Posts Tagged ‘Star Trek’
You might be surprised that as part of the Defense Department’s mission to protect Americans, your tax dollars funded a workshop about aliens from “Star Trek” entitled: Did Jesus Die for Klingons, Too? It’s just one questionable projects under the microscope of fiscal conservative Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., who’s taking his red pen to cuts that he sees as no-brainers.
Turns out that the question, as reported by the Christian Post, was proposed by a German professor. Here is part of CP’s account.
During a recent conference that focused on the possibilities and implications of long-term space flight, a German professor made an attempt at applying Christian theology to extraterrestrial aliens, leading him to ask the question “Did Jesus die for Klingons too?”
Christian Weidemann, a philosophy professor from Ruhr-University Bochum in Germany, gave the lecture on theology and aliens as part of the 100 Year Starship Study symposium in Orlando, Fla., this past weekend.
Given the Pentagon’s mission, at first glance this certainly seems suited for the red pen. But it turns out that if Coburn had spent some time on this he would have seen that he is taking a cheap shot. It is just this kind of myopic, knee jerk reaction to programs that conservative legislators haven’t bothered to examine that threatens, paradoxically, to undermine some of the very things that they support, for example, America as a world leader in technology. So, what’s the story here?
The conference in which Weidemann’s paper was presented was called the “100 Year Starship Symposium,” which was partially supported by DARPA. What is DARPA? From it’s web site:
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) was established in 1958 to prevent strategic surprise from negatively impacting U.S. national security and create strategic surprise for U.S. adversaries by maintaining the technological superiority of the U.S. military.
To fulfill its mission, the Agency relies on diverse performers to apply multi-disciplinary approaches to both advance knowledge through basic research and create innovative technologies that address current practical problems through applied research. DARPA’s scientific investigations span the gamut from laboratory efforts to the creation of full-scale technology demonstrations in the fields of biology, medicine, computer science, chemistry, physics, engineering, mathematics, material sciences, social sciences, neurosciences and more. As the DoD’s primary innovation engine, DARPA undertakes projects that are finite in duration but that create lasting revolutionary change.
But DARPA does not limit its funding, especially in terms of seed money, only to directly fostering technologies. It seems to be taking a longer range view. The conference in which Weidemann’s paper was presented is described on DARPA’s site:
DARPA and NASA Ames Research Center are soliciting abstracts for papers and/or topics/members for discussion panels, to be presented at the 100 Year Starship Study Symposium to be held in Orlando, Florida from September 30 through October 2, 2011 (emphasis added).
The symposium is expected to attract roughly hundreds of people from around the world….
“This won’t just be another space technology conference – we’re hoping that ethicists, lawyers, science fiction writers, technologists and others, will participate in the dialog to make sure we’re thinking about all the aspects of interstellar flight,” said David Neyland, director of the Tactical Technology Office for DARPA. “This is a great opportunity for people with interesting ideas to be heard, which we believe will spur further thought, dreaming and innovation.”
“The 100 Year Starship Study” is currently funded by non-governmental organizations, which are concerned with innovation, space travel, education, and new technologies. It is described as follows on its website:
“An Inclusive, Audacious Journey Transforms Life Here on Earth and Beyond” proposal won the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) challenge—to create “a viable and sustainable non-governmental organization for persistent, long-term, private-sector investment into the myriad of disciplines needed to make long-distance space travel possible.”
The non-profit Dorothy Jemison Foundation for Excellence, teamed with Icarus Interstellar and Foundation for Enterprise Development, received seed funding from DARPA to design, establish and implement this extensive program.
To make a long story short, it appears that DARPA provided seed money for the initiative and support for a conference that was meant to engage people in thinking about the implications of long term space travel. The latter, in turn, whether it occurs or doesn’t in the foreseeable future, has implications for the ways in which we think about current technologies. We talk all of the time about how America allows us to turn dreams into reality. But we don’t know what dreams have promise if we avoid opportunities for engaging in sustained discussion of them. Conferences and programs like this can be helpful. And given the size of the Pentagon’s budget, this sort of support is almost literally peanuts.
