Sunday, November 09, 2008

Now, About Bill Ayers...


Photo of Bill Ayers by Chris Walker of The Chicago Tribune.

Self-reverence, self-knowledge, self-control---these three alone lead to sovereign power.

---Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Growing older, I love only quietness:
who needs be concerned with the things of this world?
Looking back, what better plan than this:
returning to the grove.

---Li Po

...on the shore
Of the wide world I stand alone, and think
Till love and fame to nothingness do sink.

---John Keats

Some of us have been on a particularly pink Cloud Nine since Barack Hussein Obama was elected the next President of the United States. But this is 5 days later and here are the Sunday papers. If we haven't been jolted out of our reverie yet by the reactions of people not sharing it, it should happen today.

I was not a total convert to Senator Obama, even after being in the midst of one of his ecstatic rallies, but I ended up on the team knocking door-to-door on Election Day. While wearing an Obama button, I nevertheless saw myself as enabling both friend and foe to get to the polls if they wanted to. While cautious and frankly very worried about the shotgun fringe around here, who loudly refused to vote for any of those liars anywhere, I wasn't prepared for the aftermath among Republicans, Libertarians, Evangelicals and those even farther to the right.

I don't think I've seen, after any of the elections in my lifetime, the opposition explode in such disarray. I snuck a listen to rightwing AM radio Wednesday night, and heard Sean Hannity blasting the Republican Party as a bunch of phonies, too scared to stand up for any of the real conservative values. Evangelicals at work, particularly those with single-issue concerns about abortion, haven't spoken to me since Tuesday. I wrote a piece honoring folk singer/songwriter Holly Near, posted it on the Internet (I was trying to change the subject) and the comment thread blew up into flames and personal invective about Obama. As I look around at other blogs and comment pages to analysis, I see I wasn't alone in having this happen.

Yesterday the UK Guardian published an article with the subtitle "The Right Tears Itself Apart In Pinning Blame For McCain's Defeat." It begins,

"As the implosion of the defeated Republican campaign continued yesterday, the landscape of American conservatism was dotted with signs that these were very strange times indeed.

"Rush Limbaugh, behemoth of rightwing radio, took to the airwaves to declare war on two enemies: Barack Obama and the Republican party. Bloggers at FreeRepublic.com, an internet hub for conservatives, announced a boycott of Fox News and John McCain's aides fell over one another to leak embarrassing details about the campaign to the press.

"Liberals, indulging in what the writer Andrew Sullivan termed 'Palinfreude', were presented with a smorgasbord, ranging from the tale of how McCain's pro-Palin foreign policy adviser had his Blackberry confiscated in the closing days of the race, to how the party had paid for Todd Palin's silk boxer shorts."
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/nov/08/sarahpalin-republicans-rushlimbaugh

This morning The New York Times is carrying opinion columns not only from the usual Sunday commentators Frank Rich and Maureen Dowd, but from their other writers too, like Thomas Friedman and Nicholas Kristof---and even more, including Al Gore. And there are the blogs in there and other columns too, all about the election...and what's next. Take your choice~~~ http://www.nytimes.com/opinion/

What I decided to do was open space for the most extreme rants anybody's still got bottled up. Let's just get it all out and hope that after a few days of venting, we can return to the business of our everyday with normal composure and focus. The Republicans pinned a lot of their attack on a supposed underground relationship and influence with Chicago resident, professor, and activist Bill Ayers. As far as I know, Mr. Ayers said nothing in public about all this during the campaign. Now he does. What do you think?

What a Long, Strange Trip It's Been
Friday 07 November 2008
by: Bill Ayers, In These Times
Bill Ayers looks back on a surreal campaign season.

Whew! What was all that mess? I'm still in a daze, sorting it all out, decompressing.

Pass the Vitamin C.

For the past few years, I have gone about my business, hanging out with my kids and, now, my grandchildren, taking care of our elders (they moved in as the kids moved out), going to work, teaching and writing. And every day, I participate in the never-ending effort to build a powerful and irresistible movement for peace and social justice.

