Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Not Perfect?

Like most of you, I am almost too tired to feel the full elation of the moment. Indeed, there are some ways in which I've even felt a little resentment toward being congratulated (as a nation) for the purportedly prime event - the election of an African-American as president. I have to say that Barack Obama's race rarely even entered my mind. It was a non-issue all along, and I'll bet it was for a vast majority of Americans.

No, the paramount fact that mattered to me was that his election would end the hijacking of my country by a bona fide criminal gang. Simply unleashing the US Civil Service and Justice Department to do their jobs again, that would have sufficed, and any democrat would do it.

But, yes, I'm more enthusiastic than that, I admit it. The fellow is clearly brilliant... and calmly levelheaded enough to make brilliance work. His lack of executive experience needn't worry us because:
(1) he will appoint a skilled and varied plethora of good people, and
(2) his campaign showed uncanny administrative and executive skill.

Indeed, I recall eight or nine months ago, when BHO said "If you want to know how I'll lead, watch my campaign." Though slightly arrogant, the statement also showed stunning predictive confidence and accuracy, plus a philosophical readiness to be judged by clear cause/effect metrics... and I'll bet you haven't heard anyone grant him those encomiums, to date!

The Speeches

Actually, there were TWO important speeches. And yes, McCain was classy... and I noticed that his Arizona crowd was polite and not crazy. A hopeful sign. Though of course the rightwing blame avalanche is going to come pounding in on McCain, drawing all the wrong lessons.
 from this defeat. (More on this soon.)

But of course, it was BHO's speech that all the folks in our living room watched with transfixed attention.

(Oh, we threw an election eve party and you were all there in spirit.) 

The speech ratcheted me ever closer to believing that this fellow is what he seems. (Pray God let it be so.) It was clear, inspiring, incisive, and completely on target.

 He not only spoke about finishing off Culture War and made gracious gestures toward sincere republicans, but also mentioned the issues that matter most to me... a re-dedication toward science, problem-solving and pragmatism, after far too-long wallowing in a national state of drugged indignation addiction.

Nevertheless, there was a flaw. (And let's not get too lost in admiration to keep our citizen-skeptical eyes open for such. It is our duty!) During his speech, I did notice one possible slight misuse of a word.

I was shocked. And it transformed my opinion of this man!

Deeply disappointed, I turned to my friends and said what Anthony Quinn did, to Omar Sharif, in Lawrence of Arabia.

"He... is NOT... perfect."

Comments by others....

I simply lack the time to write anything longwinded. Tomorrow, perhaps, I'll start in on Suggestions For The New Administration... many of them cribbed from my list of 2006 proposals for Nacy Pelosi's newly democratic Congress. Alas, they are all unused...

But for now, let me clip and paste some wisdom from others.

First, from Mark Anderson, noted tech-business analyst - sent the day after the election to members of his Strategic News Service newsletter:

(Note, while SNS is definitely capitalist-investor oriented and pro-tech, nobody was most caustically anti-Bush earlier than Mark Anderson.)

To All SNS Members:

While many Obama supporters are having a great day today (and many McCain supporters are feeling the opposite), I thought it would be appropriate to try to lay out what this election result may mean for business and, particularly, technology businesses.

First and foremost, in both the presidential and Congressional elections, what we have just seen is a broad-based repudiation of Bush, his administration and his actions.  When I suggested to members, eight years ago, that Bush would be known as the worst president in U.S. history, some thought I was making a partisan statement.  I wasn't, and I think it is safe to say that he has now cemented this dubious award.

Members know I have suggested that Obama's election would lead to a $95 average oil price (vs. $135 for McCain).  I am still comfortable with this figure, but it was made prior to the economic destruction of the last month or so.  While that may mean a somewhat lower average price out of the gate, this is only good news to a world that has gotten ill on asset bubbles, and which has been deeply damaged by oil pricing that was manipulated.

So, this election is a plus for oil pricing, in my opinion.  Since oil pricing still drives most of the global economy, this is important.

Neither candidate was strong in economics, which is deeply worrying, but Obama assembled a much stronger advisory team, including Paul Volcker and Warren Buffet.  If ability to choose good people is one key to success, Obama has earned our admiration over McCain (whose economic advisors included Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman) on this score. 

I believe that the world has already begun celebrating the selection of Obama, and that this will lead just as directly to sales for U.S. firms, as lost sales came from the Bush policy of preemptive warfare.  What will surprise many Republicans, I think, is the depth, and quickness, of this global response.  I expect to see a change in the U.S.' stature, both in foreign policy and in commerce, within days or weeks of Obama's inauguration.  In fact, it probably has already begun.

This, too, is good news for business, since most revenues available to technology companies today are coming from non-U.S. sources.

Politically, I expect Obama to move even more toward the center, perhaps upsetting far left politicians, and surprising Republicans.  His life is a history of finding common ground, rather than espousing a particular ideology, and this is what led him to create a big tent during the campaign.

As for tax policies, we'll have to wait and see what comes out of D.C.  But I have always believed that it is impossible to have a healthy economy without having a strong middle class.  Even Putin seems to understand this, although some Republicans cry "Communist" or "Socialist" without thinking this through.