As to the paper on Klingons and Jesus, it doesn’t appear to have been a very compelling paper. But everyone who has organized large conferences knows that there are bound to be some weak and even off the wall papers that slip in. Nevertheless, the paper did work on a certain level, or at least its title did. For the point here is to get people thinking about the ethical implications of how we might respond to those who are different, space aliens, or perhaps just people who appear different from ourselves. (This relates to ethical issues that are involved in warfare, many of which are addressed in military codes of conduct. But this is a post for another day.) The conference organizers understood that technology is not just about things but the way that we think about them, dream about them, and use them, including in our relationships with other people or even Klingons.
Senator Coburn and his budget cutting friends should really do some cost benefit analyses, and they should pay attention to the future when they do so. It’s very easy to wave a red pen around.
Obama and Romney do share a few things. Among them are degrees from Harvard Law and a penchant for Star Trek. But there are some differences even here. Obama was interested in constitutional law and Romney appears to have been interested in how he could use his law degree in business. They also have different reasons for enjoying Star Trek. For Obama, the Federation would make good political sense and we know that he has much in common with Spock. (See the 2008 post, “Obama, Spock, and the New Star Trek Nation.”)
On the other hand, Romney likes the way that the Borg does business. Although it’s not my style to spread rumors, there is word going around the web that at one time Romney was so taken with the Borg approach to dealing with other corporate entities, he considered changing the name of BAIN CAPITAL to BORG CAPITAL. It has also been reported that he thought it would be cool for BAIN (BORG) to say to other businesses he was seeking to take over: resistance is futile.
It has been over a year and a half since I began UP@NIGHT and my career as a pundit, for lack of a more refined label. I suppose part of the challenge was to see how a philosopher by trade might do in the prediction business. How I would stack up against the pundits in the media. You know, mano a mano.
I thought that it would be fitting and fair to readers, and myself, to look at blogs in which I predicted the outcome of events in the political world to see if my track record was any good. Low and behold, I discovered that if I had been a betting man, I could have made some good money. So, without further ado, and no false modesty, here are the predictions. Roll Over Nostradamus.
The titles are linked to the original blogs.
Semi-correct, although not a exactly a prediction:
Obama, Spock, and the New Star Trek Nation, June 6, 2008. (UP@NIGHT was one of the first blogs, if not the first, to make the connection between Obama and Spock on the Web. It has now become a commonplace.)
The Twelfth Cylon Revealed, May 30, 2008 (I claimed that McCain is the 12th and missing Cylon on the TV show Battlestar Gallactica. I still hold to the proposition that he may prove to be a Cylon. The new series should reveal the truth.)
It’s Going to be Webb for VP, Probably, May 16, 2008
Still up in the air:
Obama’s Pragmatism (or Move over Culture Wars, Hello Political Philosophy), December 14, 2008; reposted April 7, 2009 (Argues that Obama is a philosophical pragmatist, not merely a political one, and that his approach will have an impact on the culture wars. See also, Obama: Conservative, Liberal, or Ruthless Pragmatist?, May 7, 2009; Bronx on the Court, Empathy, and Obama’s Pragmatism, May 27, 2009.)
GOP, Inc. to be Permanently Downsized, January 30, 2009
Leaving aside the Cylon revelation, looks like UP@NIGHT was right about 90% of the time. So I ask you, can you afford not to read UP@NIGHT?
[First posted December 26, 2009. Reposted January 3rd, 2010 to start off the new year and add "Obama's Pragmatism." ]
UPDATE, January 22, 2010.
With the unexpected victory of Brown in Massachusetts I am going to have to amend what I claimed above, namley, that health care will not be stopped by a filibuster in the Senate. It wasn’t stopped, but now it would be. Nevertheless, I am not pulling the original prediction about health care (yet). The Democrats can’t afford not to pass it, which was the thrust of the original blog. No one knows what form it will take at this juncture, or when it is going to happen, but the Democrats will get something they can crow about.
