Thursday, July 19, 2007

CNN/YouTube Debates - Godzilla and Terrorism

The title of this question is dramatic, but give a listen and look and you'll understand. Also visit and vote for this question when it appears.


TED SORENSEN - President Kennedy's Aide Compares JFK To Barack Obama - From New Republic Online

Is Barack Obama the next JFK?

Heir Time

by Ted Sorensen
Post date: 07.19.07
Issue date: 07.23.07

t first glance, the Democratic nominee for president in 1960, John Fitzgerald Kennedy--the millionaire Caucasian war hero for whom I worked for eleven golden years--seems notably different from the most interesting candidate for next year's nomination, Senator Barack Obama. But when does a difference make a difference? Different times, issues, and electors make any meaningful comparison unlikely. But the parallels in their candidacies are striking.

Fifty years ago, Kennedy and I embarked on a period in which we traveled to all 50 states in his long, uphill quest for the 1960 Democratic presidential nomination. He was, like Obama, a first-term U.S. senator. But he was not yet 40 years old, making Obama, already 45, a geezer by comparison.

At the time, Washington pundits assumed Kennedy had at least two insurmountable obstacles. The first was his lack of experience, especially compared with the senior statesmen also seeking that nomination-- Lyndon Johnson, Hubert Humphrey, Adlai Stevenson, and Stuart Symington. Kennedy acknowledged that his age and inexperience would turn away some voters. Obama, though older than Kennedy, is similarly dismissed by some today. But Kennedy noted in one speech that "experience is like tail-lights on a boat which illuminate where we have been when we should be focusing on where we should be going."


Kennedy's second major obstacle was his heritage. Some said he had lost his chance to be president of the United States the day he was born--or, at least, the day he was baptized as a Roman Catholic. No Catholic had ever been elected president of the United States, and the overwhelming defeat suffered by the only Catholic nominated for that position, Governor Al Smith of New York in 1928, had persuaded subsequent Democratic leaders that it would be hopeless ever to risk that route again.

The conviction that no Catholic could win was greater, in that less enlightened era 50 years ago, than the widespread assumption today that a black presidential candidate cannot win. The subtly bigoted phrase most often repeated in that election year--by former President Harry Truman, among others--was that 1960 was "too early" for a Catholic president, that the country was "not ready," and that Kennedy should be a "good sport" by settling for the vice presidency. No doubt Obama will hear--or has already heard--similar sentiments about the color of his skin.

Even some Catholic religious leaders--who thought Kennedy was not Catholic enough, having attended secular schools and expressed disagreement with the Catholic hierarchy on church-state separation--opposed his candidacy. So did some Catholic political leaders who thought his candidacy might raise unwanted controversies or produce an unwanted rival to their own positions (much as Al Sharpton and Vernon Jordan may not initially welcome an Obama candidacy). But, in time, Kennedy's speeches and interviews strongly favoring traditional church-state separation reassured all but the most bigoted anti-Catholics. In the end, despite his ethnic handicap, Kennedy proved to be less divisive than his major opponent, fellow senator Hubert Humphrey. Obama may prove the same.

In addition to their similar handicaps, Kennedy and Obama share an extraordinary number of parallels. Both men were Harvard-educated. Both rose to national attention almost overnight as the result of starring roles at the nationally televised Democratic convention preceding their respective candidacies: Kennedy in 1956, when he delivered the speech nominating Stevenson and subsequently came close to winning an open-floor struggle for the vice presidential nomination with Estes Kefauver; Obama in 2004, by virtue of his brilliant speech to the convention that year in Boston.

Both also gained national acclaim through their best-selling inspirational books--Kennedy's Profiles in Courage, published in 1956, and Obama's The Audacity of Hope, published in 2006. Both men immediately stood out as young, handsome, and eloquent new faces who attracted and excited ever larger and younger crowds at the grassroots level, a phenomenon that initially went almost unnoticed by Washington leaders and experts too busy interviewing themselves.

Kennedy's speeches in early 1960 and even earlier, like Obama's in early 2007, were not notable for their five-point legislative plans. Rather, they focused on several common themes: hope, a determination to succeed despite the odds, dissatisfaction with the status quo, and confidence in the judgment of the American people. In sprinkling their remarks with allusions to history and poetry, neither talked down to the American people. JFK was so frank about his disagreements with the leadership of his Catholic "base" that one Catholic journal editorialized against him; Obama was equally frank and courageous with the Democrats' organized labor base in assessing the competitive prospects of the American auto industry in Detroit. Both were unsparing in their references to the "revolving door" culture in Washington.

