‘Dangerous’?

I contributed to the Obama campaign, and now I’m on the Mitch Stewart/Obama mailing list which every so often reaches out to me for a small donation which is aimed to fight the Republicans at one thing or another. Usually I delete them. My “contributions” to an elected official are made annually in the form of something called “taxes”, so I don’t feel guilty at all about hitting that ‘delete’ key.

Today, I skimmed the request. Just because it was subject-lined “Sarah Palin”, and really, I just wanted to see what the hell Mitch and Barack were up to with regard to the no-nothing failed-administrator Sarah Palin who couldn’t even handle serving out the last bits of her Alaska Governorship because she would be a ‘lame duck’. Like, hello? That’s how it ends. Death in office, scandalous resignation, or a lame duck term. Ask any politician how they expect to leave office and chances are the answer will be one of those. So Sarah’s running around getting all of the people who are really blind to their own bigotry, or else too removed from the reality of present day America to understand why Palin is really a horrendous flake and an empty bag of talking points. All by taking the attention of the media and demonstrating that the Spin machine of the Republicans does a much better job at Branding than the Democrats do.

But we’re not Palin-bashing here. No, instead, I’m concerned about the state of the country in general. Because this is what Mitch’s email to me said:

Right now, Sarah Palin is on a highly publicized, nationwide book tour, attacking President Obama and his plan for health reform at every turn.

It’s dangerous. Remember, this is the person who coined the term “Death Panels” — and opened the flood gates for months of false attacks by special interests and partisan extremists.

‘Dangerous’?

Excuse me, Mitch Stewart and the copywriters over at the DNC who approved this tripe. Dangerous? As far as I can tell, all Sarah Palin is doing is exercising her Constitutional right to Freedom of Expression. And she’s got an audience who loves her, so there’s the choice of -those- People.  The only thing that makes me worried at all about a Palin candidacy for the Presidency next time around is the general overall ineptitude of the Democratic Party.

Let’s face it, guys. Palin shouldn’t *be* dangerous. The only incompetence that the Democrats need to worry about is their own. They control both Houses of Congress, AND they control the White House. There may be some committee shenanigans and fillibusters and all of that to contend with, but the Democrats have done NOTHING since they took office. Nothing promised on the campaign trail has happened. And there’s really no excuse. The economy is still in the shitter, unless you happen to be a banker or a Corporate CEO.

Part of the problem is that the Democrats have tried so long to be Republicans, that there’s no difference now between them. Neither party has a strong central message or identity except to NOT be the Other guys. Blue or red, same damned difference. Same screw over of the little guy, the ‘We the People’ that the government is supposed to serve. Same propaganda machines, and hot-button issues. Same assholes in the Halls of the Capitol worried too much about how much money they’ll raise for next term’s elections and too little about how to do the job that their constituency sent them there to do in the first place.

Give me back a Congress full of contention and strife, of loud voices and red faces, banging gavels and impassioned speeches. Give me a Congress where the representatives felt very keenly just how invested they themselves are with what actions they are pursuing. Where they actually know what they’re voting on, and spend more time on the Hill than away from it telecommuting in.

Stop blaming the Republicans, Mitch. Mitch and Barack both. Just stop. Stop blaming other people and put your own houses in order while you still have the time. Because if you don’t, then the pendulum will shift the other way and the Republicans will grind you under like the losers you will be.

Make no mistake. If Palin beats you, then it’s YOUR fault. Your loss. Not her victory. It will mean that Palin’s got the attention of the American people because she can communicate with them better. And we both know that Palin’s not the winning communicator… Obama is.

It also would mean that it was time to seek emmigration from the United States to Canada or Ireland or Norway or one of the other Enlightened nations with socialized health care. I’m not pro-Republican nor pro-Palin (nor anti-America) by any means. But I am anti-incompetence, anti-corruption, and anti-political parties in general. We Americans are no longer number one in the world at very much that matters. We are no longer a culture where intelligence, industry, creativity, and vision are valued, supported, and rewarded. Our formal cultural institutions are dying, and our schools are already comatose. We need more than just a revitalization… we need a Renaissance. A global Renaissance, to shore up the lost ground that institutionalized religion has taken from the Enlightenment over the last few decades. We need a robust and thriving middle class, a people better able to share in the fruits of their own labors than the Boards of Directors have been setting lately.