In years past, I would now and then - often unpredictably - appear in the newspapers or on TV, sometimes with a reference to Fugitive Days, my 2001 memoir of the exhilarating and difficult years of resistance against the American war in Vietnam. It was a time when the world was in flames, revolution was in the air, and the serial assassinations of black leaders disrupted our utopian dreams.

These media episodes of fleeting notoriety always led to some extravagant and fantastic assertions about what I did, what I might have said and what I probably believe now.

It was always a bit surreal. Then came this political season.

During the primary, the blogosphere was full of chatter about my relationship with President-elect Barack Obama. We had served together on the board of the Woods Foundation and knew one another as neighbors in Chicago's Hyde Park. In 1996, at a coffee gathering that my wife, Bernardine Dohrn, and I held for him, I made a $200 donation to his campaign for the Illinois State Senate.

Obama's political rivals and enemies thought they saw an opportunity to deepen a dishonest perception that he is somehow un-American, alien, linked to radical ideas, a closet terrorist who sympathizes with extremism - and they pounced.

Sen. Hillary Clinton's (D-N.Y.) campaign provided the script, which included guilt by association, demonization of people Obama knew (or might have known), creepy questions about his background and dark hints about hidden secrets yet to be uncovered.

On March 13, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), apparently in an attempt to reassure the base,- sat down for an interview with Sean Hannity of Fox News. McCain was not yet aware of the narrative Hannity had been spinning for months, and so Hannity filled him in: Ayers is an unrepentant "terrorist," he explained, "On 9/11, of all days, he had an article where he bragged about bombing our Pentagon, bombing the Capitol and bombing New York City police headquarters. ... He said, 'I regret not doing more.'"

McCain couldn't believe it.

Neither could I.

On the campaign trail, McCain immediately got on message. I became a prop, a cartoon character created to be pummeled.

When Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin got hold of it, the attack went viral. At a now-famous Oct. 4 rally, she said Obama was √Źpallin' around with terrorists.- (I pictured us sharing a milkshake with two straws.)

The crowd began chanting, "Kill him!" "Kill him"- It was downhill from there.

My voicemail filled up with hate messages. They were mostly from men, all venting and sweating and breathing heavily. A few threats: "Watch out!" and "You deserve to be shot." And some e-mails, like this one I got from mhtml:%7B940C49A4-58E2-4565-9227-8B5FE6DD2A8F%7Dmid://00000121/!x-usc:mailto:satan@hell.com: "I'm coming to get you and when I do, I'll water-board you."

The police lieutenant who came to copy down those threats deadpanned that he hoped the guy who was going to shoot me got there before the guy who was going to water-board me, since it would be most foul to be tortured and then shot. (We have been pals ever since he was first assigned to investigate threats made against me in 1987, after I was hired as an assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago.)

The good news was that every time McCain or Palin mentioned my name, they lost a point or two in the polls. The cartoon invented to hurt Obama was now poking holes in the rapidly sinking McCain-Palin ship.

That '60s Show

On Aug. 28, Stephen Colbert, the faux right-wing commentator from Comedy Central who channels Bill O'Reilly on steroids, observed:

"To this day, when our country holds a presidential election, we judge the candidates through the lens of the 1960s. ... We all know Obama is cozy with William Ayers a '60s radical who planted a bomb in the capital building and then later went on to even more heinous crimes by becoming a college professor. ... Let us keep fighting the culture wars of our grandparents. The '60s are a political gift that keeps on giving."

It was inevitable. McCain would bet the house on a dishonest and largely discredited vision of the '60s, which was the defining decade for him. He built his political career on being a prisoner of war in Vietnam.

The '60s - as myth and symbol - is much abused: the downfall of civilization in one account, a time of defeat and humiliation in a second, and a perfect moment of righteous opposition, peace and love in a third.

The idea that the 2008 election may be the last time in American political life that the '60s plays any role whatsoever is a mixed blessing. On the one hand, let's get over the nostalgia and move on. On the other, the lessons we might have learned from the black freedom movement and from the resistance against the Vietnam War have never been learned. To achieve this would require that we face history fully and honestly, something this nation has never done.