If you kill the Golden Goose, no one wins.

So, it is important for the U.S. to strengthen its middle class.  I want my money just as much as the next guy, but I don't want my country to collapse around me while I'm getting it.  Having presided over the biggest spending and government bloat in history for the last eight years, Republicans should self-examine before complaining about paying the bill for this self-destructive behavior.

In fact, it will be a reaction to such profligacy which creates a successful New GOP, if there is to be one.  The party faces two or three clear paths now, as it goes into introspection mode: follow the divisive, small-minded politics of Palin; continue to allow the church to dictate the agenda for the state; or move back into a business-driven center.  As you can tell, I believe that only the third choice will lead to success.

For the moment, the worry now may be that the Democrats have too much power, again in reaction to Bush, at a time when we know that the U.S. does best when power is balanced between branches.  If they don't show more self-restraint than the GOP under Bush, they'll be out in no time.

I now expect the Obama camp to do a number of smart things:

1. Move fast.  The transition office is set to open today at noon.  That's fast.  I expect to hear the first appointments for staff this week, and to start hearing cabinet appointments within 1-2 weeks.  I believe he will have a fully functioning executive branch, at the cabinet and top officer level, well before inauguration.

2. Move smart.  I expect he will reset expectations, as he started to do last night in his speech.  Perhaps a stimulus package is inevitable, since both parties and most other countries seem to believe in it, but after that comes a cold look at spending.  If I'm right about this, this step will reassure many Republicans.

3. The Grand Tour.  I expect to see a world tour very early in the year, during which we will see him re-establishing friendly relations with many countries around the world.  This tour will have the feeling of a victory lap, with the whole world turning out in incredible numbers to see Obama, and welcome America back to being a friend, and not just a feared policeman.

4. The Campaign Is Over.  I think we'll see a different Obama, almost immediately: more serious, more concerned, more focused on real problems and real solutions.  Whether he has the steel to make policies stick and laws pass is the real question now, and this may be a lesson he will have to learn on the job.

As in his campaign, I don't expect Obama to do make any dumb moves.  You don't get to be editor of the Harvard Law Review by being stupid, and Obama will be one of the most intelligent presidents we've had.  After eight years of seeing stupid moves on a daily basis, the nation will breathe a sigh of relief.  No longer will the world wonder, daily, what unconnected thing comes next.  I also expect that, in complete opposition to the insulated, incurious current team, the new team will be open to real data and input from many sources.

Science will again matter. 

This is also good news for technology companies, who depend upon the teaching and implementation of scientific ideas for their own staffing and sales. Alternative energy companies will prosper.

In summary, while many GOP members may be feeling as though they lost, I suspect they didn't, if returning to a healthy economy is the measure.  The domestic economy faces serious issues, caused by a Cookie Jar approach to taxpayer money, not the least of which is a long history of job loss and job quality degradation.  Reversing this trend ought to be the first priority of the new administration. 

Wall St. really does need oversight, on national and international scales.  Getting international agreement on assessing and regulating derivatives will have to be near the top of the Treasury's new list. 

While there is much to worry about, I think this election adds to the sense that the right tools, and now players, are in place to fix the problems at hand.  A smooth transition from Bernanke and Paulson to Bernanke and another Goldman-level global banking executive will be the next obvious step in repairing the damage.

We are now on track to an improved domestic, and global, economy.  How long this will take depends upon how fast the Obama team can move, and on how many jobs are lost before the U.S. economy turns around.

Mark Anderson
CEO, Strategic News Service

And now --

From the Progressive Policy Institute:

Voters in U.S. 2008 presidential election: c. 131 million

Total voters in all U.S. pres. elections, 1788-1908: c. 137 million

What They Mean:

Last week's Trade Fact worried about trends in democracy abroad. This week, democracy at home seems in good health. This morning's estimates suggest that 131 million American men and women voted in yesterday's election -- 9 million more than in 2004, 25 million more than in 2000, and nearly as many as the combined total of all American voters in the 32 presidential elections between 1788 and 1908. Voters' sole complaint seems to have been about long lines. President-elect Obama, Vice President-elect Biden, the 111th Congress and the newly elected state & local officials inherit lots of troubles and challenges, but also some enduring national strengths.

Further Reading:
Commentary, generally enthusiastic, from 10 papers around the world:

Karachi-based Dawn is enthusiastic: "Mr. Obama provides excitement, a desperately needed jolt of political electricity. If he is elected, America will instantly be seen in a new light around the world ... because the country has found it within itself to turn to someone truly new, whose astonishing ascent could have happened nowhere else on earth. Only in America."

The West Australian covers reactions among Perth's expatriate American community:

Tel Aviv's Ha'aretz is admiring: "Yesterday, the U.S. once again justified its title as leader of the free world: It concluded a campaign that is a worthy model for emulation.":

Tokyo's Asahi Shimbun is cautious and focused on diplomacy: "For many Japanese government officials, U.S. President-elect Barack Obama is an unknown quantity... Two key challenges will be Tokyo's support for the U.S.-led war against terrorism in Afghanistan, initiated by President George W. Bush, and cooperation in dealing with North Korea. [Prime Minister Taro] Aso said Wednesday that the Japan-U.S. relationship will remain the cornerstone of Japan's foreign policy."

