RigBlog

A Blog for SCS MPJO 855

Highlights of the Weekend

I went with the fiancée this weekend to the Notre Dame vs. USC game (which I will not speak of) but I got a new Creative Vado HD pocket camcorder and wanted to try it out.  I went crazy with the thing and here are some of the videos.  Enjoy!

Driving to the Exit

Golden Dome!

Flip Cup at the Tailgate (Language is somewhat NSFW)

The Band March Out

Airborne Paratroopers Bring in the Game Ball

Heading Home With Some Fog on the Toll Road

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October 21, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Putting the “New” in Newspaper

On January 16, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune published in its own paper that it would declare bankruptcy after a period of sharp losses in an industry that is slowly rendering the newspaper obsolete.

 In the Star-Tribune’s own report, David Phelps writes,

 “In its filing, the newspaper listed assets of $493.2 million and liabilities of $661.1 million.  Like most newspapers, the Star Tribune has experienced a sharp decline in print advertising. Its earnings before interest, taxes and debt payments were about $26 million in 2008, down from about $59 million in 2007 and $115 million in 2004.”

 …and in a nutshell, we have witnessed inherently why newspapers are declining.  Newspapers are a mushy, dirty, and dated element of journalism that in some cases have rejected changes to become more viable in a market that craves instant gratification.

 Newspapers have also failed to “bring in” readers by allowing them to be more active in the “making” of news.  Sure, most newspapers have non-subscription websites and most stories have the ability to leave comments on stories that other viewers can read, but that is where the inclusion ends. 

 Again, in an era where instant gratification reigns and television networks have I-Reports, Hubs for the Democratic Convention, Republican Convention, Debates and Inauguration and online inclusion by major news companies, newspapers have rejected the inclusion of the every day reader into their unofficial staff.

 So where does that leave us?  The Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the Chicago Tribune are newspapers that are slowly oozing into non-existence as we know them.  When they reemerge from bankruptcy protection, they will look drastically different.

 Two of the articles that we had to read to our class refer to this in an extremely clear light.  Both articles are in The Economist, and point out that participatory journalism has allowed individuals to decide what they deem to be newsworthy:

 “What is new is that young people today, and most people in future, will be happy to decide for themselves what is credible or worthwhile and what is not.”

 I also like the comment by Joe Kraus in the story that the public will decide what is true and what isn’t.

 The other Economist article points out the rising wave of citizen-journalists that hold individuals to account.  They utilize the internet to a degree that is truly amazing.  They work together without ever talking face to face.  They gather information in minutes that normally took hours or even weeks to compile.  

 

…and that is why I like blogs.

 

Blogs allow citizens to be journalists and members of a community of which there is no selectivity.  The best example of this is townhall.com and dailykos.com.

Both websites are at the opposite ends of the political spectrum, but both have the same fundamental organization tool:  the element of inclusion.

Users can create their own blogs within the confines of dailykos and TownHall.  If I were to make a page, it would be PaulRigney.townhall.com or PaulRigney.dailykos.com.  I could also use any username available to me.  On the blog, I could write about anything: my plans, news of the day, movies, food, sports, etc.  There is no limitation or censorship, and users can still utilize the freedoms of the website without any interference from the site makers, within reason, of course.

The sense of community that is created by these websites allows for a closer relationship from user to user and from user to website.  On DailyKos in particular, site moderators are charged with reading user “diaries” (blogs) and will “rescue” them at the end of each week and put them on the front page of the website, allowing readers who passed the blog over to read it, generating an audience for the author.

Blogs also allow for un-filtered commentary by pundits and non-pundits alike when it comes to news stories.  I read a score of blogs out there right now, and will list some of the ones I like:

 

1.  FiveThirtyEight

 FiveThirtyEight, a website created by Nate Silver of Baseball Prospectus was easily the most addictive blog during the 2008 elections.  Silver took national polls on candidates and ran them through a regression model 10,000 times and predicting the winner of the presidential election, as well as seat pickups in the Senate.

 Silver was one off on states (Indiana), but was dead on the popular vote total.

 He, along with Sean Quinn, write commentary that is blunt, inside baseball, and unedited.  While still being objective, Quinn and Silver are able to convey effects based on causes, using polls and numbers to support their commentary.

 It is and still will continue to be the best political blog out there.

 

2. Teagan Goddard’s Political Wire

 Teagan Goddard, a Washington wonk, created a website that is a hub of news links, stories and some insightful commentary wrapped up in a website that is the Drudge Report with substance.