The war in Vietnam was an illegal invasion and occupation, much of it conducted as a war of terror against the civilian population. The U.S. military killed millions of Vietnamese in air raids - like the one conducted by McCain - and entire areas of the country were designated free-fire zones, where American pilots indiscriminately dropped surplus ordinance - an immoral enterprise by any measure.

What Is Really Important

McCain and Palin - or as our late friend Studs Terkel put it, "Joe McCarthy in drag" - would like to bury the '60s. The '60s, after all, was a time of rejecting obedience and conformity in favor of initiative and courage. The '60s pushed us to a deeper appreciation of the humanity of every human being. And that is the threat it poses to the right wing, hence the attacks and all the guilt by association.

McCain and Palin demanded to "know the full extent" of the Obama-Ayers "relationship" so that they can know if Obama, as Palin put it, "is telling the truth to the American people or not."

This is just plain stupid.

Obama has continually been asked to defend something that ought to be at democracy's heart: the importance of talking to as many people as possible in this complicated and wildly diverse society, of listening with the possibility of learning something new, and of speaking with the possibility of persuading or influencing others.

The McCain-Palin attacks not only involved guilt by association, they also assumed that one must apply a political litmus test to begin a conversation.

On Oct. 4, Palin described her supporters as those who "see America as the greatest force for good in this world" and as a "beacon of light and hope for others who seek freedom and democracy." But Obama, she said, "Is not a man who sees America as you see it and how I see America." In other words, there are "real" Americans - and then there are the rest of us.

In a robust and sophisticated democracy, political leaders - and all of us - ought to seek ways to talk with many people who hold dissenting, or even radical, ideas. Lacking that simple and yet essential capacity to question authority, we might still be burning witches and enslaving our fellow human beings today.

Maybe we could welcome our current situation - torn by another illegal war, as it was in the '60s - as an opportunity to search for the new.

Perhaps we might think of ourselves not as passive consumers of politics but as fully mobilized political actors. Perhaps we might think of our various efforts now, as we did then, as more than a single campaign, but rather as our movement-in-the-making.

We might find hope in the growth of opposition to war and occupation worldwide. Or we might be inspired by the growing movements for reparations and prison abolition, or the rising immigrant rights movement and the stirrings of working people everywhere, or by gay and lesbian and transgender people courageously pressing for full recognition.

Yet hope - my hope, our hope - resides in a simple self-evident truth: the future is unknown, and it is also entirely unknowable.

History is always in the making. It's up to us. It is up to me and to you. Nothing is predetermined. That makes our moment on this earth both hopeful and all the more urgent - we must find ways to become real actors, to become authentic subjects in our own history.

We may not be able to will a movement into being, but neither can we sit idly for a movement to spring full-grown, as from the head of Zeus.

We have to agitate for democracy and egalitarianism, press harder for human rights, learn to build a new society through our self-transformations and our limited everyday struggles.

At the turn of the last century, Eugene Debs, the great Socialist Party leader from Terre Haute, Ind., told a group of workers in Chicago, "If I could lead you into the Promised Land, I would not do it, because someone else would come along and lead you out."

In this time of new beginnings and rising expectations, it is even more urgent that we figure out how to become the people we have been waiting to be.

---------

Bill Ayers is a Distinguished Professor of Education and Senior University Scholar at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He is the author of "Fugitive Days" (Beacon) and co-author, with Bernardine Dohrn, of "Race Course: Against White Supremacy" (Third World Press).

http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/4028/what_a_long_strange_trip_its_been

TruthOut also posted the article, and the comments there have been fast and furious. This one, by a VietNam veteran particularly stands out~~~

Mr. Ayers, As a VietnamSat, 11/08/2008 - 04:13 — hourglass (not verified) Mr. Ayers, As a Vietnam veteran let me add my thanks for having the courage to see wrong as wrong and trying to agitate to right it. I was terrorized by my government and the support for the war by my fellow Americans throughout my high school years. As my family slipped into a ruinous split up, I had a choice to go to jail or Vietnam or give up my citizenship. I managed some college courses on my own, but then my gov again changed the rules for deferment - within months I was wearing green. I live in Asia now and returned to Vietnam last year to lay some ghosts to rest and offer prayers for the forgiveness of my countrymen. The country smelled differently. Fresh fruits and vegetables were everywhere. Korean and Japanese company presence was everywhere. Everyone was busy with life and not with fear and death. Now that our actions in Iraq have insured that religious fundies will be in control, I wonder how long the American conscience will allow the Iraqis - who also never threatened us - to live with the fear and death we have brought them too in the name of freedom and democracy? p.s. As Gore Vidal recently noted, the myth of the hero McCain is of McCain's own making. p.s.s He's right. I was there.

