Obama wins Twitter statfest. So what?

In the world of meaningless statistics (see many NBA, NFL, MLB, and other sports stats), TPM has emerged as a new faux arbiter of political reality. You don’t grok TPM? That’s “Tweets Per Minute,” knuckleheads.

From @gov, Twitter’s government and politics team:

A new record political moment on Twitter: @barackobama drives 52,757 Tweets per minute. Over 9 million Tweets sent about #DNC2012.

And PCMag enthusiastically passes on Twitter’s parsing of the tweets by one-liners in the speech:

• 43,646: “I’m no longer just the candidate, I’m the President.”
• 39,002: “I will never turn medicare into a voucher.”
• 38,597: Discussing Medicare
• 37,694: “We don’t think government can solve all our problems.”
• 34,572: Quips about the Olympics and “Cold War mind warp.”

And more tweet stats are offered as well without an ounce of analysis what they mean — if anything.
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Nota Bene #105: The Illustrated Dick

“When all you are becomes defined as the amount of information traceable to you, what are we then? What have we become, in a world where there is no separation, no door, no filter beyond which we can say, ‘No. This is my personal space. Not yours. Here I am alone with my thoughts and free of any outside influence or control. This, you cannot have.’ I don’t know, but I don’t want to find out.” Who said it? Continue reading

Senator Claire McCaskill tweets to weaken ACES (updated)

Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri is calling for a further weakening of the American Climate and Energy Security Act (ACES) that passed out of the House last week. Of course, that’s not what she calls it. Sen. McCaskill twittered last week:

I hope we can fix cap and trade so it doesn’t unfairly punish businesses and families in coal dependent states like Missouri. (emphasis mine)

I can’t help but wonder what happened to the Senator who dared mention that oil prices shouldn’t be allowed to fall too far at the Rocky Mountain Roundtable, Session 2, Part 3, during the DNC:

There’s a certain reality here that it is important that we don’t get gas too cheap again, and I certainly agree with what [Randy Udall] said. We will never see the days of… when people are pumping $1, $1.50 gas again. And that may not be an all bad thing because it will motivate the politics on this issue to the forefront so we have a sense of urgency.

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The Scholars & Rogues Manifesto: what are we doing here?

It has been alleged that Scholars & Rogues is not, strictly speaking, a political blog. Sure, we write about overtly political issues and devote our share of time to things like media policy, energy and the environment, business and the economy, and international dynamics. Yes, we were credentialed to cover the DNC, but we don’t really do hard, insider, by god politics. Daily Kos is a political blog. Firedoglake is a political blog. Little Green Footballs, The Agonist, Politico, The Seminal – these are real poliblogs.

S&R, on the other hand, writes about music. About literature and poetry. About art. Education. Sports. Culture and popular culture. The Ramsey case and what it tells us about the state of media. And now that the election is over, S&R is writing about politics less than ever.

So really, what is S&R? Continue reading

What are you doing online? Blogging and politics series continues…

Part two of the Zero Coordinate and EccentricProduction Web documentary series on blogging and political media is now posted. Have a look.

Where Are You Online?: Episode 1 – Political Media

Back during the DNC S&R hooked up with the team from Zero Coordinate and EccentricProduction on the Tent State march and our interview with Lee Camp. Natalie, Paul and Chris were in town primarily to work on a documentary – a production I’ve been waiting on pretty anxiously.

Part 1 arrived today, and it provides a perspective on the process that most people probably haven’t encountered before.

Where are you Online” is a docuwebisode project exploring the shift from entertainment to ‘intertainment’.

We have a unique opportunity to document a shift in technology, entertainment, and our whole society’s view on “Who can be an artist?” Continue reading

Saturday Video Roundup: Lee Camp LIVE at the Big Tent

We’ve mentioned Lee Camp’s performance at the DNC in Denver a time or three, and our friends at Eccentric Production/Zero Coordinate have now posted it for your viewing pleasure. Funny stuff – enjoy…

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Saturday Video Roundup: "This is the guilt I'll live with for the rest of my life…monsters aren't born, monsters are created…"

As noted a couple weeks ago, the S&R team hooked up with the crew from Zero Coordinate and Eccentric Production at the DNC in Denver. In addition to their invaluable help in shooting the Lee Camp interview, we also worked together in covering the Returned Soldiers/Rage Against the Machine/Tent State march on the DNC.