 Goddard is receptive to user-submitted content, acknowledging instances where he missed certain aspects of news stories and will credit his readers with the scoops.

 Goddard also has one of the most in-depth job boards on the beltway market.  He is able to concisely state stories that run from page to page.

 Goddard updates his blog on a constant basis and the page refreshes itself to update the page with new breaking stories.

 

3.  The Fix

 Chris Cillizza’s politics blog on the Washington Post is a rarity in a time where newspapers don’t have the wherewithal to have bloggers on staff.  His blog is a little bit more professional than the previous two, but still allows for some political insight, combined with breaking news.

 

4.  Politics1 Blog

 Started by Ron Gunzberger, Politics1 is one of my favorites not just because of the news blurbs on the main page, but because the site categorizes most/all of the blogs out there into neutral, liberal and conservative categories.  So, its pretty easy to navigate the blogosphere from politics1.  The site also has an extremely in-depth race tracker during elections, so it is very easy to see who is running against whom in all 50 states.  The third-party trackers are also very detailed as well.

January 26, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

Long Time, No Type

So I’ve been uber-busy with work and taking some time off from regularly posting but now I’m back in the saddle.

This semester, I’m taking two classes, “Journalism Upside Down” and “Storytelling 2.0.” You will see tags for my posts related to those two classes in the future.

What are these classes about? Well “Journalism Upside Down” (JUD) is a class that takes an in-depth look at the future of news, looking at why traditional media is no longer traditional, why newspapers are going the way of the dodo as well as looking that the cultural importance of blogs, new media and individual journalism. For JUD, I will be looking at what Congress is using and not using, with regards to blogs and new media. I’ll be looking at the rules surrounding congressional use of new media and what congressmen are active in using the “future” of news as well as looking at those who still cling to the newspaper.

“Storytelling 2.0” is not what it seems. Students in the class are working on a documentary in Washington, D.C. titled “The Second City”, chronicling the AIDS epidemic in Washington. There are three professors for the class and the students will learn everything from interviewing, to production, to publicizing the film. Students will also have to film their own projects.

I’m extremely excited for both of these classes, and will provide updates throughout the semester on those as well as other topics.

January 21, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Internet Powerhouse

With Joe Trippi on the way to class Wednesday, I thought I would take a moment to comment on his book, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.  

For starters, I love the Dean Scream on the front cover.  In addition to that, I like how Trippi takes you back in time and you almost feel as if you are part of the campaign, shadowing him as he campaigns for Dean across Iowa.

Trippi also points out the power of the internet in campaigning.  Dean’s was particularly good at utilizing the internet at that time in campaigns simply because it had not been done before.  Trippi organized fundraising tools using the internet and along with programmers like Michael Silberman, people became the campaign through the internet.

Now, in this day and age, relatively unknown candidates are utilizing the internet to not only get their name out there, but to rally their supporters under one hub and allow them to help the campaign from a central starting point.

The question was posted by Garrett asking if a frontrunner candidate could effectively utilize the internet, or is it a tool to be used by underdog candidates?

I’ll make the argument that not only could a frontrunner candidate utilize the internet, but frontrunner candidates in the future will have better internet organization than underdog candidates.

The internet as a campaign tool is like a slot receiver in football.  Its typically the third or fourth option (in campaign speak- behind phones, television and print mail ads) and isn’t really heard of until you realize halfway during the game that the guy is wide open.  So you start throwing him the ball and the next thing you know, its the end of the season and he is your leading receiver because teams never dropped a cornerback to cover him and let him run around the linebackers all season.

Internet campaigning is a revered slot receiver.  Campaigns want to rely on phone banking and donations from individuals with big wallets.  That leaves the internet to secure small donations and to rally more supporters.  Barack Obama effectively utilized that and come 2012, I think its going to be much harder for the GOP.  Obama was the first candidate to win the presidency while effectively using the internet as a campaign tool, which is pretty unprecedented.  Would he decide to drop his online network now that he has the White House?  I’d think the opposite.  He’ll want to bring in more people into government and that will bode well in 2012, because all his supporters will need to do is go to a similar web address and organize yet again like they did in 2008, but this time with better technology and larger numbers.

December 2, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

My Weekly Report

Check it out here.