Columnist Koh Lay Chin of Kuala Lumpur's New Straits Times says that "for the first time in history, people all over the world are riveted to an election they feel invested in, despite not sniffing anywhere near a green card":

Nairobi's East African Standard is as extensive and enthusiastic as one might guess:

Belize's Amandla ponders race relations: "In Belize this evening, apart from the floods and the catastrophe on the Northern Highway south of the Haulover Bridge, the headline news is really in the United States, and it's all about looking forward to tomorrow. Someone who looks like a lot of us Belizeans, Barack Obama, the Senator from Illinois, is actually leading the polls as the favorite to win the presidency of the most powerful nation in the world. Many Belizeans are holding their collective breath. They are glued to their television sets as they hope for what Americans forty years ago would have considered a miracle inconceivable.":

Columnist Humberto Campodonico of Lima's Diario la Republica, reporting from Big Timber, MT, invokes history: "Es claro que los retos y desafios para el ganador solo se comparan a los que tuvo que encarar Franklin D. Roosevelt hace mas de 70 a?os." [It is clear that the challenges for the victory can be compared only to those Franklin Roosevelt faced 70 years ago.]:

Dublin's Irish Times ponders lessons for Irish politicians from the US' Internet-based campaigns:

And the Toronto Star's Vinay Menon sees a bleak future for America's standup comedy industry:


Anonymous said...

I likely spend more time around the right of center blogosphere than most posters here, and the general mood mirrors McCain-congratulations on a well run campaign, recognition of the historic nature of his election, and a sincere desire to treat the new president better than the last one. We conservatives do revere our institutions, while acknowleging the imperfections of the men and women who populate them.

I will personally add my support to President Obama in all matters in which I see him acting for collective rather than partisan good. And I will give him considerable benefit of the doubt, especially in matters relating to foreign policy.

I do not share David's opinions on the inherent honesty of the donkeycrats as opposed to the repubs, so I think it will be an important civic duty to watch the new administration's policies very closely. If all these new mortgages that I understand the US government is picking up start being sold to Rezko types on the cheap we need to know about it.

But quibbling can wait for another day. We conservatives actually like the idea of a charismatic black man being elected to our highest office. What a great example to the rest of the world.

Of course, we thought it was going to be Colin Powell.

My prayers, literally, are with the new president.


David Brin said...

Tacitus2 thanks for being the very thing we value about you. And we look forward to the day when your attitude returns to being the mainstream one, for Republicanism...

...or whatever new party has the guts to form itself in proper separation from the maniacs.

I never said that honesty was inherent to democrats, only that it proved to be so under the party segment that held power under Clinton. A segment that seems very much at the center of Obama's nascent administration. Except I expect even more moderate republicans invited into government.

If Gates stays as Defense Sec for some period, it will be a prime disproof of far-right paranoid fantasies.

Anonymous said...

NPR's "Fresh Air" ran an interview today with Heritage Foundation founder and former GOP congressperson Mickey Edwards. He voted for Obama, and struck me as the kind of guy the GOP should tap when they realize they need an overhaul.

I'm hoping Obama taps a few Republicans for cabinet posts. We're going to need the whole country on board for the rough few years ahead.

gmknobl said...

I too thought McCain's speech was gracious and mature, despite his horrible, slanderous campaign. However, I was not so impressed by his crowd. I expected the boos when he conceded but I was not happy when the same thing happened when he said that his opponents were good men. I see that as a reflection on the tactics they used and the crowd they thus attracted.

I hope that we see a McCain like the one I use to respect several years ago. I disagreed with him on the issues but it seemed he truly cared about people.

I did not stay up to watch all of Obama's speech and was falling asleep during the part I did watch. So, even though it was said in humor, what word DID he misuse, Dr. Brin?

I think I'll go have a Guiness. I and my friends in here in the only county in SW VA that voted for Obama all need one!

Matt DeBlass said...

He used the word "enormity" wrong. It's a common mistake, I even caught it in a New York Times article the other day.

Anonymous said...

Likewise curious about what raised your hackles in Obama's speech. I just listened to it again on youtube and could not pick out anything particularly out of whack. The worst was "a man touched down on the moon" which might mean he is ignorant of the history of the space program (bad news in general, but reparable if he picks good advisers who understand the importance of science), or it may simply have been a moment of distraction while writing the speech.

In any case, no I don't expect Obama to be perfect, and he's been handed a super humongous sized scat sandwich of problems to try to solve for this country, but for the first time in decades I'm actually hopeful for the future of our nation.

-- TWZ

Anonymous said...

I have been in software quality assurance for 22 years, which means that by profession I am a cynic--my job is to look for the flaws. I find myself surprised at the unalloyed optimism I am currently feeling. A conversation with some of the disappointed at my place of work prompted me to post the following on my sporadic Facebook page:

I have discovered of late at my place of work I am in the political minority. I have done my utmost to stay out of the debate at the office, largely because I simply don't have the time to get entangled in all the sophistry and dissonance that inevitably emerges from such discussions, especially of late.