Spoiler Alert. This review talks about details of the plot of the new Star Trek movie.
Part I Hope Springs Infernal for Old Star Trek Junkies
One may wonder why someone of my age and interests would be writing about Star Trek. Well, I consider it a part of the collective consciousness of my generation (baby boomers) and the one that followed. The Star Trek phenomenon is worth reflecting on for what it tells us about where we have been and where we might be going. Popular culture can sometimes do that.
I won’t go through the litany here of all that this show may have meant for those who followed it. Let me just say that it embodied an Enlightenment sensibility about the future that had been very much a part of our culture. The future could be better, not only technologically, but ethically. For those of us shaken by the Cold War and the Vietnam War, Spock’s rationality certainly appeared preferable to Dr. Strangelove. And now, of course, there is the Spock/Obama connection, which has been much talked about. A president who might be rational (and feeling, but in a deep sort of way)? Very cool. So, a new Star Trek movie seemed like just the ticket in the spring of 2009. I really wanted it to work.
Part II The Reboot
The producers and writers of the new Star Trek knew what they were doing. They wanted a reboot. They got it. They wanted to reach a larger audience. They have. People, young people, appear to love it. They are going to make some big bucks. Hats off to the big Hollywood corporate establishment.
I am not one of those old fans of Star Trek that feels that any tampering with the “brand” is necessarily a bad thing. (As a matter of fact, I like what I have seen of the upgrade of the first two seasons of the original Star Trek. The improvement in special effects is welcome.) But I do resent the attempt by Abrams, the new movie’s director, to dismiss criticism by claiming that 10% of the old fans won’t be satisfied with anything that he does. The new Star Trek movie may be a success financially, and it may provide entertainment for some, but it certainly doesn’t measure up to the old series, and not because 10% of the old fans are cranky. Deflecting criticism in this fashion won’t cut it.
Part III The Trailers
I have a list of reasons for why the new movie is problematic. But first I recommend that you take a look at a trailer for the new Star Trek and compare it to the trailer for The Wrath of Khan, a movie that many have claimed is similar to the new one. And then as a treat, check out a third trailer. It was done by a fan, Dustin, several months ago. (According to his bio, he’s 24, so clearly not a boomer.) He didn’t like the trailer for the new movie, even before he saw it. One of the things that makes his edit interesting is that it invokes a sense of wonder, as well as an anticipation of the new, that was part of the old series, and which is totally absent from Abrams’s movie.
It’s too bad Abrams didn’t make Dustin’s movie.
Notice in Abram’s trailer that there is only a short image of the latest villain, Nero, while the older villain, Khan, fills the screen with his voice and personality. (How novel is this one? A Romulan named Nero. Give me a break. Both Nero and Khan are seeking revenge, but Nero looks like a tattooed motorcycle gang member, who’s fuming about someone stealing his bike. While Khan is, well, Khan.)
Part IV The Dozen Reasons (although there could be many more)
Okay, I promised a dozen reasons for why the new movie doesn’t cut it as a satisfying member of the Star Trek universe. Not in any particular order:
1. Suspension of disbelief. There are limits. This movie requires one to believe that a frustrated Spock, instead of sending Kirk to the brig, throws him off the ship to land on an ice covered planet, where in all likelihood he would die. Low and behold, Spock prime, the real Mr. Spock, is on this very planet. After being chased by a monster, Kirk just happens to run into a cave in which Spock has been hanging out, having been marooned by Nero, the tattooed villain. Spock then takes Kirk to a Federation outpost, where, low and behold, he meets Scotty. And how did Kirk get into the Star Fleet? No exams for this young man. Just a dad who was a hero and a note about his being a genius. I won’t go on. This is not only poor science fiction; it’s poor fiction. And it doesn’t work as fantasy, because even in the latter genre there are some rules.
