20090727

Hillary won't run again. Unless...

Hillary Clinton swears she won't run again for president : "I have absolutely no belief, in my mind, that that will happen".

In her mind no, but in her heart, there's still that tiny little glimmer of hope.

HRC is 62, and BHO seems on his irresistible way to a second term, even if he fails miserably on Healthcare, the 1994 Clinton style.

2016 Hillary will probably be much fitter at 69-70 than 2008 John McCain, a 72 year-old Vietnam-and-skin-cancer survivor more or less losing his marbles. But a full throttle campaign, again ? Thanks, but no thanks.

Of course, there is the possibility of a "RFK moment"*, an unexpected opening for the top job... but my guess is that Hillary Clinton will settle for #2 with the help of her old(er) friend Joe Biden, who will turn 70 in 2012.

Joe has never hidden his respect for a person he himself would have picked as Obama's running mate. She would of course be at the top of his list should he have to select a Veep as the next POTUS.

I don't see Joe Biden running again. The risk of becoming a liability, the opportunity to leave office as a sound leader, and to be instrumental in the breaking of another glass ceiling... I'm sure he'll decline a second term as Vice-President.

Furthermore, Barack and Hillary have let Primary dust settle and would form the perfect 2012 ticket for America. This scenario, which already seemed obvious even as primaries raged, now definitely looks like the base case.


* see "
Dial Hillary for murder"

20090724

News biorhythms and the future of newspaper

Before the introduction of printing in Europe by Guthenberg, people would travel for books. Then books could multiply, move and reach different readers in different locations. Now you don't even need paper and anyone can consult any priceless ancient manuscript from anywhere without fear of damaging it*.

Earlier this year, there was a exhibition in the library of Florence's Convento di San Marco on the process of book making, featuring beautiful objects and illuminations. I remember thinking, as I moved from one marvel of patience to another, about how people would look at a newspaper press a few years from now.

Doesn't it already seem like a black and white scene from Citizen Cane ? The journalist getting his scoop, writing it down, submitting it to the chief editor, the prints running like crazy, a headline splashing on a newstand, yelled by a street vendor...

Scenes from last millenium.

The future of newspaper definitely looks like "more news and less paper".

Many players are folding their last issues, and folding, period. The sector had been looking for new business models for years when depression struck, precipitating bankruptcies in an already fragile ecosystem.

Sourcing, writing, editing, printing, distributing, advertising... now it's less a linear value chain than a shape shifting value cloud. But there's still value out there, be it in relevance, ergonomy, utility, actionability, exclusivity, analysis / insights / advice, local, reassurance, trust, fun... or why not, the quality of the paper (actually, that's the reason why there's still a thriving market - readers and advertisers - for certain magazines).

Likewise, brands are more often scattered among media, platforms, authors, journalists, and contributors who can even be anonymous members of a popular online forum. With a high churn rate because things and people tend to come out of fad more quickly by the day. Any local newspaper can get its 15 Warholian minutes of fame because say, their cute kitten rescued from a fire in Armpit, TN has been over-retwitted as a scoop of michaeljacksonian magnitude.

Reading has become a multimedia experience with pop-ups, background music, rollover images... you start reading an article and end up watching a movie while purchasing virtual pop-corn for your tamagotchi.

Sometimes, the article you're reading is being edited under your very eyes. Like that page devoted to post-elections unrests in Iran on HuffPost, or
DemConWatch's SuperDelegate list, which I consulted about every other minute last year.

News and hoaxes are everywhere, and each individual has what I call his or her own "News BioRhythm" : depending on the context you consume more or less but you somehow have to be fed at certain moments of the day.

The future of newspaper ? The term will more often cover the medium instead of the media brand : you won't be talking about the NYT nor the WSJ, but about your favorite epaper smartphone application, your favorite dedicated device (ie your Kindle, your foldable screen...), where you chose to consult the news.

We all have tools to arrange our own newspapers, but that's not necessarily what you want nor need. I started with My Yahoo! around 1995-96 but quickly switched to a more pervasive browsing mode. There are usually about 30 sites always on on my screen - half of which about news, news gathering, or keeping track of news I read.

I know, I have a problem with my NBR... I should twit my shrink about it (he takes only $13.59 + taxes per character).