Natalie Ashodian and her team have now produced a powerful video from that march, and for those who only read about it (or, as is more likely the case, given how little attention the mainstream press paid to it, never even heard about it in the first place) this coverage is extremely important. Continue reading

Pro-Life, Pro-Obama: is it possible?

That’s the debate I’ve been having with an old college friend whom I’ve recently reconnected with.He’s become a Catholic since we knew one another back in the ‘80s, and is a deep-thinking, deeply principled man.He will not be voting for Barack Obama in November.Nor will he be voting for John McCain.He will vote, but he will cast a blank ballot.He urges me, if I am serious about my moral commitments, to do likewise.Neither candidate, in his opinion, cares enough about ‘life issues’ to merit an affirmative vote.

The New York Times reports that other Catholics are struggling with what do with in the upcoming election. The most troublesome issue for many remains abortion.Some, like Joe Biden, believe we must make accommodations for differing views in a pluralistic society, despite his own embrace of personhood at conception.Others, like my old friend, see Biden’s support for legal access to abortion as no different from espousing the Holocaust – if not in deed, then in complicity.

Can a Catholic possibly vote for a Democratic candidate who has regularly received a 100% approval rating from Planned Parenthood and indeed, as a state senator, voted against an Illinois version of the Born Alive Infant Protection bill passed by Congress?Can I, as a person of faith who believes all life is sacred?I am going to answer ‘yes,’ and in so doing, proclaim myself also a utilitarian and a realist, with all the moral conundra that pragmatism involves. Continue reading

"Drill, baby. Drill!" is a lie

During the DNC, I had the opportunity to sit in on a climate messaging discussion with several VIPs from various environmental organizations. During the discussion, there was a great deal of hand wringing over what was and was not possible, what was going to happen on oil drilling legislation once Congress was back in session, and so on. But the thing I remember the most was what Leslie Robinson of Rifle, CO said:

“You’ve got 15 seconds to get a potential voter over to your side.” What do you say to that undecided voter in 15 seconds that is simple enough that you know they’ll get it, but that is also powerful enough to at least get them to do a double-take and ask you to explain what you mean? After all, everyone understands “Drill, baby! Drill!”. So how do you counter that simple message with an equally powerful and yet simple message? Continue reading

S&R interviews PCAP's Bill Becker, Part 4

On Monday we introduced you to Bill Becker and heard all about PCAP’s policy suggestions. Tuesday we focused on how the United States could wean itself off of carbon using a cap-and-auction market system, and yesterday we talked about national security and how it relates to energy and climate.

Today, in our final segment, we talk about the science of global heating, the technology that can help address it, and it’s deniers.

S&R: How do you address the concerns of the person who just spent $4.30 per gallon to fill up their tank with gas, who is concerned that the price of gas for their furnace is going up, who sees their electricity prices rising because Chinese demand for coal is driving up coal prices, when you say that you’re going to make all of that carbon-based energy even more expensive?

Bill Becker: Well, first you tell them that the price has gone up not because of climate change or anything we’ve done to solve climate change, it’s gone up because these are fossil fuels, they’re finite fuels and it’s inevitable that they’re going to run out. Continue reading

S&R interviews PCAP's Bill Becker, Part 3

On Monday we introduced you to Bill Becker and heard all about PCAP’s policy suggestions. Yesterday we focused on how the United States could wean itself off of carbon using a cap-and-auction market system. Today we talk about national security and how it relates to energy and climate.

S&R: You’ve used a phrase that a photovoltaic panel, from a national security perspective, is equivalent to a rifle. Last night [at the Green Constitutional Congress] you also said that a plug-in hybrid was equivalent to a tank. How much into the public’s perception has national security risen that you’re starting to use this kind of language?

Bill Becker: Well, publicly I’m not sure it’s risen very far. Continue reading

Has Obama dug a hole that he can't climb out of?

Well, well, well….

There’s been a spurt of 527 activity on behalf of Sen. John McCain, but Barack Obama campaign has suddenly gone silent on the subject.That’s because, after of year of telling donors not to contribute to 527 groups, of encouraging strategists not to form them and of suggesting that outside messaging efforts would not be welcome in Obama’s Democratic Party, Obama’s strategists have changed their approach. Continue reading

S&R interviews PCAP's Bill Becker, Part 2

Yesterday we introduced you to Bill Becker and heard all about PCAP’s policy suggestions. Today we focus on some of the nuts and bolts of weaning the United States off of carbon, specifically cap-and-trade, cap-and-auction, and carbon taxes.