But today I was asked a question by one of my colleagues that I just had to answer. I was asked, in fairness with real sincerity, what I was hoping for out of the new administration for whom I voted, "what was I looking for when I cast my vote? What do I want from the new President?"

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that there was a lot to my answer.

What do I want?

I want an administration headed by an executive who is articulate, pragmatic and willing to examine ideas and change policy if, in the long run, a better outcome is achieved. Not a "stay the course" at all costs policy which equates stubborness with courage and blind zealous partisanship with patriotism.

I want an administration which is more than comedy material for pundits. Yes, I know, they'll still point and laugh, but I want them to *work* for it, not have their punchlines written for them by the President's own speechwriters.

I want a President who follows through on his ideals--that good ideas and good effort don't come from what letter is after your name on your campaign signs. One who will look beyond the career politicians to the private sector when building his advisory team.

I want compromise and diplomacy to regain their lost prominence, free of the false stigma of weakness. I want strength where called for, but always wielded with the knowledge of its consequence. And I want to be part of a nation where respect and civility are once more a part of the everyday discourse, from the streetcorner to the consulate.

I want what was promised. Change, not for it's own sake but a course correction taken after real, common-sense examination of the alternatives. I want to remember that "hope" is more than a campaign slogan, and that having optimism is worth more than a derisive dismissal by the "other side". For that matter, I want the whole concept of "the other side"--as defined by the last twelve years--to fade into the historical obscurity it deserves. The cities need the fields, and the fields need the cities. We are all Americans, and together we are a nation, not a loosely bound collection of hostile tribes squabbling over what defines us.

Will this administration deliver all that? Unlikely--there is too much acrimony left in the political landscape. But I remain hopeful--there's that word again!--that we'll see some effort bent in that direction. And I believe that as a nation, we'll start to remember who we are--and that we earn the government we get with our own day to day words and deeds.

Unknown said...

I fear that he will be pushed, tugged, into behaving too much like a polar opposite of bush. That the fringes, and the not so fringe, will try to 'get even' for the past 8 years, and the pendulum will swing all the way in the other direction. Bringing ruin to all.

If he starts to behave in a manner similar to Bush...

If he steps on civil liberties, and the Bill of Rights...

If he starts to shred the economy worse than it is now, with tax plans that kill small and start up businesses...

If he treats the Military as red-headed step-children...

If he destroys innovation by a pursuit of dogma...

ETC, etc...

I hope everyone (right, left, middle, or other) will hold President Obama to the same standard as they held Bush.

If he does not behave like a mirror of bush then he deserves all the praise in the world.

And everyone will be better off.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad the election turned out the way it did. I'm honestly surprised it conluded so simply... Anyway - next hurdle coming up:

Nov. 8 will see the Supreme Court appeal of Philip Berg Vs. Barack Obama concerning the question of Obama's natural born citizenship.
Updating article.

David Brin said...

- Arcane... they simply would not dare. It would de-legitimize the Court worse than anything since The Cherokee Nation vs the State of Georgia in 1835.

Actually, "enormity" was only slightly used wrong. Recent dictionaries have been accepting his use -- something huge and dauntingly serious -- as a secondary-meaning behind something huge and dauntingly evil.

But guys... are there seriously any of you who didn't get that I meant it the way it came out in Lawrence of Arabia? As a humorous, backhand statement of awe and respect?

Read it again. (I have GOT to work on my timing and delivery...)

Aric said...

Tacitus the Second,

What are some good conservatives blogs? The ones I found are either libertarian or Obama's-a-muslim types.

Aric said...

That was a great piece from the SNS.

I don't know how important race was overall, but I don't think it was insignificant. I also believe it is a perfectly legitimate reason to vote for him (but not that it trumps all other issues).

2 reasons:
I think all people regardless of race or political leaning want to live in a post-race country. Post-race laws != post-race society. Electing a minority will bring us in that direction more quickly than another white guy. As an example he will inspire others and prove what is possible. Also, BHO in particular has and will challenge African Americans to overcome their own vices.

The other reason is his non-pastiness and international background give the US instant rapport around the world.

These are both practical, non-racist reasons to vote for him on the basis of race.

David Brin said...

aric, I know what you mean by "libertarian sites" and boy would it be depressing on one of those, right now! Imagine having to face up to the fact that the LP:

1) Nominated a repulsive psychopath as its candidate and

2) Could not get about 2% even when the Republican Party was self- destructing.

The truest measure of insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results. By that measure, libertarians (and I say this reluctantly, considering myself to be a fellow traveller of sorts) are simply a pack of loons. Alas.

There are those who have spoken up for a kind of pragmatism and lessened ideological religiosity. See for example:

and my own 4 part contribution at:

(Warning... it is intellectual and only for smartguys! ;-)

But the adults are a scarce minority in that movement and especially in the LP. And they have missed their historic chance, this year.

One thing is certain now. If the moderate-libertarian Republicans DO make a move for a third party, they will start a new one. They will keep the LP as far away from them as they possibly can.