2. Cavalier attitude toward violence and genocide. Okay, there are times that planets have to be destroyed in science fiction, but in this movie, two of them are gone in a New York minute, each with billions of people. In one case the apparent need for this plot device is to create a madman, Nero, in another, to make Spock emotional. You don’t go killing off billions of people, even if they are Vulcans and Romulans, in order to account for the psychology of two characters.
3. Pacing. The T.V. series was paced in a way that was often hypnotic. (This is less true of the movies, but there are some exceptions.) Time slowed down. One had time to look around and see what this new world looked like. The new movie assumes that everyone in the audience suffers from ADD. Look another star ship just blew up. Look people are falling off ledges. Look at all the lights….
4. Humorlessness. The humor in the writing is contrived and characters at times appear to parodying lines from the series. I simply don’t understand those who have talked about the humor in this movie. It is weak. It is saccharine. And a Star Trek without humor is like space without time.
5. This movie could have been made with virtually no reference to the Star Trek universe. It’s bang and shot em up vision of space would have worked just about as well with another cast of characters.
6. If the villain is not a tattooed member of a motor cycle gang, then he is an escaped patient from a mental ward who is off his medication. He certainly has nothing of the Romulan in him. (He doesn’t even look like one.) Special effects can not compensate for weak villains. And weak villains undermine the character of the heroes. (The worst Star Trek films all had weak villains.)
7. The music is claustrophobic. Check out how different Dustin’s edit is of the new trailer, in part because he is using music from older movies.
8. The young Kirk is caricature of the original Kirk. Again, lack of humor is part of the problem. The character is one-dimensional. He might as well be a bad boy who turns star football captain. (And the bits with the little convertible and then the motorcycle…..This guy is not James Dean, and neither was Shatner.)
9. There wasn’t one original science fiction idea in the entire movie. Every single “idea” can be found in countless movies. (Did we really have to see the ship saved by dumping the warp core? Oh, no, not the warp core again. And then there was “the ledge.” Just how many times did the young Kirk find himself hanging off a ledge of some sort?)
10. The movie had nothing to say. This is fine if your aim is simply to entertain. But you would think that the reboot of a series that did have some ideas would have tried just one or two.
11. I prefer Apples to P.C.’s, but really, did the Bridge have to look like it was designed by the Apple folks. (There were times that I thought I might have seen an Apple logo or two.) This is a small quibble, but I believe that it reflects a lack of imagination on the part of the film’s creators.
12. This movie was not about boldly going where no one has gone before. It was about staying close to a formula that has succeeded in recent action films. It is bread and circus of a particular vintage, post 9/11 escapism.
Good or great movies (or series) leave us with scenes to remember. What will you remember about this film 10 months from now? (Young Kirk hanging on to some nondescript ledge?) Oh, I know. At least I know for boomers: Leonard Nimoy’s face as the aged Spock saying to Kirk, you have always been my friend and always will be my friend. And the only really funny line in the movie, when the older Spock tells the younger Spock that he was messing with Kirk’s head when he claimed that a terrible paradox when ensue if the two Spocks met. A terrible paradox did not ensue, unfortunately. That might have been fun. Just a weak movie.
I rest my case.
Well, just when you think that you have carved out a niche for yourself, it seems that the whole planet has moved in. In June 2008 I posted a blog,” Obama, Spock, and the New Star Trek Nation,” in which I drew a connection between Spock and Obama, and I also discussed how the times might be right (once again) for Star Trek’s positive utopian vision. I even quoted from Shatner’s (Captain Kirk’s) book, Up Till Now, about how the fans had saved the original Star Trek.
“As a result of this campaign, NBC received, trumpets blare here, more than 1,000,000 letters urging the network not to cancel the show….[It was not cancelled] Perhaps more important the people who wrote the letters suddenly had an emotional attachment to a television program unlike any viewers ever before. They had actually influenced a network’s programming decision. They had ownership. Star Trek really had become their show. This marked the beginning of the most unusual relationship between viewers and a TV series in history.”
