The Political Power of the Internet

Andrew Sullivan provided an update today to Jonathan Alter’s article about the potential political power of the internet. Sullivan noted that:

Bob Wright describes how a combination of a) a third party in laptop (such as the effort reported by Jon Alter) and b) a timely dropping-out could lead to a quasi-parliamentary negotiated government and radical, elite-driven reforms. … The semi-paralyzing complexity comes when there isn’t one party in a laptop but five of them.”

Sullivan is referring to a video discussion between Robert Wrightwood and Micky Kaus on Bloggingheads.t.v. Take a look at their discussion and see whether you can figure out the point that they’re trying to make. I hardly can!

King Bush III: Oh, My…

The Royal Bush

Bush III? Can we extend the dynasty? Those are the questions some Republicans are asking themselves as political talk emerges yet again about President George W. Bush’s brother, Florida Governor Jeb Bush. A major source of the buzz is the current occupant of the White House, who twice this month has stated that his younger brother would make ” a great president.”

Republican party leaders continue to talk seriously about a continuation of the dynasty, a Bush III administration, with Jeb as a candidate in 2012 or 2016, when the memory of the current president’s dismal poll ratings will be less of a factor. That, you will recall, is exactly what happened the last time around. The first President Bush’s unpopularity at the end of his term in 1992 did not hurt his eldest son when he ran for president eight years later.

Look, I think he’d be a great president,” the current President Bush said in response to a question about Jeb at a convention in Chicago last week. Less than two weeks before, the president was more expansive in an interview with a group of Florida newspaper reporters. According to the St. Petersburg Times, President Bush said he had “pushed” his brother “fairly hard about what he intends to do” and that his political future “is very bright, if he chooses to have a political future.”

However, the president added that “I would like to see Jeb run at some point in time, but I have no idea if that’s his intention or not.” Jeb, who was always considered the most likely to succeed in politics, was the original family favorite to run for president. But in a turn of events that has become a political parable, or debacle, George surprised even his mother by upsetting Texas Governor Ann Richards in 1994. That same year, Jeb lost by two percentage points to Florida Governor Lawton Chiles. Jeb easily returned to beat Buddy McKay in 1998, but by then his brother was already in line for the White House.

Benedict at Auschwitz

Remembering Auschwitz

Andrew Sullivan recently offered these comments about Pope Benedict’s speech at Auschwitz:

I was unimpressed by his speech. It was a function of resilient denial – denial that the German people had en masse backed Nazism long after its true nature had become known; and denial of the criminal silence and acquiescence of the Vatican hierarchy during that period of time. Money quote about the Germans:

It is a duty before the truth and the just due of all who suffered here, a duty before God, for me to come here as the successor of Pope John Paul II and as a son of the German people — a son of that people over which a ring of criminals rose to power by false promises of future greatness and the recovery of the nation’s honor, prominence and prosperity, but also through terror and intimidation, with the result that our people was used and abused as an instrument of their thirst for destruction and power…

The Germans abused by the Nazis?? They created, empowered and were the Nazis. Then this:

Constantly the question comes up: Where was God in those days? Why was he silent? How could he permit this endless slaughter, this triumph of evil?

How about a simpler and more accountable question: where was the Church hierarchy? Where was the Pope? That is neither rhetorical nor unanswerable. And where is the expiation of the original sin of Christianity – anti-Semitism – that played a part in preparing the way for Nazism? Why was Benedict silent? Even today?

The Daily Dish

May 29, 2006

Memorial Day: Feelings of Remorse

They are finally at rest

The earth may run red with other wars

But they are now at peace

In the midst of battles, in the roar of conflicts

They have found the serenity of death.


In Devoted Memory to:

My Grandfather (World War I)

My Father (World War II, The Berlin Airlift, The Vietnam War)

Why War?

Freud and Einstein: Why War?

The thoughts involved my last the few postings have somehow led my thinking to this question: Why War? This reminded me of the letters between Freud and Einstein investigating the nature of war, wherein they hoped (although not optimistically) that we might be able to find the means to prevent wars. The letters were published as a very limited edition monograph (2,000 copies), entitled Why War? Careful readers of the Freud letters contained within that monograph will especially note that Freud conceptualized his professional identity there as a psychologist, rather than as a psychoanalyst.

I find the conclusion of the correspondences to be extremely striking. Specifically, the conclusion of their investigation into the causes of war was that its root lay in psychosis, and that war is a clear example of collective psychosis:

Because man has within him a lust for hatred and destruction. In normal times this passion exists in a latent state, it emerges only in unusual circumstances; but it is a comparatively easy task to call it into play and raise it to the power of a collective psychosis. Here lies, perhaps, the crux of all the complex factors we are considering, an enigma that only the expert in the lore of human instincts can resolve.

And so we come to our last question. Is it possible to control man’s mental evolution so as to make him proof against the psychosis of hate and destructiveness?

Internet Politics

Internet Politics
Jonathan Alter has recently discussed the potentially powerful effects of the internet upon future presidential elections. In his Newsweek article, A New Open-Source Politics, Alter writes that:”Bob Schieffer of CBS News made a good point on ‘The Charlie Rose Show’ last week. He said that successful presidents have all skillfully exploited the dominant medium of their times. The Founders were eloquent writers in the age of pamphleteering. Franklin D. Roosevelt restored hope in 1933 by mastering radio. And John F. Kennedy was the first president elected because of his understanding of television.