December 2, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Looking Back…

First things first:  I haven’t had a blog post up in quite some time, but I plan on posting regularly in the near future, so look for a post up once a day, discussing politics or something else on-the-hill related.  This post is supposed to be a look back at the election, but before I do that, let me give a should out to the PBS show Frontline, which has a great episode on the 2008 elections.

With that being said, here we go.

Cliche statement:  The 2008 election was a watershed moment in our nation’s history.

True statement:  The 2008 election was a watershed moment in our nation’s history.

The contest between Barack Obama and John McCain transcended your typical presidential campaign, partly due to the characters involved and partly due to the arena in which they took on the “great race”.

On a personal level, this campaign was great because I felt that I had a front row seat to it.  I was fortunate enough to be able to attend a debate this campaign season, the Vice Presidential Debate in Saint Louis.  My blog posts during the week highlighted my excitement and the news that was occurring at the time (bailout fail #1).

But before I get to my time in St. Louis, lets take a giant step back and look at the candidates.

REPUBLICAN CANDIDATES

This election really changed how campaigns will operate.

I’m not entirely sure why Jim Gilmore decided to enter the race.  Sure, he had a great tag line, but it was sort of pilfered off of the late Paul Wellstone’s line (and used by Howard Dean thank you Wikipedia).  He had no organization, no fundraising appeal, and was out before he could even be a factor.

Tommy Thompson.  Bungler.  A guy who in my opinion, represented the “Bill Richardson qualifications” in the Republican party.  A relatively successful Governor of Wisconsin for 14 years and a five year stint as Health and Human Services Secretary would put someone in the driver’s seat to be president, but he never really got it going.  Of course, he also brought up this gem during one of the early debates:

I won’t make any claim that Thompson was advocating discrimination in the workplace and I highly doubt that is what he was trying to say, but it sure sounds like it doesn’t it?

In any event, Thompson was out right after Gilmore’s exit, following a horrific finish in the Iowa Ames Straw Poll.

Sam Brownback, Senator from Kansas, was also another casualty of Iowa, but in the caucuses and not the straw poll.  Brownback attempted to highlight himself as the Christian Conservative candidate, but lacked the appeal of Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney.  Brownback was also Catholic, a position that caused some members of the Christian Right to go with Huckabee instead.  A product of the 2008 election, Brownback teamed up with then-candidate Joe Biden for a joint campaign event on Iraq that was subsequently put on YouTube:

Brownback was also one of the first presidential candidates to utilize YouTube.  His page is still up with videos on dozens of issues.

Duncan Hunter was another candidate who really couldn’t get his campaign moving.  He was the first to declare his candidacy, but it never really went anywhere.  While Hunter certainly had the qualifications to compete on a national level (Vietnam Vet, career politician, big on defense issues, etc.), the traction and fundraising needed for stability and survival never really came.  It should be noted that Hunter won the Texas Straw Poll, and garnered the support of conservative pundit Ann Coulter, before she head-scratchingly announced her support for Hillary Clinton.

Rudy Giuliani showed that strategy is everything. His gamble to wait until Florida ended up being his ultimate undoing.  While he lacked the true-conservative appeal for Iowa, and lacked McCain’s attachment to the people of New Hampshire, I would have expected him to make a push, and not let the base candidates (Huckabee, Thompson, Romney) split the vote while McCain attracted the independents and moderates.  Did they not see that coming after New Hampshire?  Or was it too late?  I think Giuliani’s position on abortion also showed that the GOP wasn’t “ready” for a pro-choice Republican.  The irony is that the party may need those types of voters in the future to be viable.

Mike Huckabee looked to me like the future of the GOP.  I never really saw him as presidential-material (some of his policies, I’m looking at you Mr. Flat Tax, were a little bit extreme) but he still was a great candidate.  He was the only viable candidate to show up to the PBS All-American Presidential Forum, a debate geared towards issues pertaining to African-American voters.  I thought his reponses were more mature than the lack of a presence by the four who did not show up (Giuliani, McCain, Thompson & Romney).  That being said, his undoing was his inability to shore up independent voters while trying to combat Fred Thompson and Mitt Romney for base votes .  I think it is a testament to his campaign that they were able to survive to the end (I’ll get to Ron Paul in a second), and he would be my pick to lead the party in the future.

Tom Tancredo was the GOP equivalent of Dennis Kucinich.  He ran a one-issue campaign:  kick the illegal immigrants out of the country.  He actually chose not to participate in a Spanish-language debate because of that.  He never really was a factor, and was actually one of the few presidential candidates to endorse Mitt Romney for president.  Tancredo dropped out of the presidential race, and reportedly is mulling a run at Ken Salazar’s senate seat in 2010.

