Dec 08 2008

The Presidency of the Future…

by at 11:20 pm

Christopher Rhoades makes a very good point in last Sunday’s Wall Street Journal:

“More than a month after a million-strong organization helped get Barack Obama elected president, the question remains what role that massive online force will play in actually governing.”

For legal and privacy reasons, many believe that the list of names and email addresses collected by Obama for America will be handed over to the Democratic Naitonal Committee.  The idea of letting these same volunteers have a part in running the government may seem innovative and practical.  However, many feel that these volunteers signed up to help the campaign, not to help the administration.

What do you think?  What role will technology play in the Obama Administration?  What tasks will the new position of Chief Technology Officer take on?

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Dec 02 2008

Former Pressies Warn President-Elect Obama Not to Go Crazy on Web

by at 6:10 pm

Obama’s success has relied much on the use of the Internet and social networking. This article in U.S. News and World Report says that while the Internet is good in establishing communication, as President now, Obama might want to steer clear of it a bit. The risk? He could “cheapen the message.” Communications teams suggest that he shouldn’t over-do it and shouldn’t be too accessible. Is this a good enough reason?

Click here to read the article.

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Dec 01 2008

Advice for President-Elect Obama

by at 9:06 pm

I caught this on CSPAN radio this afternoon and it was a very interesting discussion about advice for President-Elect Obama.  Key points included the need for the Obama administration to embrace two-way communication and be transparent.  The moderators also were interested in how the administration will engage all the supporters they have collected through their database.


A group of former White House press secretaries who served Presidents George W. Bush, Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford offered their advice on media relations for the incoming Obama administration. George Washington University hosted the event and GW Research Professor Stephen Hess moderated the discussion.

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Dec 01 2008

Recession means creativity

by at 4:01 pm

I celebrated my birthday this past Friday and visited the Newseum where President-elect Obama is everywhere. 

Today it was announced we are officially in a recession. For some it means becoming very creative in order to stay afloat financially and with others it means seeking assistance.  I noticed so many street vendors selling Obamawear everywhere…buttons, t shirts, posters, etc.  It was incredible to watch men/women sell a piece of history.  As I entered the Newseum, I noticed the life size poster of Obama, the front page of newspapers around the country announcing the President-elect, his autobiography, buttons, posters and t shirts.  As a result of President-elect Obama, more people are working to sell his brand.  Imagine January 20, whatever you want with Obama’s image, you will probably be able to purchase.  Is it right, legal or appropriate to sell his brand? or Is it right that so many Americans are suffering financially and loosing their homes daily? It makes you think!

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Dec 01 2008

Obama Transition Team

by at 3:35 pm

Well, it’s official after speculation President-elect Barack Obama officially announced key members of their national security team today nominating Senator Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State.  Were you surprised? As I watched the press announcement on CNN, I wondered why Senator Clinton looked so lifeless, no emotion. As she shared it was a challenging decision to accept the nomination…I can imagine, her thoughts on how to manage Bill Clinton!! Nevertheless, she smiled when President-elect Obama joked about her toughess on the campaign trail.  Do you think she will receive confirmation? I think she may have some challengers, but overall, I think she will be appointed Secretary of State.

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Nov 24 2008

Gearing up for 2012??

by at 3:10 pm

Pro-Palin ads ‘thank you’ ads hit the airwaves

Even though it’s in Alaska right now over Thanksgiving, there could be future plans for more ads nationwide. Particularly considering what chief strategist Sal Russo says. Or maybe it’s doing damage control for the Thanksgiving footage of Palin and the turkey. Either way, it’s trying to redefine her image – positively – and keeping her in the spotlight. Below is article:

(CNN) — Election Day was three weeks ago, but political ads praising former Republican VP nominee Sarah Palin are still hitting the airwaves.

The Our Country Deserves Better PAC has begun running spots in Alaska — two 60-second ads, and two 30-second versions — that pay tribute to Palin, with plans to expand the ad buy to the rest of the country sometime this week.

“Governor Palin inspired millions of Americans by fighting for common sense conservative principles in a positive and uplifting manner,” chief strategist Sal Russo said in a statement. “I worked with President Ronald Reagan since his first days in the California Governor’s Office, and I can tell you that I see so many similarities between President Reagan and Governor Palin.”

The 60-second Thanksgiving-themed spot — which comes days after footage of a Palin interview on a turkey farm hit the airwaves — also points to the Alaska governor’s fondness for moose chili as a turkey alternative.

The PAC — which sponsored the “Stop Obama Now” bus tour during the campaign season — said it plans to spend at least $50,000 airing the ads in Alaska. It has not yet released details of the ad buy on national broadcast and cable networks.