On foreign policy, both emphasized the importance of multilateral demo- cracy, national strength as a guardian of peace, and the need to restore America's global standing, moral authority, and leadership. Both warned of the dangers of war: Kennedy motivated by his own harsh experience in World War II, Obama by his familiarity with suffering in all parts of the world. Both were cerebral rather than emotional speakers, relying on the communication of values and hope rather than cheap applause lines.

Perhaps most tellingly, both preached (and personified) the politics of hope in contrast to the politics of fear, which characterized Republican speeches during their respective eras. In 1960 and earlier, cynics and pessimists accepted the ultimate inevitability of nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union, much as today they assume a fruitless and unending war against terrorism. Hope trumped fear in 1960, and I have no doubt that it will again in 2008.

lthough President Kennedy became the breakthrough president on civil rights, health care, and other liberal issues, he was not the most liberal candidate for the nomination in 1960. His emphasis on the importance of ethics, moral courage, and a multilateral foreign policy made him--like Obama--hard to pigeonhole with a single ideological label. His insistence that the United States "must do better" in every sphere of activity, including its cold war competition with the Soviet Union, caused some historians to mistakenly recall that he "ran to the right" of Richard Nixon on national security issues, forgetting his emphasis on negotiations and peaceful solutions.

JFK's establishment opponents-- probably not unlike Obama's--did not understand Kennedy's appeal. "Find out his secret," LBJ instructed one of his aides sent to spy on the Kennedy camp, "his strategy, his weaknesses, his comings and goings." Ultimately, Kennedy was both nominated and elected, not by secretly outspending or out-gimmicking his opponents but by outworking and out-thinking them, especially by attracting young volunteers and first-time voters. Most of Kennedy's opponents, like Obama's, were fellow senators--Johnson, Humphrey, and Symington--who initially dismissed him as neither a powerhouse on the Senate floor nor a member of their inner circle. That mattered not to the voters; nor does it today.

Above all, after eight years out of power and two bitter defeats, Democrats in 1960, like today, wanted a winner--and Kennedy, despite his supposed handicaps, was a winner. On civil rights, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the race to the moon, and other issues, President Kennedy succeeded by demonstrating the same courage, imagination, compassion, judgment, and ability to lead and unite a troubled country that he had shown during his presidential campaign. I believe Obama will do the same.

Ted Sorensen worked with John F. Kennedy for eleven years, first as his senatorial assistant and then in the White House as his special counsel and adviser. He is presently working on his memoirs, to be published in 2008.

Barack Obama's Right - AGE APPROPRIATE (!) Sex Discussions Are Needed


Are you awake? Can you read? Yes? Good.

ABC News used a very inappropriate headline that misquoted Senator Barack Obama. In a conversation with Planned Parenthood on Tuesday of this week, Senator Obama more than once said that "age appropriate" sex education and science-based education was "the right thing to do."

BUT even with this detailed comment, ABC tried to sandbag the Senator with a headline that amounts to a complete lie.

This is the article in full below. Please read it carefully. ABC did not listen, obviously.

ABC News' Teddy Davis and Lindsey Ellerson Report: Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., told Planned Parenthood Tuesday that sex education for kindergarteners, as long as it is "age-appropriate," is "the right thing to do."

"I remember Alan Keyes . . . I remember him using this in his campaign against me," Obama said in reference to the conservative firebrand who ran against him for the U.S. Senate in 2004. Sex education for kindergarteners had become an issue in his race against Keyes because of Obama’s work on the issue as chairman of the health committee in the Illinois state Senate.

"'Barack Obama supports teaching sex education to kindergarteners,'" said Obama mimicking Keyes' distinctive style of speech. "Which -- I didn’t know what to tell him (laughter)."

"But it’s the right thing to do," Obama continued, "to provide age-appropriate sex education, science-based sex education in schools."

Speaking to a young woman who asked a question about sex education, Obama said, "You, as a peer, can have enormous power over your age cohort but you’ve got to have some support from the schools. You certainly should not have to be fighting each and every instance by providing accurate information outside of the classroom because inside the classroom the only thing that can be talked about is abstinence."