Maybe it’s because we’ve been let down by so many so often, that it’s just impossible for us to care any more about the old system of politics and old social conventions. Break this cycle, Barack. Stop people from begging for money when you’re not on a campaign trail. Use the tools that the system gives to you to reform the system. Be Barack Obama the leader of the Democratic National Party. It’s time to set the policy of your party, as well as for the nation. And use the influence we gave you to fix things. Stop seeking consensus, and start waging victory. You aren’t the campaign front-runner any more, Barack. You’re our President. Stop campaigning and start ruling, to the fullest extent of the laws which empower the ethical exercise of your Office.

Or start seeking another job, because with more of this for the next three years, you won’t hold on to the one you’re in. Not by my vote. I’ll seek a third candidate if it comes to that, and use my voice to try and convince others to do the same.

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Harnessing the power of the internet

Bang! 12:01pm on January 20, 2009, our 44th president is sworn in. Minutes later, there is a shift in policy and the communications begin. With a new website.

And not just any website. The Obama administration has revamped and revised the website for the White House, demonstrating a level of understanding and mastery of this new communications medium once again years ahead of anyone else in Washington. I spent an hour last night flipping through the new website. An hour. True, I’m an internet professional and this is right up my alley, but I have to say that it was an hour spent ingesting information, not fruitlessly looking for relevant sources of the same.

More so than the state of the union, www.whitehouse.gov now shows me exactly what Obama’s policies are toward a number of items and arenas. And I found myself actually tearing up at one point, when I realized that this wasn’t campaign promises, this was a set of policy declarations issued from the office of the President of the United States of America. Transparency is coming to the political process in a major way.

Relevant Quote

Taken directly from the Technology section of “The Agenda“, I find myself agreeing wholeheartedly with the overall sentiment.

President Obama and Vice President Biden understand the immense transformative power of technology and innovation and how they can improve the lives of Americans. They will work to ensure the full and free exchange of information through an open Internet and use technology to create a more transparent and connected democracy. They will encourage the deployment of modern communications infrastructure to improve America’s competitiveness and employ technology to solve our nation’s most pressing problems — including improving clean energy, healthcare costs, and public safety. – Technology section, Agenda, White House website.

A commitment to net neutrality, a clause requiring legislation be posted on the web for public access and no bills pushed through without 5 day waiting periods to allow the US citizens to post their thoughts on legislation or suggest revisions for their lawmakers to take under advisement… this isn’t my grandfather’s President. This is mine. My generation, or damned near to it. Talking about issues in a way that indicates awareness of what the modern issues happen to be. Speaking with language that is reasoned and measured, but not overly formal. And at heart, having good ideas. Some meh ideas, but on the whole some really good ideas.

I’m amazed to see the first start to transparency with this website. For the first time -ever- I know what my public servants are thinking and planning for the entire breadth of the Agenda ahead. I know where this administration stands on several key issues, and I have yet to find anything which I strenuously object to.

The other shoe

When you can’t find the hard-to-swallow compromises, you have to start wondering whether or not this president’s going to be able to reach as many people as he likes. Could it be that the country doesn’t all disagree with me and my personal politics after all? Could it really be that I am part of a reasoning majority who just hasn’t stood up to be counted until now? Or will the other shoe drop and resistance to these progressive, modern, and well-thought-out policies be met with a bitter uphill struggle, undermined by even Barack’s own party members on the hill?

Only time will tell. But I must say, this president has already managed to turn the role of the web in politics on its head, and he’s only been on the job for less than 24 hours. I really do believe that we can make a change. And I’m ready to do my part to support it, Mr. Obama, though my skills are not in a position to provide financial assistance right now. Let’s get our hands dirty and guide this old republic into the 21st century, with all the challenges and opportunities that presents.

President Obama has set an agenda item to improve our broadband internet access until it becomes number one in the world, in terms of numbers of connected citizens. I am astounded and well and truly pleased first that my presidential candidate actually understands that a) we’re not currently leading the charge in that area, and b) actually understands the political, social, and economic ramifications that access carries with it, enough that c) it’s a plank in his administration’s agenda.

Lead on, sir. We’ve been waiting for you for a long time.

What Obama means to me

In just a few hours the reign of King George comes to an end, and power returns once again to the hands of the governed. President-Elect Obama will be sworn in as the 44th president of the United States, and we’ll hear the inauguration speech of the century. I am far from Washington both mentally and physically, but the coming of Barack Obama comes as many things tomany people, so it seems only fitting to talk about what this next, vital, charged president means to me.