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Nov 20 2008

Wal-Mart Blogs

by at 12:31 pm

I mentioned in class Monday night that Walt-Mart is actually having a blog. However, at that time of the day I was not sure whether my memory of this blog was right or wrong. It was right!

The blog is called Check Out – Where the Lanes are All Open. Wal-Mart buyers write about products they evaluate and seek input from customers.

According to an article in New York Times, it seems that Wal-Mart learned from the earlier failures to communicate with consumers online that the communication has to be authentic. On this blog it is the voice of employees and not the executive suite or PR department that we hear.

Is it a success? In February, the blog had less than 1,000 a day. I have checked Technorati, Alexa and other sites that tracks online traffic and it has not changed much. Furthermore, there are not that many comments. In one instance, an entry got 257 comments from mostly commentators who were concerned with Wal-Mart’s decision not to sell milk with recombinant bovine somatotropin (rbST). (I have no clue what that exactly means but it’s not the point here either). I wonder why the Wal-Mart blogger never responded to the critics. To me, it indicates that Wal-Mart wants the conversation to be one-way but that is not what blogging is about.

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Nov 18 2008

48 Laws of Obama: An Interview with Strategy Expert Robert Greene

by at 5:45 pm

Having read all two of Robert Greene’s books for a class (The 33 Strategies of War and 48 Laws of Power) in my undergrad..I began thinking how much the Obama campaign strategies resembled tactics in these books. So I found an interesting article which interviews Robert Greene about how he thinks Obama applied these laws/tactics to his campaign.

Here is the article:

On May 20, 2008, Barack Obama won the state of Oregon. No matter what opinion people made about Obama “not being ready to lead” a bi-racial man with a Muslim father and a Christan mother had taken one more step toward entering the Oval Office. The mauling he gave Senator Clinton in several predominantly White states in massive numbers seemed unthinkable.
Or was it?

In 2000 author Robert Greene penned the 48 Laws of Power. His groundbreaking bestseller gives a modern twist to classical war strategy. Greene’s in depth discussion on the effects of mastering of one’s emotions can easily be seen in the Clinton vs. Obama skirmishes.
Greene expanded his unique approach to observing warfare in The Art of Seduction and The 33 Strategies of war.
He is arguably the foremost sought after strategist in business, politics and war – our Prince Machiavelli of modern warfare, if you will.

In watching Barack Obama’s rise, it is hard to not see a pattern of his victories closely connected with the 48 Laws of Power and the 33 Strategies of War.
At times Obama appears to have been playing a magnificent game of political chess from the start of his bid for the Oval Office. I sat down with Robert Greene to discuss Senator Obama’s tactical and strategic movements in his campaign. While everyone seems to have their site locked into the DNC convention, Robert Greene advises that we all prepare ourselves for a protracted political battle.

AB: Lets start with Law 24: The Perfect Courtier. You say that individual “thrives in a world where everything revolves around power and political dexterity. He has mastered the art of indirection; he flatters, yields to superiors, and asserts power over others in the most oblique and graceful manner. Learn and apply the laws of courtiership and there will be no limit to how far you can rise in the court.

RG: I never thought about it before, but it does make perfect sense. If you wanted to psychoanalyze it a little bit. With his background, in being bi-racial and having to navigate in different worlds…If you look at his Kenyan father, then you look at the White side in Kansas and Hawaii- he’s been towing a line between the two worlds. And if you read his book, he’s asking “Where do I fit”? It’s a really interesting story, I like his books. He’s always had to learn how to be the courtier. He’s always had to be diplomatic. How not to offend this person or that. These two sides had very different sensibilities, while he’s trying too figure out who he is. So, I think its in his nature. Its not a fake thing. Some people learn to be the courtier later in life. Its a nice quality, but some people can feel like its a little bit manipulative. But I think its very deep in his identity, from his multiracial background. I’m not sure, I can only speculate.

Its very nice. He’s very graceful. He does not get angry. I thought the one moment where he blew it a little was in a debate with Clinton. It was in January I believe. He kinda lost his cool. He got a little bit angry and testy. I supported him early on. He was my first pick. For while I felt a little bit alienated from him. I did not think he was tough enough. I wanted to see him fighting back. But I understood later on that that’s very hard for him to do. It does not play well. For the position that he is in, trying to be the first Black President. For him to show anger at a White woman was strategically not gonna play. So, he lost it a little bit in this one debate. But he never repeated it. I mean, its not really a strategy on his part, but its very effective.

I was just reading before you called about him speaking in Florida. He was meeting with Jewish voters. It was kind of interesting to see him charming them again, winning them over. I can make references to Jewish people and Jewish culture that are very appropriate. So there he is being the courtier.Its a quality hat will serve very well in his campaign. Bill Clinton was a master at it. He could talk to Hollywood liberals and then he could go to a factory in Ohio.

