Thursday, February 14, 2008

A Vision of Change for America - by William J. Clinton

"Change" in Washington D.C. is a fundamental Obama campaign message. However, ideas never exist in a vacuum and the concept of a "Vision of Change" is of course not new, but reaches back into American history, in this case, not that far back.

Former President of the United States William J. Clinton authored "A Vision of Change for America" (see also here) which is abstracted as follows and which anticipates some important areas of change that remain current in the present economic climate:

"This report was prepared to accompany President Clinton's first address to a Joint Session of Congress. It describes in detail the comprehensive economic plan being proposed by the new administration for the nation. The plan has three key elements: economic stimulus to create jobs now while laying the foundation for long-term economic growth; long term public investments to increase the productivity of people and businesses; and a balanced deficit-reduction plan to prevent the drain of private investments that generate jobs and increase incomes. The text is organized into four sections: (1) "A New Direction" (a brief 3-page preamble); (2) "A Legacy of Failure" (a 16-page statement of the problem, under subheadings such as "Skyrocketing Health Care Costs"); (3) "What We Must Now Do" (a 92-page statement of the solution, under subheadings such as "Investing in the Future: Reducing the Deficit To Increase Private Investment" and "Restoring Fairness"); and (4) "The Task Remaining" (a brief 6-page wrap-up). A closing Appendix contains 25 pages of statistical tables outlining various discretionary program savings, proposed changes to mandatory programs, stimulus proposals, investment proposals, and revenue and receipts proposals. Most tables provide figures for each year for the 6-year period 1993-1998. The field of education is touched upon in the report at six locations: (1) "Relative Earnings by Education for 25-34 Year Olds" (Chart 2-9, p. 18); (2) Chapter 1 Compensatory Education (p.31); (3) Pell Grants (p. 32); (4) "Lifelong Learning," covering full funding of Head Start and related child care funding and Medicaid, National Service, Dislocated Workers Program, Job Corps Expansion, Summer Youth Employment and Training Program, Youth Apprenticeship, and various Department of Education reforms and initiatives (p. 57-59); (5) Impact Aid "b" Projects (p. 87); and (6) Reform of Student Loan Programs (p. 92). (WTB)"

Indicative of the need for a new change in Washington is the fact that the full text of this report, although ERIC provides links to the full text report at both of the website pages cited above, is not accessible as of the date of this writing. Freedom of Information is one thing. Getting it is another.

Presidential Leadership and Campaign Financing

The New York Times Caucus Blog carries a posting by Katharine Q. Seelye that Bill Clinton's successful Presidential campaign manager of 1992, David Wilhelm, has endorsed Barack Obama rather than Hillary Clinton. That alone is news, but what really hits the spot is WHAT he said:

"He said in a conference call today that Mr. Obama was more electable than Senator Hillary Clinton. Mr. Obama’s campaign is evidence of his leadership, he said, calling it “masterful.”

“He has out-worked her, out-organized her and out-raised her,” Mr. Wilhelm said. “I know organizational excellence when I see it, and the Obama campaign, win or lose, will serve as a model” of execution of strategy, message discipline, application of new technology and small-donor fund raising."

"Leadership" - or what some call "charisma" to draw attention away from the more banal term - does not start on the day after a candidate is sworn in as the Chief Executive, which is the focus of McCain's slogan, "Ready to Lead", but has to be demonstrated on the way to get there, so that all-around executive qualities, based on professional AND life experience, should be surfacing now already, if they are at all present.

In fact, as Wilhelm's comments above verify, the reason that Obama has moved to a frontrunning position is exactly because of the positive manifestation of leadership qualities that he has. He has put together a formidable campaign machine and it is working. That indicates what he will be able to do in the future at other tasks.

Indeed, an important member of McCain's own advertising staff, Mark McKinnon, has stated that he will not campaign against Obama. Who is then the leader?

While Obama's leadership in raising funding for his campaign has been exemplary, McCain's own leadership in raising funds for himself has been less than optimal, early leading to a desperate financial situation and forcing a $3 million loan. Since then his funding has improved, but still does not show the leadership credentials that he the candidate espouses for himself. Indeed, the McCain campaign may have sources of funding in special interests, whereas Obama's funding has come principally from the nation's people as individuals.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Views of the Future are Visible in Websites of the Presidential Candidates

When the eminently prestigious Economist writes that Obama is the Frontrunner, then he surely is.

We think that Obama will win because Obama is a star. He has the kind of personal charisma that propelled Bill Clinton into the Chief Executive's office and frankly, the more media exposure Obama has, the tougher he will be to beat.

In our view, a visibly slowing 71-year old John McCain has no chance of beating a dynamic 46-year-old Obama at the polls. The Republican Party surely can not think that the majority of Americans - at this stage in America's development - will put their basket of hope in the hands of a respected but visibly aged war hero.

Ask anyone who went to the top law schools such as Stanford, Harvard and Yale, and you will know what it means that Obama became the first man of color to be President of the Harvard Law Review. THAT is an achievement. Only a man of extraordinary talents could obtain that honor.

At this point, we have little doubt that Obama will be America's first President of color. The amazing thing is that although he will of course receive a mass majority of the colored vote, the critical decisive votes will nevertheless come from a white population who will vote for him for his person, for his dynamism and modernity, and for his competence. The issue of color will play and has played as good as no role in the voting of the white folks. That is the amazing thing.

What about the other Presidential candidates?

