet the Press (Russert). CNN and Fox have no parent network such as NBC to draw upon.

2. The coverage of MSNBC during the day is top-notch, even extraordinary. Andrea Mitchell interviews movers and shakers whenever she is on, which is often. (Her interview with Manhattan Congressman Charlie Rangel yesterday broke new ground in what was happening with Hillary Clinton, to give just one example.) Meanwhile, Nora O'Donnell and David Shuster, who also have shows on MSNBC during the day, are first-class political reporters. At best, CNN and Fox's day people may be as good as Contessa Brewer and Monica Novotny on MSNBC - but usually not.

3. Chuck Todd is outstanding as a political and statistical analyst on MSNBC. CNN makes a good showing with John King at the magic board, and Bill Schneider's political analysis - call that a draw, maybe. Frank Luntz on Fox is a distant third.

4. The prime-time lineups are about the most equal. Larry King on CNN is in a (good) class by himself. Britt Hume and Bill O'Reilly on Fox are certainly powerful commentators, and Hannity & Colmes are ok. (I'm not taking political positions here, just assessing power on television.) But Chris Matthews on MSNBC is right up there, too. And Keith Olbermann right after Matthews is an imposing presence, too. And for politics, David Gregory and Dan Abrams on MSNBC are a lot better than Greta Van Susteren on Fox, and, for my money, better than Anderson Cooper on CNN, one of its stars.

5. All three cable operations get good guests for regular political commentary. David Gergen on CNN is probably the best - adviser to umpteen Presidents - but Pat Buchanan and Joe Scarborough on MSNBC hold their own, and Newt Gingrich and Karl Rove on Fox News are nothing to sneeze at.

All in all: MSNBC is well ahead in two of the five categories above, and close to equal and sometimes better on the other three.

Prediction: If MSNBC keeps this up during the ensuing General Election campaign, it will be the #1 cable news network.

Advice: MSNBC has wisely moved its "Doc Block" to the midnight hour. I'd recommend removing it completely.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Obama's Gracious, Inspiring Speech; Hillary Clinton Should Have Endorsed Him Tonight

Barack Obama gave a masterful speech tonight in St. Paul, Minnesota. Now, at last, the presumptive Democratic nominee for President, Obama was gracious, inspiring, and powerful in contrasting the differences between his candidacy and John McCain's.

Universal health care, a military policy that goes after real not concocted threats to America, a political process that brings in young Americans - these are just a few of the many crucial differences between Obama and McCain.

This was a great evening for America, and its position in the world. No other Western nation has ever had a person of African descent as President or Prime Minister. The candidacy of Obama, based just on who he is, makes a revolutionary statement to the world. This would be the case even if his policies were not as sensible as they are.

Obama was also and especially gracious to Hillary Clinton. She ran a superb campaign, which also inspired millions of voters. I think she would make a great Vice Presidential candidate.

But I was disappointed that she did not endorse Obama tonight. She came in second, not first. Nothing can change that (even though, yes, technically, no delegate is required by law to vote for any particular candidate). I would have liked to have seen her acknowledge that, and give a dynamic speech supporting Obama, rather than saying she needed to hear from her supporters before deciding what to do.

But there's still time for that.

In the meantime, Americans can celebrate one of the most enlightened and inspiring nights in its history. I expect it will be just the beginning of a great Obama Presidency and the end of the benighted Republican party.

Graceless McCain: Obama Victorious Because of "Pundits and Party Elders"?

McCain is now speaking in Kenner, Louisiana. His view of Obama's victory tonight is that "Pundits and party elders have declared that Senator Obama will be my opponent."

Really? Last time I checked, it sure looked to me as if the American people decided, with their votes in the primary season just concluded.

McCain likely hopes he will pick up some of Hillary Clinton's supporters. Not likely - indeed, I don't see any of Hillary Clinton's supporters going for McCain, given his opposition to a woman's right to choose, not to mention his fervent view that the war in Iraq must be continued.

But it's good to see the Republicans starting their general election campaign against Obama with misstatement and misunderstanding. They will be that much easier to beat.

I'll be here with more very soon.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Ice is Nice on Mars

See also Realspace: The Fate of Physical Presence in the Digital Age, On and Off Planet...

Obama Fired Up and Ready to Go to the White House

Barack Obama just gave a great speech in Mitchell, South Dakota, on the day that Hillary Clinton won handily in Puerto Rico, but the day after the Democratic National Committee finally settled the crisis of how to count the votes of Florida and Michigan, and settled this in a way which was both fair to Hillary Clinton but brought Obama to less than 50 delegates needed to clinch the nomination.

It could not have been settled any other way. As I've been saying since January, before either primary, the DNC initial decision to not count any of the votes was inane and destructive. But with that decision in effect on the days of the voting, there was no way those elections could be considered fair and reflective of the popular will. In Michigan, where only Clinton's name was on the ballot, who can say or assess how many people would have voted differently had Obama's name been on the ballot, too.

Whatever happens in the final two primaries in South Dakota and Montana on Tuesday, Obama will only need a small number of uncommitted superdelegates to go over the top. He spoke with humor and style and humility today in South Dakota. He spoke again of how he had acquired the "fired up" and "ready to go" chant from a woman in South Carolina, a small-town political leader. That's because, more than most politicians, he listens rather than dictates to America.

Obama spoke today like a President.