http://www.truthout.org/110708R

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Speaking of "growing older," and "looking back" (Li Po), this from Charley Reese, here (antiwar.com) and here (lewrockwell.com), and also, as it turns out, the last Charley Reese column too, as the author announced in the same article (dated 08/30/08) that he was retiring and would no longer be writting:

"At any rate, it's a great time to be an American. George W. Bush, who turned out to be a gift to comedians but a blunderer of the first order, will soon be out of office. It is historic and a good sign that a black man, Barack Obama, can win the nomination of a major party. When I started in the business, the South was still segregated, and blacks were invisible both as employees and as subjects of news stories, with the exception of crime stories.

The great advantage of a free society is the capacity to self-correct itself."
Unquote.

I see some hope in a comment such as this and in how this election period seems to have been a catalyst in a renewed malleability of beliefs beyond the rigid framework of the tired narrow-minded manichean ideological dogmas of the past (Left/Right, government for and by the people vs. anarchism. etc.)---that is, where a level of education sufficient to mix and match disparate ideas is present. Charley Reese's positive outlook on this election ("it's a great time to be an American") is reflective of a new zeitgeist and indicative of how some of the close-minded ideological setting of old is possibly somewhat receding in the face of the new spirit of a new generation combined with the growing potential of the information age.

jazzolog said...

Immediately upon President-Elect Obama's victory, all kinds of columnists and bloggers started analyzing stuff...and sending in their agendas. I waded through a ton of it, but could have waited safely until this past weekend when many of the big names stepped up to the plate. Some, like Al Gore, might get invited into the Cabinet, as environmentalists petition for a "climate czar." (Not sure I like that idea though.)

Let me refer you to a few, and I'll start inside Vanity Fair, which showed up at our mailbox yesterday---and may seem very peculiar, since it's known as a fashion design magazine. But under Graydon Carter's editorship, VF has been relentless in presenting progressive and protesting articles---including 2 "green" issues in the past couple years. Never mind how the pages smell, here's Mr. Carter's opening volley (edited) entitled The Eight-Year Itch~~~

"By the time you read this, we will have elected a new president whose predecessor will have left him with one of history’s most daunting grab bags of challenges. We’re fighting a long and bloody war on two major fronts. The country’s debt has mushroomed to the point where the National Debt Clock in New York is going to have to be replaced because the old one can only accommodate a 14-digit figure. Our court system, environment, infrastructure, and reputation are in varying states of disarray, disrepair, or disrepute. And as icing on a really dismal cake, we have made a catastrophic mess of the one area of human endeavor where the U.S. was held in some esteem—finance....

"I got a decent laugh on Bill Maher’s HBO show a few years ago when I said that President Bush explains issues as if he were talking to a dim three-year-old, because that’s how the issues were explained to him. His early commentary on the financial crisis only drove this point home. At a White House press conference, he prefaced his remarks on the failure of Lehman Brothers and the near collapse of A.I.G. by saying, 'It turns out that there’s a lot of interlinks throughout the financial system.' Turns out? What sort of admission is that from our 'first M.B.A. president'? 'At first I thought we could deal with this,' he stumbled on. 'And then obviously A.I.G. came along, and Lehman came along, and it was—it declared bankruptcy; then A.I.G. came along and it—the house of cards was much bigger, beyond—started to stretch beyond just Wall Street, in the sense of the effects of failure.' Based on the muddled speech patterns of our current president, his father, and, more recently, Alaska governor Sarah Palin, it’s really beginning to seem as if English has become a second language for high-ranking Republicans.