We have discovered that one way to compare the leading candidates, including Obama, with each other, is to look at their websites online. If you want to see THE FUTURE, look at your preferred candidate's website and see how it stacks up. What messages are the websites of the candidates projecting? What political mindset do you see? What one sees there is what one can expect to get from that candidate for the next four years, starting in January, 2009.

Frankly, the Obama website is a model of modernity, dynamics, vitality, motivation, hope-engenderment, and a human connection to the voter base, etc. If we view websites as harbingers of the future, Obama wins across the board. One of Obama's website slogans is "WE are the change we have been waiting for". Brilliant "empowerment" of the voting citizens and an intelligent message in the right place at the right time.

By contrast:

John McCain is a fine man who deserves the utmost of respect for his background and patriotism. However, his rather dated website mirrors his advanced age (71) and surely reflects the old-fashioned direction of leadership that we could expect under McCain. We are in fact somewhat disturbed that his web page glorifies war at a time when it is not what the nation wants - or needs - to hear. It is understandable, given his background, that he emphasizes this, but it makes us take our vote elsewhere. Men want peace, not war. Also the slogan on the first page "Ready to Lead On Day One" is not optimal. All candidates are presumed "ready" to lead by the fact of their candidacy. How about "able"? In any case, the crucial issue is, WHERE are we going to be led? That should be at the heart of the campaign message. Leadership starts in the primaries: WHO is actually moving the people? and who is not? Our views on several issues in the campaign match those of McCain, but this is in our view simply not the man that America needs now if it is to move forward in this modern era. McCain represents the Old Guard of the Republican Party and stands for a distant political past and a war long gone, about which younger voters, for example, know next to nothing. It is not very relevant to today's problems.
It is now a time for modern change, and a time to move forward, not back.
Accordingly, we can not support Mr. McCain.

Hillary Clinton is a fine woman and we have the utmost respect for the manner in which she managed herself during the Bill Clinton impeachment period. Indeed, at the beginning of this Presidential campaign, we thought she was the prohibitive favorite to win the nomination and we still share common views on a number of issues. Her website is definitely more upscale than the rather stodgy website of John McCain, but it still lacks the dynamics that one finds on the Obama websites. Obama is 46 and Hillary is 60 - and it shows. The front page of her website also has a shockingly incompetent message as one of the revolving messages that appears on that first page, namely, "Help Make History". A statement like that makes you wonder who advises these candidates in their efforts to gain the nation's highest office. The citizens of the nation are not interested in making HISTORY. Indeed, your average voter has little interest in history. A wise campaign would stay away from that word. What that slogan should read is: "Let us Work Together to Make the Future". In our view, in any case, the slogans so used tend to reflect the actual mindset of the leader behind those slogans. It is a mindset of the past, not the future.
We obtain an image from the Clinton campaign and from her personal appearances that SHE wants to be President, and we have no doubt that she would be a good one, but the connection to the people is weak. She lacks her husband's charisma and often seems somewhat helpless on stage. In addition, she represents the Old Guard of the Democratic Party and the period of Bill Clinton's Presidency. It is a vestige of the past that America currently simply does not need to confront again. The future is elsewhere.
It is now a time for progressive change, and a time to move forward, not back.
Accordingly, we can not support Mrs. Clinton.

Mike Huckabee is a fine man who we find to be among the most personable of the Republican Party candidates. In our opinion, as the past Governor of Arkansas, he also has what might be one of the best executive track records of any candidate. However, by his own choice, he does not represent the broad spectrum of all of America and has concentrated too much on religion, which is reflected in his website's front page campaign slogan which puts "Faith" first, i.e. "Faith. Family. Freedom." Our instinctual reaction to this is "no". There must be a clear separation of Church and State and any candidate who mixes them up deserves to lose and must lose. A man can be of very stout faith and conviction and still not bring faith into the political sphere. We presume that most men have a religious faith of some kind - so what does that have to do with most political issues - nothing. Many of the world's serious political problems can be traced back to religious zealots mixing their deadly cocktail combination of faith with politics, shaken well, and the results can be viewed daily on TV - war and killing. No thank you. Churches are for preaching and for spiritual development and politics has to do with government. These are two different worlds, at least in the modern area. Some may want to return to the dark ages, we do not.

It is now a time for state of the art secular change, and not a time for a backward relapse into fervent and harmful religious idolatry.
Accordingly, we can not support Mr. Huckabee.

The nod goes to Obama.
If he wins, as we think he will, it will be interesting.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Harvard Project Implicit Tests Subconscious Voter Preferences in US Presidential Election by means of IAT

If you go Project Implicit at Harvard you can take a test of your own subconscious preferences for or against US Presidential election candidates (hat tip to Edge). Our results below conform to our own previous assessment of who we favor, both in the Democratic Party and Republican Party (we only took the test once and tried to be as fast and honest as possible in taking it):

Our Vision of Change Blog

One of the remarkable modernistic things about the Barack Obama website is that registered supporters can create their own personal blog at that website. We created the "Vision of Change" blog there for our future postings at that website about the nature and implementation of Obama's vision of change, should he be elected the next President of the United States, which we regard to be a real possibility.

As a companion blog, for the reasons stated here, we have added this Vision of Change blog at Blogger.

Vision of Change : Companion Blog to Vision of Change at the Obama Website

This blog is a companion to our Vision of Change blog at the Barack Obama website.

We started this blog for three reasons:

1) to protect the blog name at Blogger,
2) we are not sure whether the search engines will pick up our blog at the Obama website, so we have this one in reserve to make sure that our posts there also appear here, and
3) we plan to make this blog our general political blog down the road, regardless of the outcome of the coming election.

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