Will 2008 bring the first Internet president? Last time, Howard Dean and later John Kerry showed that the whole idea of ‘early money’ is now obsolete in presidential politics. The Internet lets candidates who catch fire raise millions in small donations practically overnight. That’s why all the talk of Hillary Clinton’s ‘war chest’ making her the front runner for 2008 is the most hackneyed punditry around. Money from wealthy donors remains the essential ingredient in most state and local campaigns, but ‘free media’ shapes the outcome of presidential races, and the Internet is the freest media of all.

No one knows exactly where technology is taking politics, but we’re beginning to see some clues. For starters, the longtime stranglehold of media consultants may be over. In 2008, any presidential candidate with half a brain will let a thousand ad ideas bloom (or stream) online and televise only those that are popular downloads. Deferring to ‘the wisdom of crowds’ will be cheaper and more effective.”

Excerpt From:
Jonathan Alter
June 5, 2006

Blog It Forward: Spreading Friendly Feelings


“Blog It Forward”

What’s this all about? Just choose a website/blog (or two or three) that you expecially like and post an article on your own site about why you feel that they are noteworthy. Why do you like them? Why are they given that special place of prominence in your thinking about bloggers? Are they funny? Are they wise? Do they provide you with valuable internet resources? Are they just too “good looking” for people to pass by? Take a little time to let your friends and other people know about them!!!

At the same time, you could send a note to the author(s) whose site(s) you enjoy, letting him/her know that you’ve shared their site with others. In the case of my suggested site described below, you might send a short message to Andrew Sullivan by sending an email to him at:

It just just might “make their day” to see their name in the spotlight! Remember, by doing this you can help to extend friendly feelings on the internet, and in these times there can never be too much love amongst bloggers here in the cyberworld.

Please read and pass along to your friends my own Blog It Forward of the Day:

Andrew Sullivan’s Daily Dish.

Emails to:

Andrew Sullivan’s blog, The Daily Dish, enjoys an international readership. His writings are considered to reflect one of the more rational and moderate conservative voices to be found on the internet. In more recent times, many of his articles have served as a major alert about and source of strong opposition to corruption in and increasing abuse of power by the Bush administration. Sullivan’s sophisticated internet writings have always strongly supported the prohibition of any form of political/social discrimination based upon gender, race, ethnicity and sexual orientation. As an added bonus, readers will find links to a number of valuable reading resources on his site.

Sullivan’s Background

Andrew Sullivan graduated from Magdalen College, Oxford, where he took a First in Modern History and Modern Languages. In 1984, he won a Harkness Fellowship to Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, and earned a Masters degree in Public Administration in 1986. While at Harvard, he was best known for acting, appearing as Hamlet, Alan in Peter Shaffer’s Equus, and Mozart in Shaffer’s Amadeus.

Subsequently, Sullivan worked as an Associate Editor at The New Republic, editing and writing for both the political and literary sections of the magazine, while free-lancing for The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Daily Telegraph and Esquire magazine. In 1989, he received his Ph.D. in Political Science from Harvard University, where he was awarded the Government Department Prize for a dissertation in political science. In 1990, he returned to Washington, D.C., where he free-lanced for The Telegraph and started a monthly column for Esquire. He was soon back at The New Republic as Deputy Editor; in June 1991, at the age of 27, he was appointed Acting Editor. In October, he took over as editor, and presided over 250 issues of The New Republic, resigning in May 1996. During his tenure , The New Republic’s circulation grew to well over 100,000 and its advertising revenues grew by 76 percent. The magazine also won three National Magazine Awards for General Excellence, Reporting, and Public Interest.

Sullivan’s editorship at TNR was often turbulent, controversial and pioneering. Under his direction, the magazine expanded its focus beyond politics to cover such topics as the future of hip-hop, same-sex marriage, and affirmative action in the newsroom. The magazine campaigned for early intervention in Bosnia, for homosexual equality, and against affirmative action. TNR also published the first public discussion of The Bell Curve the explosive 1995 book on IQ. In 1996, Sullivan was named Editor of the Year by Adweek magazine.

In the early 1990s, Sullivan became known for being openly homosexual, and for writing pioneering works on such issues as gays in the military and same-sex marriage. His 1993 TNR essay, The Politics of Homosexuality, was credited by The Nation magazine as the most influential article of the decade in gay rights. His 1995 book, Virtually Normal: An Argument About Homosexuality, was published to positive reviews, became one of the best-selling books on gay rights, and was translated into five languages. He followed it with a reader, Same-Sex Marriage: Pro and Con, and testified before Congress on the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996. His second book, Love Undetectable: Notes on Friendship, Sex, and Survival, was published in 1998 in the United States and Britain. It was a synthesis of three essays on the plague of AIDS, homosexuality and psycho-therapy, and the virtue of friendship. Sullivan tested positive for HIV in 1993, and remains in good health.

In the late 1990s, Sullivan worked as a contributing writer and columnist for The New York Times Magazine, a regular contributor to The New York Times Book Review, and a weekly columnist for The Sunday Times of London. His New York Times cover-stories, When Plagues End, a description of the changing AIDS epidemic in 1996, and The Scolds, an analysis of the decline of American conservatism in 1998, became national talking points. His 1999 essay, What’s So Bad About Hate, is included in the Best American Essays of 1999. His 2000 cover story on testosterone, Why Men Are Different, provoked a flurry of controversy, as well as a cover-story in Time, and a documentary on the Discovery Channel. Since 2002, Sullivan has been a columnist for Time Magazine, and a regular guest on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher and NBC’s Chris Matthews’ Show.

In the summer of 2000, Sullivan became one of the first mainstream journalists to experiment with blogging, and soon developed a large online readership with’s Daily Dish. In January 2006, Sullivan took his blog to’s home-page where he now writes daily. He remains a Senior Editor at The New Republic.

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