"This election has told us a lot about who we are and who we will become. We used to be a nation of citizens. To our political and business leaders, we have more recently been valued only as 'the American Consumer'—a fat-assed mass of easily swayed, single-issue, over-leveraged dimwits. The Sarah Palin contingent is a particularly ugly subset of all of this; her sort mines the worst in Americans, rather than the best. The Palin voters said they liked her because she is just like them—and indeed she is: small-minded, unforgiving, xenophobic. They liked the moose thing (who doesn’t?), and the fact that she did well on Saturday Night Live. So did Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, but that doesn’t make them qualified to be a heartbeat away from the highest office in the land. Come to think of it, given what we’ve endured these past eight years, a Fey-Poehler ticket in 2012 is not the worst idea."

http://www.vanityfair.com/magazine/2008/12/graydon200812

Continuing on the economy, hopefully you checked out Paul Krugman's column Sunday on his recommendations to Barack Obama. He continues this morning however, and gets more explicit~~~

"Suddenly, everything old is New Deal again. Reagan is out; F.D.R. is in. Still, how much guidance does the Roosevelt era really offer for today’s world?

"The answer is, a lot. But Barack Obama should learn from F.D.R.’s failures as well as from his achievements: the truth is that the New Deal wasn’t as successful in the short run as it was in the long run. And the reason for F.D.R.’s limited short-run success, which almost undid his whole program, was the fact that his economic policies were too cautious.

"About the New Deal’s long-run achievements: the institutions F.D.R. built have proved both durable and essential. Indeed, those institutions remain the bedrock of our nation’s economic stability. Imagine how much worse the financial crisis would be if the New Deal hadn’t insured most bank deposits. Imagine how insecure older Americans would feel right now if Republicans had managed to dismantle Social Security.

"Can Mr. Obama achieve something comparable? Rahm Emanuel, Mr. Obama’s new chief of staff, has declared that 'you don’t ever want a crisis to go to waste.' Progressives hope that the Obama administration, like the New Deal, will respond to the current economic and financial crisis by creating institutions, especially a universal health care system, that will change the shape of American society for generations to come."

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/10/opinion/10krugman.html?th&emc=th

Ted Kennedy took the opportunity in the Washington Post on Sundy to urge for health care. Hopefully the majority of this nation is caring wholeheartedly about this senator, who continues to inspire and lead~~~

"The story of America has been a journey toward being a fairer and more just nation. We have encountered many barriers along the way, and at times we have stumbled. But again and again, we have come together to surmount the obstacles in our path and realize more fully the promise of America.

"Last month, the nation took another major step along this path, when Congress approved historic legislation to end discrimination in health care against the millions of Americans who struggle with mental illnesses. This new law ensures that illnesses of the mind are treated the same as illnesses of the body in insurance coverage.

"It took more than a decade to enact mental health parity legislation. In the end, the stalemate was broken when insurance companies, employers and doctors all agreed with patients that the flawed system of mental-health-care insurance was intolerable. They finally sat down and reached an agreement that is now the law of the land.

"Our success in achieving mental health parity after years of deadlock is a good omen for broad reform of our overall health-care system. And despite the current economic downturn, we must forge ahead with this urgent priority. The system is broken. And it's no longer just patients demanding change. Businesses, doctors and even many insurance companies are demanding it as well."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/11/07/AR2008110703145.html?sub=AR

On to the environment, here's Bill McKibben, writing in Yale Environment 360~~~

"And so our eight-year interlude from reality draws to a close, and the job of cleaning up begins. The trouble is, we’re not just cleaning up after a failed presidency. We’re cleaning up after a two-century binge.

"Barack Obama has won an historic victory, and with it the right to take office under the most difficult circumstances since Franklin D. Roosevelt. Maybe more difficult, because while both FDR and Obama had financial meltdowns to deal with, Obama also faces the meltdown meltdown — the rapid disintegration of the planet's climate system that threatens to challenge the very foundations of our civilization.

"Do you think that sounds melodramatic? Let me give it to you from the abstract of a scientific paper written earlier this year by one of the people who now work for Mr. Obama, NASA scientist James Hansen. 'If humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted, paleo-climate evidence and ongoing climate change suggest that CO2 [in the atmosphere] will need to be reduced from its current 385 ppm [parts per million] to at most 350 ppm.' In other words, if we keep increasing carbon any longer, the earth itself will make our efforts moot.