Fred Thompson never really showed up.  I don’t think much more needs to be said.  There is the moniker “reluctant candidate” and there is actually looking the part.  Thompson actually looked the part, half asleep, mumbling, etc.  The most energy he showed was during his speech at the Republican Convention.

Mitt Romney, in my opinion, wasted a valuable opportunity.  He ran, in my opinion, as the second-coming of Ronald Reagan, but without the substance of Reagan.  He spent most of the campaign, and a chunk of his personal fortune trying to convince Republican voters that he was a true conservative and that the positions that he “flip-flopped” on were genuine reversals of belief.  One of these in particular was his stance on abortion.  Romney, during his campaign for governor of Massachusetts supported the state’s pro-choice policies, but switched his view.  Here is his appearance on Meet The Press:

Romney simply couldn’t be viable, simply because he was too untrustworthy.  His support was also undermined by Mike Huckabee and Fred Thompson.  In his attempts to behave like a Reagan conservative, he came off as pandering.  Dare I say it, he was the GOP version of the 2004 John Kerry.

Before I get to John McCain, I have to say this about Ron Paul.  Ron Paul was the only Republican candidate to utilize a grassroots movement.  While the other candidates competed for support amongst the high-paying donors in Washington, Paul was going after young voters who were sick of the way government was conducting itself.  He reached out to the Libertarian-leaning people of America and for the most part, they responded.  They flash-voted for him on websites, they called radio shows and C-SPAN and they generated five million dollars in donations to his campaign in one quarter.  Ron Paul also appealed to the anti-war base of the Republican Party.  He advocated against preemptive war and the Bush Doctrine of it and instead called for war approval as dictated by the Constitution:  Congressional approval and authorization.  He also pushed for the use of the gold standard, and not for borrowing money from foreign countries.

Ron Paul’s campaign also had a blimp, which is awesome.

Lastly, I’ll cover John McCain.  How you go from longshot and left-for-dead to the nomination is quite a story, and the Frontline piece I linked above highlights a lot of it.  McCain’s campaign was on its last legs, but when it came to crunch time, the McCain showed that you don’t have to be a hard-liner to get the nomination.  He was a non-factor in the true-conservative Iowa Caucus but rallied to win New Hampshire as his campaign was on its last legs.  While the base candidates continued to split those votes, McCain locked up the nomination in a way that would make Rush Limbaugh bitch and complain in spectacular fashion.

DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES

Unlike the Straw Polls that weeded out candidates on the Republican side, Democratic candidates lived and died by the Iowa Caucuses.  Seven candidates in all if you count Mike Gravel, they all competed for position leading up to the Caucuses.

Chris Dodd thought it would be a good idea to run for president.  I think that he might have been the only one to think that.  Dodd never gained traction, a combination of his low-profile status and lack of significant endorsements early in the campaign.  He did receive endorsements from Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) and other members of the Shriver family, but the Kennedy influence never translated into votes.  Dodd also was endorsed by the International Association of Firefighters, but again, it never translated into votes and he dropped out of the race following a 7th place showing in the Iowa Caucuses.

Also dropping out after the Iowa Caucuses was Joe Biden.  Biden’s presidential (not vice-presidential) candidacy was also plagued by a lack of support and little to no fundraising.  Biden also had the nasty habit of speaking his mind, and it reflected in some of his comments.

While the Guiliani-comment was perceived as funny, he also called Barack Obama “clean and articulate”, which didn’t go over so well.  Biden’s candidacy was also doomed from his past experiences as a presidential candidate, namely the controversy over his use of a Neil Kinnock speech as his own while as a candidate in 1988.

However, it doesn’t go without saying that both Dodd and Biden, for their lack of support in votes, were extremely well-advanced on YouTube, Dodd moreso than Biden .  Dodd actively sought out input from supporters and non-supports alike on YouTube posts, and it is a good example of the “open White House” that TechPresident contributors are looking for.