"Keep in mind: I honor and respect young people who choose to delay sexual activity," Obama continued. "I’ve got two daughters, and I want them to understand that sex is not something casual. That's something that we definitely want to communicate and should be part of any curriculum. But we also know that when the statistics tell us that nearly half of 15 to 19 year olds are engaging in sexual activity, that for us to leave them in ignorance is potentially consigning them to illness, pregnancy, poverty, and in some cases, death."

When Obama's campaign was asked by ABC News to explain what kind of sex education Obama considers "age appropriate" for kindergarteners, the Obama campaign pointed to an Oct. 6, 2004 story from the Daily Herald in which Obama had "moved to clarify" in his Senate campaign that he "does not support teaching explicit sex education to children in kindergarten. . . The legislation in question was a state Senate measure last year that aimed to update Illinois' sex education standards with 'medically accurate' information . . . 'Nobody's suggesting that kindergartners are going to be getting information about sex in the way that we think about it,' Obama said. 'If they ask a teacher 'where do babies come from,' that providing information that the fact is that it's not a stork is probably not an unhealthy thing. Although again, that's going to be determined on a case by case basis by local communities and local school boards.'"

In addition to local schools informing kindergarteners that babies do not come from the stork, the state legislation Obama supported in Illinois, which contained an "opt out" provision for parents, also envisioned teaching kindergarteners about "inappropriate touching," according to Obama's presidential campaign. Despite Obama's support, the legislation was not enacted.

Michael Vick's In Big Trouble But Not Convicted

As you may know, Michael Vick's been convicted of running a dogfighting ring, a felony offense. I'll write more about this soon, but here's the details from George Dormann of Sports Illustrated:

Shocking charges
Indictment against Vick describes unfathomable acts
Posted: Tuesday July 17, 2007 11:42PM; Updated: Wednesday July 18, 2007 2:39PM

During an April raid of Vick's property in Virginia, authorities seized 66 dogs and equipment commonly used in dog fighting.

By George Dohrmann,
The indictment handed down Tuesday against Falcons quarterback Michael Vick and three others describes in detail how they procured a property in Virginia for the purpose of staging dogfights, bought dogs and then fought them there, and in several other states, over a 6-year period. With at least three cooperating witnesses providing the details, federal authorities compiled a detailed case that traces the birth and rise of Bad Newz Kennels.

But not a single line in the 18-page indictment will generate more rage toward Vick and the others charged -- Purnell A. Peace, Quanis L. Phillips and Tony Taylor -- than a sentence near the end. It reads: "In or about April of 2007, Peace, Phillips and Vick executed approximately eight dogs that did not perform well in 'testing' sessions at 1915 Moonlight Road by various methods, including hanging, drowning and slamming at least one dog's body to the ground."

In interviews I conducted for an earlier story on the subculture of dogfighting and Vick's involvement, several experts described to me the process of "rolling" dogs. Owners take young dogs, usually puppies, and put them in an enclosed area and see how they react. They prod the dogs and urge them to get angry. If a dog shows aggression toward another dog, that's a positive. If a dog is timid, it is useless. Some fighters give away puppies that don't show the required "gameness." Other owners don't bother with the trouble of finding them a home and simply kill them.

Vick and his three associates, according to the indictment, fall in the latter category. Federal investigators allege Vick is a murderer of dogs who weren't willing to fight for his enjoyment. Even worse, his actions appear more sinister than most professional dogfighters.

"If you want to kill a dog, why exert the energy to slam him into the ground or drown him? Why not just shoot him, which is the most common method?" says John Goodwin, dogfighting expert for the Humane Society of the United States. "That is insane. These guys, if they did that, have serious problems."

Vick's problems would seem to be plentiful now that he has gone from a person of interest in local and federal investigations to one of four men charged in U.S. District Court in Richmond, Va., with conspiracy to commit interstate commerce in aid of unlawful activities and to sponsor a dog in an animal-fighting venture. On the Travel Act portion of the conspiracy charges, he faces a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The dogfighting charges carry a possible sentence of one year in prison, a $100,000 fine or both.