I compared this sense of ownership to what many of Obama’s supporters were experiencing due to their involvement in his campaign. In any case, I/we now have to deal with this:
It seems that sometime last year a toy company, a one Jailbreak Toys, starting selling Obama action figures. Is nothing sacred? Or perhaps this is how we express what we most admire in America, we turn them into action toys.
UPDATE, May 10. It turns out the the Jailbreak Toys does make action figures, including ones of Obama, but those of Obama and Biden (above) were from an event held in NYC in which artists created action figures. The photo, which I thought had come from the company, can be found at iPhoneSavior.
AP Photo/Ron Edmonds
Just in case you haven’t heard, Rush Limbaugh is now calling the shots in the Republican Party. It seems that you can’t criticize Rush if you are a Republican, especially if you are in the House of Representatives. Here is an excerpt from Congressman Phil Gingrey’s “apology” to Rush, on Rush’s radio show, for having dared to criticize him. (Select the link to view a video of Rush speaking with Gingrey.)
Rush, thank you so much. I thank you for the opportunity, of course this is not exactly the way to I wanted to come on. … Mainly, I want to express to you and all your listeners my very sincere regret for those comments I made yesterday to Politico. … I clearly ended up putting my foot in my mouth on some of those comments. … I regret those stupid comments. Huffington Post, January 28, 2009.
And who does Rush want to see as the Republican standard bearer? Sarah Palin, of course. And he is not alone.
Coming off a shellacking at the polls in November, the plurality of GOP voters (43%) say their party has been too moderate over the past eight years, and 55% think it should become more like Alaska Governor Sarah Palin in the future, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. Just 24% think failed presidential candidate John McCain is the best future model for the party, and 10% are undecided. Rasumssen Reports, January, 29, 2009.
Now there are many sound arguments for not taking Palin seriously. But let’s not bother with arguments here. Let’s just follow the video
Let me show you something…
A thanks to the (anonymous) person who did this video.
UPDATE 3/2/2009 Rush has really got them on a leash. A GOP senator can’t even say the words, Rush is wrong.
Through careful investigative reporting, I now have an exclusive for readers of UP@NIGHT. Here are eleven facts that the MSM is simply not reporting (yet):
1. Sarah Palin returned to Alaska from the lower forty-eight by clicking her new red Pradas together three times and repeating, “There is no place like Nome.”
2. Osama bin Laden’s code name among his compatriots is, “Joe the Plumber.” And in one of the most bizarre twists in the election, it turns out that McCain’s “Joe the Plumber” is a hairless Osama look alike.
3. John McCain will be playing Saul Tigh in the last episodes of Battlestar Gallactica, if and only if he is willing to call himself a Cylon and not a Ceylonese.
4. The software program that the Obama campaign used so effectively on its web site is called Hawaii 5.0.
5. The name of Bill O’Reilly’s show, “The O’Reilly Factor,” actually refers to the role that Bill (as a double agent) hoped to play in an Obama victory; namely, Bill hoped to become the major factor in turning voters away from four more years of Republican rule.
6. George Bush was just joshing us when he kept mispronouncing the word, “nuclear.” It turns out that George has a wicked sense of humor. The last (almost) eight years have actually been a prank that he has been playing on the country. It seems that he was never The Decider, aka, the president. (The guys up in Canada who “pranked” Palin will tell you that they learned everything they know from George.)
7. John McCain secretly divorced Cindy just before he selected Sarah Palin for his VP. As part of the settlement, she agreed to stand 20 paces behind him at every campaign rally for the next six weeks and smile. In return Cindy got to keep all of their homes. John now has no where to live. (Hence, a good reason for him to stop confusing Cylon and Ceylon, see Fact #3, because he needs the extra money that an equity acting job will bring him.)
8. Dick Cheney’s identical (and evil) twin, Clyde Cheney, has actually been VP. Dick was removed from office two weeks after the inauguration when it became clear that he simply couldn’t tolerate Rovean tactics, sweet man that he is. The real Dick Cheney has been living as a community organizer on the South Side of Chicago and is known in the neighborhood as My Man DC. (That’s the real Dick below.)