Another Democratic presidential candidate that used YouTube in a large way was Bill Richardson.  Richardson ran on his experience with foreign affairs and his opposition to the war in Iraq.  On a personal note, I’ll simply say that Richardson was without a doubt the most qualified candidate on the Democratic side, and arguably both sides of the ticket, Republican and Democrat alike.  Richardson also had a little bit more momentum than some of the second tier candidates, but couldn’t crack the top three candidates: Clinton, Obama and Edwards.  The thing with Richardson was that he ran his campaign like a top-tier candidate and garnered the support of relatively senior members in Congress and Hollywood alike, but lacked the gravitas of Obama or Edwards and the star-appeal of Clinton.  He ended up dropping out after the New Hampshire primary, but outlasted a large number of his competitors.

Richardson also had some pretty humorous campaign ads that certainly changed the perception of campaign ads:

Dennis Kucinich lacked the appeal that he had during his run in 2004.  In 2004, he ran solely as an anti-war candidate on the Democratic side.  He criticized the Iraq War and the Democratic members who voted for war authorization.  He ran on a platform that he voted against authorization and any bill that alotted funding to the war.  Standing behind that, Kucinich had some early appeal as a candidate, but that diminished pretty quickly.  He appeared in the early debates as a fringe-candidate, advocating impeachment of President Bush and Cheney while also putting up legislation in congress calling for it.  To put in mildly, Kucinich was the ultra-liberal candidate in 2008.  That also resulted in some bizarre questions during some of the debates, one of which dealt with his assertion that he saw a UFO.

Kucinich dropped out of the race in mid-January 2008 after he appeared to face a challenger for his seat in Congress.  He would reappear at the Democratic Convention with a passioned speech supporting Barack Obama and the Democratic ticket:

John Edwards‘ father worked in a mill.  He liked to say that.  A lot.  Edwards kicked off his presidential campaign with a platform on “two Americas”, and advocated for an end to poverty and the war in Iraq.  He announced his candidacy in the destroyed 9th Ward in New Orleans.  His campaign certainly had the star power as well, helped along by his wife, who had extremely high favorability ratings and as a cancer survivor, she was a great speaker on universal health care.  Edwards surprised in Iowa, defeating Hillary Clinton but losing to Barack Obama, which gave his campaign some momentum, but that soon faded after 3rd place finishes in New Hampshire and his own home state of South Carolina.  He dropped out soon after, and good thing too for the Democrats, as he admitted to having an affair, which almost certainly would have destroyed the Democratic chances for the White House.

18 million.  Those were the total number of votes that Hillary Clinton received in her push for the Democratic nomination, the most of any Democratic presidential candidate ever.  Its pretty remarkable when you really look at it.  Clinton was able to take Obama to the brink, but could not quite seal the deal.  She was victorious in 21 states, including the territories of American Samoa and Puerto Rico.  However, with the distribution of delegates allocated proportionally, Obama was able to cut off Clinton’s advantage in her victories, even though she won the popular vote in those states.  

Clinton was better organized than most of her opponents, and one could argue that she was better organized than John McCain, but some strange tactical errors plagued her campaign.  She spent too much money, suffered infighting within the ranks of her campaign staff and kept straying from her message, appearing to look like a campaign-in-panic instead of a campaign-in-control.

Hillary Clinton did break barriers though, and not just because of her gender.  Her YouTube page is depleted, but while as  a candidate, she was extremely active on the internet, but not to the degree that her chief opponent was.

In the end, it was her organization that did her in.  She never really grasped the grassroots movement that Obama utilized until it was far too late, and went after big money donors who began to question her campaign expenditures late in the campaign.  She burned bridges, and suffered intense scrutiny from the media and the public for every move she made.

It should not go without mentioning again that Clinton received 18 million votes, more than Obama received during the primary.  But in a process that rewards delegates, Obama used the system to his advantage while Clinton fought it.

Barack Obama ran one of the best campaigns in recent memory.  He utilized the grassroots movement as well as Howard Dean’s implementation of the 50-state strategy with great effect.  He was extremely organized, and ran by far, the best online campaign of any candidate in presidential history, and it is translating to his website.

Strategy was key for Obama.  When he lost a primary, he trotted out an endorsement.   When he had a bad news day, he released massive fundraising figures.  He was also able to control the airwaves, with his only “gaffe” coming when the videos of Jeremiah Wright were released and even then, Obama’s speech on race effectively killed much of the argument and was successful in calming the concerns of independent voters.

Organization is everything, and for Obama, it meant the nomination and ultimately, the election.

 

THE DEBATES

During the primaries, there were 21 Republican presidential debates and 26 Democratic debates.  

That is far too many.

Most of the debates centered on specific topics, but specific candidates were given more time to answer than their challengers.  Clinton was given more time than Biden.  Romney was given more time than Ron Paul.  There was no equality with the debates.

