Sunday, December 31, 2006

WaPo: A Long List of No-Shows for Ford Rites

On Wednesday, I wondered, (along with Dave Winer) whether not attending the Ford lying-in-state would make John Edwards look bad. Nah. According to the Washington Post skipping the Ford service was a very popular choice among the Washington elite. The current President skipped it. Only three of the Supremes showed, and about ten senators and thirty-five Congress members. Rumsfeld and Baker didn't make it either. The Post said Tom Foley was there. But it also identified him as "former speaker."

As for the public:
Capitol police erected barriers to contain thousands, but by mid-afternoon yesterday, only 20 people were in line -- providing a luxurious person-to-portable-toilet ratio of 1:1.
Mickeleh's Take: This was just the prelims. The big service will be on Tuesday. With no football games competing.

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Who's Mickeleh?

I've been getting some new visitors based on a post and some comments I made about John Edwards announcement and Scoble's coverage thereof. Thanks for dropping by, and welcome.

If you came here with more interest in technology than, you might find my other blog, Mickeleh's Take more to your taste.

This is my news and politics blog. I cross-posted the John Edwards /Robert Scoble in both blogs because it was both a tech and a political story.

Shel Israel, noted the lack of profile information here, inspiring my one and only New Year's resolution: I resolve to work on my profile. If I get very ambitious, I may get around to telling the story of how James Bond got me my job at Apple, how Groucho got me on the radio, how Robin Williams got me a gig at Paramount writing sitcoms--unbeknownst to any of them.

But for now, here's a sketch:

I'm Michael Markman. Not the only Michael Markman, so I'm blogging as Mickeleh, which is a Yiddish-style diminutive for Michael (accent on the first syllable, as in Michelob or piccolo).

Went to Bronx Science--before Dave Winer, to Columbia--with Bill Campbell.

Ran Apple creative services and worldwide corporate advertising sometime during the Jobs interregnum. (best campaign: "What's on your Powerbook")

Spent the first bubble consulting (mostly for clients that ended the century in acquisitions, in chapter 11 or under indictment.) Many of those gigs were with Michael Witlin Associates.

Was creative director at Digeo for development of the Moxi U-I. (we won two Emmy awards so far. Nominated for a third.) Though I have left the company, I contract with them to post on behalf of Moxi under the name MoxiGuy.

I've had an ongoing sideline with Peter Hirshberg doing serio-comic presentations on tech marketing, social media, which we've given at TED, AlwaysOn, The WSJ D-Conference, and the Computer Science Museum. The Long Tail video, inspired by Chris Anderson's book, is one of the artifacts of that collaboration. (Thanks to Robert Scoble for persuading me to post it to YouTube. It's now approaching 400,000 views.)

But enough about me. Let's talk about you. Happiest of New Years to you all. More peace in the world, more love in our lives, and may we grasp all the liquidity events we seek.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Larisa Alexandrovna: The Saddam Hanging in Strategic Context

Juan Cole has posted a Guest Op-Ed from Larisa Alexandrovna that puts the Saddam execution into a context of a grand strategy that's setting up our next military fiasco with Iran.

Mickeleh's Take: I hope Alexandrovna is completely cuckoo about this, but it certainly is of a piece with the strangely grim affect of the war cabinet yesterday, our detaining Iranian diplomats visiting Iraq, Lieberman's belicose op-ed in this morning's Washington Post, which mentions Iran seven times, and Sy Hersh's reporting on the Bush Iran plans in the New Yorker.

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TPM on the Hanging: "It's a job, for once, that these folks can actually see through to completion."

Joshua Micah Marshall finds the hanging of a piece with all of the other staged events that mark the Bush war.
This whole endeavor, from the very start, has been about taking tawdry, cheap acts and dressing them up in a papier-mache grandeur -- phony victory celebrations, ersatz democratization, reconstruction headed up by toadies, con artists and grifters. And this is no different. Hanging Saddam is easy. It's a job, for once, that these folks can actually see through to completion. So this execution, ironically and pathetically, becomes a stand-in for the failures, incompetence and general betrayal of country on every other front that President Bush has brought us.

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Is Bush Just Waiting For The Hanging?