Still, even with the gravity of the crimes alleged, Vick's most serious problem would seem to be one of perception. If one believes the allegations against him, Vick is neither a novice dogfighter nor or a hobbyist who dipped his toe into the sport briefly. The indictment alleges Vick is a professional dogfighter who"sponsored" more than two dozen dogfights. He is not, as he previously said, someone who merely trusted the wrong people. Rather, he is the face of a bloodsport that the majority of NFL fans probably didn't know existed until the property he owned on Moonlight Road was raided in late April. And, now, he becomes the ultimate test for NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and his new discipline policy.

Read the rest at S.I.:

Barack Obama Has 1,900 Donors - DesMoines Register

Obama campaign touts 1,900 Iowa donors

July 18, 2007

Nearly 1,900 Iowans have donated to Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, according to information from the Federal Election Commission and the campaign.

The majority of Iowa’s donations were small. Of the 1,864 Iowa donors, 1,737 were less than $200.

In total, Obama, a Democrat, has raised at least $58.4 million in the first six months of this year, more than any other presidential candidate of either party.

The number of total donors to Obama’s campaign exceeds 258,000, which is more than twice that of any other presidential candidate, Obama campaign officials say.

“Each donation to this movement is a show of commitment to the idea that we can change our politics …” said Josh Earnest, Obama’s Iowa spokesman.

The second quarter financial reports of presidential candidates were released this week. In the past three months, Obama raised $32.5 million while national Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton, a New York senator, raised $26 million. In total, Clinton has raised $52.1 million.

Former North Carolina senator John Edwards, also one of the Democratic frontrunners, raised more than $9 million in the second quarter, raising roughly $23 million so far.

Obama’s campaign sells presidential merchandise like T-shirts, key chains and hats and each one is counted as a donation.

Tommy Vietor, the Iowa press secretary for Obama’s Iowa campaign, acknowledged that no other presidential candidate has listed individual sales but said that is likely because other companies process and sell the merchandise.

Obama’s campaign sells the merchandise on its own and are, therefore, required to report it, he said. He said “it’s a tiny, tiny piece” of the total amount raised. Almost all of the merchandise is sold online. In total, less than one-half of 1 percent of the total raised has come from merchandise purchased online, Vietor said.

“There is no trick involved. It’s a way you can show support for the campaign,” Vietor said, later adding: “This gives average Americans a way to support the campaign and show their enthusiasm, and the fact that we've sold so many items is a testament to the excitement we've generated.”

CNN/YouTube Debates - CNN Not Community Should Pick Videos

Read the latest update on the debate process from CNN!

I listen to NPR and heard CNN Washington Bureau Chief David Bohrman talk about the upcoming CNN / YouTube Debates on Wedneday of this week of this post.

The anchor paired him -- for a moment -- with Joshua Levy from, and Josh made a statement which caused me to shudder: that the community should select the questions online.

Absolutely not.

The reason I state this is that as one who works online, has been a YouTube contributor, and make simulations online for students in the classroom, I can tell you that people send to vote with their libido.

In other words, if the question's posed by a lovely white woman, it's more likely to be selected over a question by someone -- like myself-- who's black and male, and this even if the former's question was not in compliance with rules!

YouTube seems to attract a segment of society that not only is racist, but expresses it in different ways. This is not the majority, but it's a group that's disproportionately young and very misguided. But that group aside, the habit of clicking on a cute female face is the number one YouTube habit.

Thus, it's good for CNN to be "the leveler" if you will. I've never favored "mob rule" and I certainly advise against it here. If you look at the range of questions asked thus far, the vast majority concern education, as well as -- I count -- at least 25 on Darfur!

People use this event as a medium to communicate their personal concerns and not so much questions that we can use to determine who the best presidential candidate is.

At any rate, keep up the great work on this, CNN and YouTube (Steve Grove, specifically). Also I must add that the number of submissions is about the max you're going to get for this. It may be at about 2,000 by the time the deadline's reached. Given that there are four barriers to entry: time, equipment, knoweldge, and software -- and the marketing effort, which is great -- the number of respondents dwindles to about that number we see.

Also, I'll bet $$ that about 50 percent of the questions were made with Apple Computers, as it's easier to make a video because Macs come equipped to cause that. I have two Mac Books, for example. I can tell when a submitter used a MacBook by where their head's placed in relation to the camera.