My recommendation for 2012 would be to have 10 debates, two hours long.  Each candidate will be given an equal amount of time and time will be alotted to provide space for followup remarks.

I’d also get rid of audiences.  During some of the debates, candidates used the audience to their advantage, which frankly, is bull.  Its pandering to the 300 people in the auditorium for a reaction, not speaking to Americans watching.

As for the presidential debates, I’m not entirely sold on the formats.  The first debate in Mississippi was geared towards foreign policy, but with the financial crises hitting that week with McCain suspending his campaign, etc., the economy would have been a much better topic to discuss, but they had to wait until Belmont to discuss the economy.

Speaking of Belmont, that wasn’t a town hall debate.  It was a general debate where candidates could move around.  Quite terrible actually.

As for Vice Presidential debates, there was but one, in St. Louis (which I attended).  I felt that Palin performed admirably, but fact is, she never really addressed questions and spoke in platitudes.  There needs to be some degree of understanding or enforcement with regards to candidates answering questions.  The debate turned into a forum where Palin was able to manipulate the format to achieve her ends.

On a tech-speak level, the YouTube debates were wildly successful and will most likely 

 

THE CAMPAIGN

As I stated with my discussion on the candidates, Barack Obama was clearly the most organized and best funded to campaign for the presidency.  His message of “change we can believe in” resonated with the American voter, and it showed on election night.  I was also struck by how poorly McCain’s campaign was run.  As I stated above, it almost seemed like McCain’s campaign was worse than Clinton’s in terms of organization, utilization and firepower.  The campaign went off message and changed message so many times that they can actually be recorded.

So the question then is posed:  Where did McCain go wrong? 

1.  For starters, he became a “different John McCain”.  Like Romney during the primaries, McCain changed his tune on a number of issues.  He shied away from questions on immigration, hammered away his positions on Iraq, softened his language on torture and never really grasped the arena of public speaking.  He simply looked awkward or angry during some campaign events. 

2. His teleprompter-skills were horrible.  His Kenner, Louisiana speech is a textbook example of how NOT to give a presidential speech.

3. His demeanor during the GOP debates was relatively subdued, but he never clearly won any debate.  In a number of them, he was out-classed by second-tier candidates like Ron Paul, who touted his support of military members to McCain during a debate after McCain criticized his position on the Iraq War.

4. McCain, during the debates with Barack Obama, could not control his body language and even in instances where McCain was clearly the victor, he was done-in by his facial expressions and demeanor.  Obama’s campaign was able to use that to their advantage.

5. Sarah Palin.  I’m a rare independent voice saying that she was a good choice for Vice President by McCain, but the way she was handled was borderline awful.  She was reined in, given limited access and was only cut loose to launch attacks on Obama and Biden.  Should she have been given more than a couple speeches to discuss policy, she might have fared better, but I’m not entirely sure.  The spotlight on her from the “Troopergate” investigation also didn’t allow the campaign to highlight her independent streak either without a suspect response from voters.  I won’t go as far to say that she herself is a divisive figure, but the campaign made her into one.  She was known for attacking when McCain wouldn’t, and getting crowds into a frenzy with no remorse for doing so.

6. Organization, organization, organization.  McCain relied no robo-calls and a small number of volunteers while Obama had ground troops in states that McCain either couldn’t afford to compete in, or believed he could retain.  Obama was able to compete in North Carolina and Indiana while McCain had limited resources there.  He was able to outspend McCain in Virginia, Florida and Ohio and most importantly, he put McCain on the defensive.  McCain attempted to feign an offensive strategy in Pennsylvania, but it failed rather miserably as the state was called almost instantly after the polls closed.  Obama’s internet organizing trumped McCain’s and the interface for his website allowed for more involvement and access.  Obama ran one of the most “open” campaigns in presidential history, and McCain’s camp never really responded in kind.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

As I stated at the top, this campaign was a watershed moment in our nation’s history.  The U.S. elected the first African-American president.  A candidate who, to everyone’s surprise, ran an almost flawless campaign.  He was a candidate for the moment, a man so uniquely unqualified to be president that that alone made him qualified to be president.

I look forward to the next four years to see if Obama will be able to practice what he preached since 2007.

We shall see.

December 1, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Mark Begich Defeats Ted Stevens

Per the AP.  This brings the total number of Democrats in the Senate to 58, including Independent Senators Bernie Sanders and Joe Lieberman.