Now, some people don’t think he has the common touch. I think there is a bit of truth to that. Maybe he is not comfortable with the White steel worker in Pennsylvania. But he has a different kind of power. A different kind of charm. I think he’ll actually get over some of these supposed weaknesses that he has with White voters. I think he is very much a courter.

AB: The first law I think I openly recognized with Barack is Law 32: Play to Peoples Fantasies. There you say “The truth is often avoided because it is ugly and unpleasant. Never appeal to truth and reality unless you are prepared for the anger that comes for disenchantment. Life is so harsh and distressing that people who can manufacture romance or conjure up fantasy are like oases in the desert: Everyone flocks to them. There is great power in tapping into the fantasies of the masses.

Now, I do not mean to imply that he is fraudulent in spirit, or an actor. But, I don’t think I have seen someone in my lifetime who has been able to mentally and emotionally move masses the way he does. I can only compare it to watching old footage of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Maybe Malcolm X.


AB: Perfect example in JFK. It looks like his change theme has drawn millions of people into what they want to see in America. It seems like he creates this dream for you of what America can be, but leaves room for you to impose your dream on top.

RG: I think you’re right. We don’t like to bring sophisticated psychology when discussing these things. The fantasy always kind of plays a line between a vague hope with a little bit of reality thrown in. If you put too much reality in it obscures. If you put too much hope there is nothing we can really connect to. So, throughout the ages the people who have been able to master this know how to make the perfect illusionary quality. Its like watching a good writer writing a novel.

Barack makes change inspiring. But he does not fill in too many details. Strategically that’s very smart. The problem with America in the 21st century is that the country is so splintered. It’s cracking up into smaller and smaller niche markets and groups. By region, by ethnicity and all these things. So that makes it hard to connect the whole country together. Its hard to get over all that and bring people together with a message. The only way you can do that is to be very inspiring and not being too concrete with what you are offering.

I can refer to John Kennedy in 1960 when he ran for President. He kinda drove the Republicans crazy with his vagueness. He never really said what he was going to do on a whole score of issues. But he talked about the new frontier and bringing back a certain spirit in America. It really connected in that moment. I think the people around him, like David Axelrod who have backgrounds in marketing an advertising are crafting a story. They are trying to do more of a JFK, or even Regan type campaign. They know that this is the moment for that. Because Americans are very disillusioned with probably the worst President we’ve ever had. Things look very bleak.

AB: The fantasy law connects directly to Law 45: Preach the Need for change, but never reform too much at once. I think he’s hitting law 45 right on the nail.

RG: How so?

AB: Because he keeps the discussion of change very nebulous. Mainly though Obama keeps you believing that A) that change can happen, and B) that he is the agent for the change you want to see in America. One of his best qualities, and something I think Senator Clinton should have embraced was Law 46: Never Appear Too Perfect. He never lets you forget that he’s got a wife and kids and that he has his own struggles with cigarettes or whatever. I think 46 keeps people listening to him.

RG: You and I may feel that way. But I’m wondering if other people don’t see that in him. I saw him yesterday in his speech after he won Oregon and he said “I’m not perfect, I’ve made mistakes”. I think that kind of humility is very endearing. But I think there are a lot of people that he doesn’t connect to. They see him as kind of arrogant and over educated person who is looking down on them. Its funny how its subjective. So to you and I we think he does embody law 46. Other people think that he doesn’t do it enough.

It’s all fake though really in the end. Because Hillary is eating hot dogs and drinking beer acting like shes one of the yokels. They made one hundred million dollars last year. She comes from a wealthy background. Certainly more elite than he is. Its all fake in the end. But I think that part is subjective in the end. He’s going to have to work a bit on his image. He’s gonna have to connect with that NASCAR crowd a little bit.

AB: Moving beyond Hillary and looking toward McCain, are we moving from power to the war? If you could tell him to study only 3 of the 33 Strategies of War what would they be?

RG: The one he should study, and has actually done pretty well so far is Strategy 20: Maneuver Them Into Weakness. Its a Chinese concept. I struggled my hardest to bring this to the Western audience, because its not easy to explain. In the East, its the position you take that matters. Everything is related to something else- nothing is isolated. What you want in war or strategy is to take positions that put your rival in a corner and have less options than you.

The Western approach is not like that at all. The Western approach is to go straight in at the enemy and kill as many as you can.

In politics you want to get to a position that allows you to go here or there. Obama did that brilliantly from day one and Hillary messed it up. Here he is moving toward the general election. How can he move John McCain into positions that are untenable? That’s the game. You can already see the position he’s trying to put McCain in is, “He’s Bush” But how do you make that case? Its one thing to say. Its another thing to make people feel it. If he can make people in Kentucky and Pennsylvania feel that McCain will make us live through four more years of the hell we’ve been living through it will be very effective.