9. Obama’s first name is not Barack, and it’s not even Barry. It’s “Arthur.” But ever since he decided to become president in kindergarten, he has worried that having the name Arthur might lead envious opponents to refer to him as “King Arthur.” Bad news for a black dude. Thinking ahead, as he is wont to do, he asked his school teachers to call him Barry. And then at just the right strategic moment to make his run for president, he settled on the name Barack in college.
10. Idaho, the birthplace of Sarah Palin, was never admitted to the Union. We pretended to admit Idaho because we felt sorry for it due to its name and shape, and we wanted its potatoes. So Sarah Palin couldn’t have become VP even if McCain had won. You Betcha! (If you don’t believe this fact, look it up. There’s going to be a new Wikipedia entry explaining the whole scam.)
11. Joe Lieberman’s middle name is “Loyalty,” Joe Loyalty Lieberman; and he is actually a Klingon, albeit a confused one, confusing John McCain with the Klingon Empire.
Stay tuned for more facts as they become available…..
You will laugh. You will scoff. You will be befuddled. But I have finally figured out why Obama is so familiar. At first I thought it might just be his politics. In my day job as a political philosopher, I recognize deep similarities between Obama’s political orientation and a tradition of American progressivism that had its heyday in the early 20th century. This form of progressivism had roots in the Midwest and was linked to the Social Gospel Movement. In some ways Obama is reviving this tradition.
But there was something more familiar about Obama, and about how his campaign has managed to galvanize so many young people. Well, maybe it was simply a flash from the past, the political organizing that many of us engaged in to stop the Vietnam War and for Civil Rights. He is leading a movement in which people of color and whites are linked once again. Perhaps this was the source of the deep familiarity.
Yes, certainly, his campaign has brought back memories. But it somehow didn’t get to another level of familiarity. And then it hit me. Obama is Mr. Spock and his campaign the Star Ship Enterprise, that is, if you allow for the vicarious presence of millions of fans aboard the ship. Consider Spock and Obama: cool, logical, trustworthy, a great deal of presence of mind, etc. Further, Leonard Nimoy, the actor who plays Spock, is Jewish. Obama went to Harvard Law and taught at the University of Chicago Law School, which makes him an honorary Jew. (Being Jewish, I can say this.) And what have we heard about Obama’s blood pressure, 90/60; not that of an ordinary mortal, just like Spock. But don’t consider character traits, or arguments, gaze on their images.
We must broaden our horizons. It is not merely the similarity to Spock. Star Trek ran during a war that most of us could do little to stop. Here we are, once again. (And there is a Texan in the White House, again. Don’t get me wrong. I lived in Texas. I am fond of Texans. I married one. But let’s just keep them out of the White House for the Next Generation.) Star Trek was a fantasy refuge, before the Internet. But Star Trek was going to be canceled by NBC. What saved it? According to William Shatner, Captain Kirk, in Chapter Three of his book, Up Till Now (don’t ask how I know this), a letter writing campaign was launched to save the show. Here is what Shatner tells us about the campaign.
“As a result of this campaign, NBC received, trumpets blare here, more than 1,000,000 letters urging the network not to cancel the show….[It was not cancelled] Perhaps more important the people who wrote the letters suddenly had an emotional attachment to a television program unlike any viewers ever before. They had actually influenced a network’s programming decision. They had ownership. Star Trek really had become their show. This marked the beginning of the most unusual relationship between viewers and a TV series in history.” [emphasis added]
Okay, you will accuse me of trivializing one of the most important recent movements in American politics. But Obama the community organizer would understand the connection. Star Trek was a collective experience mediated by a visual medium. It also expressed utopian ideals at a time when young people felt impotent about changing the course of a war and the world. (Star Trek began before the full impact of demonstrations against the war became apparent.) Obama and his people have harnessed the Internet to allow people to feel that they are not mere bystanders but full participants. They have provided a sense of “ownership” (although I am not crazy about the term). Most importantly, and here the analogy begins to break down, Obama and his team are providing not only a fantasy utopian moment, but the possibility of actually changing things. Live Long and Prosper.