* These days, you should fear more for your dutifully purchased ebook (see "
Kindle's Total Recall")

20090722

John Thune raises his profile and his guns

Senator John Thune's idea of raising his GOP profile is to raise his guns : the Republican Policy Committee Chairman from South Dakota wants to allow gun owners to carry concealed firearms into states with similar gun regulations.

In other words : Weapons of Mass Destruction will pass seamlessly between members of the Axis of Smith & Wesson.

This just follows a law allowing guns in National Parks (see "
Open Season for Yosemite Sam"). I mean come on : the only political platform these guys seem to consider is a shooting gallery ! Don't be evil, GOPgle !

I'm sure Rush & co are wetting their pants just thinking about promising solutions to unemployment and depression (feeling depressed ? press the trigger and put a hole in'em vagrants on the dole !)... but I keep wondering what kind of vision of politics and education people like Thune have in mind.

John Thune's vision of the future ? Don't look further than the sight at the end of his gun.

20090716

Tony Blair : a newborn fundamentalist President of Europe ?

Unsurprisingly, Tony Blair came out in the open as a candidate for the Presidency of Europe.

The problem is that previously, he also came out in the open as a newly converted Catholic. Some - including yours truly - would rather say "born again fundamentalist".

After palling and praying around with a fundamentalist imposteur (George W. Bush), after courting a fundamentalist pope (Benedict XVI), The Right Honourable Anthony Charles Lynton Blair will be welcomed by people like fundamentalist Luc van den Brande, the man who a couple of years ago censored a report denouncing creationist / Intelligent Design lobbies at governmental levels across western Europe.

So this man can campaign on consensual and noble causes as much as he wants on his website (he just published "Technology for a Low Carbon Future" -
tonyblairoffice.org), make no mistake : his job is to boost fundamentalism and to turn Europe into a safe haven for US style cults and megachurches.

Europe simply must not be represented by a Tony Blair - Jose Manuel Barroso ticket.

Other "political" news ? Former Solidarnosc Jerzy Buzek, the European Parliament's new President, is following the Lutherian Evangelical Church of Augsburg.

Amen.

20090715

Lake - Hodson - Stevens

I used to like Fareed Zakaria and Christiane Amanpour (pronounce: meeee, Christiaaaaaann Amaaaanpur) when they focused on their subjects instead of themselves. Now I don't see journalists but ambitious egos. I hope Hala Gorani won't follow the same path.

What I do enjoy on CNN International is the World Business Today NYC-HK-London trio composed of - respectively - Maggie Lake, Andrew Stevens, and Charles Hodson. They are kind, eager to bring the news, and obviously enjoying the moment they share together without competing against each other (not a meagre feat in this mine field). Don't expect in-depth analysis from Stevens, but don't expect a horripilating Richard Quest moment either : where Quest plays the clown, Stevens seems closer to the circus announcer launching a pleasant ping pong game between a sharp and to the point New Yorker (Lake) and a witty Beeb-raised Britton (Hodson).

CNN International's weird roster also includes a Canadian garden elf sans beard (Jonathan Mann), a bambi mesmerized by her own reflection in a mirror (Anjali Rao), an overweight Peter Graves (Jim Clancy), or a nip / tuck survivor (when Rosemary Church needs to workout her calves, she only has to pronounce the letter "o" - I don't want to know what happens when she goes all the way and closes her mouth).

BBC World News boasts a different stable : a Philippino toad speaking like a machine-gun (Rico Hizon for Asia Business Report), a hedgehog speaking through his nose (Jonathan Charles), a British-Pakistanese cat articulating like no other (Mishal Husain), a Mel Gibson wannabe pantomime-ing business news (named ???), a tall Droopy unable to say "you know what ? I'm happy" (Peter Dobbie), or a veteran CSIS / MI5 / KGB / Mossad / DST / mole (Lyse Doucet).

Most of them are endangered species : simple English will eventually prevail worldwide as it does across the US.

blogules 2009

20090712

Scoop : Cheney is not a democrat... but why this 5 month delay ?

Leon Panetta put the last nail on Dick Cheney's coffin.

As soon as he learned, on June 23rd, the existence of a secret CIA counterterrorism program hidden from Congress for 8 years (guess which years), Panetta closed it and alerted both Congress intelligence committees, revealing the fact that this secrecy was imposed by direct orders from former Vice President Dick Cheney*.