David Brin said...

I totally agree that BHO's race does matter in the way's you describe. Certainly, our cred internationally has ZOOMED back to close to peak... giving our enemies stomach knots over how easily we come back in from the brink.

But the biggest news of all is how little it mattered to us, overall. THAT is the real news.

Anonymous said...


Start with a look around it links to a wide variety of sites, some better than others.

My only daily read is lileks only blogs on politics about 10% of the time, but he does it well.


Anonymous said...

Argh. Lileks. I read his "Bleat" for YEARS.

What bothers me is that his self-described ranting is just so doctrinaire. He just lost me a few years back. One stereotyped snark too many.

Which is disappointing because he is a BRILLIANT satirist. I order his books by the dozen as gifts. "The Gallery of Regrettable Food" is pants-peeing funny.

Aric said...

Thanks guys, I'll check out the links.

The last ideology I fell for was libertarian. I'm now happily post-ideological.

Their platform is basically: "No government has ever done any good in any way in any situation. Our logical reasoning and anecdotal evidence is proof of this." Somehow I don't see that going mainstream.

Barr...I didn't have to read any farther than his wikipedia entry to think "WTF?"

"Barr attained national prominence as one of the leaders of the impeachment of President Bill Clinton."

"Barr was originally a strong supporter of the War on Drugs"

"He authored and sponsored the Defense of Marriage Act"

"He voted for the first Patriot Act"

"In Congress, he also proposed that the Pentagon ban the practice of Wicca in the military."

Of course he says he regrets most of this now.

I voted for a few local libertarians because there's presently no other way to vote for small government, fiscal responsibility, and non-interventionist foreign policy.

Anyway I'm glad I'm done with all that nonsense, but boy did I believe it for a while.

Anonymous said...

As I look at the US now, I remember a May morning here in the UK, just over a decade ago, when we all agreed that "Things can only get better." I hope -- for all our sakes -- that your smooth-talking product of the Chicago machine is no worse than our "straight kinda guy" turned out to be.

Anonymous said...

Completely off topic: Michael Crichton just died.

A shame; while I had my disagreements with some of his positions (*cough* State of Fear *cough*), he could be a very stimulating writer and speaker at times; while his books were typically classed as thrillers*, I considered him a sciffy author in the tradition of Jules Verne. I would have loved to have seen a dialogue between him and Brin on a number of topics- alas, being in the stratosphere of best-sellerdom put him above Dr. Brin's paygrade.

So, let's raise a glass to the master of dinosaurs and virii from outer space; malevolent nanotechnology and scheming Japanese businessmen; strange alien spheres and killer robots in cowboy costumes; not to mention the rest of the musings of the moment that he captured during his career. He may have been a complete hack- but he was great at it. And there's nothing wrong with that.

*Neal Stephenson defined a thriller as being a sciffy novel that includes an appearance by the President of the United States. Which makes the timing of Crichton's death strangely appropriate.

Matt DeBlass said...

Michael Crichton was a great storyteller, and made a great contribution to popular culture.

As for his politics and his views on science, I didn't agree with him on everything, or the "there are things man was not meant to know" vibe that surfaced in some of his work, but on the other hand, he gave voice to some of the anxieties that inevitably come with scientific progress, which is a valid and valuable contribution to the conversation.

So, I raise my glass (or, to be more literal, my mug of mint green tea) to Mr. Crichton and say "godspeed Michael."

On another note, it looks like Rahm Emmanuel (did I spell that right?) is in. It says quite a bit about how far we've come how quickly that the phrase "a black guy, a Catholic and a Jew go to the White House..." still sounds like the setup for a joke.

And, in a CNN interview with Joan Baez the interview asked her if she thought Obama would change America and she replied "I think he already has."

Acacia H. said...

It is the setup for a joke. But the joke is on the Republican Party, which expected prejudice and fear to help it keep power. ^^

I still plan on working to even the playing field for homosexuals and heterosexuals in eliminating the word "marriage" from the legal documents out there. While there are some legitimate arguments out there concerning the Constitutionality of anti-gay marriage laws, the problem lies with the fact the anti-gay marriage crowd is working hard to put this language into State Constitutions.

Thus, by doing a blanket rename (sort of like Political Correctness but with a vengeance) of the legal aspects of marriage into "Civil Union" so that everyone is covered under it, the existing anti-marriage amendments and laws will be stricken null and void without a single court case. It will stop numerous lawsuits protesting the anti-gay marriage amendments and laws because it will no longer matter.

What's more, it will turn the issue into a truly religious matter, which is not (Constitutionally) allowed to be legislated due to the separation of Church and State.

Finally, it will force people to confront their own inner prejudices. Marriage is safe. But if these people want to stop the legal union between two men or two women, then they have to admit it is because they are working to eliminate the civil rights and liberties of a minority of the American public, rather than to "preserve the sanctity of marriage."

I still would appreciate advice and suggestions on how to word such a bill so to have the best chance to not only get through the U.S. Congress... but also eliminate the legal battles that are erupting because of this. This is the new front of the Culture War. And I aim to stop it. Sooner, not later.