1. More Patience Needed

Change doesn’t happen overnight. Obama is going to have to learn his new role within the system and that means I expect a failed initiative or three, and I also expect some wobbly moments as the new administration gains its feet. I like the guy, enough that I voted for him, but I don’t expect him to be a miracle worker. And so, I’m expecting that the current “hunker down, wait for the tides to turn” mentality to last until the spring thaw at the very least before my world gets moved at all, let alone rocked.

2. Electronic Medical Records (EMR)

This initiative is not new to Obama, it was introduced by former First Lady Clinton when Bill was in office. It’s taken a bit for these changes to make their way through the legal system governing medical practices, but the idea has finally attained traction. And just in time. A friend of mine is an entrepreneurial owner of an EMR solution, and I have been tapped by him already to assist with developing a web presence for his business as his life gets more busy meeting with investors and giving speaking engagements on EMR, now thanks to the fact that Obama’s adminitration has raised awareness of the initiative and impending changes.

This can seem small, but it’s the thin end of a huge wedge. The creation and conversion from pen & paper medical records to a fully digital solution opens up the need for more than just conversion… it opens the offices of medical practices everywhere to information management processes and data mining and analysis. EMR isn’t the simple act of scanning in old records, it involves providing digital systems, maintenance, training, and assistance in retraining existing staff to utilize new tools properly.

This leads to:

3. Universal Healthcare

Once the Medical Records are digital, reporting and data mining becomes more accurate and locally based nation wide. It becomes possible to create a national database for patients, to monitor patients’ rights issues, and more importantly, to develop a system for providing and monitoring Universal Healthcare. This one will take a bit longer because first we need to see the infrastructure developed more, and the EMR initiative is going to help accomplish that. The power of the pharmaceutical companies is entrenched, so the eventual success of this is still in serious doubt. However, I am hopeful that the new administration can achieve some tangible goals here. Some kind of base line plan where there is 100% healthcare coverage at public clinics and waiting lists organized by need-based triage for access to more advanced medical procedures. A baseline plan which allows for more gentrified health insurance for those who wish to pay for it, so there’s still “the best healthcare money can buy” around for the successful capitalists, augmenting what remains available to every citizen who draws breath.

4. More patience

The economy isn’t going to turn around overnight. However, adding transparency to the process is always good. Instead of creating new oversight structures, harness that internet to let the netizens of the world become your watchdogs. I’m not all that up on Washington right now, but I’ll bet there’s parts of the process of governing which are still retained behind closed doors and sealed records which don’t need to be. Barring issues of national security, transparency is the only way to do business these days, either as a public or a private business, wherever possible. to whichever degree is possible.

5. Company in enforced new endeavors

What Obama really means for me is that I won’t be the only person in the world struggling to adapt to new employment economics. Obama’s got his new job, and I’m still searching for mine. The graduate degree is helpful, but I’m in a strange kind of niche as an internet strategist and producer, a job title and duty set which is aimed for a well-developed internet career marketplace, which alas, the Northeast of the United States struggles to become. And in their struggles, for example, all of the Omnicom agencies in the region, TracyLocke, Colangelo, and Alcone, have just seen drastic reductions in their workforce, and all three have made movement -away- from interactive and back toward print. This is a move which seems inspired by fear and a lack of familiarity by senior management as to how to launch and maintain sucessful interactive-based business models.  Print will still exist, but interactive is the field which will grow.

Or, conversely, there are job openings looking for someone who can not only plan the website, but who will be producer and Creative AND developer all in one. I’m not opposed to those job skills being conflated, but it depresses me to see essentially the jobs of three or four different professions being demanded in a single role for less than $50K a year.

I’m really hoping that under the Obama administration, the NetCQ, or Internet Culture Quotient of the northeastern united states takes a turn for the better in a drastic way. If not, Silicon Valley looks like a distinct possibility just to stay employed. I don’t necessarily look to the government to provide that culture shift for corporations around here, I just want Obama to be stable enough to demonstrate that embracing changes to the older patterns of business really -are- worth the risk.

As for me, I’ll be watching this morning to hear The Speech of the New Millennium, the most important public address in my lifetime. And I’ll be staying in ‘hunkered down’ mode, making slow but steady progress as best I can, while I surf the job boards and plaster the interactive space with my resume. And steadily work on side projects like this EMR opportunity. There is work to be done. I just have to trust that the livelihood will follow. Or start looking for studio apartments near Silicon Valley.