Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

In Brief - March 8th, 2008

Since Clinton hasn't thrown in the towel yet, I'll go ahead and write up this thought that's been banging around in my head for a while. One thing that has really struck me about the difference between the Clinton and Obama campaigns has been the bottom-up vs. top-down strategies employed by both. Clinton's campaign has been very much top-down, in the style of a traditional 1900s political campaign. Meanwhile, Obama is running the first real 21st century campaign that wholly embraces and encourages grassroots messaging. Just count the number of ways Obama's campaign website has for making it really easy for people get involved.

Obama recognizes that today, people--particularly in younger demographics--don't get most of their news and information from top-down corporate media. They get it from the internet. And if the internet is good at anything, it is good at letting groups of like-minded people find each other and collaborate in truly bottom-up, grassroots ways. In short, Clinton's campaign is by her and for her, while Obama's campaign is increasingly becoming by the people, for the people.

Nothing shows this better than the flurry of candidate fan videos floating around on YouTube right now. Both candidates have fans out there making videos, but it is terribly revealing to compare the energy and content of the pro-Obama videos with the pro-Clinton ones.

The best of Obama's fan videos--Yes We Can, Si Se Puede, We Are The Ones--show spirit, emotion, raw honesty, and have their own non-campaign-vetted messages as to why these people want to elect Obama. The best of the Clinton videos (that I could find anyway) are, well, lackluster by comparison: catchy songs with photo-montages. They don't really say anything. They don't energize and motivate like Obama's fan videos do. Oh, and the YouTube view counter numbers on these videos speak volumes, too.

Clinton's campaign is fundamentally about her. Obama's campaign is about ordinary folks like Mrs. Bennett of South Carolina. The difference couldn't be more stark. If you have three and a half minutes to spare--which I'll bet you do if you're reading this at all--give it a look. It'll brighten your day.

Around the Northwest

  • The Seattle Times has this story about Washington Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond, which also gives some nice insight into the complexities of our region's transportation problems.
  • Idaho Legislator Mike Burkett of Boise is getting smart: engaging the Idaho business community now on support for his forthcoming efforts to spend tobacco settlement money on early childhood education. Kudos to Burkett for recognizing what all the data suggests: that bolstering pre-k education is one of the most effective, and least costly, ways to increase high school graduation rates and reduce young-adult criminal behavior and incarceration rates.
  • Salem, Oregon to convert a century-old railroad bridge into a pedestrian and bicycle path. My hometown of Redmond, WA has at least one such antiquated rail bridge that could surely serve a similar purpose.
Around the Nation

  • Traditional media finally admits that Obama actually won the "Texas two-step" primary/caucus thing-a-majig.
  • More and more common in cities such as Redmond and San Francisco is curbside recycling of yard and household food waste. That stuff gets hauled off to be composted, turned into fertilizer for both consumer and commercial agriculture use. Blogger Janice Sitton of Good Green Graces takes us on a tour of a commercial composting operation to show us what happens to our leftover organic matter.
  • Bush administration has spent 50 to 60 times (that's 5000 to 6000%) more on the Iraq war than initially promised. Now, a Nobel Laureate economist (no, not Jed Bartlett) has shown this to be a prime cause in the home mortgage crisis and the slowing U.S. economy in general. Nice work and all, but, um, "no duh?"
  • Back in 2004, San Francisco was all in the news for deciding to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. In the brief window of time this was going on, they issued some 4000 such licenses. Those marriages were later struck down. Now the California Supreme Court is hearing an appeal to decide who has the right to decide that gay marriage is ok--California's citizens or its legislature. The court will rule within 90 days.
  • Here's a great idea to secure the future of freedom and liberty in America: teach our children early that paranoia and fearing other citizens is not only perfectly normal, but also fun!
  • Gary Gygax, inventor of Dungeons & Dragons, has died at age 69. There are probably three seminally relevant shapers of geek culture: Star Wars creator George Lucas, Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, and Gary Gygax. Wil Wheaton, actor most famous for playing Westley Crusher on Star Trek, the Next Generation, brings us this touching rememberance of D&D's impact on his life. The Associated Press has the news, too, but Wil's version comes infinitely closer to capturing the sentiment of what D&D means to geeks like me.