Robert A. Howard, Tangents Reviews

David Brin said...

"a black guy, a Catholic and a Jew go to the White House..." har!

David Brin said...

Wireless broadband over TV airwaves approved in US

Obama's ascendency to government coincides with the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approving the use of massive tracts of analogue television spectrum to be used for wireless broadband once TV is switched to digital in the US.


Dell may be one of Microsoft’s largest customers, but the hardware heavyweight has decided that Windows simply isn’t good enough for today’s fast-paced and ‘instant on’ world.

This doesn’t mean that Dell is ditching Windows as its OS of choice – however, the company has cooked up its own Linux system-on-a-chip module that co-exists with Windows while at the same time shouldering the monolithic OS to one side.

The aim is to give laptops the same fast functionality as a BlackBerry when it comes to tasks such as email, which is how the project got its development codename of ‘BlackTop’ – a portmanteau of BlackBerry and laptop. At Dell’s business notebook launch in New Dehli, the company previewed the technology (which now goes by the marketing-friendly name of Latitude ON) which is being baked into its new Latitude business notebooks.


Google CEO Eric Schmidt, who campaigned for US President Elect Barack Obama, may be in line for the tech chief spot on Obama's team.

President(elect) Barack Obama has created the position of Chief Technology Officer in his newly formed US government, but has not yet announced who will take the spot up.
However, it's telling that the position was created just before Obama made his first official visit to Google's headquarters while on the campaign trail.

Cliff said...

That the fringes, and the not so fringe, will try to 'get even' for the past 8 years

Do you honestly feel the guilty parties will change their behavior at all, without a dose of concrete punishment? (I mean concrete as opposed to abstract, but the other interpretation is entertaining as well).

If he starts to shred the economy worse than it is now, with tax plans that kill small and start up businesses...

You have seen his actual economic plans, yes? Contrary to the incessant whining of the right, he's not actually planning on squelching small businesses.

I hope everyone (right, left, middle, or other) will hold President Obama to the same standard as they held Bush.

Which is to say, none at all.

Kelsey Gower said...

So, a couple more fears about Obama that I heard this morning at work.

That he wants to enact martial law to prevent riots on Inauguration Day.

He wants to change the US flag, the national anthem because they represent war.

Are you saving these, David?

David Brin said...

No point in saving the endless variety of paranoid fantasies. They should not be answered directly, but with a meta-reply...

...that the right has sunk so low that all they have is assertions, anecdotes and just-so stories... none of them - absolutely none of them - ever proved.

Meanwhile, the other side has all the boring old statistics, facts and reality. The movement of Barry Goldwater has lobotomized itself into a tribe so desperate for reasons to justify hatred, that they make up awful things just in order to hope desperately that they might be so...

...while quietly dropping all the old fantasies, as soon as they become untenable.

Here's the actual thing to do. Demand odds! Demand that they put actual money on the table, every time they do this. Offer them GOOD odds! Two to one... three to one... five to one... and make it a matter of balls n' manhood.

Fake_William_Shatner said...

I hope everyone (right, left, middle, or other) will hold President Obama to the same standard as they held Bush.

I'll be holding him and myself to a higher standard.

The idea that going after corruption and treason is "payback" for the Democrats is nonsense. Democrats have a history of burying the hatchet before the ax murder is put away.

We've been coasting for 30 years on our infrastructure -- higher taxes may be a reality. The idea that you can save money for a few months by not getting an oil change, does not save you money in the long run.

Anyway, I don't see much chance that Obama is going to be doing things that hurt small business. But we are definitely going to see some sort of stimulus package. The Republicans will have spent far more on the wars that have NO positive benefit towards our infrastructure or jobs.

The economy may still yet tank. But that isn't nearly as bad a thing that if we forgot to look out for the little guy or threw away our Constitution. I'd rather feed my kids porridge than have another war for oil.

>> Kudos Brin on finding this article from Mark Anderson. I totally agree with his assessment of Obama. While he is making his world tour, I hope he just puts some decent people in the justice department with the mandate of "get rid of the bad eggs" and lets them do their job.

They definitely are setting up to take over the helm of the country BEFORE January. I could find it very likely, that they would whisper; "the future president would really appreciate it if you could find time to do X, Y and Z." Obama will be getting orders followed -- with GLEE, by the day-job clerks in Washington almost immediately. Nothing but a direct order from Bush will carry weight beyond his political cronies.

I haven't felt this positive in 8 damn years -- maybe longer because of the stain that Newt Gingrich left during his reign.

And I never voted for Clinton though I wish I had -- I voted for Ross Perot because I was worried that the greatest threat to our nation was lobbyists.... and it was.

And I wasn't too happy about pappy Bush, nor Reagan.

I was OK with Clinton but was too young to know that he was right about a lot more if people were looking at good management of the country long-term. Though this did nothing to move his own party.

>> Well, OK, I think this is about the first time I've EVER felt excited about a President. I'd still like to see Kucinich and Paul Tsongas in the cabinet (rest in peace).

