November 7, 2012
November 7, 2012
1a. I know there are serious and real differences among us. Some can be argued, and some cannot. If you are as depressed and sad this morning as I would have been had the night gone differently, then I hope over the next four years you’ll choose to advance both your goals and our country by working together. Obstructionism does not stop the clock.
Of course, the blogger, Bill from Portland, can’t resist adding: “Since I’m, indeed, exclusively among Democrats here, I’ve got three gloaty words about our landslide victory last night: ‘We Built That!’” [Yes, "landslide" is not the right word.]
2.DailyKos runs this chart, based on CNN exit polls:
We aging white guys are still in charge when it comes to most big businesses and government functions. But we are no longer in charge of elections. Which means that we aging white guys are toast. And nothing could make me happier.
3. Last night, Chuck Todd on MSNBC allowed himself a moment of self-congratulations, saying something like, “A lot of people didn’t trust the polls, but it turns out that to a remarkable degree the polls were right. I’m proud of our polling efforts.”
Ok, fine. Then why did the media so consistently insist that this was going to be a squeaker? If the polls were right, then why didn’t you read them right? (Obligatory genuflection in the general direction of Nate Silver.)
4. If you voted for Romney, you won’t want to hear what I’m about to say. In fact, many of my liberal friends — my co-religionists, so to speak — will find what I’m about to say ridiculous. Nevertheless: I think Obama is the most un-flawed president in my lifetime. Not perfect, but the least deeply flawed.
I acknowledge that this is based on my assessment of his character, and such assessments are notoriously unreliable. I’ve seen this throughout my lifetime: I watch Reagan in a debate and think he’s a silly old actor that no one could take seriously, and most of the country sees a visionary patriot whose visage would look good carved into Mount Rushmore. I watch Robert Kennedy and see a deeply empathetic person, and most of the country sees a selfish opportunist. George Bush looks into the eyes of a totalitarian thug and sees a good man. Our unmediated assessments of character are unreliable and unarguable. So I offer my sense of Obama’s character without argument.
In my lifetime, I think you’d have to go back to Dwight Eisenhower to find a president with fewer debilitating character defects, but Ike was uninspiring. JFK? A bag of MadMen vices. LBJ? A close to pathological bully. Nixon? Yikes. Gerald Ford seems to have been an upstanding person, but lacked the drive and vision to be an effective president. Jimmy Carter is universally lauded as an exemplary person and ex-president, but could neither inspire nor effectively lead. Reagan’s grasp of facts and reality was (in my view!) dangerously unreliable, and his commitment to the Constitution was problematic. Bush senior is a patriot and a family man, but lacked vision. Clinton had some famous weaknesses, of which triangulation was the most troubling to me. Bush junior is 189 lbs. of daddy issues.
And there’s Obama. I’ll skip the list of adjectives, since you either already agree or will think I’m crazy. But let me just say this: We have seen Obama tackle issues that other presidents have for decades simply kicked down the road for someone else to solve. That requires patriotism, courage, a willingness to pay the price, perseverance, vision, political skills, and leadership. I’m hopeful that in the next four years we will see similar focus on issues such as immigration reform, climate change, maybe even Mideast peace. We won’t get it all, and we’ll won’t get all that we want. But I frankly thought that we’d never have a president willing to step forward to work on the issues that have scared off generations of political leaders.
November 6, 2012
In 2008 I posted a photo of myself holding my filled-in write-in ballot next to a cardboard cutout of Obama. I thought it was a little amusing, and I had made no secret of who I was voting for. But I got chided via social media, for what seems to me to be a good reason: we wouldn’t want the posting of ballot photos to become a common practice since it could lead to social pressure on people who don’t want their actual vote to be known. Imagine, say, a coal mine owner who is pressuring employees to vote for a particular candidate, and who puts up a “voluntary” “Post your Ballot Photo!” page. An employee might assume that a failure to post would be taken as a vote for the “wrong” candidate, and thus would be in a difficult position.
Now, that’s a hypothetical of course, but it captures a reason to preserve the norm that actual ballots are private, not public. Brag all you want about who you voted for — please! — but I think it’s a good idea to keep your actual ballot secret.
On the other hand, if you posted your ballot, it’s not something I find publicly chide-worthy.
(PS: I voted for President Obama. Quelle surprise!)
November 4, 2012
If when the votes are counted you feel betrayed because you were told “Your vote counts!” but it turns out that the election would have gone the same way even if you had stayed home, I understand. If you take “Your vote counts” as really only being true when your vote determines an outcome, then in my lifetime of voting, my vote has never counted. (For a different reading, see the the incredibly smart Peter Norvig’s election FAQ.)
Still, I vote and I hope you do too — even the young, despite some contempt for them). But my reasons have more to do with community than outcomes.
First, voting is a a rite that affirms the most basic and magnificent thing about our country: We believe everyone has an equal voice.
Second, my vote is unlikely to determine an outcome of an election, but it is certain to affect — fractionally, for sure — the total number of people who have voted. And that bears on our sense of the success of our democracy and of our national community. This is not merely information about community, but is information that forms community.
Third, if you don’t vote, you have no right to complain. So, vote or for God’s sake STFU.
As for who to vote for: (a) check my Twitter feed for links to the vids etc. that I find amusing/moving, and (b) really?
October 17, 2012
I’m of course loving the Binder Women meme. Hilarious.
But let me for the moment take all the fun out of it:
2. Romney’s story about his Binder Women was utter BS. In fact, according to The Phoenix
For those keeping score, it’s now: Bullshit 3, Truth 0.
3. Joe Biden today wonders why Mitt had to search for “qualified women.” (If I weren’t on a train with crappy wifi, I’d post the meme: “Some of my best friends are qualified women. I have a binder full of them.”)
4. [Added an hour later] As plenty have pointed out, Mitt’s idea of supporting women last night was to give them flex time (wow, there’s an idea that was innovative 30 years ago) so they can go home and cook dinner. See ladies, you can? have it all! (Some brilliant analysis — and writing — by Binder Person Amy Davidson.)
5. I think this tweet from the Obama campaign sums it up well: @BarackObama: Last night, the President talked about women as breadwinners. Romney talked about them as resumes in ‘binders’. http://OFA.BO/AEWhjM
This hilarious meme is deadly serious.
Categories: politics Tagged with: campaign • debate • feminism • obama • romney
Date: October 17th, 2012 dw
October 10, 2012
Categories: egov, politics Tagged with: egovernment • government 2.0 • politics
Date: October 10th, 2012 dw
October 8, 2012
October 4, 2012
The narrative was primed to develop, and so it did: Romney won the debate. The instant polls say so, and the mainstream media say so. And although I thought Obama did a far better job, I know that I’m biased that way. I’m willing to acknowledge: Romney won the debate last night.
But, although Romney won it last night, he lost it today, because now we know for sure how much he lied. We can reverse the narrative. We have an obligation to do so.
When cheaters are discovered after a game, they are stripped of their victory. That is what we of social media need to do. The mainstream media won’t because they claim they don’t proclaim winners, although that is exactly what they do.
It is up to us, the tweeters, the bloggers, the updaters of our status, the mailing listers, the tumblrs…all of us. We can turn the mainstream narrative around. That is what social media are for. We can tell the truth. We can speak honest memes to false narratives.
The truth is that Romney lost because he cheated. We together are the truth-checkers.
So here is the narrative we can make true: Romney won last night, but he lost today.
Categories: politics, too big to know Tagged with: politics • social media
Date: October 4th, 2012 dw
September 25, 2012
Like many people, I’m scratching my head trying to understand how Romney can say some of the things that he’s said over the past few months.
Categories: politics Tagged with: cheap psychologizing • politics • romney
Date: September 25th, 2012 dw
September 18, 2012
[Note: posted in haste with not enough workable wifi to check name spellings, etc.]
I got to be part of the studio audience watching the David Letterman show tonight, on which the sole guest was President Obama. (I have a friend who works there.) It was sort of awesome. I took notes, but since I was scribbling in the dark, and you can watch the show tonight, I’m not going to post about the actual content.
I’ve sat in a number of studio audiences in my life, including at The Daily Show a few years ago, so the following will sound especially stupid, but: The Late Show with David Letterman is an impressive operation. These folks are professionals. Lots and lots of professionals.
One reason I was particularly impressed with The Late Show: The CBS Orchestra (aka the Paul Shaffer band) is spectacularly good. They played a couple of songs before the show started, and then during the breaks. Great arrangements, stellar soloists, tight as the last pistachio.
I got there at 2pm for a 4:30 taping. Even that early, the police were putting up crowd-control barricades two blocks in every direction. They told me that at 3pm they’d be shutting the place down. In front of the Ed Sullivan Theater there were lots of obvious Secret Service folks with their black suits, curly ear pieces, and their damn equitable politeness. Also a cop with a black labrador trained to sniff out evil doers.
Having cleared the metal detector — backpacks were temporarily confiscated — we waited in the lobby in neat lines. Eventually a personable page gave us a stern lecture couched in jokes and lightness. She had us practice laughing by telling us “the single funniest Late Show punchline: Donald Trump’s hair.” The lobby exploded in raucous laughter and applause. Even though I was directly in front of the cheerleading page, I could not bring myself to do more than smile; I have an unhelpful anti-authoritarian streak.
She gave us the rest of the rundown: No woo-woo’s, no boos, no calling out. No food or drink. No sunglasses because they reflect light. No photos or recordings. Turn off your phones. Infractions will result in ejection. Now let’s practice that laugh again!
We went inside. I had a great seat in the front row of the balcony. (You can see me, I’m told, when they pan across the audience when the President arrived.) The theater is surprisingly small. It holds about 420 people, but the audience sections are shallow. The cityscapes that are the stage background are more three dimensional and charming than they appear on TV. We watched the band rehearsing the tricky parts while the floor received a last-minute buffing. The warm-up comedian told us pretty good jokes about regional accents, but not good enough to get me to give in, follow instructions, and laugh. They showed us a couple of videos: Biff Henderson on the road, and a charming “orientation film” narrated by Alec Baldwin. Then the warm-up guy had us practice our roar for when Dave appeared.
A couple of knockout numbers from the band. Two minutes to go and Dave literally runs in without a jacket, asks how the Secret Service guys were, and then gives us a hint for how to enliven a party: Drop a mic on the floor repeatedly while holding its wire. He cracks a joke about getting rid of the cockroaches that way. He goes back stage and about one minute later, he’s out on stage doing his monologue, which begins with a reference to cockroaches that no one outside of the live audience will understand.
The monologue was funny. I’m actually laughing now. And clapping, as they’ve encouraged. I’ve oftent wondered when watching at home: when did clapping replace laughing? How did that happen?
As they’re going to the first commercial, they run a teaser video showing Pres. Obama coming out on stage. I have no idea when they filmed it. I think we’ve been sitting in the theater longer than the President has been in the theater. Was it from the last time Obama was a guest? Life’s mysteries. (I have similar concerns about how they do the cutaways in reality shows in which contestants reflect on their nervousness about the outcome of a judgment that is about to be delivered. Sometimes they have different facial hair. Wormhole?)
It was a typical Letterman interview of this sort: some silliness, some seriousness, some seriousness disguised as silliness. I thought Letterman did a great job. As for Obama, I am ever impressed with his poise, humor and dignity. I came in a fan and left an even bigger one. (Wow, that sentence can be read in some incongruous ways! Is it a vase or two faces? I’m going to leave it as is.)
From a political point of view, I was particular impressed with President Obama’s handling of the 47% question. He talked about the need for a president to represent all the people, a response that was positive about the presidency while purposefully casting a high contrast light on Romney’s comments. Obama also talked about all that we as Americans have in common. Great.
During the breaks, President Obama chatted with Dave. Very relaxed. They made each other laugh. Obama would also listen to the band, bopping his head in time. When the band struck up “Baby, I’m So in Love With You” (ok, so that’s the lyric, not the title, but it’s the song he sang a little of a few months ago), he smiled at Felicia Cohen, the guitarist who was also doing the vocals (superbly, I might add).
The last segment was about the Libyan riots that have spread across the Middle East. Not a lot of jokes.
Then it was over. The President shook the hand of just about every worker, from the executive producer to each of the camera people. He posed for a picture with Biff Henderson. Sid McGinnis was playing an insane riff and with his pick hand gave the President a “howdy” finger point.
Now I’m on the Amtrak train coming home.
A TV show inevitably is a weirdly artificial environment. It’s thus hard to learn much about someone by watching how s/he behaves on it. So I offer the following tentatively.
We know that Obama is smart and articulate. We know that he accords everyone dignity. We know he has a sense of humor. Watching him for 50 minutes on stage, I was struck by two things. First, there were no sycophants rushing up to him during the breaks, encouraging him or whispering clever rejoinders in his ear. It was him and Dave.
Second, there was no visible difference in how he behaved or who he was when he was on or off camera. He and Dave continued to talk. Of course he wasn’t facing the cameras during the breaks, and I presume he was talking more informally. But, my impression was that this was the same centered person throughout.
Of course, I am a fanboy.