Around the World

  • Clever dude invents a wave-powered boat, plans to sail it across the Pacific. Let's see that technology on container ships, to start addressing the carbon footprint of our global economy.
    Death toll in Thursday's double-bombing in a Baghdad shopping district climbs to 68. I'm sorry, Senator McCain, but it doesn't sound to me like things are really getting better over there.
  • Palestinian Gunman kills eight Jewish seminary students in Jerusalem. For literally as long as I can remember, Israel and Palestine have been fighting. When is it going to stop? When will they decide that their children's lives and safety are more important than whatever issues they're so mortally unwilling to yield on? Both sides say they want peace, but do they? Really? It doesn't look like they do, and they sure don't act like they do. Jimmy Carter and Kofi Annan are headed there to "ease tensions." I wish them all the luck in the world.

The Lighter Side

  • If you saw An Inconvenient Truth you may recall that one of Al Gore's early points was to quote Mark Twain: what gets us in trouble is not what we know, but "what we know that just ain't so." Namely, the assumption that Earth is so big we puny humans can't really mess it up. Here, underscoring that message in a visually obvious terms, is an image showing just how small the world's atmosphere and oceans really are. I'd like to see one with another little bubble showing how much CO2 humans have added since the industrial revolution.
  • And speaking of keeping things in the proper perspective, here's a shot of the Earth and Moon, together taken by a camera aboard the Mars Reconnaisance Orbiter from 142 million miles away. It's a beautiful image and makes petty squabbles over stuff like who's in charge of this or that particular pixel seem sort of silly.
  • How NOT to do green design. This one is really hilarious, and a good reminder that as technology solutions to our energy and climate crisis start coming at us faster and faster, we'll all need to keep our skepticism dials cranked up to 11.
  • Normally I'm not a big fan of military technology, but I honestly think that technology like this, if applied broadly, would have a hugely positive effect on peace efforts worldwide.
  • This cracked me up, so I had to share. 'Mod' Star Wars: a quick peek at what Star Wars might have looked like had it been released in the hep-cat '60s, rather than the disco '70s.
  • Stephen Colbert and John Legend cover Michael Jackson's The Girl is Mine. Paying attention to the background visuals, I have to say "yes, yes she is." And we need to start treating her with dignity and respect, to give her meaning again.

This Day in History

  • 1618: Kepler discovers the third law of planetary motion, without which we wouldn't today be getting pretty pictures like that Earth/Moon portrait linked above.
  • 1765: The British House of Lords passes the Stamp Act--the source of colonial "taxation without representation" ire--which pretty much pushed the colonies into revolution eleven years later. Thanks, House of Lords! We owe you one.
  • 1884: Susan B. Anthony argues for Women's Suffrage before the House Judiciary Committee. Born in 1820, she spent 58 of her 86 years engaged in the fight for an equal right to vote. She died in 1906, 14 years short of seeing her dream realized; the 19th Amendment was finally passed five months after her 100th birthday.


Blogger richard said...


The new approach is, as you say, to get your news from the web. How well does Obama get this? Last weekend in Texas, every single one of the major newspapers had the same online banner ad for Obama. Houston, Dallas, Fort-Worth, Austin. I think even Amarillo. All on the front page of the web site as a top level banner ad. And he thus locked Clinton out from a similar type of ad.

And it was a pretty eye catching ad, using the same motif as his website. Normally, it would be hard to have the same ad in every single paper if dead trees were the only way to read the paper. Not in today's world.

I'm looking to see if he does something similar in Pennsylvania.

March 8, 2008 6:07 PM  

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