I feel we can get through any challenge America is presented with, as long as the American people can believe in each other, their principles, and look to the future. Devotion to dogma, or ONE WAY of solving problems and letting the issues get framed needs to be put away with the kiddy toys. If a Conservative wants to try a program, we do it on a small scale, and have a liberal one run against it -- there should be a willingness to test solutions, rather than to adhere to un-proven beliefs as if they were gospel.

I'll get down off my soap box. The Dow is down almost 500 points. There is a lot of work to be done, but now I'm not so worried about WW III or an attack. About the only thing I'm worried about right now is a hit on Obama. Whether the Karl Rove and Media gang up, or someone with a gun -- because we know that only the good die young. I also worry just a little, that the Dems will just play good cop, bad cop, but will be following the same crooks as the Republicans.

But we shall see, and I definitely won't be quiet if I see the Dems keep the BushCo powers and play politics with war.

Fake_William_Shatner said...

If you watch this video;

Then it is pretty clear that Reagan ran the economy off the cliff. How many welfare queens can be paid off with the S&L bailout or our deficit? How many times could we fly to the moon, pay for health care, and send everyone in the country to college?

The Iraq war will end up costing about $4.5 Trillion. You have to count all the off balance sheet items like the medical care for a paraplegic vet. We could have made everyone in that country a really, really big bribe -- more money than they could make in their lifetime, to just give us the country and walk to Sudan.

Please don't bother telling us doom and gloom stories about the Dems. The world is ready for the American Dream, because Bush showed them the nightmare. You guys pretty much walked with him lock step until you started paying to much at the gas pump... I almost chiseled that prediction in stone in 2001.

Fake_William_Shatner said...

On another note, it looks like Rahm Emmanuel (did I spell that right?) is in. It says quite a bit about how far we've come how quickly that the phrase "a black guy, a Catholic and a Jew go to the White House..." still sounds like the setup for a joke.

The appointment of Rom worries me. He is basically the leg-breaker for the left that Karl Rove is -- and he was a thorn in Howard Dean's side for the 50 state strategy. Rom seems to have the ear of the DNC, despite failure after failure with the Democratic party. Dean and Obama have resurrected the grass roots of Liberalism.

You could look at this three ways;
1) Cynically. Rom is a hatchet man. It would also make Obama part of the old DNC and not part of the Progressives.
2) That Obama is really smart. Put the power brokers for both sides on your team -- pretty much a Lincoln move.
3) Even smarter; Obama needs a hatchet man to go after the NeoCons, while he concentrates on doing good things. He is consolidating Democratic power, but he is also consolidating Republican power by giving the carrots and sticks.

But I'm really hoping for a 4th alternative. Using his hero status wisely, and walking into the senate and congress a few times and telling them "shame on you, we are better than this." Using the media to do surprise visits in other nations. And when the inevitable attacks come from the opposition, to quickly respond like he did in the election and put the straight up facts in front of the American people.

>> Because ultimately, to be successful, Obama's team is going to have to educate the American people. We've been too long fed American exceptionalism, Globalism, and Supply-side economics. He needs to make repudiating the politics AND economics of the past a top priority.

Among of course, 100 other top priorities. But this looks like a sharp crew that is up to the challenge.

Anonymous said...


Rahm's the guy with steel boots. He's Chief of Staff -- that's the best place for an LBJ. Axelrod is in too (Senior Advisor), and he's ice to Rahm's fire.

Obama likes Lincoln, and his cabinet, a lot. Quite a presidential scholar, that one. Rahm's appointment means that he won't be Illinois next senator.

But the big thing that choosing such a armtwister as Rahm says?

Big Things Ahead. Unpopular Things.

and with such a pro-wall street congress, that means something good!

Tony Fisk said...

Here's the actual thing to do. Demand odds! Demand that they put actual money on the table, every time they do this. Offer them GOOD odds! Two to one... three to one... five to one... and make it a matter of balls n' manhood.

The only balls some of these folk have come out of a blunderbus. Just as importantly, see if you can agree on win/lose criteria... (from prior observations, and comments about them never admitting wrong, that will be an achievement in itself)

... meanwhile, the centre doesn't hold: Insiders spill beans on Sarah Palin

sypermle: learning how to spell the French president's name while getting your hair done.

Anonymous said...

The worst was "a man touched down on the moon" which might mean he is ignorant of the history of the space program (bad news in general, but reparable if he picks good advisers who understand the importance of science), or it may simply have been a moment of distraction while writing the speech.

Could you unpack that? I.E. Explain what you mean, because I don't see any error. What should he have said instead?

Captain Button posting anonymous because blogger doesn't like my livejournal.

Tony Fisk said...

I haven't heard the speech, or seen the transcript but, in deference to Buzz Aldrin and glass barriers, it should have been 'two people'

Anonymous said...

re "A man touched down on the moon".

It grated upon me because it's not a correct description of the landing. Others have pointed me at the transcript where it's easy to see that he was beginning three sentences in a row with "a" followed by a singular concrete noun, so it's *probably* just artistic license not noticed because of my hyper-sensitivity to the matter.

Still, and just for its own sake, it's important to watch Obama's handling of matters regarding science.