I can't see how Lobby Dick can avoid justice now (he'll probably have to answer to other criminal charges**). David Addington is also in the line of fire on that one. At last, Eric Holder can start the cleaning and America a fair inventory of the doomed Bush Legacy***.

So Dick Cheney is a soon to be convicted felon, an enemy of the State and democracy... nothing new under the sun.

The key question here is : why did it take 5 months to brief Panetta ?

According to CIA Spokesman Paul Gimigliano : "It's not agency practice to discuss what may or may not have been said in a classified briefing. When a C.I.A. unit brought this matter to Director Panetta's attention, it was with the recommendation that it be shared appropriately with Congress. That was also his view, and he took swift, decisive action to put it into effect."

Well the team was not swift at all. Unless Cheney's orders were to go beyond the Bush-Cheney administration. The time to solve technical issues, like paper jams in the shredder room.



* see "
Cheney Is Linked to Concealment of C.I.A. Project" (New York Times - Scott Shane -20090711)
** see
previous blogules on Lobby Dick, including "Welcome on Waterboard", "Yoo got mail"... or on a lighter side "Lobby Dick tries to retire, fails to retract.
*** BTW: Holder is considering - at last - probing Bush torture policy : see "Independent's Day".

20090707

The Dictatorship of Short Term: Beijing and Uighurs

Beijing is definitely struggling to impose unity over the territories it claimed last century (see "Tibet, Ouïgours... l'Empire éclaté ?").

What strikes me in the spectacular Urumqi riots is the way the "show" is being orchestrated by the official propaganda :
- a selection of images exposing over and over the opposition of order (authorities) and chaos (violent anarchists)
- a convenient scapegoat : Uighur activist Rebiya Kadeer, promoted by Beijing as another Dalai Lama, to wit "a terrorist leader planning crimes from his/her foreign lair".

Of course, the regime keeps banning all "unhealthy" contents, but Beijing chose not to put the crisis under the censorship extinguisher. Iranian-style denial did prove unefficient but here, the idea is to legitimate from the start a new wave of repression, to kill any empathy for rioters before it's even born. The Hu Jintao way.

This is not strategy but tactics. It may work in the short term but will prove disastrous in the medium to long term :

  • First, the central regime is advertising on the failure of "Pax Sinica"* on Uighur territory (sorry, in "Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region") : the forced "Hanification" of Urumqi (a capital city now 70% populated by ethnic Han) didn't lead to the eradication of the Uighur identity, and the "province" seems a colony under the control of an army of occupation. Han "colons" will think twice before joining the party.
  • Second, nationalism is a dead end. The more the regime exposes its own weaknesses, the further it is tempted to go in basic ultranationalism and hatemongering rumors. You never build anything sustainable with this kind of ideologies. I even see this as the main risk for the unity of the Empire : the failure of strategic vision, the triumph of primal hatred and racism.
  • Third, as it fuels radicalism in order to artificially create an enemy from the outside, Beijing is bound to come face to face with an even more dangerous ideology : international jihadists. A minority, Islamist fundamentalists are very happy that the central regime fans the fires of religious and ethnic hatred. That was precisely their objective : reaching centerstage, embodying the resistance... and silencing the actual cause of the Uighur people.

* or is it "bellum cynica" ?

---

Initially published on blogules in French.

20090705

GOP - From Morale Building to Moral Damage Control Mode

Senator John Ensign (R-NV) and Governor Mark Sanford (R-SC) left without a word the office of the new GOP boss. So did Michael Steele, after a last attempt to keep his job.

"I came to fix this heckuva mess and believe me, change is coming to the GOP", said Sarah Palin to a forest of microphones. "Enough blows below the Bible belt. Enough Appalachian Trails to nowhere. I know about family values : how much do you think it cost me to cancel the party for Bristol and Levi ? And don't try to stop me. I already received stupid e-mail from macho Republicans, and stupid stuff from the letter man. Even Mark Foley tried to page me."

Is she going to run for 2012 ? You betcha.

"I can't hide that I can run", continued the theocon icon. "I'm rather fit for a hockey granma, see ? Actually, I ran all the way from Wasilla down to DC. Bobby wouldn't let me stop. Bobby, the pitbull chasing me... I can run, I tellya. Obama ? He couldn't even run a fever after a trip to swine flu infected Mexico".
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