But it can’t be just with words. You have to do and show- its interesting to watch. Now, very fortunately, the Democrats control Congress. For instance the vote to the GI bill that just occurred. It will force McCains hand to show that he supports Bush. If he doesn’t, he’ll alienate his right wing base. In the Power book we call that putting your enemy on the horns of a dilemma. You go right, you are screwed. You go left, you are screwed. If he votes for the GI bill, he looks like a Democrat. If he votes against it, he looks like he’s Bush again.

Obama has to keep his options fluid. You don’t wanna commit to anything that’s gonna screw you in the end. Any kind of position for instance on the economy. He did that in one debate but I don’t think that’s going to come back to hurt him. Don’t say exactly that you’ll never raise taxes on this. Keep it a little bit vague. Give yourself room to put McCain in very uncomfortable positions.

Another law from the war book is Strategy 28: Give Your Rivals Enough Rope to Hang Themselves. You never stop a man who’s killing himself. McCain has a temper. Its the old Bob Dole thing. Love him or hate him, he’s got a temper and its legendary. So he’s got to frustrate him and bait him into things. Seeing John McCain lose his temper. It does not look so good. He looks like a cranky old man.

I talk about this in my book in regards to Lee Atwater. He’s kind of a satanic figure in politics. He did that very same thing in 1988 with Bob Dole. But I’m afraid its a very powerful tactic and could be very effective on John McCain. I already saw, with the GI bill he got very testy.

War Strategy number 12: Grand Strategy. Its the most important in the book. Its that you plan, and that you do it looking far ahead into the future. You don’t want to be someone that’s attacking into the wind everything something new comes into the election cycle. Politicians muck this up again and again. Because its not an election that takes place every week. Its in November. One day. There are going to be setbacks. There are going to be things that you did not plan for happening. I mean, Democrats are really bad at this. I mean pathetic bad. If you have a grand strategy, it makes you consistent. It keeps you going in that line, when it seems everything around you not.

So much of the bad stuff happening, with Clinton losing this state or that state- it could have pushed him off course. But it didn’t. He stayed pretty consistent on message there. If he follows those, it’ll be a slam dunk.

Adisa Banjoko is an author and lecturer based in The Bay Area.
He blogs at www. hiphopchessfederation. wordpress. com

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Nov 17 2008

Transparency in the Obama Administration – Yes or No?

by at 7:02 pm

Published by Slate last Friday evening, this article by John Dickerson examines Barack Obama and the  misapplication of term “transparency” in regards to his continued dedication to innovative uses of communication technologies. Dickerson main ideas – that putting the weekly Presidential radio address on YouTube does not signal a more open government, and that real transparency is usually too politically risky to be willingly undertaken at the executive level – are as much a criticism of the old system as they are a warning to Obama in regards to future plans.  Certainly, Obama has shown a willingness to open up the inner workings of his political activities to scrutiny and collaboration.

However, questions remain: how transparent is too transparent? What do we share and what do we keep hidden? How willing are the American people to greet such a system with participation and patience? If the chief executive opened deliberation regarding legislation and initiatives to public eyes, how would that affect perception (especially if said deliberation revealed or highlighted negative qualities, like indecision or brashness)? How would political communication compensate for the loss of another kind of managed messaging situation? Finally, and most importantly, how willing are the people to see just how messy the inner workings of government can be? To what extent is the government like a sausage, where process takes a backseat to product?

Answers to these questions could fill up our time from here until the end of the semester and beyond. Personally, I think that the Obama Administration has the potential to be as open as the Bush Administration was closed. Obama’s dedication to the internet as a form of mobilization and outreach will likely continue into his presidency, and pro-“open source” technology appointments (like network neutrality champions and recent FCC transition team appointments Susan Crawford and Kevin Werbach) appear to signal a continued commitment to clear and open access to information. Also, Obama’s leadership on the passage his Google for Government bill belies an interest in keeping voters informed of how their government is working. However, Obama will likely face situations as president that require more caution than adventurousness. There are some things the voters are better off not knowing. Figuring out where to draw the line between transparency and sensibility is the next, and perhaps most important, step in the process.

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Nov 13 2008

Palin Rumors Even Made It to FOX News.

by at 9:36 pm

While I am sure that many if not all of you have heard the vicious rumors now circulating about Governor Palin as uttered by her former aides, I could not help but post this link.  It is a video clip from none other than FOX News detailing Palin’s supposed incompetence and Bill O’Reilly doing his best to defend Governor Palin.

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