P.S. Leonard Nimoy is an Obama supporter.
Okay, I am taking bets. Well, if not bets, comments. The evidence is mounting. Webb’s appearances in the national media are increasing. On the night of May 20th, the day that Obama will definitely go over the top in the majority of elected pledged delegates, Webb will be making at least two national TV appearances, one on CNN and one on MSNBC, Olbermann’s Countdown. Webb can help Obama win: a military guy, who is something of a populist, with blue collar appeal. He has been a dogged opponent of the Iraq War, and he shares with Obama the loneliness of the long distance writer. Obama strategist David Axelrod recently said that, “the primary characteristic Mr. Obama would look for in a vice president was someone with whom he was extremely comfortable” (New York Observer, May 13th). Webb seems to fit the bill here also. And for what it’s worth, Intrade has him as a close second to Hillary for the VP slot. (But Hillary fails the comfort test that Axelrod mentions. Not sure if the Intrade traders have factored this in.) [Update, May, 22, Intrade now has Webb slightly ahead.] I am not surprised that there is a draft Webb movement underfoot. http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/Obama_Webb08/
However, if Webb’s military background proves insufficient, I have a suggestion. I don’t think Obama should mess around. I’ve heard that these GOP characters can play pretty rough. And they like surfing the waves in swiftboats. Obama may need phasers and shields. He will need someone who knows how to use them. He will need someone whose citizenship no one would dare to challenge, given the consequences. He will need:
UPDATE May 19, 2008, 5:00 PM. In comments on this site and other sites, concerns have been expressed about misogynistic statements made by Webb. If true, this would be an extremely serious problem for his candidacy, to say the least. I have been under the impression that claims about his alleged misogyny originated from his opponents in his race for the Senate in 2006. Webb is a novelist. It appears that passages from his fictional works were used by his opponents to represent his views. Needless to say, this is dirty pool. It is called “fiction” for a reason. But if readers have more information on this topic, please reply.
UPDATE May 22, 5:00 PM EST. I haven’t heard any further comments about Webb’s alleged misogyny. And while it is true that he is currently trying to hawk his new book, what he is saying in his appearances on TV are very much in line with what Obama has been saying. Consider their comments the last couple of days about our having negotiated with adversaries who were much stronger than Iran, for example, the USSR and China. And how we must not confuse negotiation with capitulation. Also, consider how both are declaring that the needs of poor folks, white and minority, have not been adequately addressed. To say that they are on the same wavelength would be putting it mildly. (Of course, Obama will have to weigh numerous factors in making the final decision for VP.)
UPDATE June 6, 2008 Washington Post, Kristen Mack reports that at a rally in Virginia, “Obama thanked Webb, saying, ‘If you’re in a fight, and we are going to be in a fight, you want Jim Webb to have your back.’” I still think that he is very much in the running. Regarding concerns raised about misogyny. I have learned that he made some very bad calls about women in the military, as well as unacceptable comments about Tailhook. However, I have also heard that he has since apologized and that his record has markedly improved. Webb was a Republican. He is something of a changed man. The questions is, how much has Webb changed? I believe that his populism is for real. I want to hear more.
UPDATE June 21, 2008. Well, the Webb for VP story just doesn’t appear to be going away. Again, for what it is worth, Intrade today as him as the favorite for VP ahead of Clinton. In terms of the issue that could be most damaging to his selection, his record on women’s issues, the following was reported today in a Wall Street Journal article cited on the Huffington Post. ”Sen. Webb’s spokeswoman points out that he has received “100%” scores from Naral, a pro-choice women’s group, and just last week introduced a bill that would provide four weeks of paid parental leave for federal employees.” “Arming Obama,” The Wall Street Journal, June 21st.