You have to wonder why Bush, after all this time, is still fumbling for, er, working on a strategy for Iraq. The pre-Christmas policy announcement has been postponed. Could it be that Bush is waiting for the hanging so he can point to yet another corner turned? Does he expect that stretching Saddam's neck will give him a long-sought uptick in public approval? Not likely. We're at a point where any news from Iraq is just another reminder of the magnitude of the Bush fiasco.

Bush and advisers meet the press yesterday at Crawford. Said Bush, "I'm making good progress toward coming up with a plan that we think will help us achieve our objective." Said the advisers, nothing.

The most eloquent expressions in yesterday's press meet and photo op were the grim faces, downcast eyes, and pursed lips of the War President's War Cabinet. Bush himself, if you saw any of the TV coverage, was in his head-lowered, sighing, shruggy mode. Did not inspire confidence.

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The Bush Line on Iraq Morphs

Did you notice how the Bush line has shifted from "We're making progress on Iraq" to "We're making progress on a plan"?

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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Herblock Bears Witness to Ford

September 11, 1974
The best documentation we have of the unravelling of the Nixon presidency is Herblock's compendium of his Watergate cartoons, Herblock, Special Report.

Big thanks to poputonian for resurrecting what Herblock said at the time about Ford's pardoning Nixon. Rather than ending our "long national nightmare," the pardon ensured that "the idea of some divine right of Presidents went on." We are all suffering from the Bush administration's embrace of that notion.

Amazon has links to about fifty used copies of the long out-of-print Herblock masterpiece. And they're dirt cheap. How little we value our prophets.

The Washington Post has a gallery of Herblock online.

Mickeleh's Take: There are details which have all but evaporated from the collective memory of mainstream media. It's worth our time to read them and remember.

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John Edwards, The Demo

Edwards insight into high-tech marketing is much deeper than just reaching out to Scoble and popping up on YouTube and Rocketboom. Every candidate this cycle is will be wooing bloggers and throwing campaign videos up onto the net.

Here's the brilliant innovation of the Edwards campaign: he's conducting an open, public, empirical test of his own leadership abilities. He's giving us a demo. That's a high wire act. No net. If it works, it evolves into a public beta of the John Edwards presidency.

The operational definition of a leader is someone with followers. So here's Edwards saying, hey let's get busy and start getting things done now instead of waiting until the election. If people get busy, Edwards is a leader. Kennedy famously challenged the country to, "Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country." But that was in the inaugural address, not the campaign.

Edwards isn't asking for the order on election day. He's asking for it today. And the ask isn't just, "send me money." It's start making things better. If people respond, Edwards will have delivered an irrefutable demonstration of his leadership.

Unless, of course, the only actions he proposes are like the first one: "holding your own local 'Citizens' Launch' event."

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More: Memeorandum, Techmeme

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

John Edwards Falls into a Time Trap

Dave Winer astutely notes that John Edwards timing for his presidential bid (expected tomorrow) has run smack up against Geral Ford lying in state. Edward will be sounding his hollow "One Nation" theme on a day when there will clearly be two nations: the one paying respects to a genial former president and the other listening to a guy say, "elect me!"

The two early leaders in the run for the Democratic nomination, Senators Clinton and Obama will gain gravitas points by "not" campaigning (Nudge, nudge. Wink, wink.)

Edwards may have hoped that announcing during a slow news week would gain him an uncontested spotlight. But his timing would have been sub-optimal even without the Ford's passing. There's a reason people avoid making announcements during the week between Christmas and New Years: nobody's paying attention.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Power is back... Cable (including Broadband) is out

Downtown Kirkland is swimming in free Wi-Fi. I'm currently online at Kahili Coffee. At the table behind me is a guy who may have been completely traumatized by the blackout. He's typing on a manual portable typewriter (Smith-Corona). Clack-clack. Clack-clack-clack. To hell with electricity.

My internet connection is wireless. But I'm getting wired. Da-da-bum.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Holding good thoughts for Sen. Johnson

The latest bulletin on Sen. Tim Johnson comes from Adm. John Eisold, the Capitol attending physicisan: "No further surgical intervention has been required."

This could either be very good news or very bad news.

I'm holding good and prayerful thoughts for the Senator, his family, and the future of the Supreme Court.