"Hansen's calculation is a scientifically grounded way of saying: Everything must change at once. To meet his target, before enough feedback loops
kick in to irrevocably warm the planet, Hansen says fossil-fuel combustion, particularly coal, must cease around the planet by about 2030, and that it must happen sooner in the industrialized nations. As the climate observer, and tireless blogger, Joe Romm observed when Hansen's paper was published, it means that 'we need to go straight to the government-led WWII-style effort for the whole planet that is sustained for decades.' (Well, back to FDR, what do you know.).

http://e360.yale.edu/content/feature.msp?id=2082

Much of the mess of the past half dozen years is blamed on "faulty intelligence" according to the Bush administration. We'll not look for obvious jokes in that excuse, but instead refer to Ray McGovern. His career as a CIA analyst spanned seven administrations and included responsibility for chairing NIEs, as well as preparing and presenting the President's Daily Brief. At this article he outlines 8 major priorities for our next president, in particular regard to the CIA~~~

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2008/11/08

Finally, we have all the bailouts---more hundreds of billions spent every day. Naomi Klein wrote a huge article for Rolling Stone, which already she is updating as the cash pours out. She calls it The New Trough: The Wall Street bailout looks a lot like Iraq — a "free-fraud zone" where private contractors cash in on the mess they helped create. Keep checking the online version~~~

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/24012700/the_new_trough

Nausicaa said...

Excellent synthesis of the Press and the blogosphere here in jazzolog’s comment (as usual). I particularly like the following statement (the one from Vanity Fair):

"This election has told us a lot about who we are and who we will become. We used to be a nation of citizens."

Here is hoping this election is the harbinger of a new era of Synthectic Intelligence (the ability to draw on ideas from across disciplines and fields of inquiry to reach a deeper understanding of the world and one's place in it).

G. W. Bush, for all his talk of being a "unifier," has essentially presided over what turned out to be a presidency built upon the foundations of a Karl Rovian culture of divide and conquer (into which his Presidency eventually crumbled, as has the McCain-Palin's failed presidential campaign).

To say that the temperaments and global thinking of Bush and Obama are different, doesn’t even begin to cover it; they couldn't be further apart:

Robert Sternberg, a psychologist whose main research include, among other things, "leadership," and “styles of thinking," submitted that there are 12 characteristics that can be found in successfully synthetic thinkers. The first characteristic is that successfully creative people often actively seek out, and then later become, role models. They also question assumptions and encourage others to do so as well. Successfully intelligent people take sensible risks and encourage others to do the same. They seek out tasks that allow creativity for themselves and for others. Successfully intelligent people actively define and redefine problems and help others do the same. They allow themselves and others time to think creatively. Successfully intelligent people tolerate ambiguity and encourage tolerance and ambiguity in others; they understand the obstacles that creative people must face and overcome. They are willing to grow. Successfully intelligent people recognize the importance of person-environment fit.

Needless to say that for such a personality type to make it to a high political office of any significance is a rare occurrence (for a variety or reasons, the chief one being that politics usually turns such people off), let alone the Presidency.

I also like the first comment on this thread (the one about Charley Reese). Reese is a fascinating character, and would probably fit the bill of what a true maverick is about. Although some Libertarians have tried to claim him as one of their own, Charley Reese made it abundantly clear what he actually thought of Libertarianism (Why I am not a Libertarian), i.e. the sophomoric simplicistic reductionist kind of Libertarianism (which unfortunately is the most common sort) as opposed to the more enlightened kind---Politics in general, and Libertarianism in particular, are in that regard not too dissimilar to religion).

A lot has been written about collective intelligence, and emergence and grassroots democracy. The success of Barack Obama grassroots’ campaign is a landmark in that regard: The 2008 election was the first where the Internet did play a central role to such a degree as it did this time around, not only in terms of how the campaigns used technology, but also in how voter-generated content affected its course.