S&R: John Podesta said today [at the Energy and Climate Change roundtable] that the process of decarbonizing, of getting ourselves off of fossil fuels, would be a massive and breathtakingly difficult process for our country and the world. How will PCAP help the President and Congress convince the American people that decarbonizing our economy won’t be too difficult to undertake at all?

Bill Becker: Well, a couple of things. John is right, this is going to be a massive undertaking. We’ve got 200 years of a fossil economy that we need to reinvent, and we need to do it on a dime – turn on a dime. And we need to do it as a global community instead of as one country. And we don’t have a czar who can impose this on us – the democratic process is frustrating to say the least. So it’s a huge undertaking. Continue reading

S&R interviews PCAP's Bill Becker – Part 1

During the Democratic National Convention, I had the opportunity to interview Bill Becker, the executive director of the Presidential Climate Action Program (PCAP). Over the course of the interview, the topics ranged from PCAP’s recommendations to the next President and Congress to the national security implications of global heating to cap-and-trade carbon emission markets to climate science and fossil fuels. What follows is the first part of the interview where Becker talks about what PCAP does, what its recommendations are, and what the United States needs to do in order to respond to the looming climate crisis.

In the interests of disclosure, I’ve rearranged the order of the questions and answers in order to group them logically by topic instead of chronologically. Continue reading

Observations from a weekend of protests in Denver


We’re still trying to make sense of the spectacle that was last week’s DNC in Denver, and the same goes for many of the city’s residents. Our friend Karl Christian had some thoughts on the proceedings, and has agreed to let us repost this article, written on Day 2 of the DNC.

beerkitty has a lot more photos here.

This is actually not my first political convention, but my third (2000 in Philadelphia with the Republican Convention and 2004 in Boston with the Democratic Convention.) I just always happen to live where the political action apparently likes to move to. Continue reading

The S&R Interview with Lee Camp, part 2: "Thank God for Jon Stewart"

In part two of the S&R Interview, comedian Lee Camp talks with me about the relationship between politics and comedy and has high praise for those who, like Jon Stewart and Chris Rock, are able to infuse their work with important insights about our society.

“Thank god for The Daily Show,” he says. “I wish there was a network that 24 hours [a day] played Daily Show-esque clips of ‘Bush said this and a month ago he said this and it’s completely the opposite. McCain said this and it conflicts with this‘.”

Camp also offers his personal experience on how the networks and media corporations use their money and the promise of wider exposure to co-opt and undercut the message of comedians with something more serious to say. Continue reading

The S&R interview: Lee Camp, pt. 1

On February 23, comedian Lee Camp appeared on FOX News, where he proceeded to sound off on the hosts and their audience.

“What is Fox News?” asks comedian and activist Lee Camp on the air. “It’s just a parade of propaganda, isn’t it? It’s just a…festival of ignorance.”

Obviously Camp is a man with some political convictions. He’s also a very, very funny guy, as he demonstrated during the recent DNC festivities in Denver. Appearing with several other noteworthy names (SNL’s Fred Armisen, Sam Seder, Eugene Mirman, and the guys from BarelyPolitical.com, to name a few), Camp stole the show with a set that touched on everything from whether America is ready for a black president to whether we’re ready for Miley Cyrus.

Afterward, Camp made a few minutes to answer some questions for S&R and its readers. Continue reading

I'm a new Scrogue — but don't pigeonhole me

I’m a recent addition to the S&R line-up since my first guest appearance at the DNC, and I hope I can run with these clever, yappy dogs. I’ve been worried that I’m not enough of a pitbull – unlike Sam, whose ‘reality check’ radar functions more forcefully than mine, or Brian, whose critical slant isn’t compromised by pesky emotions. I, on the other hand, found myself inspired by the multitude of earnest political conversations buzzing around Denver last week (even while ABC reporters were getting arrested trying to unveil connections between lobbyists, big money and Dem lawmakers), and moved deeply while listening to Barack Obama energize 80,000 people inside Denver’s football stadium last Thursday night.

I felt like I’d been to church. Continue reading