The only outstanding races in the Senate left are Minnesota (recount) and Georgia (runoff election).

November 19, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Posting 2.0

So I was reading ombwatch.org’s 21st Century Right to Know report on their wishes for a free and open congress.

It reminds me of one Nancy Pelosi in November of 2006:

We all want open congresses and White Houses, but they never really seem to transpire.  An open White House is like a sober Irishman.  Rare.  I’d know.  I’m Irish.

But the Obama camp has started to make the effort to push the White House into the 21st Century.

Over at change.gov, the President-elect has put up his first of (presumed) many weekly YouTube addresses.

With that effort, the Obama transition team has made more technological headway than the Bush administration did in eight years.  But what is next?  What should we see out of the White House?

I’ll push back against ombwatch’s attempt to “open up”, to a degree.  I feel that presidential administrations should use some degree of caution when opening up the branches of government.  I feel that some discretion is needed.

However, I’d like to see the White House continue Obama’s weekly YouTube addresses.  I’d also like to see various updates from other Cabinet departments as well.  Perhaps, YouTube addresses from the cabinet secretaries?  I’d also like to see the technology advance into the field, where the American people can see their tax dollars at work.  You saw the Congress pass a law giving $50 million to fix roads.  Show us.

With regards to an open White House, this reminds me of an upcoming C-SPAN documentary on the White House.  The piece is supposed to be the largest in-depth look at the White House and its inner workings.  What about weekly updates along those lines?

One of the greatest aspects of Obama’s campaign for president was his use of technology.  BarackObama.com was one of, if not the most in-depth, detailed website in recent memory.  On the flip side, lets take a look at the current White House website.  No offense to our current president, but his website is chock-full of post-tech era schtick.  Bland website, no user-involvement and a gazillion links.

My hope is that Obama’s administration looks at this design and runs from it.  Individualize websites, get the American people on the site, get them involved.  Encourage knowledge, blogging and involvement in the government through their input.

This goes for the rest of the government as well.

In fact, I’d like to see a more detailed input from the Supreme Court.  Is their website serious?  How about getting the Justices, or clerks out and talking to the American people through technology?  I searched on their website for about 5 minutes and looked for an email sign-up.  I don’t think they have one, but will stand corrected if they do.

There are huge technological gaps in our government and the Obama campaign has shown and made an attempt to bridge that gap.  However, that gap exists across all branches of our government.  Horrible designed websites, no user-access, no user-involvement and dry content.  There needs to be a grand attempt to push forward with a revamp of the tech-infrastructure of our government.  Users and the American people need to be brought in and computers and technology are one huge way to help with that.  However, what the government has now is sub-standard.

That has to change.

When it does, I’ll believe in it.

November 19, 2008 Posted by | Class Blog Post | Leave a comment

Hillary Clinton Accepts Secretary of State Offer

per The Guardian, our friends across the pond.

November 18, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Let Me Play Senator Rig For a Moment

I’m a senator from a relatively liberal state.  I worked my way up through the ranks and am now sitting in the middle rankings of the Democratic Party.  I either just won reelection comfortably a couple weeks ago, or I am setting up for my reelection campaign in 2010.  Doesn’t matter really.

So I’m following the campaigns and threw my support behind Obama after his nomination.  I’ve spoke in my district and attended some local rallies with Obama or Biden as well.

So, imagine my chagrin when one of my collegues goes against the grain and not only endorses McCain, but campaigns for him, too.  Again, imagine my chagrin when this Senator speaks ill of my candidate, one of our own in the Senate.

Turns out, he is one of the highest ranking members in the Senate.  Even worse, imagine how pissed off unsettled I’d be if that guy was allowed to keep not only his ranking, but his chairmanships and seniority as well.

Well, that guy is Joe Lieberman and as CNN and most publications are saying, Lieberman will not be touched despite his actions during the campaign.

Letting me be Senator Rig for a moment, I’ll let you know what I’d do with regards to Lieberman:

1. Lieberman is allowed to stay in the caucus.

2. Lieberman is allowed to keep his seniority.

3. Lieberman loses the gavel to the Homeland Security Committee.

4. Lieberman is allowed to stay on the subcommittees he is already on.

5. Lieberman issues a public apology.

With all that said, I bet not only does that not happen, but down the road, another Democratic senator will get wise because of the precedent that Lieberman is setting now.

And its a real shame.

November 18, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment