Muckety Maps: Cool new tool for mapping social networks of major power players by disecting public information intelligently
Here is a sample Muckety Map I made upon seeing Andrew McKenna, Chairman of the Illinois GOP on the list of 100 Most Infuencial individuals in Chicago, along with his father Andrew McKenna Sr. It becomes immediately obious why the McKenna name turns up associated with everything from the Cubs to McDonalds. Andew's daughters were high school classmates of mine and he is still the CEO/President of Schwartz Paper, one of the 2-3 largest corporations based in my hometown of Morton Grove, IL, so few men are more influential in my neighborhood. Check out the high-rollers in your neighborhoods.
Much has been made by Republicans and many pundits about Barack Obama's willingness to have diplomatic-level conversations, and even personal policy discussions with leaders of countries that have been long-standing enemies such as Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. McCain blasted the freshman senator for this position during the first debate and earned the public defense of Henry Kissinger, perhaps the most established diplomat in modern history. The charges of naivety and poor judgement made against Senator Obama are fair when considered under the 20th century foreign policy paradigm; we live in the 21st century and paradigmatic disruptions are weekly occurances this day in age and in my opinion the end of the Cold War should have been the first sign that Kissinger's relevance was fleeting.
What I would ask both presidential candidates if given the opportunity to meet them in person, I would ask them which world leader they would meet first and what was their motivation for choosing that individual. The subtle signals that this seemingly random and unavoidable choice sends to the global community are immeasurable and can set the tone for global trade, security and development on a path which serves the incoming administration's goals during their first term. President Bush had his first major foreign summit at his Texas ranch with the newly inaugurated president of Russia, Vladimir Putin, and the decision set a clear tone for his first four years. From that time forward it was considered exclusive to be invited to the Crawford ranch as the leader of a foreign government and Bush used these high-profile summits to establish his image with voters as a dude.
Now Prime Minister Putin wouldn't be a bad choice for the first face-to-face policy discussion the next president has in the White House, if for no other reason than to show the world that his puppetry of new Russion President Dmitri Medvedev and Russian oligarchs around the world is transparent. If Putin is going to be ruling Russia, which it seems clear he still is and will be for the indefinite future, he needs to be forced to ratify the Russian constitution and eliminate the term limitation of the Russian executive that were unnecessary twenty-five years ago when instituted. That is probably what I would do and perhaps something either candiate may decide, though I suspect Obama would be more likely to go through the charade with Putin's pawns to get at Putin personally.
Whom would you choose to meet with Senators McCain and Obama?
In a very telling moment during an interview with Tom Brokaw on Meet the Press this morning, former-President Bill Clinton was put in the very awkward position of raising Senator Obama to the same level of political greatness as he has long praised Senator McCain for achieving in his decades of service. Clinton gave perhaps the most honest and least partisan answer anyone could have anticipated when he stammered out a surprising "no sir, no yet". Clinton correctly, in my opinion, asserted that even Barack Obama would say he has yet to achieve his counterpart's level of personal prestige, though admitted he has only just recently had his first conversation with Senator Obama and cleverly reserved the right to issue judgment at a later date while insisting that his wife was the first to turn him on to Obama's "limitless" potential.
Watching Clinton, still so young and as articulate as ever, it leaves even this GOP-leaning pundit to curse the Twenty-Second Amendment which limits an American President's service to a maximum of two four-year terms, and the irresponsible politics of deception practiced by the FDR Administration which gave rise to the idea that great men cannot lead indefinitely as long as they have the confidence of the American people. Bill Clinton, like him or not, is a once in a generation politician who deserves to be more than a pundit during times such as these.
Google Books Search has recently launched a public API that has been used to build embeddable widgets of the content Google provides from its vast library of digitized books and historical documents from the world's most voluminous and well endowed libraries. Here is the limited preview of a book that every American needs to read following the recent resurgence of a new Russian "democracy" that is unfolding in radically unexpected ways.
Google launched another new and exciting feature in its long dormant Labs section tonight with the release of In Quotes. The new service presents interested citizens with a split screen broken down vertically according to issue. Click on the button associated with a particular issue, get the candidate's view in their own words without the typical spin. Or so they claim!! Google has yet to earn my endorsement as a truly nonpartisan corporation, but this project will hopefully lead the gentle giant to let down its guard a bit as the election draws nearer.