-- TWZ

Tony Fisk said...

Whatever. I *think* David was simulating shock and awe at a minor gaffe.

Anyway, post-election, there's something rather apt about this bizarre tale (from Arizona, yet!):

Jogger runs 1km with rabid fox on arm

matthew said...

My issue with Rob's "Civil Unions to replace marriage universally" is that it would feed into the "Gays are destroying marriage" meme.
Changing a name for something, even on a symbolic basis like this, changes the mental map for that something. Too many folks that would support gay marriage per se would listen to pundits describing the "end of marriage."
Our nation is not ready for this particular jiu jitsu move - it would sink into culture war hell and taint anyone that agreed to try it.

Acacia H. said...

Except of course it would be the legal definition of marriage. Seeing that there is a separation of Church and States, and I'd be stating this is "saving" marriage by shifting the legal aspect to something the government can't meddle in...

But yeah. I could see the anti-gay marriage crowd turning in that direction. Which is why I would like advice like this so I could see the upcoming landmines and how best to navigate around them.

(The ironic thing is, some fifteen years ago I was a homophobe (in that I feared homosexuals, not in the hate-sense), and am quite straight. I've just gotten quite annoyed at prejudice, especially when people refuse to try and grow beyond it. Am I prejudiced? Yes. Do I struggle to overcome it? Yes. Should others? Yes. ^^)

Rob H.

Tim Whitten said...

Just quickly - to get it out of my system - big fan of your work, David. And Stefan Jones is here too! Brilliant! (Don't tell me that is the *real* William Shatner as well....)

Ahem - anyway, to try and rescue this before you all write me off as a complete raving fool (too late):

My heartfelt congratulations to you and your country, and my very best wishes and excitement for the future. Obama's victory has sent ripples of hope across the entire world. It has re-affirmed my belief in America as an example to us all of what can be, what we can achieve together, as a species, if only we can hold a candle up to banish the darkness of ignorance and hatred.

I stayed up through the night to watch the results coming in (funny I've never done that for one of our own elections here in the UK); I'm sure this is going to be one of those days that we all remember for the rest of our lives.

The speeches were great - McCain was gracious and honourable, and I saw a glimpse of the man that had impressed everybody in the past - but seemed absent during the campaign. I hope he will indeed stick around to help the new administration in moving things forward. I often find myself having a knee-jerk anti-Republican reaction - and I fully understand that this is unreasonable. If more of them spoke and acted like McCain did with his concession, or Colin Powell has (both before and after the result), my respect for that party would increase enormously.

But as for Barack Obama - what can I say? It feels so good to be inspired by a leader; I've never felt like this before - and he's not even MY leader! (Although, of course, it is not entirely inconsequential to the rest of us who the President of the most powerful nation on Earth is). Maybe it's the deficit of brainy people being in power of late that has done this - but I saw a comment recently that has left a mark with me: America has an adult in charge again.

I wish him all the very best of luck - he has a lot of people's dreams resting on his shoulders now, with a country, scratch that, with a world in some difficult straits. And that's one of the things I love about him so much - he truly seems to get that idea; that while clearly his focus must be on America, it is the whole world that all of us must think in terms of now. "Our destinies, shared". Absolutely.

I'm sure he won't succeed in all his policies, and that there will be more difficult times ahead - and I agree with tacitus2 that it is simply the civic duty of all to keep an eye on what happens. As it really should be for the people of any nation on Earth with their own governments.

But for the simple gift of hope that Obama has given the world, that things CAN be made better, I thank him completely.

Finally - I agree with David about the irrelevance of his race: the BBC election coverage kept dwelling on it, to the point where I was growling "you know, there really is a whole lot more to this man than the colour of his skin.".

But for all that - there is still something powerfully affecting about seeing the Obamas, the new First Family, stepping out onto that stage in Grant Park. It was at that moment that it sank in for me - this really is more than just a victory for the Democrats and America. It's a victory for hope and the ideals that make America great. Wonderful, inspiring stuff.

Dunno if you saw this, from an unidentified person in St Louis - but it's one of those quotes that (even as a filthy middle class white-skinned englischer) left my heart pounding and the words blurring before my eyes:

"Rosa sat, so Martin could march, so Barack could run, so our children could fly".

Amen, and may it be true for all our children.

All the very best, and here's to the human race,


PS The BBC did post a great little short summarising the day, check it out:

.... it includes THAT shot, of the Obamas walking out to greet the crowd. I think it will stay with me forever.

Acacia H. said...

I am oddly reminded of some twenty years ago when I was talking via e-mail with someone who asked me if I were "the" Robert Howard. I blinked and e-mailed him back that I was the only Robert Howard I knew, outside of a band director from high school.

He then asked if I was the Robert Howard who wrote the Conan the Barbarian books (Robert E. Howard). The poor fan was disappointed to learn that the early fantasy stories he was reading online were in fact the amateur scribblings of someone with the same name, rather than undiscovered works from a famous author.

Ah well, maybe when I'm published I'll attract some impulse buyers who think they're getting a "rediscovered work" of a Howard I'm not related to. ^^;;

Rob H.