TechPresident, a group blog dedicated to the coverage of that phenomenon (their team of bloggers is made of veterans of the 2004 and 2006 elections, ranging across the political spectrum) are pondering what’s next (the next logical question):

As we transition from the presidential campaign to an Obama administration, the looming question is, "What will become of all those people networked via My.BarackObama.com (MyBO) and Obama's massive email list?" Is there a place in government for the swarming grassroots masses? And can we capitalize on its collective intelligence in order to make its contribution meaningful?
(…)
One approach to raising the quality of the public voice is to integrate collaboration tools into the social network platform. Rather than letting individuals each offer their selection, which would create an email overload that dwarfs what Congress faces, the network can be organized into affinity groups and given tools that allow them to build collaborative documents that are supported by more consensus or the approximation of consensus. These affinity groups may be geographically based, issue based, demographically based, or based on any meaningful group of people with a shared interest. Each group can work together, if provided the right tools, to create a coherent policy recommendation to pass up the line.

More here.

jazzolog said...

Once a week (Wednesdays) the New York Times sends out an email containing the most popular articles of the past 7 days. I guess that means the ones that got emailed the most or got the most reaction. The Times always has a lot to read so I appreciate the summary. Yesterday contained a few things I had missed and maybe you did too.

If you watched TV in the '70s, you remember Dick Cavett. He was popular on ABC first and then ended up on PBS for a while. Witty, incisive interviewer. Frankly I'd lost track of him and didn't know even if he's still alive. It turns out he has a blog at the Times. I know you've had enough of this, but I can't resist referring you to his entry from Friday night. We old English teachers still struggle to preserve some semblance of universal intelligibility in our language. The comments at the blog contain reader favorites from that Alaskan governor~~~

I suppose it will be recorded as among political history’s ironies that Palin was brought in to help John McCain. I can’t blame feminists who might draw amusement from the fact that a woman managed to both cripple the male she was supposed to help while gleaning an almost Elvis-sized following for herself. Mac loses, Sarah wins big-time was the gist of headlines.
I feel a little sorry for John. He aimed low and missed.

What will ambitious politicos learn from this? That frayed syntax, bungled grammar and run-on sentences that ramble on long after thought has given out completely are a candidate’s valuable traits?

And how much more of all that lies in our future if God points her to those open-a-crack doors she refers to? The ones she resolves to splinter and bulldoze her way through upon glimpsing the opportunities, revealed from on high.

http://cavett.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/11/14/the-wild-wordsmith-of-wasilla/?ex=1242709200&en=1810131e0e6b3d15&ei=5087&WT.mc_id=NYT-E-I-NYT-E-AT-1119-L2

I've started reading Thomas Friedman again, but somehow missed his marvelous analysis of our sacred automobile industry from last Tuesday~~~

Last September, I was in a hotel room watching CNBC early one morning. They were interviewing Bob Nardelli, the C.E.O. of Chrysler, and he was explaining why the auto industry, at that time, needed $25 billion in loan guarantees. It wasn’t a bailout, he said. It was a way to enable the car companies to retool for innovation. I could not help but shout back at the TV screen: “We have to subsidize Detroit so that it will innovate? What business were you people in other than innovation?” If we give you another $25 billion, will you also do accounting?
How could these companies be so bad for so long? Clearly the combination of a very un-innovative business culture, visionless management and overly generous labor contracts explains a lot of it. It led to a situation whereby General Motors could make money only by selling big, gas-guzzling S.U.V.’s and trucks. Therefore, instead of focusing on making money by innovating around fuel efficiency, productivity and design, G.M. threw way too much energy into lobbying and maneuvering to protect its gas guzzlers.

This included striking special deals with Congress that allowed the Detroit automakers to count the mileage of gas guzzlers as being more than they really were — provided they made some cars flex-fuel capable for ethanol. It included special offers of $1.99-a-gallon gasoline for a year to any customer who purchased a gas guzzler. And it included endless lobbying to block Congress from raising the miles-per-gallon requirements. The result was an industry that became brain dead.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/12/opinion/12friedman.html?ex=1242709200&en=1a41434dc48fd53a&ei=5087&WT.mc_id=NYT-E-I-NYT-E-AT-1119-L5