I've written a background article on what is happening in Malaysia, with the continued political battle, on Malaysia Matters. It basically shows that in Malaysia, "politics is about individuals rather than parties" and as a result, the frontal character attacks are the norm. So its little wonder then that the internet & blogs played a central role in their latest election. I'm hoping to be a part on a political trip back over there this summer, stay tuned.
Also, I took a trip over to Israel earlier this year, and Democratic Jews were very nervous about whether Obama would have the appeal that Clinton had for American Jewish voters. It's probably too early to tell, but like Latinos, that doesn't seem to be the case.
I find the "gaffe" stories (it seems like there's one every couple of days for each of the candidates, McCain and Obama) pretty useless. I'm not sure how Obama's speech in Berlin is going to go over, or his trip in general. I doubt the GOP has anything that lasts more than a blog-post, that gets the questioning response. Gotcha politics is so boring to play a part in... one thing I'll predict is that if Obama wins, the US Presidential elections will move to being more global.
Here's what I know, the terrain of the '08 election has, issue-wise, wildly shifted. Gone are the days when Iraq was the number one issue with half the voters and Healthcare was a strong second. Here are the days when "Economic Security" is the dominant issue and Gas Prices and Job Security are at the top. Iraq is last elections issue. Neither Obama or McCain has fully adjusted to the new terrain. McCain has been more out-front and aggressive in defining himself with it, Obama has been holding back to date. That mirrors the Congress, where Democrats are content with the current dynamics and want to holdout for '09 to address the issue, and Republicans are looking for an issue to move the polls with for '08. If this remains the 'economic security' positions of the parties going into the '08 election, we are not going to win some races we should have, and the GE is going to be very close.
Last year, I sponsored a bill that became the first-in-the-nation resolution regarding Net Neutrality. It ordered the Maine Public Advocate to prepare a report monitoring state and federal level initiatives to protect what has been a driving principle since the creation of the internet: that all content should be treated fairly and equally, regardless of source, destination, or who owns the lines through which the content passes.
Someone mentioned on a blog that she was having a difficult time finding accurate information on the web doing a search for Hillary Clinton's legislative achievements. She tried a few different searches and all of them turned up results that were neither what she was looking for or accurate information. Instead she was directed to pages of "opinions" of her legislative achievements and all of them slanted against her. This practice is called Goggle bombing and it is an affront to our democracy.
The Goggle Bombing of information is a practice designed to keep unbiased information away from people and to replace it with specifically biased information. You might say that it is the Faux News of Search Engines. It is undemocratic, actually closer to fascism than anything else. It dumbs down the electorate and suppresses the ability to make rational informed choices. That it is embraced by so-called progressives is perhaps the most frightening aspect of it. Ironically some of these same so-called progressives claim to support Net Neutrality.
This practice must cease immediately. There are consequences to stepping over lines. And one thing you don't do is screw with our Democracy. Because we will screw back, longer and harder. And you won't like it.