Archive: March, 2008
The Internet as a liberating force? Not always.
The ability of Beijing to control information about the crisis points to the limitations of the big U.S. Web brands and others when news breaks that the Chinese government doesn't like. "There are a lot of people that think the Internet is going to bring information and democracy and pluralism in China just by existing," says Rebecca Mackinnon, assistant professor at the University of Hong Kong's Journalism & Media Studies Center. "I think what we're seeing with this situation in Tibet is while the Chinese government's system of Internet censorship controls and propaganda is not infallible by any means, it works well enough in times of crisis like this."
The whole thing is a bloody mess as the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing draws near. I think a vast majority of people have no stomach for another boycott -- most Americans would rather defeat evil on the athletic field, as Jesse Owens did in Berlin in 1936, than take our ball and go home, as Jimmy Carter did in 1980. That said, I'd like to see freedom-loving people, from the U.S. and elsewhere, figure out how to make some kind of statement this August.
The reviews are overwhelmingly favorable for Barack Obama's Philly speech on race yesterday -- most editorial writers went ga-ga, putting their McCain love on hold for a few minutes. My favorite effort was in the New York Times, which used the speech to get in an ex-post-facto dig at Mitt Romney:
Inaugural addresses by Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt come to mind, as does John F. Kennedy’s 1960 speech on religion, with its enduring vision of the separation between church and state. Senator Barack Obama, who has not faced such tests of character this year, faced one on Tuesday. It is hard to imagine how he could have handled it better.
Mr. Obama had to address race and religion, the two most toxic subjects in politics. He was as powerful and frank as Mitt Romney was weak and calculating earlier this year in his attempt to persuade the religious right that his Mormonism is Christian enough for them.
Good point -- think about how Obama dwelled on his own church and his own family, while Romney seemed hell-bent to run away from his own Mormon heritage. Meanwhile, the Summer of Love arrives early from the Daily News opinion squad. Even Hillary Clinton fan Jill Porter was fairly wowed, as were Jenice Armstrong and Elmer Smith. It was left to me to go outside the building to round up some Obama bashers.
For all those political pundits who keep insisting that Pennsylvania is Ohio -- what part of the Cuyahoga River have you been smoking? The Politico has a great takedown today of the Pennsylvania-Ohio-separated-at-birth theory:
However, beneath the similarities lie important and perhaps critical differences. Sen. Clinton’s new message of old style pessimism not surprisingly played well in Ohio in large part because it is stronger ties to an old-line Great Lakes auto industry now in free-fall. Outside of Columbus, its economy is generally so bad that, even though its housing prices did not rise much in the bubble, the state is also reeling for a rash of foreclosures.
In contrast, Pennsylvania’s three percent job growth since 2003 - admittedly below the national average - has been jackrabbit fast compared to the Buckeye State’s pathetic .5 percent. Most importantly, no place in Ohio remotely corresponds to the size, scale and complexity of the greater Philadelphia region, with its large concentrations of high-end technology and business service employment.
Too funny -- deep-pocketed George Soros' pockets apparently aren't deep enough for Ed Rendell:
Top Hillary supporter and Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell privately appealed to billionaire George Soros for cash to help fund a new primary in Michigan -- a request that Soros is declining, a source familiar with their conversation tells Election Central.
A Soros spokesperson confirmed the account.
And occasionally it finds voice in the church on Sunday morning, in the pulpit and in the pews. The fact that so many people are surprised to hear that anger in some of Reverend Wright's sermons simply reminds us of the old truism that the most segregated hour in American life occurs on Sunday morning. That anger is not always productive; indeed, all too often it distracts attention from solving real problems; it keeps us from squarely facing our own complicity in our condition, and prevents the African-American community from forging the alliances it needs to bring about real change. But the anger is real; it is powerful; and to simply wish it away, to condemn it without understanding its roots, only serves to widen the chasm of misunderstanding that exists between the races.-- Sen. Barack Obama, Philadelphia, Pa., March 18, 2008.
The era of what we called "post-racial politics" in America only lasted about a year. It ended this morning. Maybe Barack Obama's powerful vision of where is America is at in 2008, with regard to race and politics, should be called "post-post racial politics," or, to invoke a popular cliche, Post-Racial Politics 2.0.
But unlike a Microsoft update patch, the new version laid out here by Barack Obama is indeed a real improvement because, quite simply, it lays out a path to a more honest and open American dialogue -- and hopefully a brighter future. He did that not by pretending that race is not something woven deeply into our national fabric, but rather by acknowledging race as a tool for moving forward.
The psychic Matt Drudge knows what Obama will say before the speech begins:
OK, people, here's a non-Drudge version, because God knows all the traffic from Attytood is propping up that faltering operation down there!
And this helps explain, perhaps, my relationship with Reverend Wright. As imperfect as he may be, he has been like family to me. He strengthened my faith, officiated my wedding, and baptized my children. Not once in my conversations with him have I heard him talk about any ethnic group in derogatory terms, or treat whites with whom he interacted with anything but courtesy and respect. He contains within him the contradictions - the good and the bad - of the community that he has served diligently for so many years.
I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother - a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.
It would be wrong to hold Barack Obama the churchgoer accountable for the words of a preacher spoken outside of his presence.
Meanwhile, some riveting video on MSNBC of technicians setting up Obama's podium at the National Constitution Center...
In a few minutes, Barack Obama is showing up in Philly to talk about race, religion, and all those other fun dinner-table topics. That's all fine and good, but I'd be happy if someone could just come here and get rid of the cesspool known as the Philadelphia Parking Authority:
Like the explosive growth in the Parking Authority's staff and salaries, reported last year by the Daily News, the red-light-camera program has created more jobs for Republican ward leaders, committeemen and their families.
It has also led to thousands of dollars in campaign contributions for GOP organizations and candidates.
More than anyone else, the contributions have flowed to state Rep. John Perzel, the Northeast Philadelphia Republican who engineered a GOP takeover of the Parking Authority in mid-2001.
A lot of freaks.
Big crack, actually. Good infrastructure detective work.
Walter Pincus of the Washington Post is a journalistic hero here at Attytood -- his reporting, along with that of Greg Mitchell and a few others, showed it was quite possible to be skeptical about the case for war in Iraq before the first shots were fired. Now he comes with an essay that puts some real meat on his aggressive philosophy of journalism, summarized and wrapped by my friend Jay Rosen:
For instance, Pincus describes the rise of neutrality as a loss of rights and a conversion downward for the political press.
Owners, editors and reporters today rarely push issues they believe government should take up. If a vote were taken among editors of the major daily newspapers, the vice presidents of network news editions, television and radio anchors, and, I hate to say, probably even most younger print and electronic reporters, the result would be that few to none want or believe they have the right to shape government actions. They don’t want to play activist roles in government - either personally or professionally - unless, of course, it could affect the bottom line.
If Lou Dobbs and his "apocalyptic centrism" are a ratings hit for CNN, he can stay. But for the deciders in the news business, the fiction of floating above politics is the better way to prosper. To Pincus that’s positively lame.