Posts Tagged ‘obama’

Obama’s inaugural speech was truly a masterpiece of presidential rhetoric.  I would be surprised if it’s not studied by future generations. Even if the speech had been delivered by a drunken three-toed sloth it would have been powerful. Now perhaps you detect my cynicism.  I sincerely hope we will actually see change, but given the basic nature of man to frak everything up…

Almost the instant the speech was done, visualizations were popping up all over the place.  The LA Times threw together a Wordle, which was pretty and also highlighted the emotional thrust of the speech very well.


Wordle tag cloud of Obama's speech.

Wordle tag cloud of Obama's speech.

Soon after there was a Many Eyes word tree of the speech.  If you haven’t played with word trees on Many Eyes, you’re missing out on some fun.  I just heard how nerdy that was after I wrote it.


Many Eyes word tree of Obama's inaugural speech.

Many Eyes word tree of Obama's inaugural speech.

And then the NY Times put up tag clouds of every inaugural speech in the history of the US.  Cool that they did it, but the tag clouds are ugly.


This is an absolutely awesome visualization of the Democratic race so far.

Names unnamed, sources unsourced, a CMU professor told me the other day that the best way to identify the party affiliation of political blogs is to find out who the blogger talks about all the time. Republicans spend their time, not bolstering their own candidates, but denegrating the Democrats. Ditto the Democrats. This is perhaps true on average, but you will undoubtedly find counterexamples the instant you start looking. So what about blogs that are leftist that criticize Democrats and Republicans? I suppose there are the right-wing counterparts, but I avoid those since I suspect they are mostly crackpot cults, white-power activists, and warmongers. Or Ron Paul supporters.

Which leads me to my next point. Ron Paul supporters got really motivated this primary season. It was at first inspiring, followed by slightly disturbing. The last time I saw that kind of fanaticism in white suburban males was when Star Wars Episode 1 came out. And like after Episode 1, their hopes were left like fish to die washed up on the rocks of failure beneath an unyielding sun. The so-called revolution did not come. Nor could it.

Next comes the Obamagasm. He talks a pretty talk, but like all mainstream candidates he has sacrificed a number of his ideals. While a little guy in Chicago, Obama met with the Arab community to discuss the issue of Palestinian liberation. Now he has cozied up to America’s client-state, Israel in an effort to improve his electability. I’m trying to rid myself of the feeling that “a candidate has to stick to one position for his entire career or else he has lost his integrity.” It’s just not human to do that and would represent a serious character flaw if the guy in the next cubicle did it. So why must politicians? Pre-Iraq War I was a Republican, but as I grew older and learned new things, that stance has shifted wildly. Shouldn’t I forgive such wishy-washyness in candidates? One might say it is important for a candidate to know himself, which I clearly did not, but new data comes along and sometimes you just have to change.

Every election of importance since 9/11 brings me to an eventual state of despair. Think of the lines of power in a political system. George R. R. Martin, my favorite fantasy author, has a great illustration in one of his books (which I will now present from memory, so consider this a semi-direct quotation with noise). The Master of Whisperers comes to the newly minted Hand of the King (the guy who does the day-to-day running of the kingdom) and presents him this riddle (paraphrased): “A rich man, a priest, a king, and a soldier are all in a room. The rich man says, kill them and I will give you half of all my wealth. The priest says, kill them in the name of the gods. The king says, kill them in the name of your king. Who does he kill?” The Hand in the story ponders the question, which has no answer (or rather, too many). It depends on the soldier. Who has the power? The man with the sword is nobody.

In a democratic society, are we the man with the sword? What is our allegiance? Are we greedy and side with the rich man, or pious and side with the priest? Are we loyal subjects and obey the king? Who taught us that each of these figures (and feel free to add your own) has power over us? Are these teachers the ones with the real power? Or are they just the front for the people with the real power? Where do the lines lead or is it just a jumbled graph that leads nowhere and everywhere? Maybe the power is an emergent behavior of the system — Adam Smith’s invisible hand. Either way, can we ever hope to change it?

Ralph Nader enters the race

Posted: 24 February 2008 in Uncategorized
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Green logo

The best criticism Obama can level against him is that he criticizes people for not living up to his standards. When it comes to choosing a president, I want someone with high standards.

The Crowd Thins

Posted: 30 January 2008 in Uncategorized
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Well, Edwards is all set to announce he is dropping out of the democratic race and Ghouliani has withdrawn from the republican side. Of the mainstream democrat candidates, Edwards was the least likely to become corporate lapdog of the year. He had some unfortunate things against him, which made me less than meh about his bid, but I would have preferred him to Clinton or Obama. My prediction is Obama will take it. As for the Republicans, I was terribly wrong about McCain’s prospects. Which evil would be worse? McCain or Romney in the White House? I must say, though, I am so, so glad that Ghouliani was a miserable failure. If he had been made president, the world would have been a much darker place.

Rudy Giuliani (Ghouliani) - EPIC FAIL

At this point, no one is heading to the White House that I support. I refuse to support the lesser of two evils and so will almost certainly be voting Green as a protest.

Well, one more reason to dislike Obama, or at least his supporters, as well as this whole political system.  Stephen Colbert was blocked from being put on the Democratic ticket in South Carolina last week.  Turns out, the culprits were a group of Obama supporters.  Inez Tenenbaum, the once superintendent of education in South Carolina (and failed Senatorial hopeful), is a vocal supporter of Obama.  She pressured the gang of 16 members of the Democratic executive council to exclude him from the ticket.  They acquiesced and voted 13-3 to block him.

What is wrong with this picture?  For starters, 16 people decide the who gets to run and who doesn’t for president.  This is one of the hidden daggers in the representative government model.  The American Empire is about voting for one of several candidates the media has hand-picked and groomed to be president.  Of course, this isn’t the media’s fault, they are only watching the money handed down to them and doing what good goons do.   We don’t elect people who operate based on the consensus of the people who put them there.  We elect people who then may do whatever they damn well please while making pretty noises.  Not always even pretty noises (cf. W).  So who votes for this elite cadre of people who make and break presidents before they are even on the ticket?  I guarantee that more than 99% of the electorate doesn’t participate in this process.

Here is a rich line from Tenenbaum after she lobbied the executive council to get Colbert thrown off the ticket:

“I think lobbying was too strong a word.  I called them to see what they were thinking, and if they had made up their mind. I am a volunteer in that campaign, and so I am not a staffer. And I thought it could have taken votes away from a lot of people.”

Logical problems aside, this is also a half-truth (what your mom referred to as a lie).  The fact is, Obama supporters consist of a lot of young, college-educated voters.  Young, college-educated voters watch Colbert.  So by “a lot of people,” she meant to say “my master.”

I’m just so fed up with the Sheepocratic party for their high-talking hypocrisy.  The so-called mandate that they completely rolled over on, showing that they are yellow-bellied toadies is just the start.  There is dirty dealing everywhere I look.

I keep feeling the need to write about the battle of the media-darling corporate stooge warhawks. Everyday I see something about fundraising by this candidate or that (and by this I mean Clinton and by that I mean Obama). And everyday I am troubled. When I start to write about it, my thoughts on the subject lack cohesiveness.

Clinton had someone fundraising for her who turned about to be a fugitive of justice, wanted for grand theft. Norman Hsu used a fundraising tactic called bundling, which combines the contributions of many different donors to give it more weight. What does more weight mean?

Today Clinton’s blog is reporting that she raised $27 million for the third quarter, beating Obama in both gross money raised and number of new donors. Yesterday, the NY Times was going on about Obama’s link to a group of black entrepreneurs who supported him back in Illinois. They bailed his campaign out of hot water and he saw that their agenda got pushed in the state legislature. But it looks like their agenda wasn’t all bad (I certainly don’t know enough details to make that assessment), since he was working to remove some racial inequities they were facing. Or is that he was opening up opportunities? Again I was troubled, by his seeming willingness to take a buck and then turn those dollars into actual legislation.

John Edwards’ campaign sent an email a while back pointing the finger at Hillary over her fundraising practices. She hosted a dinner in DC where several congress people were in attendance. Cost of admission to this event was $2000 per plate, as is typical of these woo-the-rich-people functions (a mainstay of Republicans). So it seems she was trading quasi-political influence (here, look at all these Congressmen and women I can connect you too if you support me) for support. Washington business as usual.

Meanwhile principled men like Dennis Kucinich are struggling to raise dollars, because despite seeming to match the actual beliefs of voters much more closely, they haven’t been tapped by the big corporations and their media mouthpieces as electable. Doesn’t it bother people that the candidates the media has branded as electable are the only ones getting attention?